March 2022

Kings-Queens of Scotland. Robert II

Robert II (2 March 1316 – 19 April 1390) was King of Scots from 1371 to his death in 1390. He was the first monarch of the House of Stewart as the son of Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland, and of Marjorie Bruce, daughter of the Scottish king Robert the Bruce by his first wife Isabella of Mar.

Edward Bruce, younger brother of Robert the Bruce, was named heir presumptive but died without heirs on 3 December 1318. Marjorie Bruce had died probably in 1317 in a riding accident and parliament decreed her infant son, Robert Stewart, as heir presumptive, but this lapsed on 5 March 1324 on the birth of a son, David, to King Robert and his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh. Robert Stewart became High Steward of Scotland on his father’s death on 9 April 1326, and in the same year parliament confirmed the young Steward as heir should Prince David die without a successor. In 1329 King Robert I died and the six-year-old David succeeded to the throne under the guardianship of Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray.

Edward Balliol, son of King John Balliol—assisted by the English and those Scottish nobles who had been disinherited by Robert I—invaded Scotland inflicting heavy defeats on the Bruce party on 11 August 1332 at Dupplin Moor and Halidon Hill on 19 July 1333. Robert, who had fought at Halidon joined his uncle, King David in refuge in Dumbarton Castle. David escaped to France in 1334 and parliament, still functioning, appointed Robert and John Randolph, 3rd Earl of Moray as joint Guardians of the kingdom. Randolph was captured by the English in July 1335 and in the same year Robert submitted to Balliol bringing about the removal of his guardianship. The office was reinstated in 1338 and Robert held it until David’s return from France in June 1341. Hostilities continued and Robert was with David at the Neville’s Cross on 17 October 1346 and either escaped or fled the field but David was captured and remained a prisoner until he was ransomed in October 1357.

Robert married Elizabeth Mure around 1348, legitimising his four sons and five daughters. His subsequent marriage to Euphemia de Ross in 1355 produced two sons and two surviving daughters. Robert rebelled against the King in 1363 but submitted to him following a threat to his right of succession. David died in 1371 and Robert succeeded him at the age of fifty-five. The border magnates continued to attack English-held zones in southern Scotland and by 1384, the Scots had re-taken most of the occupied lands. Robert ensured that Scotland was included in the Anglo-French truce of 1384 and that was a factor in the coup in November when he lost control of the country first to his eldest son, John, and then from 1388 to John’s younger brother, Robert. King Robert died in Dundonald Castle in 1390 and was buried at Scone Abbey.

Heir presumptive

Robert Stewart, born in 1316, was the only child of Walter Stewart, High Steward of Scotland and King Robert I’s daughter Marjorie Bruce. He died probably in 1317 following a riding accident. He had the upbringing of a Gaelic noble on the Stewart lands in Bute, Clydeside, and in Renfrew. In 1315 parliament revoked Marjorie Bruce’s right as heir to her father in favour of her uncle, Edward Bruce. Edward was killed at the Battle of Faughart, near Dundalk on 14 October 1318, resulting in a hastily arranged Parliament in December to enact a new entail naming Marjorie’s son, Robert, as heir should the king die without a successor. The birth of a son, afterwards David II, to King Robert on 5 March 1324 cancelled Robert Stewart’s position as heir presumptive, but a Parliament at Cambuskenneth in July 1326 restored him in the line of succession should David die without an heir. This reinstatement of his status was accompanied by the gift of lands in Argyll, Roxburghshire and the Lothians.

High Steward of Scotland
Renewed war for independence
Main article: Second War of Scottish Independence

Dumbarton Castle on Dumbarton Rock where Robert Stewart and King David took refuge in 1333

The first war of independence began in the reign of King John Balliol. His short reign was bedeviled by Edward I’s insistence on his overlordship of Scotland. The Scottish leadership concluded that only war could release the country from the English king’s continued weakening of Balliol’s sovereignty and so finalised a treaty of reciprocal assistance with France in October 1295. The Scots forayed into England in March 1296—this incursion together with the French treaty angered the English king and provoked an invasion of Scotland taking Berwick on 30 March before defeating the Scots army at Dunbar on 27 April. John Balliol submitted to Edward and resigned the throne to him before being sent to London as a prisoner. Despite this, resistance to the English led by William Wallace and Andrew Moray had emerged in the name of King John Balliol. On their deaths, Robert the Bruce continued to resist the English and eventually succeeded in defeating the forces of Edward II of England and gained the Scottish throne for himself.

David Bruce, aged five, became king on 7 June 1329 on the death of his father Robert. Walter the Steward had died earlier on 9 April 1327, and the orphaned eleven-year-old Robert was placed under the guardianship of his uncle, Sir James Stewart of Durrisdeer, who along with Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, and William Lindsey, Archdeacon of St Andrews were appointed as joint Guardians of the kingdom. David’s accession kindled the second independence war which threatened Robert’s position as heir. In 1332 Edward Balliol, son of the deposed John Balliol, spearheaded an attack on the Bruce sovereignty with the tacit support of King Edward III of England and the explicit endorsement of ‘the disinherited’. Edward Balliol’s forces delivered heavy defeats on the Bruce supporters at Dupplin Moor on 11 August 1332 and again at Halidon Hill on 19 July 1333, at which the 17-year-old Robert participated. Robert’s estates were overrun by Balliol, who granted them to David Strathbogie, titular earl of Atholl, but Robert evaded capture and gained protection at Dumbarton Castle where King David was also taking refuge. Very few other strongholds remained in Scottish hands in the winter of 1333—only the castles of Kildrummy (held by Christina Bruce, elder sister of Robert I and wife of Andrew Murray of Bothwell), Loch Leven, Loch Doon, and Urquhart held out against Balliol forces.

Dairsie Castle where the 1335 Parliament was held.

In May 1334, the situation looked dire for the house of Bruce and David II gained safety in France. Robert set about winning back his lands in the west of Scotland. Strathbogie came over to the Bruce interest after disagreements with his fellow ‘disinherited’ but his fierce opposition to Randolph came to a head at a Parliament held at Dairsie Castle in early 1335 when Strathbogie received the support of Robert. Strathbogie once again changed sides and submitted to the English king in August and was made Warden of Scotland. It seems that Strathbogie may also have persuaded Robert to submit to Edward and Balliol—Sir Thomas Gray, in his Scalacronica claimed that he had actually done so—and may explain his removal as Guardian around this time. The Bruce resistance to Balliol may have been verging on collapse in 1335 but a turn-round in its fortunes began with the appearance of Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell as a potent war leader at the Battle of Culblean. Murray had been captured in 1332, ransomed himself in 1334, and immediately sped north to lay siege to Dundarg Castle in Buchan held by Sir Henry de Beaumont, with the castle falling on 23 December 1334. Murray was appointed Guardian at Dunfermline during the winter of 1335–6 while he was besieging Cupar Castle in Fife. He died at his castle in Avoch in 1338 and Robert resumed the Guardianship. Murray’s campaign put an end to any chance of Edward III having full lasting control over the south of Scotland and Edward’s failure in the six-month siege of Dunbar Castle confirmed this. Balliol lost many of his major supporters to the Bruce side and the main English garrisons began to fall to the Scots—Cupar in the spring or summer of 1339, Perth taken by Robert also in 1339 and Edinburgh by William, Earl of Douglas in April 1341.

John Randolph, released from English custody in a prisoner-exchange in 1341, visited David II in Normandy before returning to Scotland. Just as Randolph was a favourite of the king, David II mistrusted Robert Stewart with his powerful positions of heir presumptive and Guardian of Scotland. At the beginning of June 1341, the kingdom appeared sufficiently stable to allow the king to return to a land where his nobles, while fighting for the Bruce cause, had considerably increased their own power bases. On 17 October 1346, Robert accompanied David into battle at Neville’s Cross, where many Scottish nobles including Randolph, died—David II was wounded and captured while Robert and Patrick, earl of March had apparently fled the field.

King David’s captivity
Petitions to the Pope, 1342–1419.

The kings of France and Scotland, bishops William of St. Andrews, William of Glasgow, William of Aberdeen, Richard of Dunkeld, Martin of Argyle, Adam of Brechin, and Maurice of Dunblane. Signification that although Elizabeth Mor and Isabella Boutellier, noble damsels of the diocese of Glasgow, are related in the third and fourth degrees of kindred, Robert Steward of Scotland, lord of Stragrifis, in the diocese of Glasgow, the king’s nephew, carnally knew first Isabella, and afterwards, in ignorance of their kindred, Elizabeth, who was herself related to Robert in the fourth degree of kindred, living with her for some time and having many children of both sexes by her; the above king and bishops therefore pray the pope that for the sake of the said offspring, who are fair to behold (aspectibus gratiose), to grant a dispensation to Robert and Elizabeth to intermarry, and to declare their offspring legitimate.

To be granted by the diocesan, at whose discretion one or more chapelries are to be founded by Robert.

Avignon, 10 Kal. Dec. 1347

With the king now imprisoned in England and Randolph dead, the Guardianship once again fell to Robert. In 1347 he took the important step of ensuring the legitimation of his four sons, John, Earl of Carrick (the future King Robert III), Walter, Lord of Fife (d. 1362), Robert (the future Duke of Albany) and Alexander, Lord of Badenoch (and future Earl of Buchan), and six daughters by petitioning Pope Clement VI to allow a canon law marriage to Elizabeth Mure.

Even though an English prisoner, David retained influence in Scotland and Robert had his Guardianship removed by parliament and given jointly to the earls of Mar and Ross and the lord of Douglas—this did not last and Robert was once again appointed Guardian by the Parliament of February 1352. The paroled David attended this Parliament to present to Robert and the members of the Three Estates the conditions for his release. These contained no ransom demand but required the Scots to name the English prince John of Gaunt as heir presumptive. The Council rejected these terms, with Robert opposed to a proposal that threatened his right of succession. The king had no option but to return to captivity—the English chronicler Henry Knighton wrote of the event:

… the Scots refused to have their King unless he entirely renounced the influence of the English, and similarly refused to submit themselves to them. And they warned him that they would neither ransom him nor allow him to be ransomed unless he pardoned them for all their acts and injuries that they had done, and all the offences that they had committed during the time of captivity, and he should give them security for that, or otherwise they threatened to choose another king to rule them.

