Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day 12 - Dunvegan Castle, St. Mary's Church, Fairies, etc...

We wake up in the Laundry Cottage, built in 1734 and the former home of the Estate Factor. We look out the front door and see this;

We stroll down to the left of the Cottage to the water's edge to see the famous Dunvegan Castle Seals.

Then we walk over the Castle. Dunvegan Castle is a castle a mile and a half to the north of Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye, situated off the West coast of Scotland. Any visit to the Isle of Skye is incomplete without savouring the wealth of history at Dunvegan Castle & Gardens. Built on a rocky outcrop on the shores of Loch Dunvegan once entirely encircled by the sea, Dunvegan is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years.

On display are many fine oil paintings and clan treasures, the most famous of which is the Fairy Flag. Legend has it that this sacred Banner has miraculous powers and when unfurled in battle, the clan MacLeod will defeat their enemies. Another of the castle's great treasures is the Dunvegan Cup, a unique ‘mazer’ dating back to the Middle Ages. It was gifted by the O'Neils of Ulster as a token of thanks to one of the clan's most celebrated Chiefs, Sir Rory Mor, for his support of their cause against the marauding forces of Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1596.

Dunvegan Castle’s five acres of formal gardens began life in the 18th century. In stark contrast to the barren moorland and mountains that dominate Skye’s landscape, the gardens are a hidden oa¬sis featuring an eclectic mix of plants.

The Walled Garden is well worth a visit. In what was formerly the castle’s vegetable garden, is now a diverse range of plants and flowers that complement the attractive landscaped features including a water lily pond, a neoclassical urn and a Larch Pergola.

The new memorial gazebo was installed in the Walled Garden July of this year in time for HRH the Princess Royal's visit. Various Clan MacLeod Societies from around the world funded the project, including the Associated Clan Society of Alberta.

Over time, the Castle has welcomed many visitors including Sir Walter Scott, Dr Johnson, Flora MacDonald and Queen Elizabeth II.

We leave the Castle and drive to old St. Mary's Church and graveyard.

Since 1835, the burial place of the Chiefs of the MacLeods has been within the ruins of St Mary's Chapel at Kilmuir, Skye. Prior to the 24th Chief John Norman MacLeod's burial, the MacLeod Clan Chiefs were buried at Rodel, Isle of Harris. Norman MacLeod, his wife Anne, and daughter, Emily, a noted Gaelic historian, were all very involved with life in Dunvegan and oversaw major changes to the Castle so it seemed fitting that their resting place should be near Dunvegan. After them, the 25th Chief Norman, and his son Roderick, 26th Chief Norman Magnus, 27th Chief Reginald, 28th Chief Dame Flora, and in February 2007, 29th Chief John MacLeod have all been buried there.

This roofless ruined church, now consolidated, has a date of 1694 over the north entrance and the dedication to St. Mary is still reflected in the name of both the township and the graveyard. Once the parish church for Duirinish, not only are some of the chiefs of Clan MacLeod buried in the north aisle and chancel, but generations of the Clan hereditary pipers, the MacCrimmons, are at rest in the graveyard. An early 18th century ashlar obelisk commemorates the 6th Lord Lovat,  Thomas Frazer, and some late medieval carved gravestones and 18th century tablestones are located within the walled enclosure surrounding the church.

And then off to get breakfast and we find one of the greatest bakeries we've ever had the pleasure to visit, Dunvegan Bakery (Skye's Oldest Bakery).

Dunvegan Bakery has been baking since 1870. This incarnation has been owned by John MacLellan for over 23 years, a big Glaswegian, friendly, humble and a superb baker.

The food is fresh, delicious and we defy you to find better baked goods, anywhere. The bakery is opened all year round.

With full stomachs we head for the Fairy Bridge.

The somewhat modest Fairy Bridge, located three miles from Dunvegan Castle, is the site where some tales place the final moments between a MacLeod Chief and his fairy wife before she left him to return to Fairyland. As the story goes, she gave him the Fairy Flag before her departure, promising that it had the power to relieve him of danger and distress when he waved it.

