Michael Robert Alexander Brown (born 19 April 1966 in Glasgow) is a Scottish businessman convicted of perjury. Between 10 February and 30 March 2005 he donated £2.4 million to the Liberal Democrats. He was the largest donor the party had ever had, giving ten times more than anything it had received before.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Michael Brown claimed to have been the son of a lord and to have attended Gordonstoun and St Andrews University. In fact, he had failed his maths O Grade at his local school, and did a City and Guilds in catering at Glasgow College of Food Technology.
Brown resided in Majorca, Spain and claimed to have been an international bond trader, whose clients were vetted by United States embassy officials and Special Branch before he accepted their money. Brown’s clients included former Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards.
In June 2008, after being charged with various counts of fraud and money laundering, Brown fled bail and an arrest warrant was subsequently issued. The charges of fraud and money laundering were later discharged by the judge at trial.
Brown was last known to live in Templewood Avenue, Hampstead, northwest London. He told various former clients he had been suffering from cancer, then took the surname Campbell-Brown and stopped shaving, before he disappeared. Neighbours of his Hampstead flat said that in the weeks before he disappeared he had changed his appearance by growing a full beard instead of his usual goatee and allowed his usually blond-dyed hair to turn grey. His lawyer disputed claims that Brown changed his appearance to abscond.
The City of London police conducted an extensive search both in the UK and abroad, including the home of Paul Strasburger, the fellow Lib Dem donor who put up bail for Brown prior to his disappearance.
Brown is believed to have reappeared in the Caribbean in late 2008. Credit cards connected to Brown were used there in September and October 2008 in Antigua and Barbuda, according to reports by a team of private detectives working for two of Brown’s creditors. Records seen by The Observer newspaper showed that a credit card in the name of M. Campbell-Brown — a name used by Brown in the weeks before he disappeared — was used in Antigua and Barbuda at two cash dispensers during this period.
In a brazen move, Brown directed his solicitor, Jamil Ahmud, to issue a statement on his behalf that he had not used any credit cards in the past three years in the Caribbean.
In September 2011, it was reported by The Guardian that Brown was living in the Dominican Republic under a false identity. On 6 January 2012, he was arrested by the Dominican police.
In August 2008 Southwark Crown Court Judge Wadsworth decided that the trial could proceed in the defendant’s absence and as private funding had run out to his legal team, Brown would be eligible for legal aid.
In November 2008, a trial was held in the Crown Court in absentia. The jury was told Brown carefully crafted an “illusion of wealth and influence” designed to give him social acceptability which he craved, which included pretending his father was a lord, claimed connections with royalty, and promised investors returns of up to 50%. Martin Edmunds, QC, prosecuting, said he used the money to fund an “extravagant lifestyle”, pay business expenses and keep other investors happy with “pretend” returns.
Brown rented a £49,000-a-year Mayfair apartment where he “conducted negotiations” with Edwards, an impressive office in the same area, a Range Rover with the number plate 5 AVE. Brown also spent £2.5m on a private jet, £400,000 on an ocean-going yacht and £327,000 on an entertainment system for his home in Majorca.
On 28 November 2008, the jury took nine-and-a-half hours to convict him on four counts – two thefts, one of furnishing false information and one of perverting the course of justice between 9 February 2005 and 17 April 2006. He was convicted in his absence and sentenced to seven years in prison.
Electoral Commission on donation to Liberal Democrat party.
Because he was residing in Majorca, Spain, at the time of the donation, and was not registered to vote in the United Kingdom, Michael Brown used a company name as the official legal donor. In October 2006 the High Court in London ruled that the company which Brown used to donate the money to the Liberal Democrats, 5th Avenue Partners, had never traded in bonds. The Electoral Commission issued a statement stating:
The Electoral Commission has previously made clear its view that it was reasonable for the Liberal Democrats—based on the information available to them at the time—to regard the donations they received from 5th Avenue Partners Ltd in 2005, totaling just over £2.4m, as permissible. It remains the Commission[‘]s view that the Liberal Democrats acted in good faith at that time, and the Commission is not re-opening the question of whether the party or its officers failed to carry out sufficient checks into the permissibility of the donations. Nevertheless, we have always said that if any additional information that has a bearing on the permissibility of the donations comes to light, we would consider the matter further. It is not clear to the Commission that 5th Avenue Partners Ltd was carrying on business in the UK at the time the donations were made. If not, then the donations were impermissible. Under Section 58 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, the Commission has the power to apply to a court for an order that the party must forfeit to the Consolidated Fund an amount equal to the value of any impermissible donation. We are considering the available evidence and expect to reach a decision on whether to apply for such an order in the next few weeks
Robert Mann, a Los Angeles lawyer, has issued a High Court writ demanding £683,000 from the Lib Dems claiming that they allowed their desire for the windfall to overcome any doubts about its source.
On 20 November 2009, the Electoral Commission issued a press release, stating that:
Having considered all the evidence in this case, we have concluded that 5th Avenue Partners Limited met the requirements to be a permissible donor. The Electoral Commission will be taking no further action in this case
A full case summary was also made available on the Commission’s website.
In April 2010, the fugitive fraudster, Michael Brown, was one of the subjects of Britain’s first televised election debate.
On May 14, 1752, Colin Roy Campbell of Glenure was shot near the Scottish town of Appin. Campbell was not a well-liked man, as he was a government agent in charge of local evictions. He was killed when he was on his way to evict members of the local Stewart clan, to be replaced with members of his own family. Ailean Stewart was the main suspect. He fled, but was tried and sentenced to death in his absence. His brother, James, was also sentenced to death as an accomplice, even though an alibi placed James nowhere near the shooting.
The case has been held up as a terrible miscarriage of justice. The head judge and 11 of the 15 jury members were from the Campbell clan. In 2008, a Scottish lawyer petitioned the government to have the sentence officially overturned, stating there was “not a shred of evidence” that the Stewarts had been involved. In 2013, modern forensic analysis determined that there must have been two gunmen. That contradicted the report from the sole witness of the crime, who claimed to have seen a single shooter on a hill.
According to research by author James Hunter, the shooter is a man named Donald Stewart. Hunter claims it was well known among many Stewarts at the time, but they didn’t want to give Donald up to the authorities, so they let James take the fall. He says the secret has been passed on through several generations over the years. While this particular case is still capable of stirring strong emotions among some Scots, it’s likely to never be completely solved.
Causantín or Constantín mac Cináeda (in Modern Gaelic: Còiseam mac Choinnich; died 877) was a king of the Picts. He is often known as Constantine I in reference to his place in modern lists of kings of Scots, but contemporary sources described Causantín only as a Pictish king. A son of Cináed mac Ailpín (“Kenneth MacAlpin”), he succeeded his uncle Domnall mac Ailpín as Pictish king following the latter’s death on 13 April 862. It is likely that Causantín’s reign witnessed increased activity by Vikings, based in Ireland, Northumbria and northern Britain. He died fighting one such invasion.
A signboard in Fife, Scotland concerning Causantín.
Very few records of ninth century events in northern Britain survive. The main local source from the period is the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba, a list of kings from Cináed mac Ailpín (died 858) to Cináed mac Maíl Coluim (died 995). The list survives in the Poppleton Manuscript, a thirteenth-century compilation. Originally simply a list of kings with reign lengths, the other details contained in the Poppleton Manuscript version were added from the tenth century onwards. In addition to this, later king lists survive. The earliest genealogical records of the descendants of Cináed mac Ailpín may date from the end of the tenth century, but their value lies more in their context, and the information they provide about the interests of those for whom they were compiled, than in the unreliable claims they contain. The Pictish king-lists originally ended with this Causantín, who was reckoned the seventieth and last king of the Picts.
For narrative history the principal sources are the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Irish annals. While Scandinavian sagas describe events in 9th century Britain, their value as sources of historical narrative, rather than documents of social history, is disputed. If the sources for north-eastern Britain, the lands of the kingdom of Northumbria and the former Pictland, are limited and late, those for the areas on the Irish Sea and Atlantic coasts—the modern regions of north-west England and all of northern and western Scotland—are non-existent, and archaeology and toponymy are of primary importance.
Languages and names
Writing a century before Causantín was born, Bede recorded five languages in Britain. Latin, the common language of the church; Old English, the language of the Angles and Saxons; Irish, spoken on the western coasts of Britain and in Ireland; Brythonic, ancestor of the Welsh language, spoken in large parts of western Britain; and Pictish, spoken in northern Britain. By the ninth century a sixth language, Old Norse, had arrived with the Vikings.
Amlaíb and Ímar
Viking activity in northern Britain appears to have reached a peak during Causantín’s reign. Viking armies were led by a small group of men who may have been kinsmen. Among those noted by the Irish annals, the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle are Ívarr—Ímar in Irish sources—who was active from East Anglia to Ireland, Halfdán—Albdann in Irish, Healfdene in Old English— and Amlaíb or Óláfr. As well as these leaders, various others related to them appear in the surviving record.
Viking activity in Britain increased in 865 when the Great Heathen Army, probably a part of the forces which had been active in Francia, landed in East Anglia. The following year, having obtained tribute from the East Anglian King Edmund, the Great Army moved north, seizing York, chief city of the Northumbrians. The Great Army defeated an attack on York by the two rivals for the Northumbrian throne, Osberht and Ælla, who had put aside their differences in the face of a common enemy. Both would-be kings were killed in the failed assault, probably on 21 March 867. Following this, the leaders of the Great Army are said to have installed one Ecgberht as king of the Northumbrians. Their next target was Mercia where King Burgred, aided by his brother-in-law King Æthelred of Wessex, drove them off.
While the kingdoms of East Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria were under attack, other Viking armies were active in the far north. Amlaíb and Auisle (Ásl or Auðgísl), said to be his brother, brought an army to Fortriu and obtained tribute and hostages in 866. Historians disagree as to whether the army returned to Ireland in 866, 867 or even in 869. Late sources of uncertain reliability state that Auisle was killed by Amlaíb in 867 in a dispute over Amlaíb’s wife, the daughter of Cináed. It is unclear whether, if accurate, this woman should be identified as a daughter of Cináed mac Ailpín, and thus Causantín’s sister, or as a daughter of Cináed mac Conaing, king of Brega. While Amlaíb and Auisle were in north Britain, the Annals of Ulster record that Áed Findliath, High King of Ireland, took advantage of their absence to destroy the longphorts along the northern coasts of Ireland. Áed Findliath was married to Causantín’s sister Máel Muire. She later married Áed’s successor Flann Sinna. Her death is recorded in 913.
In 870, Amlaíb and Ívarr attacked Dumbarton Rock, where the River Leven meets the River Clyde, the chief place of the kingdom of Alt Clut, south-western neighbour of Pictland. The siege lasted four months before the fortress fell to the Vikings who returned to Ireland with many prisoners, “Angles, Britons and Picts”, in 871. Archaeological evidence suggests that Dumbarton Rock was largely abandoned and that Govan replaced it as the chief place of the kingdom of Strathclyde, as Alt Clut was later known. King Artgal of Alt Clut did not long survive these events, being killed “at the instigation” of Causantín son of Cináed two years later. Artgal’s son and successor Run was married to a sister of Causantín.
Amlaíb disappears from Irish annals after his return to Ireland in 871. According to the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba he was killed by Causantín either in 871 or 872 when he returned to Pictland to collect further tribute. His ally Ívarr died in 873.
Last days of the Pictish kingdom
“Constantine’s Cave” – also known as the Nigra Specus (“Black Cave”) – at Balcomie near Crail in Fife, Scotland: the supposed death place of Causantín.
In 875, the Chronicle and the Annals of Ulster again report a Viking army in Pictland; the Annals of Ulster say that “a great slaughter of the Picts resulted”. No name is given to the battle in which the slaughter occurred, yet the Chronicle notes a battle fought between Danes and Scots near Dollar but notes a subsequent “annihilation” at Atholl. In 877, shortly after building a new church for the Culdees at St Andrews, Causantín was captured and executed (or perhaps killed in battle) after defending against Viking raiders. Although there is agreement on the time and general manner of his death, it is not clear where this happened. Some believe he was beheaded on a Fife beach, following a battle at Fife Ness, near Crail. William Forbes Skene reads the Chronicle as placing Causantín’s death at Inverdovat (by Newport-on-Tay), which appears to match the Prophecy of Berchán. The account in the Chronicle of Melrose names the place as the “Black Cave,” and John of Fordun calls it the “Black Den”. Causantín was buried on Iona.
Causantín’s son Domnall and his descendants represented the main line of the kings of Alba and later Scotland.
Causantín is listed as a saint, a disciple of Saint Columba, and a martyr in the 2001 edition of the Roman Martyrology’.
Among the most popular types of art found across Scotland are ring-and-cup marks, which are patterns of concentric circles and lines carved into rocks. Some of the art may be as old as 5,000 years. The meaning of these patterns is lost to time, if they ever had meaning at all.
A more recent art phenomenon found in Scotland are Pict stones. These are relief sculptures carved into stone slabs similar to Egyptian hieroglyphs that depict people and animals. A statistical analysis of 200 Pict stones from the sixth century concluded that they aren’t simply pretty pictures—they represent a written language. The study, carried out by Exeter University, analyzed how often certain symbols followed others and found a pattern that matched many known ancient languages.
Unfortunately, the study didn’t bring us any closer to understanding what the stones actually mean. The lead author of the research, Rob Lee, suggests they may be lists of the dead. The vocabulary used on the stones seems to be quite limited, and we may never know just what the Picts were recording.
A small cottage in the Edinburgh suburb of Gilmerton hides the entrance to an unusual mystery. Buried in the sandstone underneath the town’s homes are a series of tunnels known as Gilmerton Cove. They are obviously man-made—on top of the building-like layout, there are benches, seats, and stairs carved from the stone—yet no one has any real idea who built them, when, or why.
A popular explanation, first recorded in 1769, is that the tunnel system was carved by a blacksmith named George Paterson between 1719 and 1724. The idea is that it was a home and workshop, but there are good reasons to doubt this. The area supposedly identified as a fireplace has no blackening around it, suggesting nothing has ever been burned there. There exists what appears to be a well, but it never went deep enough to hit water. Another possibility is that it was dug in the 17th century as a “trial bore” to search for coal. There are some tunnels heading north that are blocked but may once have reached the nearby Craigmillar Castle, suggesting that the cove could have been an escape tunnel. Some of the wilder suggestions include the idea that it was used as a hideaway by witches facing persecution.
An archaeological investigation was carried out between 2000 and 2002 to determine once and for all what purpose the tunnels served. Sadly, its only conclusion was that the cove had been so widely used over the last few centuries that any chance of figuring out its origins are long gone.
In the 1830s, a ruthless gang of criminals who called themselves the Black Band dominated the city of Dundee. Since Dundee only had 14 police officers, it wasn’t difficult for the Band to indulge their penchant for robbery and rioting.
