Last of the Westland Whigs

In the late 17th century, the 'Westland Whigs' were the radical descendants of earlier Covenanters who had defied the absolutist rule of Stuart kings in south west Scotland.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Rigs at Loch Stroan

Somewhere under the bracken and long grass there are some 'narrow-curving' rigs here. These were explored as part of my 'Witches drowned under sea of sitka spruce' expedition - see below.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Scottish cultural heritage and national identity

The following is draft on above theme for an oral presentation I will give to M.Litt Scottish Cultural Heritage class at Glasgow University/ Crichton(Dumfries) Campus on 6th November.

Any comments?

Oral Presentation

Scottish Cultural Heritage and Scottish National Identity

Three hundred years ago this month, on the 20th of November 1706 to be precise, construction of the Mid-Steeple in Dumfries was brought to a temporary halt. The event which interrupted work that day was no ordinary occurrence. Led by the Reverend John Hepburn of Urr, a group of armed horsemen rode up to the Mercat Cross at the foot of the Mid-Steeple and with the enthusiastic support of a large crowd, ceremonially burnt a copy of the 25 Articles of Union. They then affixed a declaration of their opposition to the proposed ‘incorporating union’ between England and Scotland to the Mercat Cross before riding back across the Nith into Galloway.

No doubt intentionally, given Hepburn’s religious and political background, this event evoked memories of a similar one which had taken place at Sanquhar 26 years before. Then, in 1680 Richard Cameron and his supporters had affixed their declaration of ‘holy war’ against Charles II and his brother, the future James the II and VII, to the Mercat Cross in Sanquhar.

However, unlike Cameron, Hepburn was working immediately with rather than against the tide of history. On 12th November an ‘Act of Security for the Kirk’ had been hastily passed to head of religious opposition to the proposed Union. This confirmed ‘the fifth Act of the first Parliament of King William and Queen Mary , entitled ‘ Act Ratifying the Confession of Faith, and Settling Presbyterian Church Government’ which was “ to continue without any alteration to the people of this land in all succeeding generations” , thus securing within the Act of Union the status of the Church of Scotland as an ‘established’ national church, equal but legally distinct from the similar national status of the Church of England.

This recognition of Scotland’s distinctive religious heritage, along with recognition of Scotland’s separate legal system, meant that the Union of 1707 was not a full ‘incorporating Union’. The Union was not, despite Chancellor Seafield’s often quoted remark on the passing of Scotland’s Parliament ‘Now there’s ane end of ane auld sang’. Indeed just as the ‘auld sang’ of the Scottish Parliament was coming to its end, the ‘auld sangs’ of Scotland were being recalled and revived.

In 1706, James Watson published the first of three volumes of his ‘Choice Collection of Comic and Serious Scots Poems’. According to Michael Fry, in his just published book on the Union of 1707:

This sets out what was still then known of the older Scottish literature, at the risk of being lost because the royal court had long gone from Edinburgh, and the Parliament, also a patron of culture on a modest scale , was preparing to follow. The preface boasts it is the first printed anthology of poems ‘in our own native Scots dialect’. It too, contributed to the vernacular revival which led on top the poetry of Alan Ramsay, Robert Ferguson and Robert Burns. Each delighted to find in Watson’s collection traditional genres and metres with which to enrich his own work.

That line of intellectual descent shows how, as if by some intuition, Scotland prepared for extinction as a state with a revival of her culture. Indeed the Scots have endured, to the present, as a cultural community sustained by recurrent revivals, which also laid the foundation for their re-emergence as a political community 300 years later. Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun had said : ‘If a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he would not care who should make the laws of a nation’. Fry: The Union: England , Scotland and the Treaty of 1707: Birlinn: 2006: 255/6

As an aside Fry previously noted that Fletcher’s oft quoted quip was made not in Scotland, but at a meeting held in London with Sir Charles Musgrave, Tory MP for Westmorland in 1703. The context was a remark made by Musgrave that in London “ Even the poorest sort of both sexes are daily tempted to all manner of lewdness by infamous ballads sung in every corner of the street.”

To return to my theme: Fry can be understood as suggesting that for the 292 years which separate the extinction of Scotland as a ‘political community’ or state to the ‘reconvening’ of Scotland’s parliament in 1999, Scotland’s cultural heritage preserved Scotland’s national identity. Or rather, more than preserved, which implies a ‘fossilisation’ of Scottish national identity as it was in May 1707, Scotland’s cultural heritage has developed and enhanced national identity for the past 300 years. The cultural works of Robert Burns and Walter Scott, to name but two, did far more than preserve Scotland’s cultural heritage; they helped shape and create it. Yet they both did so within the context of a British rather than a Scottish state.

This leads on to a question which our previous discussion of Benedict Arnold’s theme of nations as ‘imagined communities’ touched on. According to the ‘standard’ models of nationalism, a form of political Scottish nationalism should have emerged in the 19th century. But it did not. As Graeme Norton puts it:

In many ways the student of nationalism in Scotland is not helped by the tools available to do the job. The search for a universal theory has proved increasingly fruitless, and the discipline remains fragmented into communicative, elitist, modernist and ethnic theories (to name but a few). This is despite a convergence between those who regard the nation- state and nationalism as inherently modern - an invention of the late eighteenth century - and those who stress the ethnic sentiment which all ‘nation-states’ use to legitimate their existence. Yet Scotland’s pre-modern identity (with the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 at its pinnacle) has not become the ‘blood and belonging’ of ethnic cleansing or genocide or xenophobia or emancipation characteristic of modern nationalisms. [Morton: What if?: The Significance of Scotland’s Missing Nationalism in the Nineteenth Century: in Broun, Finlay, Lynch: eds.: Image and Identity: The Making and Re-making of Scotland Through the Ages: John Donald: Edinburgh: 1998]

At the end of his analysis, Morton suggests that what emerged in Scotland in the nineteenth century was ‘a thoroughly modern civic nationalism’, or a ‘cultural nationalism’. What enabled this form of nationalism to develop was the survival, embedded in the Union Treaty itself, of national Scottish institutions - a Scottish legal system, a Scottish educational system and a Scottish religious system along, with the structures of Scottish local government. Lindsay Patterson in his ‘The Autonomy of Modern Scotland’ (published in 1994) takes this theme as the core of his book. Patterson argues that despite the loss of her parliament in 1707, Scotland retained a sufficient level of independence to limit the appeal of full-blown nationalism.

But if Scotland has retained and extended her cultural heritage alongside a substantial degree of political autonomy, why did a Scottish National Party emerge in the 1930s? And why has it only been since the 1970s that the SNP has emerged as a significant nationalist threat to the Union of 1707?

Writing in 1977, when the SNP has 11 MPs and a Scottish Devolution Bill was grinding its painful way through Westminster to ultimate failure in 1979, Christopher Harvie’s ‘Scotland and Nationalism’ [ Allen and Unwin: London: 1977] traces the emergence of the SNP in 1933 to its roots in a Scottish literary renaissance in the 1920s. According to Harvie this 1920s renaissance involved ‘talents considerably superior’ to those of late 19th century Scotland : Neil Gunn, Edwin Muir, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, James Bridie, Compton Mackenzie and Eric Linklater, as well as ‘the genius of Hugh MacDairmid, a figure comparable to Yeats and Joyce’.

In particular, Harvie draws attention to the importance of MacDairmid’s 1926 poem ‘ A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle’ (please excuse Harvie’s gendered language)

The Thistle, mutating throughout the drunk man’s vision, is not a symbol of nationalism; it is the eternal negation of man’s present state, on which his mind must act, as thesis on antithesis, to secure his liberation. The nation on the other hand is a human construct, a necessary matrix of traditions and institutions, which can be -indeed has to be - used to cope with and homogenise this process:

Thou Dostoevski, understood,
Wha had your ain land in your bluid,
And into it as in a mould,
The passion o’ your being’ rolled
Inherited in turn frae Heaven
Or sources for abune it even.

Is Scotland big enough to be
A symbol o that force in me,
In wha’s divine inebriety
A sicht abune contempt I’ll see?

For a’ that’s Scottish is in me,
As a’ things Russian were in thee,
And I in turn ‘ud be an action,
To pit in a concrete abstraction
My country’s contrair qualities
And mak’ a unity of these
As my love owre its history dwells
As owretone to a peal o’bells.

And in this hiecher stratosphere
As bairn at giant at thee I peer...

However, when the more ‘radical’ National Party, which MacDairmid helped to found in 1928, amalgamated with the more moderate Scottish Party to form the Scottish National Party in 1933, MacDairmid was thrown out. At the risk of over-simplifying Harvie and against Fry’s claim, whilst the 1920s and 30s literary renaissance may have helped lay the foundations for today’s Scottish nationalism, this particular aspect of Scottish cultural heritage was too complex to be easily transferred into the sphere of political nationalism. Or, put another way, the SNP’s winning slogan in 1974 was ‘It’s Scotland’s Oil!’ not ‘It’s Scotland’s Culture!’.

Why then did the rising tide of Scotland’s oil fail to lift the boat of economic nationalism in the 1979 devolution referendum? Neal Ascherson, who was a journalist at the time has suggested a possible reason.

