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We are Border Reveilers!

borderreivers

 

Clan Carruthers

Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society Int LLC

 

The History of the Border Reivers

 

If your surname is Armstrong ,Beattie, Carruthers, Maxwell, Johnston, Graham, Bell, Scott, Nixon, Kerr, Crozier or Robson then your family history, just like the astronaut Neil Armstrong’s, may very well be intertwined with the Border Reivers. And, if you do share one of these surnames, you may be advised not to read on…

 

The story of the Reivers dates from the 14th century and continued through into the late 17th century. It concerns the border between the two sovereign countries of England and Scotland. In those days, this Border displayed all of the characteristics of a frontier, lacking law and order. Cattle rustling, feuding, murder, arson and pillaging were all common occurrences.

 

It was a time when people owed their tribal or clan loyalty to their blood relatives or families. And it was common for these families to straddle the Border.

 

The Reivers were the product of the constant English-Scottish wars that would often reduce the Border area to a wasteland. The continuing threat of renewed conflict offered little incentive to arable farming. Why bother planting crops if they may be burned before they could be harvested?

 

The reiving (raiding or plundering) of livestock was however a totally different matter, and so it became the principal business of the Border families.

 

The Reiver came from every social class from laborer to peer of the realm. He was a skilled horseman and fine guerrilla soldier, practiced in the fine arts of arson, kidnapping and extortion. There was no social stigma attached to reiving, it was simply an accepted way of life.

borderreiversingle

It is said that the wife of one famous Border Reiver demonstrated that her larder was empty by serving her husband his spurs on a plate instead of his dinner. The message was clear either mount up and go reiving, or go hungry.

 

Reiving was simply a way of earning a living. Scottish Reivers were just as likely to raid other Scots as to raid across the English Border. Scots and English would even join forces to raid on either side of the Border. The victims of reiving could be anyone from outside the immediate family.

 

Raids were planned like military operations and could involve gangs of armed men and last for days. More modest raids might involve no more than a short moonlit ride, a quick plunder from a small farm followed by a dash home for breakfast.

 

“Few fought fiercer than family hands. When fathers and sons, brothers and cousins rode side by side, none turned aside and many found courage when the names of their blood needed them at their back. Astute commanders understood these bonds, and in battles or skirmishes they always set the older and more experienced men in front, believing that honour and valour flowed down through the generations to the younger men behind. (Fm The Reivers)

 

The Reiver rode a small sturdy pony known as a hobbler, which was noted for its ability to cover great distances over difficult ground at high speed. On his head the Reiver would typically wear a steel bonnet and a quilted jacket of stout leather sewn with plates of metal or horn to protect his body, called a Jack of Plate. Although the Reiver carried a variety of weapons including sword, dagger and axe, his preferred weapon was the ‘lang spear’ or Border lance.

jackofplate

The central governments of both England and Scotland attempted in vain to establish law and order across the Border, however a borderer would owe allegiance to England or Scotland only when it suited him or his family.

 

When England and Scotland were at war, it could become very much a Border affair with Reivers providing large numbers of cavalry. The battles of Otterburn (1388), Flodden Field (1513) and Solway Moss (1542) are all linked with the Reivers.

 

With the exception of the Scottish Highlands, the Borders were the last part of Britain to be brought under the rule of law.

 

It was only following the Union between England and Scotland in 1603 that a concerted effort was made by James I (VI of Scotland) to rid the Border of Reivers. However, between the death of Elizabeth I and the crowning of James I in March, several Scottish families launched massive raids into Cumbria, claiming to believe that when a monarch died the laws of the land were automatically suspended until the new king was proclaimed!

 

James I, who now ruled over a new kingdom called Great Britain, was furious with his Scottish subjects for relieving his new English subjects in Cumbria of some 1,280 cattle and 3,840 sheep and goats. James issued a proclamation against ‘all rebels and disorderly persons’.

 

James decreed that the Borders should be renamed ‘the Middle Shires’ and in 1605 he established a commission to bring law and order to the region. In the first year of the commission’s existence it executed 79 individuals and in the years which followed, scores more were hanged.

 

Other Reivers were encouraged to leave and serve as mercenaries in the armies of continental Europe. The Armstrongs, Beatties, Carruthers and the Grahams were singled out for special treatment and were taken to Fermanagh Ireland, by Lord Atchison and his brother. Some continued as outlaws and became known as ‘Mosstroopers’.