The law got a break in 1835, when they caught a Black Band member named Mark Devlin breaking into a property and decided to make an example of him. Devlin was tried and sentenced to death by hanging. That was a bit of a problem, though, because Dundee didn’t have a hangman. Hanging had been used by the English to execute supporters of Scottish rebels, so no one in Dundee wished to be associated with it.
They arranged for a hangman to travel from Edinburgh and made a makeshift platform on the side of a local Guild Hall. When the executioner didn’t show, officials scrambled to find a replacement. A man identified as local showman James Livingstone volunteered, and Devlin was sent to meet his maker. Livingstone’s reputation tumbled quickly as a result, which didn’t make him too happy, because Livingstone had actually been 24 kilometers (15 mi) away in the neighboring town of Forfar at the time. He had reliable witnesses who saw him there, and he was eventually able to persuade everyone that he wasn’t even present at Devlin’s hanging. But who did hang Mark Devlin? Nearly 180 years later, we don’t know and likely never will.
Infamous Leith tower block pair in-line for listing
November 11 2016
A pair of Leith tower blocks immortalised in Trainspotting could become Edinburgh’s newest listed buildings following the launch of a consultation exercise by Historic Environment Scotland.
Best known as the home of ‘Sick Boy’ from Trainspotting Cables Wynd House, colloquially known as the banana flats owing to its curvaceous profile, the building could soon become recognised for its architectural qualities should it be listed alongside the neighbouring Linksview House.
Residents of both blocks, predominantly owned by City of Edinburgh Council, are being asked their views as part of the listing process.
Historic Environment Scotland’s deputy head of listing, Dawn McDowell said: “Cables Wynd House and Linksview House were innovative, ground-breaking designs at the time when they were built and offered a new vision for social housing and for those who lived in them.
“A key aim of listing is to recognise the special architectural importance of these buildings as well as celebrating and sharing their wider social and cultural role.”
An informal drop-in session will be held on 6 December at Leith Library, Ferry Road, between 16:00 and 19:00.
Scotland Yard Motorcycle Patrols in 1955. Source: (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
The name Scotland Yard has become almost synonymous with detective work and police force, thanks to Hollywood movies and television shows. But how much do we really know about Scotland Yard? Did you know that it isn’t in Scotland at all? And there isn’t a yard? Did you know it is home to the Bobbies? And that the Jack the Ripper case is its most famous unsolved case?
Scotland Yard is home to the Metropolitan Police Force of London. Source: (abc.net.au)
It’s in London, Not Scotland
Scotland Yard is the name of the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Force of London, but the name of the building, over time, came to represent the police force itself. One of the organizers of the police force back in the 1830s was a gentleman named Richard Mayne. Mayne lived at 4 Whitehall Place, a private home that opened into a large courtyard. This courtyard was called the Great Scotland Yard because it sat on the site of a former medieval palace that was used by Scottish royalty. Hence, the name Scotland Yard. Just before the turn of the 1900s, the police force moved into a new building, located on the Victoria Embankment. This new building was appropriately named New Scotland Yard.
London’s Bobbies. Source: (pinterest.com)
Robert Peel and His Bobbies
The Metropolitan Police Force of London was formed in 1829 by an act of Parliament. The act was proposed by Sir Robert Peel, the Home Secretary of Parliament. He suggested that the city needed a unified police force to replace the watchman system that was currently in place. Because he advocated so hard for a metropolitan police force, Londoners referred to the police officers as “Bobby’s boys”, which soon became just “Bobbies.”
Scotland Yard police protect high ranking individuals. Source: (smithsonianmag.com)
The Police, FBI, and Secret Service Rolled into One
The responsibility of Scotland Yard extends much further than just patrolling the city. The members of Scotland Yard also provide security for important people, such as visiting dignitaries. They also do undercover detective work. The first plainclothes bobbies started in 1842 and integrated themselves into the community so they could watch for criminal activity. At first, Londoners balked at plainclothes officers spying on their every move, but when Scotland Yard cracked several key cases, the public learned the value of undercover cops.
Jack the Ripper preyed on London’s prostitutes. Source: (spectator.com.uk)
Scotland Yard’s Most Infamous Cold Case
Eleven heinous murders that took place in the seedier side of London between 1888 and 1981 have been attributed to Jack the Ripper, the alias for a vicious serial killer who hunted and slaughtered prostitutes. Scotland Yard was on the case and were able to uncover some important clues. They established a pattern to the killer’s movements but were never able to find and arrest the culprit. This remains one of Scotland Yard’s most infamous cold cases.
Frederick Porter Wensley, on of Scotland Yard’s greatest detectives. Source: (spitalfieldslife.com)
Scotland Yard’s “Blodie Belgium” Case
One of Scotland Yard’s most sensational early murder cases was solved by its charismatic detective, Frederick Porter Wensley, nicknamed “the weasel.” Wensley was assigned to the murder case of Emilienne Gerard, a 32-year French woman. Her body was discovered by street sweepers in November of 1917, along with a note that was signed the “Blodie Belgium”. Wensley was curious about the misspelling of “bloody.” When he questioned Gerard’s boyfriend, Louis Voisin, he noted some discrepancies in his testimony. So, on a hunch, Wensley handed the Voisin a piece of paper and a pen and asked him to write down a few phrases. One of the phrases was “bloody Belgium”. Voisin used the same misspelling on his paper, thus convicting himself.
Scotland Yard often sought out help from the fictional Sherlock Holmes in the novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Source: (smithsonianmag.com)
Sherlock Holmes and Scotland Yard
The Bobbies of Scotland Yard have appeared in numerous works of literature, including the Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Sir Arthur Conon Doyle. These novels, however, don’t always paint Scotland Yard in a positive light. The detectives at Scotland Yard often have to ask Sherlock Holmes for his assistance in solving a case, and the bobbies appear as clumsy, inept cops. Still, Scotland Yard has given a nod to the fictional detective by naming its national intelligence system the Home Office Large Major Enquiry System, or HOLMES.
The duties of Scotland Yard have grown to include stopping terrorists and cyber attacks. Source: (telegraph.co.uk)
That’s a Lot of Cops
More than 30,000 police officers are employed at Scotland Yard today. They work to protect the more than 7 million Londoners in their jurisdiction and to enforce the laws of the land. In recent years, the detectives at Scotland Yard have tracked down terrorists who have threatened attacks on the city.
If I were an animal I would like to beeither a Lion, Tiger, or chimpanzee.I would climb tall trees to get awayor run fast on the ground during the day.I would roar very loud to make me be heardchew bananas all day and run with the herdI would teach my cubs to play and fightsleep in the trees during the night.I would try to teach man that we need to livenurture my cubs and teach them to give,keep away from the poachers who want us to diebuild a fence so high they would have to fly.If I was an animal I would leave man alonenever eat their flesh or lick on their boneI would make them leave our forests to thrivestop them caging us up pretending we're alive.Education would start when man is a childthat animals must and need to survive in the wildbeing kept in a zoo is cruelty in itselfjust to keep the rich in the custom of wealth.
Falkirk (/ˈfɔːlkɜːrk/ Scottish Gaelic: An Eaglais Bhreac, Scots: Fawkirk) is a large town in the Central Lowlands of Scotland, historically within the county of Stirlingshire. It lies in the Forth Valley, 23.3 miles (37.5 km) north-west of Edinburgh and 20.5 miles (33.0 km) north-east of Glasgow.
Falkirk had a resident population of 32,422 at the 2001 UK Census. The population of the town had risen to 34,570 according to a 2008 estimate, making it the 20th most populous settlement in Scotland. Falkirk is the main town and administrative centre of the Falkirk council area, which has an overall population of 156,800 and inholds the nearby towns of Grangemouth, Bo’ness, Denny, Larbert and Stenhousemuir, and the cluster of Braes villages.
The town is at the junction of the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals, a location which proved key to its growth as a centre of heavy industry during the Industrial Revolution. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Falkirk was at the centre of the iron and steel industry, underpinned by the Carron Company in nearby Carron. The company was responsible for making carronades for the Royal Navy and later manufactured pillar boxes and phone boxes. Within the last fifty years, heavy industry has waned, and the economy relies increasingly on retail and tourism. Despite this, Falkirk remains the home of many international companies like Alexander Dennis; the largest bus production company in the United Kingdom.
Falkirk has a long association with the publishing industry. The company now known as Johnston Press was established in the town in 1846. The company, now based in Edinburgh, produces the Falkirk Herald, the largest selling weekly newspaper in Scotland.
Attractions in and around Falkirk include the Falkirk Wheel, The Helix, The Kelpies, Callendar House and Park and remnants of the Antonine Wall. In a 2011 poll conducted by STV, it was voted as Scotland’s most beautiful town, ahead of Perth and Stirling in second and third place respectively.
Forts and Fortlets associated with the Antonine Wall from west to east: Bishopton, Old Kilpatrick, Duntocher, Cleddans, Castlehill, Bearsden, Summerston, Balmuildy, Wilderness Plantation, Cadder, Glasgow Bridge, Kirkintilloch, Auchendavy, Bar Hill, Croy Hill, Westerwood, Castlecary, Seabegs, Rough Castle, Camelon, Watling Lodge, Falkirk, Mumrills, Inveravon, Kinneil, Carriden
Romans (Antonine Guard Living History Society) saluting at Callendar House
An Eaglais Bhreac is a derivative formed from the Scottish Gaelic cognate of the first recorded name Ecclesbrith from the Brittonic for “speckled church”, presumably referring to a church building built of many-coloured stones. The Scottish Gaelic name was calqued into Scots as Fawkirk (literally “variegated church”), then later amended to the modern English name of Falkirk. The Latin name Varia Capella also has the same meaning. Falkirk Old Parish Church stands on the site of the medieval church, which may have been founded as early as the 7th century.
The Antonine Wall, which stretches across the centre of Scotland, passed through the town and remnants of it can be seen at Callendar Park. Similar to Hadrian’s Wall but built of turf rather than stone so less of it has survived, it marked the northern frontier of the Roman Empire between the Firth of Forth and Firth of Clyde during the AD 140s. Much of the best evidence of Roman occupation in Scotland has been found in Falkirk, including a large hoard of Roman coins and a cloth of tartan, thought to be the oldest ever recorded. A Roman fort was confirmed to be found by Geoff Bailey in the Pleasance area of Falkirk in 1991. A Roman themed park at Callendar House was awarded lottery funding to help raise awareness of the wall.
In the 18th century the area was the cradle of Scotland’s Industrial Revolution, becoming the earliest major centre of the iron-casting industry. James Watt cast some of the beams for his early steam engine designs at the Carron Iron Works in 1765. The area was at the forefront of canal construction when the Forth and Clyde Canal opened in 1790. The Union Canal (1822) provided a link to Edinburgh and early railway development followed in the 1830s and 1840s. The canals brought economic wealth to Falkirk and led to the town’s growth. Through time, trunk roads and motorways followed the same canal corridors through the Falkirk area, linking the town with the rest of Scotland. Many companies set up work in Falkirk due to its expansion. A large brickworks was set up at this time, owned by the Howie family. During the 19th century, Falkirk became the first town in Great Britain to have a fully automated system of street lighting, designed and implemented by a local firm, Thomas Laurie & Co Ltd.
Battles of Falkirk.
Two important battles have taken place at Falkirk:
The Battle of Falkirk fought on 22 July 1298, saw the defeat of William Wallace by King Edward I of England.
The Battle of Falkirk Muir took place on 17 January 1746, the Jacobites under Charles Edward Stuart defeated a government army commanded by Lieutenant General Henry Hawley.
Government and politics.
A map showing the boundaries of the Falkirk Council area, one of the 32 unitary authorities of Scotland. The town of Falkirk sits at the heart of the council area.
In terms of local government the town sits at the heart of Falkirk Council area, one of the 32 unitary authorities of Scotland formed by the Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994. The headquarters of the council are located in the Municipal Buildings, adjacent to FTH Theatre, on West Bridge Street in the centre of town. The Council has been led by an SNP minority since 2017. The current Leader of the Council is Cllr Cecil Meiklejohn. The FTH Theatre (the “Falkirk Town Hall Theatre”) in West Bridge Street was commissioned to replace the old town hall in Newmarket Street which was demolished in 1968.
Falkirk is located within the Scottish parliamentary constituency of Falkirk West which elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) under the first past the post system. The current MSP is Michael Matheson, who won the seat at the 2007 Scottish Parliament General Election. The previous MSP, Dennis Canavan, who sat as an Independent, was elected with the largest majority in the Scottish parliament representing Falkirk’s electorate’s displeasure with New Labour, but stepped down in 2007 for family reasons. Canavan, who announced in an open letter to his constituents in January 2007, that he was stepping down from representative politics at the Scottish Parliament election, 2007 had been an MSP or MP for the area for over 30 years. The constituency of Falkirk West also sits in the Central Scotland Scottish Parliament electoral region which returns seven MSPs under the additional member system used to elect Members of the Scottish Parliament.
In the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the town is entirely contained within the UK parliamentary constituency of Falkirk which elects one member to the House of Commons under the plurality system. The constituency also takes in surrounding villages and is currently represented by John McNally of the Scottish National Party. Traditionally, Falkirk had been seen as a stronghold for the Labour Party.
Prior to Brexit in 2020 it was part of the pan-Scotland European Parliament constituency which elected six Members of the European Parliament (MEP)s using the d’Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.
Falkirk and Stenhousemuir
Falkirk is located in an area of undulating topography between the Slamannan Plateau and the upper reaches of the Firth of Forth. The area to the north of Falkirk is part of the floodplain of the River Carron. Two tributaries of the River Carron – the East Burn and the West Burn flow through the town and form part of its natural drainage system. Falkirk sits at between 50 metres (164 ft) and 125 metres (410 ft) above sea level.
The underlying geology of the town of Falkirk is characterised by glacial deposits. Elevations above 100 metres (328 ft) are covered by a mixture of glacial till and boulder clay with low-lying areas covered by sandy soils and loams. As Falkirk is not far from the coast, post-glacial features akin to raised beaches are particularly predominant to the north of the town centre, and this gives rise to differing elevations within the town.
Unsorted glacial till gives rise to such features of glacial deposition as eskers, and drumlins which are predominant over much of the area. Such elements provide natural transport routes and it is this complex underlying geology that the town is built upon.
Susan Newell was born in 1893 and had lived a hard life in constant poverty. In June 1923, she was living in a rented flat in Newlands Street, Coatbridge, a suburb of Glasgow, with her husband John and eight year old daughter, Janet McLeod, from her previous marriage. John was apparently a drunkard and a womaniser. After just three weeks their landlady, Mrs. Young, had become fed up with their rows and had given them notice to quit.