The key to understanding Scottish modern history is to grasp the sheer force, violence and immensity of social change in the two centuries after about 1760. No country in Europe, and perhaps no country on earth until the European explosion into the interior of North America and Australia, underwent a social and physical mutation so fast and so complete. Tidal waves of transformation swept over the country, Lowland and Highland, drowning the way of life of hundreds of thousands of families and obliterating not only traditional societies but the very appearance of the landscape itself. ...[In the Lowlands] a countryside of open, hedgeless fields, with tenant farmers and cottars living n small communities of a dozen or so families known as ‘ferm touns’ now came abruptly to end... Within a generation, the very placenames and locations of the ‘touns’ were sinking out of memory, as if a new map had been laid over the surface of the land.... Somethings, however, did not change, or at least they stayed recognisable. It depended on who you were. Most people in Scotland experienced the arrival of capitalism as the inset of an obliterating, scattering cyclone...But if you were and advocate or a minister, a university lecturer or a banker, it was different. For the professions and for Scotland’s small middle class, the cyclone was no worse than the bracing Edinburgh wind...for this minority there was a continuity about what they did , and what they thought they were doing. [Ascherson: Stone Voices, The Search for Scotland: Granta: London : 2002]

This ‘deep discontinuity between the experiences of the ‘hurricane survivor’ majority and the ‘healthy breeze-blown’ minority’ is a useful distinction. It is also very challenging. Is it not the case that the ‘Scottish Cultural Heritage’ we are studying is the cultural heritage of Ascherson’s ‘healthy breeze- blown’ minority? How far into the Scotland of the ‘hurricane survivor majority’ does Scottish cultural heritage really extend? Not very far, I suspect.

Nor, which is more directly to Ascherson’s point, does Harvie’s ‘civic nationalism’ extend much further into the Scotland of the hurricane survivors. Yes, after 18 years of minority ( in Scotland) Conservative rule, a Devolution Settlement was reached and a Scottish Parliament was reconvened in 1999. As Ascherson puts it:

A strong tide of public opinion brought it into being between 1997 and 1999; the Scottish middle class, or governing stratum, or intelligentsia or what everyone may call it finally succeeded in rallying the majority into decisive political action. At the same time, the division has not gone away. The minority are pleased and proud at much of what the Scottish Parliament has done, whilst admitting to its severe teething problems. The majority are much more reserved about what the Parliament may do to change their lives now and in the future... Their support is astonishingly tepid.

Is it possible to move beyond Ascherson’s rather depressing analysis? I am certain it is. One way forward is to show that Ascherson’s historic hurricane did not sweep away all in its path. This can be illustrated by returning to my starting place, to Dumfries’ Mid-steeple in 1706.

The Reverend John Hepburn of Urr, who led the anti-Union demonstration in 1706 knew what it was like to live through more than one hurricane. In 1681, he was in London and accused of taking part in the ‘Rye-House Plot’ to assassinate king Charles II and was lucky to escape execution. He then held illegal conventicles in Galloway before emerging (without offical approval) as the minister of Urr post- 1688. The General Assembly challanged his status, but his parishioners refused to accept his removal. But, unlike John MacMillan of Balmaghie who became a Cameronian minister, Hepburn did not totally reject the established church.

In 1715, as he had done in 1706, Hepburn armed and drilled 300 of his parishioners and marched them to Dumfries - but this time he claimed to be doing so in support of the burgh against a threatened Jacobite seige. Finally, although Hepburn himself had died in 1723, Hepburn’s ‘army’ is alleged to have played a key role in the Galloway Levellers uprising of 1724.

Although, as I have found through my researches, the Galloway Levellers uprising was much more than a simple peasants revolt against enclosing landowners, it was the first and strongest act of resistence by any Scots against Ascherson’s ‘hurricane’. Furthermore, despite the subsequent and total transformation of the local landscape and farming practices, memories of the Levellers survived for a hundred years as oral history, to be recorded in the 1820s and 1830s by John Nicholson and Joseph Train.

Train passed on his information to Sir Walter Scott, but although Scott used Train’s research in several of his novels, he did not use the Galloway Levellers material. Equally, although Nicholson’s material, which can be found at Broughton House in Kirkcudbright, was re-used extensively by A.S. Morton in his paper on the Galloway Levellers in the 1936 Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, it has been overlooked by Scottish historians in their occasional mentions of the Levellers.

Why should this be? Why should this opportuntity to connect across Ascherson’s divide between the ‘people of the hurricane’ and the ‘people of the healthy breeze’ have been so neglected ?

With these questions I conclude my presentation on the relationship between Scottish cultural heritage and national identity. I hope that I have provided sufficient material for a fruitful discussion of my theme.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Grasping the Thistle

Grasping the Thistle: Dennis MacLeod and Michael Russell

“There is a great storm coming which shall try your foundations. Scotland must be rid of Scotland before the delivery comes.” James Renwick, 1688. [quote taken from Neal Ascherson: Stones Voices: The Search for Scotland: 2002: 154]

This is my second attempt at a review of Grasping the Thistle. There may be more. Why is it so difficult to ‘grasp’ the book?

To be as honest as I am able to get, I found it deeply disturbing. I suspect, and it may take a few paragraphs before I can articulate the suspicion, that some of my almost unconscious assumptions about what ‘Scotland’, or more precisely ‘an independent Scotland’ means have been challenged. They may even have been overturned.

“So what?” the ageing punk cynic in me responds. But these ‘unconscious assumptions’ are not personal, not individual.

To give an example from my first attempt at a review - as a young (5 or 6 year old) child I was taken to the site of the battle of Culloden and shown the spot where, I was gravely assured, my ancestors had stood before charging the English. Two or three years later, I was taken to Glentrool, the place where Robert the Bruce gained his first victory over the English and started on the path that led to Bannockburn.

Then, as a 15 year old, I helped out with George Thompson’s two 1974 election campaigns. At the second, George was elected as Galloway’s first SNP MP. He was also my French teacher at Kirkcudbright Academy and a friend of my parents. In 1979 I had just moved to London, but was able to get a postal vote and voted for George and the SNP. After 18 years in London, my move back ‘home’ to Galloway was in part prompted by Alasdair Morgan regaining Galloway for the SNP in 1997. Later I was even, briefly and not very successfully, Convenor of the local SNP branch.

That Scotland should/ must be independent is deeply embedded as a ‘fact’ - not a belief - within me. I assume that this essential conception of independence is shared with the third or so of Scots who likewise consistently support independence [but do not necessarily vote SNP].

In which case, why should a book with Scottish independence as its core theme be so challenging?

I am not sure. I suspect because it opens up the prospect of a Scotland which is ‘different’. The vision is radical rather than conservative, a Scotland which would (quite possibly painfully) become an unfamiliar place. This I feel is the critical point. I need to fact check by reading other reviews, but I suggest that to criticise (or support) particular aspects of Dennis and Michael’s quite detailed and specific suggestions is to miss this point. The Scotland which aspires to ‘independence’ is necessarily a Scotland which is willing to grasp the thistle... and then? Wrench it up from its roots?

Apology in advance - following pursues metaphor:

What is ‘the thistle’? It is the Scots prickly sense of grievance and of grudges resentfully rooted in our history. But how ‘Scottish’ is Scottish history? How much of our understanding of our history, of our identity is in fact a ‘British’ AKA United Kingdom of Great Britain and (Northern) Ireland version of Scottish history? I am thinking here of themes Edward Said pursued in his 1993 book ‘Culture and Imperialism’. Said’s themes cannot be easily summarised, but they deal with attempts by colonisers to occupy and appropriate the physical / geographical space and to occupy and appropriate the culture and history of the colonised. The process of decolonization therefore requires that the ‘natives’ do more than simply reclaim their land. They must also reclaim their history and culture. The difficulty, as Said admits, is that this second stage is the hardest.

Perhaps significantly, although Said discusses Ireland (via Yeats), Scotland figures nowhere within his narrative. The Scots cannot realistically be described as a ‘colonised people’. The Scots actively participated in the British (never English) Empire project.

That project, as Suez revealed fifty years ago and as Iraq and Afghanistan are re-revealing is over. The Scotland which was for 300 years an essential part of that project is no more. The Scotland that will be is yet to be born. But place your hand upon the belly of that old Scotland and you can feel the new Scotland as she kicks within the womb.

Grasping the Thistle is but one such kick. There will be more.

“Scotland must be rid of Scotland before the delivery comes”.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Highlands try to steal Thomas Telford

Highlands 'hijack' ?

Spotted article in Friday's Dumfries and Galloway Standard under above heading. Here is the Press release it was based on - from Elaine Murray's website

Dumfries Constituency MSP Elaine Murray has written to the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, Patricia Ferguson MSP, expressing her dismay over Executive plans to celebrate the 250th anniversary of one of Dumfries and Galloway’s famous sons, engineer Thomas Telford, in the Highlands!

Elaine Murray said:

“In Ms Ferguson’s answer to my written question regarding celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of the famous Scottish engineer, Thomas Telford, states that this will form part of Scotland' s Year of Highland Culture.

I find this reply disappointing. While I agree that Thomas Telford made an important contribution to roads in the Highlands, and have no objection to a project involving pupils in four Highland schools, I have written to the Minister to point out that Thomas Telford was not born in the Highlands, but in Westerkirk, near Langholm, in Dumfries and Galloway!

Local people are organising a number of events to celebrate the birth of one of their most famous sons, and I feel that the Executive could contribute something towards the celebrations in his birthplace, not just in the Highlands.

The answer from the Scottish Executive will feed local suspicions that Dumfries and Galloway - and, indeed, the South of Scotland - are sometimes ignored by the Executive. Many Dumfries and Galloway residents already feel that rural equates with the Highlands in the Executive’s perception!. I wonder whether the civil servant who drafted the answer for the Minister knows where Westerkirk and Langholm actually are?

