Scotland During WWII

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Scotland During WWII


Scotland’s Blitz

When people talk about ‘the Blitz’, they often mean the air raids on London or Coventry. But lots of other places in the UK were bombed during World War II. Scotland came under attack from German bombers. Glasgow and the Clyde, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee were bombed as well as towns and cities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Bomb damage in Clydebank (1941)Over two nights in March 1941 Clydebank was attacked by German bombers. All along the River Clyde were factories making ammunition, and shipyards. These were important targets for German bombers, but homes too were hit.

Why was Scotland bombed?

Scotland had factories, coal mines, engineering works and shipyards. These industries were important to the war effort. Scotland’s industrial areas were important targets for German bombers. German planes flew across the North Sea to drop bombs on Scotland.

Glasgow had many factories. There were shipyards along the River Clyde and cargo ships gathered in the river to form convoys.

Many people in industrial areas lived near their workplaces. When factories and shipyards were bombed during Scotland’s Blitz, hundreds of people were killed. Many more were left homeless.

Ruins of homes in Clydebank.jpg

Clydebank was home to tens of thousands of people. Many lived in tenement flats close to the factories and shipyards where they worked. After the bombs fell 4,000 homes (out of 12,000 in Clydebank) were in ruins.

The Clydebank Blitz

The town of Clydebank, not far from Glasgow, had shipyards and ammunition factories making bullets and bombs. One big factory made aircraft engines. Most of the people who worked in the shipyards and factories lived in tenement flats nearby.

Over two nights on 13/14 March 1941 about 400 German planes dropped bombs on Clydebank. RAF fighters shot down two German bombers. Even so more than 1,000 bombs fell on Clydebank.


It’s probable this family, like 40,000 other people, had seen their home destroyed by bombs. Very few tenements survived without damage. Most blocks were so badly damaged they had to be pulled down. It was years before new homes were built.


528 people were killed and over 600 injured on Clydebank over the two nights. Many fires were started by incendiary bombs. About 4,000 homes were destroyed. More than 40,000 people were made homeless.

The Polish warship Piorun

ORP Piorun was an N-class destroyer used by the Polish Navy during World War II…ORP Piorun was an N-class destroyer used by the Polish Navy during World War II…

The ORP Piorun (‘Thunderbolt’ in Polish) was a Polish navy warship. The ship had been built on the Clyde for the Royal Navy. It was given to the Polish navy in 1940. Many Poles had come to Britain to help fight the war.

When the German bombers attacked Clydebank, Piorun was being repaired in the John Brown shipyard, the most famous shipyard on the Clyde. The warship’s crew fired its guns at the bombers to defend the town. Near Clydebank Town Hall in Solidarity Plaza is a memorial plaque to those brave Polish sailors.

Raids on Greenock

On 6/7 May 1941 about 50 German planes bombed Greenock. 280 people were killed and 1,200 people were injured. Cars drove through the town with loudspeakers to tell people where to go for help and shelter. Some people were covered with soot and dust from the fires started by incendiary bombs.

Fire fighters came from as far as Edinburgh. Sailors from ships in the Clyde also helped fight the fires. Three firemen were awarded the George Medal for their bravery during the Greenock Blitz.



Rescuers worked very carefully to bring out people still alive but trapped beneath rubble. It was a very dangerous job, because damaged buildings often collapsed.


The Aberdeen Blitz

Aberdeen on Scotland’s east coast was another target. German bombers flew across the North Sea from Norway.

On the night of 21 April 1943 between 40 and 50 bombers flew over Aberdeen. In this surprise attack 98 civilians and 27 soldiers were killed. Around 10,000 homes were destroyed or damaged. Low-flying German planes fired their machine guns at people in the streets.

Charles Street in 1943.jpg

Charles Street in 1943

The German bombers flew so low that many bombs did not explode. ‘UXBs’ or unexploded bombs were very dangerous. Bomb disposal teams had to ‘defuse’ the bomb to stop it blowing up.

The 1943 raid was so swift that all the bombers got away. But in an earlier raid in July 1940 a German bomber was shot down by an RAF fighter. It crashed onto a new ice rink!

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Carruthers history, Uncategorized

Suicide by the Mouswald Heiress

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Suicide by the Mouswald Heiress


Simon Carruthers, 10th Laird and 5th Baron Mouswald , seems to have been killed in July 1548, in a fight with the thieves dwelling in the Debatable Lands, for it is recorded that the thieves of the Scottish West March with the assistance of English thieves had slain the principal barons nearest adjacent to the Marches, including Lord Carlisle and the Lairds of Mouswald , Kirkmichael, Kirkconnell and Logan in Annandale and many other landed men.  Simon, only age 31 at his death, died without leaving male issue. On August 13 of the same year,Queen Mary, granted to Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig  the ward and marriage of Janet and Marion, the two daughters of the deceased Simon Carruthers.

