A Visit to Dumfries House

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It was my first visit although Dumfries house is on of Britain’s most beautifuldumfries house prince charles stately homes that was saved for the nation by the personal intervention of Prince Charles the Prince of Wales in 2007. The house and estate is now owned in charitable trust by The Great Steward of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust, which maintains it as a visitor attraction and hospitality and wedding venue. Both the house and the gardens are listed as significant aspects of Scottish heritage.  dumfries-house-prince-charles

The 18th century house is set in lovely grounds and combines the neoclassical architecture of Robert Adam with the furniture of Thomas Chippendale. The refurbished blue bed is a stunning work of modern and classical craftsmanship.

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We sampled coffee and cake at the visitor centre before touring the house and grounds. The baking was fresh and the scones the most enormous I have ever seen! We enjoyed the bright, freshly decorated cafeteria. There were many tables and it was well appointed. We enjoyed exploring the grounds and the playground is delightful. We only wished we had a child with us to enjoy it too.

On our visit around the house we were entranced by the quality of the restoration and the beautiful, original furniture that has been saved by Prince Charles. He has secured employment for many people in and around Cumnock. This is an area of Scotland that suffers from serious unemployment and a lack of investment. dumfries house blue roomI paticularly liked the yellow room in the house. It was so bright and light and cheerful. The collection of Chippendale chairs in this room is splendid. Anna enjoyed the blue room with its cool colours and original furniture.

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After our tour of Dumfries House, we stopped for lunch downstairs in the original kitchen and servants’ working area of the house in the basement. The cutlery and table furnishings were beautiful. We were served vegetrian dumfries house yellow room parsnip soup, made from produce grown in the grounds. There was also a selection of sandwiches with various fillings. Biscuits and cakes finished off the meal. Some of the sandwiches and pieces of cake tasted slightly stale. that was disappointing. I suspect they are cut early in the day and uncovered until served, at whatever time of day.

 

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However, after lunch we took another tour of the grounds and visited the walled garden. The beauty of the house, grounds and the stylish walled garden far out-weighed the slightly dry cake.

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Valerie Penny

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Rock of the Saint

aethnes-grave-on-eileach-an-naoimh-by-gordon-doughty-geograph

The little Scottish island of Eileach-an-Naoimh (Rock of the Saint) is one of the Garvellach Islands, in the Firth of Lorne, and is the reputed burial place of St Eithne, mother of St Columba, making it a ‘holy island’. On this very remote, windswept island are the scant remains of a Celtic monastery with beehive huts, two chapels and a graveyard with three crosses, and 80 metres to the south-west is the traditional site of St Eithne’s grave, which is marked by a grave-slab bearing an incised cross. In old texts the island was called Hinba. And to this little island St Columba and other ‘saintly’ figures came from time to time for a deeper solitude and contemplation – this fact being borne-out because the island was, and still is, largerly inaccessible. There are no ferries or steamers alighting in Port Cholumcille, but some pilgrims do visit the island and pay their respects at St Eithne’s grave, though they have to hire their own boats! The island of Mull is 6 miles to the north and Scarba 4 miles to the south-west, while the mainland of Argyll is 6 miles away.

Author Reginald B. Hale in his work ‘The Magnificent Gael’, tells us that: “Eithne came of the royal line of Leinster kings. Her husband Felim macFergus was a chieftain of the dynastic family of Ui Neill, heirs of the mighty Niall-of-the-Nine Hostages, High king of Ireland. So their little son was born a prince of the Blood Royal and would inevitably live his life in the glare of the political limelight. His parents had every reason to hope that someday he might hold the scepter of the High King and reign at Tara.

    “But the child also had another heritage. His great-great-grandfather Niall had been a heathen and an unabashed slave raider. However several of his sons had been converted by St Patrick, the ex-slave who brought Christianity to the Irish. One of these sons was Conall Gulben, king of Donegal. St Patrick with his staff marked a cross on King Conall’s shield and from then on his descendants took as their symbol a Hand grasping a Cross. From the time of his conversion his clan had been staunch for the faith. So it was that Felim macFergus, grandson of Conall, was himself a deacon of the Church and his son was born into a devout Christian family.”

Hale goes on to say that: “Felim and Eithne took their child six miles to Kilmacrenan to be baptized by the priest Cruithnechan which is pronounced “Crenan”. He was christened Colum, which in Latin is Columba. He also received the traditional family name of Crimthann that means a fox, an animal admired by the Gaels.”

But we know that Columba was born beside Lough Gartan in Co Donegal (521 AD) where there are the Medieval ruins of what is locally called St Eithne’s Convent. And there is a St Eithne’s Well at Termon. The site of St Columba’s birth, near the southern shore of the lough, is marked by the so-called ‘Natal Stone’, and nearby are the saint’s holy well, the Stone of Lonliness, and the saint’s ruined church. His birth was miraculous we are told. St Eithne had a dream in which she was given a beautiful robe with colours similar to the wild flowers, but the wind blew the robe away. However, the wind-blown robe grew in size and spread out to cover the land, mountains and islands – this being a sort of divine portent regarding her son who would eventually take Christianity to the northern Pictish High King, Brude, and his people sometime after 565 AD – at a time that was “dark” in many respects, but for St Columba it was a time of ‘great joyfulness’.