Susan was noted for having a bad temper and also had some history of violence. On June 19th, 1923, she had assaulted her husband, John, beating him round the head which he reported to the police. The following day they had another violent argument and he left home going to his sister’s house that night. The photo, right, is of Susan at her trial.
On the evening of Wednesday, June the 20th, 1923 around 6 45 p.m., 13 year old newspaper boy, John Johnson, (see photo) knocked on Susan’s door to see if she wanted the evening newspaper. She told him to come in and took the paper from him. However, John insisted he had to have the money for it. At this, Susan lost control of herself and strangled the poor little boy. Her daughter was to see the boy’s body when she came in from playing lying on the settee. Janet had to help her mother wrap it in an old rug. Susan had the age old problem of what to do with John’s body. She slept on this problem and by the morning had decided how she would dispose of it.
Susan and Janet carried John’s body downstairs and put it in an old pram, which she had found, still covered by the rug. With Janet perched on top of the bundle, they set off together on foot towards Glasgow. Several people noticed them as they walked along the roads towards Glasgow. A passing lorry driver offered them a lift which Susan accepted and dropped them off in Glasgow’s Duke Street. As the pram was being got down from the truck, the bundle containing John’s small body came undone and a foot was seen sticking out of one end and the top of his head at the other end. Apparently the lorry driver failed to notice this but a lady, who was looking out the window of her house nearby, did before Susan could cover up the body again. She decided to follow Susan and Janet and enlisted the help of her sister. They met a man and asked him to fetch the police while they continued to follow Susan. The man was able to keep up with her and saw Susan leave the bundle containing John’s body at the entrance to a tenement. Susan attempted to escape over a wall and was immediately arrested by a policeman waiting for her on the other side.
Susan had already worked out her story if she was caught and had primed Janet as well. She told the police that her husband had killed the boy and that she had tried to stop him. He had then forced her and Janet to dispose of the body for him. John was now also arrested and they were both charged with the murder.
Husband and wife came to trial in Glasgow on the 18th of September 1923 before Lord Alness. The case against John collapsed as he could prove that he was not in the house when the murder took place. He was able to produce several witnesses to prove his whereabouts. The judge freed him immediately saying that he should never have been brought to trial. He left the dock without even a glance at Susan. The main and most compelling evidence against Susan was given by her daughter Janet. She told the court how she had come back to the flat from playing outside to see the body of John lying on the sofa and how she had helped her mother wrap it up. She also related to the court how she had helped her mother try to dispose of the body and what her mother had told her what to say if she was questioned by the police. Susan had given Janet a full story that she was to tell of how her stepfather had killed John.
In her defence, it was argued that Susan was insane, although this was rebutted by the prosecution’s expert witness, Professor John Glaister who had examined her while she was on remand. Her counsel pointed out that the killing was not premeditated and had no obvious motive. The jury retired and reached their verdict in 37 minutes. Somewhat surprisingly in view of the weight of evidence, Susan was only convicted by a majority verdict. At least one of the jurors believed her defence of insanity. The jury unanimously recommended mercy for her. Upon receiving the guilty verdict, Lord Alness sentenced her to death and she was taken back to Duke Street (yes, the same Duke Street) where Glasgow’s prison stood at the time. Here she was examined by psychiatrists and found to be legally sane. The wording of the Scottish death sentence was quite different to the English version. Lord Alness told her “In respect of the verdict returned in your case, I discern and adjudge you, Susan Newell, panel, be carried to the prison of Glasgow, therein to be detained until the 10th day of October next, and on that date between the hours 8 an 10 o’clock forenoon, within the walls of the said prison at the hands of the common executioner, to be hanged by the neck on a gibbet till you be dead, and you body thereafter to be buried within the walls of the said prison, and your whole moveable goods are discerned to be escheat and forfeit to His Majesty’s use. And I pronounce this for doom.”
No woman had been hanged in Scotland since 1889 (Jessie King) and there were considerable efforts made to secure a reprieve for Susan. However, the application of the law in Scotland had to be seen to be in line with that in England where Edith Thompson had been hanged for what most of us would regard as a much less serious crime only 10 months earlier.
The Secretary of State for Scotland, therefore, decided that she could not to be reprieved and her execution was set for October the 10th, 1923. Susan showed emotion for the first time when told by the Lord Provost of Glasgow that there was to be no reprieve. She cried out for her daughter and then fainted.
She was to be hanged by John Ellis, assisted by William Willis. (Ellis heartily disliked executing female prisoners and there was some sort of incident at each of the three he did. The other two were Emily Swann and Edith Thompson) He was noted for the speed at which he conducted executions and it is perhaps for wanting to get the procedure over with quickly and not wanting to hurt Susan he did not pinion her wrists properly. Ellis decided to use the leather body belt that he had had made for Edith Thompson which had an additional strap to go round the thighs. This was necessary because as skirts got shorter over the years, there was concern that they would billow up as the prisoner dropped. On the gallows, Susan allowed Baxter to strap her legs and thighs without protest but was able to get her hands free from the loose wrist straps on the body belt and defiantly pulled off the white hood saying to Ellis, “Don’t put that thing over me.” Rather than risk another trying scene, Ellis decided to proceed without it, as the noose was already in place and so he simply pulled the lever and Susan went through the trap with her face in full view of the small number of officials who were present. She became the last woman to hang in Scotland and was said to be the calmest person in the execution chamber accepting her fate with both courage and dignity, although she never admitted her crime.
There seem to be few mitigating factors in Susan’s case – both she and John Johnson were the victims of her violent temper. The evidence against her was clear and overwhelming. There is the question of motive. John’s father had told the court that his son wouldn’t have had more than 9 pence on him at the time of the killing. So it seems doubtful that Susan killed him for money and rather more likely that she simply could not control her temper. Perhaps John was somewhat cheeky and said something to Susan when he asked her for the money that made her snap. She was already in a “wound up” state after the rows with her husband and it is quite possible that, unwittingly, young John just pushed her over the edge.
Undoubtedly, there are a significant number of murders committed due to temporary loss of control by people who are sane on normal definition of that term. The M’Naughten rules, which came in to being in 1843, were the basis of the legal definition of sanity. They required that, for a person to be found insane, it had to be shown that they were, at the time of the crime, suffering from such defect of mind that either they did not know what they were doing or that what they were doing was wrong. Clearly Susan, at least knew, what she had done was wrong.
One wonders whether it was Susan’s natural defiance that made her refuse to admit her crime, at least in public. Some people who have committed a dreadful crime go into denial and are unable to admit it even to themselves. Some know in their own hearts what they have done but see denial as the best way forward. Perhaps because they think it might win a reprieve or because they want their loved ones at least to believe they were innocent.
Can I escape my wildest torture?when barbed wire stops me runningthere seems no way out of this placethis devil is really cunning.He sneaks up fast behind meengulfing me with his firessnuffing out the passionsmy burning determination tires.He will win I know he willhe never loses a soulhis wit and charm surround me nowhis one and only goal.But can he win forever?only I know the answer to thatif somehow, I destroy this evilbe sneaky like a cat.When he tries to win me overI will plot to control my wayas long as I do not give in.I hope he will not try to stay.
Johnny Ramensky MM, also known as John Ramsay, Gentleman Johnny, and Gentle Johnny (6 April 1905 – 4 November 1972) was a Scottish career criminal who used his safe-cracking abilities as a commando during World War II. A popular song about him, The Ballad Of Johnny Ramensky, was written by Labour MP Norman Buchan and recorded by singer Enoch Kent, Buchan’s brother-in-law. Though a career criminal, Ramensky received the nickname “Gentle Johnny” as he never used violence when being apprehended by the police.
Ramensky was born Jonas Ramanauckas (Jonas Ramanauskas), the son of Lithuanian immigrant parents, at Glenboig, a mining village in North Lanarkshire, near Coatbridge. He initially worked down the coal mines, similar to his father who had been a clay miner, and it was there he became familiar with the uses of dynamite. During the depression of the 1920s following the First World War Ramensky’s family moved to the Gorbals, in the south side of Glasgow, after the death of his father.
Throughout his life, Ramensky demonstrated great strength and gymnastic skill which he used to begin a career as a burglar, followed by graduating to safe-cracking, also known in the underworld as a Peterman. During his criminal career, Ramensky maintained that he never targeted individuals’ houses but only businesses and he became famous for never resorting to violence despite being arrested numerous times, resulting in the nickname “Gentleman (or Gentle) Johnny”. Detective Superintendent Robert Colquhoun, one of his old adversaries, when taken ill, was sent a message by Ramensky wishing him a speedy recovery, suggesting he had been working too hard in pursuing him.
Having been denied a licence to attend his wife’s funeral, Ramensky began another series of feats which led to part of his fame. Ramensky was the last man to be shackled in a Scottish prison cell, as well as the first to escape from Peterhead Prison, going on to escape and being ultimately recaptured a further four times. He spent more than 40 of his 67 years in prison.
Ramensky was released after serving a sentence in Peterhead Prison in 1943. During his time there he had written to various officials seeking references to join the army. Due to the intervention of a senior police officer from Aberdeen he had attracted the interest of Robert Laycock who was seeking people with skills which could be used in commando raiding forces. As a result, he was enlisted with the Royal Fusiliers in January 1943 and transferred immediately to the Commandos, where he was trained as a soldier whilst also instructing on the use of explosives. Although being officially enlisted with the Royal Fusiliers he never actually served with them, spending his entire wartime service with the 30 Commando.
Ramensky, using his safe-blowing skills, performed a number of sabotage missions, being parachuted behind enemy lines to retrieve documents from Axis headquarters, including Rommel’s headquarters in North Africa and Hermann Göring’s Carinhall in the Schorfheide. This culminated during the Italian campaign, where 14 embassy strong boxes or safes were opened in only one day.
He remained in the army after the cessation of hostilities as a translator for the allied forces who were repatriating approximately 70,000 Lithuanians from camps in the Lübeck area. Following this, he had a short spell as an officer’s batman before being demobbed in 1946.
Ramensky did not give up his safe-cracking lifestyle and spent the time after the war in and out of jail, eventually dying in Perth Royal Infirmary after suffering a stroke in Perth Prison, where he was serving a one-year sentence after being caught on a shop roof in Ayr.
Ramensky’s friend Sonny Leitch, also a career criminal who served in the armed forces, said that Ramensky told him that he had stolen a hoard of Nazi loot from the Rome area during the Allied march on Rome in 1944, and that this hoard was later kept at the Shepton Mallet military prison in Somerset, and the Royal Navy supply depot at Carfin, Lanarkshire, after the war. He claimed that the hoard contained portraits of Hitler, Eva Braun, Goering, Goebbels and Himmler, and a treasure trove of jewellery and gold.
Although this was never proven, there were certain looted items of little monetary value which survived him and remain, along with personal items, in a vault in a Glasgow bank. These include banners from Goering’s Carinhall, and Ramensky’s commando beret, compass and commando knife.
During his wartime service Ramensky was also known to have sent various items looted from German and Italian targets to friends and associates in Scotland, including the governor of Peterhead Prison.
Dear old Bess was made to rock
Done three times round the mileage clock
Squeals and grinding bouncing high
breezing round corners trying to fly.
Moving so slowly her body a state
Old and rusty with holes in the grate
Wheels all buckled trims all mud
riding the road with the usual thud.
Lights are dim bumpers all broken
fumes blowing thickly pedestrians chokin’
Radio so old it gives you a blast
Programs in Latin and songs from the past.
Windows can’t open seats are a mess
Keep on rockin’ my old darlin’ Bess.
Eventually she stops no will to live
Chugging and choking throttle I give
Old and tired she cannot go on
Engine going cold in the new light of dawn
Taken to the scrap yard a cars resting place
Left to be peaceful in etiquette and grace
the moral of this story is obviously clear
Hold on to special memories the ones you hold dear.
James Matthew Barrie (later Sir James Matthew Barrie) was born on 9 May 1860 at 9 Brechin Road, Kirriemuir. He was the ninth child of ten to be born to David Barrie and Margaret Ogilvy.
James was only 6 years old when his older brother David died at the age of 13. This shattered the close-knit family and was particularly devastating for James’s mother, as David was the apple of her eye. James tried to replace his late brother in his mother’s affections by dressing as him and attempting to replicate David’s special whistle. His brother’s death was to have a deep influence on Barrie’s life and work.
Even as a child, James devised and produced plays for himself and his friends, staging them in the wash-house opposite the family home. The wash-house would later become a model for the Wendy House in Peter Pan. As his mother began to recover from the grief of losing David, she began to tell James stories about her childhood as well as tales from the locality of Kirriemuir. These would feature in many of his later works.
In 1868, at the age of 8, James was sent to attend Glasgow Academy, where he stayed for three years before going to Dumfries Academy, in both places staying with his older brother Alexander, a schoolteacher, and his sister Mary. James wrote his first play while he was at Dumfries – Bandolero the Bandit, which was performed at the Dumfries Theatre Royal.
In 1878, Barrie moved to Edinburgh to attend university, where he began to write articles and reviews for local newspapers. After graduating, he accepted a post to write for the Nottingham Journal.
Barrie wrote many articles about his life in Kirriemuir and sent them to editors of London newspapers; some were published, which consequently persuaded him to move to London in 1884. Eventually these stories would find their way into his first books – Auld Licht Idylls and When a Man’s Single (both 1888), A Window in Thrums (1889) and the novel The Little Minister (1891).
As well as books, Barrie began to write for the stage. While watching a production of his third play, Walker London, James fell in love with the lead actress, Mary Ansell. They married in 1894.
In 1895, further tragedy struck the Barrie household when James’s sister Hannah Ann and his mother Margaret died. Barrie paid affectionate tribute to his mother in his work, Margaret Ogilvy (1896).
James and Mary lived in Kensington. While walking his dog Porthos in the park, James befriended the three children of Arthur and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, entertaining them with stories. The stories and games that James devised were acted out in Kensington Gardens by the two eldest Llewelyn Davies boys, George and Jack. Soon, they began to make their way as ‘Peter Pan’ stories into Barrie’s works, The Little White Bird (1902) and later the play, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. This was first produced and staged in 1904 at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London.
James and his wife grew very close to the Llewelyn Davies family and were near neighbours. However, the family suffered a blow when Arthur died in 1907 and then Sylvia passed away in 1910. Barrie and the family’s nurse became guardians to the now five Llewelyn Davies boys – George, Jack, Peter, Michael and Nicholas.
Other plays produced by Barrie, such as Quality Street (1901) and The Admirable Crichton (1902), achieved great success and his popularity and fortune increased further. More works followed, including: What Every Woman Knows (1908); Dear Brutus (1917); Mary Rose (1920); Farewell Miss Logan (1932) and The Boy David (1936).