Upon the sudden death of Simon, a lawsuit ensued between Sir James Douglas and the heir according to the entail  of the Charter of December 27, 1544,John Carruthers, Simon’s eldest brother. In this law suit Sir James was successful by bargaining for a sum of money with the heir; the entail was set aside and the two daughters of Simon became co-heiresses.

The story of the Carruthers family of Mouswald now commenced to close rapidly. Following on Simon’s death Robert, Lord Maxwell, seems to have occupied the house, probably as it was desirable to have the place in strong hands in such unpropitious times.  But, Sir James Douglas, having secured the ward and marriage of the two heiresses, obtained an order from the Lords of the Secret Council on April 20, 1550, relieving Lord Maxwell of his charge and commanding him to deliver it to Sir James Douglas during the time of ward. The ruined tower at Mouswald

The late Simon Carruthers does not appear to have made up his title to certain of his lands, for on January 19, 1558, Janet Carruthers expede a retour in the Burgh Court of Edinburgh before the Stewards of Annandale as the elder granddaughter of Simon Carruthers of Mouswald who died in April, 1531, vested in the lands of Cumlonganwood, Dunnabie, Kirtlehouse and Carruthers.  Cumonganwood was held from Charles Murray of Cockpool for a red rose yearly;  Dunnabie and Kirtlehouse from James, Earl of Bothwell, for a penny yearly;  and Carruthers from the same Earl for ward and relief.

Sir James Douglas seems to have kept a tight hand on the two young girls, for on March 21, 1558, Charles Murray of Cockpool, Archibald Murray and Cuthbert Murray, their uncles, obtained letters from the Lords of Council commanding Sir James to produce Janet and Marion, who were stated to be “now past tuttorie and  14 years of age complete”, before the Lords of Council at Edinburgh, as he would not permit them liberty to visit their friends.

In the year 1560,Janet Carruthers was married to Thomas Rorison of Bardannoch.  This marriage was soon turned to his advantage by Sir James Douglas, for he persuaded the Lady of Bardannoch to make over to him her half of the Barony of Mouswald for the services he had rendered to her.  The Contract which was dated March 14, 1560, proceeds on the lines that the lairdship of Mouswald lay in a very troublous country, and that there was little profit to be gained from the lands; that Sir James had got the entail to the Charter of December 27, 1544, set aside in favour of the two daughters at his own expense, and had made great payments in satisfying the late John Carruthers, the heir according to the entail, to the extent of £2,000Scots, of which Janet’s part was £1,000 Scots; that he had paid on her behalf whilst she was his ward £1,000 Scots and had sustained her in . . . “meit, drink and cleithing and other necessars” . . .; that he had found her a husband in Thomas Rorison of Bardannoch; that he would obtain her an infeftment in conjunct fee in the £5 land of old extent of “Drumragane with the pertinents by and in the parochine of Glencairn ” and pay her dowry of 1,000 merks to her husband and also sustain them and their servants for the space of two years.  One cannot help feeling that Sir James obtained far more than he gave, for the Mouswald estates were extensive, and though they undoubtedly lay in an exposed place, having regards to Border raids and warfare, yet they were valuable as is evidenced by the payments made to the Exchequer when Janet entered into her half-share of the baronial lands in June, 1561.  A Precept for a Charter of Confirmation of a Charter of Alienation (dated July 16, 1562), by Janet Carruthers, with consent of her husband, Thomas Rorison of Bardannoch, to Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig, was obtained on January 8, 1562/3.  Thus Sir James obtained for himself and his heirs Janet’s half of the Mouswald estates.

It is interesting here to note the extensive possessions of the Mouswald family in the middle of the Sixteenth Century. The Estates comprised: £20 land of old extent of Mouswald, Howthwaite, and Hetlandhill, with tower, fortalice, mill and advowson of the church of Mouswald; £20 land of old extent of Logan-tenement, with mill;  £10 land of old extent of “Dronok “, with fisheries; 40/- land of old extent of Cummertries; 1-merk land of Stenries; £20 land of Pennersaughs, with advowson of the church; 10-merk land of old extent of Middlebie, with advowson of the church; 5-merk land of old extent of Westscales; 2-merk land of old extent in Hoddam; 1-merk land of old extent in the Holms of Annan called Blaeberrylands ; ½-merk land of Westwood, with tenants, etc., and the 20/- land of Rafflegill.  These lands were held directly from the Sovereign. In addition there were the lands of Cumlonganwood, Dunnabie, Kirtlehouse and the most ancient holding of all, Carruthers, the first-named held from the Murrays of Cockpool and the three latter from the Earls of Bothwell. There were also other lands, e.g. the 6-merk land of old extent of the lands of Trailflat.