In 563 AD Columba set sail for Iona and was accompanied by members of his family including his mother and also disciples and servants. Later, he founded a great monastery on the island which became a college of learning; he took the message of Christ to the Picts and established many other monasteries and churches in Scotland. His mother retired to the Island of Hinba (Eileach-an-Naoimh) where she was cared for by Ernan, who was St Columba’s uncle and also prior of the monastery of Hinba, founded by St Brendan. Women were not allowed in the monastery. St Eithne died and was buried on the island in the mid to late 6th century. Her ‘reputed’ grave is located on the Peak of Hinba, 80 metres south-west of the monastery, where a circular enclosure (11 feet in diameter) with three standing stones marks the site, one of these being a grave-marker (2½ feet high) bearing a thin equal-armed Greek cross with terminals, beneath which is a thinner spike. And there are a number of recumbent stones and a kerb running around the site. The grave seems to be positioned so as to look out over the Firth of Lorne.

But some historians question the grave-site. A few think that it may in fact date from the Iron-Age, or earlier, and others think it may be the burial site of more than one person? But I think it should be pointed out here that the type of burial that was around in prehistoric times was more than likely to have existed well into the early Christian period – the so-called Dark Ages of the 5th-7th centuries AD.

The Monastery Chapel, Eileach an Naoimh by Gordon Brown, Wikipedia.

The monastery on Eileach-an-Naoimh often ascribed to St Brendan, rather than St Columba, is a ruin consisting of low drystone walls with a number of bee-hive huts (hermits cells) around it, one of which is a double construction. There are two small ruined chapels that are said to date from the 9th-12th centuries and a graveyard with three stones bearing incised crosses, and also a circular feature that is probably an early Christian grave, maybe that of Ernan the first prior? The monastery was probably burned c 800 AD and thereafter it suffered from a number of attacks by invaders from overseas, including the Vikings. The monastic site on Eileach an Naoimh is probably the oldest religious ruin in Scotland.

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North Berwick Witch Trials

 

The witches’ gathering of Halloween 1590 in North Berwick was one of the most infamous gatherings, especially because of the ensuing trials, which sentenced many innocent people to their death, purely for political gain.

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Edinburgh Castle Esplanade. The Witches’ Fountain was designed by John Duncan for Sir Patrick Geddes in 1894 and erected in 1912, created to commemorate the more than 300 witches that had been tied at the stake, strangled and then burnt between 1492 and 1722 on Castlehill, the rocky outcrop that rises above Edinburgh’s city centre. In all, it is thought that over 4500 “witches” were burnt in Scotland.

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North Berwick Harbour. Currently a haven for tourists and boats bringing them to the Bass Rock, this once tidal peninsula formed an important crossing for pilgrims to St Andrews. But on Halloween of 1590, the remains of St Andrew’s Auld Kirk, now situated in front of the Scottish Seabird Centre, provided the backdrop for one of the most notorious witches’ covens.

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In short, the story of the witches’ gathering in North Berwick is this: a group of East Lothian men and women, some of them well-respected members of society, had been gathering at various locations in the county. Many of them were interested in herbal medicine, most of them likely gathered purely for social reasons. But after their gathering in North Berwick, on Halloween 1590, they were accused of conspiring to do damage to King James VI during his voyage from Denmark with his new bride, Queen Anne. Indeed, their ship was caught in a terrible tempest and although the royal couple escaped, the storm was blamed on the group of witches that had met in North Berwick.

The key figure in the tragedy was a maidservant from Tranent, Gelie Duncan. She was employed in the house of a wealthy local man, Chamberlain David Seaton. Duncan had an exceptional gift for healing and comforting the sick. In an atmosphere of fear and misgiving, it was not long before her skills aroused suspicion. Some feared that she possessed supernatural powers. Religious zealotry is nothing new and then, as now, some ascribed such powers to the devil. Seaton therefore confronted her and as she could give no satisfactory explanation for her methods of healing, she was tortured.

Duncan stood accused of performing medical wonders with the help of the devil. Seaton used thumbscrews, which were designed to extract quick confessions. When Duncan kept her silence, Seaton had her body examined for marks of the devil, whose signs were identified on the front of her throat. Though a more likely scenario was that Duncan might have had a boyfriend, and that their togetherness left certain traces on her throat, it was instead concluded that she was “bedevilled”.

