A Travellerspoint blog

36: Curiouser and Curiouser

rain 13 °C
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Had a very leisurely start this morning for one main reason, it’s raining again! Now my plan for today was to get up early and drive up into the Trossachs and do a good couple of hours worth of walking before finding my hostel on the banks of Loch Lomond and having a good rest, this plan needed to be modified because I’m really not that fond of walking that I’ll enjoy a hike in the hills soaking wet. So I changed my plan and decided to go and check out the Burrel Collection here in Glasgow and then see what the weather was like before going to the Trossachs. (The Trossachs aren’t even a forty minute drive from Glasgow and I knew I wouldn’t be able to check in late until the afternoon so I needed to find things to do to fill up my day!)

The Burrel collection is another museum in Glasgow that was all privately owned and was bequeathed to the city of Glasgow by a guy called Burrel. He was a merchant at the turn of the last century who was very wealthy and was an avid collector of anything interesting! His museum reflects his eclectic collection as he has everything from master piece paintings all the way through to oriental rugs! Its probably one of the more unusual museums that I’ve ever entered! The Burrel collection is probably most famous for the statue of the “Thinking Man”, you know the bronze statue of a guy down on his knees with his chin clasped in his hand (his arm is resting on his knee)? The statue is surprisingly small (for some reason I thought it was life sized.. its not) and although I think it’s good I’m surprised by all of the hype. I guess that sculpture just isn’t my thing!

Probably the most interesting collection I came across in the museum is his collection of beaded art work. It’s a little hard to describe but he collected tapestries that were made entirely of beads! Apparently it was a form of art during the 17th century and for me it is the most amazingly different form of art that I’ve seen. I was so amazed that I took a few shots and have decided that when I get home (and have heaps of hours to while away) I’m going to have my own crack at this once popular form of art.. Like everything it looks easy.. I’ll let you know in a couple of months!

The Burrel collection is one of those museums where everyone will find something that interests them and a heap of stuff that they will categorise as junk! And in this case I did a pretty quick tour of a lot of the rooms as they just didn’t interest me.. Porcelain from China from the Qing Dynasty just doesn’t do it for me, neither does pieces of armour from the middle ages you get my drift. So after an hour and a bit I had seen all I wanted to see and was disappointed to discover that it was still raining! I found my trusty guide book and decided to do a major detour on my way to the Trossachs and go and see the Falkirk Wheel.

The Falkirk Wheel is this huge mechanical construction that lifts channel boats up from one loch and into another! It is a pretty amazing thing to see! It is literally a mammoth wheel where you drive your boat into the bottom of the bucket then the bucket is lifted up (just like a ferris wheel) and stops at the top where the gate opens and you can drive your channel boat off and into the next loch. It is the strangest contraption I’ve seen and in the hour or so that I was there the only time the wheel moved was to move a tourist boat up from the bottom loch to the top! (I wonder how many actual channel boats use this wheel and how much it is just used by tourists wanting to be lifted up into the air in this huge wheel???) Anyway it is certainly a mechanical marvel and was worth the hour and half detour just to see how you can move boats around if you are really, really desperate..

By now it was well into the afternoon and although the rain was still coming down I continued my drive down to the Trossachs and to Loch Lomond. The hostel in Loch Lomond is on the banks of the Loch and is built inside an old manor house so for the first time I’ve slept in a really truly castle. It is complete with ballroom, conservatory and extensive grounds! I have to say that for 25 dollars a night it is probably the cheapest castle to stay in! (Although there is another castle here in Scotland as a hostel.. its closed for refurbishment at the moment so I haven’t been able to stay there but maybe next time!) So I made myself a cuppa and spent the remainder of the evening talking to some of the other hostellers about their travels. Tomorrow I’m going to spend my day walking in the Trossachs (weather permitting.. otherwise I guess I’m going for an extensive drive!)

