Greetings from iainthepict. This blog of mine is meant to be like a 'Book of Days' or a kind of 'Scottish Year Book' if you will. The idea was to present an event for each day of the year. Somewhere in here, you can find out what happened, affecting Scotland and the Scots, on any given day of the year. Your comments and observations are very welcome.
The photograph is by Sam Perkins (check him out on Facebook at Sam Perkins Photography) and was taken near Oban.

Monday, 24 June 2013

The anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn

Robert the Bruce's speech, prior to the second day of the Battle of Bannockburn, 24th of June, 1314

Sometime around midnight, edging into the 24th of June, 1314, Robert the Bruce, in a stirring speech, rallied his closest followers. Round his camp fire, he regaled them with a dramatic monologue, sharing his intimate thoughts about the coming second day's battle and the justification for its fighting, condensing the momentous events that had led them to their present circumstance into a famous rallying cry. To a man and prior to retiring for what would be to more than a few, their last night on earth, they were inspired by their magnificent leader. The results of that motivation were to be seen the following day, when the Scottish army roundly defeated that of England, despite the enemy's superiority in knights and chivalry. It was a shock result that sent reverberations

Monday, 12 November 2012

The feast day of St. Machar

The feast day of St. Machar occurs on the 12th of November each year.

Saint Machar is the patron saint of Aberdeen, which can't be a bad thing as there surely aren't many saints in the Granite City. However, the trouble with Machar is that despite 'giving' his name to the cathedral church in Aberdeen, he's kind of invisible. Reputedly a 6th Century missionary, who was sent by St. Columba to preach on Deeside, he also goes by the names of  Mochumma, Mochrieha or Mochreiha. Having a selection of names would appear to make him more visible to history, if only he could be pinned down. And that's the major problem, nowhere in the ancient biographies of St. Columba does Machar appear.

If you take the stories of Columba dispatching Machar to Deeside as gospel, surely

Monday, 8 October 2012

Margaret Stuart (Lady Margaret Douglas), Countess of Lennox

Margaret Douglas was born on the 8th of October, 1515.

Margaret Douglas, who subsequently became Margaret Stuart, the Countess of Lennox, lived in interesting times to say the least. They were also dangerous times, spanning the English reigns of Henry VIII, his son, Edward VI, and his daughters, Mary I and Elizabeth I, and James V, Mary I, Queen of Scots, and James VI in Scotland. Things wouldn't have been so interesting for Margaret if she hadn't been related to most all of the above in one way or another. And she wasn't some distant relation or natural daughter of minor royalty, either; she had a decent pedigree as those things go and, at one time, she was in line to succeed to the throne of England. Not bad for a lassie born to Archibald Douglas, the 6th Earl of Angus, albeit she was born in England, a niece of Henry VIII and a cousin to Mary I and Elizabeth I.

Margaret's father, the Earl of Angus was once described by his own uncle, Gavin Douglas, as

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Battle of Glenlivet

The Battle of Glenlivet was fought on the 3rd of October, 1594.

The Battle of Glenlivet, which took place near Allanreid and Morinsh, is one of those battles to which several alternative names have been appended. It's been called the Battle of Balrinnes, from Beinn Rinnes, the mountain that formed a splendid backdrop to the engagement and would recollect it still, if asked. The battle is also known as the Battle of Strathaven or the Battle of Allt a' Choileachain (pronounced hullachan), from the wee burn that runs alongside the battlefield. It's probably significant that Historic Scotland's inventory process seems to have settled on Glenlivet.

The battle, like many since AD 32, had religious connotations, but

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Earl of Mar's Regiment of Foot - 'the Earl of Mar's Gray Breeks'

On the 23rd of September, 1678, the Earl of Mar was commissioned to form Mar's Regiment of Foot.

The history of many of Scotland's regiment's goes back to the 17th or 18th Centuries. One of the earliest was the Earl of Mar's Regiment of Foot, which was raised in Scotland to suppress the Covenanters, during what has been called the Second Whig Revolt. That revolt lasted a year or so, between 1678 and 1679, but the persecution of the Covenanters went on for some time afterwards, reaching its peak in the 'Killing Times'.

The Earl of Mar at that time was Charles Erskine, the 5th Earl. Erskine was a Stuart loyalist, which meant he was a supporter of the Catholic king, James VII & II, who had a wheen troubles wi' the Covenanters before he was usurped by his ain daughter and her first cousin, Orange Wullie. Wullie became King William II & III and his Protestant wife, James Stuart's daughter, became Queen Mary II & II. You can argue what you like, but

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Turnberry Bond

The Turnberry Bond was signed at Turnebyry in Carryke, on the eve of St. Matthew; the 20th of September, 1286.

The historical event involving the Turnberry Bond is better known as the Turnberry Band. For some strange reason, the event that was the signing of the Turnberry Bond instead became known by a collective noun for its group of signatories. According to logic, the bond of agreement that was signed shouldn't and couldn't have been called the Turnberry Band. It was a bond and it was known, at least in Scotland, as a bond – the Turnberry Bond. The band of rogues that signed it could've been given various names and calling them the Turnberry Band is one of the more generous options.

The prime movers in the signing of the Bond were

Monday, 17 September 2012

The 'Canter of Coltbrig'

The 'Canter of Coltbrig' occurred on the 17th of September, 1745.