There are plans to build a commemorative cairn at the place of Thomas Telford's birth and to provide some car parking facilities for visitors, as part of their celebrations. I have requested the Minister’s advice on where they might be able to apply for help with the cost of this project.”

11 October 2006
Index Heading: Education Department
Dr Elaine Murray (Dumfries) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has any plans to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth in Westerkirk, Langholm, of the Scottish civil engineer, Thomas Telford, on 9 August 1757.
Ms Patricia Ferguson:

The anniversary of the birth of the renowned engineer Thomas Telford will be marked next year as part of Scotland’s Year of Highland Culture, which the Executive is part funding. Telford’s contribution to building roads and bridges across the Highlands and more generally throughout Scotland will be celebrated using a schools project being set up by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Highland 2007.

The project will take as its focus and inspiration the work of Thomas Telford. It will aim to engage young people in four areas of the Highlands in exploring and celebrating their local built heritage, and in sharing their knowledge with each other and their local communities. 2007 is a good time to undertake this project given that it is both Scotland’s Year of Highland Culture and the 250th anniversary of Thomas Telford’s birth. The project will form one component of The Highland Promise – the cultural pledge to young people in the Highlands.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Witches drowned in a sea of sitka spruce

Looking for Gilbert Browne’s spouse.

In her paper “The Survival of Witchcraft Prosecutions and Witch belief in South -West Scotland” [Scottish Historical Review, April 2006) Dr. Lizanne Henderson discusses the case of five alleged witches who were taken from Dumfries for trial in Kirkcudbright in 1671. One of the witches was called Bessie Paine who claimed to be a ‘white’ rather than a ‘black’ witch.

“When the wife of Gilbert Browne of Craigend became ill, he sent for Paine who determined ‘that Agnes Rowan’ had witched her. Paine successfully cured the wife, hinting that the best way to combat the magic of a ‘black’ witch’ was to deploy the skills of a ‘white’ witch.”.

The question I then asked myself was - can the Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds provide any background details? The answer was Yes.

Deed 1734 is a Bond drawn up at Knockvalloch on 7 April 1674 where by Cuthbert Browne of Craigend and Grissel Waighe, spouses, promised to pay Major James Mauwell of Glenlea £100 Scots, payable at Lammas 1674 and Candlemas 1675, with £10 of penalty for each term’s non- payment and annualrent [interest] from the date hereof.

But where was Craigend? ‘Glenlea’ was the clue. Glenlee is (or was) an estate. There still is a Glenlee House, and a Glenlee power station (part of the Galloway Hydro- Electric Scheme completed in 1936). Following the Craigshinnie Burn which flows past Glenlee house upstream, I found a Craigend on the map [ OS Explorer series 319 Galloway Forest Park South]. However all the map showed were a few black dots. So I checked with Ainslie’s 1797 map of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright [online via excellent National Library of Scotland’s digital library]. There, close to Craigshinnie was a building called Craigend.

But would anything survive? The only way to find out was to go and take a look.

On the map it seemed easy enough. From just past the Coom Bridge on the A 762 a single track road runs up and over the hill towards Clatteringshaws Loch on the A 712. From Craigshinnie Bridge on this back road a forest road runs up towards Craigend, which is on a forest ride. Unfortunately the forest road runs parallel with an old estate road which is so overgrown as to be near invisible. Craigend is close to where the estate road crosses the forest road and so I missed the turn. Luckily, thanks in part from input from the Galloway Mountain Rescue Team and my brother Ian, the OS now show forest rides as distinct from forest roads, and mark dykes boldly, even where they are now hidden by sitka spruce.

So when I found a dyke and then a forest ride, I knew I had come too far. Turning back I found the old track hidden behind a clump of broom, beyond which I could see the ride. However it was not a clear ‘firebreak’ but rather a patch of indigenous woodland, including an impressive mature ash tree and some alder/ hazel bush-trees. A wee burn rushed down beside these -its course partially defined by what looked by a stone wall. Beside the burn and beneath the bushes was a rough rectangle of mossy boulders. Other short lines of mossy boulders lurked in the green gloom. Here or nowhere was Craigend. A rickle o’ stanes in a sea of sitka. Here or nowhere was where Bessie Paine had cured Cuthbert Browne’s spouse Grissel Waighe of the sickness laid upon (allegedly) by Agnes Rowan in 1671.

And here, or nowhere, Cuthbert and Grissel had eked the £100 Scots from the land to pay Major Maxuell of Glenlea (as rent?) in 1674/5.

How did they farm the land? Did they herd cattle, sheep or goats [the Forest Park has a substantial population of wild / ferral goats and a Wild Goat Park]. Or did they grow oats and bere? Or some combination of all the above, plus make ‘ewes milk cheese’ as the occupants of the similar steading of Kilnair near Lochinvar Loch did around the same time?

That there was some arable farming up here in the Galloway Highlands can be shown by the next bit of exploration.

Narrow-curving rig system at Stroan NX 645 696

Recently Mary-Anne Smythe and Richard Cunningham of Craig Farm ( Balmaclellan ) gave me a fascinating book -‘The History of Soils and Field Systems’ ed. S. Foster and T.C. Smout: Scottish Cultural press: 1994 - to help me with my Galloway Levellers research. In the book is chapter by Piers Dixon of RCHAMS on Field Systems, Rig and Other Cultivation Remains in Scotland: The Field Evidence.

One of Pier’s case studies is the system at Stroan - just above Stroan Loch and beside the old ‘Port Road’ [Portpatrick Railway, opened 1861 and which ran from Castle Douglas to Stranraer and Portpatrick] which crosses the Black Water of Dee by a sturdy granite viaduct as the river exits Loch Stroan. There is a car park and picnic site here, part of the ‘Raiders Road’ [from novel ‘The Raiders’ by local author S.R. Crockett]

The railway makes a cutting through Stroan Hill. I followed this, hoping to check out the abandoned farm of Stroan mentioned by Piers. Unfortunately the way down to Stroan farm beside the loch was blocked and obscured by an endless expanse of chest high bracken. However, there was a recently made track leading up towards Stroan Hill. I followed this, but it soon petered out. I could see the green summit of the hill, but to get there had to cross a very boggy and pathless section of mixed blaeberry, heather, bracken and spiky grass. I made slow progress, hopping from tussock to tussock, skirting the boggiest looking patches, until at last I crossed the low, tumbled remains of a dyke.

Severla more such dykes criss-crossed the summit of the hill, but progress was much easier over long but ‘proper’ grass. But even here, the summer growth made it very difficult/ impossible to make out any of the ‘narrow-curving’ rigs. Nor could I make out (despite the help of the detailed map contained in the book) the ‘several houses, yards and kiln’ of the township which had once existed here and which pre-dated the farm at Stroan. [Although I could see the farm of Airie surrounded by its green fields beneath Airie Hill, 291. m/ 955 ft..]

Heights? Significance?

Craigend is at 230 m./ 755 ft. The summit of Stroan Hill is 125 m./ 410 ft. The fields of Airie farm (110m. / 360 ft.) reach up to the 150m./ 492 ft. contour level. Stroan farm was at 70 m./ 230ft. Craigend was clearly at the upper end of viabilty, if height above sea level is a factor, but if so, then why does Airie survive as a farm when Stroan does not?

By the time of the Old Statistical Account (1790s) sheep farming had become the dominant form of agriculture in the Galloway Highlands. It remained so until the 1960s, when
[D. Mackay: Scotland’s Rural Land Use Agencies: Scottish Cultural Press: 1995: 35] ‘the market for mature (wedder) mutton collapsed, as did the market for wool.’. Combined with the wetter climate of Galloway (compared with the Borders - J. Tivy: The Organic Resources of Scotland: Edinburgh : 1973) which made sheep farming in Galloway less viable than in eastern Scotland, the value of sheep-farms dropped rapidly, allowing the Forestry Commission to buy them up cheapply and blanket-plant all but the highest peaks with 230 squares miles of sitka spruce.

In today’s green desert, the ‘black vs white’ witchcraft argument Bessie Paine and Agnes Rowan once fought out over the body and soul of Grissel Waighe has become irrelevant. Neither bodies nor souls survive here anymore. The hissings of the witches have been silenced by the whispering of the wind amongst the vivid/ alien green sea of sitka spruce.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The 'strands' of Galloway - streams not beaches

Strand as water course place name.

The Concise Scots Dictionary gives two forms of strand:1. a beach or shore of the sea or sandbank (probably from Old Norse strond rather than Old English strand; and 2. a little stream or rivulet.

In 1971/2 W. Riach carried out extensive research across the 44 parishes of Galloway into the Galloway dialect [published as A Galloway Glossary: Association for Scottish Literary Studies: Occasional papers No.7: 1988]. Riach gives: stran as ' a small stream' , which came from respondents in the central / northern parishes of Stewartry of Kirkcudbright plus Stranraer in Wigtownshire. The distribution of 'strand' matches Riach's findings.

McQueen [ Place-names in the Rhinns of Galloway and Luce Valley: Stranraer local History Trust: 2002: 9 , following Watson :Celtic Place names of Scotland ] suggests the 'stran' of Stranraer comes from the Gaelic sruthan; streamlet or burn.

The majority of the following 'strands' are found in upland locations. Back Strand NS 58 04 and West Strand NS 59 05 mark an east/ west boundary with 'sike' e.g. NS 80 04 Sandy Sike is the western most sike (sike/ syke also a small watercourse name). This boundary is also a 'political' one - point of intersection between Ayrshire/ Carrick and Dumfriesshire/ Upper Nithsdale with Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. Riach does also give sike as 'a gutter or seep-away' - from Dalry (north) and Kirkbean (south) parishes on eastern edge of Stewartry.