Having disposed of Janet Carruthers to his advantage, Sir James now turned his attention to the younger daughter, Marion.  She seems to have had a stronger spirit and to have been less pliable than her elder sister, for she made a  valiant fight for her half of her ancestral estates.  On January 28, 1563, Marion and her uncle, Charles Murray, appeared before Queen Mary and the Lords of Secret Council, and sought permission for her to consult her friends in Edinburgh regarding the things required of her by the Council. The permission was granted and Charles Murray bound himself to present Marion before the Council again on January 30 next, undertaking that she should not get married or dispose of her lands in the meantime.  It is obvious that the ” thing” required of Marion was that she should marry the husband whom Sir James Douglas had found for her. It appears that Charles Murray, in order to protect Marion, had obtained letters requiring Sir James again to produce the two daughters of the deceased Simon Carruthers. He produced Marion, placing her under the Chancellor’s care, and declared that as Janet was only bound to her husband he could not produce her.  The following day, January 29, the whole of the proceedings against Sir James were suspended, when a letter from the Queen was produced requiring the Lords to abandon the action.  On the same day letters of restraint were raised by Sir James and therein is related that he had offered her a suitable husband whom she had absolutely refused;  further, that she intended to marry whom she pleased and also to dispose of her lands and goods.

Marion appears to have made up her mind not to marry the husband provided for her. Possibly she was in love with someone else, but the records do not explicitly tell of this. Sir James himself went to see her on the next day (January 30) and offered her in marriage to John, son and heir of James McMath of Dalpeddar, and required her to “compleit the said band of matrimonye with the said Johne McMath as effeirit oweir in the Kirk of Borthick, whare … that sche was ordainit be the counsale to remove for the tyme or into any place where sche plesit upon the first day of Merche next to cum thaireftir, or uthir convenient day sche plesit to appoint and gif sche failzeit he protestit for the double avail of hir mariage while the said Marioun refusit to do, and declarit that sche wald not be at the said James’ byddin”.

Two days later (February 1, 1563), Marion left Edinburgh and went to reside for a period of 40 days with the family of her kinsman, John, Lord Borthwick.  But, before being allowed to depart, both she an Lord Borthwick had to bind themselves under a penalty of  £2,000 that Marion would remain with him and not depart to Annandale or any other place and that after the period of forty days she should not depart until notice had been given thereof to the Queen and Council by Lord Borthwick.

At the end of the forty days, Marion seems to have been able to return to Annandale, for on March 13, 1563, she expede a retour at the Court of Lochmaben making up her part of the Barony of Mouswald as second daughter and one of the two heiresses of the late Simon Carruthers.  It is interesting to note from this record that Marion was 21 years of age on the feast of Saint Andrew last, which gives her date birth as November 30, 1541.

In September Marion was evidently still as determined as ever not to marry the man chosen for her by her guardian for, on September 13, 1563, Thomas Borthwick of Pryncards and Michael Borthwick of Glengelt, became sureties, jointly and severally, for Marion Carruthers that she should not marry a traitor or other “Brokkin Man” of the country, nor join herself with any such person under a penalty of £1,000.

Presumably in an endeavour to safeguard her estates, Marion attempted to dispose of her lands to her uncle, Charles Murray of Cockpool,and a Charter of Confirmation was granted by the Queen on June 24, 1564.  The lands mentioned are incomplete and others are different from those appearing in the charter of 1562granted to Sir James Douglas so it seems that the list of the lands comprising her portion of the barony had been compiled from memory. Obviously, Sir James could not let this pass unchallenged and he immediately obtained Letters of Inhibition (February 16, 1565) contending that Marion could not legally dispose of her heritage without his consent in view of the gift of ward and marriage which had been obtained by him.

The struggle still continued, but evidently Marion was beginning to realize that the case was hopeless as the law was against her. Whether in despair she committed suicide, or whether she was murdered, it is difficult to state.  Either way, she fell from the top of the tower of Comlongan Castle.  On October 17, 1570, King James VI granted an escheat in favour of Sir Wllliam Douglas of Hawick. The deed narrates that the lands of Mouswald had fallen into the hands of the Crown through “the said Marioun Carrutheris willfull slaying of hirself in leiping ovir the wall of the Castell touer and fortalice of Cullyngane, upon the twenty-five day of September last bipast, and thairthrow wilfullie breaking hir awin craig and banis where of sche deit”.   The above record states that she committed suicide, but the traditions of the surrounding district assert that she was murdered, for she was found dead with strong suspicions of foul play. It also seems difficult to understand why she should take her life while residing with her uncle who, throughout her struggles to preserve her inheritance and her right to choose a husband, had so befriended her. Comlongon Castle, Scotland.jpgComlongon Castle, Scotland

During the thirty years since Simon Carruthers’s death, all had been confusion at Mouswald. This is pointed out by Lord Herries, in his report on the West March in the year 1578-9, who advised that since there was no capable defender of Mouswald, it should be taken possession of by some laird.

