My wife, Barbara, and I recently participated in the Elderhostel study program number 49550, "Ireland - Epic History, Wales - Celtic World, and Scotland - Story of a Nation." And epic it truly was. All 41 of us in the group thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I encourage you to take advantage of these programs - if you qualify. The following is my diary as I recorded it on the trip. The information is as I understood it to be and recorded it. Its accuracy or inaccuracy, therefore, is mine alone; it is not the responsibility of Elderhostel, Lyon Travel, the hosting universities, the lecturers, or the various local hosts and guides. Also, so many books have been written on most of the subjects we covered, that I have made no attempt to present a complete history, but rather to lift up the things I found to be interesting. This page has been created for the enjoyment of our traveling companions and any others who have, or might, undertake this same adventure. The full-size copies of the pictures have been removed due to space limititations. Copies of a few can be sent by e-mail upon request.
|DA I L Y I T I N E R A R Y|
|Wed. Aug 19||Limerick, Ireland - flight; orientation||Sun, Aug 30||Bangor - Conwy (castle & Plas Mawr)|
|Thr, Aug 20||Limerick: lecture, city tour, Hunt Museum, entertainment||Mon, Aug 31||Bangor: lecture, entertainment|
|Fri, Aug 21||Limerick: lecture, King John's Castle||Tue, Sep 1||Bangor: lecture, Segontium Roman Fort, Caernarfon Castle, farewell party|
|Sat, Aug 22||Limerick: The Burren - Kilfendora Cathedral, Poulnabrone Dolmen, Cliffs of Mohar||Wed, Sep 2||Bangor, Wales to Dundee, Scotland, orientation|
|Sun, Aug 23||Limerick: Rock of Cashel||Thr, Sep 3||Dundee: lecture, city tour, jute mill museum|
|Mon, Aug 24||Limerick: lecture, Bunratty Castle||Fri, Sep 4||Dundee: lecture, Aberlemno Stones, Strassmore Valley, Brechin Castle, Edzell Castle|
|Tue, Aug 25||Limerick: lecture||Sat, Sep 5||Dundee: Dunkeld Cathederal, Edradour Distillery, Queen's View, Castle Menzies, Aberfeldy Black Watch Memorial|
|Wed, Aug 26||Limerick, Ireland to Bangor, Wales, orientation||Sun, Sep 6||Dundee: flower & vegetable show, Glamis Castle, Meigle Museum of Pictish Stones, entertainment|
|Thr, Aug 27||Bangor: lecture, city tour, Beaumaris Castle||Mon, Sep 7||Dundee: lecture, Scott Museum, entertainment|
|Fri, Aug 28||Bangor: lecture, Din LLigwy Celtic Hill Fort, Penmon Priory, Welsh male choir||Tue, Sep 8||Dundee: lecture, St. Andrews Cathedral and Old Course, farewell bash|
|Sat, Aug 29||Bangor: Snowdonia - Trefriw Woollen Mills, Llechwodd Slate Caverns||Wed, Sep 9||On to Edinburgh|
On Tuesday morning Barbara and I drive to the Knoxville airport, having checked everything off our computer-generated "To Do" lists and trying to remember if everything we think of on the way over has been included on the list. Maybe, between our neighbors and son any emergencies can be handled. Anyway, we're off for a month -- beginning with a three-week Elderhostel. We've been planning and preparing for months now, but realize it won't really start until tomorrow evening. It sure takes a long time to get from here to there -- five hours at O'Hare and a five-hour time change. We arrive at London's Heathrow this morning and follow the excellent instructions from Lyon on how to get from our British Airways arrival gate to the Aer Lingus domestic gate. I find it curious that the number of security checks we pass through seems to be fewer than I remember from my trip through here in 1989; perhaps, it's because I'm not traveling alone.
At the Aer Lingus terminal we meet most of our traveling companions and share the "I'm from Oak Ridge, where are you from exchanges," while wondering what type of companion each will be. When we arrive at Shannon Airport in Ireland, we are greeted by our escort for the duration -- Andrew Munro. Andrew quickly takes charge and gets things organized and moving to the bus which will be our home -- more or less -- for three weeks. A short drive takes to Kilmurry Village at the University of Limerick, which will be our home for the next week. We are greeted by our local host, Therese, and assigned our rooms. Everyone collapses for awhile. The, we begin the routine of get-on-the-bus, drive-to-dinner, get-back-on-the-bus, drive-back-to-the-room routine, which will get so familiar. Tonight, however, has some variation as we attend a greeting party to share a glass of wine and to hear Therese and Andrew explain some of the plans for the week and procedures that will help things go more smoothly. With a few exceptions, we will have lectures in the mornings and field trips in the afternoons.
On our way to the lecture hall, Barbara comments on how much like the University of Virginia the buildings seem. I hadn't noticed, but, upon a quick surveillance, agree. Therese begins our lectures with a summary of the history of the University of Limerick. It is only 25-years old and attained university status in 1989. It is one of two universities in Ireland which follow a technological program. It's founder spent time at the University of Virginia (eureka!) and was so impressed that he used similar architecture here. A primary goal in Ireland today is to move from an economy founded in agriculture and tourism to one in which technology and light manufacturing also play an important role. For many decades the Irish young were strongly encouraged to leave Ireland, because there was no work for them. Now, with the change in emphasis in the economy, half of the people are under 26! Even so, she tells us that unemployment is still high, mainly due to the high welfare income available.
A second observation, first made as we fly into Shannon and repeated on many occasions, is how green Ireland is. But more about that later.
Our lecturer, Sean Lydon, then introduces himself. He has taught for many years, including in Africa, and is now a free-lance journalist on Irish history. His topic is "The Epic of Irish History." At this point he launches into the very interesting and complex history of how the Irish problem got where it is today. But, to get to today Sean begins with the Stone Age residents of the island. With my long-time interest in archaeology, I listen carefully, recognize much, and learn many new things. The first residents probably walked over from what is now Scotland in search of flint deposits. The date of these activities began about 7,500 B.C. Their primitive hunter-gatherer society required about ten-square miles per person for sustenance. Others of these neolithic farmers came by boat from what is now England. They built ring forts with timber stockades -- identified by the remnants of the posts and holes required for the daub and waddle construction. The ring fort stockades were built on the top of round berns, not especially to protect themselves, but rather to have a safe place to drive their cattle each night. It seems as though cattle rustling was a national sport! They had a life-expectancy of about 30-35 years. We know from their skeletal remains that they had bad backs, probably from the hard labor. Their teeth were also worn down from the stone-ground corn they ate regularly. Many remnants of their quern -- a primitive, hand-operated mill -- have been found.
The Bronze Age arrived here as elsewhere in Europe followed, as tin and copper mixtures were developed. This was a major event in Ireland, as it was rich with copper deposits, which would influence its future for many years, as trade developed with Cornwall to obtain tin for copper and copper manufactured goods. Sean threw in an aside -- For many years it was thought that the Romans never came to Ireland, but, recently, Roman coins and other items have been found. Of course, they might have arrived through trade -- or thievery.
Sean then comes to the Celts, who arrived about 500 B. C. although there is not agreement on exactly when. I have always associated them with those mysterious people - the Druids. The Celts used wheeled chariots all over Europe, but no wheeled remains have been identified in Ireland. He explains that there were five Celtic languages (Irish, Gaelic or Scottish, Welch, Cornish, and Breton) and that the existence of these languages prove the Celts were here. They were an iron-age people good at conquering and poor at holding their gains. In the selection of their ruler they constantly conspired, feuded and frequently fought -- practices that they seemed to thoroughly enjoy. And Sean adds that Irishmen have never lost that joy. This type of leader selection does not imply a very strong central government, and in about 150 led to small tuath, or chieftonships. They fought as to who led each tauth and which tauths led other tauths, yielding a continually changing relationship, which continued into the 1700s. It was a very male-dominated society and very hierarchical with respect to status and associated rights.
Christianity later enters the picture and brings the alphabet with it. The Celts, with their rich traditions, never developed a written language. All of their traditions and knowledge were passed on orally. There was very little resistance to the new religion because of the great advantage immediately recognized in its written language. Gold became very important in expressive writing and the "illuminated" manuscript was created. I remember the magnificent collection of illuminated manuscripts at the new Getty museum in Los Angeles and understand what Sean is talking about. One with local importance is the "Book of Kells." These books represent an extraordinary piece of work, even by today's technology. They require a organized, differentiated social structure to support such work at the monastic sites.
Sean explains that the next invaders are the Vikings from Scandinavia. These plunderers arrived in 795, when they attacked, plundered, and burned a monastery. As the Vikings mellowed, they became traders. Limerick was one of the trading ports they founded. They also introduced coinage into Ireland. Their town-dwelling society was in sharp contrast to the semi-nomadic Celtic life style. These sea-faring people also brought boat building to the island. The Viking word "fiord" also survives in the many towns ending with "ford." Recent discoveries, as reported in the 12 July 1998 London Times, show pre-Viking house structures in Dublin. Radio-carbon dating shows these structures to be 50-100 years prior to the coming of the Vikings. Apparently, the invading Vikings just leveled the town that existed and built their's on top of the ruins. They also adopted the local, existing Irish name, "Dubblinn," as "Dyflin," which later mutated into Dublin. It had always been thought that the Vikings had founded Dublin, but maybe this is not as cut-and-dried as was thought.
Sean then proceeds to the 1014 battle at Lambay, when the Vikings were defeated and became just another Irish faction. Then in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings the Normans beat the Saxons of England. These Normans, led by William the Conqueror, from the coast of France were related to the Vikings, having been given the Normandy land by the King of France. I have realized from my genealogy studies that there was much intermarriage in the European royal families, but have not come across this Viking-Norman connection before. The so-called "Kings of Opposition," that is, the Irish clan leaders, showed their inability to accept a single ruler. A King O'Connor had a disagreement with a McMurrah, who went to the English King Henry II. He said he would help, if he was made king of Ireland. In 1169 it happened at Dublin, but the Irish kept on fighting in battle after battle. So independent were they in their clans that the Normans, who were used to taking control of a whole country after a winning battle, just could not understand. The Normans started building defending castles, marrying Irish women, getting involved in Irish things, learning to speak Irish, and, ultimately, becoming absorbed -- just another faction. In 1367, the Normans, realizing they were losing their identity, passed laws trying to stop the absorption by forbidding such things as "going native." Meanwhile, in England the Normans had established primogenitor laws for inheritance, and, if agreement could not be reached, war resulted -- as in the War of the Roses.
Sean spends some time describing the Black Death/Plague and how it affected Ireland differently from the rest of Europe. In England a third of the population died from the disease carried by fleas on the black rats in the cities. But, in rural Ireland, little damage was done -- in contrast to the Normans in Ireland, who lived in the cities. Even though the power of the English king in Ireland was rather loose, the Irish rulers never really considered over-throwing the Normans.
An ongoing fight between the Roman Catholic Normans and the more remote Irish Christians had evolved. In 1485, finally and bloodily, Henry VII became supreme ruler of England after civil wars. He established pre-numbered tax books, and the tax collectors lost the right to skim off a significant portion for personal use. Henry also increased the tax rate and died with 1.8 million pounds in his treasury. The tax collectors had an interesting philosophy - if you looked well-off, you obviously could afford to pay more taxes, and if you looked poor, you obviously were frugal and could afford to pay more taxes. So, Henry VII, the first Tudor, ended the civil wars and put England on a sound financial basis. He realized that subduing Ireland would be a very expensive proposition, so he permitted the Norman families in Ireland rule there. Henry VIII followed his father to the throne and had a falling out with the Pope. His Reformation had a profound affect on Ireland. Henry VIII set up a deal in which the clan chiefs deeded their land to him, and he titled them and let them use the land. Previously, the land had belonged to all of the people in common. This change gave the chiefs all of the control. The Pope couldn't give Henry the divorce Henry requested, because the large army sitting on Rome's doorstep would have overthrown the Pope if he had. So, Henry declared himself head of the English church, took over the monasteries, and divided the land between the nobles. The working-class people in England quickly fell away from the Roman Catholic church, but the Irish working classes didn't make that change -- probably because the weaker organization of the Catholics in Ireland meant less demand and pressure in their daily lives. For example, in Ireland there were no indulgences, which caused such opposition and animosity elsewhere.
Sean then moves on the Plantation Period, about which I know nothing. During this time the ownership of land becomes a crucial issue in Ireland for several hundred years. The next king in England, Edward, moved the English church away from Henry's Roman Catholic style toward Protestantism. This was followed by Edward's sister, "Bloody Mary," who tried to force Roman Catholicism back on the people. She introduced the Plantation System into Ireland. After she was replaced by her sister, Elizabeth I, who was very able and intelligent, England became very worried about Ireland. First, because they feared Ireland would be taken over by some opposing nation and be a real threat, for example, the Spanish Armada. Second, the Irish kept pirating the Queen's ships. But, since she had no money available to do much, she was made a target by the Pope. So, she retaliated by ordering everyone to attend a Protestant church or be fined. As a result the rich, landed -- and mostly Roman Catholic -- people became nominal Protestant to protect their holdings. She did confiscate much land, which she gave to her favorites, such as Sir Walter Raleigh, who supposedly brought tobacco and potatoes to Ireland.
Elizabeth wanted the Celtic clan chiefs to swear allegiance to her, but discovered they were communicating with other kings. Hugh O'Neill, of northern Ireland and educated in England, became the overall chief of five of the nine counties in Ulster. In addition, he was on good terms with the other chiefs. He spoke in terms of his independence from the English crown. He kept putting off the crown's request for allegiance, hoping Elizabeth would die. Finally, in 1595 England lost patience with him, and his forces were defeated at County Cork, where they signed an agreement in 1603. It turned out to be a good deal for O'Neill some said too good. As a result O'Neill and his followers left in 1609. England then proclaimed his land as abandoned and imported people from Scotland to whom they gave land and money to occupy his land. In just a few years this move transformed northern Ireland to British ways, making this Plantation of Ulster a very successful venture.
During the afternoon we take a brief tour of downtown Limerick, which is several miles away from the campus. Barbara and I, along with many others in the group, head for the Hunt Museum, which houses some 2,000 original works of art and antiquities from the personal collection of John and Gertrude Hunt. Among the items we see are the Cape Castle Bucket, Cashel Bell, Antrim cross, Mary Queen of Scots cross, Leonardo horse, Kirchner Pieta, and Bernardo Daddi Crucifixion scene. I also find a small flag of the Republic of Ireland to add to my collection. I note that it has the key colors representing the Catholics and the Protestants - green and orange - compromise is possible. The afternoon passes quickly and we all too soon have to leave for the bus back to the campus, but not before many enjoy a pint of Guinness at a little pub across the street from the museum.
After dinner we all meet in a hall near our rooms for the first scheduled evening entertainment on the trip. What a delightful evening it turns out to be one filled with traditional Irish peasant music. We learn to tell the difference between an Irish jig and a Scottish reel. Niles and Sandra demonstrate each several times as they play flute and bohran. The bohran is a framed, single-headed drum. It is prehistoric and the only indigenous Irish instrument. The two unique features are the crossed brace in the back and the way it's played with quick, short strokes of the knuckles or a short double-headed beater stick. Sandra shows us how some artists use the newer styles of hand pressure on the inside of the head to change pitch. The flute came to Ireland in the 1830-1860 period. During the ban on liquor, many bands were formed as a substitute form of entertainment. There was a period of time of great British military bands, after which, as interest waned, instruments exchanged hands for almost nothing. The flute, being light and easy to carry, quickly grew in popularity. The "Orange" players adapted it to their marching and protesting styles. After a concert of music and dance we invited to come forward to try the dance. Barbara is among those who respond.
We learn that the harp is the national instrument of Ireland. It's original form, along with its music, died out in the late 1700's. The new gut-strung Irish harp tends to be played by females as a parlor instrument. The old wire-strung harp by old men with strong fingernails. Its sound is sharp and clear, in contrast to the newer mellow and muted sound. The harp appears in 15th century coinage created by Henry II.
As Sean begins his presentation this morning, he explains further about the Plantation of Ulster. The crown wanted good, loyal, hard-working people to move onto this land it had claimed from O'Neill. The problem was that nobody really wanted to go. First, Ireland was considered brutal, rough, and primitive by English standards. Second, the immigrant would have to re- establish himself. And, third, many likes the bonuses of big cities, for example the flesh-pots of London, but Ireland had no such cities. So, the offer was very attractive. No native Irishman was permitted to live on the land, but this was not practical. The new owners needed workers, so many natives became the working force for them; some even came to own land.