Eventually, Duncan did confess and was thrown in prison. Her confession showed to everyone that evil forces were indeed afoot in Scotland. Duncan claimed that she was one of 200 witches, who at the behest of the Earl of Bothwell, one of James’s greatest enemies, had tried to overshadow the king. Some of their most extraordinary plotting she said took place in North Berwick. On Halloween, October 31, in 1590, the witches had allegedly sailed to North Berwick and gathered at the Kirk. Among those present were Agnes Sampson, Agnes Thompson, Dr. Fian (who was actually John Cuningham and was named the leader of the group), George Mott’s wife, Robert Gfierson, Janet Blandilands, Ewphame Mecalrean, and Barbara Naper. On a dark and stormy night, the devil appeared to them in the church. Surrounded by black candles dripping with wax, he preached a sermon from the pulpit. While in the churchyard, Duncan herself played a Jew’s harp and the throng danced wildly, singing all the while.

 

Several arrests now followed, each “witness” tortured and then placed on trial. What sets the North Berwick witch trials apart from many other such trials, is that the king took a personal interest in these trials. On November 28, 1590, it was reported that the king himself had questioned some of the witches. It was said that his investigation had led to confessions and betrayal of their “fellowes”, as well as their odious acts. Trials were announced to be held in the near future.

On the surface, the logical answer might be that because the allegations were directly to do with the king’s fate, he took a personal interest, but in retrospect, it is clear that the king wanted to copy social trends that he had witnessed on the continent, and use witchcraft and these trials as a means to a political end.

The king had everyone that Gelie had named brought before him. They were tried and many were convicted, some to death. Among the latter were Agnes Sampson from Humbie and John Fian, a Prestonpans schoolmaster. Euframe MacAlyane’s “real crimes” were that she had asked a midwife to relieve the pains of labour, but as analgesia were condemned, MacAlyane was put to death.

***  We know that 64 people, mostly women were tortured and put to death at the North Berwick Witch Trials.  You may recognize some of these names from your family history.

Elspet Carruthers, Masie Atchison, Margrett Atchinson, Elisabeth Atchison, Janet Campbell, Catherine Campbell, Katherine Carruthers, Nicola Murry    ******

Although not recorded it is generally accepted that many victims died of the injuries that were inflicted upon them during torture.

Some of the implements of torture that were used at the time included the breast ripper. A device that did exactly as it sounds. It consists of 4 pronged levers that would encase the breast of the accused ‘witch’ and then tear it from her chest with a considerable amount of trauma.

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Another device that was used on witches either already tried or awaiting trial was the ‘Scold’s Bridle’. A metal device that fit around the head and had metal protrusions that would slide into the victim’s mouths making it impossible to talk. Sometimes men would use these devices on errant wives who nagged them too often. But they were often used on witches.

Several measures were used to detect witchcraft but you could be accused simply for having red hair, for having an unusual ‘devil’s mark’ or what we would call a birthmark, or for being left-handed. The word sinister actually comes from the Latin ‘sinistra’ which means left. Traditionally older women and those who worked with herbs and medicines or midwives would also be targeted.

Agnes Sampson was taken to Holyrood Palace, where she was interrogated and tortured. On December 7, Agnes Sampson confessed that on October 31, she was one of the witches that convened in North Berwick for a Sabbath. In contemporary correspondence, it reads that “The King ‘by his owne especiall travell’ has drawn Sampson, the great witch, to confess her wicked doings, and to discover sundry things touching his own life, and how the witches sought to have his shirt or other linen for the execution of their charmes. In this Lord Claud and other noblemen are evill spoken of. The witches known number over thirty, and many others accused.” And: “Their actes are filthy, lewde, and phantasticall.” The guilty verdict was based partly on the fact that, “[She] foreknew from Devil the queen would not come to this country unless the king fetched her”.

Duncan herself was burnt as a witch on Castle Hill, and she is therefore one of the 300 witches commemorated by the Witches’ Fountain. But the story of the North Berwick witches as it has come to be known relies primarily on the testimony of the schoolmaster of Prestonpans, who had been identified by all as the leader of the group. Fian was found guilty of being “approached by the devil (dressed in white) while in Thomas Trumbill’s room in Tranent.” Allegedly, the devil persuaded him to burn Trumbill’s house.

Fian’s confession read that the devil had first asked him to deny God and all true religion, secondly to give his faith to the devil and adore him, thirdly that he said to the devil that he should persuade as many as he could to join his society, fourthly that he dismembered the bodies of dead corpses and specially unbaptised children, fifthly that he destroyed men by land and sea with corn, cattle and goods, and raised tempest and stormy weather as the Devil himself, blowing in the air, etc.

No doubt the most impressive act was that while he was lying in his bed at Prestonpans, he let himself be carried to North Berwick church, “where Satan commanded him to make homage with the rest of his servants.” There, as attested by others, Satan spoke from the pulpit. During this sermon, John Fian sat on the left side of the pulpit, nearest to “the devil”. At the end of the sermon, the devil descended and took Fian by the hand and led him about and afterwards made him kiss his “ass”. After coming out of the kirk, Fian stood amongst the graves and allegedly opened three of them, while two dead bodies were dismembered by the women.