On March 8, 1588, the history of the Carruthers family of Mouswald comes to an end, for on that date Sir James Douglas resigned all the lands of Carruthers, Mouswald and Logan-tenement into the hands of King James VI for infeftment to himself and his heirs male.  Following upon this, on March 18, 1588, came a charter of resignation and an erection of Logan-tenement into the Barony of Drumlanrig, and upon which sasine was given on April 11, 1589.

On September 1, 1613, King James VI granted a charter to William Douglas, son and heir of James Douglas of Drumlanrig, of Marion’s half of the Mouswald estates.  This William was destined to be the 1st Earl of Queensberry.  It is interesting to note just how extensive the Carruthers holdings of Mouswald were.  Drumlanrig did not become a barony until Janet’s half of Mouswald was given to them.  And Marion’s half of Mouswald helped William Douglas to become the 1st Earl of Queensberry.  The Douglas family holdings of Queensberry were raised to the title of Marquess in 1682, but by 1684 when Queensberry became a Dukedom, the title was with the Scott family.

Source:  Records of the Carruthers Family, by A. Stanley Carruthers and R. C. Reid

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Carruthers history, Uncategorized

Sir Walter Scott and the Carruthers

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There is a remarkable story, factual, concerning how Sir Walter Scott, in his role as principal clerk to the Court of Session, became aware of legal proceedings involving retention of an estate in the Carruthers family.  Scott had this story in mind as he developed the plot, and wrote his novel Guy Mannering.

This story underscores the significance of hereditary estate retention throughout history.  The Carruthers family owned the Mouswald land from 1320 until 1588 – 258 years.  The Holmains  estate was in the Carruthers family from 1361 until 1772 – 411 years.  A. Stanley Carruthers in his book Records of the Carruthers Family, published in 1933, called the Woodfoot and Milne branches of the family “probably” the senior traceable branch of the family.  However, both Milne and Woodfoot are extinct in the male line. 

This brings us to the Carruthers family of Dormont.  The ancestor of this branch was William Carruthers, 3rd son of John Carruthers, 5th Lord and 1st Baron Holmains.  He received the Charter of Carsopeland from his father in 1552.  James Carruthers, the 13th Laird, currently heads the Dormont family – 456 years later. 

Can you imagine the difficult circumstances people must have had to go through to keep an estate in the family for over 450 years?  Elsewhere on this web site you can see where Carruthers estates were lost due to murder, bank failure, non-freedom of religion and marriage with no male heirs.  How the Carruthers family of Dormont has been able to retain one estate for over 450 years is nothing short of remarkable.  But this story involves a legal case that was finally closed after going before the House of Lords for a second time, almost 80 years after an illegitimate child was born. 

Details of this story can be found in Records of the Carruthers Family, in Michael Robson’s book Surnames and Clansmen – Border Family History in Earlier Days,  along with the Court of Sessions records.

Extracts are provided below.   Sir Walter ScottSir Walter Scott 

Francis, the 5th Laird of Dormont , succeeded his grandfather in 1725.  In 1731 he married Margaret, daughter of Sir Alexander Maxwell of Monreith.  In 1735 he made a post-nuptial contract of marriage to himself and his heirs male, whom failing the heirs male of any other marriage, whom failing to any daughter he might have by Margaret Maxwell.  A clause stipulated that if a daughter was excluded from the estate by any term in the deed, she should get £1,000 sterling. 

Margaret had a way of living beyond their means and the resulting financial hardship caused Francis to give up his life as a leisurely country gentleman and make some additional money.  His chosen path was in selling and delivering Galloway cattle, a potentially prosperous venture, but one that kept him away from home for extended periods of time.  During one extended absence trying to settle a lawsuit in England, he received word from home that “Mrs. Carruthers’s conduct with regard to a handsome stout fellow of a gardener named Bell at Dormont, was not a little suspicious”.   When he got home, it was obvious that his wife was “with child”.  He steadfastly exclaimed that he was not the father since he had been away from home for “nearly a whole year”.  

Francis then decided to get rid of his wife by getting a divorce.   However, the questioning of the staff only provided him with suspicious circumstances, not the proof he needed at that time to justify divorce proceedings.  Undaunted, he decided to proceed anyway with the divorce action.  But, before the proceedings could be finished, after having been married ten years without a child, Margaret had a daughter, Elizabeth,on May 28, 1741.  Francis, naturally refused to acknowledge the child as his daughter.   But, since he was not divorced, the law said that the child was a legitimate heir.  Francis’ divorce from Margaret was finalized on January 6, 1742.  Not too long after delivering her child, though, Margaret fell ill and died.  While this death solved the expense problem, there still was an open question about inheritance of the child, and Margaret was no longer around to answer any questions.