 

By the early 1620’s peace had arrived in the Borders, possibly for the first time ever.

 

Some view the Border Reivers as loveable rogues, while others have compared them to the Mafia. Whatever your opinion their legacy remains in the fortified dwellings called pele towers, their ballads and their words now common in the English language such as “bereave” and “blackmail”: greenmail was the proper rent you paid, blackmail was “protection money”!

 

The rescue of Kinmont Willie Armstrong

 

Three of the most celebrated Reivers of all time were Kinmont Willie Armstrong, Wat Scott of Harden and Geordie Burn. The night before he was hanged in 1596, Geordie Burn admitted that ‘he had lain with above forty men’s wives… and that he had killed seven Englishmen with his own hand, cruelly murdering them; that he had spent his whole time in whoring, drinking, stealing and taking deep revenge for slight offences’.’

 

Kinmont Willie prided himself on his large-scale raids, targeting whole areas rather than individual farms or villages. He would ride at the head of some 300 Reivers, known as ‘Kinmont’s bairns’. One of the most famous incidents in Border history involves the rescue of Kinmont Willie from Carlisle Castle on 13 April 1596.

 

On 17 March 1596, a truce-day was held in the Borders, so that Scots and English could meet to negotiate deals and treaties. On the Scottish side was one William Armstrong of Kinmont or ‘Kinmont Willie’ – perhaps the most notorious of all the Border Reivers.

 

As Willie was riding home to his tower at Morton Rigg, just north of Carlisle, a band of Englishmen broke the truce and apprehended him. Kinmont Willie was escorted to Carlisle in chains.

 

Willie had been a prisoner of the English for almost a month when the Keeper of Liddesdale, Scott of Buccleuch, decided to launch a rescue attempt. ‘Bold Buccleugh’ and his party of about eighty men entered the castle on Sunday 13 April and rescued Willie from the English, who were under the command of Sir Thomas Scrope, 10th Lord Scrope of Bolton Knight of the Garter (pictured left). Buccleugh had bribed a member of the garrison to leave a door unbarred.

 

Together Buccleugh and Willie made good their escape with Scrope in hot pursuit. Scrope was so angered by the audacity of the rescue that he vented his anger by burning the towns of Annan and Dumfries to the ground, capturing two hundred prisoners whom he marched home ‘naked, chained together on leashes’. This caused a major diplomatic incident, Queen Elizabeth was furious with Scrope.

 

It was also said that north of the Border, James VI of Scotland was so terrified that Buccleugh had ruined his chances of succeeding Elizabeth on the throne of England that he ordered Buccleugh to hand himself over to the English.

 

And as for wiley Willie, he was never apprehended again and is said to have died of old age in his bed. The tale of his escape recorded forever in the Ballad of Kinmont Willie:

 

Ballad of Kinmont Willie

 

O hae ye no heard o’ the fause Sakelde?

O hae ye no heard o’ the keen Lord Scroope?

How they hae ta’en bauld Kinmont Willie,

On Haribee to hang him up?

 

Had Willie had but twenty men,

But twenty men as stout as he,

Fause Sakelde would never the Kinmont ta’en,

Wi’ eight score in his company.

 

They band his legs beneath the steed,

They tied his hands behind his back.

They guarded him, fivesome on either side,

And they led him through the Liddel-rack.

 

They led him through the Liddel-rack,

And also through the Carlisle sands;

They took him tae Carlisle Castle,

To be at my Lord Scroope’s commands.

 

“My hands are tied, but my tongue is free,

And whae will dare this deed avow?

Or answer by the Border law?

Or answer tae the bauld Buccleuch?”

 

“Now haud thy tongue, thou rank reiver.

There’s never a Scot shall set thee free:

Before ye cross my castle gate,

I trow ye shall take farewell of me.”

 

Now word has gane tae the bauld keeper,

In Branksome Ha’, where that he lay,

That Lord Scroope has ta’en the Kinmont Willie,

Between the hours of night and day.

 

And here detained him, Kinmont Willie,

Against the truce of Border tide.

And forgotten that the bauld Buccleuch

Is keeper on the Scottish side?

 

“Had there been war between the lands,

As well I wot that there is nane,

I would slight Carlisle Castle high,

Though it were built of marble stane.”

 

“I would set that castle in a lowe,

And sloken it wi’ English blood.

There’s never a man in Cumberland,

What kent where Carlisle castle stood.”