By 1354 ongoing negotiations for the king’s release reached the stage where a proposal of a straight ransom payment of 90,000 marks to be repaid over nine years, guaranteed by the provision of 20 high-ranking hostages, was agreed—this understanding was destroyed by Robert when he bound the Scots to a French action against the English in 1355. The capture of Berwick together with the presence of the French on English soil jolted Edward III into moving against the Scots—in January 1356 Edward led his forces into the south-east of Scotland and burned Edinburgh and Haddington and much of the Lothians in a campaign that became known as the ‘Burnt Candlemas’. After Edward’s victory over France in September, the Scots resumed negotiations for David’s release ending in October 1357 with the Treaty of Berwick. Its terms were that in turn for David’s freedom, a ransom of 100,000 marks would be paid in annual installments over ten years—only the first two payments were completed initially and nothing further until 1366. This failure to honour the conditions of the Berwick treaty allowed Edward to continue to press for a Plantagenet successor to David—terms that were totally rejected by the Scottish Council and probably by Robert himself. This may have been the cause of a brief rebellion in 1363 by Robert and the earls of Douglas and March. Later French inducements could not bring David to their aid and the country remained at peace with England during his reign.

King of Scots
Consolidation of Stewart power and personal rule

Robert II depicted on his great seal.

David died childless on 22 February 1371 and was succeeded by Robert II. David was buried at Holyrood Abbey almost immediately but an armed protest by William, Earl of Douglas delayed Robert II’s coronation until 26 March 1371. The reasons for the incident remain unclear but may have involved a dispute regarding Robert’s right of succession, or may have been directed against George Dunbar, Earl of March (also known as Earl of Dunbar) and the southern Justiciar, Robert Erskine. It was resolved by Robert giving his daughter Isabella in marriage to Douglas’s son, James and with Douglas replacing Erskine as Justiciar south of the Forth. Robert’s accession did affect some others who held offices from David II. In particular, George Dunbar’s brother John Dunbar, the Lord of Fife who lost his claim on Fife and Sir Robert Erskine’s son, Sir Thomas Erskine who lost control of Edinburgh Castle.

The Stewarts greatly increased their holdings in the west, in Atholl, and in the far north: the earldoms of Fife and Menteith went to Robert II’s second surviving son, Robert; the earldoms of Buchan and Ross (along with the lordship of Badenoch) to his fourth son, Alexander; and the earldoms of Strathearn and Caithness to the eldest son of his second marriage, David. King Robert’s sons-in-law were John MacDonald, Lord of the Isles, John Dunbar, Earl of Moray and James who would become the 2nd Earl of Douglas. Robert’s sons John, Earl of Carrick, the king’s heir, and Robert, Earl of Fife, were made keepers of the castles of Edinburgh and Stirling respectively, while Alexander, Lord of Badenoch and Ross, and afterwards Earl of Buchan, became the king’s Justiciar and lieutenant in the north of the Kingdom. This build-up of the Stewart family power did not appear to cause resentment among the senior magnates—the king generally did not threaten their territories or local rule and where titles were transferred to his sons the individuals affected were usually very well rewarded. This style of kingship was very different from his predecessor’s—David tried to dominate his nobles whereas Robert’s strategy was to delegate authority to his powerful sons and earls and this generally worked for the first decade of his reign. Robert II was to have influence over eight of the fifteen earldoms either through his sons directly or by strategic marriages of his daughters to powerful lords.

Robert the warrior and knight: the reverse side of Robert II’s Great Seal, enhanced as a 19th-century steel engraving
In 1373, Robert ensured the future security of the Stewart dynasty by having Parliament pass entailments regarding the succession. At this time, none of his sons had heirs so it became necessary for a system to be devised to define precisely the circumstances in which each of his sons could inherit the crown—none of this would take precedence over normal succession by Primogeniture. By 1375, the king had commissioned John Barbour to write the poem, The Brus, a history intended to bolster the public image of the Stewarts as the genuine heirs of Robert I. It described the patriotic acts of both Sir James, the Black Douglas and Walter the Steward, the king’s father, in their support of Bruce. Robert II’s rule during the 1370s saw the country’s finances stabilised and greatly improved due in part to the flourishing wool trade, reduced calls on the public purse and by the halting of his predecessor’s ransom money on the death of Edward III of England. Robert II—unlike David II whose kingship was predominantly Lothian and therefore lowland based—did not restrict his attention to one sector of his kingdom but frequently visited the more remote areas of the north and west among his Gaelic lords.

Robert II ruled over a country that continued to have English enclaves within its borders and Scots who gave their allegiance to the king of England—the important castles of Berwick, Jedburgh, Lochmaben and Roxburgh had English garrisons and controlled southern Berwickshire, Teviotdale and large areas in Annandale and Tweeddale. In June 1371, Robert agreed to a defensive treaty with the French, and although there were no outright hostilities during 1372, the English garrisons were reinforced and placed under an increased state of vigilance. Attacks on the English held zones, with the near-certain backing of Robert, began in 1373 and accelerated in the years 1375–7. This indicated that a central decision had probably been taken for the escalation of conflict rather than the previous small-scale marauding attacks by the border barons. In 1376, the Earl of March successfully recovered Annandale, but then found himself constrained by the Bruges Anglo-French truce.

Dunfermline Abbey which received Coldingham Priory as daughter house from King Robert.

In his dealings with Edward III, Robert blamed his border magnates for the escalating attacks on the English zones, but regardless of this, the Scots retained the recaptured lands that were often portioned out among minor lords, so securing their interest in preventing English re-possession. Despite Robert’s further condemnations of his border lords, all the signs were that Robert backed the growing successful Scottish militancy following Edward III’s death in 1377. In a charter dated 25 July 1378 the king decreed that Coldingham Priory would no longer be a daughter house of the English Durham Priory but was to be attached to Dunfermline Abbey. In early February the Scots—apparently unaware of the conclusion of an Anglo-French truce on 26 January 1384 that included the Scots in the cease-fire—conducted an all-out attack on the English zones winning back Lochmaben Castle and Teviotdale. John of Gaunt led a reciprocal English attack that took him as far as Edinburgh, where he was bought off by the burgesses, but destroyed Haddington. Carrick and James, Earl of Douglas (his father William had died in April), wanted a retaliatory strike for the Gaunt raid. Robert may have concluded that as the French had reneged on a previous agreement to send assistance in 1383 and then having entered into a truce with England, that any military action would have been met with retaliation and exclusion from the forthcoming Boulogne peace talks. On 2 June 1384, Robert resolved to send Walter Wardlaw, Bishop of Glasgow to the Anglo-French peace talks, yet Carrick ignored this and allowed raids into the north of England to take place. Despite this, by 26 July, the Scots were part of the truce that would expire in October. Robert called a Council in September, probably for working out how to proceed when the truce concluded, and to decide how the war was to proceed thereafter.

Loss of authority and death.

A medieval miniature depicting the Battle of Otterburn where Carrick’s close ally, James, Earl of Douglas was killed

Robert’s son, John, Earl of Carrick, had become the foremost Stewart magnate south of the Forth just as Alexander, Earl of Buchan was in the north. Alexander’s activities and methods of royal administration, enforced by Gaelic mercenaries, drew criticism from northern earls and bishops and from his younger half-brother David, Earl of Strathearn. These complaints damaged the king’s standing within the Council leading to criticism of his ability to curb Buchan’s activities. Robert’s differences with the Carrick affinity regarding the conduct of the war and his continued failure or unwillingness to deal with Buchan in the north led to the political convulsion of November 1384 when the Council removed the king’s authority to govern and appointed Carrick as lieutenant of the kingdom—a coup d’état had taken place. With Robert sidelined, there was now no impediment in the way of war. In June 1385, a force of 1200 French soldiers joined the Scots in a campaign that involved the Earl of Douglas and two of Robert’s sons, John, Earl of Carrick and Robert, Earl of Fife. The skirmishes saw small gains but a quarrel between the French and Scottish commanders saw the abandonment of an attack on the important castle of Roxburgh.

Dundonald Castle, where Robert II died in 1390.

The victory of the Scots over the English at the Battle of Otterburn in Northumberland in August 1388 set in motion Carrick’s fall from power. One of the Scottish casualties was Carrick’s close ally James, Earl of Douglas. Douglas died without an heir, which led to various claims upon the title and estate—Carrick backed Malcolm Drummond, the husband of Douglas’s sister, while Fife sided with the successful appellant, Sir Archibald Douglas, lord of Galloway who possessed an entail on the Douglas estates. Fife, now with his powerful Douglas ally, and those who supported the king ensured a countercoup at the December Council meeting when the guardianship of Scotland passed from Carrick (who had recently been badly injured from a horse-kick) to Fife. Many had also approved of Fife’s intention to properly resolve the situation of lawlessness in the north and in particular the activities of his younger brother, Buchan. Fife relieved Buchan of his offices of lieutenant of the north and justiciar north of the Forth. The latter role was given to Fife’s son, Murdoch Stewart. Robert II toured the north-east of the kingdom in late January 1390, perhaps to reinforce the changed political scene in the north following Buchan’s removal from authority. In March, Robert returned to Dundonald Castle in Ayrshire where he died on 19 April and was buried at Scone on 25 April.


