Sunday, July 18, 2010

On to Glasgow: an unexpected find!

My sister Mary arrived from Canada, and we spent a lot of time in Glasgow mapping out how to get out of Glasgow (she did the driving, thank goodness, and she didn't complain one bit, because she is a truly heroic person!). Anyway, the central interest for me was the Mitchell Library, which has lots of archival material available, as well as a whole raft of computers available for use of anyone willing to join the library (which is easy and free). I found a lot of info about the Free Church in the stacks, of course. And I met another guide whose main interest is Heraldry (I have to send her a note SOON)

But the huge surprise and joy was found at the end of a corridor: Blundell's Puppet Centre. It was magic.

The room was filled with books on puppetry of all kinds, and all around were amazing creations, which I hope that you will go and see if you ever are in Glasgow. I've put some of my photos onto 'picasa' which will show them as a slide show.
Go Here

Edinburgh and the Great Disruption of 1843

The "Great Disruption" was another Scottish religious upheaval. It culminated half a century of evangelistic fervor and missionary itinerants throughout the Western Highlands, all mixed with dissatisfaction with the Presbyterian Church's connection with the Secular Government. This bust portrays one of the leaders of this movement, the Rev. Thomas Chalmers. I found it in the National Museum of Scotland.

Also in this Museum, in a different section, there is a statue of Hugh Miller, a mason, geologist and writer. I would not have found the latter, except for the help of a wonderful guide who became interested in my quest to find out about the Disruption. Miller was one of the most prominent signatories of the 'demission' (or separation) from the Established Church of Scotland.

Why all this interest in some remote theological quarrel? Well, because of this, one-third of the ministers left their manses and livings to found a new church, the Free Church, an exodus which certainly affected Knapdale. My Knapdale Campbell and MacIntyre ancestors were a part of this revolution, as were many other people in the area. Many of these people stopped baptizing their children in the Established Parish Church, and therefore never appear in the obvious baptism records.

I have a stack of pamphlets written by the various sides of this Disruption (the originals are part of the Guelph Scottish Collection.) It concerned every level of government in Scotland, as the Established Church was the central purveyor of what we now call 'social services.' Even the Duke of Argyll wrote an essay (I haven't read it yet, the Victorians tend to be prolix.)
At my Knapdale Site, in the section, "Leaving Knapdale", there are several letters written by Knapdale members of the local Free Church to members who had already left Scotland for Canada.

Edinburgh and the Flodden Wall

Almost directly opposite to the Covenant Martyrs' Memorial in the graveyard, is the Flodden Wall. Back in 1513, Scotland suffered a truly dreadful defeat at the hands of the English. As a result, Edinburgh built a wall around its town as a safety measure. The wall did not save Edinburgh from English (or any other) invasion. But, while it survived, it provided custom checkpoints.

As far as I know, only one part still exists, the part you can see within Grayfriars Kirkyard.

Edinburgh and Grey Friars Kirkyard

One of the most popular sights in Edinburgh is this statue of a dog known as "Grayfriars Bobby." His master is buried in the nearby kirkyard.

Although Bobby is a cute little thing, my main interest at Grayfriars was its Memorial to the Covenanter Martyrs. The latter commemorates some 18,000 Covenanters who died for their faith; and it also marks the burial place of some 100 Covenanters who were executed down the hill at the Grassmarket. The Covenant Movement dominated Scotland's history during the 1600s, and formed the iron spine of dissent against the Stuart attempts to replace Presbyterianism with an(English) Episcopal form of worship. Among the 'martyrs' mentioned on this memorial was the Marquess of Argyle who was beheaded in Edinburgh in 1661. The Tomb was erected 'anno 1706.'

Also part of the Kirkyard is a an area known as the Covenanter Prison, an open air enclosure in which captured Covenanters were mercilessly crowded. The few who survived were sent off the the West Indies as slaves. However, their prison ship sank off the north coast of Scotland. The inscription begins:
"Halt passenger, take heed what thou dost see/ This tomb doth shew for what some men did die..."

My terrific vacation in 2010: first, Edinburgh

I came across this band on a street in Edinburgh, and thought it was GREAT: drums and lots of energy. They sell cds, but when I attempted to purchase a bunch as Christmas gifts via the Internet, I found they only allow one at a time, which is a drag. However, their website is at
and you can get a taste of what I experienced via the video here: (after a lengthy intro, they actually begin at the 2.26 minute mark.)