In eastern Dumfriesshire, e.g. Langholm and Eskdale, I have found almost 100 sikes. The Concise Scots Dictionary gives syke/ sike as a small stream or water course esp. one in a hollow or on flat boggy ground. - originally from Old Norse sik or Old English sic.


Note : the historic western boundary of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright was the river Cree. The historic eastern boundary was the river Nith. As a rough guide therefore, any locations between NX 40 _ _ and NX 97 _ _ are within the historic Stewartry.

To view any of these strands on an Ordnance Survey map, go to the National Library of Scotland website

and type in as six figure map reference in search box


1. For Strand of the Abyss NX 44 73 and two 5s to map reference

2. This gives NX 445 735

3. Delete spaces to give NX445735

4. Enter in search box.

NX 13 90 Straid [ MacQueen in 'Welsh and Gaelic in Galloway': Transactions Dumfriessire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society: vol 32: 1955:78 suggests may represent Welsh ystrad]

NX 19 51 Vennel Strand
NX 21 61 Loch Strand
NX 22 70 Ha'Hill Strand
NX 24 68 Loch Strand
NX 31 68 Damloch Strand
NX 31 81 Spirit Strand

NX 42 97 Dhu Strand
NX 42 98 Duple Strand
NX 44 73 Strand of the Abyss - see photograph below
NX 46 81 Cornarroch Strand
NX 46 70 Loch of the Lowes Strand
NX 48 83 Green Strand
NX 49 79 Droughandraie Strand
NX 49 83 Carselusk Strand
NX 50 73 Black Strand (1)
NX 50 76 Black Strand (2)
NX 50 76 Back Strand (1)
NX 50 79 Puldow Strand
NX 51 78 Smallwater Strand
NX 53 92 Moss Park Strand
NX 54 80 Hog Park Strand
NX 54 84 Gatepark Strand
NX 54 84 Craigveny Strand
NX 55 92 Heron Strand
NX 56 86 Black Strand (3)
NX 56 86 Rough Strand (1)
NX 57 84 Rough Strand (2)
NX 57 96 Disgee Strand
NS 57 03 Lone Strand
NX 58 50 Goat Strand
NX 58 95 Benloch Strand
NS 58 04 Back Strand
NS 59 06 West Strand
NX 60 83 Glen Sytrand
NX 62 90 Gibson's Strand
NX 62 99 Bitch Hole Strand
NX 85 74 Ged Strand
NX 65 88 Lag's Strand
NX 66 82 Bargain Strand
NX 68 82 Drummanister Strand
NX 72 99 Lamgarosh Strand
NX 74 02 Sheil Strand
NX 75 45 Castle Yard Strand

The 'lanes' of Galloway - streams not paths

Lane as watercourse place name element in Mid West Scots dialect area.

The following contains a list of water course place names containing the element 'lane' .

In “The Uses of Place -Names” [Ed. Simon Taylor, published by Scottish Cultural Press, Edinburgh 1998], there is a chapter by Professor G.W.S. Barrow ‘The Uses of place-names and Scottish History- pointers and pitfalls.’ On page 59 (maps p 60/610) discusses the distribution of the P-Celtic [I.e. related to Welsh and Breton rather than Q-Celtic Irish/ Scots/ Manx Gaelic]word pol meaning a stream. Barrow suggests that in south west Scotland pol was the standard P-Celtic word for a stream and was so well established it survived the later arrival of Old English, Gaelic and Older Scots.

These pols are described as ‘ too numerous to plot’ in a central area of the map on page 60. This central area takes in the western Southern Uplands, including the Galloway highlands. This is an area with which I am familiar. Over 30 years ago, with my brothers Ian and Kenny Livingston, I followed the course of the Polmaddie Burn down from the Sheil of Castlemaddy bothy down to the abandoned late mediaeval settlement of Polmaddie.

I was fascinated to learn that the many pols of Galloway dated back to the earliest ‘language layer’. I also knew that ‘lane’ meaning a water course was locally unique. Using a set of Ordnance Survey ‘Explorer’ series 1: 25 000 maps borrowed from my brothers, I began looking at local water course place names. Altogether I have recorded around 200 ‘interesting’ water course places names.

The results for ’lane ’ are presented below. So far I have found over 70 ‘lanes’ (with a few variations- leana, loan, lain - mainly in the west of Wigtownshire). I have also researched the possible origins of ‘lane’ which I will post later.

As well as ‘lanes’, I noted over 50 ‘strands’ as small water course place names in uplands Galloway and that in eastern Dumfriesshire ‘syke’ replaces ‘strand’ for a small water course.


The following list is based on OS Explorer series (1: 25 000) maps covering south Ayrshire, south Lanarkshire, Dumfriesshire, Wigtownshire and the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. The map references refer to the km square within which the placename was found.

The western limit for the distribution is NX 08 70 Landripple Burn. The northern limit is NS 63 65 Boghead Lane, the eastern limit is NT 00 11 Rushy Lane and the southern limit is NX 81 51 Auchencairn Lane.

To see any of following on an Ordnace Survey map, go to National Libraries of Scotlnd website

and type in map reference (without spaces) in search box.

To get straight to correct scale, must by six figure reference, so add a 5 on to each part of reference:


For Lanedripple Burn, NX 08 70

1. Add two 5s to give NX 085 705

2. Removes spaces to give NX085705

3. Type in search box

NX 08 70 Lanedripple Burn - western limit of distribution
NX 09 72 Loan of Turlochy
NX 10 71 Lain Challoch
NX 11 73 Drummanmoan Loan
NX 12 78 Leana Burn
NX 12 78 Leana Hill
NX 14 65 Cross Hill Lane
NX 14 70 Bazard Lane
NX 15 69 Sheil Lane
NX 16 90 Water of Lendal
NX 20 72 Drummuillie Lane
NX 27 58 Lannygore Burn
NX 31 82 Laniewee Burn
NX 37 83 Loan Burn
NX 38 79 Torr Lane
NX 42 94 Tunskeen Lane
NX 43 62 The Lane
NX 43 90 Balloch Lane
NX 44 90 Eglin Lane
NX 44 93 Whitespout Lane
NX 45 79 Dargall Lane
NX 47 81 Cooran Lane
NX 47 91 Galla Lane - Bleau (1645, based on Pont) gives as Galua Len. R.C. Reid, Wigtownshire Charters has 'Galloway Lane' from 1638. Marks boundary with Ayrshire.
NX 47 94 Carrick Lane - Ainslie 1797 map gives as 'Shire Burn'- marks Galloway/ Carrick boundary
NS 48 10 Head Mark Lane
NX 48 80 Loup o' Lanebreddan
NX 50 76 Craigencaille Lane
NS 52 11 Beoch Lane
NX 52 88 Lane Mannoch
NX 53 81 Minnigall Lane
NX 53 95 Carsphairn Lane
NX 54 75 Clatteringshaws Lane - now under Clatteringshaws Loch/ hydro-electric resevoir
NX 55 88 Forest Lane
NX 56 63 Lane Burn
NX 56 90 Braidenoch Lane
NS 57 11 Lane Burn
NX 57 77 Gate Lane
NT 60 03 Crooked Lane
NX 61 78 Airie Lane
NX 62 65 Grobdale Lane
NX 62 99 Keoch Lane
NS 63 25 Boghead Lane - northern limit of distribution .
NX 63 76 The Lane
NX 63 82 Trolane Burn
NX 65 70 Tait's Lane
NX 65 89 Fingland Lane
NX 66 69 Crae Lane
NX 66 91 Carroch Lane
NX 68 63 Camelon Lane
NX 68 90 Bennieloan - hill, source of Fingland Lane
NX 69 96 Dibbin Lane
NS 70 18 Back Lane
NX 70 63 Barend Lane
NX 70 63 Drumlane- farm, recorded 1619 in teind list for Balmaghie parish
NX 71 64 Greenlane Plantation
NS 72 18 Auchtitench Lane
NS 73 18 Fingland Lane
NX 74 55 Greenlane - cottage, was croft ' Greinleine' 17th century
NX 74 56 Auchlane Burn - Auchlane an old estate, sometimes 'Lachlein' e.g. Bleau's map.
NX 75 61 Carlingwark Lane - canal built 1765
NX 78 60 Corra Lane
NX 78 78 Knarie Lane - Ainslie 1797 map, now Knarie Burn
NX 79 70 Knockwalloch Lane, 17th century, now Minnydow Burn
NX 80 55 Potterland Lane
NX 80 70 Barncalzie Lane
NX 81 51 Auchencairn Lane, south limit of distribution, below high water mark in Auchencairn Bay
NX 82 52 Orchardton Lane - below high water mark in Orchardton Bay
NX 83 57 Cocklick Lane
NX 84 62 Kirkgunzeon Lane - 12 km long, recorded as 'Dufpole' in 12th century charter
NX 85 59 Little Lane - recorded as 'Polchillebride' in 12th century charter
NX 87 57 Fairgirth Lane - was Fairgirth Burn on pre 1920 OS maps. Name change after stream straightened as part of wetland drainage.
NX 87 71 Under Brae Lane
NX 89 75 Bogrie Lane
NS 90 08 Dalveen Lane
Nt 00 11 Rushy Lane - eastern limit of distribution.