The reign of Robert II has undergone a re-appraisal since the works of historians Gordon Donaldson (1967) and Ranald Nicholson (1974). Donaldson admits to a paucity of knowledge (at the time that he was writing) regarding Robert’s reign and accepts that the early chroniclers writing near to his reign found little to criticise. Robert’s career before and after he succeeded to the throne is described by Donaldson as “to say the least, undistinguished, and his reign did nothing to add lustre to it.” Donaldson goes further and debates the legality of the canon law marriage of Robert and Elizabeth Mure following the papal dispensation, but acknowledges that the Acts of Succession in 1371 and 1372, although sealing the matter in the eyes of Parliament, did not end the generational feud of the descendants of Elizabeth Mure and of Euphemia Ross. Robert’s earlier participation in combat at the battles of Halidon and Neville’s Cross, according to Donaldson, had made him wary of sanctioning military expeditions against the English and that any such actions by his barons were concealed from him. Similarly, Nicholson described Robert’s reign as deficient and that his lack of the skills of governance led to internal strife. Nicholson asserts that the Earl of Douglas was bought off following his armed demonstration just before Robert’s coronation, and associates this with the doubt surrounding the legitimacy of Robert’s sons with Elizabeth Mure.

In contrast, the historians Stephen Boardman (2007), Alexander Grant (1984 & 1992) and Michael Lynch (1992) give a more even-handed appraisal of Robert II’s life. Modern historians show a kingdom that had become wealthier and more stable particularly during the first decade of his rule. Boardman explains that Robert II was subjected to negative propaganda while he was High Steward—David II’s followers denigrated his conduct during his lieutenancies and described them as “tyranny”—and again later as king when the supporters of his son John, Earl of Carrick said that Robert was a king lacking drive and accomplishments, weighed down by age and unfit to govern. Robert II’s association with Gaelic Scotland also drew criticism. He grew up in his ancestral lands in the west and was completely at ease with the Gaelic language and culture and possessed a potent relationship with the Gaelic lords in the Hebrides, upper Perthshire and Argyll. Throughout his reign, Robert spent long periods in his Gaelic heartlands and complaints at the time in Lowland Scotland seem to have been influenced by the view that the king was too much involved in Gaelic concerns. Boardman also asserts that much of the negative views held of Robert II find their origins in the writings of the French chronicler Jean Froissart who recorded that ‘[the king] had red bleared eyes, of the colour of sandalwood, which clearly showed that he was no valiant man, but one who would remain at home than march to the field’. Contrary to Froissart’s view, the early Scottish chroniclers—Andrew of Wyntoun and Walter Bower (who both utilised a source that was nearly contemporary with Robert II)—and later 15th and 16th-century Scottish chroniclers and poets showed ‘Robert II as a Scottish patriotic hero, a defender of the integrity of the Scottish kingdom, and as the direct heir to Robert I’.

Grant (1992) acknowledges that Robert II’s reign in terms of foreign and domestic policy was “not so unsuccessful”. As far as William, Earl of Douglas’s reaction was concerned when he staged an armed demonstration before Robert’s coronation, Grant does not hold to the view that Douglas was in some way demonstrating against Robert’s legitimate right to the throne, but more an assertion that royal patronage should not continue as in the time of David II. Grant also advocates that the demonstration was aimed at father and son Robert and Thomas Erskine, who held the castles of Edinburgh, Stirling and Dumbarton from Robert’s predecessor. Grant seriously called into question the dependability of Froissart’s writings as an effective source for Robert II’s reign. Influential magnate coalitions headed by Carrick, having undermined the king’s position, manipulated the Council of November 1384 to effectively oust Robert II from any real power. Grant gives little weight to the asserted senility of Robert, and suggests that the deposition of Carrick in 1388, and then the resolution to join the Anglo-French truce of 1389, were both at the instigation of Robert II. Yet power was not handed back to Robert II but to Carrick’s younger brother, Robert, earl of Fife which once again saw the king at the disposition of one of his sons. Despite this, the now unknown source whom both Wyntoun and Bower relied on made the point that Fife deferred to his father on affairs of state emphasising the difference in styles in the guardianships of his two sons.

Michael Lynch points out that Robert II’s reign from 1371 until the lieutenancy of Carrick in 1384 had been one exemplified by continued prosperity and stability – a time which Abbot Bower described as a period of “tranquility, prosperity and peace”. Lynch suggests that the troubles of the 1450s between James II and the Douglases (which some historians have interpreted as the legacy of Robert II’s policy of encouraging powerful lordships), was in fact a continuation of David II’s build-up of local lords in the Marches and Galloway—Robert was satisfied with government to leave alone the Douglas and the Stewart earls in their fiefdoms. The weakening of government if anything, Lynch suggests, came not before the 1384 coup but after it, despite the fact that the coup had at its root Robert II’s favouring of his third son, Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan (known as the Wolf of Badenoch).

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Scotland and its History. (Royalty.1)

Mary Queen of Scots: A look back at how Scotland’s most famous queen met her end 435 years ago.

Mary Stuart or Mary I of Scotland left a lasting impression on Scotland.

The country’s most famous queen, her short reign was filled with civil strife, political unrest and ultimately, tragedy.

Born in 1542, at Linlithgow Palace, she was the only surviving child of King James V, and became queen at just six days old after his death but spent much of her early life in France.

With the royal court ruling in her stead, she only returned to Scotland, arriving at Leith in Edinburgh, in 1561.

This then led to nearly three decades of conflict and intrigue before her tragic death at the hands of her cousin, English Queen Elizabeth I, in 1587.

Her Execution

Held by Elizabeth for 19 years, Mary was passed from English Castle to English Castle, after her cousin sentenced her to death, she was taken to Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire in 1587.

It was here was to face the executioner’s axe.

Distraught but defiant, Mary spent the eve of her execution reflecting in her cell, after eating a modest meal, she prayed using her now-famous Rosary Beads before composing her will and writing both a letter to the King of France (the brother of her first husband the Dauphin) and a sonnet.

On the day she was taken to the Great Hall at Fotheringay Castle, where she was to be beheaded.

Stately and graceful, she was said by witnesses to have betrayed no hint of fear while approaching the scaffolding erected in the middle of the room where the headsman’s block awaited.

Said to have kneeled calmly over the block, she uttered her final words.

“In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum (Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit).”

In what must have been a gruesome scene, she was struck twice by the axe before the executioner was finally able to remove her head with a third strike.

He then picked up the severed head and, showing it to those present, cried out: “God save Queen Elizabeth! May all the enemies of the true Evangel thus perish!”

After death

And so ended Mary Queen of Scots. Having outlived no less than three husbands, she sadly hadn’t seen her only son James since he was 10 months old.

Initially buried at Peterborough Cathedral, when James united the crowns of both England and Scotland in 1603, he began moves to have her moved to a more honourable resting place.

In 1612, he ordered her body exhumed and reburied in Westminster Abbey.

famous mary-of-scots_tdih
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Blog/Web.Promotions.(Simple and Gayforward)

Simple and Gayforward.

Hello friends.

Today I would like to promote the incredible Blog of Abdul Halim. and the title is Simple and Gayforward.

I think this Blog is outstanding with many variety of topics.


Not an expert on Islamic affairs just because I’m Muslim. Not an expert on gay issues just because I’m gay.

I am a Singaporean Malay guy, aged 37 (update Aug 2013: 40 now). Just an ordinary guy with his views and opinion, his rambling thoughts. A regular blue-collar worker more occupied with bread-and-butter issues. Living his life day to day, discovering and learning as he goes along.

Also: I have always loved to read, mostly novels, but it’s been a long while since I left school. Please excuse me for grammar, spelling or other mistakes.

Abdul Halim,


Patterns with Inkscape

Posted on 2

I love patterns. On anything: shirts, upholstery, curtains, wallpaper, gift wrap paper. I like patterns that lean towards a retro vibe. I like geometric ones especially with a dash of Art Deco. Or designs featuring nature elements like flowers and leaves. I like simple, elegant ones, I like loud ones. Even ultra minimal designs like polka dots or stripes can be pretty and interesting too, as the variations one can play with them in colour, size and background are endless.

Recently I came across some YouTube tutorials on how to create patterns on Inkscape and decided to give them a go. They seemed easy but I was fumbling and had to keep repeating the steps. However I will do more of them to better get the hang of it. I like trying different types of digital drawing to see which ‘clicks’ with me, when I have the time. Drawing patterns is definitely something I’d like to explore further as a hobby.

Please visit Abdul and show him some support.

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Scottish Mysteries. Drumbeg Wreck.

The Drumbeg Wreck.

On the seabed off Drumbeg in Sutherland lies an unknown wreck site. Three cannons and a wooden hull remain, but archaeologists have failed to find out the story behind the sunken ship. Local fishermen have known of the wreck since the 1990s but there are no historical records of a ship going down here. One theory is that the vessel was owned by the Dutch East India Company, which collapsed in 1799. Researchers have suggested some or all of the crew may have survived, but no links have been traced.

This feature was originally published in 2016.

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Scotland and its History. (Crime)


A five-man gang caused havoc and terror when they carried out a four-minute raid on a jewellers in Glasgow.

Staff at Rox Jewellers in Glasgow’s Argyll Arcade expected Wednesday September 24 2014 to be just like any other day.

But around lunch-time panic and chaos would ensue as the five-man gang wreaked havoc and terror carrying out their perfectly-planned smash-and-grab.

Career criminals Jason Yendall, Aaron Brannan and Jason Britton along with two unknown associates travelled in convoy from Edinburgh and stopped in Queen Street just yards from the arcade which is home to over 30 jewellery stores.

One man remained in the getaway car while the four men – two with baseball bats, one with a sledgehammer and one with an axe, wearing balaclavas, and stormed the busy mall.

Some of the gang stood outside keeping watch as shoppers and staff screamed as other members smashed displays and tossed 21 expensive watches into their holdall.

In a bid to disorientate the robbers one hardy member of staff activated a device which saw smoke fill the arcade.

As they made their escape one yelled “I’ll f*****g kill you all!” before they jumped into their getaway car, complete with stolen number plates, and headed back to the capital.

Their four-minute trail of destruction left the arcade with a £20,000 repair bill.

The value of their haul – including 19 Hublot watches – was £229,601. The watches have never been recovered.

Ringleader Yendall was locked up for 12 years and nine months, Brannan 10 and a half years while Britton was sentenced to five years and 10 months.