The monarchs in England - James I, Charles I, Charles II - believed in the Divine Right of the King; Parliament did not. This different perspective caused many problems, for example, raising money for the government. The Scottish, who were the greatest part of the new owners, were strong, hard-working, well-organized, Presbyterian, and took a long-range view of things. These attributes were almost the opposite in each case of those of the English who came.
On 22-23 October 1641 a rebellion occurred. Many of the rebels were Catholics, whose targets were the English landlords. Their plans were amazingly well-kept secrets, and the landlords were massacred. In Dublin, where word of the rebellion did leak out, nothing happened. There is no general agreement as to how many were actually killed; scholars still argue about it. The rebellion quickly became part of Irish folklore, and Sean tells us that Ian Paisley still talks about the massacre as if it happened yesterday. Sean tells us that this is the first of several events that show the long memory of the Irish.
In 1649 Cromwell came intending to revenge the massacre. Charles I had been executed, and Cromwell arrived in Ireland and ordered surrender. Many towns did, and in those towns no massacres occurred. He remained in Ireland for about ten months, confiscating land in southern Ireland to give to his army. They, too, as new landlords, had to rely on local Irish, Catholic laborers. Sean points out that the significant thing happening through all of this immigration is that more and more land is being owned by Protestants.
Charles II and Parliament pretty much left each other alone. He died in 1660, converting to Catholicism on his death bed, and was succeeded by his brother James II. Although he was a poor politician, Sean rates him as an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. He was not a pushy Catholic and had no children. In 1685 his wife supposedly had a son, but many claimed he was smuggled in and claimed as her's. "Rock A Bye Baby In The Tree Top" was a mocking rhyme about this event. That same year James had to flee when William of Orange was invited to invade by the upper- crust power brokers of England. James ended up in Ireland, where he went about raising an army. This led to the Williamite (or Jacobite) Wars - depending upon your point of view. The Catholic Church sided with James, since he was the king. In 1689 the Siege of [London]Derry lasted 105 days, commemorated by the Orange march on 12 July. Sean tells us that the Protestants are still very proud of the Siege of Derry, but the Catholics don't talk about it. In the Treaty of Limerick of 1691, William made good terms with the Catholics - they got to keep their lands, etc. Many joined his army at his suggestion; other refused and went to the continent to fight on. But, the Protestant Irish Parliament refused to accept these good terms for Catholics and passed many penalties, including a law that prohibited any Catholic from owning land. In this case, as in so many times and places in history, a, powerful minority population (Protestant) ruled the powerless majority (Catholic) with a pejorative hand. The first thing that comes to my mind is South African apartheid.
In 1715 and 1745 the Stuarts tried to get the Scots/Irish to join them and rebel, but nothing happened. Several groups, including those on the continent and the Irish land sellers, argued to get the burdens on the Catholics lightened, or even lifted. They succeeded fairly well, particularly since the members of the Irish Parliament could be easily and blatantly bribed into voting as paid to. Since Parliament was elected only when a monarch died, many became well-entrenched and very wealthy. They would sell their vote to the highest bidder. Many borrowed money to buy their way into Parliament. One, in the late 1700's borrowed 60,000 pounds to give to voters, expecting to make it back quickly once in office.
Sean continues that as the 18th century moved along, the people of Ireland began to realize that Ireland could not advance further as long as it was subservient to England, for every time something good started to develop, the English parliament stopped it. In 1782 the latest in a series of proposals to make the Irish parliament independent was initiated. Two English laws were declared null and void in Ireland, and it worked! This independent parliament became known as Grattan's Parliament. In the 1780's the United Irishmen came into existence. It taught that religion was outdated and that the Catholic versus Protestant animosity was ridiculous. It was suppressed - with many liberal Protestants leading the protest. Leader Wolfe Tone went to the U.S. then France, where he convinced the French to give him an attacking fleet. Bad weather prevented his landing, but the presence of the fleet panicked Parliament in Dublin. In 1798 this effort led to the bloodiest rebellion in Irish history with deaths estimated to be 30,000 to 50,000. Even though the rebellion failed, one result of this rebellion was the emergence of the Orange Order as a primary, powerful force on the side of the crown. As a result, the English Parliament decided that an independent Irish Parliament was a disaster and decided to pass the Act of Union. The Catholic Church liked the idea.
Sean, as an important aside, explains that the American ideal that the man on the bottom had rights equal to the man on top was absolutely foreign to Europe. "Absolute lunacy" said the wealthy, the rulers, and the land owners. John Locke's book, "The Rights of Man," was called communistic. With bribery existing on a grand scale, the Parliament voted itself out of business. The Catholics hoped it would permit them to serve in the House of Commons. The king was very opposed to this.
Daniel O'Connell (1775-1897) of a poor family got rich using any means available. His adoptive father, Maurice, was a dominate figure. Daniel became a Protestant so he could become a lawyer. This comment brings a chuckle from Sean's audience. We have been amused by the pronunciation of "lawyer" in Ireland; it sounds like "liar." Daniel became very famous and was very entertaining in his questioning. Sean tells the story about a dead man, about whom it was said, "There's life in him," a fly having been placed in his mouth. Daniel was totally against the rebellion, so, Sean explains, the pro-gun nationalist historians have tried to ignore him in their version of history. He saw the power of the masses and worked to organize them. He came with the concept of Catholic Rent, 1/4 cent per month, to fund organized agitation to cause changes positive to the Catholic Church, for example, getting Catholics to serve in Parliament. He was elected in 1829 to serve in the House of Commons and the right of Catholics to do so followed. The English ridiculed him because they thought the emancipation of the Catholics was very dangerous. At one point O'Connell was challenged to duel. According to the Catholic Church dueling was a mortal sin. The Irish Catholics didn't particularly care, so when O'Connell killed his opponent, he became an even bigger hero.
In the 1840's half the males in Ireland were farm laborers and had families with low mortality rates. Their diets of potatoes, skim milk, and fish made them strong and healthy - favored by Nelson's navy and Wellington's army. They worked the potato fields, saving nothing and having no other income. Many Catholics left for America; other joined the military and around the world. One land owner tried to get his tenants to raise turnips as a hedge against a potato crop failure, evicting those who would not. This gave him a bad reputation, but when the potato crop failure did happen, his laborers survived.
During the afternoon we head for downtown Limerick to visit King John's Castle. From atop the castle we are given beautiful vistas of the countryside. This shot, across St. Mary's church, is toward a hill covered with beautiful fields of green. The greenness of this land is one of the first things that strikes you as you fly in to Shannon. We now know why it's so green - regular rains. These rains also encourage almost everyone to raise a few flowers, and I have noticed almost every house has at least a small flower bed. Underneath the front of the castle, is what they call the "Sunken House." It is the remaining foundation of a house that predates the castle to about 1180-1210.
At 9 this morning we head for an all day trip through The Burren. I've never heard of The Burren, but see in some literature I've picked up that there are castles, churches, and ancient Celtis ruins here. On the way there we are told about the value-added tax, or VAT, which funds, among other things, the state system of health care. However, I learn that, as in the States, one must also have a voluntary health insurance to be fully covered. We also learn of the ten-year improvement program in Ireland to bring its infrastructure up to European Common Market standards. This period of grants from the EEC is almost over, and Ireland will have to compete with other nations for the available funds. But, much has been accomplished, as we travel on many improved roads during our stay here. Ireland is also considering establishing a minimum wage of about $6 per hour. All of this improvement is supposed to demonstrate the Celtic Tiger that is Ireland, but it's pretty hard to see yet - except in the construction in the construction industry and, we are told, the lawyer/"liar" profession.
As we drive, we see what are called trailer parks in the U.S. and are here referred to as caravan parks. This one is inhabited by travelers, who live the nomadic life of gypsies. These people seem to be anti-everything, especially government, tax, and laws, and take whatever they want. Although they have a strong lobby, many are tiring of their life-style.
The Burren (from the Irish boireann meaning a rocky place) is a karst topography, underlain by vast limestone strata with the concomitant caves and streams. But also, as we approach the western coast of Ireland, we see these limestone beds come to the surface - everywhere - scoured by advancing and retreating glaciers during the ice ages. These glaciers also left "erratics" behind as they finally melted and retreated, dropping their suspended boulders. This shot is actually from near the coast, but nicely demonstrates an erratic.
This limestone is rather easily blocked and worked and is used for facing on houses and the innumerable stone fences we see everywhere. It's hard to believe that this place used to support many people and their sheep. But this area, as in much of Ireland, has experienced a rural depopulation, as property costs, lack of jobs, and the attraction of the big city have drawn people away.. Much of the land is now tied up in expensive holiday houses that stand empty and locked up much of the time. The high calcium content also helps support the grass pastures that have led to an important horse breeding and racing industry - much as in Kentucky. Someone said about the Burren that there's not enough dirt to bury a man, not enough water to drown him, and not enough wood to hang him.
We first visit the Burren Visitor Center for displays and a general introduction to the region. I then head for the little church ruin next door, my first one. It is the Kilfenora Cathedral, after which the community is named. Kilfenora means city of crosses, and it is easy to see why as I enter the walled church yard and see the many Celtic crosses before me. Although St. Fachtra first had a monastery here in the sixth century, this building was built in about 1190. The "recent" alterations were made in the fifteenth century. The cathedral, although roofless, still serves the community, as the nave is used for services. Within the cathedral walls I see several wall tombs with interesting medieval carvings - the mitred head of a fifteenth-century bishop and a rather stiff-looking episcopal effigy dating from about the period of the black death in the mid-fourteenth century. Outside near the building, I find the first of three remaining twelfth-century crosses - the Doorty Cross with its carvings of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem and three bishops. To the west of the walled area stands the "West Cross," or "Cross in the Field." It also dates from the twelfth century, and, probably, had a shrine at its base attached to the vertical cross shaft. Carved on the cross, fuzzy from this distance, is a spread-armed bishop. I leave this beautiful site with reluctance, as I realize the age of the place and try to imagine the history it has seen - the uncounted, even uncountable, faithful who have worshiped here in joy and in sorrow. I can think of nothing in my travels of all 50 U.S. states that can compare, unless it is early sites of the Hawaiians or Native Americans. It brings to mind the feelings I experienced at my first siting at Copan, Honduras, in February.
I have read that the surviving Celtic grave areas have been divided into three categories. All show their custom of building great tombs of stone. The earliest are known as Court Cairns and have one or two chambers covered by stone mounds and a nearby circular, unroofed courtyard. The second are the Portal Dolmens, which are more impressive with their two large upright stone slabs on which a huge capstone is placed. The third type is called Passage Tombs and are even more impressive with a passage leading from the edge of large circular mound into the mound. As we move toward the coast, the land gets rockier and rockier. Then, I see out among the rocks several dozen people covered by their rain gear walking around a portal tomb. I grab my rain coat and camera as we make a "five-minute" stop. This is the famous Poulnabrone Dolmen, which means "The Hole of Sorrows." The sign on the road says the tomb is about 4,000 years old, but Sean tells us that studies in the 1980's show it to be 5,200 to 5,800 years old. The bones from about 20 disarticulated skeletons have been found underneath. Apparently these were deposited in the site well after death. On one of the bones a non-fatal, flint-caused wound was detected. These grave sites were called Druid Altars for many centuries. A fascinating place!
We now press on to the coast, which we reach near Ballyvaughan on Galway Bay . Of course, we have to sing the Irish song about the sun going down on Galway Bay, but there's more humming than words. We have a delightful lunch overlooking the bay. With the use my binoculars I am able to see many of the several dozen seal who make their homes out on one of the islands. After lunch we reach Black Head and stop to admire the beautiful seascape.
At one of the stops along the coast we pause at Therese's request for a minute of silence at 3:10 p.m. in memory of the 28, including two unborn, killed exactly a week ago by the bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland. All of Ireland - north and south - are making the same gesture as indication that everyone has had enough. In fact, as we travel these islands, we hear of unprecedented meetings between leaders of the two factions. Our pause is made even more meaningful as a bus of German tourists learn of what we are doing and join us in the silence. I pray that these two long-feuding components of Christianity might become one in Christ. Near the place we pause, I am struck by the poignant ruins of Ballinalackan Castle, covered with some green growth of age and neglect. I quickly grab my camera and take a shot through the bus window.
We finally reach the Cliffs of Moher and find ourselves among throngs of other tourists - this is a popular place on a Saturday - and beautiful. At the highest point on these highest vertical cliffs in Europe still stands O'Brien's Tower, built in the nineteenth century as a viewing platform. Here Barbara rests before the tower after climbing the long stairs up to it. As we turn to the south to head down from the tower, there before us are the beautiful Cliffs of Moher, aglow in the sun setting off to their right. On the way back to the University we see several other castle ruins through the windows. My mind is still reflecting on the wealth of things seen and experienced today, especially the hope for these people that these last bombing victims may be their last.
Sunday morning many of the group head to either the local Catholic or Anglican church to experience a worship service in this land. Barbara and I ride the bus into downtown Limerick, where we attend the service at St. Mary's - The Church of England in Ireland. The service is much like an Episcopal service in the U.S. I am as lost in the three books of hymns and service here as at home when I visit the church my brother attends. But the service is meaningful in this beautiful, old sanctuary. The message today is by an associate, who is moving on to another parish. His message is one of hope and up-building in the future of this congregation.
After lunch we head for Cashel to visit the Rock of Cashel, also known as St. Patrick's Rock. On the way we pass through the small Irish town of Tipperary, and we burst into "It's a long way to Tipperary . . ." We know most of the words of this song - possibly this tells the age of our group! When we arrive at Cashel, there is no doubt as to the location of St. Patrick's Rock, for there up on a tall hill is a beautiful old cathedral overlooking the valley. The earliest and tallest of the structures here is the Round Tower. Although its construction cannot be dated precisely, its similarity to other examples would place it at about 1101. It is doubtful whether there was any ecclesiastical presence at the Rock before this time, when Muircheartach O'Briain handed the rock over to the Church as the seat of the new dioceses of Cashel, thus depriving his old enemy of their traditional seat. It is known that a new cathedral, probably replacing earlier structures, was begun in 1169, no remnants of which survive. The present cathedral structure was begun in the thirteenth century. The first thing I notice as I enter is the replica of the cross of St. Patrick, the original of which has been moved inside to better protect it from further weathering. The cross, which appears to have been carved from a single block about 5.5 feet tall, is very distinctive with its upright supporting pieces - one of which is missing - and no traditional ring around the center where the shaft and transom intersect. Some speculate that these vertical side pieces represented the two thieves crucified with Jesus. I suspect them to simply be a different form of transom support used when this stone was carved. The view from this very windy prominence is extraordinary in all directions.
As a follow up to our conversation about antiquities and my general interest in archaeology, Sean shows me an article from the 21 August Irish Times. The article reports that a megalithic tomb at Carrowmore in County Sligo has been determined to be about 7,400 years old, making it the world's oldest known building - about 1,100 years older than the previously-recognized oldest free-standing architecture in western Europe. This tomb has been practically destroyed, especially in the last century, by grave robbers and amateur archaeologists. Trial trenches dug this summer showed lower levels of the tomb to be largely intact. A large amount of cremated material and a few objects have been found. I copy the web site down and intend to check it out when I get home.
Sean begins his lecture by bursting the concepts of many: "Much of the data about the Irish potato famine of 1845 to 1852 is simply folklore based on fable, exaggeration, and inadequate research." Having said this, he then goes on to explain that even so, the famine certainly resulted in many poorly-fed and malnourished people and in having a major impact on the national psyche. After the first failure, ports were closed in 1846. 10,000,000 pounds were spent on the Crimean War, compared to only 10 million on the famine victims. Much more could have been done for the victims, but those who decided how the money was to be spent were not affected by the famine. They relied on sophisticated grain crops, which kept producing as tilled by the Irish peasants, who starved while depending on their potato crop for food. Sean notes that those who lived through the famine didn't talk about it - it was simply too personal with too many bad memories and, possibly, illegal actions. But what was passed on was the fact that the government did not help them when they needed it and the names of the grain merchants who had thrived due to the famine. For example, enough corn to feed 2 million people was exported from Ireland for its high profit. Since the potato crop was expected to feed not only the peasant family, but also his cow and pig, they lost these resources also. The Irish landlords, unlike the British ones, ignored the condition of their holdings.
The U. S. Civil War had many participants from Ireland. The Fenian Brotherhood, or Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood, which came into being in 1858, recruited these seasoned veterans to serve as fighting members. They wanted war to break out between the U.S. and Canada to get Ireland freed from England. The revolution actually happened in 1867, but due to a very bad snow storm, it fizzled. Other complex plans also failed during the next several decades due to the incredible incompetence of the Fenian Brotherhood. In 1870 Gladstone gave the Irish tenant farmers certain rights, which the British farmers did not have, to try to end the violence of the land disputes - burnings, killings, etc. From this whole episode the Home Rule party grew, and in 1870 as democracy grew (expanding electorate and secret ballot), the ruling Protestants realized that the Catholics would take over, so they started working to preserve their position as they opposed home rule and strove to keep Ireland in the British Empire. The House of Commons actually passed home rule, but it died in the House of Lords.
