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
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.