 

“But since nae war’s between the lands,

And here is peace, and peace should be;

I will neither harm English lad or lass,

And yet the Kinmont shall be free.”

 

And as we crossed the Debatable land,

And tae the English side we held,

The first of men that we met wi’,

Whae should it be but fause Sakelde?

 

“Where ye be gaun, ye broken men?”

Quo’ fause Sakelde; “Come tell to me?”

Now Dickie o’ Dryhope led that band,

And there never a word of lear has he.

 

And as we left the Staneshaw-bank,

The wind began full loud tae blaw;

But ’twas wind and weet, and fire and sleet,

When we came beneath the castle wa’.

 

They thought King James and a’ his men

Had won the house wi’ bow and spear;

It was but twenty Scots and ten,

That put a thousand in sic a steir!

 

And as we reached the lower prison,

Where Kinmont Willie he did lie,

“O sleep ye, wake ye, Kinmont Willie,

Upon the morn that thou’s to die?”

 

Then shoulder high, with shout and cry,

We bore him doon the ladder lang;

At every stride Red Rowan made,

I wot the Kinmont’s airns play’d clang!

 

He turn’d him on the other side,

And at Lord Scroope his glove flung he.

“If ye na like my visit in merry England,

In fair Scotland come and visit me!”

 

All sair astonished stood Lord Scroope,

He stood as still as rock of stane;

He scarcely dared tae trew his eyes,

When through the water they had gane.

 

“He is either himsel’ a devil frae hell,

Or else his mother a witch maun be;

I wadna hae ridden that wan water,

For a’ the gowd in Christendie.”

Clan Carruthers

Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society Int LLC

 

CarruthersClan@gmail.com

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Christina Bruce: An Uncommon Sister

Clan Carruthers LLC

 

An Uncommon Sister – Christian Bruce

 

Christian Bruce was one of the many children of Sir Robert le Brus, Lord of Annandale, and his wife Marjorie, Countess of Carrick in her own right. Christian was one of 11 children, with 5 boys and 5 girls surviving infancy. Unfortunately we don’t know when she was born, nor whether or not she was an older or younger sibling.

turnberrycastle

Christian was probably born at her father’s castle of Turnberry sometime in the 1270s or early 1280s.

 

Christian’s grandfather was another Robert le Brus, one of the 13 Competitors for the throne of Scotland following the death of Margaret, the Maid of Norway; when the vacancy of the Scottish throne was resolved by Edward I of England in favour of John Balliol. And when Balliol’s kingship failed it was Christian’s brother, Robert the Bruce, who became one of the leading candidates for the Scottish throne.

 

There are some question marks over Christian’s marital history. Some sources claim she married Gartnait, Earl of Mar in the 1290s, and was the mother of Donald of Mar. However, this has recently been disputed. Christian never seems to have been addressed, or described, as the Countess of Mar, and there seems to have been little communication between Christian and her supposed son, Donald, even though they were both held prisoner in England simultaneously.

robertandbruceelizabethRobert the Bruce and Elizabeth De Burgh

 

The main argument against the marriage appears to be that Abbot Walter Bower had stated that Gartnait had been married to the ‘eldest Bruce daughter’, a description never applied to Christian. However, if the elder daughters were already married, Christian may well have been the eldest ‘unmarried’ Bruce daughter.

 

By 1305, however, Gartanit was dead and Christian had married Sir Christopher Seton (c. 1278-1306). Sir Christopher was a knight with lands in Annandale and northern England. He was a stalwart supporter of Robert the Bruce, his family having had a long tradition of serving the Bruce family. We know little to nothing about Christian’s short marriage to Sir Christopher; their relationship had to take a back seat to the national events of the time.

 

Sir Christopher was with Christian’s brother on the fateful day in the Greyfriars Church in Dumfries, when Robert the Bruce fatally stabbed John Comyn, his rival to  the Scottish throne. Robert then made the dash for Scone, hoping to achieve his coronation before the Christian world erupted in uproar over his sacrilege. An excommunicate could not be crowned. Christian accompanied her brother, his wife Elizabeth and daughter Marjorie and her sister Mary to Scone Abbey. The Stone of Scone was the traditional coronation seat of the Kings of Scotland and, although the stone had been stolen by the English and spirited away to London, holding the coronation at the Abbey sent a message of defiance to the English.