In the 1880's a Gaelic revival began to glorify Irish history and traditions. The prosperity which expanded in the British Empire during the 1890's created an even larger audience for this revival. The Finian Brotherhood / Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood joined every Gaelic activity and remained rather quiet on the rebellion front. They did fight with the Boers against the Empire in South Africa. Arthur Griffith came back from South Africa and set up the Sinn Fein in 1905. It was to be a passive resistance, that is, the British and their agents were to be ignored. They managed to be strictly non-violent. They began manufacturing marketable goods and established shops in New York City to sell them. They had no understanding of the Protestant position and made no attempt to try. "The Welsh Wizard," Lord George, a liberal, became chancellor in England in 1909 and established death duties and land taxes that drove the land owners crazy. The balance of power was held by the Irish representatives. The liberals promised home rule for Ireland to buy their votes. The English land owners and the Irish Protestants joined forces to fight it: "Home Rule is Wrong Rule!"
In 1905 the Catholic church from Rome changed the existing rules concerning which church children of mixed-religion marriages would be raised in. Rather than boys following father's religion and girls following their mother's as had been the case, the Church now banned all mixed marriages with non-Catholics. This was a clear signal that all children would be raised in the Catholic Church. And the Protestants' view of a tyrannical, over-bearing, and domineering Catholic Church was reinforced. In 1912 the Ulster volunteers were established. The English Tory were very unhappy with the liberal government, and, suddenly, the agitation against home rule took off. Lord George agreed - he was worried about his budget- and threw his support against home rule. The Ulster Volunteers Force began running guns and even established an air force! They were opposed by home rule leader of the Catholics John Redmond. He saw home rule, which had been in his grasp, suddenly slipping away. And I begin to see the roots of today's problems more clearly. At this time the Finian Brotherhood / Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood emerged from the shadows. Fanatical Tom Clarke secretly worked for an armed rebellion. He took over the secret organization and armed it to oppose the Ulster Volunteers Force. He identified and manipulated key respected people into establishing the Irish Volunteers - led by Clarke supporters. Redmond suspected this was happening, but could not stop or control it. Behind his back a rebellion was planned for 1916. When the Ulster Volunteers Force members joined the hostilities of World War I, they received a distinguishing cap badge, which was refused for Redmond's men when they joined. This became a source of ridicule, and, again, I now begin to see the roots of internal discord that make it so difficult to achieve peace - too many chiefs!
The Protestants were placed on the fast track for advancement in the military - the Catholics on the slow track or even derailed. As a result, Clarke commented that Redmond was a fool and claimed they're making fun of him. His clincher - "He can't get you home rule. I can." Clarke secretly sought additional weapons from Germany. British intelligence had figured out how to read the German codes and learned about the planned Irish rebellion. But at this point in history, the Irish problem was a side-show, and revealing the rebellion would also have revealed their ability to read German code. So, they kept quiet. The German ship carrying the new arms took a wrong turn into a storm and went down. Roger Casement went to Germany to seek Irish POWs for Clarke and was himself captured when he returned to England looking for the missing German ship. Clarke's forces rose on Easter Monday in 1916. This move was totally illogical, except that it forced the British to take some action. The rebels surrendered. Sixteen were executed, including Clarke, and many were jailed. Clarke refused the last words for a Catholic. This became known as the Sinn Fein Rebellion, but they actually had nothing to do with it. The British rounded up about 3,800 Irishmen for prison in England; 1,200 to Frongoch, Wales. This letter facility became a kind of university with classes on all kinds of subjects for the prisoners. One of the prisoners there was Michael Collins of the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood, who organized classes on all aspects of terrorism. In another quirk of fate there was absolutely no way all of these radicals could have been gotten together for such training out of prison!
They were released by Christmas and received in Dublin as heroes. They were now an organized, well-trained group of ambitious radicals. They set out reorganizing and rearming the Irish Volunteers and Sinn Fein. The Proclamation of 1916 was quoted by Eamon De Valera as saying "I believe in equal treatment of all of Ireland's children." Many to this day mistakenly believe that this is in the Irish constitution. When England set up conscription for World War I, the Irish Volunteers and Sinn Fein actively opposed it and both organizations grew like crazy - led by Michael Collins. The Catholic Church wanted to side with the known entity - England - rather than the unknown - Sinn Fein - but was manipulated by De Valera into making an anti- conscription statement. De Valera and his peers thought they could become head of Sinn Fein, but all they succeeding in doing was jailing the moderates, leaving the radicals under Collins free reign. In the 1918 election Sinn Fein won all the elections in the south of Ireland, having promised everything to everybody. In 1919 in Versailles, Sinn Fein's attempt for home rule to be included in the settlement was squelched by the British, much as Ho Chi Minn's had been by the French.
The word "republic" became very important at this time in Ireland, although it had never before been part of Sinn Fein's propaganda. In the northern part of Ireland there was little involvement in these activities. In the south the 1919 "War of Independence" was primarily a campaign of assassination and terror. It was well financed by hidden money. About 400 policemen and 150 British soldiers were killed - 83% of them Catholic. In about 1920 the name of the rebels was changed to the Irish Republican Army (IRA). In 1920 England granted dominion status to both northern and southern Ireland, and by 1921 England was doing better against the IRA. The King wanted a political settlement and a truce was established in December 1921. This Anglo/Irish treaty led to the Irish Civil War between those in favor of and those opposed to the treaty. Sean calls this war the most stupid episode in Irish history.
Once a week our bus driver, Jeff, is required by law not to even move his bus for 24 hours; today is that day. So, this afternoon is free time. However, most of us - with Therese's help securing a bus - head for Bunratty Castle near Limerick - all at our own expense. The present castle, as with most we have seen, is the last in a series of structures. This in was built around 1425. It has restored and furnished with fifteenth- and sixteenth-century furnishings in the style of the Great Earl. The main part has three floors - each with one large room. The towers have six floors. We spend the entire afternoon exploring this building. The thing that strikes me most is the steepness and narrowness of the spiral stairwells by which one goes from floor to floor. Broken limbs must have been commonplace. Everyone I see is holding on for dear life to the center axis of the stairs and walking at the outside edge - the center runners being only inches deep. In the Great Hall, which was the original banquet hall and audience chamber of the Earls of Thomond, stands the sixteenth-century standard, which displays the reigning family's coat of arms. On entering the room this is the first thing a visitor sees, and, back in those days, had better bow toward upon entering. In a small alcove off of one of the large rooms, I spy a small figure mounted on the wall. I ask an attendant what it is and learn that it is an ancient Celtic fertility figurine found in the area. One of the interesting things about this castle is the extensive development of its grounds, which are called Bunratty Folk Park. All of the crafts and activities required for the day-to-day operation of a castle are being displayed here. In the small schoolroom is an old slate board on which is written: "Retirement is when one stops living at work and starts work at living." How true - here I am in Ireland, where I never would have had time to visit when I was employed. I also see a cart filled with peat bricks. There exists an Irish Turf Board, whose responsibility it is to issue licenses for the mining of peat. Blocks are cut with spades and stacked in three-sided pyramids. The blocks are allowed to dry, during which process they also shrink considerably. These bricks make an excellent source of fuel for heating and cooking. In retrospect this castle is unique in that you don't have to envision what it might have looked like - it's there for you.
Sean continues his presentation on the Irish Civil War - "that most stupid episode in Irish history." In 1920 in the north the Protestants became more and more anti-union. The British government decided to divide the island into two parts with six counties in the north and 26 in the south. In 1921 the Anglo/Irish Treaty was signed, and the next year the free Republic of Ireland came into being. The southern Protestants were pretty much ignored in this action. Because of this, there was a band of Catholics in the south that did not accept the treaty. They believed that the majority has no right to do wrong to the minority. But the people were about 80% in favor of the treaty. The disagreement led to ten months of civil war. Those who lost the treaty confrontation turned to fighting. Many atrocities were committed by the IRA, but the government was ruthless also. Sean tells us that the whole thing was very savage and very hard to understand. In the north there 30,000 armed, experienced men. These ensured that that part of the island remained free of the war in the south.
The whole issue was apparently over an oath of allegiance to made to the King as members of a Commonwealth state. De Valera took up the cause and set up a separate parliament as spokesperson of those opposed to the oath. At the end of the war he established a new party called Fianna Fail, or Soldiers of Destiny, and joined the Irish Parliament in 1926. When he took the oath of allegiance to serve, the newspaper summarized the whole mess succinctly: "De Valera Takes Oath; Civil War Unnecessary!" The government decided to fill all civil jobs using skills and merit as criteria. This made all of the incumbents very angry. The had won their home rule, and they ought to keep their jobs.
From 1932 to 1948 De Valera was in charge as Prime Minister. Sean calls him a master at winning elections. He introduced a new constitution in 1938 to replace the one established in the 1922 treaty. The public voted its approval. In the south the Protestants from the very beginning of the free state supported it and participated in it. In contrast the Catholics in the north refused to have anything to do with it and were subsequently left out of developments.
At this point Sean backs up to give us an overview of De Valera's background. He was born in York, but was sent to Ireland at the age of 4 by his mother. He was raised in County Limerick (not by his mother). Somehow he managed to get his university training paid for. From there he went into teaching in Dublin, where he got involved in the freedom movement. De Valera became a friend of Chamberlain at the League of Nations meetings. In February 1939 the IRA started a bombing campaign in England. De Valera had tried to pacify them, even to buy them off, but this did not work. The participants were jailed and most were pensioned out. In World War II De Valera really got tough with them because of the evidence that the IRA was involved with the German Nazis. De Valera declared Ireland to be neutral, even though he secretly cooperated with the Allies through Wild Bill Donovan, head of the OSS. Captured German airmen were jailed; captured U.S. ones were sent home. The Northern Ireland government joined with England, which generated even more resentment on the island. Northern Ireland was a one-party Protestant state. The leaders were getting old and careless. In 1949 De Valera lost his reelection to a coalition, and when the new government was established, it decided to leave the Commonwealth and become an independent state.
In 1951 the new government also developed the Mother and Child Scheme, which gave free natal care to women. The doctors hated the idea, since it would permit the state to learn how much money they were being paid. This meant they could no longer continue to avoid the income tax. Being pushed by influential Catholics with strong ties to the doctors, the Catholic Church strongly and secretly opposed the legislation. When this became known to the public, it reinforced the Protestant's view that the Catholic Church had its fingers in everything. Sean tells us that this act is still used today as proof of the church's meddling. The "Mother and Child" appellation is still used to beat on the Catholic Church whenever it seems to be getting too influential or pushy in politics.
In the 1830's there was separate education for Catholics and Protestants - used by the rich. A decade later about 50% of the population was literate - much like the remainder of Europe. The local church priest or minister would run the school using the state curriculum with the church's own twist thrown in. Two years ago the ban on divorce was removed from the constitution by a slim margin in a public vote - with much opposition from the Catholic Church. In 1972 Ireland joined the EEC, and a new world view permeated Ireland - even to the laws on hygiene in hotels and restaurants, such as the ones we are using here. It was a huge educational effort in addition to the infrastructure upgrading made possible by EEC monies.
In the north the English Education Act gave free education to all Protestants and Catholics. The 1944 Butler Act opened the door for Catholics to work in the big employer markets with their new education. The Orange Order, which had been founded in 1795, permeated every level of society, which means it controlled everything - education, housing, jobs, etc. But now with their new-found education, Catholics, when they were more qualified for a job but didn't get it, began to complain. Dr. McCloskey and his wife started the Campaign for Social Justice, which showed up this very biased distribution of jobs. Areas of large Catholic population were combined into a single ward, while small pockets of Protestant dwellings were each made into independent wards; the Unionist Part was having its policies set by the "stupid;" Sinn Fein was practically dead. The public awareness of civil rights began with the publication of these facts. The English Parliament said the whole situation was ridiculous.
Then, during a peaceful civil rights march in 1968, the police went berserk and beat the marchers with truncheons. These acts of police violence were carried by the BBC. The Protestants, who feared growing rights of Catholics, began to shadow the peaceful Catholic civil rights events with public prayer meetings held simultaneously - hoping the police would stop both. Ian Paisley had a church and, having been dropped by the Orange Order, started a party. All this time the IRA was not involved. In 1968-1969 a civil rights march to Derry was attacked on the way; they were attacked again by the Derry police. People started throwing gas bombs at the police, and the British army was called in to restore calm. The IRA (some were beginning to say the letters stood for I Ran Away) suddenly became very popular. It moved from its founding purpose of anti-union to become a pro-Catholic voice. In 1968 Protestants burned several hundred homes and shot Catholics - another example of the ethnic cleansing we have heard about so much in the news these last several years. The Catholics welcomed the British army when it came to protect them and restore peace. The IRA split into provincials and regulars. The provincials, or Provos, as they are generally called, had some well-trained, experienced military men, who became terrorists, claiming they were protecting the Catholics. Many admired and joined the IRA. The Provos based their authority on 1916 Proclamation documents and ignored all votes and treaties of the intervening years. The basic mantra for the IRA was: "You can't trust the British Army; they're all Protestants." They even killed any Catholic who tried to join the army. The IRA's hunger strikes got much publicity. In the south - by law - the hunger strikers of the 1930's and 1940's were just allowed to die. In the north they decided to let the hunger strikers - probably manipulated by Sinn Fein - die, also, and ten actually died. Sinn Fein used this as an excuse to move from guns and bombings to extortions, kidnaping, etc.
Sean tells us that the IRA was largely financed by people in the U.S. Gun runners in Parliament also stole much money. With all these sources the IRA was able to obtain the latest automatic rifles and armor-piercing ammunition in the U.S. To compound the problem in northern Ireland the government committed two major mistakes. First, it locked up no Protestants in spite of their violations. Second, using old lists of activists, they jailed all the old guys from the 1930's and 1940's, rather than the new hotheads. They even tortured some of the old, former leaders, giving the Provos great propaganda ammunition.
At this point we must all have a glazed look in our eyes, as Sean pauses. He tells us not to give up yet, he's almost through and adds "Telling Irish history is like trying to knit with snakes." I don't think anyone in the room disagrees, but it sure has helped my understanding - some might have called it ignorance - of the Irish situation and how it came to be.
Sean concludes by referring to the Omagh bombing last Saturday. (Remember the moment of silence described previously.) He observes that no one has claimed it yet. He tells us of the Social Democratic Labor Party (SDLP), founded in 1971 as an anti-terrorist organization. Sean tells us that many in the north - I suspect mostly Protestants - believed that by that time Catholics have achieved equality. This is the message of the SDLP, which now began to compete with Sinn Fein for voter support. Sean points out that it takes so few people to perpetuate violence in spite of the will of most of the people. He says these people find power and prestige in such acts and are not interested in ending the situation. Sean hopes that the south's position against the IRA will ultimately end its role, as northern prime ministers hold the line against them also. We can only pray that it may be so. [Now, a month later as I type this, to my knowledge the act is still unclaimed - Ireland is fed up with the violence, and opposing leaders have met for the first time, even though in a final act of pettiness and defiance they refused to shake hands. Maybe some good can come from this last senseless act of destruction.]
After dinner we meet with Therese to share a glass of wine and limericks written by members of our group. I'm impressed! It will be hard to leave Therese behind, because her helpfulness, friendliness, and knowledge of Ireland have been greatly appreciated.
Today dawned gray and wet, as happens so often here. Bt the time we leave for the drive across Ireland to Dublin, it is bright and sunny, as so often happens here. During the drive, Andrew tells us that the two islands are no longer referred to as the British Isles, but rather England and Ireland. At one time during the ice ages, England was connected by a land bridge from around Dover to the continent.
When we arrive in Dublin, we are told to report back to the bus stop in mid-afternoon. We have hours to spend in this ancient city - where to go. Barbara and I decide to go to the museum and take off walking in the direction indicated by the sign. About five blocks later we see another sign pointing back in direction from which we just came. So, we turn around and head back - carefully watching for signs instructing us to turn onto a side street. Shortly, we are back were we started! After we fail in our search for a lace table runner in several stores, we decide to visit the audio-visual presentation on Dublin's history. It is not the most extravagant show I've seen, but is very informative. We arrive back at the pick up point slightly ahead of schedule. We have found this to be the practice of most in the group on the trip.
