Jacobite Jaunt

This week was time for our annual Jacobite Jaunt, where we head off with our volunteers to explore more sites that tackle Jacobite history. This year there was really only one choice for our destination and that was the National Museum of Scotland, which is running a special Jacobite exhibition, from 23rd June to 12th November, this year.

The National Museum of Scotland (NMS), which can be found in Edinburgh, is a beautiful building and worth a visit any time you head to the capital, but this year it is extra special as it hosts one of the largest exhibitions of Jacobite history for at least 70 years.

Following on from their very successful exhibition around Mary, Queen of Scots the NMS have now formed a fantastic display of artefacts including weapons, letters, portraits and unique trinkets that take the visitor on a dramatic journey through the whole of Jacobite history.

When we arrived at the museum we were lucky enough to have a short talk with one of the curators before being shown around by one of their excellent volunteer guides. Needless to say we were all very keen and excited to be visiting and we were not disappointed.

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Ticket for the exhibtion

 

The exhibition covers the whole of the Stuart dynasty breaking down the action into sections so that the highly complex story is taken in nice manageable stages. The objects on display are fascinating and we all spent hours in the exhibit trying to take in every bit of detail. The collection is comprised of pieces from the NMS as well as many other collections throughout Britain and Europe.

One of our highlights was seeing our own sword, known as the ‘Brodie Sword’ on display in the exhibition. It was lovely to see it on display in the capital and taking part in such an iconic exhibition alongside other incredible displays. Also on display are stunning letters and articles that, if you have the time, are wonderful to read. There are some great portraits and images that carry through subtle messages of power and monarchy. We also spotted a beautiful pin cushion embroidered with the names of men who fell at Culloden which was a lovely personal and sentimental item to see.  The exhibition covers the history very well and it was great to follow the journey right from 1688 all the way through to Culloden and beyond.

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The Brodie Sword in the exhibtion

 

If you are in Edinburgh we strongly recommend visiting the exhibition. We were all very reluctant to leave and it would have been easy to spend a day in the beautiful museum. The NMS has done a fantastic job and it is a great spot to begin your introduction to Jacobites before you head north to see us!

As always please like, share, comment, tweet and let us know if you have been to the exhibition.

All the best,

K & D

 

 

 

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The Atterbury Plot

Between the Jacobite Rising of 1715 and 1745 lies the Atterbury Plot. Here in 1722 many prominent men joined forces to try and instigate a Jacobite Rising that would restore the Stuarts to the throne.

The plot is named after Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, who acted as James III & VIII’s representative in England. His reasons for joining the Jacobites are intriguing, as he was not considered a supporter during the 1715 Rising, yet, a year later he was a key component in another planned rising. It appears that the changing politics in England are the main reason for his change in position. In 1714 the Tory ministry collapse and the Whigs too over, leaving the Tories excluded from high office. As a prominent High Church bishop, Atterbury feared the Tories would never be able to regain enough power to restore the church to, what he felt, was its rightful place.  Thus, we start to see a collection of Tory supporters coming together to support the Jacobites.

Atterbury is the man named in the plot but he was not necessarily considered the leader of the plot. There are many big names associated with the plan. Lord North, the Earl of Arran, General Dillon, the Earl of Mar and the Duke of Ormond all supported the plan.

The collapse of the South Sea Company in 1720 led to economic crisis and political scandals in Britain and the growing tensions held an opportunity for the Jacobites to exploit. It is suggested that the plan was to capture London and the city of Westminster and then begin multiple rising across the country. They had plans to sail men to Cornwall to begin a rising in the west and a separate group would head for Scotland and raise support to the north. The group had formed a list of all the counties where they felt they could gain support as well as those they knew would oppose the men. There was a general election scheduled in 1722 and it is believed that they planned their rising to coincide with this event.

Before the plans could take place though they were discovered. In April 1722 the Earl of Sunderland passed away and upon his death the Regent of France supposedly informed government men that the Jacobites had asked him to supply three thousand men for an attempted coup which was to take place the following month.  Sunderland papers were confiscated and amongst them was apparently a letter of thanks from James III & VIII. Despite very little evidence arrests began upon the main suspects. Atterbury himself was betrayed by the Earl of Mar and was arrested in August and confined to the Tower of London. Following his trial he was exiled and joined up with James III & VIII and became his Secretary of State.

We hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about the Atterbury Plot. As always please like, tweet, share, comment and follow us as we try and uncover more interesting tales for your to enjoy.

All the best, K & D

The Stunning Standing Stones of Scotland

We are lucky enough to be situated just five minutes from the standing stones at Clava Cairns which are proving to be very popular with visitors. But why does Scotland have so many of these intriguing standing stones?

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Aerial View of Clava Cairns from Visit Scotland

 

The honest answer is no one really knows! Throughout Scotland there are stones arranged often in circular patterns that have no clear explanation as to where they came from or why they are placed in such ways. The stone circle at Callanish on the Isle of Lewis is thought to date from 5,000 years ago making it one of the oldest structures in the UK. How they were formed is also a mystery. Some of the stones in these formations can weigh up to 10 tonnes, so how were they transported and placed into position?

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Calanais Standing Stones

Many of the stones are believed to be part of ritualistic sites with many forming elaborate burial grounds used to commemorate the dead. At Clava Cairns there are three such burial chambers which are surrounded by standing stones. These can be clearly seen as the walls of the burial tombs are made from stones which are still standing. Over on Orkney there are the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar which are believed to be all that remains of large ceremonial sites. It is believed the stones were once surrounded by a large ditch with a central meeting point.

 

One of the most interesting things that seems to connect most sites is the relationship they seem to share with astronomical events. Many of the sites, including Clava Cairns, are aligned to the movements of the sun and moon and in particular the event of the  solstices. At Clava one of the burial cairns is aligned so that the sunset perfectly aligns with the entrance to the cairn on the Winter solstice.

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Ring of Brodgar from Visit Orkney

 

Whatever the purpose of these Neolithic sites, whether they be ceremonial, religious or elaborate burial grounds, today they are sites of incredible beauty and fascinating engineering. The stones capture peoples imagination and their sites are typically in peaceful settings with beautiful scenery that allow visitors to escape the modern world for a while and soak in the atmosphere of these incredible places.

We hope you enjoyed this little foray into the standing stones of Scotland. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and find your own favourite set of stones, although with hundreds to choose from it may be tricky.

All the best, K & D