Scone Abbey with a replica of the Stone of Scone in the forefront.Scone Abbey with a replica of the Stone of Scone in the forefront.

 

On 25th March 1306 Christian, alongside her husband, saw her brother crowned King Robert I by William Lamberton, Bishop of St Andrews, just 6 weeks after Comyn’s murder. The next day saw the ceremony repeated following the late arrival of Isabella MacDuff, Countess of Buchan, who claimed her family’s hereditary right to crown Scotland’s kings (despite her being married to a Comyn).

 

Robert’s coronation was the start of the most desperate period of his life – and that of his supporters. Edward I of England was never a one to casually acquiesce when he saw his will flouted. He sent his army into Scotland to hunt down the new king and his adherents. After his defeat by the English at Methven in 1306, Robert went into hiding in the Highlands. He sent his wife and daughter north to what he hoped would be safety. Christian, her sister Mary and the Countess of Buchan accompanied them, escorted by  the Earl of Atholl and Christian’s brother, Sir Neil Bruce.

 

It is thought that the Bruce women were heading north to Orkney in order to take a boat to Norway, where Robert’s sister, Isabel, was queen consort to King Erik II. Unfortunately they would never make it. The English caught up with them at Kildrummy Castle and laid siege to it. The defenders were betrayed by someone in their own garrison, a blacksmith who set fire to the barns, making the castle indefensible. The women managed to escape with the Earl of Atholl, but Neil Bruce remained with the garrison to mount a desperate defence in order give the queen, his niece and sisters enough time to escape.

 

Following their capitulation the entire garrison was executed. Sir Neil Bruce was given a traitor’s death; he was hung, drawn and quartered at Berwick in September 1306.

Dooncastle

 

Doon Castle

Christian and her companions did not escape for long; they made for Tain, in Easter Ross, possibly in the hope of finding a boat to take them onwards. They were hiding in the sanctuary of St Duthac when they were captured by the Earl of Ross (a former adherent of the deposed King John Balliol), who handed them over to the English. They were sent south, to Edward I at Lanercost Priory in Cumbria.

 

Following the coronation Christian’s husband, Sir Christopher Seton, had been sent to hold Loch Doon Castle against the English. Following a siege the castle was surrendered by its Governor, Sir Gilbert de Carrick. Seton was executed on the orders of Edward I; the poor man was hanged.

 

Christian’s sister Mary and Isabella, Countess of Buchan, were treated particularly harshly by Edward I. The English king had special cages built for them and for centuries it has been thought they were suspended from the walls of the keeps at Roxburgh and Berwick Castles, exposed to the elements and the derision of the English garrisons and populace, and a taunt to the Scots just over the border. However, the cages were in fact indoors, within rooms in the castles’ keeps. In contrast, Christian was sent into captivity to a Gilbertine convent at Sixhills in Lincolnshire; she was probably told of her husband’s death – and the manner of it – some time during the journey south. Christian languished at Sixhills for 8 years, until shortly after her brother’s remarkable victory over the English at Bannockburn, in 1314.

 

King Robert the Bruce had managed to captured several notable English prisoners, including Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford and Essex. Suddenly in a strong bargaining position, the Scots King was able to exchanged his English captives for his family, incarcerated in England.

 

Once home in Scotland Christian joined her brother’s court. In no hurry to remarry, she accompanied the king and his family on a short progress around Tyndale, an area of Northumberland which was officially in Scottish hands. Some time after her return to Scotland, Christian had also been granted the Bruce lands of Garioch in Aberdeenshire.

 

David II, Robert the Bruce_s son and successor

David II, Robert the Bruce’s son and successor

The Scottish Wars of Independence took a heavy toll on Christian’s family. Having lost her brother and husband in 1306, she lost her 2 younger brothers on the same day in 1307. Thomas and Alexander Bruce had been leading a force into Galloway when they were overwhelmed by the forces of Dungal MacDouall, a supporter of the Comyn faction. The brothers, both in their early 20s, were handed over to the English and were beheaded at Carlisle on 9th February 1307. Robert and Christian’s surviving brother, Edward, was killed in battle in Ireland in 1318.