We head out of town toward the port facility at Dun Laoghaire, arriving well ahead of our scheduled departure time. We learn this early arrival is required to assure our reservation on the ship. After an hour or so, I see what looks like a ship on the horizon. It must be our's, because it is a little late. In what seems like only a few minutes, a monstrous double-hulled catamaran pulls up to dock and a fleet of trucks, buses, and cars begin to disengorge themselves from its belly. By this time we are all back on the bus, and as the unloading continues, we drive into our designated spot and head up the stairs. We enter a veritable luxury mall. From one end to the other we find clean shops - at least four restaurants, a bar, duty-free shop, slot machine area - and seating areas. As we start to pull out, I glance at my watch - 4:30 - thirty minutes late, but it's been less than thirty minutes since the ship arrived. That's fast turn-around! We are handed a sheet of statistics about the "Stena Explorer" - her gross tonnage is 19,638; she is 127 meters long by 40 meters wide; her cruising speed is 40 knots, or 46.6 mph - impressive. After wandering around we ask to share a table with a young women, as no other seats are available. As we strike up a conversation, we tell her about our Elderhostel and receive back what seems to be hostility. As we talk further we learn that she is one of the thousands of Irish youth who had been sent out of the country because there was no work in Ireland. She had assumed that this negative part of Irish history had been shielded from us. We assure her not and tell her what Sean had taught us. She warms to us and shares her story, which adds a real-life adventure to Sean's presentation. The crossing continued uneventfully and we dock at Holyhead in the county, and island, of Anglesey, Wales. A new adventure awaits. And as at Limerick, we began the Wales adventure "The Celtic World" at a get together in the evening with a glass of wine. Here we meet our local host, Lowri, and learn of the local logistics.
Our lecturer in Wales is Eryl Hughes. He is a physicist by education, but has become a professional archaeologist by avocation and a photographer to take pictures of his archaeology. It turns out that he is also a lecturer at the university, which means that is the only thing he does - lecture. Others concern themselves with things like attendance, testing, and grading. It is quickly apparent that Eryl is also a performer, as each lecture and its associated field trip is carefully planned as an integrated package and presented in an almost theatrical from. This man is good! We also quickly realize that he isn't really interested in out interrupting his presentations with questions; they interfere with the flow. So, most of us wait to talk to him during breaks. This practice that actually works out very well, because Sean had often been led away from his presentation by subsidiary questions and observations.
Eryl begins his presentation with a general introduction to Wales. I am glad, because I have never paid much attention to it - other than knowing it was stuck on the western side of England. Its most striking land features are the mountain ranges that run northeast to southwest interspersed with deep valleys. This topography makes great sense for guerilla fighting, but a pain in the neck integration of peoples are fighting by large, marching armies. As a consequence, the various families or clans exist more as rivals than as confederates, although there have been a few charismatic individuals who have succeeded in developing short-term co-operatives. There have been no dynasties, as have been common in most of the rest of Europe. Coastal acquisition is easy, but inland penetration is very difficult. The Romans called Anglesey, Mono, meaning Mother of Wales. This island provided all of the grain for the rest of the country.
By about 600 B.C. The Celtic world encompassed the British Isles, northern Spain, France, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Portugal, and Germany with incursions into Italy, Greece, the Black Sea area, Anatolia, and Finland. All in all they controlled a rather large part of Europe, and yet we learned almost nothing about them in school. There are three basic sources from which we can learn about the Celts, which by the way is pronounced with a hard k-like "c" in Ireland and Wales and a soft s-like "c" in Scotland. First, we are fortunate that both the Romans and Greeks wrote about them at their mutual contact points. But, we are reminded to remember that they were enemies, and, therefore, much of the writing is very biased. However, there are gems of truth, primarily confirmed by the second major source of information - archaeology. The third source is the Celts themselves. Although they had no written language, they were not uneducated. The Romans called them the Gauls about whom Caesar wrote "All Gaul is divided into three parts . . ." The use of plaids and the kilt apron go back to these Celt/Gauls. They were a boisterous, show-off, strong, loud, independent, heroic people according to Eryl. Their woman shared most of these traits and took their share of military and leadership roles. The Greek statute of a Celt shows him as blond. They actually washed their hair with lime rinse and wore it swept back. This made their hair very hard and stiff when it dried. With this characteristic they were able to sculpt it into elaborate art forms - curls, beehives, "Afros," etc. Eryl gives us a quick snapshot of a Celt. In addition to their hairstyles, hey are also recognized for the omnipresent torque necklace; double- horned, animal-head, or artistically-decorated helmets; tall man-sized shields; jewelry including bracelets, rings, and necklaces; a cult of the decapitated head, which they often carried on pikes; long slashing swords; short tunics; the winged horse Pegasus, which they gave to the Greeks; charioteers; and water worship. Wow!
Eryl has been involved in the development of the theory that they worshiped water. He has shown that they routinely threw items into particular bodies of water. Sometimes these highly- decorated items were specially made for this purpose, as the materials used had no other practical use. In the British Isles these items date between 200 B.C. and 0. They actually worshiped the water, symbolizing it in their art.
Three persons were honored in their courts - the bard, the story teller, and the smith. They were enameling things by the time of Christ. They used the reverse swastika which meant strength through love. Goebbels stopped the use of the reverse swastika in 1938. It had been used for their youth movement as a symbol for peace through joy.
The Celts were also known for their beautiful scabbards. Eryl showed slides of several found in Austria (600 - 400 B.C.) and Switzerland (400 - 200 B.C.) These scabbards held beautiful, long swords. They were folded, tempered, and beaten laminations. The swords were flexible blade made with wrought iron and steel, so we still find whole Celtic sword blades today. Kind Arthur's sword , Excaliber, was such a sword and was thrown into sacred waters as worship of the gods. The steel work came from the Carpathian Mountain culture and was passed to Celts and the Arabs. Figures of animals and birds were tattooed on the fighter's body so that as the warrior moved and flexed his muscles, the animal or bird moved also. The macho males usually fought naked wearing their helmet, sword belt with scabbard and sword, shield, and moccasins. The normal male wore a wooly cloak or thin blouse with a kilt apron hanging in front. The things the Romans exported from the British Isles to home included wheat, hunting dogs, cloaks, and slaves.
The chariots of the Celts were two-wheeled, spoked vehicles. The Celts had developed a way to steam the iron rims onto the wooden base and a quick-release hub. Even the quick-release hubs were decorated. These wheels made them very light and maneuverable. They did not use a horse collar or stirrup. Each chariot carried two persons - the charioteer and an elite fighter. According to Caesar their chariots combined the durability of the infantry and the flexibility of the cavalry. Charioteers were buried with their chariots.
In the last two centuries B.C. the Celts also began to make bronze-handled mirrors of polished bronze. The backs of these mirrors were very fancy. They were one to two feet in diameter. The beads for their jewelry were lathe-turned and then engraved. They made safety-pin type broaches - some of them quite large - for pinning their shawls in place. A torque of 96% gold and 4% silver and weighing about 2.5 pounds has been found near Mildenhall. The twisted strands of twisted strands make it look like a twisted hemp rope. In one pit a set of 80 torques of gold was found - quite a treasure at any time in history! Eryl asks was it ready for recycle, hidden during war, stolen and then hidden, a hidden heirloom? No one knows. Another favorite piece of jewelry with Celts was the diadem/hairpiece. Eryl showed us a shot of a beautiful one with a winged griffin and of a 3-inch high naked, voluptuous female figure wearing a Celtic torque and a bracelet - made of bronze and residing at the British Museum. This is not at all like the ugly, dumpy types sometimes shown as typical! Eryl also tells us of a book - "The Celts, First Masters of Europe" - which he recommends as an excellent summary of Celtic history. I plan to get a copy when we get into Bangor this afternoon.
Soon after lunch we board our Celtic Chariot with Jeff at the wheel and head for downtown Bangor. When we walk into the main street, Eryl points out the various banks, pubs, and other local attractions and, then, heads for the bookstore. We and some others follow. In the store we looka t the unending supply of Celtic books. I am glad I know which one to get and finally spot it. It's a 5x7 paperback and less than half-an-inch thick, but what beautiful color photographs of many of the things Eryl has shown us. This is the right book. I look around and spot a mug full of Welsh flags. I pick one up for my collection. I then spot a road atlas of the British Isles, excuse me, Ireland and England. I have been chatting with Andrew about the Bishops Canning area in Wiltshire of England from whence my Pyle ancestors came. He found it on Jeff's atlas and said "Oh, that's always been sheep country." Interesting, my American Pyle ancestors were tailors - the acorn never falls far from the oak. I plan to find and mark all of those tiny hamlets all over these islands from which so many lines of my ancestors came to America - East Anglian Puritans to the Boston area, south Englanders to the Chesapeake Bay area, and Quakers from the Midlands to the Delaware River area of southeast Pennsylvania. I pay for my selections, and we leave the store. We move back toward the bus for we are heading off for more stops.
Wales has three national symbols or emblems. The daffodil is the most recent, having been selected in the 1700's. The leek has been a national emblem since 1346 and is symbolized on the Welsh flag in the green and white background. The oldest national emblem is the red dragon, which dates to before 600 A.D.
Our first stop is back on the island of Anglesey at Beaumaris Castle. Eryl tells us that this Norman-French word name means pretty marsh or sea. Here is where I first learn of the "ring of iron," a circuit of fourteen castles built by Edward I of England around north Wales. Being located an army's one-day journey apart, they were intended to stamp and seal Edward's authority against the Welsh leader Lewellyn. These castles were all constructed under routine fire from the Welsh in a twenty-five year period in the late thirteenth century for strictly purposes. He had learned of the importance of castles during the crusades. Eryl calls this castle the most perfect, even though it was never quite finished; having been the last to be started in 1295, money and time ran out. Beaumaris was, as were the other thirteen castles, the design of James of St. George. In each carefully designed a doubly-protected castle perfectly suited to its physical location. At Beaumaris he designed a structure with two concentric walls - one placed inside the other - allowing four successive lines of fortified defense. Unlike many of the other castles he designed, this one seems to rest comfortably on a level plain and looks right at home nestled in scenic setting between mountains and sea, partly surrounded by a water-filled moat. Eryl has us to pretend we are taking the castle by storm. As we gradually "overcome" obstacle after obstacle, we finally find ourselves in the center, having passed 14 major separate obstacles, hundreds of cleverly placed arrow slits, and deadly murder holes at each entrance, - each of which any attacker would have had to overcome. Eryl shows us his sketch of what this magnificent fortress might have looked like had it been completed.
Eryl continues our tour of the Celtic life through his slides. A large metal cauldron permitted a varied diet. By the late first century A.D., their drinking vessels were showing Roman artistic influence, even though the Romans had not yet invaded. He tells us that the Romans attacked while the Celts were still dis-nucleated, that is, before they had evolved into a city-state society. He describes the rectangular horizontal-log, thatch-roofed house they preferred in the east and the western round houses with doors facing away from the prevailing west winds. During the Celto- Romano period, 150 A.D. to 300 A.D., more recent dating shows that one of these houses had been occupied since 800 B.C. He describes the hill fort we will visit this afternoon. It is a large, walled hexagonal area containing the foundations of several buildings - in both the round and rectangular forms. The wall was built for enclosure rather than defense. They had to drive their cattle into it each night to keep their neighbors from taking them. The stone houses would have been covered by a thatched roof weighing 25-30 tons. At other sites archaeologists are finding more and more evidence of post holes, indicating that the Celts also constructed wattle and daub houses, in which saplings were placed in the ground and bent toward the center to be fastened to others. The walls were then formed of interwoven branches and mud. This land was much more heavily forested when the Romans arrived than it is now. They would have found miles and miles of dense forest with isolated villages scattered about.
The volume of these houses would have been so large that they felt no need to have a smoke hole in the roof. The smoke would just percolate through the roof, leaving the interior a little hazy. The wattle and daub houses, also called beehives, had corbeled roofs and would have been of much smaller internal volume. These had smoke holes about half way up the roof. Eryl tells us that there are no complete beehive houses remaining in Wales. The last known one was in the 1850's. There are, however, about four dozen small beehive pig houses in South Wales.
The Celtic people of Wales suffered from rheumatic diseases. The average life span for a male was about 27 years, although some lived into their 50's. The women survived a couple of years less. They married at about 12 to 15 years of age; their first child being born when they were about 16.
The wealth of the Celts was measured by their possession of animals, especially cattle, but sheep, goats, pigs, and small oxen also counted. The cattle were used to pull a stick-like plow, similar to a hoe, through the ground. More recently they added a metal tip and edging to it; then the molded turning board; then the cutting knife. Their developments were copied by the Romans, Greeks, etc. Celtic wheat was of variable height and maturity time. It also dropped its grain head rather quickly. They also did little to control weeds. By contrast, today's wheat is uniform in height, has simultaneous maturing, and holds its grain head for ten days. They harvested the wheat with small hand scythes. Eryl shows us some excellent photographs of the sequence of development of more and more sophisticated harvesting equipment. The Celts stored their grain in underground silos lined with clay and, occasionally, basketry. The airtight seal on top kept the grain fresh for up to three years. The pits then became outdoor garbage disposal pits. Eryl describes the attempts to replicate these storage pits in experimental archaeology. They found that dried grain rotted. When damp grain was stored, that along the walls sprouted, using up the available oxygen and producing carbon dioxide. This ingenious development ensured long-term stability. The Celts prepared their grain for cooking with the mortar and pestle; here this tool was called a querm.
To weave cloth, the Celts used the post loom with whorls and wool combs similar to those developed in the rest of the world. They used vegetable dyes to color the cloth. They made some of the original plaids and kilts that today are credited to the Scots. The magic wild boar figured prominently in Celtic folklore. Their favorite animal was the horse, which they worshiped. They even placed it on their coinage. They had dogs in their villages.
Eryl then proceeds to describe the hill forts of the Celts, one of which we will visit this afternoon. Although the term "hill fort" is generally used, "hill enclosure" or "stockade" would be more descriptive. They generally had a funnel-shaped entrance with a bend in it. This entrance would have made it difficult for cattle thieves to rush the enclosure. For this is what the enclosure was for - protecting the cattle, and, maybe, the women. Some were used for many generations and grew as the community grew. We will see an example of this this afternoon. As they grew, many left the old walls standing and enclosed addition space with a new wall beyond the old, producing a multivalent settlement. About 500 hill forts have been located in North Wales. Some are as early as 900 B.C.; some as late as Roman times.
The Druids were the educated literati of the Celts. Eighteenth century scholars knew Roman literature, so what they knew of the Druids was from the Roman's literature. With this image in mind everything they saw remaining from the Celts, or even other cultures such as Stonehenge which predated the Celts by a thousand years, was viewed as Druid altars or temples. The Romans accused the Druids of sacrificing humans to prove them barbaric and justify their attempts to conquer them. They conveniently forgot their own Colosseum games and other "barbaric" sports. The Druids studied nature as the conduit of communication with the other world. They believed in the transmigration of the human soul into an afterlife. They had a peculiar cult of worshiping the human head. They decided through their divination what battles should be fought and when. They arbitrated civil disturbances and disagreements. They controlled the ceremonies.
The Celtic meeting places were rectangular stone great halls. Many of the stones were carved. There was a road lined with statues of dead aristocratic warriors leading to the meeting house. The Romans broke of the heads and arms of all these statues. Why the arms? Eryl tells us that it has been determined that these warriors were holding carved human heads! No wonder the Romans feared them! During ceremonies the Druids held real severed human heads, as shown in descriptions and paintings. The island of Anglesey/Mona was a major center of training for the Druids.
After lunch we board the bus and head out to Anglesey again. Our first stop is at the hill fort Din Lligwy. On the way Eryl attempts to teach us how to pronounce some of the Welsh sounds not used in English, such as "ll," "dd," gwy," and "ff." I find I cannot make my mouth move to make these sounds. It reminds me of my attempt to pronounce the "!" sound of the !Kung people of Africa. After the bus is parked, we have about a ten minute walk across a sheep pasture to get to the hill fort. On the way we pass the ruins of a beautiful little twelfth-century church.
As we pass through the last gate and copse of trees, I see the foundations of the hill fort before me. It's much larger than I expected. The sign at the entrance says, based on Roman writing, this was a fourth-century structure. Much of the area inside the enclosing wall is taken up by the foundations. Eryl tells us that Din Lligwy means house of Lligwy. To the right of the entrance is a large rectangular building. Its back wall is part of the enclosing wall. The doorway can be seen in the center of the long wall on the right; the firepit is to left of the entrance. Most of the houses here seem to be circular. One has two concentric circular walls with the core filled with dirt and stone rubble. At the back is the principal house, also circular, of the settlement. It is based on the construction of this house that Eryl believes the settlement to be much older than fourth century. Unlike all of the other structures that touch the outside wall here, this house has a house wall separate from the enclosing wall. Eryl explains that if the wall predated the house, the house would also have used the outside wall as it back wall. Therefore, the house predates the wall; Eryl believes by a considerable time. He says that about 40-50 people would have lived within the enclosure. Eryl tells us that here in the woods its hard to conceive of the surrounding area as populated, but that within one-half mile of here there are over 120 houses and another hill fort.