History as Landfill

This a post moved over from Greengalloway. If you can plough through it, contains section on 12th century charter evidence (Holm Cultram Abbey in Cumbria) on local placenames. Professor Thomas Clancy of Glasgow University/ Celtic Studies is or has used same evidence for paper to be or has been given on Gaelic Placenames of Galloway. However same source includes mention of a 'syke' which is non-Gaelic and 'Kirkwinnin' (Kirkgunzeon) - kirk again no Gaelic. So it goes. I also found some more Holm Cultram Charter Evidence forneighbouring parishes which I sent him :

Dear Professor Clancy - I checked with McKerlie this morning - it was for Kirkconnel and Mabie in Troqueer rather than New Abbey parish for which he quoted from Holm Cultram charters. I have copied out the relevant sections below.

I have noticed a couple of refernces to 'sikes' or 'sykes' (also found in Holm Cultram/ Kirkgunzeon context). Today there is only one 'syke' surviving in Galloway - Pullosh Sykes (sorry, can't find map reference, but close to border with Upper Nithsdale/ Dumfriesshire). However there are hundreds in eastern Dumfriesshire. The Galloway equivalent for a small watercourse seems to be 'strand' - with none found in Dumfriesshire.

The many 'pols-' found in both Kirgunzeon and Troqueer Holm Cultram charters have almost all vanished from lowland Galloway (except as a few coastal 'pows') but are very frequent (100 +) in upland zone.

Professor Barrow has suggested such 'pols-' are P rather than Q Celtic, i.e. pre-Gaelic. Do you agree?

Hope the following is of interest.

Alistair Livingston

Holm Cultram Charters- placenames in Troqueer parish :from McKerlie: Lands and Their Owners in Galloway: 1878

Note: in 1927, R.C. Reid was able to use local knowledge to identify present day place names from similar Holm Cultram charter evidence for neighbouring Kirkgunzeon parish.

1. Kirkconnel (page 214)

1.1 The first is a grant by William, son of Michael de Kirkconnel of the interspace of the whole land which lies between Pollychos and Grenesicke (Glensone burn?) which land extends from Pollerock to the water of Nid (Nith) which is within the boundaries viz as Polflerock descends to Pollychos, and as Pollychos falls into the water of Nid (Nith) from the north side, by the outside of the Moss to Grenescyke, as Grenesycke falls into the water of Nid (Nith) on the southern side...The witnesses are D S Gilbertus, of Candida Casa, bishop and D S Michael,archead (archdeacon) of the same. This charter was subsequent to 1235.We think that the lands mentioned must have been between the modern Cargen water, and Glensone and Drum burns.

McKerlie (page 215) also mentions Holm Cultram having right to cultivate the part of Kirkconnel called ‘Mustard- Garth’, ‘a place called Pollesk revede’, and ‘Pollethos’ as variant of ‘Pollychos’.

2. Mabie

2.1 page 223
Here, the boundary place names (from a Holm Cultram charter confirmed by Alan, son of Roland so pre- Alan’s death in 1234) are

from Tarpoll up to Locifferan (Lochrutton?) and from Locifferan to Ataladi to Polleos to Polterock to garpol and from Garpol to furan Gilbanan (?) to Polingour to locange to the oaks which have the crosses, and from these oaks to the cross road which lies (goes past?) near to the house of Gillekus and from that cross road to the burn which runs near the _____ of Gillcolm son of Patui and from that burn to Loufferan (Lochrutton?), as it falls into Louferran.

2.2 page 225by Garpol to locifferan (Lochrutton) and by locifferan northwards to sica (burn) which descends in Gerthengrale and Maby, and falls into locifferan and thus ascending by the same sica (burn) to the cross which the same monks had made between him and them, and from the cross at Albaladie to oll, and from Poll to Pollerod to Garpoll, and from Garpoll to fueran-Gilleban, and from fueran-Gilleban to pollingour to locange to the oaks which bear the cross, and from these oaks to that cross raod which lies next the house of Gilleber and from that road to the burn which runs by the ____ of Gillecolm son of Patyer , and from that burn to lociferran and falls into locifferan (Lochrutton)

I am still awaiting his response. Abstract of Gaelic in Galloway 'evidence' from UHI website. Mi-run mor nan Gall [the lowlanders great hatred of the Gael] ? No, I am just trying to understand the language/ history/ cultural heritage of Galloway.

3. 'Gaelic in Galloway: some 12th and 13th-century evidence'

Abstract: This paper introduces the agenda of the project by focusing on one case study: the contentious issue of the nature of the expansion of Gaelic into Galloway, the dating for this expansion, and the nature
of its relationship with the other languages of the region. Using one set of boundary records, that of the parish of Kirkgunzeon in Kirkcudbrightshire, which was granted to the monastery of Holm Cultram in Cumbria by Uchtred son of Fergus, Lord of Galloway, between 1161 and 1174. The almost exclusively Gaelic nomenclature of the earliest records of the boundaries of the property is significant, and allows for a discussion of the situation of Gaelic in the area, in the records, and in the active speech of the elite classes of southern Scotland in the 12th century.

Prof. Thomas Owen Clancy

Three years ago [ four now] I did some historical and placename research for a campaign to prevent a landfill site being extended. It was fun to do, but had no impact on the eventual decision to grant planning permission. Unfortunately the Council had already committed themselves to a PFI waste management scheme to be run by Shanks plc and the extension of the landfill site was a key part of the project.

I had a bit of a run in with the Council Archaeologist over it. I spotted an old chapel site marked on early maps right next to the entrance to the landfill site - but she said it was actually 500 metres away on the other side of a road. I then got a phone call from a local achaeologist who said he had found the chapel site ten years earlier -in the location I had identified. Unfortunately he had 'borrowed' a mechanical digger to help excavate the site and managed to sink it in the bog on which the landfill site lies, which terminated his explorations...

So it goes. The campaigners used the following in an attempt to get the Scottish Executive to step in and stop the plan. But without the support of the local expert - the Council Archaeologist- it got brushed aside.

Still, I recently got a pat on the back from the editor of the book mentioned in Section 4. The 'lane-names ' he mentions are a local puzzle. I have found over 70 streams which are called 'lanes' but no-one is sure why and how they became 'lanes' rather than burns.

Dear Alistair (if I may)

Very many thanks for your material on lane-names which you sent me, along with a copy of your letter dated 25 Jan 05 to Prof. Nicolaisen. I was pleased to see you had been inspired by Heather James's chapter on Gwaun Henllan [ see section 4 below] - funnily enough I will be seeing her next week when I visit Carmarthen following the Society of Name Studies conference in Swansea this weekend - she will be pleased to hear of your work. I'm sorry your attempt save the possible site for St Bride's chapel from landfill was unsuccessful.

You lane-research is excellent, and is well worth working up into an article. You might want to do a short piece on it for the Scottish Place-Name Society Newsletter, but it deserves much fuller treatment - there are various possibilities- Nomina and Dumfries and Galloway Transactions being the most obvious. There are plans afoot to produce a Journal of Scottish Name Studies (which I would be editor of), to appear probably Spring 2007, but you might not want to wait that long.

I don't think I can help much with your lane-research - though I'd be pleased to see anything else you might write on it. From a quick perusal of the material, it did strike me that there might be simple phonetic assimilation of lean(a) to lane when the former was borrowed into Scots either as a lexical or an onomastic item.

The boundary charters you mention [see Section 1 below] are brilliant - I might come back to you on these when I get back from Wales.

Best wishes

Simon Taylor

Aucheninnes Landfill Site [Extension]

1.Holm Cultram Charter Evidence

On 15th September 1927, R. C. Reid presented a paper to a Field Meeting of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society held at Kirkgunzeon Church. In this paper [attached] Mr. Reid drew on the Register of Holm Cultram Abbey in Cumbria to illustrate the history of the Parish of Kirkgunzeon. The relevant section of Mr. Reid's paper concerns the boundaries of the 'grange' lands rented by Holm Cultram. These still form the boundaries of the Parish of Kirkgunzeon.

The road leading from the bridge of Polatkertyn to Crosgile ultan, thence by the straight way to Cloenchonecro, and going down by the steam called Grenethfalde, as the stream runs into the water that comes out of Lochart[ur] and as Polnechauc falls into the same water at the foot of Locharthur, and from Polnechauc to the Munimuch, and from Munimuch by the top of the hill to Glastri straight to Poldere-duf, and so across to the source of Poldereduf, and as Poldereduf falls into the great water which runs between Culwen and Boelwinin, and then down the water which runs between Blareguke and Halthecoste, and so up the middle of the alderwood to the great moss, and across the moss to Polnehervede, and as Polnehervede falls into Polchillebride, and the last into Dufpole and so up steam to Polatkertyn.

The Dufpole is identified by Reid as the Kirkgunzeon Lane [or Dalbeatttie Burn], the Polnehervede as the Arnmannoch Burn, and the Polchillebride which links these two, as the Little [Kirkgunzeon] Lane. The Little Kirkgunzeon Lane flows through Aucheninnes Moss and past the existing Aucheninnes Landfill site. Reid translates Polchillebride as "St. Bride's Kirk burn".

Since the charter quoted above [Register of Holm Cultram No. 129] was one obtained from Alexander, King of Scots [reigned 1214-1249] confirming an original charter granted by Uchtred of Galloway [died 1174], it would seem reasonable to assume that a church or chapel dedicated to St. Bride existed in the Aucheninnes area in the 12th century. This church or chapel gave its name to the stream.