 

The sad losses must have seemed endless to Christian. In 1316 King Robert had lost his daughter, Marjorie, in childbirth. She was just 19. Her son, Robert Stewart, survived and would be the king’s heir until the birth of his only son, David, in 1324. Marjorie’s son would eventually succeed as King Robert II following his uncle David II’s death in 1371. And in 1323 Christian’s sister Mary died; Mary had survived 4 years imprisoned in an iron cage at Roxburgh Castle before being transferred to a more comfortable imprisonment in 1310. It wouldn’t be surprising if her inhumane incarceration had contributed to Mary’s death in her early 40s.

 

Christian remained unmarried for many years. Although their marriage had been a short one, Christian kept her husband’s memory alive for many years to come; in 1324 she founded a chapel in Dumfries in his honour. There is a possibility  she was the Bruce sister mooted as a bride for Sir Andrew Harclay, earl of Carlisle, as part of a peace treaty with Scotland in 1323. However, negotiations broke down and the marriage never took place.

 

Bothwell Castle

Bothwell Castle southeast tower

Christian eventually married in 1326, to a man who was probably about 20 years her junior. Her 2nd husband was Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell, posthumous son of the Sir Andrew Murray who had fought beside Sir William Wallace in the victory at Stirling Bridge.

 

Christian and Andrew were to have 2 children, sons. Their eldest, John, married Margaret Graham, Countess of Mentieth, sometime after 21st November 1348. John died in 1352 and Margaret would go on to marry Robert Duke of Albany, brother of Robert III and a great-grandson of King Robert the Bruce. A 2nd son, Thomas, would marry Joan, a daughter of Maurice Moray, Earl of Strathearn, and died in 1361.

 

On the death of Christian’s surviving brother, Robert the Bruce, in 1329, Scotland was once again thrown into turmoil. His 5-year-old son, David, was proclaimed king, with regents set to rule for him. As a member of the royal family Christian took part in David’s coronation in 1331. She shared a room in Scone Palace with her nieces, the new king’s sisters.

 

The English, however, saw the Bruce’s death as an opportunity and backed Edward Balliol‘s invasion of Scotland. Edward was crowned king in 1332, but could not consolidate his position. In the same year Murray was chosen as Guardian of Scotland and spent the next 5 years fighting the English and repulsing their attempts to return Balliol to the throne. Again, Christian found herself in the thick of the fighting when Sir Andrew installed her as keeper of Kildrummy Castle. In 1335 she was besieged by one of Balliol’s commanders, David Strathbogie, earl of Atholl. Her husband marched to her aid with a force of over a thousand men; he was able to surprise Atholl and defeated him at Culblean.

 

kildrummy_castle_2

Kildrummy Castle

Christian remained in possession of Kildrummy Castle even after Sir Andrew’s death; her husband had died at Avoch Castle in Ross in 1338, having retired from national politics the year before. Christian is known to have entertained her nephew’s wife, Queen Joan, at Kildrummy Castle in 1342. David II was generous to his aunt, providing her with an income from a number of sources, including the customs of Aberdeen.

 

It is believed that Christian died sometime in 1356, the last time she was mention in the exchequer rolls. She must have been well into her 70s, a great age for the time. I couldn’t find any source to confirm where she was buried; however, her husband was initially buried in the chapel at Rossmarkie, but later reinterred in Dunfermline Abbey, suggesting that this is also Christian’s resting place. It would be appropriate if it was, as so many of her ancestors and family are buried there; including her husband, brother, Robert, and niece, Marjorie.

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A Visit to Dumfries House

Clan Carruthers LLC

dumfries_house

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.

dumfries-house-chippendale-bed.jpg

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.

dumfries-house-blue-room.jpgdumfries-house-yellow-room.jpg

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.

 

dumfries-house-cafeteria.jpg

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.

dumfries-house-walled-garden.jpg

Valerie Penny

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Rock of the Saint

Clan Carruthers LLC

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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Mystery of the Secret Message

Clan Carruthers LLC

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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

Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society Int LLC

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How the Carruthers attained Theave Castle.

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Battle of Arkinholm 1455 capture of Earl of Ormond 730

 

Battle of Erkinholm, 1455, The Capture of the Earl of Orma

The Battle of Erkinholme is more commonly referred to as the Battle of Arkinholm, albeit it’s known by some as the Battle of Langholm, primarily because it was fought where the town of Langholm now stands. More accurately, the battle was fought on the outskirts of present day Langholm, opposite the lower return of a distinctive Z-shaped bend in the river Esk, which flows through the town, at least according to The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. The Battle of Arkinholm was fought on 1 May 1455 during the reign of King James II of Scotland..  The battle is noteworthy for having pitched two sides of the Douglas family at each other’s throats, but then again, that sort of thing wasn’t so unusual in mediaeval Scotland or elsewhere, for that matter.