As we stand in this ancient village, Eryl tells us of some of the daily-life quirks. The marriage contracts were changed regularly. The contract listed everything belonging to the family and identified who got what, such as the querm pestle went to the wife and the querm mortar to the husband. This reminds me of Solomon's offer to cut the baby in half for two feuding women. Each part of the querm is useless without the other. It is from this situation that the phrase "millstone around my neck" came to mean a worthless burden. Being windowless, the only light that entered these houses came through the doorway. So, when someone came to your house they necessarily darken your house, and the phrase "never darken my doorway again" came to mean you didn't want someone to come again.
We travel on to the Penmon Priory next. It is the site of one of the first Christian churches in the area. It is associated with St. Seiriol, who lived in the late eighth century. As was usual with these early churches, it was connected with cells/abodes of hermit monks. The original building was burned by the Danes during a raid in 971 and was replaced at this site with the stone structure after that. St. Seiriol was a contemporary of St. Patrick. Behind the priory is the ancient Celtic sacred well, which was converted by St. Seiriol into a baptismal font. The foundations of his cell can be seen near this water. The water in the well are very clear. During the Celtic times objects of iron were thrown into the sacred water to appease their gods. Some in our group do the same - just in case. Eryl tells us that he brick framework around the small enclosed area containing the well was placed by William Bulkley's descendant Lady Bulkley in the eighteenth century. I am surprised to hear the name of one of my ancestors in connection with this place and quickly take several more shots.
Tonight we are enchanted by a concert by the 48-voice all-male chorus of Bangor. This choir has traveled the world and what a magnificent sound. I am especially impressed with one of the tenors, who does a solo. What controlled power; I believe he could easily balance the other 47 singers. Among the dozen songs they share are several traditional Welsh ones - in that language. They seem to have no trouble at all with those sounds so foreign to my tongue.
Today is another all day field trip, this time into Snowdonia National Park. Snowdonia is the large tourist area centered on the 3,560-foot tall mountain, Snowdon. This is the highest peak in Wales - and England. The whole day is spent driving around this magnificent landscape, which reminds me of the Smoky Mountains back home. As I turn back from the shore of this beautiful lake, there across the road is a display of heath. We have seen the whole landscape painted with it, so I take a shot of this display.
Slate mining has been a major industry in Wales for a long time. Eryl tells us how Lord Telford, the owner of the mines, operated. Each month every work team would contract with Telford's agent as to how many thousands of the slate roofing shingles they would produce in the coming month from the outcrop they were assigned for that month. And the price per thousand delivered was agreed upon. If the team came up short, they received less money. If they exceeded the contracted amount, they received a bonus, but the agent then assigned a poorer outcrop to them for the next month. Ultimately, Telford's company provided his workers with everything they needed from housing to shops, so everyone ended up in debt to him. It reminds me of Tennessee Ernie Ford's big hit: "You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt." The coal mine owners in Appalachia must have learned their trade here.
This man Telford was really something else. He built and owned all of the roads and bridges in this part of Wales. We run across his structures all day. He even had toll gates scattered around so those using them, such as the mail and passenger coaches, had to pay to get through. He had little slate-splitter stations every hundred yards along the road; we see the remains of several; they look like pull-offs for passing traffic. He also had mile markers placed on his roads; we see some are still in place. All of Telford's roads throughout Snowdonia are sloped at less than 1 foot of elevation change per 22 feet in the horizontal direction, so the speed of vehicles can be maintained throughout. Eryl says Wales has 3,000,000 people and 11,000,000 sheep. I believe it as sheep are everywhere we go. We pass an interesting section of bluffs next to a lake - Llyn Ogwen - where the first group to scale Mt. Everest successfully trained and returns every four years for a reunion. We see dozens of climbers trying their luck this morning.
When we leave Llyn Ogwen, we head north through more scenic landscape to the little town of Trefriw, in which the Trefriw Woollen Mills is located. We are given a very interesting tour, including demonstrations of how much of the equipment works - even though its Saturday. Once again the efforts made by the Elderhostel organization to provide its clients with the most bang for their bucks comes through. The tour ends where all tours end - in the gift shop. Only this gift shop is an outlet store for the outstanding woollen products this little mill makes. I buy a sweater and a hat to add to my ever expanding luggage. Each of us seems to be trying to his or her part in helping the local economies.
We then turn back to the south and stop in the picturesque little mountain resort Betws-y-Coed. None of us can pronounce the name, so we start referring to it as Betsy Coed. But by whatever name you call it, it is delightful. After spending just a short time here, I resolve that if I ever return to Wales, this is certain a place I'll spend several days. We leave Betsy Coed and pass Betsy Coed, and stop at the Llechwodd Slate Caverns. We don our hard hats and take the elevator down into the mine, then switch to a little passenger tram. At several former mining rooms, we stop for live or electronic presentations, which taken altogether give a fairly complete picture of this work. It seems to be not unlike coal mining, except for the absence of the dust. At one stop we see the results of a cave-in of the roof. In the foreground of this shot, stands a ladder to the ceiling in the middle of the room, supported by guy wires. This was the "safety" ladder used to check the condition of the ceiling. I'll bet the workers in that job didn't last very long. It must be 70 feet to the top. After we return to the surface, the tour passes through a building in which live and mannequin demonstrations show how roof slates are made from the big blocks dug out of the ground far beneath us. I happen to catch the splitter just as his blow starts the split of a sheet into two shingles. When the tour is over, we still have half an hour, so I head up the rather long series of outdoor stairs that lead to an observation deck. The first thing that strikes me again is the similarity to coal mining, as the mountains of debris pulled from below are piled everywhere. However, the striking difference is the lack of the acid-leached environment I am so used to in coal-mining country back home.
Tired after a long day, we head back toward Bangor. On the way Eryl says we have time for a bonus. So, we stop beside another picturesque lake. Eryl crosses the busy highway, heads down to the shore, and walks for about ten minutes. We follow along like a string of sheep. We stop at a small 20-foot diameter platform of stone, raised several feet above the surrounding shore. There embedded in a stand is a plaque made of Welsh slate and dated 1993. The plaque recognizes Thomas Jefferson's Welsh origins. In his autobiography Jefferson stated that his grandfather came from a farmhouse at the foot of Snowdon. When we arrived at this national monument, two fellows are cooking their dinner on a small charcoal grill they have set up on the wall surrounding the platform. Eryl goes to them immediately and says: "You can't do that here; it's a national monument. Can you move it, please." So many times I've witnessed similar desecrations of our national monuments and not had the nerve to say anything. Eryl, of course, has the authority of being involved on the national preservation body. The fellows apologize and carefully move their hot grill. Eryl politely thanks them later, as we ready to leave.
This afternoon we take the advantage of an optional trip to Conwy. It is the sight of another of Edward I's castles designed by Master James. Our first stop in Conwy, however, is Plas Mawr, the restored home of the influential Welch merchant Robert Wynn. It was built between 1576 and 1585, as attested to by stucco dates incorporated into the elaborate designs on the walls and ceilings. It is the finest surviving town house of the Elizabethan period and displays the wealth and status of its builder and owner. His initials are also included throughout the house, as above the mantel in the great hall. One of the things we first notice is the peculiar bare-breasted figure in this plasterwork. We notice this figure throughout the house. I understand it is called a "caryatid" and is a classic Greek motif. Also in the great hall is the table used to serve company. I learn from the excellent audio tape, that comes with price of admission, that each guest would have been expected to bring their own silverware in their belt pouch designed to carry it. That's one way to keep your guests from walking off with your good silver! This shot also shows more of the very elaborate and colorful decoration of the great hall.
The town of Conwy is much older than Plas Mawr. The first records are of iron age peoples, followed by the now-familiar sequence of folks. The west tower of St. Mary's parish church is built on the remains of the abbey founded in the 1180's. Edward I had the abbey removed when his castle was constructed. It is amazing that this castle was started in March 1283 and largely completed in late 1287. The enclosing wall was built simultaneously with the castle. Both the west tower of St. Mary's and the castle are visible from the upper patio of Plas Mawr. This castle has eight massive towers and, like Beaumaris, was designed for defense. It was built in two sections, the inner half being self-contained and defendable in the event the outer half were taken. In addition, the castle itself served as a defensive retreat in the event the town were taken.
In Conwy I also pick up a brochure for the little railroad town I have read about before. On the way into town on Wednesday I had noticed the sign to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, but didn't recognize it. The brochure informed me that this is the official short version of the town's full name - Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. The name means Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tysilio near the red cave. It was the "inspired invention" of a nineteenth century local humorist.
This morning Eryl continues his presentation on the Druids with a discussion on the medical/healing aspects of their responsibilities. They carved small wooden effigies of a human, or some part of a human such as an arm or a leg. In each case the appearance of the infirmity is exaggerated and very evident. These were probably used in some type of ceremony involving the ill person and the Druid healer. The effigy was placed in the sacred water at some point in the ceremony. It floated away and eventually sank to be found centuries later by archaeologists. Since currents tend to be consistent, whole piles of these effigies have been found, for example, at the source of the Seine. Bath was a similar Celtic site, later to be used by the Romans. Other ceremonial sites were apparently used in Druidic ceremonies related to weaponry, where each was deliberately ceremonially "killed" before it was placed in the sacred water. In still other sites the remains of sacrificial victims - both human and animal - have been found.
In 1943, while extending a runway on Anglesey, some metal work was found. Sir Cyril Fox was called in; he identified it as Celtic objects dating from 180 B.C. to 70 A.D. Later analysis moved these dates back 350 years. Among the objects found in the three years of excavation were swords, spears, metalworking tools, horse fittings, shields, a piece of a trumpet, and pieces of 22 chariot wheels; whatever else is there is now covered by the last fifteen feet of runway.
Another recent finding at a sacrificial site is a slave chain with five neck rings and the connecting chains. Many bones, some say they were human, have been retrieved in the past - and neither analyzed nor saved. Many small stone and wooden Celtic god statues - mostly just heads - have been found. Many look like Father Christmas - lintoid eyes with a carved pupil and a hole in the corner of the mouth are common features. Also found have been carved snakes (the Celtic symbol for healing and wisdom, rather than the Christian symbol for evil) and giant bats (symbols of baptism or sacrifice). The fir tree was sacred to the Celts and was the symbol of fertility. The dog was the guardian of the other world and the symbol of evil.
Many Celtic bodies have been found in bogs; most have been re-buried without analysis. The few that have been studied appear to have been sacrificial victims. One poor fellow, dubbed Pete Marsh by the researchers (Who says scientists don't have a sense of humor?), was hit twice on the back of the head, then garroted, and finally had his jugular vein cut, which actually killed him. His hair and moustache had been carefully groomed. He had eaten gruel laced with the hallucinogenic mistletoe as his last meal. His fingernails were in perfect condition, making the researchers wonder if he had ever worked - but working with the lanolin of sheep's wool also gives this impression. He was 27 years old at the time of his death.
In 55 and 54 B.C. Caesar entered Britain with punitive raids to chase fleeing Europeans. Bad weather ruined both raids. He did manage to extract tribute from one tribe and established a practice of trading that endured for the next 90 years with no further invasions. Then, in 43 A.D. the Emperor Claudius followed through with the plans that had been developed by his predecessor Emperor Caligula. The goal was to get grain and metal. This Roman invasion is the only planned and executed successful one of Britain. 48,000 Roman soldiers and cavalrymen came with stabbing swords, javelins, and darts, each of which was new to the Celts. In addition they brought catapults, cross-bow-like shooters mounted on tripods, and, perhaps the most deadly of all, the cross-haired arrow with two heads on the same axis, but perpendicular to each other. These would penetrate anything the Celts had, including their shields and their heads, as evidenced by the number of skulls that have been found with square holes. One legion captured twenty hill forts in one summer. The Celts never knew what hit them. The Romans moved into Wales in about 50 A.D., but never Romanized it the way they did southern England.
In 410 A.D. the Roman government broke down after about sixteen generations of rule. I note that they ruled Wales longer than Europeans have been in the U.S.! Eryl tells us that the further one travels from southeast England, the less the degree to which the people were Romanized. Anglesey was attacked in 60 A.D., then in a great leap of history, Eryl tells us the Normans arrived in 1090. The great thing the Romans brought was Pax Romana - Roman peace - with its taxes and centralized-market economy. This economy required communication, which meant they built roads everywhere they ruled, and education, which was in Latin. The Roman roads were always built to the same specifications. They were about twenty feet wide and raised above the surrounding terrain. Drainage ditches were dug along both sides. They built towns at the road intersections - each with a market forum. One retiring Roman soldier is recorded as receiving 16 hectares (taken from Celts), marrying a Celtic woman, and building temples to Claudius. All three of these actions were hated and guaranteed to lead to revolt.
After dinner we gather for another of the delightful evening entertainments. This time a harpist shares his talent and his knowledge of the harp with us. He plays a "Minerva", which is a black and gold, double-action harp made from maple and spruce. It is one of only three that have been made. It has 47 strings - gut in the center range, wire in the lower range, and nylon in the upper range. His varied program and conversation with us is greatly enjoyed and appreciated.
We learn this morning that Eryl is now officially retired from lecturing at the university - and that he is booked through the middle of the year 2000!
As the Roman empire faded and their control disappeared, the Anglos, Saxons, Jutes, etc. began raiding the rich villas on the coast of England. These Celtic peoples had not been conquered in the low country in Europe. Evidence of ancient Christianity survives from as early as 350 A.D. The use of the Greek "chi" superimposed on the letter "rho," representing the first two letters of Christ in Greek, with an "alpha" and "omega" to either side survived in a Christian chapel in a burned villa. A mid-fourth century Christian mosaic floor with a beardless young Christ in the center and the "chi/rho" symbol behind him survives. On either side of the Christ are pomegranates, which are known for their many seeds, to spread the seed of the Gospel. In each corner are the Apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There exists an early Christian tombstone from 500 A.D. with one of the earliest "He/she lies here" known. In 410 A.D. raiders were a big problem. Rome was under terrible pressure. As a consequence, Rome sent out a letter to all towns in their empire recalling all standing armies and all administrators to Rome. The towns were told to look to their own defense and were encouraged with "May all your gods be with you."
A primary consequence of the raids was that the communication so vital to the success of the Roman central-market economy was broken, and the general market trade system failed. The former empire reverted to local markets and the clan system. Even so, burials still referred to the Emperor Justin in the mid-sixth century, which means there was still some type of communication with Rome. The Saxons had taken over most of south and east England and began pushing west. Most of their ruling centers were former Roman government centers. Arthur - the Bear - was a mercenary hired to help fight off the Saxons and was killed in about 575 to 580. The Normans picked up his story and added feats of another Arthur plus some tales of the court, round table, chivalry, etc., and the King Arthur legend of today was born.
The Romanized Celts of northern Wales fought the Anglos and Saxonin the area of Chester and lost. The Anglo/Saxons had no knowledge or interest in things Roman, so Roman towns fell into ruins. In the 590's St. Augustine arrived to Christianize the Anglo/Saxons in Kent. The previous presence of Christianity had died out in eastern England, but had survived in the west. By this time all land-based communications with Rome had ceased, and the sea had become the new route. So, Ireland became important and attracted attention from the Church. St. Patrick arrived to drive the snakes from the island, that is, the snakes of wisdom of the Celtic religion. Most of his work was superimposed on the Christianity that remained from Roman times. For example, Bangor, which means wooden corral, was a small wooden church with a wooden fence surrounded by Celtic houses.
Eryl tells us that Wales developed as a country as it came together against the Anglo/Saxons - the Welsh language, poets, and government. In 735 Offre's Dyke separated Wales from the east, and there were five basic clan areas. By 900 Norsemen began to attack the Anglo/Saxons, who had built huge wooden forts. They attacked all points around Ireland and Wales. Celtic art survived in Ireland and incorporated new ideas from the Norsemen and from Christianity. The Book of Kells is the ultimate example in Celtic art in Christianity.