Posted by weary_feet 03:58 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

35: The Green Man

semi-overcast 14 °C
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I left Edinburgh early this morning for my drive to Glasgow. First stop was to Roslyn Chapel made famous by the Da Vinci Code. Roslyn Chapel was built in the 1400s by William St Clair, Earl of Caithness and friend of the Scottish King. It is also thought that he was a Knight Templar. He built his chapel as a personal place of worship and even today the chapel is owned by the St Clair family.

The chapel is famous because of its grandiose carvings. Every wall, pillar and even the roof is covered in thousands and thousands of carvings. The chapel itself is not large and in fact is probably one of the smallest churches I’ve been in on this trip but even with its small size the sheer volume of carvings’ just knocks you over. Fortunately, your admittance price covers you to join a guided tour of the chapel, so my first stop was to hear all about the different carvings and their meanings and more importantly the mysteries that surround the carvings.

If you are a Dan Brown fan you will recall from the book that the central characters thought that Roslyn Chapel contained the body of Mary Magdalene and potentially the chalice of Christ (Holy Grail). The thing I love about the whole story is that no-one knows what is stored inside the chapel. See, the fascination with the chapel is the fact that the crypt that is below the chapel is easily as large as the chapel itself! The crypt was sealed up well over two hundred and fifty years ago and the St Clair family won’t allow anyone to desecrate the crypt so until they agree to open the crypt no-one knows what is stored below!! Maybe there are many secrets contained below.. I’m pretty sure there will be St Clair graves! I guess the interest in the crypt below is created because the carvings in the chapel make it really quite mystical and even creepy!

I had a creepy episode in the chapel. If you stand in the middle of the chapel you are supposedly standing in the place where two meridian (energy) lines intersect.. Now I’m happy to tell everyone I’m a complete sceptic but I’m also pretty gullible…. So I stood in the right place and I’m not sure if it is the power of suggestion but I swear to you that I could feel a real heaviness in my chest (like I couldn’t breathe) and felt really funny in the head (almost dizzy like). Now I know everyone reading this is going to tell me its all in my head and look maybe it is but maybe it isn’t……… I do know that after leaving the chapel it was a good twenty minutes before I felt totally back to normal…..

But back to the carvings.. Unfortunately there is no photography allowed in the chapel so I couldn’t take any photos, if you’re interested you are going to have to use trusty google. Most of the walls are covered in a weaving of vine leaves. As you walk every meter or so the vines are intersected with a face that is known as the ‘Green Man’. He can be recognised as a male face with intertwined vine leaves as a moustache. There are apparently well over a hundred and ten ‘Green Man’ face carvings in the chapel. He is a pagan symbol and symbolises re-generation, re-birth etc.

In the front of the chapel (this part is called the Lady Chapel) there are two pillars that are very intricately carved. One is called the master’s pillar and one is the apprentice’s pillar. The story goes that the master carved his pillar (which looks a bit like a Grecian pillar that you would find on the Parthenon) and then when he was shown the designs for the other pillar (which is a spiral design) he decided he wasn’t a good enough carver and so told the designer that he would need further carving training in Rome to be able to complete the pillar. He was therefore shipped off to Rome where he stayed for four years learning the trade to create a spiral looking pillar. Meanwhile, his apprentice decided that he could carve the pillar and so whilst his master was away he carved the spiral pillar. When the master returned you can imagine his ire to find that he had spent all this time away and the pillar was finished and the glory of the pillar all went to his apprentice. It is then said that he took his master’s hammer and bashed the apprentice dead, supposedly in the half complete chapel! The master was sentenced and was hung in Edinburgh.. so the designer then had to go and get more masons!

The other interesting thing in the chapel is that there is supposed to be a tune carved into hundreds of little boxes that adorn the roof of the Lady Chapel. Apparently, if you ‘crack the code’ to the boxes you can learn the tune and then if it is played on a certain day, at a certain time, with the right instruments the mysteries of Roslyn will all be revealed. Supposedly a couple of guys ‘cracked the code’ a few years ago and the tune was played by a medieval music group but unfortunately no secrets were revealed…. So either they haven’t cracked the code or they played the music on the wrong day or at the wrong time or……….. its just a load of hog wash! Regardless, it’s a good story and it could be some sort of musical tune (because each row of “music boxes” also has an accompanying figurine that are all playing different looking instruments) so who knows??