 

The two sides of Douglas were known as

the ‘red’ and the ‘black’. The chief line as they say, of the Douglases was the ‘black’ line, represented by the Earls of Douglas, whereas the ‘red’ line was represented by the Earls of Angus. Both branches were descended through bastardy, with the Earl of Douglas descending from Archibald ‘the Grim’, an illegitimate son of Sir James Douglas, and the Earl of Angus stemming from an illegitimate child of William, the 1st Earl of Douglas. That made the main protagonists in the conflict at Erkinholme third cousins so, despite the name, the family ties weren’t that close.

Although a small action, involving only a few hundred troops, it was the decisive battle in a civil war between the King Jame II  and the Black Douglases, the most powerful aristocratic family in the country. As the king’s supporters won it was a significant step in the struggle to establish a relatively strong centralised monarchy in Scotland during the Late Middle Ages.

 

The Black Douglases had already suffered some losses before the battle. The king’s supporters had taken their castle at Abercorn, and some allies such as the Hamiltons had defected. The head of the family, James Douglas, 9th Earl of Douglas, had gone to England to rally support, but his three younger brothers were at the battle.

On the ‘red’ side was George Douglas, the first Red Chief of Douglas, the 4th Earl of Angus, Lord Douglas, Abernethy and Jedburgh Forest. Opposing his was James Douglas, the 9th  Earl of Douglas, 3rd Earl of Avondale, a man who would become the last of the ‘black’ Earls of Douglas. Earlier in their history, in 1448, the two sides of Douglas, under the leadership of George and James’ predecessor, the 8th Earl, had rode and fought together in a retaliatory campaign through the territories of their hereditary English-based foes, Percy and Neville. However, by 1455, things had changed dramatically.

There is some uncertainty about the leadership of the royal army. By some accounts it was led by George Douglas, 4th Earl of Angus, head of the Red Douglas family, a senior aristocrat, and third cousin to the Earl of Douglas. However other accounts  who? describe it as a force of local Border families, Johnstones, Carruthers, Maxwells, and Scotts, who had previously been dominated by the Black Douglases but now rebelled against them, led by the Laird John Johnstone of Johnstone in Annandale, who succeeded his father 1455.

A significant fact for Angus was his ties with the Royal House of Stewart, which were closer than that of his rival from the ‘black’ line. Through his grandmother, Angus was a  great-grandson of Robert III and when push came to shove, he allied himself with his king, James II, also a cousin, but closer by a couple of degrees. George Douglas had no choice but to declare for one side or the other as neutrality wasn’t an option for the Earl of Angus. Who knows what might have happened if the 4th Earl had aligned his Angus ‘red’ with the Douglas ‘black’. Instead of a long line of Stewart (latterly Stuart) Jameses, we might’ve had an Archibald I or a William II and the entire interbred dynasty of European monarchies could have been otherwise than that we know.

A major incentive to rebellion for the 9th Earl of Douglas on the other hand, was the brutal murder of his brother, the 8th Earl, whom he succeeded because of that infamous event. Yet another ‘black’ day in Scotland’s history had occurred when William Douglas had been murdered by his King, James II, in person, at Stirling Castle, despite assurances of safe conduct. Amazingly, James II was involved in the murders of two Douglas Earls. The first as a bystander during the ‘Black Dinner’ of the 24th of November, 1440, when the 6th Earl was killed, and the second as the primary perpetrator of the murder of William Douglas, on the  22nd of  February, 1452.

When James Douglas found out he was the brand new 9th Earl, he denounced his brother’s murderers and took up arms against the King and his cronies. The new Douglas Earl promptly attacked Stirling, perhaps rashly, but famously driving a horse through the town with his brother’s safe conduct notice attached to its tail. The whole of Douglasdale rose in rebellion, but James suffered a blow when some major allies, including James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton, defected. Nevertheless, he was supported by a bevy of surviving brothers: his twin (younger by a few minutes), Archibald Douglas, the Earl of Moray; the younger Hugh Douglas, Earl of Ormonde; and John Douglas, Lord of Balvenie.