Fian pleaded guilty for the bewitching and possessing of Williame Hutsoune in Windiegoull “with an evil spirit”. The evil spirit remained with Hutsoune for 26 weeks, but left as soon as Fian was taken into custody. He confessed that the group went to sea in a boat, accompanied by Satan, with the intent to raise the winds when the king was on his way to Denmark. They also sent a letter to Marioun Linkup in Leith, to that effect, bidding her to meet him and the rest, on the sea, within five days. There, Satan “delivered a cat” out of his hand to Robert Griersoune, saying ‘Cast the same in the see hola!”

Finally, still according to Fian, upon the king’s return from Denmark, Satan promised to raise a mist and wreck the king in England; “he took “a thing like a football”, which to Fian appeared to be a wisp, and cast it in the sea, upon which a vapour and smell rose from it.

 

History tells us that though there was indeed a storm, both king and queen made it safely to Scottish soil. If it occurred, then it is clear that the devil was no match for the Scottish king. But historians dismiss the witchcraft at the Auld Kirk as a total myth: no devil worship ever occurred here and some even go as far as to argue that not even a meeting occurred there that Halloween, that the story was tortured out of the poor servant girl Gelie Duncan. They place the blame firmly with king James VI. As one specialist on James VI has observed: “It is impossible to study the details of this period without realising the extraordinary fear which James had of his cousin [Francis Bothwell]; it was fear with an underlying horror, totally different from his feeling towards his other turbulent subjects.”

The problem of the North Berwick witch trials, however, is that they were political expedient. And that innocent people were tortured and killed for a political, kingly agenda. Walter Ferrier in his history of North Berwick wrote: “King James VI had been spending the summer of 1590 in Denmark, wooing and winning his bride, Princess Anne of Denmark. […] While the king was absent from Scotland, Francis Stuart, Earl of Bothwell, had been leading a conspiracy against him and his bride. […] He had always been something of an enfant terrible and was a convinced believer in the witch’s art. Such as there is in the North Berwick “happening” suggests that Francis was motivated by a desire to get the King and his bride out of the way, believing that he could by witchcraft raise a storm in the estuary of the Forth, thus hopefully to wreck the king’s ship with both its royal occupants as they sailed into home waters.” Though I agree with Ferrier that there was a clear political rivalry, there is no historical information that Bothwell was interested in witchcraft or might have believed that he could raise a storm fierce enough to crash the king’s ship.

 

So who is right? When the trial transcripts and confessions are analysed, it is clear that these people indeed had gathered on a number of occasions that year, like one previous meeting that had been held at Prestonpans. But it is also clear that they did not gather to perform witchcraft. At most, these were the New Agers of their time, people with an interest in herbal medicine, convening to talk about interesting subjects, and like.

Into these gatherings, the trials injected Bothwell. It seems unlikely that Bothwell actually attended, but if he did, it is clear that on Halloween, he was not dressed up as the devil, prancing around the cemetery! Indeed, after the hearings, in which he had condemned all of these people to death, James VI next declared that they were “all extreame lyars”, for he did not get the material he wanted to hear, which was material that would inculpate Bothwell. Bothwell denied any part in the affair and without confessions, the king was powerless to act against Bothwell.

With the North Berwick witch trials, James VI copied behaviour that he had learned abroad. The summer of 1590 had seen a great witch hunt in Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, the home of James VI’s wife. One of the first victims was Anna Koldings, who under pressure divulged the names of five other women. One of them was the wife of the mayor of Copenhagen. They all confessed that they had been guilty of sorcery in raising storms, which menaced Queen Anne’s voyage and that they had sent devils to climb up the keel of her ship. In September, a month before James VI left with his new wife, two women were burnt as witches at Kronborg.

By the end of July 1590, news of the arrests of witches in Denmark was reported in Scotland, and arrests were also held in Edinburgh. “It is advertised from Denmark, that the admirall there hathe caused five or six witches to be taken in Coupnahaven, upon suspicion that by their witche craft they had staied the Queen of Scottes voiage into Scotland, and sought to have staied likewise the King’s retorne.”

The available evidence therefore strongly suggests that the king had a predetermined agenda, in which there “had” to be witches in Scotland, witches that were trying to bring him and his new wife down.

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But there was more. The trials were also at the origins of a book on witchcraft that James VI would publish in 1597, a book called “Daemonologie”. Walter Ferrier has also wondered whether there was a connection between the witch trial and James’ doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings, about which the king also wrote. Ferrier wonders whether James VI wanted to chart the “occult powers” that were trying to get his throne. He even goes as far as to suggest that perhaps James VI believed that all the witches’ doings, all his enemies, could not get him from his throne, that he therefore believed that he was favoured by God, and as such was a Divine King, graced by god. In retrospect, it is clear that James VI used lies to boost his own importance, using the lives of innocent people to create the false impression that the Devil himself was out to get him, and that somehow, not even the Devil could oust him from his royal throne.

