Thursday, 31 October 2013

John Graham's Cartridge Case

At Glamis Castle, preserved in a glass case are some relics of John Graham of Claverhouse, 'Bonnie' Dundee, the first Viscount Dundee. These relics include his boots and the cartridge case that 'Bonnie' Dundee is supposed to have carried at the Battle of Killiekrankie.

St Bride's Kirk Blair

With the great victory at the Battle of Killiekrankie the Jacobite cause was lost with the death of their great hope. The Highland army now leaderless drifted away home. Some noblemen though did cross to France to join the king in exile.

John Graham, 'Bonnie' Dundee was carried from the battlefield the short distance to Blair Castle. His remains were interred in a mausoleum within the walls of the old Kirk of St Bride, which stands in the policies of the castle. A stone was inscibed to mark the resting place of one of Scotland's most romantic and gallant heroes, 'Bonnie' Dundee who gave his life out of loyalty to a lost cause. His helmet and breastplate are preserved as relics at Blair Castle, a little further down the glen.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Pass of Killiekrankie

In 1688 John Graham was given command of all the armies in Scotland and created the first Viscount Dundee by James VII. When later the same year James was removed in the Glorious Revolution, John Graham was one of those who remained loyal. He raised the Scottish Royal Standard on Dundee Law (hill) in support of the king, his country and the Jacobite cause. The people of Dundee were however unimpressed, they regarded James as a tyrant and the city was occupied by forces loyal to King William. Still 'Bonnie' Dundee managed to raise an army of six thousand Highlanders.

On 27th July 1689 the two armies met at the Pass of Killiekrankie in the Highlands of Perthshire. The whole day passed with the two armies facing each other. The Highlanders had the slope above King William's troops. General Mackay the commander of King William's army dared not attack and John Graham would not attack until the sun went down so as not to blind his men. At 7 o'clock in the evening John Graham rode along his lines issuing his orders. The Highlanders removed their plaids, so the garments would not get in the way of their charge.

When 'Bonnie' Dundee gave the order to advance his soldiers cheered wildly. They started slowly accompanied by the skirl o the pipes, and as they closed in on the enemy picked up their speed and broke through King William's lines.

'Bonnie' Dundee rode at the front of his small band of cavalry, easily recognizable he took off his hat with its white feather,  to further urge his men forward when he was struck by a musket shot. He teetered in the saddle and fell to the ground.

"How does the day go," he asked?
"Well for the King (meaning James VII) replied the man, "but I am sorry for your lordship."
"It is less the matter for me" said Dundee,"seeing the day goes well for my master."
Then he died.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

John Graham's Pistol

John Graham's military career began in 1672 when he joined the Scottish Regiment under the command of the Duke of Monmouth in the service of the French king. But in 1676 he resigned his commission and returned to Scotland. Charles II promoted him to the rank of captain and sent him to south-west Scotland with orders to suppress  Conventicles (illegal outdoor Presbyterian meetings).He raised an army  known as the 'Highland Host', wild mountain men who did their worst and returned home with all they could carry. This was the 'Killing Time', the religious wars that plagued Scotland for thirty years.

At Drumclog he had a close run thing when on 1st June 1679 he came across a conventicle but after leading an attack was forced into retreat and withdrew to the defence of Glasgow. On 22nd June Claverhouse joined forces with the Duke of Monmouth and together inflicted a heavy defeat against the Covenanters at the battle of Bothwell Brig. John Graham was appointed to the Privy Council in 1684.

 The people feared and hated the man they called 'Bluddy Clavers' for his ruthless killing of  men and women. However his reputation as a religious zealot does not sit easily with his marriage in 1684 to Lady Jean Cochrane from a strong Covenanting family. When in 1686 he was appointed to the post of Lord Provost of Dundee one of his first acts was to abolish the death penalty for theft.

This pistol had belonged to John Graham of Claverhouse, 'Bonnie' Dundee and it was collected by Sir Walter Scott who put it on display in the armoury at Abbotsford, his house in the Borders.