Oliver was jailed for seven and a half years and McLay, who used to be a talented chef, sentenced to six years.

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Scottish Places of Interest. Highlands.

The Scottish Highlands.

The whole of Scotland was covered by ice sheets during the Pleistocene ice ages and the landscape is much affected by glaciation. From a geological perspective, the country has three main sub-divisions.

The Highlands and Islands lie to the north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, which runs from Arran to Stonehaven. This part of Scotland largely comprises ancient rocks from the Cambrian and Precambrian, which were uplifted during the later Caledonian orogeny. It is interspersed with igneous intrusions of a more recent age, remnants of which formed mountain massifs such as the Cairngorms and Skye Cuillins.

The Scottish Highlands, located in the north west of Scotland


A significant exception to the above are the fossil-bearing beds of Old Red Sandstones found principally along the Moray Firth coast. The Highlands are generally mountainous and the highest elevations in the British Isles are found here. Scotland has over 790 islands divided into four main groups: Shetland, Orkney, and the Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides. There are numerous bodies of freshwater including Loch Lomond and Loch Ness. Some parts of the coastline consist of machair, a low-lying dune pasture land.

The Central Lowlands is a rift valley mainly comprising Paleozoic formations. Many of these sediments have economic significance for it is here that the coal and iron bearing rocks that fuelled Scotland’s industrial revolution are found. This area has also experienced intense volcanism, Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh being the remnant of a once much larger volcano. This area is relatively low-lying, although even here hills such as the Ochils and Campsie Fells are rarely far from view.

The Southern Uplands are a range of hills almost 200 kilometres (124 mi) long, interspersed with broad valleys. They lie south of a second fault line (the Southern Uplands fault) that runs from Girvan to Dunbar. The geological foundations largely comprise Silurian deposits laid down some 400–500 million years ago. The high point of the Southern Uplands is Merrick with an elevation of 843 m (2,766 ft). The Southern Uplands is home to Scotland’s highest village, Wanlockhead (430 m or 1,411 ft above sea level).


Main article: Climate of Scotland

Tiree, one of the sunniest locations in Scotland

The climate of most of Scotland is temperate and oceanic, and tends to be very changeable., As it is warmed by the Gulf Stream from the Atlantic, it has much milder winters (but cooler, wetter summers) than areas on similar latitudes, such as Labrador, southern Scandinavia, the Moscow region in Russia, and the Kamchatka Peninsula on the opposite side of Eurasia. However, temperatures are generally lower than in the rest of the UK, with the coldest ever UK temperature of −27.2 °C (−17.0 °F) recorded at Braemar in the Grampian Mountains, on 11 February 1895.[135] Winter maxima average 6 °C (43 °F) in the Lowlands, with summer maxima averaging 18 °C (64 °F). The highest temperature recorded was 32.9 °C (91.2 °F) at Greycrook, Scottish Borders on 9 August 2003.

The west of Scotland is usually warmer than the east, owing to the influence of Atlantic ocean currents and the colder surface temperatures of the North Sea. Tiree, in the Inner Hebrides, is one of the sunniest places in the country: it had more than 300 hours of sunshine in May 1975. Rainfall varies widely across Scotland. The western highlands of Scotland are the wettest, with annual rainfall in a few places exceeding 3,000 mm (120 in). In comparison, much of lowland Scotland receives less than 800 mm (31 in) annually. Heavy snowfall is not common in the lowlands but becomes more common with altitude. Braemar has an average of 59 snow days per year,  while many coastal areas average fewer than 10 days of lying snow per year.

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Scottish Foods-Drinks. “Stovies”.

Hi folks, continuing on the Scottish foods topic is an old favourite called “stovies” a traditional Scottish dish which is delicious and very popular, My ex wife makes beautiful stovies and I have made them myself.. yum.

Stovies Banner

Stovies (also stovy tattiesstoved potatoesstovers or stovocks) is a Scottish dish based on potatoes. Recipes and ingredients vary widely but the dish contains potatoes, fat, usually (but not always) onions and often (but again not always) pieces of meat. In some versions, other vegetables may also be added.

The potatoes are cooked by slow stewing in a closed pot with fat (lard, beef dripping or butter may be used) and often a small amount of water or sometimes other liquids, such as milk, stock or meat jelly.  Stovies may be served accompanied by cold meat or oatcakes and, sometimes, with pickled beetroot.

“To stove” means “to stew” in Scots. The term is from the French adjective étuvé which translates as braised. Versions without meat may be termed barfit and those with meat as high-heelers.

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Kings-Queens of Scotland. Edgar The Valiant.

Edgar or Étgar mac Maíl Choluim (Modern Gaelic: Eagar mac Mhaoil Chaluim), nicknamed Probus, “the Valiant” (c. 1074 – 8 January 1107), was King of Scotland from 1097 to 1107. He was the fourth son of Malcolm III and Margaret of Wessex but the first to be considered eligible for the throne after the death of his father.


Edgar claimed the kingship in early 1095, following the murder of his half-brother Duncan II in late 1094 by Máel Petair of Mearns, a supporter of Edgar’s uncle Donald III. His older brother Edmund sided with Donald, presumably in return for an appanage and acknowledgement as the heir of the aged and son-less Donald.

Edgar received limited support from William II of England as Duncan had before him; however, the English king was occupied with a revolt led by Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria, who appears to have had the support of Donald and Edmund. Rufus campaigned in northern England for much of 1095, and during this time Edgar gained control only of Lothian. A charter issued at Durham at this time names him “… son of Máel Coluim King of Scots … possessing the whole land of Lothian and the kingship of the Scots by the gift of my lord William, king of the English, and by paternal heritage.”

Edgar’s claims had the support of his brothers Alexander and David — Ethelred was Abbot of Dunkeld, and Edmund was divided from his siblings by his support of Donald — and his uncle Edgar Ætheling as these witnessed the charter at Durham.

William Rufus spent 1096 in Normandy which he bought from his brother Robert Curthose, and it was not until 1097 that Edgar received further support which led to the defeat of Donald and Edmund in a hard-fought campaign led by Edgar Ætheling.

Although Geoffrey Gaimar claimed that Edgar owed feudal service to William Rufus, it is clear from Rufus’s agreement to pay Edgar 40 or 60 shillings a day maintenance when in attendance at the English court that this was less than accurate. In any event, he did attend the court on occasion. On 29 May 1099, for example, Edgar served as sword-bearer at the great feast to inaugurate Westminster Hall. After William Rufus’s death, however, Edgar ceased to appear at the English court. He was not present at the coronation of Henry I.

Edgar was certainly not heir by primogeniture, as later kings would be, since Duncan II had a legitimate son and heir in the person of William fitz Duncan. With Donald and Edmund removed, however, Edgar was uncontested king of Scots, and his reign incurred no major crisis. Compared with his rise to power, Edgar’s reign is obscure. One notable act was his gift of a camel (or perhaps an elephant), presumably a ‘souvenir’ of the First Crusade, to his fellow Gael Muircheartach Ua Briain, High King of Ireland.

In 1098, Edgar signed a treaty with Magnus Barefoot, King of Norway, setting the boundary between Scots and Norwegian claims in the west. By ceding claims to the Hebrides and Kintyre to Magnus, Edgar acknowledged the practical realities of the existing situation. Edgar’s religious foundations included a priory at Coldingham in 1098, associated with the Convent of Durham. At Dunfermline Abbey, he sought support from Anselm of Canterbury with his mother’s foundation from which the monks of Canterbury may have been expelled by Domnall Bán.[10]

Edgar died in Edinburgh on 8 January 1107 and was buried at Dunfermline Abbey. Unmarried and childless, he acknowledged his brother Alexander as his successor. Edgar’s will also granted David an appanage in “Cumbria” (the lands of the former Kingdom of Strathclyde), and perhaps also in southern parts of Lothian. David would later be known as Prince of the Cumbrian.

Contradictory account of his death.

There is a contradictory account of his death, recorded by Orderic Vitalis (12th century). According to this account, Edgar was killed by his uncle Donald III, while Donald III was killed by Alexander I. This account reports: “On the death of Malcolm [III], king of the Scots, great divisions rose among them, in reference to the succession to the crown. Edgar, the king’s eldest son, assumed it as his lawful right, but Donald, King Malcolm’s brother, having usurped authority, opposed him with great cruelty, and at length, the brave youth [Edgar] was murdered by his uncle. Alexander [I], however, his brother, slew Donald, and ascended the throne; being thus the avenger as well as the successor of his brother…”.

Benjamin Hudson dismisses the story as “completely false”. But its existence points to the circulation of “incorrect” tales about the monarchs of the late 11th century. Verses of The Prophecy of Berchán allude to the murder of another Scottish king: “Alas a king will take sovereignty for four nights and one month;I think it is grievous that the Gaels will boast, woe to him who celebrates him. … A son of the woman of the English… I think it is wretched, that his brother will kill him.” The English woman is obviously Saint Margaret, the Anglo-Saxon consort of Malcolm III. But none of her children, male or female, are known to have been killed by one of their own siblings. The confusion probably derives from the murder of their half-sibling Duncan II of Scotland, son of Malcolm III and his first wife Ingibiorg Finnsdottir. A note in the Annals of Ulster claims that Duncan II was murdered by his brothers Donmall [Donald] and Edmund. As Duncan had no brothers by these names, the text probably points to his uncle Donald III and half-brother Edmund of Scotland, though later texts identify a noble by the name of Máel Petair of Mearns as the actual murderer.

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Infamous Scots. Anthony Miller.

Anthony Joseph Miller (1941–22 December 1960) became the second-last criminal to be executed in Scotland when he was hanged on the gallows at Glasgow’s Barlinnie Prison on 22 December 1960. Miller had been convicted of murdering John Cremin at Queen’s Park Recreation Ground (near Hampden Park) in Glasgow on 6 April 1960. At 19 years of age, Miller was the last teenager to be executed in the United Kingdom.