Barrie was granted several honours including being made a baronet in 1913 and being given the Order of Merit in 1922. He also became President of the Society of Authors in 1928, was made Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh in 1930 and was afforded the Freedom of his home town Kirriemuir, also in 1930. A great fan of cricket, Barrie offered to fund the building of a new pavilion for the Kirriemuir cricket team, which he officially opened in 1930.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s Barrie regularly corresponded with his childhood friend James Robb, who continued to live in Kirriemuir, and we’re very fortunate to have some of these letters in our archive collection. Much of their content revolves around past times, and mutual friends and acquaintances in Kirriemuir. Before his death, James Barrie gave the rights to Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, which continues to benefit to this day. In increasingly ill health, Barrie died of pneumonia in a London nursing home in 1937 at the age of 77. He was buried in Kirriemuir cemetery next to his parents.
William Armstrong of Kinmont or Kinmont Willie was a Scottish border reiver and outlaw active in the Anglo-Scottish Border country in the last decades of the 16th century.
He lived at the Tower of Sark, close to the border between Scotland and England, north of the centre of the border line. The tower was built for his father Sandy Armstrong, and although now demolished the site is marked by a monument unveiled in 1996.
The Raid on Carlisle and the Ballad
Perhaps the best known of the Border reivers (outlaw raiders or rustlers), William Armstrong of Kinmont’s first recorded raid was against the Milburns of Tynedale in August 1583, when Armstrong was probably in his forties. In 1585 he accompanied the Earl of Angus`s campaign against the Earl of Arran and pillaged Stirling. Eight years later he was in Tynedale again with 1,000 men, carrying off over 2,000 beasts and £300 in spoils.
Armstrong was captured in violation of a border truce day in 1596. At a Truce Day all who attended to witness the criminal trials were granted ‘safe conduct’ for the Day and until the following sunrise. Kinmont was arrested by the deputies of the English warden Lord Scrope and imprisoned in Carlisle Castle. The Scottish warden of the West March Walter Scott of Buccleuch, Keeper of Liddesdale, protested to Lord Scrope. When Scrope refused to release Armstrong, Buccleuch led a party of men on a daring raid into England and broke Armstrong out of the castle with inside help from the English Grahams and Carletons. Elizabeth I of England was furious that one of her Border fortresses had been broken into at a time when peace existed between England and Scotland. Her relationship with James VI of Scotland was tested. Elizabeth demanded that Buccleuch should appear in her court in person. James VI was caught between allegiance to the Scots who were adamant Buccleuch had done no wrong in rescuing a man who was captured illegally and his desire to pander to his English benefactor, Elizabeth. Buccleuch eventually freely rode from King James to Queen Elizabeth. After their audience, Queen Elizabeth said: “With ten thousand such men, our brother in Scotland might shake the firmest throne of Europe.
A contemporary Scottish narrative written around 1603, after the death of Elizabeth, gives more details on Armstrong, Buccleuch, and the raid on Carlisle Castle. Armstrong was riding home in Liddesdale when he was pursued by 200 followers of the English deputy, Thomas Salkeld. He was captured after a chase of four miles and taken to Carlisle. The Laird of Buccleuch complained to the deputy and the warden Lord Scrope, and also asked Sir Robert Bowes to write to Scrope. Buccleuch received no reply and interpreted this as an insult to James VI. He sent men to Carlisle to examine a postern gate and the height of the walls. A woman went into the castle as a visitor to identify where Armstrong was held. He mustered 200 men at the Tower of Morton (Sark Tower) on the River Sark with scaling ladders and siege tools. They reached Stanwix Bank to cross the River Eden two hours before dawn. The ladders were too short so his men broke through the wall near the postern gate. They fought with the watchmen and sentinels while Scrope and Salkeld and their men held back, and then withdrew with Armstrong and some other prisoners. According to this narrative, Buccleuch returned the other prisoners and looted goods, and only the gate and prison door were damaged.
In 1600, Armstrong attacked the village of Scotby with 140 riders, burning and taking prisoners and cattle. In 1602 he rode his last foray, south of Carlisle. He was still alive two years later, and his four sons who had helped to get him out of Carlisle Castle are frequently named in the later Border raids. Legend supposes he died in his bed of old age, sometime between 1608 and 1611. The story of the raid on Carlisle Castle is told in the ballad “Kinmont Willie” (Child No. 186).
The Sword and the Story
A sword in the collection of the Annan Museum collection has an old label identifying it as Kinmont Willie’s sword. The sword is of the right age and typology.
Yes, come over and breathe on me
I suppose I have been here long
a fixture and fitting in the shop
like a badly worded song.
Take off your mask and talk to me
I am safe behind my screen
I don't know who you have visited
or who you may have seen!
The pandemic has lasted a long time
and still you will insist
don't you understand this plight
do you get the gist?
I work and work without a care
of my own personal life
who cares if I pass away
leave my son and wife?
All for you to remain fed
and watered with lots of Gin
then you go home and the mask is tossed
into a recycle bin.
I will stay and you will come
sometimes three times a day
you will wear the same mask you often have
and behind it you will pray.
While you and your family remain safe
I am happy to be here for you
I am overly protected, have all the gear
and a hot milky brew.
It will always be like this
well for a few months or so
so get used to this weird scenario
as you come and go.
Take care of yourselves
don't worry about me
I am behind the screen
masked and yet free.
Madeleine Hamilton-Smith (29 March 1835 – 12 April 1928) was a 19th-century Glasgow socialite who was the accused in a sensational murder trial in Scotland in 1857.
L’Angelier’s rooming house.
Smith was the first child (of five) of an upper-middle-class family in Glasgow; her father, James Smith (1808–1863) was a wealthy architect, and her mother, Elizabeth, was the daughter of leading neo-classical architect David Hamilton. She was born at the family home at 81 Wellington Place in Glasgow.
In 1855 the family moved from India Street to 7 Blythswood Square, Glasgow, living in the lower half of a house owned by her maternal uncle, David Hamilton, a yarn merchant. The house stands at the crown of the major development led by William Harley on Blythswood Hill, and they also had a country property, “Rowaleyn”, near Helensburgh.
Smith broke the strict Victorian conventions of the time when, as a young woman in early 1855, she began a secret love affair with Pierre Emile L’Angelier, some ten years her senior, an apprentice nurseryman who originally came from the Channel Islands. He worked as a packing clerk in a warehouse at 10 Bothwell Street nearby.
The pair would meet late at night, at Smith’s bedroom window and also engaged in voluminous correspondence. During one of their infrequent meetings alone, she lost her virginity to L’Angelier.
Smith’s parents, unaware of the affair with L’Angelier (whom Smith had promised to marry) found a suitable fiancé for her within the Glasgow upper-middle-class, William Harper Minnoch.
Smith attempted to break her connection with L’Angelier and, in February 1857, asked him to return the letters she had written to him. Instead, L’Angelier threatened to use the letters to expose her and force her to marry him. She was soon observed in a druggist’s office, ordering arsenic, which she signed for as M.H. Smith.
Early on the morning of 23 March 1857, L’Angelier died from arsenic poisoning. He is buried in the Ramshorn Cemetery on Ingram Street in Glasgow.
After his death, Madeleine Smith’s numerous letters were found in the house where he lodged, and she was arrested and charged with his murder.
A sketch of the trial proceedings against Smith.
At trial, Smith was defended by advocate John Inglis (later known as Lord Glencorse). Toxicological evidence, confirming that the victim had died of arsenic poisoning, was given by Andrew Douglas Maclagan.
In the trial, the two most positive elements in her defence were the two druggists both testifying that they coloured their arsenic to avoid an accident (and the autopsy having not found this), and L’Angelier’s valet testifying that L’Angelier had considered suicide at least once. There was therefore a strong suggestion of suicide.
Although the circumstantial evidence pointed towards her guilt (Smith had made purchases of arsenic in the weeks leading up to L’Angelier’s death, and had a clear motive) the jury returned one verdict of not guilty on the first count and a verdict of “not proven” on the second count.
Crucial to the case was the chronology of certain letters from Smith to l’Angelier, and as the letters themselves were undated, the case hinged to some extent on the envelopes. One letter, in particular, depended on the correct interpretation of the date of the postmark which was, unfortunately, illegible, and attracted some caustic comments from the judge, but the vast majority of these postmarks were quite clearly struck. It transpired that when the police searched L’Angelier’s room, many of Smith’s letters were found without their envelopes and were then hurriedly collected and stuck into whichever envelopes came to hand.
6-7 Blythswood Square. Madeleine Smith’s house. 2020.about:blankImageUpload an image file, pick one from your media library, or add one with a URL.UploadSelect ImageInsert from URL
Following the scandal, her family were forced to quit their Glasgow home and their country villa Rowaleyn in Rhu and moved to Bridge of Allan in central Scotland. They moved again in 1860 to Old Polmont. Her father died in Polmont in 1863 aged 55, broken by the whole affair.
On 4 July 1861, she married an artist named George Wardle, William Morris’s business manager. They had one son (Thomas, born 1864) and one daughter (Mary, called “Kitten”, born 1863). For a time, she became involved with the Fabian Society in London and was an enthusiastic organiser. As she was known by her new married name, not everyone knew who she was, but a few did.
After many years of marriage, she and her husband separated in 1889 and Madeleine moved to New York City. Around 1916, she married a second time to William A. Sheehy and this marriage lasted until his death in 1926.
She died on 28 April 1928 aged 93 and was buried under the name of Lena Sheehy. She is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson in New York State.
As in the case of Lizzie Borden, scholars and amateur criminologists have spent decades going over the minutiae of the case.
Most modern scholars believe that Smith committed the crime and the only thing that saved her from a guilty verdict and a death sentence was that no eyewitness could prove that Smith and l’Angellier had met in the weeks before his death.
After the trial, The Scotsman ran a small article stating that a witness had come forward claiming that a young male and female were seen outside Smith’s house on the night of l’Angellier’s death. However, the trial was already in progress, and the witness could not be questioned during it.
The brutal murder of Dr Brenda Page remains one of Scotland’s most notorious unsolved cold cases.
It is 40 years since the brilliant geneticist was found beaten to death in her flat in Aberdeen. It later emerged that Page, aged 32, also worked as an escort – fuelling speculation that her murderer was one of her clients.
In early July 1978, Page had dinner with William Austin, who ran the Capital Escort Agency. Austin recalled that Page seemed frightened and “concerned about her safety”.
On July 13, she went as an escort to the Treetops Hotel in Aberdeen to meet two business men. Page is spotted leaving the hotel at 2.30am – the last time she’s seen alive. Page failed to show up for work the next day, and her body was discovered when a colleague called at her home looking for ‘material for a research programme’.
She had been working at Aberdeen University on a project for the Department of Energy, investigating dangers facing divers in the North Sea oil industry. There have been claims that her death could have been linked to her research.
Marius Reikeras, a Norwegian human rights campaigner who represented oil industry divers working in the 70s and 80s, referred to a number of Norwegian cases where people investigating corruption in the North Sea died.
Reikeras said: “There are various parties that stand to lose a lot so perhaps her research was a factor in her murder.”
However, a more prosaic explanation for her death than industry conspiracy or escorting, is that she was murdered after disturbing a burglar.
By the end of July police ruled out Austin, the escort agency boss, as well as the two men she’d met prior to her death, and her ex-husband Dr Christopher Harrison, who later left Scotland.
A cold case review was launched in 2015, and has so far gathered 800 individual pieces of information, on top of all the evidence gathered at the time.
Her sister Rita, 84, said: “Not a day goes by when we don’t think about Brenda and the horrendous ordeal she must have suffered that night. Brenda was an extremely intelligent woman with her whole life ahead of her. It pains us to think of the great things she would undoubtedly have achieved.”
Detective Inspector Gary Winter of Police Scotland’s major investigation team, said of Page’s time as an escort: “Most people’s accepted definition of being an escort in 2018 is very different to what it was 40 years ago. Nowadays, if we use that word, people assume the person is involved in the sex industry – that was not the case in 1978.
“It was a means for Brenda to meet people, get companionship and company and go out socialising in an era before the internet, dating websites and apps.
“Escorting was something Brenda spoke about widely with friends and colleagues – it was no secret. People connected to that part of Brenda’s life have spoken to us and what that has unearthed is that it wasn’t a seedy business.”
Despite defeating a relief force under Henry Hawley at Falkirk Muir on 17 January, the siege made little progress; when Cumberland’s army began advancing north from Edinburgh, it was abandoned and on 1 February the Jacobites withdrew to Inverness.
One of the strongest fortifications in Scotland, Stirling Castle controlled access between the Highlands and the Lowlands. In September 1745, the Jacobite army passed nearby en route to Edinburgh but had neither the time nor the equipment needed to take it. Leaving Viscount Strathallan in Perth to recruit additional forces, the main army crossed into England on 8 November and reached Derby on 5 December before turning back, entering Glasgow on 26 December.
While its only tangible result was the capture of Carlisle, advancing into central England and successfully returning was a significant achievement. In late November, Strathallan was replaced by his cousin John Drummond, who arrived from France with additional weapons, money and 150 Irish and Scots regulars. As a serving officer in the French army, he had been ordered not to enter England until all fortresses held by British government troops in Scotland had been taken.
Victory over pro-government militia at Inverurie on 23 December gave the Jacobites control of the North-East and by early January 1746, their military strength and morale were at their peak. Charles wanted to relieve Carlisle, pinning his hopes on a letter from his brother Henry with details of a proposed French landing in Southern England. However, the Scots no longer believed his assurances and in early January, two officers from the garrison brought news of Carlisle’s surrender. Since its relief was now irrelevant, they agreed to build on Inverurie and take control of the Central Lowlands.
Their objective was Stirling, whose capture would provide a strong base and secure port for the second invasion of England. As was then usual, its defences were divided between the castle and the town, which was only intended to resist for a few days. The castle was a far greater challenge; its natural defences were enhanced by strong modern fortifications, with a garrison of 600 to 700 commanded by William Blakeney. An experienced and determined Irish veteran, he wrote to Prime Minister Henry Pelham on 18 October stating his confidence it would be held.
Crucially, the Jacobites lacked siege equipment; they failed to take Edinburgh Castle despite holding the town for nearly two months, while Carlisle, a decayed former border fortress defended by 80 elderly pensioners, surrendered when they were on the verge of ending the siege. Stirling was significantly stronger and better defended than either, while even the vastly better-equipped government army found retaking Carlisle far from easy. Many senior Jacobites, including James Johnstone, considered the attempt futile.
The Jacobite field artillery was commanded by Colonel James Grant, a Scots-born officer in French service who had arrived in October with a number of trained gunners; but these were too few and too light to make any impact on the castle walls. In November, Mirabel de Gordon, a French engineer of Scots descent, landed at Montrose with a small number of heavier guns, including two 18 pounders. De Gordon arrived at Stirling on 6 January to supervise siege operations, but his artillery did not arrive until 14 January and in the end, never saw action. He was widely regarded as incompetent, a view reinforced by the failure to capture Fort William in March.