Monday, 28 October 2013

John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee

John Graham divides opinion. A Scottish nobleman and soldier, he was born in 1648 and educated at St Andrews where he graduated in 1661.He had a beautiful face and effortless good manners but he could be as cruel as the cut of sharpened steel. His career coincided with the 'killing time', the religious wars that racked Scotland for thirty years. To his detractors he was the killer of poor men and women known as 'Bluddy Clavers', while his supporters bestowed him with the sobriquet 'Bonnie' Dundee, the dashing soldier and gallant leader of a lost cause.

John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee (detail)
by Sir Godfrey Kneller
Glamis Castle
His beautiful face dazzles in the drawing room at Glamis Castle, amongst all the portraits of the Lyons. When Sir Walter Scott saw the portrait on his visit to Glamis he was inspired to describe it in Redgauntlet.

Claypotts Castle

Claypotts Castle in Dundee is a very fine sight, a very well preserved early sixteenth century tower house with a 'Z plan'.What makes it so distinctive are the two rectangular rooms added to the tops of the two round towers. Originally built by John Strachan c1569-1588, in 1601 Claypotts Castle was sold to Sir William Graham of Ballunie who in turn sold it to Sir William Graham of Claverhouse. It remained in the hands of the Graham's until passing to the crown in 1689 following the death of the 7th Laird of Claverhouse, the dashing John Graham, 1st Viscount Dundee at the the battle of Killiekrankie. In 1694 Claypotts was gifted to James Douglas, Earl of Angus until later it passed by marriage to the 13th Earl of Home. He then gifted the castle to the state in 1926.

The castle now finds itself in the midst of a suburban housing sprawl, next a busy arterial road, however these inauspicious surroundings do not detract  from this splendid small castle's great presence..

In the late nineteenth century Claypotts Castle was a familiar landmark to my grandmother Helen, born and brought up in Broughtyferry. She passed it every time the family went to and from the Ferry. In due course she was to marry her own 'gallant' Graham, Norman who had served with distinction (M.C.), in the cavalry during the First World War. When in 1926 she gave birth to their son, at Rawrawlpindi in the Punjab she had already chosen his name. John.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Clackmannan Tower

On a prominent position between the Ochills and the River Forth, Clackmannan Tower has clear views to Airth Castle in the south east, round to Alloa Tower in the north west and Stirling Castle in the west and it was an  important part of the line of defence across central Scotland. Just to the west of the town of Clackmannan it had been the site of a royal castle, but in 1359 the tower passed into the hands of the Bruce family as a reward for the help the family had given in a rebellion against the English. The Bruces were to hold  Clackmannan Tower until 1796.

Henry Bruce fought for the Jacobites in the rising of 1745. His widow Catherine 'knighted' Robert Burns withthe sword of Robert the Bruce in 1787. The castle was abandoned a few years later and is now in the care of Historic Scotland.


Saturday, 26 October 2013

Muchalls Castle

A bleak windswept track, a few miles inland from Stonehaven winds across open arable fields, on the lower slopes of a hill that leads to a clump of trees on the top. The size of the potholes would deter a determined intruder. Those without a 4x4 would have to walk. Hidden by the trees on the top of the hill I reckon Muchall Castle would make the perfect hide away. A romantic house with a courtyard, and views out, through the trees to the sea. There is supposed to be a tunnel that leads to a cave, Gin Shore, that was used for smuggling, who knows?

This place has been held by people called Fraser, they sold it to the Hays in 1415, and then it passed to the Burnett's, who built the castle c1619. James VIII, the Old Pretender stayed here during the course of the disastrous Jacobite Rising in 1716.

Doune Castle

Doune Castle is probably one of the most widely recognized medieval buildings in Scotland. It occupies a picturesque site, on a wooded promontory where the Ardoch Burn joins the River Teith. The gatehouse tower is an imposing structure built to impress visitors with the power and wealth of the castle's builder. Scotland was ruled from here for more than twenty years. But it is not Doune Castle's historical importance that attracts visitors from all over the world but its' role as a location in a popular cult motion picture that people come to see.

Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany especially built Doune Castle, just to the north west of Stirling, as the symbol of his power and status as the ruler of Scotland from 1388 until his death in 1420. It remains a visual testament to the man known to Scottish history as the 'uncrowned king.'  The Duke of Albany was the third son of Robert II and he ruled Scotland in the latter years of his father's reign, and also of his elder brother, Robert III, who had been compromised by a kick to the head from a horse.

The courtyard would have looked different then, filled with all manner of ancillary and service buildings, crowded with the servants needed to run a great household.

The imposing gatehouse tower, a splendid statement of medieval power housed the castle's principal apartments.

The great hall is the largest room in the castle and was where most of the household would have dined and a few of the servants would have slept.

The smaller but more luxuriously appointed hall was the private dining room where the duke and his guests would have dined, leaving the great hall to the servants.

The kitchen has, as would be expected an enormous fireplace. The two wall openings are serving hatches

Above the kitchen, is what must have been a  warm bedroom, and this room also had its' own finely carved fireplace.

In later years Doune was kept as a royal hunting lodge, a prison and a dower house. The widows of  James III, James IV and James V all lived here. It was used once by Mary Queen of Scots and was held by forces loyal to her until 1570.

The administration of the castle during these years was by a keeper appointed by the crown. When James Stewart was keeper he was created Lord Doune in recognition of his surrender of the castle to the forces under the command of Regent Lennox after the siege of !570. His son inherited the title Earl of Moray from his mother. Doune Castle still belongs to the Earl of Moray although in 1984 it came into care of Historic Scotland on a 999 year lease.

Doune was occupied by government troops during the 1689 and 1715 Jacobite Risings. But in 1745 a Jacobite garrison held Doune  for Prince Charles Edward Stuart. After that the castle was left to  fall into disrepair and became increasingly ruinous over the years. Until in the 1880's the fourteenth Earl of Moray appointed architect Andrew Kerr to 'restore' Doune and make it even more attractive to visitors.

Since 1975 when Doune was used as a location for the motion picture 'Monty Python And The Holy Grail' the castle has become a place of pilgrimage for people from all over the world.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Melville Tree House

The policies surrounding James Smith's late seventeenth century masterpiece, Melville House, are perhaps the last place one would expect to find a 'Scots Baronial' tree house. But there it is, witches hat roof emerging from the remains of an elderly cedar of Lebanon. If it had been my tree house it would have to be an elevated square pavilion with an ogee roof, to echo the original pavilions on the south side of the house.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Melville House

One of the most beautiful Classical houses in Scotland, and one of the earliest, was built on the Monimail Estate by architect James Smith (c.1645-1731) for George Melville, 1st Earl of Melville. Work on the house, intended to impress his countrymen with his wealth and power, started in 1692.

The Melville's had been protestant supporters during the reign of Charles II but when George Melville was implicated in the Rye House Plot to put the Duke of Monmouth on the throne, they had to flee into exile in Holland. Only in 1689 could the family return, with William and Mary. For his loyalty to King William, George Melville was rewarded with the position of Secretary of State for Scotland and a year later the earldom followed. He was the most powerful royal servant in Scotland at a time when loyalty to the exiled James II was still prevalent among landowners in Scotland.  His desire to impress  led to the commission of the fabulous bed made for the apartment of state at Melville House. When the family decided to sell Melville House in 1949 the bed went to the Victoria and Albert Museum where it is described as "the most spectacular single exhibit in the Victoria and Albert's British Galleries."

The architect James Smith had been appointed Surveyor of Royal Works in 1683 and is believed to have been a protege of the great Sir William Bruce. Melville House has been called the finest example of Scottish Palladianism and it is a wonderful facade of great strength and simplicity. It has a plan in the classic H shape with two projecting wings joined by screen walls on the south, original entrance front.

The entrance to the forecourt is flanked by two of the most delightful ogee roofed pavilions, with weather vanes displaying the date. 1697. A long avenue of beech trees ran straight to the south.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Palace of Monimail

A small tower is all that remains of the summer palace of the archbishops of St Andrews. Cardinal James Beaton (1539-46) is said to have built the tower but the upper levels were altered after the Reformation and date to 1578. The palace's most famous inhabitant was Cardinal David Beaton who was murdered in 1546.