 

Following the North Berwick witch trials, the records of the Scottish courts started to show increasing numbers of people being accused of witchcraft. In 1597, Janet Stewart of Canongate and Christian Livingston of Leith were accused of casting spells on Thomas Guthry. They were sentenced to be executed on the Castle Hill. The Kirk records of South Leith show many trials occurring in their parish. This included the search for the devil’s mark on bodies by a man from Musselburgh who had a reputation for finding these marks. The usual trial was to find blue or red birthmarks and to burn them with a hot iron or to insert a pin or needle. If the victim felt no pain then they were declared a witch. Suspected people were bled at between the eyes, which was supposed to make a witch powerless. If found guilty, the victim was burned alive. It is apparent that James VI had created a reign of terror, in which anyone could suddenly be accused of being a devil worshipper, based on no evidence whatsoever.

 

Though the North Berwick witch trials are primarily linked with James VI, others have argued that the Reformation had given those who practiced the old Celtic ways an impetus to gather more freely than before, in the mistaken belief that there was now more religious freedom. That turned out to be not the case. Before 1563, witchcraft had been dealt with by the Church, but in 1563, the witchcraft act was passed, and it is this act that would see its first full use in 1590. And history has shown that such a perverse act, whether used by the Church or by the king, will be abused.

King James VI wanted to be both a social example and a legislator. Furthermore, the trials became a method in which the king could dispose of his enemies and portray himself as a more important, powerful figure than he actually was. He became depicted as the “Man the devil had to the fear the most”. For this, however, witches had to suffer, as they had to be portrayed as being in alliance with the devil, against the king.

After their arrest, the “witches” were held in the Tolbooth, on Edinburgh’s lower High Street, where they were tortured and interrogated. At one point during his captivity, John Fian escaped by stealing a key. When he was captured, he was subjected to even more horrific torture. He was executed, after having withdrawn his earlier confession. And is remembered as one of 300 innocent people that were killed for purely political reasons.

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From out of the dark and into the light
A circular mark, a candle burns bright.
I look towards the sky, my song I do sing
Spirits soar high and gifts do I bring.

I offer my all, my mind I then clear
Harken my call, I fell you are near.
Candle burns higher, my spirits set free
Hotter than fire, the magic will be.
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Morton Castle

Morton Castle, stands in a very scenic location on a promontory above Morton Loch, 4 miles North of Thornhill and 1½ miles SouthEast of highway A702. The castle is a hall-house, with some additions, that date back to the late 14th century. There would have been kitchens and storage space on the ground floor with a hall above and private rooms in a round corner tower. It was built by the Earls of March on the site of an earlier castle that was destroyed in 1375. In 1459 it was acquired by the Douglases, later made Earls of Morton. It remained occupied until about 1715.

In the 12th century, the honour of Morton was a possession of Dunegal, Lord of Strathnith (Nithsdale). During the reign of Robert the Bruce the lands of Morton were held by Thomas Randolph, later the first Earl of Moray. By 1307, and possibly as early as the 1260s, a castle had been constructed here, on a high defensible promontory surrounded by marshland. Randolph also constructed an enclosed deer park nearby.

Morton Castle

The Treaty of Berwick in 1357, which secured the release of David II, also required the Scots to destroy thirteen castles in Nithsdale, including Morton. It is not clear how much, if any, of the original castle remains. The lands of Morton passed to the Earls of March, who probably built (or rebuilt) the existing castle in the early 15th century.

In the mid 15th century the lands were given by James II of Scotland to James Douglas of Dalkeith, later Earl of Morton (although the earldom is named for another Morton in Lothian).

The 4th Earl of Morton was executed in 1580 for his alleged part in the murder of Lord Darnley, and Morton Castle, together with the earldom, briefly passed to John Maxwell, 7th Lord Maxwell, and grandson of the third earl. However, in 1588, James VI led an expedition against the Catholic Maxwells. Morton Castle was taken and burned, and returned to the Earls of Morton, the fourth earl’s attainder having been reversed.

In 1608 Morton Castle was sold to William Douglas of Coshogle, who sold it in turn to Drumlainrig, made the first Earl of Queensberry ten years later. Following its abandonment in the 18th century, much stone was carried off until the 1890s when some repairs were carried out. It is now the property of the Duke of Buccleuch, and is cared for by Historic Scotland.

Why is this important to the Carruthers.  The Earl of Morton had at least two daughters who both married Carruthers.

 

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Mystery of the Secret Message

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Mystery of the Secret Message

 

Penny lives with her aunt and uncle because her mother is dead and her father travels on business much of the time, dealing in Asian art.  Thanks to his travels, Penny and her aunt and uncle have quite a collection of Asian art themselves.  However, Penny has just been told that her father’s airplane crashed in the Pacific Ocean.  No survivors have been found, although Penny still has hope that perhaps her father survived and might yet be found.