The last creepy things about the chapel (although to be honest there are heaps.. google to get the whole list!) are found in the part of the crypt that is still unsealed and on the RHS wall of the chapel. Inside the bit of the crypt that wasn’t sealed up is a tomb marker that clearly reads it is for a Knight Templar (knowing my luck though the family made one to look old and put it in the crypt just to give people a thrill!) apparently it is fair dinks and is from the second crusade (which I think was about 1200 AD?). There is also supposedly carvings on the RHS wall that are supposed to represent storks of corn. Now why this is interesting is that Columbus discovered America more than fifty years after the chapel was complete……. So did a St Clair ancestor go to America before Columbus and hid the secret????? Or is it like I suspect, that it is nothing because in my opinion it looks nothing like corn kernel storks and this “mystery” is just another load of rubbish………………………

Either way I guess I like so many other millions of tourists get a huge kick out of mysteries and we are all keen to “crack the mysteries of Roslyn!” and be the one to be showered in glory!! To be completely honest though hoax or not Roslyn is a very incredible work of art and is worth a look if for no other reason than to oggle at the incredible carvings that were done almost five hundred years ago!

After my heart/ lungs got back under control and the dizziness faded (I’m fair dinkum by the way, I’m not joking, I really did feel really strange… strange enough that I chose not to drive until the feeling had passed!) I continued on my journey to Glasgow. Considering Edinburgh to Glasgow is about forty minutes drive and it was only lunch time I knew I had plenty of time for site seeing in Glasgow and my main place of interest was the Kelvingrove Museum and Gallery.

My digs (the Glasgow YHA) is right above Kelvingrove and is on a hill that is ringed by this gorgeous park. For the first time in a while the weather was agreeable, cold but at least the sun was shining so I took great pleasure in strolling through the park to the museum. The museum is just incredible! It is this huge palace like structure that was built back before the turn of the last century to house a museum, so for me it was almost a case of forget whatever works of art etc are housed inside, the building itself was worth a look!

I have to say that once I got over the incredible beauty of the building I was equally impressed with the works of art and exhibits contained inside. The museum is famous for a Salvador Dali painting Christ of St John of the Cross. It is probably one of the most beautiful pieces of art I’ve ever seen. The colours and the form are just exquisite! I spent quite a while sitting in its little room just checking it out! The gallery also boasts a number of works by the French Impressionists and a very interesting piece by Botticelli, it is interesting because it really feels quite 3D like! (which for a work created in the 1500s is pretty impressive!) Aside from the great pieces of art contained inside the building, I was equally impressed with the way the curators have tried to make art appealing to all walks of life. This gallery is not just corridor after corridor of paintings. They are carefully arranged by genre but more importantly the curators have made an effort to explain to all what the artist was most likely trying to convey. So it gives you little snippets about how the colours used affect the impression of the painting (and in one exhibit it gets you to filter the painting using different coloured pieces of glass to show the impact of colour). It is a very ‘hands on’ art gallery which I think is refreshing. It was certainly entertaining for the many kids that were inside the gallery!

I finished off my day by going down to ‘main street’ Glasgow and having a really good plate of Marinara pasta and glass of cider.. (I’ve become quite partial to the UK’s cider…) What a great way to end a really great day!

Posted by weary_feet 03:40 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

34: FRIZZLEY

all seasons in one day 8 °C
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Holy smokes it has been a cold day today. Yep winter is definitely on its way to the British Isles! Got going early as I had a pretty big day planned. My plan was originally to go for a walk up to Arthur’s seat (a hill that towers over Hollyrude Palace) then spend my morning in the National Museum of Scotland before ending up my day at the Castle. I had to modify my plan slightly as it was raining very consistently when I got started this morning and I couldn’t think of anything worse than climbing a mountain whilst it was pouring rain, below 10 degrees with wind chill! So I decided to attack the hill at the end of the day (weather permitting) and start off in the nice warm and dry museum. I want to warn everyone before they start reading this blog that it is very long and chock a block full of Scottish history so if you aren’t like me and you aren’t a history buff you may want to skim today’s blog.. Just warning you (I guess though if you are an avid reader of this blog you probably are a history buff cause that’s pretty much all I report on!!!!!)