The earliest episcopal residence on the site was as early as 1300. Not only was it a favoured position on the south facing Howe of Fife but it was also conveniently close to the two roads linking St Andrews to two of the kingdom's most important cities. It remained in Church hands until the Reformation when it passed to the Balfour family and was held by them until 1592 when they sold the property to Sir David Melville. There is considerable irony in this as members of the Melville family had been implicated in the murder of the archbishop

In the 1690's George Melville, 1st Earl of Melville decided to build himself a new house in the fashionable Classical style to be called Melville House. For many years the Palace of Monimail was retained as a picturesque garden folly, until in the 1820's the family decided to landscape their policies and the palace was pulled down leaving only the tower as an element in the designed landscape.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Tantallon Castle

Even in its ruinous state, Tantallon Castle remains a potent, awesome expression of landed power in fourteenth century Scotland. The castle  occupies a most dramatic position at the end of a headland jutting out into the North Sea with more often than not the waves crashing on the rocks below. The castle was built over the course of the 1350's by William Douglas who had inherited the estate, which included North Berwick, from his father and uncle. In 1358 he was created 1st Earl of Angus by King David II, son of Robert the Bruce, only the third creation of an earldom since the twelfth century. The magnificent scale of the curtain wall, four meters wide, at Tantallon  can be seen as the display of his new found wealth and status. The curtain wall at Tantallon is not even surpassed in its visual impact by the curtain wall at Miravet in Spain built by the Order of the Temple. In the course of the 1380's the Douglas family split into two branches, the Black and the Red. For the next three hundred years Tantallon was the principal seat of the cadet branch, the Red Douglas's, one of the most powerful landowning family's in Scotland.

Three towers project from the curtain wall.The earl's and his family had their private lodgings in the north tower. The gatehouse was in the middle and the south tower was most likely used for guest accommodation. This was a residence designed for the display of power. The earls entertained their sovereigns, the rich and mighty and foreign dignitaries against the backdrop of their magnificent castle on top of the cliffs with the Bass Rock off the coast.

To service the needs of the castle and its visitors the forecourt in front of the curtain wall, protected by the outer defenses was originally filled with service buildings, brew-house, bake-house, workshops and stables of which the only survivor is the seventeenth century doocot. Built in the lectern style with crow stepped gables at either end it had nesting boxes for one thousand birds.

On three occasions during its history Tantallon was transformed from a luxury residence into a fortress.In 1491 it was besieged by James IV and again in 1528 by James 1528. On both occasions Tantallon proved to be impregnable. It was the English invasion of Scotland in 1651 by Crmwell who sent General Monck to take the castle that brought Tantallon's history as a powerful stronghold, and a residence to an end. The upright medieval walls could not withstand the battery of a modern artillery barrage, the damage of which can still be seen. The castle's position had meant that it was incapable of being adapted to withstand modern bombardment. The castle was abandoned to the birds leaving one of the most awesome ruined castles in Scotland.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Leithen Lodge

The forest of Leithen in the Moorfoots Hills was given by King Alexander III to the monks of Newbattle Abbey. After the Reformation the estate passed into private hands and the house known as Leithen Hopes was built during the 1660's.  In 1852 it was bought by John Millar, a railway engineer from Edinburgh who extended the house, changed its name to Leithen Lodge and installed the first hydro heating system in Scotland.

The fabulous appearance of the house today is due to Sydney Mitchell who designed the south east wing and completely redecorated the house, inside and out in the Scottish Renaissance style with Arts and Crafts detailing.

The entrance to the courtyard on the east side of the house, the Lochend Arch was built for Sir John Sinclair of Longformacus for house house at Dunbar in 1684. It was designed by James Smith, in the manner of Italian master Palladio. It was bought to be reconstructed at Leithen Lodge.

The stable block.

Then owner Sir John Millar-Cunningham sold the estate to the Rosebery family in the 1940's. The house was let and allowed to fall slowly into a derelict state until a timely restoration in the early 90's saved this gem from destruction.

The two arch bridge over Leithen Water dates from the nineteenth century. It carries water pipes from the reservoir in the hills to the house.