2. Edyngaheym: Daphne Brooke's evidence

Dr. Richard Oram is the author of 'The Lordship of Galloway' [published by John Donald, Edinburgh, 2000]. This is the most academically authoritative study of the history of medieval Galloway. In an Obituary of Daphne Brooke published in the 2002 volume of the Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, Dr. Oram wrote the following:

The first indication of the scale of her finding came in 1987 in vol LXII of the Transactions, where her 'The Deanery of Desnes Cro and the Church of Edingham', pointed towards the former existence of an Anglian minister or monastic community in the heart of the territory between the rivers Nith and Urr. When presented in isolation in this article, her arguments appeared rather thinly stretched, but the publication in 1991 of "The Northumbrian Settlements of Galloway and Carrick', which appeared in vol 119 of the proceedings of the Society of Antiquarians of Scotland, set Edingham into a broader context and provided compelling evidence for a complex administrative structure extending through Galloway from the Nith to the Rhins. In conjunction with the steadily emerging archaeological evidence for a highly organised Northumbrian monastery and estate based on Whithorn, this article revolutionised historical interpretations of the nature and extent of the historically obscure period of Anglian hegemony in Galloway from the later 7th until the 10th centuries. By 1991, her research had demonstrated beyond question that place-name evidence could give voice to the silent centuries in Galloway's history.

In the article 'The Deanery of Desnes Cro and the Church of Edingham' referred to above [also attached, page 54], Daphne Brooke suggests that

There was also a chapel in Colvend dedicated to St. Bride. A bounding title of 1185-86 [Holm Cultram 121] refers unmistakably to the water course which is now called the Little Kirkgunzeon Lane as Polchillebride. It is too far from Blaiket to be named after that church. A separate chapel of St. Bride must have existed here, and possibly became the parish church of Colvend (the patron saint is no longer known).

3. Evidence from the Ordnance Survey

Unfortunately neither R.C. Reid nor Daphne Brooke appear to have connected the place-name evidence of the Polchillebride with the work of the Ordnance Survey carried out in Galloway between 1847 and 1850. Fortunately the Rev. David Frew in 'The Parish of Urr, Civil and Ecclesiastical: A History' [first published in Dalbeattie, 1909, republished in 1993] did. On page 186 he mentions that a chapel site near Aucheninnes farm is recorded on the current OS map of Kirkcudbrightshire.

It is difficult to precisely correlate locations given on Victorian OS maps with modern OS maps. The old maps use latitude and longitude rather than numbered kilometre squares. A possible location of the chapel site has been given as NX 8464 6098 by Dumfries and Galloway Council Archaeologist. However this is some distance from the apparent location in a field opposite the entrance to the existing Aucheninnes Landfill Site. The Council Archaeologist did keep a 'watching brief' on the old OS map location when the B 793 was under construction in 1994, but noticed nothing of significance.

[Note: see above on this. Using I have got a modern map ref for chapel site as NX 84779 60945 or their Grid Reference 284779,560945 ]

The Ordnance Survey were approached in an attempt to clarify this anomaly, but were unable to do so. The OS suggested that RCAHMS [Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments Scotland] might be able to help. Unfortunately RCAHMS depend on the local expert knowledge provided by, for example, Council Archaeologists.

Where, as with the B 793 road construction in 1994 and the proposed extension of the Aucheninnes Landfill Site, a Council is acting as both Planning Authority and a partner in the development, issues of conflict of interest can arise. Where, as in this case, evidence for 'significance' is ambiguous and depends upon interpretation, objectivity becomes problematic and could be swayed by subjective factors. Mapping evidence for a chapel site in the immediate proximity of the proposed development exists. In this case, independent assessment of its existence or non-existence is required to ensure objectivity.

4. Importance of Place-Name Evidence: a Welsh Case

In 'The Uses of Place-Names' [ed. Simon Taylor: Scottish Cultural Press: 1998], Chapter 7 'Gwaun Henllan-the oldest Recorded Meadow in Wales?' Heather James illustrates the significance of place-name evidence in the context of a Planning Appeal against an open-cast mining development. [Attached].

The parallels between the Welsh case and the present one lie in the ability of place-name evidence to reveal continuities and changes in a historic [i.e. documented] landscape. Aucheninnes is a Gaelic place-name with the meaning 'the field in the water-meadow'. [Maxwell: Place Names of Galloway]. The fact that Aucheninnes is now described as a raised bog or moss rather than a water-meadow reveals changes in the agricultural/ land-use patterns of the area. In 'The Lordship of Galloway' [Oram: 2000: 258] the neighbouring farms of Arnmannoch, Meikle and Little Cloak are specifically referred to in this context.

Daphne Brooke has drawn attention to one particular place-name element that apparently charts the process of bringing land from the waste into cultivation or pasture. This is the Gaelic noun earann(a share), which survives in the prefixes arn-, ern- or iron-. The earliest surviving documented mention of an earann names dates to 1408...but the specific elements of several of the names implies the use of the generic at a much earlier period. Certain of the place-names, such as Arnmannoch (the Monk's Share or the Share of the Monk's Vassals, depending on whether the specific is a corruption of monoch or manach) and Ernespie (the Bishop's Share), point to ecclesiastical involvement in the formation of assarts. Armannoch in Kirkgunzeon (NX 858 605) lies on land that formed part of the Holm Cultram Estates. It is probably to be identified with the 'Clochoc of the Monks' mentioned in a perambulation of the estate in 1289, where it was described as lying across the boundary line from 'Clochoc beg of Culwen'. Modern farms lying immediately across the old parish boundary from Arnmannoch are Meikle and Little Cloak. A second Arnmannoch lies on the northern edge of Lochrutton parish... in both cases, the farms lie on marginal grazing lands and may represent land taken out of the waste by monastic estates managers or their tenants.

It is significant in this context of land being 'taken out of the waste' and returning to 'the waste [i.e. bog or moss status] that land at Little Cloak farm is to be managed under a separate legal agreement to provide a 'waste' habitat for the Bog Bush cricket as part of the Landfill Development of Aucheninnes Moss. The 'natural heritage' value of Aucheninnes Moss has been recognised. Its 'cultural and historic heritage' value has not.

5. Conclusion

On the basis of the above, would a 'reasonable person' [famously described by Lord Denning as 'the man on the Clapham omnibus'] conclude that Dumfries and Galloway Council neglected to take into proper account the archaeological, historical and cultural significance of the Auchenninnes area in the planning process?

That the residents of Dalbeattie who objected to the proposal at the local stage were not aware of, and so did not draw attention to, the evidence presented above does not affect this argument. As the Planning Authority, it is Dumfries and Galloway Council who should have carried out this research. That the Council Archaeologist carried out a 'watching brief' when a new access road to the Aucheninnes site was built in 1994 in case remains of the 'Chapel' recorded on old OS maps were uncovered is significant. That it is claimed that no significant finds were revealed in 1994 does not mean that this chapel does not exist. Detailed mapping suggests it lay just to the east of the route of this road and immediately north of the entrance to the existing Aucheninnes Landfill Site. Place-name and historical evidence supports this location.

The preservation of the Holm Cultram records for the area makes it unique in a local historical context. Both Daphne Brooke and Richard Oram have drawn upon this documentation to extend and develop our understanding and knowledge of the history of Galloway.

Unfortunately, since the proposed development is part of a Private Finance Initiative agreement between Dumfries and Galloway Council and Shanks Waste Management Ltd, a potential conflict of interest exists between the role of the Council as Planning Authority and as partner in the development. Dumfries and Galloway Council have an urgent need to find a solution to their waste management problems. If it had not been for the intervention of Scottish Natural Heritage as an external agency, it is unlikely that the conditions subsequently imposed to protect the Bog Bush cricket would have been imposed.

In the parallel case of the Edingham Waste Transfer Station part of this regional Waste Management strategy, the issue of potential impact on a historic site [the former Edingham munitions factory] was taken into account in the planning process.

6. Suggestion

That the Scottish Executive should, taking into account the historical and cultural significance of the Aucheninnes/ Edingham area, make their approval of the Aucheninnes Landfill Site Extension conditional upon an independent archaeological assessment of the possible chapel site.

In addition, should it be felt that there are sufficient similarities with the Gwaun Henllan case, that an independent assessment be made of the possible national historical and cultural heritage value of the Edingham/ Aucheninnes area.

On this last point, Shanks Waste Managment Ltd have announced that they are to appeal to the Scottish Executive against the decision by Dumfries and Galloway Council acting as Planning Authority to reject the Edingham Waste Transfer Station. Since the Waste Transfer Station aspect is integral to the Landfill Site Extension aspect, then the importance of Daphne Brooke's evidence needs to be assessed.

It is unfortunate that, in this particular case, rather than taking the opportunity to extend local historical knowledge, Dumfries and Galloway Council have chosen not to.

Tom Devine- Scottish Clerances Lecture University Highlands and Islands

FROM UHI website

Leading historian answers a national puzzle
by EO01AN — last modified 2006-10-04 09:23

The Scottish clearances created a successful new life for Lowland Scots, but left the Highland population destitute and starving, historian Tom Devine told a packed audience at the UHI Millennium Institute Annual Lecture 2006.

This was the reason, he said, why the clearances were associated only with the Highlands. The Highland experience was seared into the nation's memory, while little was known about the clearances elsewhere.

"Lowland cottars thrived in the new townships, but Highlanders suffered destitution and famine. There was a great and intense period of removal of a destitute population; a dismemberment of society," he told around 300 people at Dornoch Cathedral.

He also criticised the schools curriculum - a "national scandal" - for failing to address the Lowland experience, and said he hoped to inspire debate and attempt to correct a distorted picture of the clearances.

