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.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

More treasures hidden in loch?

Are there more treasures lying undiscovered in Carlingwark loch?
Letters Page Galloway News 14 December 2006

Dear Sir,
on Monday I visited the National Museum of Scotland with other graduate students from Glasgow University’s Crichton Campus. After a short a guided tour of the “Kingdom of the Scots 900- 1707” exhibition, the main party went to have lunch. I skipped lunch and headed for the basement ( Level 0 as it is called) in search of Castle Douglas' contribution to the National Museum. It took a bit of hunting, amongst the 9000 years of history on display, but I did eventually find what I was looking for - the Carlingwark Cauldron and the Torrs Pony Cap.

The Torrs Pony Cap is the older of the two. It was beautifully made from bronze with ‘Celtic’ spiral decorations around 250 BC and placed in what was then a loch around 100BC. It was found on Torrs farm in 1820 and then acquired by Joseph Train, a local Exciseman and antiquarian. In 1826, he gave it to his friend Sir Walter Scott. As well as the pony cap, Train passed on local folktales to Scott, who used them in his novels Guy Mannering, Redgauntlet, Old Mortality , the Bride of Lammermoor and Heart of Midlothian. There is a memorial to Train in Castle Douglas Town Hall.

The Carlingwark Cauldron dates to around AD 100. It was fished up from near the crannog in Carlingwark Loch in 1868. In photographs is not as ‘artistically’ beautiful as the pony cap, but when viewed close up, the skill that went into its construction is obvious. It was made from sheets of paper thin bronze riveted together. It is therefore very delicate. It could never have been used as a cooking pot and so must have been made as a ‘religious’ or ‘ritual’ object.

Torrs Moss is only ¾ of a mile from Carlingwark Loch. Placing ritual objects in rivers and lakes was part of pagan Celtic religion. At Llyn Cerrig Bach in Wales, 150 such ritual items have been recovered, although none were as high quality as the Castle Douglas finds. This makes me wonder - could there be more such ritual objects waiting to be found in Carlingwark Loch or nearby? I suspect there are.

Alistair Livingston


Post a Comment

<< Home