The Museum of Scotland is a pretty good museum. It has been set up to cater for all walks of life. There are plenty of interactive exhibits to keep the kids amused as well as plenty of story boards to keep us adults amused! It’s probably one of the best museums I’ve actually been in, in regards to catering for all audiences. I spent all of my time in the Scottish History section, although the museum covers the whole gambit from racing cars to space to dinosaurs!

It was an interesting and enlightening morning. The museum was great at filling in some gaps I had with regards to Scottish history (although i reckon I only know a tincy percentage of the history!) particularly about the fall of the Scottish monarchy and the subsequent attempts to renew (most notably by Bonnie Prince Charles—from “carry the lad that’s born to be king, over the seas to Skye” fame—yes, obviously I don’t know what this famous song is called and yes, clearly I only know a couple of lines from this song and have probably garbled the words!)

I was surprised to see a timeline of Scottish kings since Robert the Bruce. The thing that really grabbed me is the tenure that most of the kings or queens had who ruled. Most only seemed to be on the throne for about ten years (some more some less) and many of the kings were actually killed by family members who wanted the throne! So the history leading up to the Jacobite revolution was fairly sordid anyhow! So the history gets exciting when James VI moved to England to take over the English crown and became James I and united the two crowns. No real issues and James’ big claim to fame is the King James’ Bible. James had two sons and a daughter. The oldest son died before he could take the throne and so his second son became king after James’ death and was crowned Charles I. This is the king that Oliver Cromwell beheaded! At the time of the revolution the Scots did not agree with the beheading of their king Charlie and so crowned his son Charles II as King of Scotland. Cromwell then invaded and Charles went to France in hiding. Eventually he was brought back by the English aristocracy once Cromwell had been replaced as leader and was crowned Charles II of both England and Scotland. On the death of Charles II, James III (James VII of Scotland) ascended the throne as a catholic king. Some members of the English aristocracy were concerned about a return to Catholicism, so to they invited William of Orange and Mary Stewart (descendant of James I’s daughter) to invade England and assume the crown. After usurping James III, William of Orange was crowned William III and so began the Jacobite revolution supported by members of the Scottish aristocracy. Bonnie Prince Charlie is the great grandson of James VI (James I of England) and is famous because he was the last Stewart to attempt to seize the thrones of England and Scotland. He did manage to raise an army and did take parts of Scotland but was eventually over run and escaped to Skye dressed as a chamber maid! He then returned to France and lived out the rest of his days.

Mary Queen of Scots also lived an interesting life. She is the mother of James VI and she was crowned Queen of Scotland at the age of just three! She grew up in the French court (her mother was French and they believe her mother moved her to France to reduce the likelihood of assassination) and was married three times! First time to the French Dauphin (Louis) who died at a young age (17 I think—she was married at 10!!!!), Second time to some Earl who she apparently despised and was the father of James VI and lastly to some random who lost his head for loving the Queen (wasn’t killed by the Queen but was killed by someone who didn’t support the Queen). Of her 50 odd years of life, she spent more time out of Scotland than in it! Firstly, in France and later in prison in England. Lastly, she was forced to abdicate in favour for her son! The poor thing had a pretty sad old life!

After my revel in history I got to continue the story up at the castle! The castle has been brooding down over the city since 1100 AD but it is assumed that people have used the hill above Edinburgh as a look out area for much longer than this! You are greeted as you walk up the hill with the imposing portcullis which is the main back drop for the Military Tattoo. I can only imagine what a fantastic show this must be in Aug. After taking too many photos of the front entrance I finally walked through and up further up the hill to the actual castle itself. By this time it was again raining steadily and the temp had dropped another degree or two so by this time my hands were absolutely frozen and I was almost starting to shake from the cold! I joined one of the free introductory tours of the castle grounds so was treated to a forty minute walk in the freezing cold and rain. I have to say I didn’t take in too much of the tour guides info but instead tried to focus on keeping my face out of the rain and trying to find spots out of the wind!