Before addressing his subject, Professor Devine described UHI - the Highland region's higher education collegiate which is due to gain university status next year - as an extraordinary development which would have a seminal part in the history of "this wonderful part of Scotland".

"It is the most exciting higher education development since the inauguration of the Open University in Scotland. People are coming from all over the world to learn from this place. Universities are now at the very heart of the Scottish nation - research and talent are the future of old Scotia. UHI will become one of the drivers of the 21st century Highland economy. It is vital to the area."

Professor Devine entitled his lecture, The Scottish clearances - why were the Highlands different? He said the clearances were part of a great rural transformation throughout Europe from a subsistence-based society to one which catered for markets. "This process had enormous social and economic benefits. But it also had supreme and sometimes very difficult social costs, because it meant the re-fashioning of old traditional society and led to clearances. It was a time of rampant individualism, and the end of the old world."

"In Scotland, the speed of movement from subsistence to capitalism was extraordinary and the fastest in Europe. Market forces were unleashed, penetrating and fragmenting ancient social structures and established communities. Estates treated property like chess boards and moved people about. Land became an asset."

Professor Devine argued that significantly more people were affected by the Lowland clearances, yet driven by the same commercial interests and methods of removal as in the Highlands. He also believed that Lowland Scots would have put up a fight, against contrary opinion.

But he said the Highland experience, Sutherland's in particular, was different. In the Lowlands, there was consolidation of land and the relocation of people to new villages and townships was successful. In the Highlands, infant industry was undercut and boom activities of the late 18th century, like kelping, military employment and fishing, all evaporated.

"The horror was this - while the Lowland policy became a success, in much of the Highlands there was criminal abandonment of people on the basis of far-fetched economic programmes. There was destitution, and the population became redundant."

Professor Devine, the Sir William Fraser chair of Scottish history and palaeography at the University of Edinburgh, was introduced by UHI's own Professor Jim Hunter, director of the UHI Centre of History, based at the Dornoch campus of North Highland College UHI which hosted the fifth annual lecture. He described Tom Devine as the leading historian of Scotland, and praised him for engaging fully with the Highlands - unlike many prestigious historians before him.

Rosemary Thompson, principal of North Highland College UHI, thanked Professor Devine for a "thought-provoking" speech. Gemma Bateman, North Highland College student of the year, presented Professor Devine with a bottle of 38-year-old malt whisky.

Guests were welcomed by Colin Mackay, chairman of the UHI board of governors, who said the journey towards university title was nearing an end, although it was more or less a university in practice and funding.

UHI principal, Professor Bob Cormack, spoke of the dynamism which had replaced a MOPE (most oppressed people on earth) mentality in the Highlands.

He said this dynamism could be seen in the development of North Highland College UHI which was punching above its weight. Branch organisations the Environmental Research Institute and the UHI Decommissioning and Environmental Remediation Centre were gaining an international profile. "It is quite remarkable that a small college should have this portfolio of research, but it is being led by people of vision."

Professor Cormack promised that UHI, a collegiate network for the whole region, would continue to be different and break new ground. He said that a university for Inverness alone would have done great things for the Highland capital, but not for rest of the region. "Shortly we will gain university title and a new phase will begin. At the core will be our collegiate structure which we must continue to promote and ensure that it is understood."

Honorary fellowships were awarded to Robin Lingard, the first director of the UHI project from 1993 to 1997, and Ullapool Cllr Jean Urquhart, a member of the UHI Foundation, the UHI board of governors, and the University of the Highlands and Islands Development Trust, in recognition of their dedicated support for the university cause.

There was also a presentation to the first UHI Student of the Year, Shetlander Margaret Johnston.

Other events of the day included a students' and UHI network showcase, a golf handicap tournament, a ghost walk around Dornoch, and a ceilidh.

Piper James Mackenzie, aged 17, from the Isle of Lewis, a student of music at Lews Castle College UHI, played for guests, while a procession from Ross House, the Dornoch campus of North Highland College UHI, to the cathedral was led by the Sutherland Schools Pipe Band.

At Ross House, where a reception was held before and after the lecture, there were musical performances by Lews Castle, North Highland College and Dornoch Academy musicians.

Irish Sea Cattle Trade and Galloway Levellers

This is work in progress...

Seventeenth Century Irish Sea Cattle Trade and the Galloway Levellers.

1. Galloway Levellers slaughter Irish cattle.

In the 1967 volume ( Third Series, Number 44) of the Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society [TDGNHAS] can be found a series of letters reporting the actions of the Galloway Levellers in 1724. These letters were sent to Sir John Clerk of Penicuik. They were found in the Clerk of Penicuik Muniments [Scottish Records Office], transcribed and edited by W. A. J. Prevost.

In 1724, John Clerk’s brother James was Collector of Customs at Kirkcudbright. In one of James’ letters to John dated 6 May 1724 (Old Style) he reports “ They [the Levellers] threaten to come to this town and oblige the officers of the Customs to assist them in seizures of Irish cattle that they pretend to find among the Enclosures.”.

A.S. Morton (The Levellers of Galloway TDGNHAS Third Series vol. 19/ 1936) provides some more detail based on a letter addressed by the Levellers to ‘The Right. Hon. Major Augustus Duquary, Commander of His Majesty’s Troops at Kirkcudbright’. Having demolished Sir Basil Hamiltion’s dykes near Bombie Muir [for which 23 named Levellers were subsequently fined £777 Scots]:

“ understanding that there were a considerable number of Irish cattle in the Parks of Netherlaw, we did, in obedience to the law, legally seize and slaughter them to deter the gentlement from the like practice of importing or bringing Irish cattle, to the great loss of this poor country as well as the breeders in England, too much the practice of the gentlemen here.”

Morton later adds the detail that the 56 cattle siezed were killed by a blacksmith named McMinn in the grounds of Dundrennan Abbey close to Netherlaw. From the Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds [1623 to 1700] and Register of Sasines, I have found that in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright (east Galloway) there was an extensive family of blacksmiths called McMinn, who can be traced back to 1646 and of whom one - Francis McMinn - was ‘portioner of Gregory’ in 1724. Gregory was a croft [NX 705 455] 4 km from Netherlaw [NX 743 455].

That the illegal import of Irish cattle was a significant trade circa 1724 is confimred by the following [from McDowall’s History Of Dumfries, originally published in 1872, but taken from revised 1986 edition, page 556]

So rigid were the regulations at this period [i.e. 1724] that when some charitable people in Dumfries commissioned two shipments of oatmeal from Ireland that the poor might obtain it cheap when it was hardly to be had of home growth for love or money, the collector durst not permit the meal to be landed till he was specially authorised to do so ny his official superiors. The officers were also scandalsied by a daring innovation [but see below] which had sprung up, especially at Kirkcudbright, of importing Irish cattle , and they sorely bewailed the connivance given toot by the country gentlemen and their tenants.

That there was a ‘scarity of victual’ in Dumfries and Galloway in 1724 is confirmed by a ‘Levellers’ letter dated 2 May 1724 sent ot Clerk of Penciuk by his brother -in-law, the Earl of Galloway:

I shall alwaise doe whats possible for me to preserve my familie but at this time our countrie is in the worst situatione possible for monie becuase of the scarcity of victuall which oblidges our tennaties to send all they can to Irland for bread, and if we had not been provided thence I doe believe there had been a famine in this countrie, and I must say the running of brandie does ruin our countrie verie much , but you wold hear the insolencies of ane sett of people that have drauen togither and destroyed the whole encloasours in the Stewartrie , and if we have not the protectione of the Govert by allowing troops to march in to the countrie for our assistance I doe relie believe the whole gentlemen of Galloway will be ruined. Noe doubt you have heard of Mr Hamilton’s going to Edinburgh with Earlstoune to represent the grevances of our country on that score...

Note that the Earl uses ‘our countrie’ and ‘this countrie’ to describe Galloway - not Scotland. The ‘Mr. Hamilton’ mentioned is Sir Basil Hamilton, who was a Jacobite in 1715 and the ‘Earlstoune’ was Thomas Gordon of Earlston who was an anti-Jacobite in 1715.

2. Covananters and Cattle

Thanks to Tom Devine I have found Donald Woodward’s very useful ‘ A Comparative Study of the Irish and Scottish Livestock Trades in the Seventeenth Century’ [In Cullen and Smouts Comparataive Aspects of Scottish and Irish Economic History , 1600- 1900].

This shows that in the 1660s around 50 000 Irish cattle/ year were being exported to England. Most of these Irish cattle were landed at Chester (at that time still a major port), but some reached England via the North Channel and Galloway. In 1666, 7287 Irish cattle were recorded at the border customs point of Allisonbank (Gretna/ Graitney).

English farmers and landowners resented these imports and managed to use their influence in the English parliament to pass ‘An act for the encourgement of trade’ in 1663 which imposed a temporary ban on the import of Irish and Scottish cattle. This was followed in January 1667 by an ‘act against importing cattle from Ireland and other parts beyond the seas’ (exempting Scottish cattle). In March 1667, the Scottish parliament passed a similar ban on the import of Irish cattle.

Unfortunately there seems to be a gap in the border customs records between 1667 and 1680, but when they begin again the figures for cattle recorded at Dumfries are:

1681 6 204
1682 8 747
1683 10 763
1684 4 861
1685 9 184
then a gap until
1689 7 709
1690 5 436
1691 7 846

These were in theory all Scottish cattle and since they were recorded at Dumfries, would have come mainly from Galloway. This is partially confirmed by Woodward who identified Patrick Heron of Little Park (NX 456 658, height 10 m.) as sending 1 000 + cattle to England via Dumfries each year between 1689 and 1691.