At the time of his arrest, Miller was an apprentice cabinet-maker who lived with his family in Crosshill, in the South Side of Glasgow. Miller’s accomplice James Denovan and his family lived in nearby Govanhill.

The murder.

The murder of John Cremin was a robbery that went wrong. Miller and Denovan were in the habit of working together as a team, robbing homosexual men who would not report the crimes as homosexuality was illegal at the time. They would use Denovan (a 16-year-old boy) as bait to attract victims. After Denovan had lured the victims to a secluded area of the park out of public view, Miller would suddenly appear, threatening the victims with violence unless they handed over all their valuables. During this particular robbery Cremin was beaten to death and his body hidden under bushes, where it was later discovered by a man out walking his dog.

Denovan was arrested on 11 August 1960 while committing an act of indecency with another man on the Recreation Ground. A newspaper cutting relating to the death of John Cremin was found on his person; Denovan would finally confess his guilt and lead the police to Miller.

The trial

Miller and Denovan’s trial began in Glasgow High Court on 14 November 1960. They were charged with the capital murder of John Cremin as well as three other charges of assault and robbery. Miller also faced another charge of assault and robbery committed with two other accomplices, while Denovan was also charged with committing an act of indecency. At the end of a three-day trial, Miller was found guilty of capital murder, while Denovan was found guilty of non-capital murder. Both verdicts were unanimous.

As a 19-year-old Miller was legally an adult, and because the murder had taken place during the course of a robbery (Cremin had been robbed of his watch, bankbook and £67), this made him eligible for the death penalty under the terms of the Homicide Act 1957. Accordingly, he was sentenced to death by Lord Wheatley, the trial judge. However, as a 16-year-old, Denovan was considered a child in the judicial system and therefore too young to face the death penalty. Consequently, he was sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.


The appeals of both Miller and Denovan were dismissed by the Scottish Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh on 7 December 1960 (the date which had originally been set for Miller’s execution). A new execution date of 22 December was decided. Miller’s family organised a petition to the Secretary of State for Scotland, John Maclay, asking him to recommend a reprieve, with a stall in Glasgow city centre. The petition received 30,000 signatures, but it was turned down.

Miller was hanged at 8.02 a.m. on 22 December by official executioner Harry Allen, assisted by Robert Leslie Stewart. It was the last execution to take place at HMP Barlinnie.

A theatre play about Miller’s last days in the condemned cell, Please, Mister (the title comes from Miller’s alleged last words on the scaffold), was written by Patrick Harkins and first performed in 2010. The initial production starred Iain De Caestecker (in the role of Miller) and David Hayman.

The last ever judicial execution in Scotland was that of Henry John Burnett, which took place in Aberdeen on 15 August 1963.

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Scottish Architecture. Abbotsford.

As Sheriff-Depute of Selkirkshire, Scott needed to spend part of the year in easy reach of the courtroom in Selkirk, so he spent legal terms in Edinburgh and legal vacations in the country. For a few years, he rented a house at Ashestiel, but in 1811 he bought his own ‘mountain farm’, as he described it, ‘on a bare haugh and bleak bank by the side of the Tweed’.

It was called Newarthaugh on the deeds but was Cartleyhole (and sometimes ‘Clarty Hole’) to local people. He immediately renamed it Abbotsford, after the ford across the Tweed below the house used in former times by the monks of Melrose Abbey.

Scott was in such a hurry to turn his bare bank into a paradise that he was already planting trees before taking full possession in May 1811. The existing farmhouse was small for a man with four children. Nevertheless, Scott’s first priority was not to enlarge the house but to acquire more land from his neighbours. With money flowing in from his poetry and early novels, he was able to expand the estate from 110 acres to 1400 within a few years. At the same time, he made small improvements to the house, with no plan for the creation of what can be seen today. The initial intention was to keep the Cartleyhole farmhouse and add a few rooms to give his family more space.

Rambling, whimsical and picturesque were expressions he used at different times to describe the building and they very much fit the process, too. He filled in the courtyard to the west of the farmhouse with a Study, a Dining Room, an Armoury (which he referred to as his ‘Boudoir’) and a conservatory, yet many changes were swept away by later stages of building. The stables which he built still survive, but not the conservatory, kitchen, laundry or spare rooms housed in a building across the courtyard.

The stones speak both of triumph and disaster

Sir Walter Scott

As the money continued to pour in from his writing, Scott began planning the addition of the library, a development that would lead to the house that can be seen today. The old farmhouse was demolished to make room for a large rectangular building housing an Entrance Hall, a new Study, a Library and a Drawing Room. John Smith of Darnick, a local stonemason, was eventually hired as the principal builder and Scott again acted as his own clerk of works as the cottage was pulled.

Several professional architects, craftsmen, dilettante designers and friends contributed ideas and sketches. These included the architect Edward Blore, the cabinet-maker George Bullock and Scott’s friends, the artist James Skene and the actor Daniel Terry. But the principal architect was William Atkinson, who was later responsible for the remodelling of Chequers in Buckinghamshire. The interiors were decorated by David Ramsay Hay of Edinburgh, who went on to redecorate the Palace of Holyroodhouse for Queen Victoria.

After Scott’s death, his descendants continued living in and making changes to parts of the house, most notably Charlotte and John Hope Scott adding the Hope Scott Wing and chapel. The family continued to live in the wing until 2004, having kept the historic rooms of the house open to the public since early 1833 – five months after Scott’s death

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Scottish Foods-Drinks. Abroath Smokie.

Originally created in Arbroath, these haddock go through a traditional process dating back to the 1800s. First, they’re salted overnight to preserve them, then using a very hot, humid and smoky fire they’re cooked for around one hour.

To avoid burning the fish, it’s essential to use intense heat and thick smoke. This also provides the unique smoky taste and smell that people expect from Arbroath Smokies.

Abroath Smokie
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Scotland and its History. (Inventions).

The world’s first whole-body MRI scanner – the Mark 1 – has just been put on display in the Suttie Arts Space in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) was developed in the late 1970s by a University of Aberdeen team. The revolutionary technology allowed the team to analyse an entire body – inside and out – in what was a medical first. MRI is considered to be a safer diagnostic tool than X-rays and is more suitable for soft tissue, building up a picture of the human body by using high frequency radio signals.


Mark 1 with Professor Jim Hutchison and Dr Meg Hutchison. Meg is now and Honorary Curatorial Assistant with the University Museums carrying out research and documentation of Scottish prehistoric human skeletal material.

On its first use in 1980, this machine obtained the first clinically useful MRI image of a patient’s internal tissues. Although initially an experimental machine, it was then also used by Aberdeen Royal infirmary, scanning more than 1000 patients as well as being used for further research. The technology is now in use throughout the world as a staple of medical diagnosis and study.

Mark 1 has now been acquired by University Museums, and is on display in the Suttie Arts Space thanks to the Grampian Hospitals Art Trust, who have also commissioned filmmaker Rob Page to create a documentary film of the people involved in the making of the Mark 1 and also those who now work in the modern day service of MRI imaging.

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Scottish Battles. Myton.

The Battle of Myton, nicknamed the Chapter of Myton or The White Battle because of the number of clergy involved, was a major engagement in the First Scottish War of Independence, fought in Yorkshire on 20 September 1319.

Berwick Falls

In April 1318, Berwick-upon-Tweed, the last Scottish stronghold which was in the hands of the English, was captured by Sir James Douglas and Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, two of King Robert Bruce’s most able commanders. Ever since his defeat at Bannockburn in 1314, Edward II had been preoccupied by an ongoing political struggle with his senior barons, headed by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster. Repeated Scottish raids deep into the north of England had effectively been ignored: but the loss of Berwick was something different. Once the most important port in Scotland, it had been in English hands since 1296; during which time its defences had been greatly strengthened. News of its capture had a sobering effect on Edward and his magnates. Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, managed to arrange a temporary reconciliation between the king and Lancaster. In a spirit of artificial harmony, they came north together with a sizeable army in the summer of 1319. Queen Isabella accompanied the king as far as York, where she took up residence.

Vigorous assaults were made on Berwick by land and sea, but Walter, the High Stewart of Scotland, ably assisted by John Crabb, a military engineer, conducted an effective defence, beating back all attacks. However, he could not be expected to hold out indefinitely. King Robert had no intention of risking a direct attack on the powerful English army which, in the words of John Barbour, ‘might well turn to folly’. Instead, Douglas and Moray were ordered on yet another large-scale diversionary raid into Yorkshire, intended to draw off the besiegers. They came with a large force of mounted infantry, known as hobelars.

The Chapter of Myton.

The Scots seemingly had news of the queen’s whereabouts, and the rumour soon spread that one of the aims of their raid was to take her captive. As King Robert advanced towards York, she was hurriedly taken out of the city by water, finally gaining refuge further south in Nottingham. Yorkshire itself was virtually undefended and the raiders had an uninterrupted passage from place to place. William Melton, the Archbishop of York, set about mustering an army, which included a large number of men in holy orders. While the force was led by some men of standing, including John Hotham, Chancellor of England, and Nicholas Fleming, Mayor of York, it had very few men-at-arms or professional fighting men. From the gates of York, Melton’s host marched out to face the battle-hardened schiltrons, some 3 miles (5 km) east of Boroughbridge, where the rivers Swale and Ure meet at Myton. The outcome is described in the Brut or the Chronicles of England, the fullest contemporary source for the battle;

The Scots went over the water of Solway…and come into England, and robbed and destroyed all they might and spared no manner of thing until they come to York. And when the Englishmen at last heard of this thing, all that might travel-as well as monks and priests and friars and canons and seculars-come and meet with the Scots at Myton-on-Swale, the 12th day of October. Alas! What sorrow for the English husbandmen that knew nothing of war, they were quelled and drenched in the River Swale. And their holinesses, Sir William Melton, Archbishop of York, and the Abbot of Selby and their steeds, fled, and come to York. And that was their own folly that they had mischance, for they passed the water of Swale; and the Scots set fire to three stacks of hay; and the smoke of the fire was so huge that the Englishmen might not see the Scots. And when the Englishmen were gone over the water, so come the Scots with their wings in manner of a shield, and come toward the Englishmen in a rush; and the Englishmen fled, for they lacked any men of arms…and the Scots hobelars went between the bridge and the Englishmen. And when the great host had them met, the Englishmen almost all were slain. And he that might wend over the water was saved; but many were drenched. Alas, for sorrow! for there was slain many men of religion, and seculars, and also priests and clerks; and with much sorrow the Archbishop escaped; and therefore the Scots called it ‘the White Battle’…

Many men were pressed into service who were not trained soldiers, including those who were monks and choristers from the cathedral in York. As so many clerics were slain in the encounter, it also became known as the ‘Chapter of Myton’. Barbour gives the English loss as 1,000 killed, including 300 priests, but the contemporary English Lanercost Chronicle says that 4,000 Englishmen were killed by the Scots, while another 1,000 were drowned in the River Swale. Nicholas Fleming was among those killed.