The highlight of any trip to the castle (and my highlight because it was inside and warm) is the Scottish regalia. It is the oldest set of crown jewels in Britain and probably in Europe. The history of the jewels is also pretty interesting and one I thought I’d recount. The crown itself (according to legend) uses melted down gold from Robert the Bruce’s crown and was designed in the early 1500s. The regalia was commissioned by James V and the only kings and queens to wear the regalia are James V, Mary Queen of Scots, James VI, Charles I and Charles II. The last time the jewels were used was when Charles II was crowned during Cromwell’s time. The regalia was then taken from Edinburgh castle during Cromwell’s invasion and buried in a church yard so that Cromwell couldn’t melt the jewels down (as had been done in England). After Charles II was reinstituted as head of state the regalia returned to Edinburgh castle. It was then used at every session of the Scottish parliament to indicate the absence of a monarch. This is until the mid 1700s when the Scottish parliament formalised the union with England and the parliament was disbanded in favour of the British parliament in Westminster. At this time the regalia was placed in an oak box that was padlocked and it was sealed up in a room in Edinburgh castle. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that Sir Walter Scott gained permission to open the room to confirm that the jewels had not gone missing (there was a rumour that they had been stolen by the English!) The jewels still remained in the room and from this day forward have been placed on display in Edinburgh castle. The regalia certainly isn’t the most incredible crown jewels I’ve ever seen, just a crown and sceptre and some other personal jewellery of the Stewarts but it probably has the most interesting tale!

The other thing that is ststored with the jewels is the Stone of Destiny. The Stone of Destiny is the coronation stone for the Scottish Kings and was ‘stolen’ by Edward II when he made himself king of Scotland. Up until 1996 it was stored within the coronation chair in Westminster Abbey. At this time, the current PM (I think John Major but don’t quote me) was looking for more Scottish votes so agreed to return the Stone back to Scotland on the condition that it would always be returned to Westminster for all coronations and that the Scots vote for him in the upcoming election. Needless to say he lost the election (it didn’t sway voters to vote for him) but the stone was still returned to Scotland.

The story I like the most about the Stone of Destiny is the story of when it was stolen during the 1970s. A couple of Glasgow students decided that it would be a great idea to travel down to London and steal the stone on the night before xmas. To steal the stone they decided that one of them would pose as a tourist and hide inside the abbey so that they would be locked in after closing. This person would then unlock the abbey doors and they would steal the stone and take it back to Scotland. Everything went swimmingly except they underestimated the weight of the stone so after picking it up they promptly dropped the stone at which time it broke into two! They then decided that the only way to get the bigger of the two pieces out was to drag the stone (they put it on a jumper) out of the abbey. By the time they had gotten the stone out, the jumper was in shreds but the stone was safely stowed in the back of their car. They then began the drive back to Glasgow.

Meanwhile the guard had returned to the abbey to open it up for xmas services and discovered the stone missing. He immediately contacted the police who decided to install road blocks into Scotland (assuming rightly that the thieves would have been Scottish). The media got a hold of the story and so the thieves were warned that they would be caught at the border if they still had the stone. They therefore decided to bury the stone in some random paddock in Kent and go and dig the stone up after the fuss had died down. They returned to Glasgow with none the wiser and decided to find a patriotic stone mason who they could tell so that he could come back with them to Kent to fix the stone. The found a guy and his concern was that they had buried the stone in Kent and that for the past couple of days it had rained continually so all he was worried about is how much degradation had already occurred to the very old sand stone block! He told them to bring the stone back to Glasgow and he would see if he could re-join the parts. By now the fuss had died down so the road block had been lifted and seemingly the student’s had gotten away with it! The stone was re-joined by the master mason, but now what to do with the stone? The students couldn’t very well just go and hand it in to police, and there was no real point in keeping it, so they decided to return it to Scone Palace the original resting place of the stone! Eventually the stone was returned and the police caught the students who were sent to prison. The stone was returned to England and as I said above it wasn’t until 1996 until the stone would return onto Scottish soil!

