Trip To Scotland
Sunday, August 15, 2004
I am completely dismayed. I just went to check the blog on my website and discovered that for days prior to the current day, something very odd has been done with the pictures. Pictures that I took and posted today are where they ought to be. But they appear again, actually replacing pictures in prior posts. Not all of them...about every other one. I have no idea why. I discovered there was an archiving feature on blogger, so I separated out the posts and archived them, but that doesn't seem to have helped. I didn't go back to see just how many posts are affected. I surely hope it's not all of them. That's a ton of work to redo, to go back, find the CD with the correct pictures and put them up in the right places. Alas and alack.
Note to self: Don't visit cathedrals on Saturdays. Weddings. Can't go in.
It has been difficult getting to the Cathedral in Dunkeld, burial site of one of the less delicate of my kin...the Wolf of Badenoch. A deathbed repentance for his brutal life gained him burial in the cathedral, but I was not allowed in to see it because of the aforementioned wedding. I had wanted to go there the afternoon that I ended up stranded in Aberfeldy, but you already know that story...and the following day I couldn't get there either, since the A9 which goes through Dunkeld was still closed. Dunkeld had some bad flooding as well.
But yesterday they said the A9 was open, so up to Dunkeld I went. It turns out that "open" is a relative term. It was one lane...alternating between north and southbound traffic. I was in a jam for three miles. When I finally got to ground zero, here was one of two places where the mountain had been washed away and onto the road.
Quite a mess. Anyway, I finally did get to Dunkeld, and the day was beautiful. Here are a couple shots of the Cathedral...first from the front.
Then from the side.
Like with Dunfermline, the nave is a ruin, but what was once the choir area is a restored and active church. That's where the wedding was, where the Wolf's tomb is, and where an ancient handbell also is. Couldn't see those. But I could wander about the lovely grounds right on the River Tay...
And wander about inside the ruined nave. In the nave were a whole bunch of burials, and lots of Robertsons. I took tombstone pictures of Robertson graves (although not all of them), but I won't post them here. If anybody wants copies of them, they can e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll send them to you. They were all too recent to have been any from my line.
After Dunkeld, I continued north on the A9 to see other sites I had missed the day it was pouring rain and I went to the Clan Museum. The next place I stopped had nothing to do (directly) with the Robertsons...other than the fact that we would have fought with Bonnie Dundee at the Battle of Killiecrankie. The English had a different name for Bonnie Dundee...if I remember right it was something like Bludy Clavers. Anyway, here are some panels about the battle for you history buffs. (You've seen Blair Castle, which this mentions. It's the one with all the antlers.)
Here is a look down the Killiecrankie pass...through the trees...
The most told story about this battle was one soldier who escaped by leaping the gorge. The "Soldier's leap" is marked. Here's the panel...
Here's a drawing of the event...
And here's the place.
They have the distance marked out in the parking lot so you can try your luck on a bit safer ground. I would have met my death, as apparently other soldiers who tried to follow did.
After Killiecrankie, I went back up to the Clan headquarters. The material I got last time said that there was indeed a bit of the museum on display in the antiques shop next door. So I went in there, and sure enough, there it was. The most precious item in the display (and probably the oldest) is this crystal, the Clach-Na-Brataich...
Here's the story written behind it.
By this time I was beginning to feel stressed. I was a good way from Stirling and the fastest route back was no longer so fast. I was not going to get caught in the jam on the A9 again. But roads here are less numerous than in the States, and you can't always get there from here. I had a dinner engagement in the evening, but there was still one more place I wanted to go. To Struan. We are, actually, the Robertsons of Struan, and the clan church was relatively close. So off I went.
I missed the turn the first time and went on a very lovely drive, but completely out of my way. I eventually found a place in the road wide enough for me to turn around, went back, and found the single-track road down to the old "town" of Struan. I found the church and about two farmhouses. I had to park in one of their driveways in order to get off the road. Here is the church.
It is dedicated to St. Fillan. I've got to find out more about this guy. He keeps cropping up. Here's the inside.
Oddly enough, at the front just behind the pulpit is this:
There was no information about it that I saw.
Outside, the graveyard was full of Robertsons. Many are hard to see in pictures, although I took some. Again, the ones I could read are after the time of my direct ancestors. But here is a shot that welll-represents them all.
And a couple of Clan chiefs are buried here as well.
The distant place refers to the fact that he was living in Jamaica when he was named Chief.
After Struan I headed back to Stirling through lovely territory that before I had only seen in the mist and rain. Here are just a couple of general shots.