The King Departs.

The Chapter of Myton had the effect that Bruce was looking for. At Berwick it caused a serious split in the army between those like the king and the southerners, who wished to continue the siege, and those like Lancaster and the northerners, who were anxious about their homes and property. Edward’s army effectively split apart: Lancaster refused to remain and the siege had to be abandoned.

The campaign had been another fiasco, leaving England more divided than ever. It was widely rumoured that Lancaster was guilty of treason, as the raiders appeared to exempt his lands from destruction. Hugh Despenser, the king’s new favourite, even alleged that it was Lancaster who had told the Scots of the queen’s presence in York. To make matters worse, no sooner had the royal army disbanded than Douglas came back over the border and carried out a destructive raid into Cumberland and Westmorland. Edward had little choice but to ask Robert for a truce, which was granted shortly before Christmas.

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Scotland and its History (The Bagpipes).

The Piob Mhor, or the Great Highland Bagpipes by Ben Johnson How bagpipes arrived in Scotland is somewhat of a mystery. Some historians believe that bagpipes originate from ancient Egypt and were brought to Scotland by invading Roman Legions. Others maintain that the instrument was brought over the water by the colonizing Scots tribes from Ireland.

Ancient Egypt does appear to have prior claim to the instrument, however; from as early as 400 BC the ‘pipers of Thebes are reported to have been blowing pipes made from dog skin with chanters of bone. And several hundred years later, one of the most famous exponents of the pipes is said to have been the great Roman Emperor Nero, who may well have been piping rather than fiddling whilst Rome burned.

What is certain however is that bagpipes have existed in various forms in many places around the world. In each country, the construction of the basic instrument comprises the same component parts; an air supply, a bag with a chanter and one or more drones.

By far the most common method of supplying air to the bag is by blowing with the mouth, although some early innovations included the use of bellows. The bag, commonly made from animal skin, is simply an airtight reservoir to hold the air and regulate its flow, thus allowing the piper to breathe and maintain a continuous sound, both at the same time. The chanter is the melody pipe, usually played by one or two hands. Generally comprising two or more sliding parts, the drone allows the pitch of the pipes to be altered.

Whilst historians can only speculate on the actual origins of the piob mhor, or great Highland bagpipe, it was the Highlanders themselves that developed the instrument to its current form, establishing it as their national musical instrument both in times of war and peace.

The original Highland pipes probably comprised a single drone with the second drone being added in the mid to late 1500’s. The third, or the great drone, came into use sometime in the early 1700s.

In the Scottish Lowlands, pipers were part of the travelling minstrel class, performing at weddings, feasts and fairs throughout the Border country, playing song and dance music. Highland pipers, on the other hand, appear to have been more strongly influenced by their Celtic background and occupied a high and honoured position. It is considered that by the 1700s the piper had started to replace the harpist as the prime Celtic musician of choice within the Clan system.

As a musical instrument of war, the first mention of the bagpipes appears to date from 1549 at the Battle of Pinkie, when the pipes replaced trumpets to help inspire the Highlanders into battle. It is said that the shrill and penetrating sound worked well in the roar of battle and that the pipes could be heard at distances of up to 10 miles away.

Due to their inspirational influence, bagpipes were classified as instruments of war during the Highland uprisings of the early 1700s, and following the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the government in London attempted to crush the rebellious clan system. An Act of Parliament was passed which made the carrying of weapons, such as those vicious bagpipes, and the wearing of kilts a penal offence.

Although the Act was eventually repealed in 1785, it was the expansion of the British Empire that spread the fame of the great Highland bagpipes world-wide. Often spearheading the various campaigns of the British Army would be one of the famous Highland regiments, the ‘Devils in Skirts’, and at the head of each regiment would be the unarmed solitary piper leading the troops into and beyond the ‘jaws of death’.

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Scottish Mysteries. Marion Gilchrist.

The Murder of Marion Gilchrist.

The case of Oscar Slater still remains a giant black eye for the Scottish legal system, even now, a hundred years later. It is one of the country’s most egregious miscarriages of justice, fueled by prejudice, xenophobia, and antisemitism.

In 1909, a German Jewish immigrant named Oscar Slater was convicted of the murder of Marion Gilchrist, a wealthy 83-year-old spinster. Somebody had entered Gilchrist’s house while her maid was out, beaten her to death with a hammer and began rifling through her drawers. A neighbor heard the noise and checked in on the old woman, forcing the killer to flee with only a brooch. 

A few days after the crime, Oscar Slater left for America, after having recently sold a brooch to a pawn shop. This was all the evidence police had to go on to arrest him. Never mind the fact that Slater had scheduled his trip before the old woman was murdered. Never mind the fact that his brooch turned out to be a different one which belonged to his girlfriend, or that he had an alibi.

Slater was charged, convicted and sentenced to death, but later commuted to life in prison. His trial had been rife with prejudice, and his defenders pointed out all the flaws in the prosecution’s case, with one whistleblower even alleging that evidence in his favor had been purposely hidden. At one point, even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle got involved, publishing in 1912 a pamphlet arguing for Slater’s innocence. 

Slater was eventually released after almost two decades in prison, receiving £6,000 compensation from the government. His case became rather notorious, but one aspect that tends to be left out is the actual murder – the true killer of Marion Gilchrist has never been identified.

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Scottish foods-Drinks. The breakfast Roll.

In fact, Scottish food has long come under criticism for being fatty, beige and lacking in nutrition, with naughty-but-nice staples such as haggis, tablet and deep-fried Mars Bars giving us a bad reputation.

But like them or loathe them, Scotland’s foodie traditions continue to tempt – and boggle the minds of – curious visitors.

So when you’re visiting Scotland, make sure to pack a pair of trousers with an elasticated waistband and prepare to eat yourself around the country with our pick of the best Scottish foods to try.

Breakfast roll.

If you need breakfast on the go, but still want a little taste of a fry-up, then a breakfast roll is exactly what you need.

A soft, buttery, floury breakfast roll sets the perfect foundation. The filling, however, is entirely up to you.

With items such as bacon, sausage, fried egg, tattie scones and more on offer, 

Why not try a bacon roll with lashings of nippy broon (brown sauce)?

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Scottish Architecture. Clyde Arc.

The Clyde Arc (known locally as the Squinty Bridge) is a road bridge spanning the River Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland, connecting Finnieston near the Clyde Auditorium and SEC with Pacific Quay and Glasgow Science Centre in Govan. A prominent feature of the bridge is its innovative curved design and the way that it crosses the river at an angle. The Arc is the first city centre traffic crossing over the river built since the Kingston Bridge was opened to traffic in 1970.

The bridge was named the “Clyde Arc” upon its official opening on 18 September 2006. It has been previously known as the “Finnieston Bridge” or the “Squinty Bridge”.


The bridge was designed by the Halcrow Group and built by Kilsyth-based civil engineering company Edmund Nuttall. Glasgow City Council instigated the project in conjunction with Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government. Piling works for the bridge were carried out from a large floating barge on the Clyde, whilst the bridge superstructure was fabricated offsite. The bridge-deck concrete-slab units were cast at an onsite pre-casting yard. Planning permission was granted in 2003 and construction of the bridge began in May 2005. It was structurally completed in April 2006. The bridge project cost an estimated £20.3M.The Bridge is designed to last 120 years.[3]

By Jonathan – Glasgow Squinty Bridge, CC BY 2.0,

The bridge has a main span of 96 m (315 ft) with two end spans of 36.5 m (120 ft), resulting in a total span of 169 m (554 ft). The design of the main span features a steel arch. The supports for the main span are located within the river with the abutments located behind the existing quay walls. The central navigation height at mean water height is 5.4 m (18 ft).

It was officially opened on 18 September 2006 by Glasgow City Council leader Steven Purcell, although pedestrians were allowed to walk across it the previous two days as part of Glasgow’s annual “Doors Open” Weekend.

The bridge connects Finnieston Street on the north bank of the river to Govan Road on the southern bank. The bridge takes four lanes of traffic, two of which are dedicated to public transport and two for private and commercial traffic. There are also pedestrian and cycle paths. The new bridge was built to provide better access to Pacific Quay and allow better access to regeneration areas on both banks of the Clyde. The bridge has been designed to cope with a possible light rapid transit system (light railway scheme) or even a tram system.

The bridge is the first part of several development projects planned to regenerate Glasgow. The £40M Tradeston Bridge was also completed (a further proposed pedestrian bridge linking Springfield Quay with Lancefield Quay was not). The canting basin and Govan Graving Docks [de] next to Pacific Quay are subject to development along with Tradeston and Laurieston. A derelict area of Dalmarnock was used as the ‘athletes’ village’ for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Support hanger failure.

The bridge was closed between 14 January and 28 June 2008 due to the failure of one support hanger, and cracks found in a second.