I’ll close this blog by saying that I did end up trying to climb Arthur’s seat, only to discover that part of the track had been closed due to poor conditions so I then went and saw the sunset up on Carlton Hill (another hill in Edinburgh). Here closeth this blog!

Posted by weary_feet 03:21 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

33: Poltergeist

overcast 15 °C
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Edinburgh day to day so I got going early so that I could fit in as much as I could! My plan was to go straight to the Royal Mile and spend a couple of hours just soaking up the street before heading up to the castle. I walked around for probably about 30mins before I decided to sign up for a walking tour and save myself the time and just get the low down from a local!

So I grabbed a cuppa and waited the 20 mins for the next tour to leave and spent the next 3hrs wandering the streets of Edinburgh! It was quite nice because we spent most of our time out of the Royal Mile so I actually got a bit of detail about some of the more surprising aspects of the city. Here are just a couple of the most interesting tid bits of the tour:

I learnt today about a trip step! The medieval way of keeping thieves out of Edinburgh houses was by installing a trip step. A trip step is about 2 inches wide (not the usual foot length) this means that as someone is creeping up the stairs in the middle of the night (with no light) they will assume that each stair is the usual uniform length until the get to the trip stair, put down their weight and then “wham” they find themselves at the bottom of the stairs after tumbling down!

JK Rowling wrote all of the early HP books in Edinburgh! We spent a good portion of the tour checking out HP sites. She wrote the first few books (when she was down and out and had no cash) in a café in Edinburgh. For the cost of a cup of coffee she could stay in this particular café all day until closing time. This allowed her to spend all day writing her masterpiece.. Good return on investment from the café as they now get a ridiculous number of people going to eat in the café just because JK ate there! The school that Hogwarts was based on is also in the middle of Edinburgh and can be seen from many of the high points of the city. More interestingly is Grey Friar’s Kirk. Grey Friar’s is a church in the middle of Edinburgh and is surrounded by a very old graveyard. JK took many of the character’s names from grave stones in the yard. We found a McGonagall, Moody and Tom Riddle! I’m sure most of the characters are in the yard we just didn’t have time to look at all of the gravestones! (I have to admit I feel sorry for old Tom Riddle.. I’m sure he was a great guy when he was alive.. he will always be immortalised though as Lord Voldemort!!) Grey Friar’s is also home to a poltergeist. On the edge of the graveyard is one of those old fashioned mausoleums (you know the type that Hollywood always use when you think of vampires or zombies or something!), it has been locked by the Edinburgh council as too many people received too many weird injuries after entering the mausoleum. Apparently a priest was called to exoricse the poltergeist and was unsuccessful- in fact the poor guy died only two weeks after trying to get rid of the spirit. Since that date the council has kept the mausoleum locked so that no-one else can be hurt…..

Edinburgh also has a pretty interesting serial killer story from the early 1700s. Apparently there were two guys who killed over 30 people all so that they could get money from a fresh cadaver. Edinburgh has always had a prestigious medical school and back in the day there was no real way for the university to get dead bodies for the pupils to practice anatomy on. So they used to buy dead bodies from people on the black market. (I wonder how many complete graves must exist from those days in Edinburgh????) These two guys discovered that this was a very easy way to make heaps of money (they originally took an old dude who died of old age to the university because the old dude owed them money and didn’t have anything of value! They were paid more handsomely than they would have thought and so started their crime spree). What I don’t get is why no-one at the university got surprised when these two guys would walk in every other week with another dead body!!! The only reason they got caught is that they killed a very popular prostitute and when they took her into the university too many of the students recognised her and recognised that she hadn’t been ill and started to ask questions.. I guess when you lose your favourite whore it gets you thinking! One of the two guys spilled the beans and got only 6 months in prison, the other was hung and quartered! (It seems to be a popular way to die back in the day!)