Francis did not seem interested in marrying again and continuing to try to have a male heir.  Under the previous entail, there was some question as to whether or not a male child by a 2nd wife would take precedence over a female heir by his 1st wife.  Therefore, Francis spent his energy trying to prove that Elizabeth was illegitimate.  But, his time away from home turned out to be 9½ months, and under the law, since he had been home within 10 months, the child was legitimately his.

He refused to see the infant Elizabeth, “alien to his blood”, and arranged for her to be brought up in Northumberland, in what Sir Walter Scott called the “wildest part of the Cheviot Hills” at the home of “an ignorant and low farmer” named Thomas Robson.  He was paid to bring her up as his own daughter and never let her know that she had any other father.  She was known as Betty Robson.  Francis apparently did provide money for her support every year.  However, like most Cheviot farmers, Robson spent his evenings drunk and, over the years let out more and more of the story.

Elizabeth, like her mother Margaret, turned out to be an exceedingly beautiful woman, with men courting her from all over the area.  In 1758, at the age of 17, she ran off with Henry Routledge of Cumcrook and Nether Hill.  They ran away to Edinburgh and got married.  Henry, aware of her circumstances, wrote to her presumed father, Francis Carruthers, for permission to marry, but he never answered. 

Henry, although from a landed family, was a 4th son of a small estate burdened with debt, so he inherited very little.  Struggling at the poverty level, and pressed to pay off debts, the couple was desparate enough to approach Francis Carruthers for money.  They started with high demands, requiring part of the Dormont estate while Francis lived, and all of it at his death.  Getting nowhere with this demand, they eventually settled on signing a “Deed of Renounciation of all Claim upon the Estate of Dormont” for £650.  Immediately after this, Francis executed another document providing Dormont would go only to his male heirs, failing any then to his brother William Carruthers and his male heirs – finalized December 8, 1759.

Francis died in 1773 and his brother, William, headed the estate for the next 14 years.  William, and the next 2 generations after him, gained little from inheriting Dormont, since the estate was still in debt, almost to the extent of its whole value. 

The Routledges were unable to make the £650 last very long.  They continued scraping by, now needing to also support 2 children, John and Anne.  Sir Walter Scott stated that Henry Routledge died in the Carlisle jail.  Elizabeth died in 1768, leaving the 2 children in dire circumstances.  The plot now thickens once again.  Given that Margaret Maxwell had been a sister to Sir William Maxwell, a cousin to the mother then took it upon herself to raise the 2 children.  The cousin, by this time, was known as the Duchess of Gordon.  The Duchess had John and Anne educated and procured a job for him in India.  She also arranged a good marriage for Anne, to Mr. Majendie, the Bishop of Bangor. 

In 1806, John Rutledge returned from India.  He had prospered.  While visiting Cumberland, he is believed to have crossed to Dumfriesshire and stopped at an inn close to Dormont.   Here he learned, quite by chance, of his mother’s connection with the Carruthers family.  He at once raised an action to set aside the settlement of the estate made in 1759 by Francis. The two main questions were (1) was the deed of 1759 valid, seeing that it had not been challenged for over forty years; (2) did the discharge given by Elizabeth on receipt of the £650 exclude her heir’s rights to the estate under his grandmother’s marriage contract in 1735.  It took exactly 14 years to reach an ultimate decision.  By that time John Rufledge was dead,  but his sister, Mrs. Majendie, had continued the lawsuit.  The suit was heard in every court in Scotland, even argued twice at length, before the House of Lords.  At various times, the decision had been made in each party’s favor.  However, the final decision handed down in 1820, was in the favor of William Thomas Carruthers, grand-nephew of Francis, and the 8th Laird of Dormont.

Sir Walter Scott published his novel Guy Mannering in 1815.

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Landscape Genealogy - Carruthersland, Uncategorized

New Abbey And The Surrounding Area

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New Abbey and The Surrounding Area

New Abbey, about six miles from Dumfries, is said to be one of the prettiest places in Dumfries and Galloway.

New Abbey, about six miles from Dumfries, is said to be one of the prettiest places in Dumfries and Galloway.


With a population of fewer than 100 people, the quiet village boasts a number of important buildings, including many that are listed.



1.New Abbey is home to Abbey Vale FC.

It changed its name from Loch Vale FC in the early 1970s but had to keep ‘Vale’ in the title to stay in the Dumfries Amateur League. The original pitch was cut by a farmer in his tractor, who also played for the club.


