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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree - December/January 2003
Wee Snippets (7)


Hi, just a note on our info.  Paul Cales has moved and is now region rep for the Mid-Central Region.  He lives in Holiday Island, AR and his e-mail address is grosfader@earthlink.net.  Jeff McDaris will serve another 4 years as vice-president.  We have gone international with the acceptance of members other than from the U.S. and have set up the position of genealogist with Diane Strout of Millbury, MA taking on the position for us.  She has been doing genealogy for many years and will help us link members to each other and assist them with tips on how to search for their ancestors.

Alexander McCord sent an e-mail to help clear up the mystery of the small "alcoves" along the stairway at Neidpath Castle that I had mentioned in my last article. 

Alexander wrote that "Alcoves were sometimes built into staircases to allow coffins to be carried down the stairs. The downstairs end of the coffin would go into the alcove allowing the other end to swing downstairs clearing the wall at its end."  Thank you, Alexander.

As I read more about people in Scotland's history, I am continually surprised with the destruction of another misconception that I've had.  I'm currently reading Nigel Trantham's The Bruce Trilogy.  In the first book of this trilogy when Robert the Bruce was wavering between the England and Scotland he was taken to his father's land in Annandale to raise an army for the British.  The town of Annan, which sits very near the border of England, was ravaged by the English in revenge after Robert left to take on the Scot's fight for independence (with William Wallace becoming a folk hero) taking these men to Carrick in the western lowlands.  Robert the Bruce was the Lord of Annandale (the title Earl of Annandale was given to the Johnstones at a later date) and Earl of Carrick, a neighboring district in the lowlands of Scotland.   He was a lowlander and not affiliated with a highland clan at all.  

Annandale is in the southwestern corner of Scotland, in the counties of Dumfries and Ayrshire.   It is actually below what is known as the southern uplands and encompasses the borders of Scotland and England.  The area is quite hilly, but because of the Nith, the Annan, and the Esk, as well as many less known rivers and lochs, it is good pasture and farming land. Like the area around Neidpath Castle on the River Tweed, limestone and red sandstone were mined here as well as coal and lead ores.  At the northern tip of the Annandale area is the town of Moffat, a sheep herding area with springs where Robert Burns came to 'take the waters'.  Just to the north of Moffat is a hollow between four mountains.  Here the Marquis of Annandale hid stolen cattle.  This area is now known as the Devil's Beef Tub. Within this area is the place called Bruce's Cave where legend has it that a spider spun a web over the opening thus saving Robert's  life and causing him later to persevere against the English even when the odds were against him.

Annandale is full of castles, ruins, and remnants alike, from Barr's Hill which was a hill fort built in the Iron Age,  Burnswark, another Iron Age defense line, to Lochmaben, which was the home of the Bruce family, and one of the places noted to be where King Robert the Bruce was born - the other place thought possibly to be his birthplace is Turnberry Castle. It was in a church in Dumfries that Robert killed John Comyn, the only strong contender for King of Scotland, in 1306.  Shortly after that Robert became King of Scotland.

When Charles the II was trying to force the Episcopal church on the Scots many of the Covenanters hid in Annandale near Grey Mare's Tail Waterfall in Annandale.  There is even today a Tibetan monastery in Eskdalemuir.  The Annandale area is rife with stories and places where Scots fought the English, Romans set up fortresses, and Scots fought Scots.  It is the land of the Bruces, the Armstrongs, the Johnstones, the Bells, Moffats, to name only a few, all lowland families. 


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