Sunday, 23 October 2011

Threat to Hermitage

I was very disturbed to read a press report of proposals for the building of yet more wind turbines, this time in close proximity to Hermitage Castle. We already have far to many of these in the Borders. The proposal is for 20 turbines on a farm near the Castle each over 400 feet high no less (approximately twice the height of the Scott Monument).

Hermitage Castle in Mary’s time was of course in the ownership of Lord Bothwell and it was here that he got involved in an affray with Little Jock Elliot of the Side coming off very much second best, being badly wounded even having to bargain for readmittance to his own Castle.The event of course remembered in the well know Border Ballad "Little Jock Elliot"

"I have vanquished the Queen’s Lieutenant
And garred her trooper’s flee
My name is Little Jock Elliot
O wha daur meddle wi’ me?

Fully a week later Mary, set out from Jedburgh where she was dispensing justice accompanied by among others, Murray Huntly and Maitland. She returned the same day and it has been calculated that at most she could have spent maybe two hours at Hermitage. So much for Buchanan’s assertion;-

"being impatient of delay and not able to forbear, notwithstanding the severity of the season, the difficulty of the way, and the danger of robbers she hastened her journey accompanied by such such a company of men as no honest man even of a mean condition would have adventured his life and his goods"

It was of course on her return from Hermitage that Mary became gravely ill and nearly died.

Hermitage Castle has a stark striking beauty on a bleak landscape made beautiful by the very forcefulness of its impact and the splendour of its isolation .

So little has changed since this grim edifice was built in the thirteenth century by William de Soulis whose descendant suffered death by being rolled up in sheet of lead and placed in a boiling pot and many have shivered on entering its portals or even viewing from a far. There can be few castles anywhere more imposing or forbidding.

All of this could be lost if these proposals are to go through - shibboleths to cheap energy, monstrous obtrusions on the landscape, highly subsidised, forcing on all of us increased fuel bills and of course grossly inefficient, not operating when the winds fails to blow, usually the coldest days of the year or even when the wind blows too strongly.

Historic Scotland has said "Hermitage is of national importance, one of the great mediaeval fortresses of Scotland and the building of the turbines would have a significant impact on its setting".

Clan Armstrong Trut is urging members and supporters to lodge their objections and I personally will be doing so. I hope others will do likewise. See- . Http://

Ronald Morrison


Friday, 7 October 2011

Visit to Scone Place

Scone Palace

 Earlier this week visited Scone Palace - I think my first ever visit to the Palace itself.

A veritable treasure trove of fine furnishings, porcelain, ivories and objects d'art and as ever on visiting these fine houses with their wonderful collections came away feeling I had viewed but a small part and appreciated even less.

Of the furnishings perhaps the finest piece is a writing desk used by Marie Antoinette.

Mary never visited which is understandable granted that the original palace had been destroyed or at least badly damaged by the mob in 1559 and in any event was owned by the Ruthvens in many ways arch-enemies of the Queen.

However in the last room visited there are bed hangings and a tapestry said to have been worked by Mary during her time as a prisoner in Lochleven No indication of provenance was given. Mary seems to have spent a lot of time weaving even for a prisoner.

Below some images of the hangings.

During the tour it was mentioned that the last Protestant coronation indeed last coronation to be held in Scotland that of Charles 11 in 1651 was at Scone. Had an interesting discussion as to how it might have compared with that of James V1.

Ronald Morrison