 

James Douglas, the 9th Earl, didn’t participate in person at the Battle of Arkinholm as he had gone south to drum up some support from Henry VI. His place at the head of the Black Douglases was taken by his twin, the Earl of Moray, with his brothers, Hugh and John. The Douglas Douglases attempted to advance their struggle and appeared in arms throughout their border territory, however, before they got as far as Langholm, they had already lost their castle at Abercorn. The writing was on the wall.

 

The ensuing Battle of Arkinholm was a small action, involving only a few hundred troops on either side, but it was a definitive defeat for the Black Douglas brothers. Archibald Douglas, the Earl of Moray, was killed in the battle and his head was presented to the King. Hugh Douglas, the Earl of Ormonde, was captured and executed shortly afterwards, but John Douglas, Lord of Balvenie, escaped to England, there to join the 9th Earl.

 

The Douglas Archive throws some doubt on whether or not the 4th Earl of Angus actually led the Royal Army as per some sources. The information on The Douglas Archive website refers to other accounts describing “a force of local Border families, Johnstones, Carruthers, Maxwells, and Scotts, who had previously been dominated by the Black Douglases, but now rebelled against them.” Those rebellious Douglas adherents were possibly led by the Laird John Johnstone of Johnstone in Annandale. Other accounts, less trustworthy, suggest that the King’s supporters were led by Lord Maxwell.

 

Soon after Arkinholm, the last stronghold of the Black Douglas branch, Threave Castle in Galloway, fell to the King, which he turned over to Thomas Carruthers.  Later, in the summer of 1455, the Black Douglases were attainted and had their estates declared forfeit to the crown. Following the acts of attainder, their lands were divided amongst their rivals, with Angus receiving the lion’s share. Interestingly, the forfeited 9th Earl of Douglas outlived his erstwhile rival, the 4th Earl of Angus. James Douglas was captured a number of years after the Battle of Arkinholm and banished to Lindores Abbey, where he died in 1488. George Douglas died on the 12th of March, 1463, at Abernethy.

 

Aftermath

After the battle the Douglas, Earl of Angus (Red Douglas) was awarded the Douglas Lordship of the Black Douglas, along with the original possessions of his ancestors in Douglasdale.

Thomas Carruthers, the 2nd son of John Carruthers the 3rd Laird of Holmains, received a charter for the lands of Corry on 23 July, 1484, for his services at the Battle of Arkinholm.  The lands of Corry were forfeited from George Corry for implication of him in the Albany-Douglas invasion.

 

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Mouswald

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Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society International

Mouswald

 

At one time it was believed that William de Carruthers was the first Carruthers mentioned in recorded history when he made a donation to the Abbey of Newbattle during the Reign of Alexander II (1215-1245).We now know that there are other Carruthers that are older than this.  It was actually his great-grandson, Thomas Carruthers, who was the 1st Laird of Mouswald, having received the charter for Mouswald around 1320.

 

For his earlier support of Robert the Bruce, Thomas Carruthers had received a charter for all the lands of “Musfald et de Appiltretwayt cum pertinenciis”.  This Thomas also received in the same year, a charter of half of all the lands, with pertinents, which belonged to “Robert de Applingdene in valle Anandie”, due to his marriage to one of Robert de Applynden’s daughters, Joan.  These lands formed the kernel of what was to become just 4 generations later, the 1st Carruthers Barony – Mouswald, which is located just a few miles south of Dumfries.

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With Edward Balliol ceding the land  of Dumfries to Edward III after the defeat at Halidon Hill, Thomas Carruthers accepted an office under Edward III of England and relocated there, leaving his Mouswald land to his next oldest brother, William, now 2nd Lord Mouswald.  Thomas is assumed to be the founder of the Carruthers family in England, where the family appeared at an early date in Cumberland, Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire.

 

William’s great-great-grandson John, the 6th Laird of Mouswald, became the 1st Baron Mouswald. This John was also at one time the Captain of Lochmaben Castle.

The 1st generations of Carruthers from William de Carruthers, down through the end of the Mouswald line at generation 13 with Janet and Marion Carruthers. Here the Mouswald family became extinct in the male lineage and the Mouswald estates were lost.  The Holmains line from William de Carruthers is shown on this chart through George Carruthers, the 6th Laird of Holmains and 2nd Baron Holmains.  Also included is the genealogy from John, 5th Laird of Holmains and 1st Baron Holmains, to the 4 brothers who came to America and settled in Pennsylvania.

Many descendants of this line are also in Canada.

 

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Excerpts from : John Carrothers