From the Fairy Bridge it's off to Trumpan.

Trumpan (Scottish Gaelic: Trumpan) is a hamlet located on the Vaternish peninsula on the Isle of Skye, in the Scottish council area of the Highland. Trumpan church, which is now a ruin, was the focus of a particularly brutal incident in 1578, when the Clan MacDonald of Uist travelled to Trumpan in eight boats and under cover of a thick mist, burnt alive all the worshipping church-goers, with only one member managing to escape. This led to instant retribution by Clan MacLeod who killed all the invaders, before they had time to flee the island. This skirmish is known as the Battle of the Spoiling Dyke.

The Battle of the Spoiling Dyke (also known as the Battle of the Spoiled Dyke, Blar Milleadh a’ GhĂ raidh, Millegearaidh) was a Scottish clan battle that took place in 1578, fought between the MacDonalds of Uist and the Clan MacLeod.

The MacDonalds of Uist barred the doors of Trumpan Church, or Kilconan Church as it was once known, east of the shores of Ardmore Bay. They then set fire to the church full of worshipers. No one escaped alive except one girl who, although mortally wounded, managed to give the alarm. On hearing the news, the chief of Clan MacLeod and his men set off for Ardmore bay where a battle ensued. The MacDonalds were killed almost to a man. The corpses of the MacDonalds were dragged and then buried in a turf dyke, and the incident remembered as the "Battle of the Spoiling Dyke". The atrocity by the MacDonalds was to exact vengeance on the MacLeods for their atrocity of the massacre of MacDonalds in the Cave of Frances on the Isle of Eigg a couple of years earlier. This again was a tit-for-tat revenge between the two feuding clans.

Trumpan churchyard is the burial ground of Rachel Chiesley, Lady Grange whose husband had her kidnapped and incarcerated on various Hebridean islands.

Rachel Chiesley, usually known as Lady Grange (1679–1745), was the wife of Lord Grange, a Scottish lawyer with Jacobite sympathies. After 25 years of marriage and nine children, the Granges separated acrimoniously. When Lady Grange produced letters that she claimed were evidence of his treasonable plotting against the Hanoverian government in London, her husband had her kidnapped in 1732. She was incarcerated in various remote locations on the western seaboard of Scotland, including the Monach Isles, Skye and the distant islands of St Kilda.

Lady Grange's father was convicted of murder and she is known to have had a violent temper; initially her absence seems to have caused little comment. News of her plight eventually reached her home town of Edinburgh however, and an unsuccessful rescue attempt was undertaken by her lawyer, Thomas Hope of Rankeillor. She died in captivity, after being in effect imprisoned for 13 years. Her life has been remembered in poetry, prose and plays.

The date of Chiesley's marriage to James Erskine is uncertain: based on the text of a letter she wrote much later in life, it may have been in 1707 when she was about 28. The young Lady Grange has been described as a "wild beauty", and it is likely the marriage only took place after she became pregnant.

As the Erskines' marriage trouble increased, Lady Grange's behaviour became increasingly unpredictable. Her discovery of an affair her husband was conducting with coffeehouse owner Fanny Lindsay can only have made matters worse. In April of that year, she threatened suicide and to run naked through the streets of Edinburgh.

Lady Grange was abducted from her home on the night of 22 January 1732 by two Highland noblemen, Roderick MacLeod of Berneray and Macdonald of Morar. After a bloody struggle, she was taken out of the city in a sedan chair and then on horseback to Wester Polmaise near Falkirk, where she was held until 15 August on the ground floor of an uninhabited tower. From there she was taken west by Peter Fraser (a page of Simon Fraser, the 11th Lord Lovat).

We leave Trumpan and head back to the Cottage for a wee rest before going to the Local pub, the Cellar Bar,
where we try to get the bartender to run as a Member of Parliament in next May's election for the Scottish National Party. Yes this involved Tennants and scotch.

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