On 17 January, an attempt by Henry Hawley to break the siege was defeated at Falkirk, a battle that started late in the afternoon in falling light and heavy snow and which was marked by confusion on both sides. The bulk of Hawley’s troops retreated to Edinburgh in good order, assisted by the Highlanders stopping to loot the baggage train; it caused considerable embarrassment and led to disciplinary action, but neither Hawley nor Cumberland viewed it as a defeat.
It has been suggested a better option for the Jacobites would have been to pursue Hawley, thus isolating Stirling and forcing it to surrender. Lord Elcho recorded this was the opinion of the clan chiefs, although most historians feel it was unlikely to have changed the outcome. Failure to achieve a decisive victory led to recriminations between Lord George Murray, Prince Charles and John O’Sullivan. In the end, the battle did little to change the strategic position, but further damaged the strained relationship between Charles and his Scottish officers, who were left in Falkirk with the clan regiments.
When the heavy guns arrived on 14 January, Grant proposed emplacing them near the town cemetery, where they would be nearly level with the castle fortifications, but Charles opted for De Gordon’s recommendation they be located on Gowan Hill. This allowed them to fire on the castle in relative safety, but the shallow bedrock at this location meant the gun positions had to be built using sacks of earth and wool. Transporting these was slow, difficult and dangerous, while the walls at this point were above a near-vertical cliff, almost impossible to assault.
Blakeney (1671-1761), garrison commander of Stirling Castle.
The troops employed on construction duties suffered daily casualties from mortar fire, although Blakeney reportedly minimised this, not wishing to discourage them from investing so much effort in poorly-sited positions. By now, opinion among the Jacobites was allegedly divided as to whether De Gordon was incompetent or had been bribed. Although the garrison was on short rations, the besiegers were also low on supplies and Gordon finally opened fire on 30 January, with only three of his six guns in place. Blakeney promptly responded with highly accurate counter-battery fire; the Jacobite guns were soon dismounted and in less than half an hour the battery was abandoned, as “no one could approach it without meeting certain destruction”. One of the cannons was found afterwards to have been hit no less than nine times, some gouges being “of surprising depth”.
On 30 January, Charles learned Cumberland was advancing north from Edinburgh; seeing an opportunity for a decisive battle, he sent John Murray of Broughton to ask Lord George Murray to prepare a battle plan. However, the clan chiefs had been unable to prevent large numbers of their Highlanders returning home for the winter; they told Charles the army was in no state to fight a battle and advised they retreat to Inverness, providing them time to rest and recruit more soldiers. Charles reluctantly complied, but this destroyed the last remnants of trust between the two parties; on 1 February 1746, the siege was abandoned, and the Jacobite army withdrew.
St. Ninians; the steeple was the only part left standing after the explosion on 1 February
The Jacobites had been using the nearby church of St Ninians to store munitions, which blew up during the retreat; despite later claims it was deliberate, it seems more likely the explosion was due to carelessness when moving the stores. John Cameron, minister to Lochiel’s regiment, was passing the church in a carriage with Murray of Broughton’s wife when it blew up; she was thrown from the chaise and concussed, while nine townspeople and a number of Jacobites were buried in the ruins.
Cumberland’s army advanced along the coast, allowing it to be resupplied by sea, and entered Aberdeen on 27 February; both sides halted operations until the weather improved. By spring, the Jacobites were short of food, money and weapons and when Cumberland left Aberdeen on 8 April, Charles and his senior officers agreed that giving battle was their best option. The Battle of Culloden on 16 April lasted less than an hour and ended in a decisive government victory.
An estimated 1,500 survivors assembled at Ruthven Barracks, but on 20 April Charles ordered them to disperse, arguing that French assistance was required to continue the fight and they should return home until he returned with additional support. He was picked up by a French ship on 20 September but never returned to Scotland.
Blakeney, who previously found promotion extremely slow, was rewarded for his defence by promotion to Lieutenant-General and appointment as Lieutenant-Governor of the then British-held island of Menorca. He was in command when it was captured by the French in June 1756, an event that led to the trial and execution of Admiral John Byng.
The club was full as always
members flowing in
no one could be heard
above the rants and din.
A Club for the elite
of a certain required age
strictly men only
Bold in red on the members page.
Seats were old and stuffy
dust clouds whenever we sat
ornaments filled the main room
aside the resident Tom Cat.
The bar built in the twenties
with prices of present day
but the men who attended here
had the money to pay.
The club was built in 1890
the decor had never changed
smoking had played its part
all twisted and deranged.
Some Guys as old as ninety
attended the club each week
and at the dinner table
they had a chance to speak.
Jokes were always branded about
chuckles were heard now and again
it was a way of keeping in touch
for the old trustworthy men.
The barmaids scantily dressed
and the old men looked in awe
obviously a treat for them
excited at what they saw.
The club closed at ten thirty
several had to be chased
it was another night at the club
of excited hearts that raced.
The Battle of Largs (2 October 1263) was a decisive, albeit small battle between the kingdoms of Norway and Scotland, on the Firth of Clyde near Largs, Scotland. Like the Japanese victories over the Mongol Invasions at roughly the same time (and for many of the same reasons) or the much later Battle of Coral Sea, Scotland achieved the end of 500-hundred years of Norse Viking depredations and invasions despite being tremendously outnumbered without a one-sided military victory in the ensuing battle. That said, the victory in detail caused the complete retreat of Norwegian forces from western Scotland and the realm entered a period of prosperity for almost 40-years. The tactical decision at Largs thus led to a sweeping strategic victory that ended in Scotland purchasing the Hebrides Islands and the Isle of Mann in the Treaty of Perth, 1266. Victory was achieved with a crafty three-tiered strategy on the part of the young Scottish king, Alexander III: plodding diplomacy forced the campaign to bad weather months and a ferocious storm ravaged the Norwegian fleet, stripping it of many vessels and supplies which made the forces on the Scottish coast vulnerable to a spoiling attack which forced the Norwegians into a hasty retreat that was to end their 500-years of invasion and leave Scotland to consolidate its resources into building the nation. The conflict formed part of the Norwegian expedition against Scotland in 1263, in which Haakon Haakonsson, King of Norway attempted to reassert Norwegian sovereignty over the western seaboard of Scotland.
Since the beginning of the 12th century the Largs/Ayrshire region of Scotland had lain at the periphery of the Norwegian realm, ruled by magnates who recognised the overlordship of the kings of Norway. In the mid-13th century, two Scottish kings, Alexander II and his son Alexander III, attempted to incorporate the region into their own realm. Following Alexander III’s early,failed attempts to purchase the islands from the Norwegian king, the Scots launched military operations to end the issue altogether by asserting royal sovereignty over all of Western scotland. Haakon responded to the Scottish aggression by leading a massive fleet from Norway, which reached the Hebrides in the summer of 1263, thought to number in the thousands when consoldiated en masse. Realizing that the Scots were tremendously outnumbered by an experienced and mobile enemy, Alexander III sought a protracted diplomatic intervention that would buy time to acquire more troops and possibly force the Norwegians into the stormy autumn and winter months where an invasion could be stalled due weather. By late September, Haakon’s fleet occupied the Firth of Clyde and the temperate days–such as they are on the West Coast of scotland–were almost at an end. When negotiations between the kingdoms inevitably broke down, Haakon brought the bulk of his fleet to anchor off the Cumbraes poised to invade Scotland at a site of his choosing.
On the night of 1 October, during a bout of stormy weather, several Norwegian vessels were driven aground on the Ayrshire coast, near present-day Largs. On 2 October, while the Norwegians were salvaging their vessels, the main Scottish army arrived on the scene. Composed of infantry and cavalry, the Scottish force was commanded by Alexander of Dundonald, Steward of Scotland. The Norwegians were gathered in two groups: the larger main force on the beach and a small contingent atop a nearby mound. The advance of the Scots threatened to divide the Norwegian forces, so the contingent on the mound ran to rejoin their comrades on the beach below. Seeing them running from the mound, the Norwegians on the beach believed they were retreating, and fled back towards the ships. There was fierce fighting on the beach, and the Scots took up a position on the mound formerly held by the Norwegians. Late in the day, after several hours of skirmishing, the Norwegians recaptured the mound. The Scots withdrew from the scene and the Norwegians reboarded their ships. They returned the next morning to collect their dead. With the weather deteriorating, Haakon’s fleet sailed to Orkney to overwinter.
The battle of Largs has been characterized by later historians as a great Scottish victory but, as discussed, its strategic ramifications far outstripped its tactical cost as it only involved a small part of the Norwegian fleet. With his fleet and forces strewn about the Hebrides, Haakon fully intended to continue to campaign after spending the winter in Orkney and reconcentrating his forces but he was unexpectedly taken ill in the dismal climate and died there. In part, his illness was thought to have been caused by the stresses he endured in the long campaign and the difficult, damp environment of the Orkney Islands. The protracted diplomacy that had slowed his invasion had ultimately helped seal his own fate as well. With Haakon’s death, his successor, Magnus Haakonarson, King of Norway, signed the Treaty of Perth three years after the battle, leasing Scotland’s western seaboard to Alexander III in return for a yearly payment. This lease became permanent, but the Kingdom of Scotland eventually stopped paying the Norwegian crown for the islands when Norway became distracted by civil wars.
Although the Battle of Largs’ contemporary records were largely lost to history with the loss of the Scottish archives in the wars of independence, it is for historians to day to judge it by its ultimate, easily understood consequence: the end of a multi-century era of Norse invasion. The Battle greatly influenced clan history, especially that of the Boyd’s and the Cunningham’s, both of which pointed directly to participation in this battle as key to the grant of lands in Ayrshire. In the case of the Boyd family, its motto “Confido” (I Trust) was a direct quote from Alexander III at Largs. Alexander III depended on Boyd’s detachment to keep the Norwegians off the Gold Berry Hill and enveloped on the beach. The name “Gold Berry” was placed under their early heraldic devices.
The battle is commemorated in Largs by an early 20th-century monument, and festivities held there annually since the 1980s.
The main Norwegian source for the battle is Hakonar saga Hakonarsonar, a contemporary account of the life of Hakon Haakonarson, King of Norway (d. 1263), composed by the Icelandic historian Sturla Thordarson (d. 1284). Although the saga describes the events purely from the Norwegian perspective, its narrative of the battle appears to have been drawn from eye-witness accounts, and it is the most detailed source available for the Scottish–Norwegian conflict since many contemporary Scottish archival hodings are lost to history. A contemporary Scottish perspective of the events is preserved in a brief entry within the Chronicle of Melrose. First penned at Melrose Abbey in the last quarter of the 12th century, the chronicle was further extended and supplemented from time to time into the late 13th century. It is an important historical source for the mediaeval Scottish realm. Clan and remaining royal records of proerty and titles subsequent to the event are also insightful
Further information: Scandinavian Scotland, Kingdom of the Isles, and Scottish–Norwegian War Viking depredations have been recorded in the British Isles since the late 8th century, and Scandinavian settlement on Scotland’s western-seaboard may have begun before the turn of the 9th century. Claims to this region by Norwegian kings date to the turn of the 12th century, when Magnus Olafsson, King of Norway (d. 1103) established himself in the Hebrides and the Isle of Man (Mann). Direct Norwegian control ended with Magnus’ death, after which the Hebrides and Mann, known to the Norwegians as the “Southern Isles”, were controlled by local dynasties for over a century and a half. In the first half of the 13th century, the seaboard was controlled by two main power-blocks: one consisting of the Mann, Lewis and Harris, and Skye—controlled by the patrilineal descendants of Godred Crovan (d. 1095); the other consisting of mainland territories in Argyll, and the islands of Islay, Jura, Mull, and possibly Uist—controlled by the descendants of Somerled (d. 1164). As part of the far-flung, early 13th century Norwegian realm, these island rulers recognised the overlordship of Haakon Haakonarson, King of Norway (d. 1263).
The Norwegian realm in 1263, at about the time of the Battle of Largs The first half of the 13th century was a period of consolidation for both Scottish and Norwegian kings. The Norwegians, under Haakon, overcame a period of internal strife, from 1161 to 1208, and oversaw the submission of the Faroe Islands, the Greenland settlements, and Iceland, in the mid 13th century. The Scots, under Alexander II, King of Scots (d. 1249), extended royal authority into the northern Highlands, Argyll, and Galloway. The king also had wanted to incorporate the western seaboard into the Scottish realm. In 1230, Scottish aggression against the Isles and interference forced the Norwegian king to pacify the region. In 1249, after attempting to purchase the Isles from Haakon, Alexander II launched a campaign of his own, deep into Argyll and into the Hebrides. Unfortunately for the Scots, their king died suddenly on the verge of conquest. Since his son and successor, Alexander III (d. 1286), was only a boy at the time, the Scottish realm suffered through a lengthy and troubled minority. In consequence, it wasn’t until the 1260s that the king looked west, and attempted to finish what his father had so nearly accomplished.
In 1262, a year after another unsuccessful attempt to purchase the Isles, Scottish forces launched an attack upon Skye. Haakon’s response to the invasion was to mastermind a massive military expedition of his own. Described by the Icelandic Annals as the largest force to have ever set sail from Norway, the fleet reached the Isles in the summer of 1263. After receiving only a lukewarm reception from his vassals in the region, Haakon’s forces reached the Firth of Clyde, after his men had secured several castles, and undertook raids into the surrounding mainland. With the Norwegian fleet anchored off Arran, the Norwegians and Scottish embassies fiercely debated the sovereignty of the Islands of the Clyde. When talks broke down, Haakon dispatched a fleet of Islesmen to raid into Loch Lomond, and to ravage Lennox. Meanwhile, the main Norwegian fleet repositioned itself between the Cumbraes and the Ayrshire coast.
While lying off the Cumbraes, on the night of 30 September, Haakon’s fleet was battered by stormy weather. During the night, the saga records that a merchantman dragged its anchor and was driven aground. The following morning, it and four other vessels were floated off by the rising tide but carried by the current towards the Scottish mainland where they ran aground again. The crews of the beached vessels were soon harassed by a small force of Scots armed with bows. After the Norwegians had suffered some casualties, Haakon sent reinforcements ashore, and the Scots fled the area. Haakon’s reinforcements remained ashore for the night, and the Norwegian king himself came ashore to oversee the salvage operation the next morning.