Aack. I just realized I forgot a critical piece of the journey. I haven't had much luck in the past inserting pictures, so I'll just add it here. The Robertson Oak. I had heard that the Robertson Oak, where one of our clan escaped his enemies by hiding in the tree, was in Pitlochry across the street from the distillery. (Remember, whiskey is a big deal here). After Dunkeld and before Killiecrankie, I got to Pitlochry and found the distillery. I parked there and wandered around. I could see no sign of anything that looked like a candidate for the Robertson Oak. So I went into the distillery to ask.
Well, that was interesting as well. There was a little exhibition there in the visitor's center. At most of the distilleries you can get tours, but this was just a little free bit at the main reception area. Look what I found about the distillery history.
And in another part of the exhibition...
So I went to the desk and asked about the oak. It seems it has a rather undistinguished place on the grounds of a sewage treatment plant across the street, which is why I hadn't found it. Emboldened by my new information, I went to the treatment plant, held my nose, and found the oak.
It doesn't look terribly well, but you wouldn't either, if you lived here. But they do have the little wall around it and a plaque. I took a leaf and gave it a blessing in return.
THEN it was on to Killiecrankie, to Struan, and then back to Stirling for dinner with this bunch
(This was at church this morning.) The two men are father and son. The two women are both native to Stirling, but otherwise unrelated to either each other or anyone else. We had a lovely evening and a great restaurant in Kippen. Left to right they are Jim, Margaret, Roy, and Nettie.
For the record, here are some others you've heard about. The Smithsons, who I visited for coffee after my first Sunday.
Nancy and Peter Nunn, who gave me shelter in the storm.
And John and Caroline Butterfield who you have not seen yet. (You can see I remembered my camera this morning!)
And so the church pictures bring us to today. Church went very well this morning. The people here are so gracious...and I've invited them all to New Hampshire.
After church we went back to the house for lunch, and then...since the sun was shining...I was determined to fulfill my promise to Kay Campbell and visit Drummond Castle. It is not all that far off, and I have tried several times, but it was never open. Nancy tipped me off that it was only open on Sundays, so today I decided it was now or never. So...somebody back home please either print off these pictures and take them to Kay or invite her over to see them on your computer. I did buy her several postcards of the castle to bring back. I won't mail them in case they get messed up in the mails. I guess she was a Drummond, and she told me several times how moving her visit here had been many years ago. John joined me for the tour.
The castle is a private residence and you can't actually go in...although apparently the Keep is opened up a couple of times a year. But the truly impressive thing about Drummond Castle is the gardens. When seen from above, they form the shape of the Scottish Flag...St. Andrew's Cross.
Here is a view of the castle from the gardens. The sculpture in the center is an intricate sundial.
And here are the gardens from the castle...at least the extent of them that would fit in my camera lens!
Below that back hedge are greenhouses and other gardens where the plants for the main gardens are started and grown. There is also a massive vegetable garden. Here's another shot of the castle from one corner of the gardens.
There were many classical statues and fountains scattered about and just generall pretty things. The flowers were not identified, but here are a couple shots for my gardener friends.
On the way out, I noticed that people will park anywhere!
The day was still lovely and John suggested we go home by some back roads. This was a great opportunity for me to see scenery without risking my life in the process, as he was driving. So off we went. We came to...be still my heart...an animal center. It's a zoo of sorts, but thankfully only had the kind of animals that could be accommodated well in a small setting. They had a tea room and so we went in.
It was here that I found my sheep of the day...a real find. There were the far-less-rare Common Peacock Sheep everywhere, but up on the hillside, we saw this sign.
Yes, that's right. The World Famous Tartan Sheep. What luck! The rare beasts were up on the far hillside, so I climbed up an embankment to be able to get a closer look. Treasure this picture. I doubt you will ever see another one.
I never could figure out what it's right ear was doing...pretty funky looking. But I guess that's the way it is with World Famous Tartan Sheep.
After I had soaked in the wonder of such a rare beast, I went down a less steep path past a more common sheep who called to me. So I went over and scratched his head. John, meanwhile, waited patiently amongst the Common Peacock Sheep in the car park. When I got back down we went down and got a drink at the tea room. Here was the view from the tea room.
Yes, in the foreground that is a Rhea (Ostrich and Emu relative) sort of sitting down in a dirt patch. But wait, what is that in the dirt in the playground? It's...it's...a RODENT!! John was earnestly wanting to get back home, but I had to scramble down for a Rodent Of The Day picture.
Yes, a prairie dog. There was a whole colony of them, having quite a time. The day was complete.