Sunday, 11 October 2009

A Sunday Stroll in October 2009

October this year is beautiful in the Scottish Borders. Breezy at times but the blue skies and sunshine suits me perfectly. Love it like this.

I enjoy wandering around churchyards and suchlike. Some of the gravestones are touching to read. We have some beautiful abbeys, cathedrals and churches in the UK. I've visited many of them over the years. Chester, Salisbury, Canterbury, Lincoln, Norwich, St. Pauls, and Liverpool to name a few cathedrals. Liverpool has a relatively new Roman Catholic cathedral. Unusual in shape, rather like a large tent. Locally and irreverently called 'Paddy's Wigwam'. Inside the colours are breathtaking as the sun illuminates the multi-coloured leaded light windows. Fabulous. Virtually all these buildings are now charging casual visitors before they enter. The upkeep is expensive of course and most people do not object to paying. However, there is no 'enforced' payment - strictly speaking. There is a notice requesting a 'donation' of, say, £5 but this is a ploy to escape the dreaded value added tax (VAT) which would be payable by the church if they were charging a fixed entrance fee. A 'donation' is not liable to VAT. Just thought I'd explain that (the old VAT instruction book still resides in my head!).

Robert the Bruce and Melrose Abbey.

There is a well known story about Robert the Bruce, one time king of Scotland. It probably gave rise to the old exhortation: If at first you don't succeed try, try and try again. Robert the Bruce was in despair, resting in a cave. All seemed hopeless. It was at this time while secluded in this cave that he noticed a spider continually remaking its web. Every time a strand broke, the spider repared it. This was the moment at which he vowed to keep trying to free Scotland from the English.

On his deathbed in 1329, Robert the Bruce asked that his heart should be carried into battle against the "Infidels" because he himself had not been able to go on a Crusade. (Removing internal organs after death was a common practice in those days). His dying wish was said to have been carried out and his heart, in a casket, was taken on the Crusades.

When he passed away he was buried at Dunfermline - minus his heart.

His heart was taken on the Crusades by Sir James Douglas (aka Black Douglas), who, just before he was killed in Spain, hurled it at the enemy. The heart was recovered and taken back to Melrose Abbey where the then new king, David II (Bruce's son), had asked for it to be buried.

"Black Douglas" was a sort of 'bogey man' in England. English mothers would threaten their children when they were being naughty. "If you dont behave and do as you're told the wicked Black Douglas will come and get you".

Background music today is J.S. Bach's well known piece "Air on the G-String".

video

15 comments:

The Bug said...

Love the Abbey! You did have a beautiful day for a stroll - Dr. M & I got out today as well. I need to update my blog!

Barry said...

Many thanks for the history lesson Philip.

Eventually, I suspect, if I visit enough blogs, I will know everything!

Next time I'm in England I will have to come for a stroll with you!

Angelina said...

Autumn is my favorite time of the year because of the beautiful colors.

Always a pleasure to read a wee bit of history on your blog.

willow said...

My-my-my! I had a lovely autumn stroll in a cemetery this afternoon, as well! The oldest stone (not so old as in your neck of the woods, but old for our American oldness) was from the 1840's and was a man who died at age 100. I took a nice photo and will post it after the ball festivities are over.

Glad you clarified the bit about the G-string. ;^)

Susan said...

Wow... I'd love to go for a walk with you. I happen to love old churches and graveyards!!!
Love your blog!!!

Monkey Man said...

Mrs. MM and I love to haunt our local cemeteries and take pictures. I can't wait to get to some cemeteries with REAL history as you describe here. Thank you for the great historical review.

A human kind of human said...

I am still wondering how they preserved the heart (chuckle, chuckle). Another lovely post from you.

Brenda said...

Very interesting Philip. I know very little about my ancestry that comes from Scotland. I want to start reading more and learning more about it though. Hopefully this winter I will get back into it. In the mean time...tell us more stories.

Brenda said...

Very interesting Philip. I know very little about my ancestry that comes from Scotland. I want to start reading more and learning more about it though. Hopefully this winter I will get back into it. In the mean time...tell us more stories.

PhilipH said...

Morning Bug; we're enjoying some of the best weather of the year so far! Gotta thank those red Indians for that, eh?

Barry: Visit enough blogs; a full time blog slog will be exhausting.
A stroll in England with me might be a long walk Barry. Now Scotland, that's different. ;-)

Angelina: Autumn and Spring, both are wonderful seasons - just perfect right now.

Willow: Yes, agreed. And tomorrow is the great day at Willow's Manor is it not. Waltzing, waltzing, high in the clouds... (A lovely [old] Deanna Durbin song!

Susan: Any time m'dear. Any time.

MM: Something relaxing and peaceful about these places. Not morbid or depressing, just a good way to spend an hour or so.

Human: Actually, according to those who know history and such, his heart was encased in a lead casket and the experts have probed it with modern fibre optic cameras and resealed the small hole to keep it airtight.

Brenda: It can be difficult to trace ancestry in Scotland, so I understand. Good luck to you in that venture. BTW: It's in the post.

PhilipH said...

Morning Bug; we're enjoying some of the best weather of the year so far! Gotta thank those red Indians for that, eh?

Barry: Visit enough blogs; a full time blog slog will be exhausting.
A stroll in England with me might be a long walk Barry. Now Scotland, that's different. ;-)

Angelina: Autumn and Spring, both are wonderful seasons - just perfect right now.

Willow: Yes, agreed. And tomorrow is the great day at Willow's Manor is it not. Waltzing, waltzing, high in the clouds... (A lovely [old] Deanna Durbin song!

Susan: Any time m'dear. Any time.

MM: Something relaxing and peaceful about these places. Not morbid or depressing, just a good way to spend an hour or so.

Human: Actually, according to those who know history and such, his heart was encased in a lead casket and the experts have probed it with modern fibre optic cameras and resealed the small hole to keep it airtight.

Brenda: It can be difficult to trace ancestry in Scotland, so I understand. Good luck to you in that venture. BTW: It's in the post.

Shadow said...

a visit to scotland is on my bucket list... you've just confirmed for me again why. lovely!

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

Phillip, I did so enjoy strolling with you this morning. Aren't old cemeteries interesting, even though they are sad. I agree with the others, I would love to visit Scotland, such a beautiful country. Perhaps someday. For now, have a lovely Monday and stay in good health.

lovelyprism said...

I love to roam around old churches and cemeteries, some of my favorite photographs are in this genre. I always thought I was a bit odd until I started blogging, a lot of people do this! Thanks for sharing.

Land of shimp said...

Oh poor Sophia, that's a tragically short life. What a lovely part of the world to rest in though.

I know I've told you my mother is Scottish, and lives there half the year, and I had to laugh when reading about Robert the Bruce. My mother has a rather dim view of Robert the Bruce, something that caught me off guard the first time we ever discussed him. She's studied a lot of history, and you can't unlearn certain things, I suppose.

I was also making myself laugh with a fairly dark thought when you mentioned Black Douglas hurling Robert the Bruce's heart. "Maybe he was trying to fell him with the smell, because, ARGH."