On the night of 14 January 2008 the connecting fork on one of the bridge’s 14 hangers (supporting cables that transfer the weight of the roadway to the bridge’s arch) snapped; Strathclyde Police quickly closed the bridge to traffic. Robert Booth, a spokesman for Glasgow City Council said:

We don’t believe the integrity of the bridge is affected. The Clyde Arc is designed to allow for the removal of one of the bridge supports at a time for repair and maintenance without affecting its operation. However, our number one priority is public safety and until we are completely satisfied the bridge is safe to use, it will remain closed.

A detailed inspection on 24 January found a stress fracture in a second support cable stay, like the one which had failed previously. Engineers determined that all of these connectors would have to be replaced; rather than a brief closure the bridge would have to remain closed for six months. In addition traffic on the river below was also halted. In March Nuttall began installing five temporary saddle frames atop the bridge’s arch; these allowed the weight of the bridge to be supported without the hangers. This allowed them to replace defective fork connectors at the top and bottom of each hanger.

The bridge recommenced on 28 June 2008 with just two of its four lanes in use, having had all the cast steel connectors replaced with milled steel connectors. Once reopened, Glasgow City Council estimated that 6,500 crossings will be made every day using the bridge.

On 8 January 2009, New Civil Engineer reported that subcontractor Watson Steel was suing Macalloy, the supplier of the suspect connectors, for £1.8 million.According to reports, Watson alleges steel obtained from Macalloy did not meet British Standards or their own specifications; parts were inadequately manufactured, and did not tally with test certificates provided by the firm.

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Scottish Antiques-Collectables. (stag)

This stunning Stag and Thistle whisky decanter has a beautiful celtic design featuring the Stag and Thistle.
This specific design consists of a beautiful Stag and Thistle design clinging to the decanter. It makes a beautiful addition to any dinner party or gathering and will definitely get people talking!
Made from pewter and 24% lead crystal glass. Holds 60 cl. Perfect for serving your favourite tipple.
Measures 7cm x 15cm x 27cm. Approx 2.5kg

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Scottish Battles. Auldearn.

The Battle of Auldearn

was an engagement of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It took place on 9 May 1645, in and around the village of Auldearn in Nairnshire. It resulted in a victory for the royalists, led by the Marquess of Montrose and Alasdair MacColla, over Sir John Urry and an army raised by the Covenanter-dominated Scottish government.

The pibroch Blár Allt Earrann commemorates the battle. The battlefield has been included in the Inventory of Historic Battlefields in Scotland and is protected by Historic Scotland under the Historic Environment (Amendment) Act 2011.

In mid-1644, after the Scottish Committee of Estates took the decision to intervene in the First English Civil War on the Parliamentarian side, Montrose had been given a commission by King Charles I to command his forces in Scotland. After initial setbacks, he was able to raise an army consisting partly of Highlanders and partly of professional troops sent by Confederate Ireland at the instigation of the Marquess of Antrim. Most of the Covenanter army had been sent into England, and Montrose began to threaten Covenanter control over the Highlands.

On 2 February 1645, Montrose won a complete victory over the pro-Covenanter Clan Campbell and its leader, the Earl of Argyll, at the Battle of Inverlochy. He then attempted to attack the Covenanter forces in the Lowlands, but found that many of his Highlanders were drifting home with plunder and the Covenanters were too strong. He fell back to the northeast, hoping to recruit more forces. In particular, he needed the support of Clan Gordon, who could provide at least some cavalry.

The Covenanters divided their forces. While Lieutenant General William Baillie remained based in Perth, he sent a detachment commanded by Sir John Urry to the north. Urry was an experienced soldier who had deserted the English Parliamentarians to join the Royalists in 1643, but had changed sides once again to join the Covenanters after their success at the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644.

Montrose, meanwhile, had made a couple of feints towards the Lowlands, but was unable to challenge Baillie’s large army. On 18 April, he heard that Urry’s army was threatening the Gordon lands. Montrose marched north to Skene, where he was rejoined on 30 April by Alasdair MacColla, who had been recruiting fresh forces in the western Highlands, and several contingents of Gordons. From Skene, Montrose advanced against Urry, who was near Elgin.


As the area about Elgin was Covenanter in sympathy, Urry had plenty of information about Montrose’s approach. He withdrew westwards, hoping to lure Montrose into a position where he could launch a surprise counter-attack. His army consisted of four regiments of foot commanded by Colonels Loudoun, Lothian, Buchanan and Sir Mungo Campbell of Lawers, the Mackenzies under the Earl of Seaforth, the levies of the Earl of Sutherland, 800 other local levies and 400 cavalry.

Hearing late on 8 May that Montrose had encamped at Auldearn, which was then a small hamlet, Urry advanced, hoping to catch the Royalists unawares at dawn. In his attempt to achieve surprise, he left his artillery some distance behind. Unfortunately for Urry, some of his men discharged their muskets to clear damp powder charges, thereby alerting the Royalists. Thus warned, Montrose hastily deployed his forces to counter-attack Urry.

On Montrose’s right flank, Alastair MacColla commanded one Irish regiment and some Gordon infantry totalling about 500 men. They were deployed in some enclosures in front of Auldearn, and the Royal Standard was prominently displayed among them to convince Urry that the entire Royalist force was in this position. Montrose’s main force was concealed in a hollow on MacColla’s left flank. There were two Irish regiments and some Gordons fighting on foot (totalling about 800 musketeers and clansmen), and 200 Gordon horsemen led by Lord Aboyne and his younger brother, Lord Lewis Gordon.

Urry’s four regular regiments of infantry advanced against the obvious position defended by Alasdair MacColla, while a small body of 50 cavalry attempted to outflank what they believed to be the Royalist left. The various levies and Urry’s remaining cavalry remained in reserve. The impatient MacColla led an advance against the Covenanters but was forced back. Montrose rode up to the Gordon cavalry, who could hear the noise of battle but could not see what was going on, and claimed that the Macdonalds were driving all before them and were likely to claim all the glory. The Gordon horsemen charged out of the hollow. The small body of Covenanter cavalry trying to outflank MacColla was taken by surprise while trying to negotiate a bog and fled. Montrose’s infantry followed his cavalry and advanced against the right flank of Urry’s four infantry regiments, which broke under attack from all sides. Urry’s three bodies of levies and his remaining cavalry fled the field.

The only part of Urry’s army to make a stand was Clan MacLennan, styled the “Bannermen of Kintail”, who, as standard bearers to Seaforth, chief of Clan Mackenzie, remained isolated during the Covenanters’ flight. They refused to retreat and stood their ground in the face of the Royalist onslaught, refusing to give up the standard of the Mackenzies, the “Cabar Feidh.” Offered no quarter by the Gordon cavalry, Ruairidh Mac Gille Fhinnein, chief of his name, and his clansmen, together with some MacRaes and Mathesons, were all cut down.

As with most of Montrose’s victories, many of the casualties were inflicted after the Covenanter army broke and fled, in a merciless pursuit which was continued for 14 miles (23 km).


Montrose had destroyed half the Covenanter forces arrayed against him. Urry later turned his coat once again and joined Montrose.

A pub/restaurant, named “The Covenanter” in commemoration of the battle, stands on part of the old battlefield at the end of Auldearn.

The battle and the Royalist campaign of 1644-1645 in general feature in the 1937 novel And No Quarter by Irish writer Maurice Walsh, told from the perspective of two members of O’Cahan’s Regiment.

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Infamous Scots. Robert Sempill.

Robert Sempill, 3rd Lord Sempill (c. 1505–1576) was a Scottish lord of Parliament.

Robert, also Semphill or Semple, 3rd Lord Sempill (d. circa 1575), commonly called the ‘Great Lord Sempill’, was the elder son of William Sempill, 2nd Lord Sempill, by his first wife, Lady Margaret Montgomery, eldest daughter of Hugh Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Eglinton. His parents’ marriage was commemorated in carved stone heraldry at Castle Semple Collegiate Church. Through her paternal grandmother, Lady Margaret Montgomery was a fifth generation descendant from Robert II of Scotland. So descendants of Robert, 3rd Lord Sempill, are descended from many Scottish monarchs up to Robert II, and also from Anglo-Saxon kings (through the marriage of Malcolm III of Scotland to Saint Margaret of Scotland).

The Sempill family from the thirteenth century were hereditary bailiffs of the regality of Paisley and sheriffs of Renfrew under the Lord High Steward of Scotland. They frequently distinguished themselves in the English wars, and were employed in important duties of state. Sir Thomas Sempill, father of John Sempill, 1st Lord Sempill, was killed at the battle of Sauchieburn on 11 June 1488, fighting in support of James III, and the first Lord Sempill, created by James IV about 1489, fell at Flodden on 9 September 1513.


Early career

Robert, as Master of Sempill, served in household of James V of Scotland wearing livery costume, and gave the King presents which were recorded because the King had them embellished by his craftsmen. In 1532 the King’s armourer William Smithberde polished and sharpened the blades of eight two-handed swords given by Robert, other gifts were stockings and a tartan coat called a “galcot” in January 1533. On 20 October 1533, he was made Governor and Constable of the king’s castle of Douglas. In April 1534, after Robert had reached his majority, James V exacted a financial penalty for his “non-entry” to the Sempill lands, punishing his father for non-payment.

Robert Sempill became Master of Household to Regent Arran. In July 1550, Robert Sempill was summoned for treason. David Stewart became Master of Household to Regent Arran in his place.

He succeeded his father as Lord Sempill in 1552.


Robert, Lord Sempill, was said to have murdered William Crichton, 5th Lord Crichton of Sanquhar, on 11 June 1552. According to the story recorded by John Lesley, Lord Sempill was in the private lodging of Regent Arran in Edinburgh and was moved by rage to stab Lord Sanquhar with his sword. Sempill was arrested and taken to Edinburgh Castle and would have been beheaded, but his influential friends secured his release.

It was said by Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie that Sempill’s daughter Grizzel, called ‘Lady Gilton’, who was the widow of James Hamilton of Stenhouse a former Provost of Edinburgh, was particularly helpful in securing help for Sempill. She was the mistress of John Hamilton, Archbishop of St Andrews, Regent Arran’s brother. A record survives of a pardon granted in September 1552 to Lord Sempill’s eldest son, Robert Master of Sempill, for his part in the murder.