In 1066 Harold of Wessex was appointed as King of England, but William of Norman had a very strong claim to that kingship. This led to the Battle of Hastings. Harold had just defeated a Danish challenge and was not able to get his troops into position for William's challenge. The Normans had a good cavalry. They used a special saddle, which was high in the front and rear like the American cavalry. This saddle, along with their long stirrups and better chain mail, permitted them to ride straight-legged with a large special sword aimed forward as they charged. So, Harold surrendered. The Normans also quickly erected hundreds of siege castles (the bailey/wall from which you hollered for help and small keep/castle for final defense) at close intervals for protection and mutual support. Eryl tells us that Old Bailey, seat of the British government, is an old Norman bailey. They later built large stone castles - the ultimate one being the Tower of London.
But the Normans couldn't use their cavalry in mountainous Wales, so they went around to Ireland. So, from William's invasion in 1066 to late in the thirteenth century Wales remained independent. Then Llewelyn the Great lost to Edward I. Edward used paid mercenaries, fought all year instead of the usual twelve weeks, and knew all about castles. The string of fourteen protective castles he built around Wales to consolidate his victory were based on the Norman design, but his master builder James modified the keep concept into a larger structure, producing the box in a box appearance for which Master James' work is known. His first castle in this series was started in 1277 and was a box in a box in a town concept. Eryl believes James' castle at Conwy to be his most brilliant design; it could be totally garrisoned by only 48 men. He believes Caernarfon, a huge figure eight that can be closed in the center, to be his most romantic design and Beaumaris to be his most perfect design. And I will have visited all three! Edward I mistakenly thought Constantine the Great had been born in North Wales and determined to prove himself to be the modern Constantine by his castle at Caernarfon. Edward, having killed Llewelyn, named his son the new Prince of Wales. Ever since, the male heir to the British throne has been given this honorary title. In 1911 the first investiture of the Prince of Wales took place in Caernarfon. In the 700 years from the time Edward I built Caernarfon until George V only Henry IV has visited Caernarfon. It is obvious from the way Eryl tells us about the Prince of Wales that he does not accept these men as true princes of Wales. In fact, it has become rather evident to me that Eryl is pretty much in favor of an independent Wales. The cannon ended the age of the castle.
After lunch we head for the town of Cearnarfon to visit examples of two recent topics in Eryl's lectures - a Roman fort and Caernarfon castle. The Segontium Roman Fort was built shortly after the Roman conquest of Wales in 77 A.D. It was used off and on for about 250 years, as evidenced by the coins found in its ruins. As we tour the little museum at today's entrance to the fort, I read a short explanation of the area at the time of the conquest:
|"The land was extensively forested. The inhabitants were Celts who lived chiefly by cattle raising. Their agriculture was primitive. There were several tribes, of whom the Silures in the south and the Ordovices in the north were the most powerful."|
I quote this short inscription, not because of its description of the area, but because of its reference to the Silures and Ordovices. These are the two peoples after whom the Silurian and Ordovician geological periods were named - the two primary ones in middle Tennessee, where I grew up and my geologist father introduced me to them. It is a startling and memorable moment.
As we leave the entrance building and move back behind it, I see carefully manicured stone foundations of the Roman buildings. The literature tells me that this fort was designed to accommodate up to 1,000 men. I am glad Eryl is here to tell us about these stones, for to me they say little without his words. For instance, here is a hole in the ground lined with stone. I learn that it was the vault of the Roman garrison. Here is where the treasurer kept the funds for paying the troops and, probably, kept the savings they gave him for safe-keeping. And - here is the principia, the home of the commandant of the troops here. It is designed in the nature of an Italian home, even to the point of having an open-roofed courtyard in this cool, damp climate. That's Eryl standing in the center with his ever-present umbrella. He tells us that what we see today are actually what were the subground foundations of the Roman buildings, that is, the surrounding ground was higher then than it is now. In the principia Eryl points out the remains of the commandant's altar. On it would have been placed a small statute of the current emperor of the empire. At one edge of the ruins Eryl shows us the foundations of one of the sets of gates through which one would have entered the fort. There at the base he points to holes drilled in stone into which the hinges of one of the gate's doors would have been placed, and I am suddenly in a Roman fort and feel a tie back to that time in history. Yes, I am glad Eryl is with us to make these stone come alive.
We move by bus, as usual, from the hill top on which the fort was located down into the little town of Caernarfon. The castle at Caernarfon was built in the shape of an hourglass with gates and barriers that could be closed at the narrower center. As we explore the castle, we also find the center has arrow slits aimed toward the quay end to help in the defense should the ocean end be taken. The quay end presents itself to the world with flags and towers. It is a long way in this large castle from the quay end through the center of the hourglass to the town end. We see some of the seats remaining from the Welsh music concert of the other night. Barbara and I had elected not to take advantage of this concert, having heard the men's chorus at the university; many in our group went to it. We also find, as we explore, one of the two reverse- spiral stairwells in the castle. In most castles, as in this one, the stairwells were turned in such a way as to give the defender, who, it was assumed, would be backing up the stairs while trying to defend against an attacker, the advantage. By constructing the stairs with the center at his left as he faced down the stairs, the combatant's right sword hand was free to strike at his enemy while he held on for dear life with his left hand to the center support of these treacherous columns. Meanwhile, the attacker had to hold on with his right hand, while trying to fight with his sword in his left hand, or hold on with the left and fight cross-armed!. Now, what happens if your castle, or a part of it, is taken and you want to regain it? You simply plan ahead when you build the castle and have two stairs, known only to you, built with a reverse spiral. You can now pick one of these stairs to attack up while holding with your left hand and "swording" with your right! Our Master James sure was ingenious. On one parapet I take a shot of the gate named after Eleanor of Castille, Edward's wife and also my ancestor. It is the town gate through which people passed, and still pass between the castle and the town. It is also yet another connection from my past to things of the past on this trip. And I, who always hated history - at the least the way it was taught in school, resolve to learn some more of the history of my ancestors. I will start reading "Albion's Seed" when I get home.
After dinner we again must bid some new-made friends farewell over a glass of wine. Lori and Eryl have meant so much to us during the past week. Some in the group again share some limericks with us. As before, these extol out local friends.
Early after breakfast we board our Celtic chariot for the rather long drive to Dundee, Scotland. On the way we get a through the window view of Liverpool and Manchester to the east of Bangor. We then turn north and head toward Scotland through some beautiful English countryside. We skirt the edge of Glasgow before heading east toward Edinburgh. Again, we only see the city in the distance as the turn once again north to skirt Perth, as we head east to Dundee. The facilities at Dundee are brand new. Barbara and I even get to share a room. We meet Hamish (Scottish for James); the first thing I notice about him is his Scottish attire - right down to the kilt. Hamish introduces our lecturer for the week James Joseph Robertson - call me Jim - or just JR. JR is a Scottish lawyer by training - whoops there goes our "liar" joke! He started his interest in Scottish medieval history by spending many weeks pouring old Vatican records, concerning Scottish petitions, in Rome. Hamish tells us that the University of Dundee has been planning and hosting Elderhostels for 18 years and the most important thing we can do all week is enjoy ourselves. Sounds like the right approach to me. Then he spoils it all by telling the group that the nearest bars are far away; some moan. I look forward to learning more about Scottish history, as my Wilson ancestor supposedly came from here.
This first morning JR plans to cover the story of Scotland from 2,000 B.C. to 300 A.D., that is from the prehistoric Celtic origins of the Scottish nation up to the time of the Roman invasion. He then goes on to say that we shouldn't let anyone try to convince us that the Romans never got this far north, because there is a lot of evidence that they did. He also tells us that a basic thing we need to remember throughout his lectures is that Scottish law is different from the English law practiced everywhere else on these islands. Scottish law was and is based on the canons of the Roman Catholic Church, which became the basis for European law, but not English law. He indicates that the Scottish people historically are a rather straight-forward bunch, preferring to tackle a problem straight on rather than seeking compromise and evolution to solve it. He believes this reflects their frugal nature, since it is cheaper to tackle a problem than let it linger.
When the last ice age ended about 10,000 years B.C., there was a great population movement from southern Europe toward the north. The first main settlers reached Scotland in about 2,000 to 3,000 B.C. from the Iberian peninsula through Ireland and western England. Some call these people Celts (with a soft "c" like an "s"), others call them Goidals. These latter are the so-called Q-Celts from the Mediterranean - volatile, swarthy, dark. We know little about their culture other than they were tribal and hierarchical. The Goidals tended to settle west due to the higher ground. Around 1,800 B.C. a second movement commenced to the eastern seaboard from across the North Sea in the Rhineland area. These were the so-called Picts, although they were really just other Goidals. There were a few differences in their cultures - the westerners used stone monuments, the easterners used burial vaults. They could communicate with each other. We are talking about relatively small numbers of people - maybe in the area of 50,000. They lived in extended family groups, not clans - these did not form until the eighteenth century in Scotland - the tartans not until the nineteenth century.
JR says that things were relatively calm for about 1,000 years, when further population moves in southern Europe began. These Goidalic iron-age people moved basically from west to east and are called P-Celts. The Q-Celts in Ireland and Scotland could not understand the P-Celts who moved into unoccupied Wales. Also, Brittanic Celts, who were not Goidalic, moved in England up to the Glasgow area about 1,000-800 B.C. The iron-age hill forts in this area were built as defensive centers against these invading Brittanics. The structure of the stone walls on these forts was quite advanced. Using alternating layers of limestone or sandstone and timber up to 12-feet tall, they would burn the structure, creating a very strong barrier through vitrification - fusing the stone. Things are again quiet for another 800 years.
JR again warns us not to believe those who say the Romans never got as far north as Scotland. He says that within 30 miles of Dundee, there exist at least 60 Roman sites created between 78 A.D. and about 350. The Romans came in basically three thrusts - one per century. The first was a thrusting out of the Roman frontier as far as possible. There were three legions in Scotland, which implies 60,000 to 70,000 persons - both soldiers and all the support people. They were regularly opposed by the Scottish people, whom they finally crushed in early 80 A.D. A decade later one of the legions was withdrawn to support other adventures.
A whole new sequence of Emperors ruled Rome in the next century. Hadrian's Wall was built as a dividing line and to centralize trading. The gates even opened to the north, indicating the wall was not built to keep the Romans out. Twenty years later Antonine's Wall was built a little farther north. Toward the end of the second century, an African-oriented dynasty was established in Rome. It was their goal to restore the Roman eagle, that is, to expand the Roman frontier back to its farthest extends, which meant all of the British Isles, as had been done in the first century. There remains a first-hand, eye-witness account of this movement back into Scotland by Dio Cassius, a Greek historian who traveled with the Roman emperor and his entourage. He described their enemies, the Celts, as living in tents, not using fish, being naked, using chariots and daggers, sharing women, and raising children in common.
The Romans hung around until the first half of the fourth century, during which time they initiated town life. JR says that the Roman law they practiced during this time disappeared over time and was reintroduced late in the 1600's. Dio Cassius also quotes a local chief's wife speaking to the wife of the emperor: "With respect to intercourse, I get to enjoy the benefits of the best men, while you are taken in secret by a barbarian." Then came the infamous letter from Rome in 410 - Fend for yourselves; we're leaving. A great political vacuum was caused by Rome's withdrawal. It was in this vacuum that the nation of Scotland developed.
JR divides Scotland into four quadrants and writes the name of a people in each box: the Celtic Picts in the NE, the Celtic Scotti in the NW, other Celts in the SW, and Saxons in the SE. The Scotti had come from northeast Ireland. They spread Christianity to the east and south through the sixth century. They eventually overextended themselves when in 604 they decided to take over the Saxon area to the SE. The Scotti lost in a great battle. With that loss the connection between Scotland and Wales was severed. Then toward the end of that century Elizabeth decided to take over the rest of Scotland. Her forces lost a great battle to the Picts to the north. The Picts were the original indigenous Celtic people. They were called Picti by the Romans and referred to themselves as Pechti. As the Scoti and Picti began to unite, the name "Scotland" began to appear.
By the 800's the Vikings took over all of the off-shore islands and Dublin, thus ringing Scotland. By the 900's there existed strong internal Scottish alliances. By the late 900's to early 1,000's the Saxons of Northumbria moved into mutual agreement pacts with Scotland. Then, by 1018 the southern boundary of Scotland was set between those Saxons who looked toward London and those Saxons who looked toward Scotland. Duncan (the one of Shakespeare's Macbeth) was king from 1040 to 1057. Contrary to Shakespeare's play, Macbeth was a very able ruler. He was Christian and had two pilgrimages to Rome. Malcolm challenged Macbeth and war resulted. Knowing that James of England, and formerly of Scotland, is descended from Malcolm, Shakespeare wrote Macbeth to show James as the descendant of a real hero, even though he had to twist history to do so.
Christianity came to Ireland from Wales and southwest Scotland. About 396 Ninian began bringing it into southwest Scotland from England. JR says that St. Patrick may have never existed as a single individual. A known Christian missionary, Paledsous Patricius, is possibly the basis for the St. Patrick story. St. Alban was martyred about 290 and may have brought Christianity to England earlier. It is known that there were no Christians in the Roman army until the late 800's.
We take a tour of Dundee during the afternoon in the pouring rain, which gives way to heavy fog as the day wears on. On top of The Law (meaning the hill) we are shown Dundee, at least we think Dundee is out there. The Law is the highest point in the city. It is the remains of an ancient volcanic plug and was later the site of a Celtic hill fort. The guidebook says "There are magnificent views from here, not only of Dundee and its surrounding countryside, but of distance mountains to the north and west." We hear: "Right over there, if you could see it, is so-and-so."
After dinner Hamish has arranged for us to visit the Verdant Works Textile Heritage Center, which would normally be closed at this time. Verdant Works tells the story of Dundee's textile history, especially with jute. At one time the business of this city was known as "The three "J"'s of Dundee." The making of jam has past. The jute textile industry is almost gone. But, JR tells us, journalism is thriving. Verdant Works at one time provided all of the sail cloth for the navy and merchant ships. It started as a linen business and changed to jute as it became more popular. I learn that Thomas Telford, the builder of Welsh roads, etc., was also active here. He designed and built the harbor, docks, and warehouses of Dundee. He also built a series of canals along the northeast to southwest fault line that cuts Scotland. We also learn that three grains are grown in Scotland: wheat for bread, barley for beer, and oats for horses and porridge.
Hundreds of circle tombs have been found in Scotland and its islands. Twenty to thirty feet above the surrounding ground, large slabs of stone were set on end surrounding a central tomb covered by stone. By the late 300's Christian tomb stones had appeared with "chi" and "rho," "alpha" and "omega," and their symbol for infinity, a circle, carved in them. Later, about 400 A.D., the circle became that which surrounds the Celtic cross, the chi and rho having been modified into a equal-armed cross. A pedestal was added to lift the cross. By 600 this pedestal began to be carved with the Celtic latticework and mutated into the lower arm of our familiar Christian cross. JR speculates that the Celtic lattice grill may have been brought from Rome by Celtic visitors to that city. The Rothnell Cross, which is 10-20 miles west of Carlisle, was erected about 700 A.D.. It is a very tall cross that merges Celtic and Christian symbols. Iona has beautiful Celtic crosses on its western seaboard. The Vikings swept away most of this civilization in the ninth century. The Book of Kells was actually written in the Iona monastery, even though it is associated with Ireland. The Dundee area got a fusion of Iona and Whithorn culture in the eighth century
Malcolm Canmore lay the groundwork of the culture of the middle ages. About 1000 A.D. a peacefulness came into Europe, except for the brief successful Norman invasion into England. Just before 1000 A.D. the same millennium fever occurred all over Europe. People were convinced the world was going to end at that magic moment, but as JR says in understatement, "It didn't." During this period the British Isles were integrally involved with what happened in Europe and Rome and vice versa. The Pope was on the verge of becoming the supreme ruler of Europe, delegating his authority to his archbishops throughout Europe. It brought orderliness to what had been the loose structure of the church. All of the great cathedrals were built between 1000 and 1200, as the church took control, including in Scotland. Malcolm Canmore's new wife, Margaret, was raised in Hungary and her domineering way brought the Pope's church structure to Scotland. The liturgy was standardized. Monastic orders were re-established, for example, Benedictine. Malcolm and Margaret started a dynasty and changed the previously matrilineal society into a primogenitor patrilineal one.
In 1072 a great Norman fleet of William the Conqueror sailed to conquer Scotland. Malcolm III signed a paper that he would be loyal to William and Scotland to England. As soon as William left, Malcolm renounced the oath immediately as having been made under duress. This action has led to a great history of disagreement. Scotland promptly forgot the oath; England never has. I get the strong impression that JR is definitely on the Scottish side of this issue. Malcolm's son, King David, learned of the feudal system of land management while he was in England. This system looked and worked remarkably like the structure of the church - king, lords, peasants. He set it up in Scotland, inviting the Normans into Scotland to assist him set up the new land system. Bruce - a name now considered to be so Scottish - was a Norman name that came in through David's invitation. The Lords were given baronial justice power to settle many disputes on their land. They were assisted by the Norman sheriff who was in charge of that county and served as an intermediary between the King and the Lord. Meanwhile, the Scots were going to Bologna to relearn the Roman law that had been rediscovered there, rather than going to Cambridge to learn British common law. In practice, most law was carried out in the sheriff's or King's courts, which tended to create new laws on the fly.