 

At the same time, Penny and her aunt and uncle are moving into a house from the apartment where they used to live. Penny is happy about the move because she knows that she won’t have to worry as much about being quiet and not disturbing the neighbors, like she had to do in their apartment. This means that Penny can bring her friends over to the house to play and have parties. Also, their new house has a very special feature: its own private elevator.

 

Penny loves the new house, and soon begins building a tree house with the help of Pete, a boy who lives nearby.  She tells Pete about her father and her hopes that he might still be alive.

 

However, events take a disturbing turn when Penny receives a package from Japan containing a beautiful wall scroll. The package appears to have been sent by her father, who meant it as a present for her new room in her new house. Was the package sent before his death, or did he somehow survive the crash?

 

There is also something odd about Penny’s new neighbors.  Penny’s new house is actually half of a duplex, and the new neighbors, the Carruthers, have also recently moved in after renting their half. When Penny accidentally gets stuck in the elevator and hears voices coming through the wall, she starts to suspect that her neighbors might not be what they seem to be.  They show an unusual interest in her family’s collection of Asian art, asking to see pieces and borrow pieces for an exhibition that Mr. Carruthers is holding at his gallery.  One of Penny’s friends even catches Mrs. Carruthers sneaking around, looking at things uninvited.

 

When Penny and her friends have a sleepover on an evening when her aunt and uncle are out, someone sneaks into the house, leaving muddy footprints on the floor.  Penny isn’t sure that her aunt and uncle will believe her because they seem to like the Carruthers, so at Pete’s suggestion, she continues to spy on them, using the elevator to listen in on their conversations through the walls.

 

When her uncle catches her one day, using the elevator without permission (something she is not supposed to do), she finally explains her suspicions and what’s she’s heard the Carruthers say.  Together, Penny and her uncle discover a hidden secret about the wall scroll Penny recently received, which points to a number of secrets that Penny’s father kept from her and the rest of his family for years.  A stranger from the government helps Penny to fill in some of the blanks, but he has a favor to ask in return that requires Penny to take a big risk.

Mystery2 Mystery3

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Pádraigín

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Joan of the Tower, Queen of Scotland

joan_queen_of_scotland1

In research you frequently discover instances of happy medieval marriages – and even if a marriage was not based on love, it did not mean that it would not be successful. Indeed, in many such instances the young woman concerned found her own way of succeeding, whether it was through her children or the management of estates – or the fact that a lasting peace was achieved between her 2 countries.

 

Unfortunately for Joan of the Tower, later to be known as Joan Makepeace, her marriage achieved none of these things.

 

Joan was born in the Tower of London on 5 July, 1321; hence her rather dramatic name. She was the youngest of the 4 children of Edward II and his queen, Isabella of France, and had 2 older brothers and 1 sister. Her eldest brother, Edward, who was 9 years older than Joan, succeed his father as King Edward III in 1327, following Edward II’s deposition. While her 2nd brother, John of Eltham, was born in 1316 and died shortly after his 20th birthday, while campaigning against the Scots. Joan’s only sister, Eleanor of Woodstock, born in 1318, was only 3 years older than her baby sister and would go on to marry Reginald II, Count of Guelders.

 

Joan also had an illegitimate brother, Adam FitzRoy, a son of Edward II by an unknown woman. He was born in the early 1300s, but died whilst campaigning in Scotland with his father, in 1322.

 

Little Joan was named after her maternal grandmother, Queen Joan I of Navarre, wife of Philip IV of France. The king, also in London at the time of Joan’s birth, but not at the  Tower, granted an £80 respite on a £180 loan to Robert Staunton, the man who brought him news of the birth.¹ By 8th July Edward was visiting his wife and baby daughter at the Tower of London and stayed with them for several days.

 JoansfatheredwardII

Joan’s father, Edward II

As the last of the children of Edward II and Isabella, it seems likely that the royal couple’s relationship changed shortly after her birth, their marriage heading for an irretrievable breakdown that would see the king deposed in favour of his son. Edward II was well known for having favourites; the first, Sir Piers Gaveston, met a sticky end in 1312, when he was murdered by barons angry at the influence he held over the king. Isabella’s estrangement with her husband followed the rise of a new favourite, Sir Hugh le Despenser, and, by the time of Joan’s birth, his influence on the king was gaining strength and alienating powerful barons at court. In March 1322 those barons were defeated at the Battle of Boroughbridge, Yorkshire, with many prominent barons killed, including the king’s erstwhile brother-in-law Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford. The leader of the insurrection, the king’s cousin Thomas, earl of Lancaster, was executed 6 days later at Pontefract Castle.

 

Joan was, therefore, growing up amid a period of great turmoil, not only within England, but within her own family. It is doubtful that, as she grew, she was unaware of the atmosphere, but  Isabella and Edward were both loving parents and probably tried to shield their children as much as they could, ensuring stability in their everyday lives. Joan was soon placed  in the household of her older siblings, and put into the care of Matilda Pyrie,  who had once been nurse to her older brother, John of Eltham.