For Lesley, the incident was an example of the troubles in Scotland during a period of factional rivalry between Regent Arran and Mary of Guise before she became Regent. Pitscottie tells the story as an example of corruption in Arran’s regency.

Religion and the sieges of Castle Semple

Robert, Lord Sempill, resisted the Scottish Reformation in 1560. Being a steadfast supporter of the queen regent against the Lords of the Congregation, he was described by Knox as “a man sold under sin, an enemy to God and to all godliness.” The Lords of the West laid siege to Castle Semple in Lochwinnoch in December 1559. Leaving his son at Castle Semple, Lord Semple took refuge in the stronghold of Dunbar Castle, then under the command of a French captain, Corbeyran de Cardaillac Sarlabous. Sarlabous was asked in August 1560 to give him up but declined to do so until he received the command of Mary, Queen of Scots and Francis II of France. Thomas Randolph shortly afterwards reported that Sempill had conveyed himself secretly out of Dunbar, and had retired to his own castle with twenty arquebusiers lent him by Sarlabous, and then that he had gone to France.

After the Scottish Reformation Parliament, James Hamilton, Duke of Châtellerault and his son James Hamilton, 3rd Earl of Arran again besieged Castle Semple. An ally of the Hamiltons, the Earl of Glencairn gave a description of an assault on the castle on 18 September 1560 that penetrated the yard. The attackers took some sheep to prove their achievement:

“This last Wednesday the few hagbutters here came to Castle Sympill, and they within came forth to the yards in their accustomed manner, and they, more wilful than wise, came plain upon them and drove them out of the yards into the castle, while they (the defenders) shot little pistols at them out of the windows, and dared not come to the wall heads (parapet). And to verify this, they took sheep that they had within the close away with them. And never a man hurt or slain, but one who will heal, and diverse of the enemy evil hurt, as my brother has written to me.”

Lord Sempill made his way to Dumbarton Castle but was captured on 14 October 1560. When Castle Semple was taken in November 1560, he was at Dunbar. He was ‘relaxed from the horn’ in March 1561. A royal cannon with the insignia of James V of Scotland, probably used at this siege, was recovered from Castle Semple Loch in the 19th century and is now in the collection of Glasgow Museums.

Lord Sempill and Mary Queen of Scots

Sempill was one of the “nobles and barons of the west country” who on 5 Sept 1565 signed a band in support of Mary and Darnley, in opposition to the Earl of Moray and other rebels of the Chaseabout Raid, and in Mary’s army held a command in the vanguard of the battle; Robert, 3rd Lord Sempill’s initial loyalty to Mary Queen of Scots was acknowledged:

“Pope Pius IV to John, Lord of Hume, William, Lord of Seton, John, Lord of Sempill…: The report which the Queen of Scotland’s ambassador… has given of the steadfastness of… some… Scottish nobles in defence of the Catholic religion, as also of their loyalty to their Queen, is very gratifying to the Pope, who felicitates them on the renown they have won among men, and much more upon the reward they may expect from God. He exhorts them still to persevere, more especially as there is now no little hope of better things”.

Though a Catholic, he joined the association for the ‘defences of the young prince’ after the murder of Darnley, in opposition to Bothwell and the queen.


At Carberry Hill on 14 June 1567, he commanded in the vanguard of the army that opposed the queen; and he was also one of those who signed the documents authorising William Douglas of Lochleven to take the queen under his charge in Lochleven Castle. In Morton’s declaration regarding the discovery and custody of the ‘casket letters’, he is mentioned as having been present at the opening of the casket.

After the queen’s escape from Lochleven, he assembled his dependents against her at Langside on 13 May 1568; and on the 19 May he was, with the Earl of Glencairn, appointed Lieutenant of the Western parts, with special instructions to watch the castle of Dumbarton, and prevent the entrance into it of provisions or reinforcements or fugitives. For his special services he obtained a gift of the abbey of Paisley. While returning one evening in May 1570 from the army that had demolished the castle of the Hamiltons, he was seized by some of the Hamiltons’ dependents, and carried a prisoner to Draffen, whence he was shortly afterwards removed to Argyle. Calderwood states that he remained in Argyle for twelve months, but he was probably set at liberty in February 1570 [1571 New Style]; for when the house of Paisley surrendered to the regent at that time, the lives of those within it were granted on this condition. Notwithstanding the utmost efforts of Glencairn and Sempill, the castle of Dumbarton continued to hold out, until, on 1 April 1571, its rock was scaled by his cousin Thomas Crawford of Jordanhill.


Robert 3rd Lord Sempill married firstly, Isabel Hamilton, a daughter of William Hamilton of Sanquhar, and secondly Elizabeth Carlyle, a daughter of Lord Torthorwald.

His children with his first wife Isabel Hamilton of Sanquhar, included four daughters and two sons:

  • Robert Master of Sempill, who predeceased him, father of Robert Sempill, 4th Lord Sempill
  • Andrew Sempill, ancestor of the Sempills of Burchell
  • James Sempill. In August 1542 Andrew Sempill and his brother James Sempill, sons of Robert, Master of Sempill, were old enough to witness a property transaction made in Paisley.[19]

Children with his second wife Elizabeth Carlyle, include

  • John Sempill of Beltrees, who married Mary Livingston in March 1565. She was one of the Four Marys who were ladies in waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots.
  • Colonel William Sempill of Lochwinnoch, who was involved in the Spanish blanks plot, is thought to have been a son of the 3rd Earl.
  • Jean Sempill married James Ross, 4th Lord Ross.

Lord Sempill was still living on 29 March 1574, when Claud Hamilton brought an action against but died before 17 January 1576.

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Scottish Places of interest. Auchindrain.

Auchindrain is a museum representing an important part of Scotland’s past. The 22-acre site, deep in the stunning Argyll countryside, contains the houses and other buildings of a small farming community known as a township. Back in history Scotland had relatively few cities and towns. Most people lived in the country, worked as farmers and lived in a township – there were once thousands of places like this.

In a township, a group of families lived alongside each other, sharing the land and the work, growing their own food, and breeding cattle (from around 1850, sheep) to sell. They were most common in the north and west of Scotland, and evolved so that people could survive in a mountainous and unforgiving landscape with poor soil and a cold, wet climate. Life in a township was extremely harsh: people had few possessions, very little money, and starvation was always just around the corner.

In the 1700s, new ways of farming started to develop, based on better and more scientific understanding of things like land drainage, animal breeding and crops such as potatoes and turnips. Landowners, supported by the new knowledge and encouraged by increasing demand for everything that the land could produce, began a process known as agricultural improvement – the farming equivalent of the industrial revolution that was transforming cities like Glasgow. The townships with their communal way of life were seen as an obstacle to change. More could be produced from the land and there was more money to be made, but the townships and their people were in the way.

Over about a hundred years from around 1750 almost all of Scotland’s townships were improved out of existence. In some places they were replaced by modern-style farms run by tenants who could apply the new ways and which employed people as agricultural labourers. In others they were divided up into crofts, Small individual tenancies that deliberately did not provide a family with enough land to earn a living – the system was partly intended to provide a captive workforce for new industrial enterprises. Some landowners had the townships demolished and sent the people away so that the land could be used to graze large flocks of sheep managed by a few shepherds, or sometimes as private sporting estates. The process, known as the Highland Clearances (although not all landowners actually evicted the people who had been their tenants in the old townships) was brutal, often traumatic, and changed the face of rural Scotland for ever. By around 1850 most townships had gone.  A few seem to have survived into the late 1800s and early 1900s, by moving with the times and changing their approach to farming and the construction of buildings. Auchindrain was the last, remaining a genuine community into the 1930s before the number of tenants dropped to just one. Farming ended here in 1963, the last people moved away in 1967, and the township has been open to visitors as a museum since 1968.


Today, Auchindrain is a very special place indeed: there is nowhere else like it, in Scotland or elsewhere. During the main period of agricultural improvement, between about 1780 and 1860, it kept its traditional communal structure and was not divided up into crofts or rebuilt as a modern-style farm. As a consequence it retains much of the character and layout of a traditional township – a random scatter of simple buildings set in a landscape that has changed relatively little in centuries.  The preserved buildings give an authentic insight into how people lived and worked. There’s nothing staged or glossy, and what you see creates a powerful picture of the lives of ordinary people. You can wander freely around the houses and farm buildings, see where the animals grazed and where crops were grown. The houses are furnished with everyday objects and you’ll find old farming tools and implements in the barns.  It feels as if the people have just gone out for the day.

Auchindrain is truly a place in Scotland’s history: a reminder of how we once were.  It has particular significance for people around the world of Scottish descent in countries like the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. If this is you, the reality is that your ancestors almost certainly came from a township, and either chose to emigrate to seek a life that was not so hard, or were forced to do so. Only at Auchindrain can you get a real sense of the sort of place they came from. So if you are coming to Scotland in search of your ancestors, please put Auchindrain on the list of places you absolutely must visit. If you can’t make the journey in person, follow the link below and explore the township online.

We hope you will share our view that this magical place should continue to be preserved.  If so, please click here to make a donation to support our work. Auchindrain is owned and operated by a charity, Urras Achadh an Droighinn/The Auchindrain Trust: although Histoirc Environment Scotland does provide us with financial help with running costs, we need every penny we can get and your gift will be very much appreciated.

Courtesy of Auchindrain website.

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Hello friends.

Hi friends. I had a disaster and lost my wordpress Blog. I was with a hosting company and did not know how to download my blog and save it before my subscription ran out. So I have to start again. I am in the middle of trying to get all my posts back from an xml file I saved thankfully, but I need you all to follow me again on this new Blog. I lost all my community when my blog was deleted. Please join me again and re establish our friendship once again.

You will probably see older posts back on my site, because I had to repost them .It would be amazing if you read them again. thank you.

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