According to the saga, the main Scottish force, consisting of heavily armoured cavalry and infantry, arrived on 2 October. The saga numbers the mounted troops at about 500, and states that they rode high-quality horses protected by mail. The use of a substantial force of mounted knights or sergeants appears to be corroborated in contemporary records of payments made to troops. For example, Walter Stewart, Earl of Menteith had to maintain 120 sergeants—which could include knights, mounted men-at-arms, archers, or other footsoldiers—at Ayr Castle for three weeks. Although surviving records fail to mention the number of knights assembled at Ayr, the record of wages suggests that it was “more than a mere handful”. According to the saga, the Scottish infantry were armed with bows and “Irish axes”, and since at one point the Scots are said to have thrown stones at the Norwegians, the Scottish army must have also included slingers. The Latin Chronicle of Melrose simply describes the Scottish infantry as pedisequi patrie (the “foot-sloggers of the locality”). If this description refers to the men of the surrounding countryside, the Scottish infantry would have been made up of men from the ‘common army’, drawn only from Strathgryffe, Cunninghame and Kyle. These levies would have been mustered by the Sheriff of Ayr, the Sheriff of Lanark, and the local magnates. At the time of Largs, the Scottish king thus had at his disposal men from the ‘common army’ (lesser men who owed service to their king), the feudal host (greater men who owed military service for their lands), and also paid troops.
Area of conflict
There evidence suggests that the main Scottish force arrived from the south, rather than from the west or the north. For example, Alexander III is recorded to have been south at Ayr in September, and the power centre of Alexander of Dundonald, Steward of Scotland (d. 1282), who is thought to have commanded the Scottish forces at the battle, was also located to the south. Furthermore, at the time of the battle, the Sheriff of Ayr was probably a member of the steward’s family—probably his younger brother, the Earl of Menteith.[note 1] If the Scots had indeed arrived from the south, then they would have also assembled at a muster site to the south, possibly somewhere near Ayr. The saga indicates that the Norwegians were divided into two groups. The smaller force, numbered at 200 men, was stationed on a mound, somewhat inland from the beach, under the command of Norwegian nobleman Ogmund Crouchdance. The main Norwegian force, numbered at about 700 to 800 men (including Haakon himself), was stationed on the beach below. These two detachments were likely only a fraction of the total number of forces at Haakon’s disposal. The numbers that the saga allots to either side may be exaggerated. A more likely number may be only about one hundred or several hundred men per side with the number of knights present may have been closer to 50 than the saga’s 500. The forces which Haakon had mustered in Norway formed part of his realm’s leidang, a naval levy in which districts contributed men, ships, and provisions for military service.
As the Scots advanced towards the Norwegians, the saga indicates that Ogmund withdrew his troops from the mound to avoid being cut off from his comrades on the beach below. If the Scots had indeed marched northwards, their advance would have threatened to drive a wedge between the Norwegians on the mound and those on beach. Once the Scottish vanguard came into contact with Ogmund’s men, the saga indicates that his orderly withdrawal disintegrated into a chaotic scramble. On the beach below, Haakon followed the advice of his men and retired to the safety of his ships. To the men on the beach, the rapid descent of Ogmund’s men towards them looked like an all-out retreat; they turned and fled. The Norwegian army was thus routed, and in the mad dash back to their ships they suffered substantial casualties. Some of the Norwegians may have used the beached vessels as makeshift fortifications, since the saga notes that a group of them made a valiant stand by their ships, out-numbered ten to one, in a fierce engagement in which a particularly valiant Scottish knight was slain.[note 2] This entry confirms that at least some of the Scottish knights present were able to engage their foes on horseback. The supplies and useable ships lost on the beach were consequential in Haakom’s decision to retreat from the area.
According to the saga, the Scots then withdrew from the beach and consolidated atop the mound abandoned by Ogmund’s men, who had been beaten back by a detachment of men under Sir Robert Boyd (father of William Wallace’s second in command). Minor skirmishing followed in which both sides attacked each other with arrows and stones. Before nightfall, the saga maintains that the Norwegians made one last determined assault, and forced the Scots from the mound, before making an orderly withdrawal to their ships. On the morning of 3 October, the Norwegians returned ashore to collect their dead and burn their beached vessels. For several days, Haakon’s forces laid off the coast of Arran. After rendezvousing with the returning fleet that had plundered Lennox, Haakon’s entire forces made for the Hebrides. At Mull he rewarded a number of his Norse-Gaelic vassals with grants of lands. By the end of October, the Norwegian fleet reached Orkney. In mid December, the Norwegian king fell ill and died at the Bishop’s Palace, and was temporarily buried in nearby St Magnus Cathedral.
This Neolithic chambered cairn near Largs is sometimes known as “Haco’s Tomb”. Local tombs, such as this, were once believed to have been erected as grave markers for warriors slain during the battle.
The saga described the Norwegian campaign as a triumph. In reality, it had not achieved anything, though the expedition was not lost at Largs. Haakon simply sailed to Orkney to overwinter with his forces. He unexpectedly fell ill and died there before he had the chance to resume operations. The campaign had started too late, and the Scottish king had successfully prolonged negotiations to his own advantage. As the summer turned to autumn, and the royal envoys parleyed back and forth, Alexander III had further strengthened his forces in the defence of his realm, and left Haakon’s fleet to the mercy of the deteriorating weather. In the end, the Scottish realm had successfully defended itself from Norwegian might, and many of Haakon’s Norse-Gaelic vassals had been reluctant to support the Norwegian cause. Within months of the abortive campaign, embassies were sent from Norway to discuss terms of peace. Meanwhile, Alexander III seized the initiative and made ready to punish the magnates who had supported Haakon. By the end of the year the Hebrideans and Manx were forced to submit to the Scots. In 1266, almost three years after the battle, terms of peace were finally agreed upon between the Scottish and Norwegian kings. On 2 July 1266, with the conclusion of the Treaty of Perth, the Hebrides and Mann were leased to the King of Scots, in return for an annual payment. As it happened, Norwegian rule over the Hebrides would never return, with the Kingdom of Scotland eventually discontinuing their payments to the Norwegian crown. The treaty also entailed Scottish acceptance of Norwegian rule over Orkney and Shetland.
The significance of the Battle was understood in Scotland at the time as it led to years of consolidation of royal authority. Unfortunately, many original sources and manuscripts were lost during the many years of fighting with the English, especially Edward I (see Jonathan Donald: 2019, Scotland, LE School of History, University of St Andrews, Alexander III, 1249-1286: First Among Equals). See also Acts of Alexander III King of Scots 1249 -1286 See also: Alexander; Neighbour; Oram 2000: pp. 17–22. The Chronicle of Melrose offers only a brief description, and does not record its location. It ascribes the campaign’s failure more to the power of God than to that of the Scots. The battle is not recorded at all within the Chronicle of Mann, or any Irish source, and English sources show a similar lack of interest. But by the 14th and 15th centuries, the battle was being portrayed as part of an epic struggle between an invading force of Norwegians and an idealised Scottish king defending his realm.[note 3] By the 17th century, the battle had lost its attributed significance, but in the 19th century it was rediscovered by antiquarians and historians who transformed it into a conflict of international importance. Although the battle’s upsurge in popularity at this time may be due to the tapping of Largs’ tourism potential, it was also influenced by the general heightening of interest in Scotland’s history and culture. The battle became associated with Scotland’s proud military past and linked to the great mediaeval victories of national heroes such as Wallace and Bruce. Most modern academics do not subscribe to such a view, though they regard the battle as a significant part of the failed Norwegian campaign. But even today, to the locals of Largs, the battle represents a glorious Scottish victory over invading Vikings.
On 12 July 1912, the battle was commemorated at Largs with the unveiling of a newly built stone tower. Popularly known as “The Pencil”, this 70 feet (21 m) tall, pencil-shaped, conical-roofed tower is built out of ashlar blocks of whinstone. Constructed by architect James Sandyford Kay at the cost of nearly £300, the tower was modelled after mediaeval round towers at Abernethy and Brechin, which were thought (erroneously) to have been built as redoubts against Viking marauders.[note 4] The Pencil has been protected as a listed building since 1971, and stands about 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Largs, at grid reference NS 20762 57679, overlooking the local marina.
Although the monument marks the traditional site of the battle, it stands nowhere near the probable battle site. Its erroneous placement appears to be due to the discovery of prehistoric burials, consisting of both chambered tombs and cist burials. Nearby Bronze Age standing stones may have been interpreted as memorials to slain warriors, as was a nearby Neolithic tomb. The location of this tomb has led to the erroneous association between the battle and the two parks situated at grid reference NS 209587 and grid reference NS 207587. The Ordnance Survey also locates the battle too far south, at grid reference NS 207587.[note 5]
The probable site of the mound upon which the Norwegians and Scots fought is not commemorated at all. Located at grid reference NS 2073 5932., and surrounded by a housing development, the mound is crowned by a 19th-century monument known as “The Three Sisters”, which may have been erected by astronomer Thomas Brisbane. In recent years the battle site has been one of fifty battlefields researched by the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology and Historic Scotland for inclusion in the Inventory of Scottish Battlefields. The inventory, established in 2009, is intended to protect, preserve, and promote Scotland’s most significant battlefields under the Scottish Historical Environment Policy. The site of the Battle of Largs was one of eleven investigated sites that did not meet the criteria for inclusion.
Each autumn since 1981, the village of Largs has hosted the Largs Viking Festival, founded to celebrate the battle and to encourage tourism. A re-enactment of the battle, held onsite at The Pencil, forms part of the festivities. The battle is the subject of John Galt’s (d. 1839) The Battle of Largs: a Gothic Poem, written about 1804. Not regarded as one of Galt’s better literary works, this poem was almost certainly based on James Johnstone’s (d. 1798) The Norwegian Account of Haco’s Expedition Against Scotland A.D. MCCLXIII, published in 1782.[note 6] The battle is also commemorated within one of William Hole’s (d. 1917) massive murals, which can be viewed in the foyer of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
Hey friends, its that time again, time to recognise a wonderful writer and Blogger, today it is “Butterfly Sand”
I have never walked the cobbled streets of Paris in the rain or sipped tea beneath the Russian sky. I have seen Right Whales frolic in the open sea and I have watched as an Alaskan seal basked in the cold sunshine of an August afternoon. I have been to school and I have worked for a living. Now I am writing for me, from my heart and from my dreams. What I do not understand I approach with words and hope understanding creeps from my fingertips.
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The Battle of Barry is a legendary battle in which the Scots, purportedly led by Malcolm II, defeated a Danish invasion force in 1010 AD. Its supposed site in Carnoustie, Angus can be seen in early Ordnance Survey maps. The history of the event relies heavily on tradition and it is currently considered to be apocryphal. The battle was named for the Parish of Barry, rather than the village, and was formerly thought to have taken place at the mouth of the Lochty burn, in the vicinity of the area that is now occupied by Carnoustie High Street. While the battle is not historically authentic, its romantic appeal continues to capture the popular imagination.
The account of the battle was first recorded by sixteenth century Scots historian, Hector Boece.
Boece informs us that Sueno, king of Denmark and England, unhappy with news of his army’s defeat at Mortlach, ordered a naval task force to set sail for Scotland. Part of the force was to sail from Denmark, and the rest from the Thames, both under the command of Camus.
According to the legendary account, the army camped at St Abb’s Head for several days before sailing north, landing at Lunan Bay in Angus. After sacking Montrose, the Army headed inland and razed the town of Brechin to the ground. Camus received word that King Malcolm II had brought the Scots army to Dundee and ordered the Danish army to march South, reaching the coast near to Panbride. The Scots army set camp at Barry, two miles to the West.
The two sides met and fought in the vicinity of the Lochty Burn, near where Carnoustie town centre now lies. The fighting is said to have been so fierce that the Lochty burn ran red with the blood of the fallen.
Seeing that the battle was lost, Camus fled to the hills, pursued by Robert de Keith (purported ancestor of the Marischals of Scotland), who caught up with and slew him at Brae Downie where, it is said, the Camus Cross (NO 519379) was erected in memory of him.
Afterwards King Malcolm is said to have dipped his fingers in Camus’ blood and to have run them along the top of Robert’s shield, thus creating the red and gold striped design still used today in the Keith coat of arms.
Evidence of battle.
The first record of the battle can be found in Hector Boece’s Historia Gentis Scotorum, written in 1527. Boece’s work was popularised following a fairly free translation by John Bellenden into Scots in 1536, and its subsequent translation into English by Raphael Holinshed ca. 1580. No record of the battle is found before Boece.
While George Buchanan (ca. 1579) also mentions the battle in his work Rerum Scotarum Historia, his account borrows liberally from Boece. Boece is thought to have based much of his work on John of Fordun’s, Chronica Gentis Scotorum (ca. 1360). Fordun briefly mentions a battle at Mortlach but makes no mention of any at Barry:
Malcolm, thinking over the manifold blessings continually bestowed upon him by God, pondered anxiously in his mind what he should give Him in return. At length, the grace of the Holy Ghost working within him, he set his heart upon increasing the worship of God ; so he established a new episcopal see at Marthillach (Mortlach), not far from the spot where he had overcome the Norwegians, and gained the victory; and endowed it with churches, and the rents of many estates.
It is possible that Fordun’s account of the Battle of Mortlach is due to a distortion of local tradition. Mortlach is nearby the site of the battle in which Máel Coluim mac Donnchada (Malcolm III) wrested power from Lulach. Máel Coluim’s first wife, Ingibiorg Finnsdottir, was the niece of Harald III of Norway, and it has been argued by Alex Woolf that the tradition of a battle between the Scots and Norwegians is due to a Scandinavian involvement on the side of Máel Coluim.
It is thought that, as a native of the area in which the Battle of Barry is supposed to have occurred, Boece may have used local folklore as his source. Boece is no longer regarded as a credible historical source.
In some versions of the story, Camus and his army camped prior to the battle at a location previously known as ‘Norway Dykes’, near Kirkbuddo, to the north of Carnoustie, and the battle took place the day after the feast day of St Brigid. For example, Gordon quotes Robert Maule from his ‘De Antiquitate Gentis Scotorum’ (1609):
About eight miles from Brechin, at Karboddo [Kirkbuddo], a place belongs to the Earl of Crawford, are to be seen the vestiges of a Danish camp, fortified with a rampart and ditch, and vulgarly called Norway Dikes; near which is the village of Panbridge [Panbride], where anciently was a church dedicated to St Brigide, because on that saint’s day which preceded the battle, Camus, general of the Danes, pitched his camp there.
This places the battle on 2 February, St Brigid’s day being 1 February.
The story of the battle appears to have originated due to a romantic misinterpretation of the numerous tumuli that existed towards the eastern boundary of Barry Parish, near the Lochty burn before the town of Carnoustie was founded in the late 18th century.
Raphael Holinshed (ca. 1580) claimed that the bodies found in the area were those of Danish soldiers, slain in the battle:
King Malcolme after he obteined this famous victorie (as before is said) at Barre, he caused the spoile of the field to be divided amongest his souldiers, according to the laws of armes; and then caused the dead bodies of the Danes to be buried in the place where the field had baene fought, and the bodies of the Scottishmen which were found dead were conveied unto the places of christian buriall, and there buried with funerall obsequies in sundrie churches and churchyards. There are seene manie bones of the Danes in those places where they were buried, there lieng bare above ground even unto this day, the sands (as it often chanceth) being blowen from them.