Today the team plays at Mayfield Park, which can hold up to 1000 spectators.


2. Criffel, one of the highest hills in the area at 1872 feet (570 metres), stands above New Abbey.

2. Criffel, one of the highest hills in the area at 1872 feet (570 metres), stands above New Abbey.

Although not considered particularly high, it stands out above the other smaller hills that are part of the Southern Upland Way.


It can be seen from Cumbria on a clear day and is inhabited by skylarks.

3.Loch Kindar sits at the foot of Criffel.

3.Loch Kindar sits at the foot of Criffel.

It contains a crannog, an ancient dwelling found in lochs in Scotland and Ireland.

The loch is owned by Loch Kindar Angling Club, which restocks the loch regularly with rainbow trout and brown trout.

4. Sweetheart Abbey was built in 1273 by Lady Devorgilla as a memorial to her husband, John Balliol.

4. Sweetheart Abbey,was built in 1273 by Lady Devorgilla as a memorial to her husband, John Balliol.

She was said to have carried his embalmed heart in an ivory casket and was buried with it after her death in 1290.


Originally called New Abbey to distinguish it from Dundrennan Abbey, the monks changed its name after her death in 1290


5.The artist JMW Turner made sketches of the abbey on his first visit to Scotland in the summer of 1831.

5.The artist JMW Turner made sketches of the abbey on his first visit to Scotland in the summer of 1831.

He filled eight pages of his sketchbook with pictures of the abbey drawn from every angle and different distances.


Many are now part of the Turner Bequest, a large number of drawings and paintings given to the nation by the painter.

6.The Waterloo Monument can be reached by a short walk from New Abbey.

6.The Waterloo Monument can be reached by a short walk from New Abbey.

It was built in 1816 to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo the year before.


Although there are no individual’s names on it, the inscription reads, “To record the valour of those British, Belgian and Prussian soldiers who… gained the Victory of Waterloo by which French tyranny was overthrown and peace restored to the world.”

7. Sir William Paterson, one of the founders of the Bank of England, was said to be buried in New Abbey in 1719.

7. Sir William Paterson, one of the founders of the Bank of England, was said to be buried in New Abbey in 1719.

He convinced the Scottish government to undertake the Darien scheme, a failed attempt to establish an independent Scottish Empire in modern day Panama.

Many of the 1200 Scots who sailed for Darien in 1698 died, including Paterson’s wife and child.

8. One of the many listed buildings in the village is the New Abbey Corn Mill.

8. One of the many listed buildings in the village is the New Abbey Corn Mill. 

It is now owned by Historic Environment Scotland and you can join a guided tour to see what life was like for its workers.


Small children were employed in the mill and accidents involving hair, clothing and even body parts being trapped in the workings were not unheard of.

9. Shambellie House, on the outskirts of the village, was once home to the Museum of Costume.

9. Shambellie House on the outskirts of the village, was once home to the Museum of Costume.

It closed in 2013 and there is now a trust in place, which is investigating alternative uses for the building and grounds.


It is looking into running courses and workshops on subjects including photography, arts, crafts, history and wildlife.


10.  There are two burns that flow through New Abbey: the Sheep Burn and the New Abbey Pow which runs into the River Nith Estuary and open into the Solway Firth.

If you look closely at one of the houses in the main street, you’ll see a carving of three women in a rowing boat. They are said to have worked tirelessly transporting materials across the Solway Firth during the construction of the abbey.

Written by R. Gibbons and Submitted by William Carrothers


Our Viking Ancestors, Uncategorized

Vikings’ Unicorn Bluff Fooled Europeans For Hundreds Of Years

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Vikings’ Unicorn Bluff Fooled Europeans For Hundreds Of Years


Vikings were famous for their raids and conquests of new lands, but they had also other ‘talents’. The Norse warriors were cunning businessmen who were not always completely honest.


Actually, Vikings managed to fool Europeans with their unicorn bluff for hundreds of years.


When famous Viking Erik the Red and his men colonized Greenland, they encountered the narwhal, a medium-sized toothed whale that possesses a large “tusk” from a protruding canine tooth.


The tooth reminded of an alicorn, a horn of a unicorn, a mythical animal described in myths, legends and mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as a re’em or ox. During the Middle Ages most people believed in the existence of the unicorn in Western Europe. People were convinced that the horn of the unicorn possessed many healing properties and could be used as medicine to treat poison.


How the Vikings’ came with the idea to start selling narwhal’s tooth as a unicorn horn, is unknown, but they sold it to very high prices to many merchants and princes throughout Europe.


Image of narwhal from Brehms Tierleben (1864–1869). 

It was a bluff and the Vikings knew it of course, but this didn’t prevent them form earning money. They had the advantage that their secret was safe because no-one, expect the Vikings themselves had seen a narwhal on Greenland.