There are several events in Scottish history that are subject to an enduring level of interest. Most recently, the life of William Wallace has come under renewed scrutiny and the story of Mary I, Queen of Scots, is one that will be no doubt forever told and retold. Another event that consistently captures the imagination is the 'Forty-five', the Jacobite Rebellion or the Jacobite Rising, according to preference. As stated in 'Historical Geography of the Clans of Scotland', by T. B. Johnston and Col. James A. Robertson, “It is full of incidents of personal daring and romantic adventure.” More to the point as Johnston and Robertson go on to illustrate, “it has all the pathetic interest which attaches to the last struggle of a lost cause.” But it didn't appear to be a lost cause at the outset.

Well, you might suppose if Cameron of Lochiel had stuck to his guns and refused to join the Bonny Prince, the story might have been stillborn at its very onset. Despite being a zealous Jacobite, Lochiel had no notion of there being any prospect of success. On his way to Borradale to advise Charlie to go back to France, Lochiel stopped in by his brother, John Cameron of Fassefern, advising the latter that the Prince had brought neither troops, nor money, nor arms. For those reasons if nothing else, Lochiel was determined not to be caught up in the affair, but when his brother said, “If this Prince once sets his eyes upon you he will make you do whatever he pleases,” he was right.

When Charlie said, “I will erect the royal standard and proclaim to the people of Britain that Charles Stuart has come to claim the crown of his ancestors, to win it, or to perish in the attempt,” Lochiel gave in, instead of biding at home to read about it “from the newspapers.” “I will share the fate of my Prince,” said Lochiel, “and so shall every man over whom nature or fortune hath given me any power.” The Cameron's example was  followed by all the Jacobite clans and on the 19th of August, 1745, the Prince went from Kinlochmoidart to Glenfinnan, and there the standard of King James VIII was unfurled by the Marquis of Tullibardine.

In response, Sir John 'Johnnie' Cope, Commander of the Government troops in Scotland, ordered “as many men as could be spared from the garrisons” to concentrate on Stirling, with the intention of marching into the Highlands to oppose the Jacobites. By that time, the Prince’s force had grown to about 3000 Highlanders and it was clear his intent was to descend into the Lowlands, via the Corryarrack Pass. Cope, with limited numbers of men at his disposal knew opposition at that juncture would be fatal, but he had a dilemma. An attack up Corryarrack was out of the question as was staying put to be assailed by the Prince's greater numbers, but returning to Stirling on the other hand would aid the “insurrection” by encouraging sympathisers in the north. In those circumstances, Cope decided to march on to Inverness; to at least show willing. His token gesture made, Cope reached Inverness on the 29th of August, while the way to the Lowlands – and Edinburgh – was left clear for Charlie and Lochiel.

Charlie reached Perth and, on discovering that Cope intended to sail south from Aberdeen, determined to press on southwards to seize Edinburgh. On the 11th of September, the Jacobites vacated Perth and, via Dunblane and Doune, reached the Fords of Frew on the 13th, before arriving at Linlithgow on the 15th at six in the morning. The Jacobites were good at arriving earlie in the morning; just ask Johnnie Cope.

In Edinburgh, which was almost defenceless, confusion prevailed, but nevertheless, the Government did manage an attempt at raising a regiment of volunteers, after a fashion. Its purpose was to hold the city until Cope's arrival. Amongst the candidates were sixteen companies of civic troops, each of between 80 and 100 men. Those were known as the Trained Bands and, according to Sir Walter Scott, of dubious reliability. There were also the 126 members of the Town Guard or the old 'Town’s Rats' as they were called, but in terms of proper soldiery, there were few. The volunteers were formed into companies and did sensible things like add fortifications to the city walls, incidentally, under the direction of Colin Maclaurin, Professor of Mathematics at the University.

On the 15th of September, with rumours of marauding Highlanders having reached Kirkliston, Gardiner’s dragoons, who had retreated from Stirling ahead of the advancing Jacobites, and Hamilton’s dragoons, who had been encamped on Leith Links, were ordered by General Guest to march up to Corstorphine. The idea was for this force, supported by the city volunteers and ninety of the City Guard, to oppose the Prince in battle. However, as they marched down the Bow and through the Grassmarket, the volunteers had a change of heart and little more than forty-five of them (now there's a coincidence) made it to the West Port. By nightfall, they had all retreated back to their homes. The Hanoverian dragoons were left to themselves.

On the morning of the 17th, the Jacobites advanced to Corstorphine, where the dragoons had been drawn up by Colonel Gardiner, at Coltbridge, to halt their progress. When the Jacobites came within sight of the dragoons, some well mounted members of Charlie's force were ordered to ride out and reconnoitre the enemy. Those men rode up close to the dragoons, made faces at them and fired their pistols for good measure. Scared out of their wits and seized with a general panic, the dragoons turned and ran. Their pell-mell flight has since become known as the 'Canter of Coltbrig'.

The officers tried in vain to rally the men who galloped off through the fields by the Lang Dykes, now taken up by the New Town. The dragoons never stopped until they reached Leith, but only to let their horses take a breather, before continuing on by Musselburgh. They were prepared to bivouac for the night near Preston Grange, but someone cried out that the nasty Highlanders were coming, so they upped and ran again, stopping only when they reached Dunbar. As it happened, nobody had made any attempt to pursue them.

At midday on the 18th of September, 1745, King James VIII. was solemnly proclaimed at the Cross. Cope disembarked at Dunbar on the same day. Prestonpans came next, but that's another story.