Doubt was cast on this by Robert Dickson in 1878, when he pointed out that, while relatively high-status goods were found in some of the graves disinterred during early building work in Carnoustie, there was a lack of weapons. He also talked of the apparent presence of female skeletons. Subsequent finds pointed to the area being a domestic Pictish Long-Cist cemetery, including the remains of a female aged between 40 and 50 with osteoarthritis, who apparently died of tuberculosis. In contrast with Holinshed’s account, the burials there are Christian, found in a supine, east–west orientation.
The Danish involvement in the ‘battle’ centres entirely on an apparently common misinterpretation of Pictish archaeology. For example, Boece interprets the battle scene on the Kirkyard Stone at Aberlemno as being an account of another battle between the Scots and Danes, in the aftermath of the Battle of Barry:
Ane othir cumpany of Danis, fleand in the samin maner, war slane at Abirlennon, not IV milis fra Brechin: quhare ane gret stane is ingravin with crafty letteris, to advertis the passingeris of the anciant and illuster dedis done be our eldaris aganis the Danis.
This view was the norm for some time after Boece and is reflected in the Statistical Accounts for Aberlemno. It took until the mid-19th century for it to be pointed out that not only was there no evidence that the stones were Scandinavian in origin, there was also ample evidence that the stones were Pictish/Scottish in origin. The kirkyard stone predates the Battle of Barry by three centuries and the most widely accepted interpretation is that the stone commemorates the Pictish victory at the historical Battle of Dun Nechtain in 685 AD.
The archaeological remains at Kirkbuddo, previously attributed to a Danish camp are now known to have been a temporary Roman marching camp.
No written evidence of Camus exists outside of the body of work which followed Boece. The story of Camus is likely to have been a misunderstanding of the name ‘Camuston’, or as it is in Boece’s account (as translated by Bellenden), Camustane:
Quhil at last, the Danis war vincust, and Camus chasit to the montanis. The Scottis followit on him with sic fury, that he was finaly slane. In signe heirof, the place, quhare he was slane, is callit yit, Camustane.
Camuston no longer exists as a village, but for location see for example the 1794 map by Ainslie. The Camuston Cross, once thought to mark the place of Camus’ death, is now thought to be a late Pictish era monument, dating from the 10th Century. ‘Camus’ is not recognisable as a Scandinavian name, and that there are earlier variants of the place name, e.g. ‘Cambistown’ as it is called in documents from 1425–6, which has a Celtic etymology.
A burial disinterred near the Camuston cross was attributed by Maule as being the body of Camus:
Nine years after I wrote that treatise, a plough turning up the ground discovered a sepulchre, believed to be that of Camus, enclosed with four great stones. Here a huge skeleton was dug up, supposed to have been the body of Camus; it appeared to have received its death by a wound on the back part of the head, seeing a considerable part of the skull was cut away, and probably by the stroke of a sword
Little information of the burial exists, but goods found in the cist were kept at Brechin Castle. These were sketched by Jervise and are typical of Bronze Age artefacts, found fairly commonly in the area.
You would think that after nearly 200 years, there wouldn’t be many mysteries still unsolved, but the ‘fairy’ coffins on Arthur’s Seat is still one of them.
A spooky occurrence that continues to creep out Edinburgh locals, the tiny boxes are still without an explanation, with many historians giving their theories over time.
To those who haven’t heard the tale, back in 1836 a group of young lads were having a fine old day in Edinburgh as they hunted rabbits and walked around Arthur’s Seat.
However, instead of finding some hares, the group actually discovered something much more sinister at the hill.
While exploring a cave on the north-east slopes of Arthur’s Seat, the boys came across a whopping 17 miniature coffins that were stacked in a specific design on the ground.
If that wasn’t weird enough, each coffin encased a tiny little wooden figure, adorned with its own unique set of handmade clothes.
After making the strange discovery, the group returned to town to share the news, but no one was ever able to claim ownership of the artifacts or prove why they had been put there.
Now, eight of the coffins are actually on display at the National Museum of Scotland, but the mystery around them still remains unsolved.
However there are some theories which have never been proved, such as that the coffins actually represented the victims of notorious Edinburgh murderers Burke and Hare.
The frightening duo had been some of the worst bodysnatchers ever known in the years before, however some claim this cannot be true as 12 of the people killed by the murderous duo were female, and all of the corpses found inside the coffins were dressed as men.
Another suggestion is that the coffins were actually part of some serious voodoo witchcraft, and that the dolls were used in a ritual or ceremony in the cave.
Despite the claims, many arguments have been made against the magical theory, since the dolls were found in such a pristine condition.
Finally, others have said that the dolls could have been in memory of sailors who were lost at sea, and believe that they acted as talismans for good luck when out on the choppy waters.
But unfortunately, none of these explanations have ever been proved, and to this day the tiny figures in their strange coffins continue to creep out anyone who hears about them.
The Battle of Old Byland (also known as the Battle of Byland Abbey, the Battle of Byland Moor and the Battle of Scotch Corner) was a significant encounter between Scots and English troops in Yorkshire in October 1322, forming part of the Wars of Scottish Independence. It was a victory for the Scots, the most significant since Bannockburn.
Raids and revenge
Ever since Robert Bruce’s victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, the Scots had taken the initiative in the wars with England, raiding deep into the north of the country repeatedly and with comparative ease to attempt to force the English to the peace-table. The English king, Edward II seemed incapable of dealing with the problem, distracted, as he often was, in a political struggle with his own barons and refused to even begin peace negotiations with the Scots which would have required recognizing Robert the Bruce as King of the Scots. In early 1322 the situation had become critical, with some senior English noblemen, headed by Thomas of Lancaster, preparing to enter into an alliance with the Scots.
It seems unlikely that Bruce had much confidence in Lancaster, who referred to himself as ‘King Arthur’ in his negotiations with the Scots, but he was quick to take advantage of the threat of civil war in England. Scarcely had the truce of 1319 expired in January 1322 than Sir James Douglas, Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray and Walter Stewart came over the border on a large-scale attack on the north-east. The three commanders fanned out across the region: Douglas to Hartlepool, Moray to Darlington and Stewart to Richmond. Lancaster with his army at Pontefract did nothing to stop them. Edward ignored the Scots, instructing his lieutenant in the north, Sir Andrew Harclay, the governor of Carlisle, to concentrate his efforts against the rebel barons, whom he finally defeated at the Battle of Boroughbridge. In the wake of this the Scots raiders slipped back across the border.
Boroughbridge was a new beginning for Edward. The baronial opposition had been defeated and tainted with treason: the king had at last enjoyed his long-awaited revenge for the murder of Piers Gaveston. This was the high point of his reign and, emboldened by this rare triumph, he decided to embark on what was to be his last invasion of Scotland. It was to be a disaster.
By the time Edward was ready to begin his advance in early August Bruce was more than ready. He deployed his usual tactics: crops were destroyed and livestock removed and his army withdrawn north of the River Forth. In all of Lothian the English are said only to have found one lame cow, causing the Earl of Surrey to remark; This is the dearest beef I ever saw. It surely has cost a thousand pounds and more! In the Scalacronica, Sir Thomas Grey describes the whole campaign thus;
The king marched upon Edinburgh, where at Leith there came such a sickness and famine upon the common soldiers of that great army, that they were forced to beat a retreat for want of food; at which time the king’s light horse were defeated by James de Douglas. None dared leave the main body to seek food by forage, so greatly were the English harassed and worn out by fighting that before they arrived in Newcastle there was such a murrain in the army for want of food, that they were obliged of necessity to disband.
Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh, and the border abbeys of Melrose and Dryburgh were destroyed in revenge by the English. The invasion had achieved precisely nothing. More seriously, the effect on national morale of the ignominious retreat of a starving army was almost as bad as the defeat at Bannockburn. Worse was to follow; for, as always, an English retreat was the signal for yet another Scottish attack.
Bruce crossed the Solway in the west, making his way in a south-easterly direction towards Yorkshire, bringing many troops recruited in Argyll and the Isles. The boldness and speed of the attack, known as The Great Raid of 1322, soon exposed Edward to the dangers on his own land. On his return from Scotland, the king had taken up residence at Rievaulx Abbey with Queen Isabella. His peace was interrupted when the Scots made a sudden and unexpected approach in mid-October. All that stood between them and a royal prize was a large English force under the command of John of Brittany, Earl of Richmond. John had taken up position on Scawton Moor, between Rievaulx and Byland Abbey. To dislodge him from his strong position on the high ground Bruce used the same tactics that brought victory at the earlier Battle of Pass of Brander. As Moray and Douglas charged uphill a party of Highlanders scaled the cliffs on the English flank and charged downhill into Richmond’s rear. Resistance crumbled and the Battle of Old Byland turned into a complete and bloody rout of the English. Richmond himself was taken prisoner, as were Henri de Sully, Grand Butler of France, Sir Ralph Cobham (‘the best knight in England’) and Sir Thomas Ughtred. Many others were killed in flight. Edward – ‘ever chicken-hearted and luckless in war’ – was forced to make a rapid and undignified exit from Rievaulx, fleeing in such haste that his personal belongings were left behind. After Byland, says Sir Thomas Gray, the Scots were so fierce and their chiefs so daring, and the English so cowed, that it was no otherwise between them than as a hare before greyhounds. This was a significant victory for the Scots after their success at Myton on Swale and was soon followed 5 years later by their victory at Stanhope Park over Edward III.
I adore every part of your bodyyour lean and taste so divineI cannot wait to hold youI am selfish, and you are all mine.But why can't I get enough of you?when I know you are a danger to me?my life can end so horriblyeveryone knows but I cannot see.I call them spoilsports and evilhow could they despise you so much?it’s not them you want to be near toit’s me and millions as such.I have tried to live without youlocked away in a cupboard to forgetbut I know in my mind I will seek youand once again I will lose the bet.Will you ever release me?stop my brain from yearning awayI cannot forget the bond we haveI will try to stop another day!The more I get under your spellthe harder it is to say nobut for some health and other reasonsI know you will have to go.I may have to exorcise youget the demons out of my headbut for now, I will think about youin my dreams all alone, in my bed.When I awake in the morningI may not want you nearit will depend on my will powerand the deepened constant fear.If stress hits my daily routineI may reach out for your calming powersbut if everything goes alright todayI will keep you in locked, secure, towers.
In 1912 disaster struck
to a vessel they said was unsinkable
a ship designed to stand up to disasters
to go down would seem unthinkable.
The ship was grand, people were excited
to sail in her majestic beauty
tickets flew hot from the port
all staff were called to duty.
The designer made a few drastic changes
he insisted elegance came before life
giant staircases with chandeliers
adored by every man and his wife.
Steel plates were attached by hand
as machines couldn’t fit some parts
making spots of the ship vulnerable
not recorded on any official charts.
The ship was grand, the clientele were rich
the poor squashed and crowded below
class was important at the start of the century
for a wonder the poor could go!
The lifeboats were cut just sixteen were aboard
for over two thousand customers and crew
women and children were priority then
but some of the men got through!
Some crew from the another ship
were laid off their service not required
one of them went off with a vital key
to a cabinet holding all they desired.
The Captain had no drills it seems
so the crew were unable to cope
judging by the historic events
they did not have any hope.
The Iceberg responsible for the disaster
was floating closer to the ship
many warnings were shouted that night
but the ship had to fulfill its trip.
The Captain wanted to go faster
even though the warnings were clear
his attitude positive "everything is fine"
no one has anything to fear.
It seemed for a while the coast was clear
the iceberg was changing direction
the captain thought he was navigating away
beyond the icebergs inception.
Because of the lack of experience
the crew did not know what to do
once the Iceberg struck for real
all their nightmares came true.
one thousand five hundred people lost their lives
on that fateful freezing night
the water was 50 degrees minus below
hitting the water died with fright.
A mighty ship called unsinkable
lost its will to live
and just because they never bothered
or any thought did give.
Mother Nature knows no bounds
She wins most of the time
For the people who designed this ship
I believe you committed a crime.
To the few who managed to live
the horror remains in their mind
the Unsinkable vessel of modern age
was simply one of a kind.
Culzean Castle (/kʌˈleɪn/ kul-AYN, see yogh; Scots: Cullain) is a castle overlooking the Firth of Clyde, near Maybole, Carrick, on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland. It is the former home of the Marquess of Ailsa, the chief of Clan Kennedy, but is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland. The clifftop castle lies within the Culzean Castle Country Park and is opened to the public. From 1972 through 2015, an illustration of the castle was featured on the reverse side of five pound notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
As of 2021, the castle was available for rent
Culzean Castle was constructed as an L-plan castle by order of the 10th Earl of Cassilis. He instructed the architect Robert Adam to rebuild a previous, but more basic, structure into a fine country house to be the seat of his earldom. The castle was built in stages between 1777 and 1792. It incorporates a large drum tower with a circular saloon inside (which overlooks the sea), a grand oval staircase and a suite of well-appointed apartments.
The castle was the venue, on 14 November 1817, when Archibald Kennedy, 1st Marquess of Ailsa’s daughter, Margaret Radclyffe Livingstone Eyre, married Thomas, Viscount Kynnaird. Margaret would become a noted philanthropist.
In 1945, the Kennedy family gave the castle and its grounds to the National Trust for Scotland (thus avoiding inheritance tax). In doing so, they stipulated that the apartment at the top of the castle be given to General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower in recognition of his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during the Second World War. The General first visited Culzean Castle in 1946 and stayed there four times, including once while President of the United States.
The Ayrshire (Earl of Carrick’s Own) Yeomanry, a British Yeomanry cavalry regiment, was formed by The Earl of Cassillis at Culzean Castle in about 1794. On 24 June 1961, the regiment returned to the castle to be presented with its first guidon by General Sir Horatius Murray, KBE, CB, DSO.
The castle re-opened in April 2011 after a refurbishment funded by a gift in the will of American millionaire William Lindsay to the National Trust for Scotland. Lindsay, who had never visited Scotland, requested that a significant portion of his $4 million go towards Culzean. Lindsay was reportedly interested in Eisenhower’s holidays at the castle.
Culzean Castle received 333,965 visitors in 2019.
Panoramic view of Culzean Castle main building
The armoury contains a propellor from a plane flown by Leefe Robinson when he shot down a German airship north of London in 1916.
To the north of the castle is a bay containing the Gas House, which provided town gas for the castle up until 1940. This group of buildings consists of the gas manager’s house (now containing an exhibition on William Murdoch), the Retort House and the remains of the gasometer.
There are sea caves beneath the castle which are currently not open generally, but are open for tours throughout the summer.
The castle grounds include a walled garden, which is built on the site of the home of a former slave owned by the Kennedy family, Scipio Kennedy.
The Castle is reputed to be home to at least seven ghosts, including a piper and a servant girl.