 

Sometime before February 1325, Joan and her sister were established in their own household, under the supervision of Isabel, Lady Hastings and her husband, Ralph Monthermer. Isabel was the younger sister of Edward II’s close companion, Hugh Despenser the Younger, and this act has often been seen by historians as the king removing the children from the queen’s custody. Although it could have been a malicious act it must be remembered, however, that Ralph Monthermer was the girls’ uncle-by-marriage through his first wife, Joan of Acre, Edward II’s sister, and it was a custom of the time that aristocratic children were fostered among the wider family.

 JoansbrotheredwardII

Joan’s brother Edward III

Joan and her elder sister, Eleanor, remained with Isabel even after Ralph’s death in the summer of 1325; however, the following year, they were given into the custody of Joan Jermy, sister-in-law of the king’s younger half-brother Thomas, Earl of Norfolk. Joan was the sister of Thomas’s wife, Alice Hales, and took charge of the girls’ household in January 1326, living alternately at Pleshey in Essex and Marlborough in Wiltshire.

 

As with all her siblings, Joan played a part in her father’s diplomatic plans; an attempt to form an alliance against France, Edward sought marriages in Spain for 3 of his 4 children. While Eleanor was to marry Alfonso XI of Castile, little Joan was proposed as the bride for the grandson of Jaime II of Aragon – the future Pedro IV – but this would come to nought.

 

By this time their mother, Isabella, was living at the French court, along with her eldest son, Edward, refusing to return to her husband whilst he still welcomed Hugh Despenser at his court. Within months Isabella and her companion (possibly her lover), Roger Mortimer, were to invade England and drive Edward II from his throne, putting an end to the proposed Spanish marriages. He was captured and imprisoned in Berkley Castle, forced to abdicate in favour of his eldest son, who was proclaimed King Edward III in 1327.

 

With her father exiled or murdered (his fate remains a bone of contention to this day), Joan became the central part of another plan – that of peace with Scotland. Isabella and her chief ally, Roger Mortimer, were now effectively ruling the kingdom for the young Edward III – still only in  his mid-teens. With the kingdom in disarray Isabella sought to end the interminable wars with Scotland, much to the young king’s disgust. Joan was offered as a bride for David, Robert the Bruce’s only son and heir, by his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh.

 david_ii_of_scotland_by_sylvester_harding_17971

David II

The 1328 Treaty of Northampton was seen as a major humiliation by Edward III – and the 16-year-old king made sure his displeasure was known. However, he was forced to sign it, agreeing to Scotland’s recognition as an independent kingdom, the return of both the Ragman Roll (a document showing the individual acts of homage by the Scottish nobility) and the Stone of Scone (the traditional stone on which Scotland’s kings were crowned and which had sat in Westminster Abbey since being brought south by Edward I) and the marriage of Bruce’s 4-year-old son, David, to his 7-year-old sister, Joan.

 

Although the Stone of Scone and Ragman Roll were never returned to Scotland, the marriage between Joan and David did go ahead, although with a proviso that, should the marriage not be completed within 2 months of David reaching his 14th birthday, the treaty would be declared invalid. With neither king present – with Edward III refusing to attend, Robert the Bruce did likewise, claiming illness – the children were married at Berwick-on-Tweed on 17 July 1328, in the presence of Queen Isabella. The wedding was a lavish occasion, costing the Scots king over £2500.²

 

Following the wedding, and nicknamed Joan Makepeace by the Scots, Joan remained in Scotland with her child-groom. With Robert the Bruce’s death the following year, and David’s accession to the throne as David II, Joan and David attained the dubious record of being the youngest married monarchs in British history. They were crowned, jointly, at Scone Abbey in Perthshire, on 24th November 1331. It was the 1st time a Scottish Queen Consort was crowned.

 

Virtually nothing is known of Joan’s early years in Scotland. We can, I’m sure, assume she continued her education and maybe spent some time getting to know her husband. Scotland, however, was in turmoil and Edward III was not about to let his sister’s marriage get in the way of his own ambitions for the country. Unfortunately for Joan, Edward Balliol, son of the erstwhile king, John Balliol, and Isabella de Warenne, had a strong claim to the crown and was, as opposed to her young husband, a grown man with the backing of Edward III. What followed was a tug-of-war for Scotland’s crown, lasting many years.

 

 DavidIIand Joan being greatedby David VIof France

David II and Joan being greeted by Philip VI of France

David’s supporters suffered a heavy defeat at Halidon Hill in July 1333 and shortly after Joan, who was residing at Dumbarton at the time, and David were sent to France for their safety, where they spent the next 7 years. An ally of Scotland and first cousin of Joan’s mother, Philip VI of France gave the king and queen, and their Scottish attendants, accommodation in the famous Château Gaillard in Normandy.

