Monday, December 22, 2008

Back to the river.

Low light image of where I think the ford was located in 1745.
Photo taken an hour after sunset this evening.

I wonder if anyone remembers, this time last year, I visited a spot beside the river where the Jacobites crossed to attack the Macleod’s men? The date was either the 22nd or 23rd December 1745; historical records vary on this.

There was another battle here, on the 24th December 1307, when Robert the Bruce defeated the Comyns. That took place in a field to the other side of town which I have not yet visited.

It seems then, as now, the Scots took to fighting a lot at this time of year. Maybe it’s their favourite way to keep warm. Although that would not explain the Battle of Barra (May, 1308) or the battle of Harlaw, (July, 1411), both within a couple of miles of here. It’s usually reasonably warm during those months.

I have, tonight, revisited the river site and again I have little to report. I still wonder if I’m at the right spot – there have been a lot of changes here in two and a half centuries. The ford is long gone, there is a railway bridge and a road bridge – the second road bridge to be built here – so the original site of the ford is very difficult to pin down. The shallowest region of the river is currently beneath the road bridge but it could have silted up as a result of the presence of the bridge, or it could have been filled during construction. So I’m not certain the place is correct.

I wasn’t expecting ghosts, although there were a few deaths during the Jacobite crossing and of course, during the construction and reconstruction of the bridge. What I was hoping for was a replay phenomenon. No actual spirits, just a recording that would show no interaction with the observer. Once more I was disappointed but as long as the weather holds, I can try again tomorrow night. A trip to the 1307 site on the 24th is also possible although I will need to find out who owns the field and secure permission to visit, if I can. Farmers here have a habit of chasing off interlopers with buckshot so it’s best to make sure.

Searching on the history of this place is difficult because of the vagaries of such deep history: the mysterious mounds known as the Bass and the Conyng have not yet been explained, despite some historians’ insistence that they are mediaeval motte-and-bailey structures, even though they appear to have been in existence around 881 AD and possibly earlier. The Conyng is rumoured to contain the remains of a certain King Aodh. As far as I am aware, neither the Bass nor the Conyng have ever been excavated. Since they are now surrounded by a cemetery, in current use, it would take a very brave archaeologist to insist on disturbing that ground.

The Bass, with the Conyng hidden behind it.

Looking down on the Conyng from the top of the Bass.

This place was known to have Pictish inhabitants, and I have already posted some of the stones they left behind. So the history here goes a long way into BC dates and hardly anyone bothered to keep decent records until relatively recently. There is a lot of interesting stuff compressed into a very small area.

The Bass and Conyng can wait - tomorrow it's back to the riverside for me. It might be a futile investigation but it doesn't even incur travel costs, so it's worth a look.


Southern Writer said...

The picture you took is ... what's another word for lovely? Lovely sounds so snooty. It's an excellent photo, nevertheless. Knowing you, I'll bet there's a ghost in it that you want us to see, or you wouldn't have posted it. I'm glad I can enlarge it by clicking on it (and get a really good look at all its glory) because I intend to go over it thoroughly when I've had sleep, my contacts aren't so dry that they're peeling off my eyes, and I can see more clearly. I shall return. If there's a ghost in there, I'm going to find it!

Romulus Crowe said...

My lips are, as always, sealed.

opinions powered by