I finished my day, not by going to the castle, but wandering through the Scottish National Gallery. It’s a pretty small gallery (compared to many of the others I’ve been in) but for such a small space it was packed with some pretty nice works of art! Like most galleries I spent most of my time in the Dutch, French and Italian sections but I liked the fact that because it is so small I could actually appreciate all of the works of art not just feel overwhelmed by the time I got to the end! I was also serenaded by a piper out the front of the gallery (he was playing Amazing Grace and I reckon there is no better song on the pipes!) Finished my night off with some very tasty chinese takeaway before heading in for some blogging and an early night. Castle day tomorrow (well it will have to be as it is my last day in Edinburgh!)

Posted by weary_feet 03:01 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

32: Braveheart

rain 14 °C
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Got myself going nice and early this morning as I wanted to have a crack at seeing both the Wallace Monument and the battlefield where the Battle of Bannockburn took place before heading into Edinburgh.

I got to the National Wallace Monument before it even opened so spent a good half an hour doing some of the walks that are on offer around the base of the monument before I headed up to the monument itself. The monument is this huge spire that has been built on top of a hill which overlooks Sterling. It is supposedly where William Wallace stood before the Battle of Sterling Bridge to review the battlefield and was built in the mid 1800s (almost five hundred years after the Battle of Sterling Bridge!). Unlike the movie Braveheart, the Battle of Sterling Bridge actually occurred on a bridge not on a hill with a mad dash down the hill to kill the English! (You know the last part in the movie where he pulls up his kilt and they all then rush down the hill to ‘do battle’—unfortunately that is all Hollywood fiction!). What actually happened was that for Edward II to continue his advance into Scotland he had to get over the Sterling River. At the time there was a wooden bridge installed in the town of Sterling so for Edward II to continue his advance he had to attack over a narrow bridge (only wide enough for two men abreast). His cavalry was therefore useless and this is the likely reason why Edward II was defeated at the Battle of Sterling Bridge.

After the Battle of Sterling Bridge Wallace was made ‘protector of Scotland’ and had the job of continuing to harass the English out of Scotland. He eventually lost to Edward II and resigned his post of ‘protector’. He tried to continue his campaign of ‘keep the English out of Scotland’ by then going to France to drum up support for a Scottish/ English war. He was unsuccessful and finally returned to Scotland to continue a guerrilla campaign from the Highlands. By this time he was a marked man and had a bounty on his head for his capture. A Scotsman actually turned him into the English and Wallace was taken to London for trial. The verdict was guilty of treason and he was sentenced to be ‘Hung, Drawn and Quartered’, not a pleasant way to die!

It wasn’t until at least twenty years later that Robert the Bruce finally managed to beat the English (at the Battle of Bannockburn) and was crowned King of Scotland (he actually declared himself King of Scotland!). One piece of information I didn’t know until today was how the English managed to make a claim to the Scottish throne. One of the King’s of Scotland (can’t remember his name) died childless and so with no living heir and no real candidate for the throne the Scottish nobility turned to the English king (Edward II) and asked him to mediate and chose a new king of Scotland. To the chagrin of the Scottish nobility he decided to not choose any members of the Scottish nobility and instead chose himself and crowned himself the King of Scotland! This is why William Wallace started his campaign against the English because he believed that Edward II was a usurper!

I really enjoyed the Wallace monument (although there really isn’t much to see.. you climb up the monument (on the way learning about Wallace’s life) and check out the view from the top!) but the weather had turned quite fickle and so I decided to skip the battle field made famous by Robert the Bruce and drove through to Edinburgh. (Based on the guide book all I can see is a paddock so I’m sure it is no great loss!)

I arrived late in the afternoon and with the weather being poorly I decided to head into the hostel and spend my evening catching up on some reading and blogging. Off to discover the mystery of the old city of Edinburgh tomorrow!

Posted by weary_feet 02:34 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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