Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Jacobites are coming. I hope.

The Battle of Inverurie, 1745, in which the Jacobites ousted the Royalists from Inverurie, started an hour after sunset on the 22nd December. There was a full moon at the time. This year, there will be a full moon on the 24th, so there is currently plenty of light when the clouds break.

If you look in Wikipedia, it places the battle on the 23rd December, but that’s when it ended. They fought overnight and into the morning.

Now, the main force of the Jacobites came at Inverurie by a circuitous route, and arrived across the River Urie from the east. A smaller force took the direct route, crossing the River Don at the ford. This smaller force drew the Royalists’ attention, and the larger force striking from the side came as a very unpleasant surprise.

There have been reports, sketchy and never with any kind of photographic evidence, that the Jacobites still cross that ford on the anniversary of the battle. Since it’s literally a twenty-minute walk away, I’m going to take a look for myself this year. It’s not even an onerous task: an hour after sunset makes it about 4:30 pm. There’ll be a lot of traffic on the bridge at that time. They won’t see me over the parapet but the headlights and vibration might cause me some problems, as might interfering pedestrians.

I don’t expect to meet any spirits. This is not a haunting, the reports say only that the Jacobites cross the river. They don’t interact with anyone, they never deviate from their original actions. This is a recording, if it exists at all. I hope, with the moon full as it was for the original event, that it will replay while I’m there.

The weather is reasonable, not much rain and mainly clear skies – but that can change in an instant here. Fingers will remain crossed. The only serious difficulty is the precise location.

The place has changed a little in the last 262 years. There have been two bridges, one replaced by the other, both in the same place, and these are placed close to or maybe even on the place where the ford once was. The sketchy reproduction map I have places the ford directly in line with the main street and at the end of the island. However, the bridge—which also stands at the end of the island—is offset from the main street by some distance. So, is the map right based on alignment with the main street, or is it right based on alignment with the island? Fortunately there has been no building work along this stretch of the river (the locals are too fond of their fishing rights), aside from the bridge, so it’s easy to walk from one point to another. There are even lights along most of the riverbank.

On the other side of the river there are remains of a canal, built in the 1800’s, then abandoned and mostly filled in. That side of the river offers no clue as to where the ford might have been.

Comparing maps (I don’t think I can post them here without getting into copyright problems), I think the ford lies just west of the bridge. Now, a lot depends on whether the environment was affected by the building of the bridge, since any recording theory is going to have to fall apart if the environment—that structure that I think contains the recording—has been significantly altered. I’ve walked that riverbank many times, and I currently think that (erosion aside) it looks pretty much the same as it did in 1745. So a sighting is a possibility. It is, naturally, never guaranteed.

There is a fishing map here. At the bottom, you see a road marked ‘To Aberdeen’. Just above that is the bridge, and to the right of the bridge is the island. The ford, I think, lay between the bridge and the island. The ‘river’ lines between the circled 10 and 11, and from 12 south, are parts of the old canal. There’s a better map on streetmap.co.uk . If it refuses to come up from this link, just enter ‘Inverurie’ and check the ‘GB place’ option. There’s only one.

That’s the plan for tomorrow night then. One hour after sunset, at a point just west of the bridge, with (hopefully) a nearly-full moon to light the scene, I hope to see and photograph the Jacobite soldiers crossing the River Don on their way to battle the Royalists.

That’s assuming the previous sightings were done while sober. At this time of year, in this part of the world, there can be no guarantee of that. We’ll see. At least I won’t have to stay there all night.

7 comments:

Rufus said...

gandalf here. been reading your blog, everything is extremely fascinating.
Seasons greetings.

- Rufus (and Louise Davies)

myspace.com/rufus_click

Southern Writer said...

It must be almost time there. Let's see, it's 8:40 a.m. here, and I think you're five hours ahead of me, so you have about three hours to go? Are you checking your gear? Have extra film and batteries? A flashlight? A hat, warm boots and gloves? An extra pair of dry socks? (You'd be surprised how often I'm glad I took those along on a hike.)Got everything? Did you make a list and check it twice? Good luck! We'll be waiting.

Romulus Crowe said...

Hi Rufus. How are the rest of ZZ Top?

(Rufus is a 'real-world' acquaintance, one of the weirdest and beardiest of them all.)

Romulus Crowe said...

SW - you're getting motherly! You'll be straightening my tie and making sure I don't have half my collar inside my pullover next.

Well, I survived, took a while to thaw afterwards and am now taking on antifreeze as distilled on a little island called Islay. It wasn't an exciting investigation, but they rarely are. There's a lot of images to go through but I'm not hopeful. I didn't see a thing.

Southern Writer said...

Watch it, Grinch. There's a reason I'm not a mother. I love kids. For breakfast.

I'm into the anti-freeze now, too (a little Bailey's with my coffee). You know how sometimes you don't see things with your eye, but they show up on film ... maybe that will be the case.

Happen to have a pic of Rufus?

Romulus Crowe said...

Hi SW. I like children too, but I couldn't eat a whole one. Who was it who said that? WC Fields?

Rufus has his pic on the myspace link he left in the comments. I warn you, he's not entirely sane. I think his beard has grown into his brain.

Southern Writer said...

Ha ha ha I don't know who said it, but WC is a good guess. Or maybe Ambrose Bierce or H.L. Mencken. I was kidding, though. I do like most children, but at a distance. If they aren't insufferable, spoiled brats, or neglected, attention-demanding sleeve-tuggers, they can be fun. Since I have none, my thoughts on how other people should raise theirs counts for squat.

Looked up your friend's site. That's a great still photo of him. I was expecting a much, much longer beard, though.

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