 

Their return to Scotland, on 2nd June 1341, was greeted with widespread rejoicing that proved to be short-lived. When the French asked for help in their conflict with the English, David led his forces south. He fought valiantly in the disastrous battle at Neville’s Cross on 17th October 1346, but was captured by the English; he was escorted to a captivity in England that would last for the next 11 years, save for a short return to Scotland in 1351-2.

 

Joan and David’s marriage had proved to be an unhappy, loveless and childless union and, while a safe conduct was issued for Joan to visit her husband at Windsor for the St George’s Day celebrations of 1348, there is no evidence she took advantage of it. Although we know little of Joan’s movements, it seems she remained in Scotland at least some of the time, possibly held as a hostage to David’s safety by his Scottish allies. She may also have visited David in his captivity, taking it as an opportunity to visit with her own family, including her mother; Queen Isabella is said to have supported Joan financially while her husband was imprisoned, feeding and clothing her. Joan does not appear to have taken an active role in negotiations for David’s release, despite her close familial ties to the English court.

 

When David returned to Scotland he brought his lover, Katherine Mortimer, with him. They had met in England and it was said “The king loved her more than all other women, and on her account his queen was entirely neglected while he embraced his mistress.”³ Katherine met a grisly fate and was stabbed to death by the Earl of Atholl.

 

At Christmas 1357 Joan was issued with a safe conduct from Edward III “on business touching us and David” and again in May 1358 “by our licence for certain causes”.² Although the licences are understandably vague on the matter, Joan had, in fact, left David and Scotland.

 

Joan spent the rest of her life in England, living on a pension of £200 a year provided by her brother, Edward III. She renewed family connections and was able to visit her mother before Isabella’s death in August 1358. As Queen of Scotland, she occasionally acted on her husband’s behalf. In February 1359 David acknowledge her assistance in the respite of ransom payments granted by Edward III saying it was “at the great and diligent request and instance of our dear companion the Lady Joan his sister.”²

 

Little is known of Joan’s appearance or personality. Several years after her death she was described as “sweet, debonair, courteous, homely, pleasant and fair” by the chronicler Andrew of Wyntoun.² Having led an adventurous life, through no choice of her own, if unhappy in love, Joan of the Tower, Queen of Scotland, died at the age of 41 on 7th September 1362, and was buried in the Church of the Greyfriars, Newgate, in London, where her mother had been laid to rest just 4 years earlier.

 

Following his wife’s death David II married his lover, Margaret Drummond, the widow of Sir John Logie, but divorced her on 20th March 1370. He died, childless, at Edinburgh Castle in February 1371, aged 47, and was succeeded by the first of the Stewart kings, his nephew, Robert II, son of Robert the Bruce’s eldest daughter, Marjorie.

 

*

 

Footnotes: ¹Isabella of France: The Rebel Queen by Kathryn Warner; ² Oxforddnb.com; ³Walter Bower quoted in Oxforddnb.com

Heroines of the Medieval World

carruthers_clan_plaid_scottish_kilt_tartan_plaque-r066949249fc44f67ab8d62a3f03c5e64_arn39_8byvr_324

Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society International

Carrothersclan@gmail.com

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Knights Templar First Headquarters

templemount

The first headquarters of the Knights Templar, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Crusaders called it the Temple of Solomon and it was from this location that the Knights took their name of Templar. The Carruthers have two chevrons on their crest for the two crusades they fought in.

This is the same Temple that were in both Jewish and Islamic tradition as the area of Mount Moriah where Abraham offered up his son in sacrifice.

Same Temple where King Solomon built the First Temple almost 3,000 years ago. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, but 70 years later Jews returning from exile built the Second Temple on the same site. King Herod refashioned it into an edifice of great splendor.

Same Temple where in Muslim tradition, the place is also identified as the ” furthermost sanctuary”.

Following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70, the area of the Temple was deliberately left in ruins (first by the Romans, then by the Byzantines). This desecration was not redressed until the Muslim conquest of the city by the Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab in 638. He ordered the clearing of the site and the building of a house of prayer.

Some 50 years later, the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock to enshrine the outcrop of bedrock believed to be the place of the sacrifice on Mount Moriah. He (or his son, the Caliph al-Walid I) also built in 1033 the large mosque at the southern end of the Haram, which came to be called al-Aqsa after the Koranic name attributed to the entire area.

After the conquest of Jerusalem by the crusaders, the Dome of the Rock was converted into a church and called Templum Domini (the Temple of the Lord) and al-Aqsa became a church called Templum Solomonis (Solomon’s Temple). They were reconverted into Muslim houses of worship after Saladin’s conquest of Jerusalem in 1187 and have remained so ever since.

This is our Carruthers history. William the Conqueror was so pleased with all the Carruthers who came home from the crusades, he gave us our royal colors and chevrons. The Carruthers have never turned their backs on their God and their County.

 

Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society

P Carrothers

Carrothersclan@gmail.com

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