In the southwestern area of Scotland
is the Galloway District, a land of tall hills, lochs, and moors. In its
fields graze the Galloway cow, one of the oldest breeds of cattle, and
descendants of two distinct breeds of Scottish cattle. They have
thick, wooly hides and are hornless. Galloways were the beef choice in
the 15th and 16th centuries and are still raised for their beef. Bred
to live off the poorest of lands they can be black, red, dun, or the
famous belted Galloway which is black except for a wide band of white
that encircles their torso.
Though Galloway was not in the middle of many battles, it did have its
moments in history. I would imagine its shores were the last glimpse of
many Scots as they fled their country for safer havens.
The name Galloway comes form the old
Scot word, Gallovid, meaning a Gaul. It was the here that the first
Christian Church in Scotland was founded by St. Ninian in the 5th
century at Whithorn. Many Scots including Robert the Bruce, Mary,
Queen of Scots, and James IV made pilgrimages to this church.
It was here in Galloway that Robert the Bruce fought his
first "battle" against the British in Glentrool near Loch Trool. Though
there is debate on whether this was a battle or an ambush, since Robert
and his men rolled boulders down the steep hills and routed the
English. Robert had spent the winter of 1506 and 1507 on Rathein Island
just off the coast of Ulster - which is quite close to Galloway across
the Irish Sea. Edward I was dying when he returned to the mainland to
Glentrool to accost the English army.
Galloway also was the retreat for the Covenanters when
they were being hunted by the English after John Knox determined to
change the manner of worship for Scotland. The Covenanters fought and
many died in defense of the old ways of practicing their religion. Two
women were actually tied to stakes on the shore of Galloway at low tide
to make them reform. They were drowned when the tide rose.
Though the land is generally low, rolling hills, from the
Mull of Galloway, the southernmost tip of Scotland, Ireland and England
can be seen on a clear day from the 210 foot high cliffs. The coast of
Galloway is also dotted with smugglers caves and other hideaways and on
the Peninsula of the Rhins the Gulf Stream causes the climate to be so
mild it is almost totally frost free and tropical plants can flourish
In Torhouse there is a
Bronze Age Stone Circle with 19 stones and 3 boulders set in a line.
Three miles away is Baldoon Castle which is believed to be the setting
for Sir Walter Scotts The Bride of Lammermoor.
Irish elopers at one time sailed across the Irish Sea to
be wed in the town of Portpatrick to escape the rigid laws or Ireland
and perhaps the negative wishes of their families. A similar area
frequented more by English elopers and better known than Portpatrick was