An interesting land-ownership issue arose. The have-nots with their representatives and champions were trying to get rid of Scotland's feudal land ownership. They wanted to make all land available to anybody; that is, according to JR, they wanted to be able to pitch a tent anywhere they felt like it, or build a shed in your garden, or move into the empty rooms in your house. As the feudal land system has developed, it sounds much like our individual property ownership and rights, including adding two-year stipulations to sales contracts. I do understand that such rights are hierarchical up through the chain of managers to the ultimate owner - the King. In this sense their feudal system is foreign to us.
The Diocese of York tried to exercise control on the Scottish church, which appealed to the Pope and was declared by him to be totally independent of York. He further declared the church in Scotland to be a special daughter of Rome and that no urban archbishops were to be assigned there. This pronouncement further tied Scotland to Rome and Europe. The success of this complaint led the direct appeal to Rome to become the standard appeal route from the Scottish courts. As the millennium moves on, Scotland ties become closer and closer to Rome, while England's ties become weaker and weaker. The sequence of rulers in Scotland was unbroken until 12 March 1286, when King Alexander III was killed in a fall from his horse while returning to his new, young, and unpregnant wife. There was no heir. All side lineages were checked. Forty claimants showed up, three of which remained as reasonable. They asked King Edward I (my ancestor, the castle builder) to be arbitrator. He chose John Bailial from whom he immediately demanded allegiance. When it was not forthcoming, Edward wiped out Bailail and almost overnight England established British governors and law in Scotland. JR says with some obvious wistfulness: "The Golden Age of Scotland is over."
After lunch we head for what promises to be a most interesting afternoon. We start at the tiny town of Aberlemno midway between Forfar and Brechin northeast of Dundee. As we stand before a beautiful carved stone standing on end in the earth, JR tells us about the three phases of such stones here in the heart of Pictland. During the first phase, 500-600 A.D., the stones had no Christian symbols, that is, all carvings were Celtic. During the second phase, late 600's-700's, Christian and Celtic symbols were intermixed, sometimes on opposite sides of the stone. In the final phase Celtic symbols were no longer used. The stone in front of me is from Phase I. JR identifies the Celtic symbols frequently found on these stones - the serpent at the top; beneath it and extending almost to the bottom the zed or "z" rod; the small circle with center dots in the elbows of the zed rod; the dumbbell which is superimposed on the middle arm of the zed rod; the mirror to the right of the bottom arm of the zed rod; and finally the crown to the right of the mirror. The only problem, he says, is that every identifying name he used has been made up. Archaeologists haven't the faintest idea what any of them were called or what their meaning was. He does say that they speculate that the "mirror" represents the female genitals and probably is a fertility symbol. He then takes us around to the back of the stone and points to several cup and ring markings near the base. He tells us these were cut into the stone when it lay on the other side about 4,000 years ago.
We move up the road to a second, Phase II stone. On this side are carved Christian symbols - a Celtic cross with adoring angels on either side and mythological animals at the base. On the reverse I see the familiar Celtic symbols - the zed rod and the dumbbell.Below the Celtic symbols are carved horses and riders in what appears to be a hunting scene. At the base are two Old Testament scenes, one of which is David or Daniel wrestling with a lion.
After we leave the spectacular Aberlemno Stones, we head northeast toward Brechin Castle. On the way we drive up the beautiful Strassmore Valley. Along the way we stop at a dramatic overlook. The view is about 180 degrees of peaceful valley, bordered on the far side by low hills. JR points toward two off to the right and tells us that two hill forts are atop these. He sometimes takes tours up there, but it's a rather stiff and long climb, and we have miles to go before we sleep. He also points to a small farmhouse nestled in the center of the valley. It dates from the seventeenth century and is still occupied.
The town of Brechin dates from the eighth to the twelfth century, although the buildings are "recent" JR tells us. They were built in the 1700's. The cathedral shows a mixture of Irish Christianity and Pictish culture. This is especially visible in the tall, round tower, which was built in about 900 A.D. It is one of only two such towers remaining in Scotland. It was used a watchtower and as a place of refuge during the Viking period. The crucifix carved over the entrance to the tower is rather unique in this country, as the Irish tradition of the legs of Christ being uncrossed is used. At Brechin I also see a typical Phase III Celtic Cross, that is, one that depicts only Christian symbols. This cross, which dates from the eighth or ninth century and was found near the castle, has only New Testament figures. Here we see Joseph, Mary, and Jesus in the center surrounded by the four Apostles.
We leave Brechin and drive north to Edzell Castle. Edzell Castle, as with many Scottish castles, was originally composed of wooden buildings when it was built in the 1200's and, then, was rebuilt in stone in the 1400's. It had small windows and a single door to be more easily defended. In the early sixteenth century an additional wing was added, and a new main entrance was placed between the old and new wings. Large windows were also installed. Off to the side of the structure on a slight rise stands a tree that looks as old as time itself. It is known as the hanging tree. Although it probably is not the original one here, this form of execution was common for condemned men; women were burned. As we finish viewing the center of the castle JR collects us outside another doorway that passes through a ten-foot high windowless wall. Together we enter the doorway, and each person exclaims in surprise and pleasure as we see for the first time what is on the other side - a beautiful, formal garden. According to the sign posted there: "The walled garden of Edzell is the most extraordinary thing of its kind in Scotland. It was laid out in 1604 by Sir David Lindsay, a man of great culture, and was intended to provide a stimulus both for the mind and the senses. The present formal plantation was evolved between 1932 and 1938, incorporating mottoes of the Lindsay family in the low box hedges." The walls are decorated with sculptured stone panels, flower boxes, and niches for nesting birds. The checkered arrangements of blue and white lobelia in the wall recesses reflect the heraldic colors of the Lindsay family. What a delight! We enjoy this island of beauty for quite awhile. As we leave, I look back at Edzell Castle. It looks almost eternal standing there amongst the trees in a light fog. Yet, real people lived and died here for over two hundred years, until 1650 when they lost to Cromwell's army.
We begin our third all-day Saturday field trip shortly after breakfast, as we head northwest of Dundee for Dunkeld. We drive once again through the land of Macbeth, passing the Dunsinane castle ruins on a hill to the right. This castle is traditionally called "Macbeth's Castle." I wonder where Birnam Woods are, or were. As we pass an ancient Pictish castle, JR tells us we are now in Birnam Woods, nearing the old Pictish town of Birnam. I find all these direct connections to Shakespeare's play make Macbeth more real and recall my lines from it from highschool. We cross yet another Telford bridge from Birnam, enter Dunkeld, and head for its cathedral. I learn that the site of the cathedral has been holy since at least 570 A.D., when Celtic missionaries, known as Culdees, built a wattle monastery here. It was replaced in 848 by Kenneth MacAlpin, King of the Scots, with a stone structure. In 1560, following England's Reformation, the Privy Council issued instructions to local lords to destroy "images of idolatry." They interpreted these instructions as broadly as possible to justify widespread destruction. The building was partly re-roofed in 1600, but the Nave has never been restored. Then in 1689, during the Battle of Dunkeld which followed the Jacobite victory at Killiecrankie, the Cameronians, though greatly outnumbered, won a significant victory, but the Cathedral with most of the town was devastated by fire. Restorations in 1691, 1762, 1815, and 1975 have returned some of the majesty to this ancient site.
We drive on to the northwest to The Edradour near the town of Pitlochry. The Edradour, founded in 1825, bills itself as the smallest distillery in Scotland. I don't know about that, but nestled in the hills it's got to be the most picturesque. It remains as Scotland's last distillery to produce a handcrafted malt in limited quantity, unique quality and by methods which are but fond memories elsewhere. We start with a sampling of their fine Scotch whiskey and then proceed to tour the facility. It is spotlessly clean and smells most everywhere of grain and alcohol. At one point our guide throws back the lid of the fermentation tank to show us the vigor of that process. We then visit the gift shop, where we buy a couple of gifts for family and friends. We enjoy lunch at the delightful Moulin Hotel in Pitlochry. The oldest part of the structure is the original inn, first opened in 1695. This is another nice spot to center a future visit upon.
As we drive on toward our next stop JR starts to recite lines - in Scottish - from Robert Burns' poem "Killiecrankie," as we move along the banks of the river and through that town. Talk about being in Scotland! We stop at Queen's View for the dramatic river scene of Loch Tummel . It was made famous by Queen Victoria's visit in 1866, but was probably named after Queen Isabella, wife of Robert the Bruce. It is here that we finally get all together for a group shot. Hamish and Andrew, strung with dozens of cameras, take a shot with each , but Dick, standing elsewhere during this exercise, I shoot later. . As we drive through Aberfeldy on the way to Castle Menzies, we stop briefly at the Black Watch memorial. This is the location of the original recruitment of the "fria cando" around 1700 - the name has been Anglicized to Black Watch. Most members of the Black Watch are recruited from the Dundee area, even though their barracks are located in Perth.
Castle Menzies is a fine and large example of a Z-plan tower house, consisting of a central block with flanking towers at diagonally opposite corners. It was erected during the sixteenth century by the Menzies of Menzies and remained the seat of chiefs of the clan until the death of the last of the main line in 1918. It was in poor repair when obtained by The Memzies Clan Society, but they began its repair in 1972. It is really quite a nice place and well worth the visit.
During the morning about twelve of us, including bus-driver Jeff, pile into taxis and head for The Dundee Flower Show and Food Festival. This is its 10th anniversary, and Jeff tells us it will be quite spectacular. And spectacular it is, as Barbara and I ooh and ah over an incredible display of cut flowers, plants, floral arrangements, and humongous vegetables. We learn that growing and displaying these things is Jeff's avocation. He even plans and directs such shows where he lives in England. He looks especially carefully at the display of three vegetables - two each of carrots, leeks, and beets (I think). It turns out that the blue-ribbon winner in this event is Jeff's primary competition in many such shows. We ask Jeff how they grow such perfect, unblemished carrots with the fine root extending many feet from the orange vegetable. He tells us that he cuts a plastic pipe in two - the long way, carefully sifts fine soil and fertilizer many times to remove all obstacles, then plants a seed in the soil and clamps the two pipe halves together. When it is ready the pipe is opened up and the vegetable carefully removed. Fascinating!
After lunch we head north for Glamis Castles - Macbeth again! We learn right away that the Earl is at home as we see his flag on the mast. This is probably the most completely restored and decorated castle we've been in. I only regret that it comes so late in the trip; maybe I've become satiated. Andrew calls this the "ABC" tour, Another Bloody Castle. But I still enjoy every minute of the tour. The weather is so poor and the castle so beautiful that I cheat here and show a scan of the building from the "Glamis Castle" guidebook I buy here. The introduction to the guide is a message from the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and states: "My family have lived in Glamis Castle since 1372 when Sir John Lyon was granted the thaneage of Glamis by King Robert II. In 1376 Sir John married the King's daughter, Princess Joanna. Since then Glamis has been visited and lived in by many members of the Scottish and British Royal families. The Castle has been added to and altered throughout the centuries and it continues to evolve even now. I am pleased to welcome you and I trust that the glimpse you will see of what has passed will prove interesting, but it should be remembered that it still a home to which I and my family are extremely attached. I hope to maintain the Castle in as good a condition or better than you see it now." What else is there to say?
On the way to Meigle Museum we pass again through Kirriemuir, home of Sir James Barry, author of Peter Pan. Even though we are forewarned about the coming statue, I still fail to get a decent picture, but choose to show it anyway.
Meigle Sculptured Stone Museum is one of those little jewels hidden away that you never find on your own. In it is displayed a collection of 27 sculptured monuments of the Celtic Christian period. It is reported to be one of the finest collections of Dark Age sculpture in western Europe. JR tells us that this area was a major Pictish center for teaching and making their carved stones in this whole valley. The stone that particularly attracts me is the one considered to be the oldest at Meigle, carved perhaps in the late eighth century. The front has the expected Celtic Cross, but it is the back that I stand looking at for some time. On it I find horsemen and animals and the familiar serpent, zed rod, mirror and comb, plus a salmon and dog's head. If only we knew what each of these symbols meant to the carver.
After dinner we are treated to a concert by an outstanding lyric soprano, Allison Beck, accompanied on piano by Tom Devine. Hamish has undersold this woman's ability, as we all sit enthralled by her beautiful voice and style. She sings mostly traditional Scottish music, much of which comes from the poems of Robert Burns, such as "Comin' Through the Rye." She also shares classical music from church and opera and show tunes, such as "I could Have Danced All Night," from "My Fair Lady." She is just returning to professional singing, and we are truly blest to hear her. Barbara and I speculate that by the time this Elderhostel trip next rolls around, she will not be available. A glorious and enjoyable evening.!
JR summarizes that in 1286 Alexander III was killed with no direct heir, which led to Edward I taking over Scotland in 1296. By the 1200's an advisory body - a parliament - had developed around the king, as it had in other countries. This one in Scotland was unicameral with three estates - the land lords/owners, the churchmen/bishops, and the townspeople. That is, these three estates met as a single body, unlike England's bicameral House of Lords and House of Commons. William Wallace appeared as a leader of the opposition for those who had lost land to the British. After he had won several battles, Edward I reacted. He was aided by the Lords, including Robert Bruce who resented Wallace, whom he considered to be a lower-class person, getting such power. Wallace was handed over, executed, chopped into pieces, and the pieces were nailed to the walls in the Scottish towns. Opposition to England vanished! In 1306 Robert Bruce and John Common, another Lord, met in a church to talk. Bruce lost his temper and stabbed John, but not to death. His action so angered Edward I and the church that they declared Bruce to be an outlaw. He responded by raising a small army and beginning to attack English outposts. At first he was not very successful - even having to flee to Ireland several times - but by 1310 he support had increased significantly, having attracted some bishops and most of the people. By 1314 Edward I was dead and Edward II, who replaced hm, was not near as powerful as his predecessor. The English retained possession of only key Sterling Castle in Scotland. Bruce and Edward reached agreement - if the English could not end Bruce's siege by St. John's Day, then the English would withdraw. The English and Scottish armies met at the field of Bannockburn on 22 June 1314 in a giant two-day battle. With relish JR reports that the Scottish "prevailed," and the English withdrew. Scotland was independent again.
England was now the "Old Enemy," and Scotland strengthened its ties with Europe, especially France through the "Old Alliance" - even to the point of being a single country for a time in the sixteenth? century by marriage. No education of Scots was permitted to occur in England. Their church was in Rome, through France, even though the Pope was still opposed to Bruce. During 1320 a Declaration of Arbroath was prepared in Latin and traveled throughout Scotland. It was essentially an open letter to the Pope. Although Rome lost its copy, a copy had been made and retained in Scotland. The Pope accepted the letter, and Bruce became king until his death in 1329. Robert Bruce's son David II's reign from 1329 to 1388 was a disaster," according to JR. He even considered selling Scotland to England to solve his financial woes. As opposition rose, local lords began forming mini-kingdoms. Wealth, formerly based only on ownership of land, established its basis in trade and commerce. Most of the great cities of Europe developed as trade centers. Finally, near the end of the fourteenth century, David II died; there was no Bruce heir. However, through marriage to the Fitzallens, wine stewards to the king, a reign was started. The Fitzallens dropped their surname and became known bu their profession - Stewart.
James I on his way to France was captured by England and jailed. While in jail his father died, and the English ransomed his return in 1424. This is the true beginning of the powerful Stewart reign that endured until 1542. JR summarizes their impact as having provided probably the most powerful and best kings in Scottish history. The laws were codified, courts established, and parliament met - until 1437, when the Lords of Perth rose and hacked James I to death. A regency ruled until James II came of age, at which time he decided to eliminate the Lords of Perth - off with their heads! All who would not swear allegiance to him were executed or imprisoned. James II was very effective, until one of his own cannons backfired and killed him. The cycle was repeated - rule by regency, coming of age, cutting down the Lords. James III selected all new royal advisors. He was intelligent and classical, but a slander campaign identified him as being homosexual.