For 500 years no travelers reached Greenland and the Vikings could keep their secret and continue selling their faked unicorn horn”.


In 1577, British seaman and privateer Sir Martin Frobisher (1535-1594) reached the Christopher Hall Island, a Baffin Island located in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago in the territory of Nunavut. There, he and his men discovered a dead narwhal on the beach. They had never seen this kind of animal before, but its horn looked familiar and they gave the animal the name sea-unicorn.


One of these is real. From Pierre Pomet’s Historie Generale Des Drouges, Traitant Des Plantes, Des Animaux & Des Minearuc. Paris, 1694. Credit: New York Academy of Medicine


In his journal, Sir Frobisher wrote, “Upon another small island here, was also found a great dead fish, which, as it would seem, had been embayed with ice, and was in proportion round like to a porpoise, being about twelve foot long, and in bigness answerable, having a horn of two yards long growing out of the snout or nostrils. This horn is wreathed and straight, like in fashion to a taper made of wax, and may truly thought to be the sea-unicorn.”


Sir Frobisher was familiar with stories about the unicorn from the Bible and he was convinced he had found something truly precious. When Sir Frobisher returned back to England, he gave the horn of the sea-unicorn to Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603), who kept the treasure together with her crown jewels. In those days, there was nothing more valuable than a unicorn horn and Elizabeth I was said to have paid 10,000 pounds for a unicorn horn, the price of a castle.


Sir Frobisher hoped this gift could convince the queen to finance more of his expeditions.


The gentle and pensive maiden has the power to tame the unicorn, fresco, probably by Domenico Zampieri, c. 1602 (Palazzo Farnese, Rome)

In Europe, Scandinavian merchants continued to sell faked unicorns, but what had turned into a lucrative business ended in 1638 when Danish scientist Ole Worm studied the alleged unicorn horn in detail and exposed the bluff.


Worm who was a respected scientist revealed the so-called unicorn horn people bought was in fact the tooth of a narwhal.


News about Worm’s research spread across the Europe and the interest in the faked unicorn horn faded.


So, as we have seen, Vikings were not only sarcastic jokers, but they could be dishonest businessmen as well.


What many people also didn’t know at the time was that the unicorn in the Bible was an oryx. It was all an ancient translation mistake.


ClanCarruthers Int LLC

Written by Ellen Lloyds

Submitted by Tim McIntyre 

Thank you Tim

Scotland History, Uncategorized

Women of the Border Reivers

Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society Int LLC
Clan Carruthers Int LLC


Hidden History – Women of the Border Reivers

by Blythe Gifford

Most of us nod wisely and cluck our tongues about the paucity of information about women in history  Unknown, unsung, unreported, it is always a challenge to discover enough about how real women lived to spin an authentic historical tale.

But I had no idea how true this was until I started writing in the era of the Border Reivers.

For those who don’t know, the Reivers (pronounced Reevers) were basically raiders on both sides of the Scottish/English border.  Loyal to family above king, these folks had feuds that rivaled the famous Hatfields and McCoys  They were beyond the law of either government, and usually even beyond the reach of the special Border Laws that were developed in a joint English-Scottish effort to bring order from the chaos.  For nearly 300 years (roughly 1300-1600), they “made a living” by stealing from others, or, alternately, by collecting “blackmail” from those who wanted to be left alone.

My new historical romance trilogy features the three siblings of a reiving family I call the Brunson clan.  I started to research the lives of women of the era, but information was so scarce about this macho society that I could barely find any information about how they dressed, though there are pictures aplenty of what the men donned to ride a raid.

The first story a researcher always finds about the women of the Borders is this:  When the larder ran low, the woman of the house would bring her man a set of spurs instead of supper.  That meant it was time for him to go “riding” again.

The second thing I found was a prevailing opinion (from the English side of the border, to be fair) that Scottish women were “comely,” but “not distinguished by their chastity.”

Hints, but not much to go on.

Beyond stealing sheep and cattle, there was arson and even murder aplenty on the Borders, and many women were left widowed and orphaned.  Later written histories claim that even women and children were not safe from atrocities during these raids.  Yet there’s a tension in the stories of this culture between the ones that claim Reivers honored women and preferred not to kill and the ones that label them vicious and cruel and ruthless.

Modern litanies of the Reivers’ sins typically list rape among them.  In actual historic accounts, however, I was unable to find a specific report of one in the history.  (I am not alone in this.  The book Government, religion, and society in northern England, 1000-1700 mentions the “notable absence” of rape from the list of transgressions.)

Is this because it did not happen, or because women did not make it public?  The answer, as so much of women’s history, is hidden.  Yet there was a law passed by the Scottish Parliament in 1525 which gave the king’s officers the right to punish “particular faults and crimes that occur.”  On the list was “ravishing of women.”  A tantalizing clue.