The Battle of Neville’s Cross took place during the Second War of Scottish Independence on 17 October 1346, half a mile (800 m) to the west of Durham, England. An invading Scottish army of 12,000 led by King David II was defeated with heavy loss by an English army of approximately 6,000–7,000 men led by Ralph Neville, Lord Neville. The battle was named after an Anglo-Saxon stone cross that stood on the hill where the Scots made their stand. After the victory, Neville paid to have a new cross erected to commemorate the day.
The battle was the result of the invasion of France by England during the Hundred Years’ War. King Philip VI of France (r. 1328–1350) called on the Scots to fulfil their obligation under the terms of the Auld Alliance and invade England. David II obliged, and after ravaging much of northern England was taken by surprise by the English defenders. The ensuing battle ended with the rout of the Scots, the capture of their king and the death or capture of most of their leadership. Strategically, this freed significant English resources for the war against France, and the English border counties were able to guard against the remaining Scottish threat from their own resources. The eventual ransoming of the Scottish King resulted in a truce that brought peace to the border for forty years.
By 1346 England had been embroiled in the Second War of Scottish Independence since 1332 and the Hundred Years’ War with France since 1337. In January 1343 the French and English had entered into the Truce of Malestroit, which included Scotland and was intended to last until 29 September 1346. In defiance of the truce, hostilities continued on all fronts, although mostly at a lower level; King David II of Scotland (r. 1329–1371) led a six-day raid into northern England in October 1345. Edward III of England (r. 1327–1377) planned an invasion of northern France in 1346 and King Philip VI of France sent an appeal to David II to open a northern front. Philip VI wanted the Scots to divert English troops, supplies and attention away from the army under Edward III which was gathering in southern England. The Auld Alliance between France and Scotland had been renewed in 1326 and was intended to deter England from attacking either country by the threat that the other would invade English territory.
In June Philip VI asked David II to attack pre-emptively: “I beg you, I implore you … Do for me what I would willingly do for you in such a crisis and do it as quickly … as you are able.” Edward III landed in Normandy with an army of 15,000 in July. Philip VI renewed his pleas to David II. As the English had also committed troops to Gascony, Brittany and Flanders, Philip VI described northern England to David II as “a defenceless void”. David II felt certain that few English troops would be left to defend the rich northern English cities, but when the Scots probed into northern England they were sharply rebuffed by the local defenders. David II agreed a truce, to last until 29 September, in order to fully mobilise the Scottish army, which was assembling at Perth. By the time the truce expired, the French had been decisively beaten at Crécy and the English were besieging Calais. The French were also in difficulty in south west France, where their front had collapsed, with the major city and provincial capital of Poitiers, 125 miles (201 km) from the border of English Gascony, falling on 4 October.
On 7 October the Scots invaded England with approximately 12,000 men. Many had modern weapons and armour supplied by France. A small number of French knights marched alongside the Scots. It was described by both Scottish and English chroniclers of the time, and by modern historians, as the strongest and best equipped Scottish expedition for many years. The border fort of Liddell Peel was stormed and captured after a siege of three days and the garrison massacred. Carlisle was bypassed in exchange for a large indemnity and the Scottish army moved east, ravaging the countryside as they went. They sacked Hexham Abbey, taking three days to do so, then advanced to Durham. They arrived outside Durham on 16 October and camped at Beaurepaire Priory, where the monks offered the Scots £1,000 (£940,000 as of 2021[note 1]) in protection money to be paid on 18 October.
The invasion had been expected by the English for some time; two years earlier the Chancellor of England had told parliament the Scots were “saying quite openly that they will break the truce as soon as our adversary [France] desires and will march into England”. Once the Scots invaded, an army was quickly mobilised at Richmond in north Yorkshire under the supervision of William de la Zouche, the Archbishop of York, who was Lord Warden of the Marches. It was not a large army: 3,000–4,000 men from the northern English counties of Cumberland, Northumberland and Lancashire; it is known that Lancashire contributed 1,200 longbowmen and a small number of lightly armed border cavalry, known as hobelars. Another 3,000 Yorkshiremen were en route to reinforce the English forces. This was possible because Edward III, when raising his army to invade France, had exempted the counties north of the River Humber. On 14 October, while the Scots were sacking Hexham Abbey, the Archbishop decided not to wait for the Yorkshire troops and marched north-west towards Barnard Castle, and then rapidly north-east to Durham. He was joined en route by the Yorkshire contingent, and Lord Ralph Neville took command of the combined force of 6,000–7,000 men.
The Scots at Beaurepaire discovered the English army only on the morning of 17 October, when they were 6 miles (10 km) away. Around 500 men under William Douglas stumbled upon them in the morning mist during a raid near Merrington, south of Durham. The two rear divisions of the English army drove them off, with around 300 Scottish casualties. Douglas raced back to David II’s camp, alerting the rest of the army, which stood to arms. The same morning two Benedictine monks arrived from Durham in an attempt to broker a peace but David II, thinking they were spies, ordered their beheading; the monks escaped in the confusion.
The remains of Neville’s Cross, on Crossgate in Durham David II led the Scottish army east from Beaurepaire to high ground less than half a mile (800 m) to the west of Durham and within sight of Durham Cathedral, where he prepared for battle. Both the Scots and the English arranged themselves in three formations, or battles. On the Scottish side, David II took control of the second battle, and placed John Randolph, Earl of Moray, in charge of the first battle. Patrick Dunbar, Earl of March, took command of the third battle. The contemporary sources are not consistent, but it seems the Scots formed up in their traditional schiltrons, each battle forming a rectilinear formation. The front ranks were armed with axes and long spears carried by the rear ranks protruded past them. The knights and other men-at-arms dismounted and stiffened the formations, usually at the very front. A screen of archers skirmished to the front, and each flank of the army was shielded by hobelars and further archers. As the mist lifted, it became clear the Scots were poorly positioned, on broken ground and with their movement made difficult by ditches and walls. They remembered their defeats at Dupplin Moor and Halidon Hill and so took a defensive stance, waiting for the English to attack.
The English similarly divided their forces with Lord Henry Percy, commanding their first battle; Neville their second; and the Archbishop of York their third. Neville remained in overall command. The English were entirely dismounted, with each battle having men-at-arms in the centre and longbowmen on each flank. The English also took a defensive stance, knowing they had the superior position and that time was on their side; their morale was high. The resulting stalemate lasted until the afternoon, when the English sent longbowmen forward to harass the Scottish lines. On the English left, the Scottish light horse and archers withdrew under the arrow fire and the English were able to shoot into the flank of Moray’s battle. The Earl of Menteith attempted to clear away the English archers with a cavalry charge, but this failed and he was taken prisoner. The archers succeeded in provoking the Scots into attacking.
Moray’s battle led the assault, but the broken terrain and obstacles slowed their advance and made it difficult for them to maintain formation. The longbowmen were able to fall back behind their men-at-arms. By the time the disorganised battle came to hand-to-hand combat it was easily dealt with. Seeing their first attack repulsed, and also being harassed by the English archers, the third and largest Scottish battle, on the Scottish left under the Earl of March and Robert Stewart,[note 2] broke and fled. The English stood off from the remaining Scots under David II and poured in arrows. The English men-at-arms then attacked and after fighting described as “ferocious”, the Scots attempted unsuccessfully to retreat and were routed. The English men-at-arms outfought superior numbers of the Scottish foot, while the performance of the English archers was mixed. Most of them were participating in their first pitched battle, or even their first combat. Many groups of bowmen conspicuously hung back, while the Lancashire longbowmen received a post-battle bonus of £10 each (£9,400 in 2021 terms).
David II, badly wounded, was captured after he fled the field, while the rest of the Scottish army was pursued by the English long into the night. More than 50 Scottish barons were killed or captured; Scotland lost almost all its military leadership. The Scottish dead included: the Constable, Lord David de la Hay; the Marischal, Robert de Keith; the Chamberlain, John de Roxburgh; the Chancellor, Lord Thomas Charteris; two earls, John Randolph, Earl of Moray and Maurice de Moravia, Earl of Strathearn; and Niall Bruce of Carrick, an illegitimate son of Robert the Bruce. An unknown number of Scots were taken prisoner. It is believed that only Scots thought able to pay a ransom were spared, others being slain out of hand. Scottish nobles who were captured included William Douglas, the “Knight of Liddesdale”, their most skilled guerilla fighter, and four earls.
Scottish chroniclers Andrew of Wyntoun and Walter Bower both wrote that a thousand Scots were killed in the battle, while the Chronicle of Lanercost said “few English were killed”. Modern historians Given-Wilson and Bériac have estimated that some 3,000 Scotsmen perished and fewer than a hundred were taken prisoner.
The substantial ruins of a medieval castle Odiham Castle in Hampshire where David II was imprisoned from 1346 to 1357 Accounts of the time state that after the battle David II was hiding under a bridge over the River Browney when his reflection was seen in the water by a group of English soldiers. David II was then taken prisoner by John de Coupland, who was leading the detachment and who had his teeth knocked out by the King. During the battle David II was twice shot in the face with arrows. Surgeons attempted to remove the arrows but the tip of one remained lodged in his face, rendering him prone to headaches for decades. Edward III ordered David II to be handed over to him, rewarding Coupland with a knighthood and an annuity of £500 for life (£470,000 per year in 2021 terms). Despite having fled without fighting, Robert Stewart was appointed Lord Guardian to act on David II’s behalf in his absence.
All the Scottish captives were ordered to London, to the disgust of their captors who had a legal right to ransom them. A significant number of Scottish prisoners were privately ransomed, their captors subsequently attempting to deny they had been taken, which outraged Edward III. Edward III refused to ransom any of those who were passed on to him, or release them on parole as was traditional; he wished to cripple the Scottish capacity to make war for so long as possible, by depriving them of their leaders. In at least some cases, he paid considerable sums to their captors to buy out their ransom rights. John Graham, Earl of Menteith, had previously sworn fealty to Edward III, who considered him guilty of treason. On the King’s direct orders, he was tried, condemned and then drawn, hanged, beheaded and quartered.
In early 1347, two English forces made large-scale raids deep into Scotland. They met little opposition and devastated much of southern Scotland. Border raids, often accompanied by devastation of the countryside, and sometimes on a large scale, continued to be launched by both the Scots and the English. The battle removed the strategic threat to Edward III’s rear, and by 1349 the English border counties were able to guard against the remaining Scottish threat from their own resources.
The Black Rood of Scotland, venerated as a piece of the True Cross, and previously belonging to the former Queen of Scotland, Saint Margaret of Scotland, was taken from David II and donated to the shrine of Saint Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral. On three separate occasions, Edward III offered to release the childless David II for £40 000 (approximately £37,000,000 in 2021 terms) if the latter would accept one of Edward III’s sons as his heir to the Scottish throne. All three offers were refused. Eleven years after the battle, David II was released in exchange for a ransom of 100 000 marks (approximately £62,000,000 in 2021 terms.) The ransom was to be paid over ten years, on 24 June (St. John the Baptist’s Day) each year, during which an Anglo-Scottish truce prohibited any Scottish citizen from bearing arms against Edward III or any of his men. This truce lasted for four decades and marked the end of the Second War of Scottish Independence.
The battle takes its name from an Anglo-Saxon boundary marker in the form of a cross which was located on the ridge where the battle was fought; and from Lord Ralph Neville, the leader of the victorious English. Lord Neville paid to have a replacement cross erected to commemorate the day; this was destroyed in 1589. The site of the battle has been listed as a registered battlefield by Historic England.
The fate of King David II is recalled in Shakespeare’s play Henry V. In Act 1 Scene 3, Henry discusses the Scottish invasion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The last lines refer to an earlier play which should have been known to Shakespeare’s audience, The Reign of Edward III. At the end of the latter play, playwright John de Coupland brings the captured David II to Edward III in Calais, where he meets the Black Prince, who has captured the French King.
Cold beads of sweat running down my browtossing and turning all nightimpossible to awaken from a coma like statesuffering the terrors of fright.What makes our brain imagine things?you would probably never experience for realperhaps you were an actor in a previous lifebecause everything here you can feel.People you can picture some have namesothers come and go in the sceneits always the ones you can never imaginein your everyday life they have been.Carried on to memory like a taped accountonly to be used when asleepif awake you could possibly control themand the horrible things you could keep.Perhaps it’s something you dealt with that day?or at a time you felt at your worstbad things brought on by unpleasant memoriesright now, all you feel is you’re cursed.When you awake in the morning you often find The covers are like a bombarded shelterwhilst trying to remember what your dream was aboutyour brain is on a fast helter-skelter
On December 4, 2005, the body of Annie Borjesson, a 30-year-old Swedish woman, was discovered on the shore of Prestwick, on the west coast of Scotland. Police quickly ruled it a suicide by drowning, but Annie’s family wasn’t convinced, and they uncovered some odd things when they looked into it.
When Annie’s body arrived back in Sweden, the undertakers there claimed she had several bruises that she seemed to have incurred while she was still alive. The autopsy in Scotland hadn’t recorded these bruises. There were other marks on her body, too, which official reports had concluded to be the result of collisions with debris in the sea. What most concerned the family, though, were the unanswered questions about Annie’s last day.
Annie lived in Edinburgh, but on December 3, she traveled 129 kilometers (80 mi) to Prestwick Airport for unknown reasons. She tried to withdraw cash using her credit card twice, first £100, then £50. Both times, she didn’t have enough funds in her account to complete the transaction. She proceeded to the airport, where her image was captured on video surveillance in the late afternoon.
Time stamps from the airport’s security footage show that she moved the length of the terminal in 55 seconds. Independent investigators determined that this should take over a minute and a half at normal walking speed and concluded that she must have been running. In total, she spent less than five minutes at the airport. According to a friend who had seen the footage, she appeared to be walking around looking “annoyed and angry.” She then began walking toward Prestwick itself. She wasn’t familiar with the town, which was about a mile away from the airport. A witness later claimed to have seen a figure standing on the beach near the sea, but the figure was too far away to identify.
When Annie’s family began their investigation, they hit a wall of secrecy. Scottish authorities refused to release tissue samples that could help clarify the cause of death. When the family accessed Annie’s email account, they found that all of her emails had been deleted. A friend named Maria Jansson discovered that Annie’s phone company had failed to register any of the calls she had made to Annie during 2005, and the phone company refused to discuss it with her.
Maria began to frequently receive silent phone calls. Family members had problems with their email accounts. Police claimed that there were no records of any calls to or from Annie during her last three days, even though several people remembered talking to her. It later came to light that Annie’s hair had been cut after her death and thrown away.
Annie’s family continues to campaign for a full investigation. Her mother has met with the First Minister of Scotland, and a petition of 3,000 signatures was presented to the Scottish Parliament at the end of 2013. The family wants the police to investigate the possibility that Annie was killed during the missing 16 hours between the time she left the airport and when her body was found.