In the 1480's the baronial faction, led by the future James IV, won at a battle where James III was killed by his son's troops. In penance for the death of his father, James IV then turned against the barons. He got rid of his father's advisors, although most were intelligent, two being renaissance men. He built up Scotland and became politically closer to Rome. He built a great Scottish fleet. He even flirted with the idea of taking over England from Henry VII by marrying his daughter Margaret - the joining of the rose and the thistle. The problem was that James IV was already married. Margaret and her sister Elizabeth were poisoned, an action probably initiated by James IV. In 1505 the Pope sent James IV a rose of gold - the highest honor possible - and a sword of state. In 1512 the French alliance brought trouble in a round about way. French women were insulted in Henry VIII's court. James raised an army to teach young Henry a lesson. Many tried to talk James out of it - that it was foolhardy - especially since France was doing nothing in retribution. James won the first several battles, then the British army arrived. The British complained about James' position on a hill, so he moved down on the field with them. He was promptly surrounded and massacred in what is called the 1513 Battle of Flodden. James, leading his troops, was cut to pieces. Not only did James lose his life, his battle, and his army; Scotland lost the bulk of its establishment; for example, 13 of thy 22 great earls were killed.
James IV had a glorious death for nothing - a disaster. The Scottish power structure was destroyed, and James V was less than one year old. So, a council of regency, mostly from the church, was set up. James was wed to Mary Geuise of France, in an arranged affair, to further cement the French/Scottish connection. The old medieval Christian structure was beginning to be questioned. Where does the power lie? Rome? Why? Why not here? For example, Martin Luther challenged the church's philosophy and centralized power. There was no great persecution of reformers in Scotland in the 1530's to the 1550's. Reformation had not taken root in Scotland as it had in Henry VIII's England. He was a strong Catholic, known as "Defender of the Faith" for his treatise against Martin Luther. But, his divorce problem made him declare himself as head of the church in England. He even retained the same liturgy. Most of the church went along. A notable exception was Thomas Moore ("Man For All Seasons," a very accurate portrayal according to JR), who was beheaded for his opposition. Henry sent secret envoys to Scotland to spy and to get their support. John Knox fell for it, while most of the Scottish church opposed Henry's action. In 1542 a skirmish was fought over this at the border. The Scottish troops were led by James V, who fell ill and died. On his death bed he was informed that his wife had just given birth to Mary Stewart.
Henry VIII and John Knox continued to cause trouble during the regency for Mary, even to the paying of bribes. The Protestants began expanding in Scotland, led by John Knox, who had recently returned from teaching Lutherism in England for years. His forces destroyed the St. John's church in Perth and went on to St. Andrews, where they occupied the castle. Mary Geuise, as Queen Mother, summoned a great French fleet, which retook the castle and captured Knox. He was placed on a slave ship, but survived. Mary Geuise took her daughter Mary Stewart to France for safety and to be reared properly. It was while here that Stewart was changed to Stuart. She was married to the leader of France. Through this marriage in the 1550's Scotland and France were united for a time. Each citizen of one country was a citizen of the other; all laws were the same in both and were written in both languages. When he died while she was sixteen, Mary returned to Scotland and was received by a tirade from John Knox.
In England Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary all were strong Catholics and tried to purge the Protestants; the bastard Queen Elizabeth in turn persecuted the Catholics. None of this happened in Scotland. In 1560 the Protestant party worked to pass an act abolishing papal control in Scotland, while Mary was queen! However, the Protestants offered no governmental leadership and were not in control. When the six-foot tall Mary Stuart returned as a widow, she found Henry Lord Downley tall enough. He liked the ladies, as JR puts it, and had syphilis to show for it. Mary "hated" him, and although pregnant by him, lived apart from him. She had strong advisors and consorted with Lord Bothwell, who had Downley murdered at Holyrood in Edinburgh. Bothwell wanted to marry her, even though she was pregnant. Her son was supposedly James VI, but some said he was stillborn after a rough horse ride, and he who was called James VI was the new born of a lady-in-waiting.. A new-born skeleton has been found in the castle wall. Mary was forced to resign, was put in prison in a castle near Edinburgh, managed to escape, and built an army. In 1567 she was defeated and fled to get help from her cousin Elizabeth I, who imprisoned her. Mary was executed at age 45 in 1587.
Another parliamentary act was passed in Scotland abolishing papal authority. James VI was raised with no Catholic influence in his life by the Presbyterian tutor George Buchanan. In 1588 the Spanish Armada sailed in retribution for the beheading of a Catholic queen - Mary - by a bastard Protestant - Elizabeth. Its failure helped Protestantism to become established in England. Elizabeth died childless in 1603, and James VI of Scotland, the legitimate heir to the British throne, became James I of England. One ruler - two independent nations - they just happened to have the same king.
After dinner we are enlightened and entertained by Bill Marshall on the history of Edinburgh. He also lectures to Elderhostels on Scottish literature. His analogy of Edinburgh as a fish skeleton with the castle at the head and Holyrood at the tail with the side streets as the bones is sure descriptive as I look at my map. He describes the cleaning of the chamber pots - out the windows at ten at night! Woe be to any poor soul out wandering at that time. He tells us how the Scottish churches wanted nothing from the south, especially bishops. Rather they wanted the congregations to elect their own minister. This is obviously the idea on which the Stone-Campbell movement based its practice. Bill also tells us that the original Encyclopedia Britannica was written by on Edinburgh man. I have a reproduction of that three-book set and find it hard to conceive of it being a one-man production.
During the afternoon, several of us walk the mile or so into Dundee to visit the Scott museum at Discovery Point. They have done a superb job of presenting the life and final journey of Captain Scott through films and exhibits. Out in the harbor is his ship, The Discovery. This is definitely worth the effort.
JR begins this morning's lecture with some information about Scottish cathedrals. They tended not to have transepts, the "cross-arm" we have seen to be so common in Catholic churches. An exception is the church at St. Andrews that we will visit this afternoon. It also has a rare central tower above the crossing of the transept. Normally, only the abbeys had central towers. The stone castle building period started about 1100 AD in Scotland. They were of the "curtain" style with outside walls and little inside. Thousands of tower houses were built in the 1100's to the 1300's for defensive purposes. They had only a small door and no windows - just firing slots - on the first level. Some of these that survived into the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries had more comfortable wings added and eventually gardens in the seventeenth century. These became the country houses.
In the 1100's the king was the paramount superior and the primary owner of all land. He delegated power and land use to the tenants-in-chief. There were about twenty of these hereditary positions in all of Scotland. These persons were responsible for providing the king with soldiers when called upon to do so. In turn for example, the Earl of Strathmore, tenant-in-chief of the Angus district, granted sub-fields of several hundred acres to individuals in perpetuity, along with their responsibility for providing troops. These individuals had the right to further subdivide the land for subtenants. Each level was responsible for providing services to the next level up - troops, food, workers, clay pots, etc. There tended to be about five levels. This was a primary reason for the creation of primogenitor inheritance, since each level of land tenancy is assigned in perpetuity, it prevents the need for further subdividing the land into smaller and smaller portions as each child gets his portion - to the point where no one has enough land to live on. For any tenant at any level to give or sell any portion of his land to another, all levels above him must give their approval. This gave the land owners the means to keep out the undesirables, the opposition. The right of preemption existed whereby each level above the would-be seller must be offered the land first. This whole approach does not work well in towns, so as they developed, so did friction. So the towns developed their own legal and land systems. In 1964 the primogenitor method of inheritance was ended.
With James VI/I taking the English throne in addition to his Scottish one, independent Scottish history essentially ends, according to JR. There were many differences in attitudes, church, law, land, etc. For example, in England the king is anointed by God, while in Scotland the people provide the power to the king. From 1603 to 1625 James VI/I ruled both England and Scotland. Having been trained by a great tutor, he was very able, a real intellect, a good mediator, wrote well and often. He was very much in agreement with England's view of the king's authority. England's parliament began to challenge him - no taxation without representation. Scotland was busy having religious problems in which the Catholic church's lands were taken from them and redistributed to the Presbyterians. James very much wanted an episcopacy in Scotland, which Scotland saw as simply another form of papacy. Charles I succeeded James and reigned form 1625 to 1649. He also was highly cultured and intelligent, but also intolerant. He asserted the divine right of kings and ordered an episcopacy into Scotland. In reaction the Presbyterians signed the National Covenant as moved all around the country. In it they pledged their lives. In England the Parliament was beating its taxation/representation drums louder. Oliver Cromwell appeared on the scene at this point. In the early 1640's Charles dissolved Parliament, which looked to the Scottish Presbyterians for support. A very bloody open civil war resulted, during which Charles was captured and tried. He refused to even acknowledge that the accusers had any right to try him. The response was conviction and execution.
The Scottish Presbyterians were concerned that England went too far; who should rule? Cromwell decided that a commonwealth, led by him, was the way to go. So, he dissolved Parliament (1649-1660) and suspended all Scottish law. Deciding Cromwell had gone too far, an army was raised by Montrose to support Charles II, who was hiding in Europe. After Montrose was captured and executed and Cromwell died in 1659, all asked Charles II to return. He was known as the Merry Monarch, with no statesmanship. Under him restoration blossomed. The Stuarts continued to reign until 1685. Charles continued to push for the episcopacy in Scotland, where Presbyterians were persecuted - The Killing Times. JR reports that both sides were very bigoted. The government tended to be run by his advisors. He married a Catholic queen, causing many to worry he was Catholic, which he was not.
James VII/II, Duke of York, brother of Charles II, was never crowned. He was openly a Catholic. Parliament would not tolerate this and created a Bill of Rights in 1688. It included the provision that no Catholic could be king and no ruling monarch could marry a Catholic. So, William of Orange was invited to be king through his distant relationship. Scotland was angry with the English for deposing their king. As so many times before, JR tells us an army was raised - the pro-Stuart Jacobites - which in 1689 was clobbered by the English. The Scottish highland leader was killed. More armies were raised in Ireland with James; at the Battle of the Boyne it too was defeated. In 1690 the Scottish Parliament began to speak for the Scottish people. William and his English Parliament went hyper. Scotland established its own bank, and a trading company, which failed. The highland clans were required to swear allegiance to William. The MacDougals refused and were slaughtered. English agents were sent to run Scotland; there was even some talk of adding that country to England. Well bribed, the Scottish Parliament voted itself out of existence in 1707 in favor of the English Parliament. Many were still upset about being subservient to the English Parliament and to not having a Stuart on the throne. There resulted a steady increase in planning and plotting, which culminated in 1715 when the Old Pretender James VIII/III was invited to return from France to lead the Scottish army. It moved south and fought an inconclusive battle; James left, and the army retreated. There were additional such attempts in 1719 and in the 1720's.
Both England and Scotland were unstable. The Hanovers had the English throne. Jacobite scheming increased with James VIII/III's son and France joining in. A large army of clansmen in west Scotland won promises from disgruntled English landowners in the north of England. Lord George Murray led the army south to Edinburgh, and a royal court was again established. The English army was soundly beaten in 1745 and everything looked great for the Jacobites. So, it marched on south, winning a few more battles. When it reached about 100 miles north of London, it became a real threat. Lord George wanted to stop for the winter, even though London could easily be taken. But the army deferred to Lord George's experience. JR then raises some interesting questions. What if Lord George had taken London? The new king would have been much more tolerant, and JR asks would the U.S. even exist? The army retreated to Stirling. The highlanders wanted to go home when they reached there in February 1746 and moved on to there. The English government troops under William, Duke of Cumberland, followed them to Stirling. When Charles attempted a sneak night attack 15 April 1746, dawn came before the battle so his troops retreated. But they were so tired that when Cumberland attacked, he cut them to pieces. This was the last battle and finalized the hold of the Hanovers. Charles left and moved on through France and to Rome, where he died a disillusioned drunkard. England reeked vengeance on Scotland. The name was changed to North England and ethnic cleansing of the highland clans began. There was indiscriminate killing of wounded, women, children, and aged highlanders throughout the highlands. The flower named after William Lord Cumberland - "Sweet William" - JR tells us with relish was known in Scotland as "Stinking Billy."
Many acts were passed in 1746 against Scotland and the highlanders. Lists of those who had supported the Stuart throne were drawn up, and those on them were tried and mostly executed. Wearing of the tartans and weapons was forbidden. Opposing Presbyterians were shipped off to North America - permanently. A great paradox arose in Scotland. As the 1700's drew to a close, peace and political stability prevailed in Scotland. Edinburgh became a primary center of European intellectual endeavors. But, and here JR seems to switch to speak for his people - Have we lost our national identity? Robert Burns wrote much of his poetry about this very issue.
Then another meteor came across Europe - Napoleon - and Scotland and England fought for their very lives. Highlanders were recruited and set up regiments. The British Empire was born. Sir Walter Scott, whom JR refers to as a spin doctor, wrote superb Scot-centered "Tales of a Grandfather." He managed to restore Scotland's faith in itself. He even got the king to come and dressed him in tartans. The romantic image of Scottish clans, tartans, etc. began to emerge. In the 1850's the great days of the Empire arrived. Highlanders were removed from their lands to make the land available for sheep; they had no titles to it - they had just always lived there. In the 1870's rebellion came through the Scottish Land League. In the 1880's the Socialist Labor Party talked of home rule. During World War I, when Ireland became free of England in 1916, Scotland had many movements toward freedom, but never achieved it. In the 1920's and !930's the Scottish Nationalist political party developed. In 1947 one of the Scottish elected members of Parliament was a nationalist. By 1967 nine were nationalists and England became worried. In the 1970's the Scottish parliament house was prepared. In 1979 a referendum showed 53% of the Scottish people wanted their own parliament, but the English Parliament decided that was not a large enough margin. JR then reports that in a recent vote, there was a resounding vote in favor of a separate parliament. A unicameral parliament is being set up. JR says it won't get much done, but it will serve as a springboard to complete independence from England. JR very much supports this independence. He sees no sense in a monarch and favors a president as Ireland has. Jr feels there is a powerful sense of national identity in Scotland.
After the lecture, I have a chance to chat about JR's views on Scottish independence with Andrew, our British escort. His response surprises me: "JR and Eryl may be surprised when they find Scotland and Wales are pushed out by England, rather than jump out on their own." He goes on to explain that there are two very basic and important reasons that lead him to this conclusion. Both cost England a lot more money to operate than they bring in and they're both a real bother.
After lunch we head for St. Andrews on the other side of the Firth of Tay and hard by the North Sea. Our first stop on this rainy afternoon is at St. Andrew's cathedral and priory. But on the way to our drop-off spot near the St. Andrews Old Course Clubhouse, we turn around between the eighteenth green and the sea. JR tells us that this beautiful stretch of beach is the one along which the famous beach run in "Chariots of Fire" was filmed. We hustle through town, trying to miss raindrops and puddles, to reach the cathedral. During the 1100's and 1200's there were four principal cathedrals in the Catholic world - Rome, Spain, Jerusalem, and St. Andrews. The magnificence of this structure is still evident as we wander around its remnants as JR tells us of its history. There were cloisters here for bishop, priests, and monks, as the cathedral was run by monastic order. There were continuing disputes between the bishops and this church's administrators. The beautiful square tower, built in the eleventh century, predates the remainder of the structure, because the rest of the original church was torn down when the cathedral was built. This was the only walled church in all of Scotland. An even older church - St. Mary's on the Rock - lies outside the wall on a bluff that overlooks the North Sea; only the foundation remains. In the Thistle Chapel is the tomb of the founder of the chapel. In the elaborate ornamentation above the burial vault is a little door on the right with stairs that lead down to hell and on the left are the door and stairs that lead up to heaven. All of the rest of the sculpture represents the many rooms in my Father's house.
We can't leave St. Andrews without a shot of the eighteenth green of the Old Course and clubhouse of the home of golf. Golf has been played here in Scotland since at least the 1400's, especially here on the east coast.
I also find my last souvenir for this trip - a Scottish flag. The white cross represents St. Andrews, who was crucified with his arms and legs spread, and the blue field represents heaven. I am reminded it's time to head home, where church work awaits me in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), whose logo is the white cross of St. Andrews placed on the red chalice of Christ.
Tonight we have our final farewell party, here called a ceilidh. A final glass of wine, Bill Marshal doing one of Robert Burn's poems, Hamish playing his violin, and on and on into the evening. But the crowning jewel of the evening for me is the piper in full regalia. What a beautiful sound. I must get home and renew my efforts on my pipes!
After breakfast our luggage is loaded for the last time and we wave goodbye to Hamish and Dundee. Barbara and I already knew we would make a stop in Edinburgh, for this is where we will leave the group for further travels on our own. When Andrew tells the bus about the plans, all seem glad. On the way into Edinburgh, I catch our driver Jeff doing what he has done so well on the whole trip - smile. His bright face and helpful demeanor have meant as much on the trip as Andrew's faithful behind the scenes planning and arranging. We are grateful to both for their part in making this such a memorable adventure.
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