Yet amidst the harsh reality, I discovered softness and beauty.  This was not a society that had leisure for art and culture, but the Border Ballads, rediscovered and popularized by Sir Walter Scott at the turn of the 19th century, remain hauntingly beautiful today.

In his book FOLK SONG IN ENGLAND, A.L. Lloyd writes of the border dwellers that “they prized a poem almost as much as plunder.”  The narrative songs they created tell rip-roaring stories of war and love, like the one that begins:

My love he built me a bonny bower,

And clad it a’ wi’ lilye flour;

A brawer bower ye ne’er did see,

Than my true love he built for me.

Alas, the title of the ballad is “The Lament of the Border Widow,” and the final verse goes like this:

Nae living man I’ll love again,

Since that my lovely knight is slain;

Wi’ ae lock of his yellow hair

I’ll chain my heart for evermair.

So where is a romance writer to find a happy ending?  Well, it turns out that love conquered all during the era of the Reivers, just as it always has.

It seems that there was a law forbidding marriage across the border (upon penalty of death) unless one had special permission.  This was intended to make it easier for the kings to keep control of the population by preventing marriage/family ties that might dilute national allegiance.

Despite the best efforts, not only did such marriages occur, they were a near epidemic, to the extent that in some regions, the list of those that did NOT have cross border marriages was shorter than the list of those that did.

So in the end, I had a head full of ideas for my trilogy, confident that no matter how difficult the existence or strict the prohibition, men and women fall in love and get married.  There was all the validation I needed to write Border Reiver romance.

What do you most wonder about the lives of women in history?  Leave a comment and one lucky person will win a copy of RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR, first book in The Brunson Clan trilogy.  Here’s a brief description:


Once part of a powerful border clan, John has not set sight on the Brunson stone tower in years. With failure never an option, he must persuade his family to honour the King’s call for peace.

To succeed, John knows winning over the daughter of an allied family, Cate Gilnock, holds the key. But this intriguing beauty is beyond the powers of flattery and seduction. Instead, the painful vulnerability hidden behind her spirited eyes calls out to John as he is inexorably drawn back into the warrior Brunson clan…


NEWCOA Wider Red Band


Scotland History, Uncategorized

Magic And Mystery On The Trail Of Merlin In South West Scotland

Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society Int LLC
Clan Carruthers Int LLC


Magic And Mystery On The Trail Of Merlin In South West Scotland

Magic And Mystery On The Trail Of Merlin In South West Scotland

A MAJOR new trail uncovering the true story of Merlin and his ties to the south of Scotland has been unveiled today (March 20th) in Dumfries and Galloway.


The legend of Merlin the wizard is known the world over by the newly launched Merlin Trail explores the true story of a real man who lived during the Dark Ages in southern Scotland.


Made up of four weekend sections which can be walked or driven, the trails each have different themes covering more than 30 sites across Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders, and stretching to East Lothian and the Central Belt.


To support the trail, a new website www.merlintrail.com provides information on each location and signposts visitors to other attractions and areas of interest in the local region.


The route has been developed by the Arthur Trail Association to encourage visitors to learn more about the story of the real man behind the legend. Merlin was a man of learning and one of the last great Druids of Dark Age Scotland whose story was later embellished and became known the world over as part of the legend of Arthur.


The launch of the trail coincides with the opening of a new permanent exhibition at Moffat Museum, which will offer insights into how people lived during a little-known but dramatic and dynamic period.


VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director Paula Ward, said: “Scotland’s history and culture is one of the top reasons for visiting Scotland. The creation of a new Merlin Trail across the south of Scotland offers visitors the opportunity to delve into the past and discover more about the real man behind the legend of Merlin, at the same time as enjoy the great outdoors and the magnificent scenery on offer in the region.
“The information boards, informative walks and website make it easy for visitors to include part of the Merlin Trail on their holiday or short break to Dumfries & Galloway, as well as recognising the growing interest in Scotland’s history and heritage.
“Scotland’s reputation as a quality destination relies on continued investment and innovation to ensure that current provision meets future demand. The opening of this new trail demonstrates a real commitment to further enhancing our region’s tourism offering and attracting more visitors to the area.”


Robin Crichton of the Arthur Trail Association said: “We have designed this Merlin Trail so that visitors take on the role of detective, discovering a little-known period of cultural and historical heritage.
“Born in the 6th century, of royal blood, Merlin’s place in society was ordained until he lost everything and was forced to go on the run. He survived as an outlaw, hiding in a cave shelter at Hartfell near Moffat for over a decade.
“I hope the worldwide fascination with Merlin will inspire a significant increase in visitors to this magical part of Scotland with its unique cultural heritage.”