This Patrick Heron (younger) was a key player in the cattle trade, having begun his career as an agent for Sir David Dunbar (senior, died 1686) of Baldoon. He became an MP (UK parliament) and built Kirroughtrie House - now a hotel- near Newton Stewart. Heron had helped raise anti-Jacobite forces in 1715 but was accused by the Levellers in 1724 of turning the town of Minnigaff into a ‘nest of beggars’ through his cattle enclosures. According to McKerlie’s Lands and their Owners in Galloway, Heron kept stock upon “Glenshalloch, Poldenbuy, Tonderghie, Craigdews, Kirouchtrie, the Lessons, Torwhinock and Torrshinerack”, with Dreighmorn, Craignine, Drumnaight and Glenamour also mentioned as Heron lands. Including Litte Park, most of these can still be identified.

1. Little Park - farm steading NX 456 658, height 10 m.

2. Glenshalloch - still a farm steading NX 433 701 height 120m plus Glenshalloch Hill NX 436 708 height 201 m.

3. Poldenbuy/ Polrubuy - now only as Poultrybuie Hill NX 491 739 height 354 m.

4. Tonderghie - now only as Bridge, Burn, Glen and Hill. Hill at NX 500 705 height 300m.

5. Craigdews - farm steading NX 524 723 height 130m and Hill NX 495 723 height 269 m. Note: Craigdews Hill now ‘Wild Goat Park’ in Galloway Forest Park.

6. Kirouchtrie - now Kiroughtree hotel at NX 422 600, height 50 m but also Kiroughtree Forest

7. The Lessons - now only Lessons Park NX 427 659, height 50 m.

8. Torwhinnock - now only Torwinnoch Hill NX 425 670, height 136 m. Under forestry.

9. Torshinnerack - not found.

10. Dreighmorn - now Drigmorn farm steading NX 460 722, height 150m. and Drigmorn Hill NX 468 745 height 545 m. Note: this farm stands out clearly from surrounding forestry and a single dyke encloses approx. 8 sq km. of highland, including Millfore 656 m. / 2164 ft. high.

11. Craignine - Craignine farm steadingNX 460 665 height 25 m, and Craignine Hill NX 453 654 height 134 m.

12. Drumnaight - not found.

13. Glenamour - farm steading NX 442 675 height 70m.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Mote of Mark -the book

Just spotted a short review of this book in new issue of British Archaeology magazine.

I wonder - will it will it say more on critical questions than can be found in TDGNHAS : 1973 : Laing L. :The Angles in Scotland and the Morte of Mark ?

1. Was there a post-Roman 'kingdom of Rheged' in Galloway/ Solway Firth region? If not, what was there here?

2. Anglian advance - occupation appears to have ended in late 7th century when the site was set on fire and find of (from memory) piece of bone with Anglian runes on it has suggested it was the Angles wot done it. Can this be linked with Daphne Brooke's theory of more extensive/ intensive Anglian impact in 'Northumbrian Settlements in Galloway and Carrick: PSAS: 1991 ?

Will find out in due course.

The Mote of Mark: A Dark Age Hillfort in South-West Scotland
by Lloyd Laing and David Longley

The Mote of Mark is a low boss of granite rising from forty-five metres above the eastern shore of Rough Firth, where the Urr Water enters the Solway, between the villages of Kippford and Rockcliffe. The summit comprises a central hollow between two raised areas of rock and was formerly defended by a stone and timber rampart enclosing one third of an acre. The Mote of Mark appears to have first attracted the attention of antiquaries in the late eighteenth century, and first assumed national importance with Alexander Curle's major work in 1913. After the interruption of the First World War, the site was left largely alone until it was re-excavated in the 1970s. These excavations, in 1973 and '79 were designed to answer three specific questions: How many phases of activity are represented in the structural history of the defences? How many phases of activity are represented by the evidence for Early Medieval metalworking and occupation? And, how does the evidence of occupation within the defences relate to the structural history of the defences? This book presents the results of the excavations and their interpretation within the framework of these questions. 216p, 8p of col pls, many b/w figs (Oxbow Books 2006)
ISBN 1842172174. Price GB £45.00

Friday, October 06, 2006

Too much cultural heritage?

From e-mail just sent to staff on M.Litt. Scottish Cultural Heritage, Crichton Campus of Glasgow University.

My plan with the blog is to post on it my historical researches and related material. For example, today I helped my brother deliver some furniture to Ross farm (Meikle Ross, Kirkcudbright Bay) and managed a quick chat with the farmer about its history. He told me his family have farmed there since 1848, but that the farm was originally part of Balmangan, in turn part of the St Mary's Isle/ earl of Selkirk estate - which has a direct link back to the Galloway Levellers and Sir Basil Hamilton of Baldoon/ Sir David Dunbar of Baldoon - through a complicated bit of family history where by Basil Hamilton's son Dunbar became 4th earl of Selkirk....

We then had a delivery at Barholm 'castle' Tower, a recently restored 15th century tower house [: had originally said ' Dutch owners' but incorrect -see following. Have apologised to Mr. Brennan for getting it wrong :

A small correction regarding Barholm ("Dutch owners"). As your brothers would probably have realised, we are in fact Scottish , but currently living in Holland. I was born in Selkirk, but spent most of my life up to 18 in Stranraer and Dumfries: my wife is from Ayr. The site gives the impression that Barholm Castle is part of the take over of Scotland by wealthy absentee foreign owners. We shall be returning to live at Barholm in a few years.

Best regards,

John Brennan]

and had to negotiate the stone spiral staircase. This involved a trip along the back roads of Borgue and Kirkdale/ Kirmabreck parishes- with spectuular views over Wigtown/ Fleet Bays and the Solway Firth from the High Auchenlairie road. I am not quite sure how much 'Scottish (or at least Stewartry of Kbt) cultural heritage' we passed through, but we discussed everything from the Galloway Levellers to Dirk Hatterick's cave to cup and ring markings to the 'Wife of Ushers Well' [prompted by Carlelton farm/ carling/ old wife/ ceorl + Walter Scott] to the new houses being built at Mid-kelton steading by the owner of Auchenlairie Holiday Centre...

But how can all this be connected in to the M.Litt Scottish Cultural Heritage course?

Hence 'The Last of the Westland Whigs'. The theory being that I can fill it up with such details, which are then available as an 'extra curricular resource'.

The problem - see below

The image below shows one of several similar'filed markings' I have found through researching the Galloway Levellers. It is of a sloping field on Ernespie Farm, just outside Castle Douglas on the Old Military Road at OS grid reference NX 773 634. The question is - what are these markings?

Although most can be seen on sloping ground, similar markings can be found on very shallow slopes, e.g. just outside Kirkcudbright between Black Morrow/ Moray Plantation and Auchenflower NX 686 492. Broader 'rigs' (if that is what they are) can be seen on Ardwall Island at NX 572 495

Piers Dixon of RCAHMS has formally identified upland rigs near Loch Stroan NX 640 700 and Laughenghie NX 625 663.

Some, at Furbar and the Buchan,, Castle Douglas can be associated with 17th century crofts from tacks found in Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds [1623-1700].

If not some form of cultivation - spade formed? - they could have been created by cattle/ sheep, but they are very regular and parallel.

Cultivation or soil creep?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

You can't kill the spirit

As events have progressed, I have found that my Greengalloway blog site - which has turned out to be mainly a 'continuing story of the radical counterculture' - is also having to cope with my postings on subjects of more local/ Scottish interest like the Galloway Levellers. So I have decided to create a new blog 'The Last of the Westland Whigs'. Here will be found my local historical research and also musings on more contemporary themes.

For example - what on earth are Scottish Enterprise up to? I heard the news oday on BBC Radio Solway that Dumfries and Gallwoay are to be bundled in with a new Scottish Enterprise 'west metropolitian area' focused on Glasgow. How is this going to work? The nearest and most influential metropolis for the west of Dumfries and Galloway is Belfast, not Glasgow. In the east, the city of Carlisle in England has a stronger economic pull. And for Dumfries itself in the centre, Edinburgh is no less important than Glasgow.

There is also an issue which is now personal. I am about to start a 'Master of Letters' course at Glasgow Univeristy's Crichton Campus in Dumfries on Scottish Cultural Heritage, which has a focus on Dumfries and Galloway. Funding for the Crichton Campus is only a fraction of what the University of the Highlands and Islands has recieved. [ Very roughly £100 million against £3 million]. Why?

It seems that whilst my local MSPs/ MPs/ Councillors etc etc have made little impact on the Scottish Executive re. funding, Highland MSPs/ MPs etc have been bombarding the Scottish Executive with pleas for more money. Their big stick is 'The Highland Clearances' which they allege are still having a negative impact 200 years on.

But this is rubbish. From no less a person than Professor Tom Devine (Scotland's most emminent, or at least high profile historian) I have been advised that more 'peasants' - i.e. cottars - were cleared from the land in the Lowlands than in the Highlands. My own research into population figures for West/ East Galloway between 1680 and 1850 support this claim.

Nor were the Covenanters - Westland Whigs- treated any less harshly when the Jacobites (Stuarts) were in power. Possession of a Bible alone was sufficient to lead to summary execution in the 'Killing Times' of the 1680s. A situation only changed by the 'Glorious Revlolution' of 1688 and the Scottish 'Revolution Settelment' of 1689.

But that is enough for now.