A Spider and a Shellycoat – more Scottish Folk Tales

One thing that has always been a big part of Scottish culture, and that continues to intrigue both visitors and natives alike, is the myriad of utterly unique legends and stories that Scotland has to offer. Some of these legends, such as the Loch Ness Monster, are famous all around the world, whereas others remain known to just a few; some were originally told as moral lessons, to warn, frighten or, as with the case of Robert the Bruce and the perseverant spider, to serve as inspiration, whereas others were told solely to entertain. Below is a small selection of the various tales and legends born and bred on Scottish soil:

King Robert the Bruce and the Spider

Mentioned above, this tale in particular tends to strike a chord with many of those who hear it, due to it serving as a metaphor for carrying on through the struggles of life, which is something with which everybody can identify. It is also of note because there is absolutely nothing to stop it from being true; parts of it, such as the number of attempts made by the spider and the precise location of Bruce vary from source to source, conjectured to fill in the gaps that being passed down through the centuries can sometimes bring, but the gist of the tale being historical rather than mythological remains a strong possibility.

spider

The most famous version of the story goes that in the early 14th century King Robert the Bruce, who was fighting the English for Scottish independence, was on the run, and found himself seeking shelter in a cave. As he sat in the cave he despaired over what was the best thing to do for his people and for the future of Scotland. Should he give up? Should he continue to fight King Edward I? He was there, dejected, when a spider suddenly caught his attention. It was attempting to climb up its web, and Bruce watched as it repeatedly tried and failed to get to the top. Six times it tried, and six times it failed, but it persevered, and on the seventh attempt it finally succeeded. This gave Bruce a much-needed morale boost; he carried on with his mission, and the Scottish went on to defeat Edward I’s son Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Robert the Bruce’s image, along with a little spider, is on many Scottish bank notes today, serving as a reminder to everyone that, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’.

 

river

The Shellycoat

A mischievous rather than evil figure in Scottish folklore, albeit with quite a cruel sense of humour, the Shellycoat can be found in creeks, lochs and streams, looking for innocent people to trick. It is an ugly monster with a coat of large rattling shells, which it shakes in an effort to distract passing strangers. It gets a great deal of amusement out of confusing people, wasting their time and seeing their faces as they fail to find out what is making the noise. This is harmless enough, but it is claimed that the Shellycoat also creates the sound of someone drowning and laughs at the commotion it causes. Despite this unpleasant side to the Shellycoat, it never physically harms anyone, and so it is not warned against in the same way that other monsters, such as the Blue Men of Minch, are.

 

ruin

 

The Redcaps

Redcaps (also known as Dunters or Powries) are some of the most evil creatures in Scottish folklore. According to legend, they dwell in ruined castles near the border, particularly those with an especially dark history, and murder strangers who happen to stumble into their home. Redcaps are grotesque-looking stooped little monsters, with red eyes, pointed teeth and long sharp claws. In spite of their heavy iron boots and large pikes, they are remarkably quick, and it is thought to be impossible to outrun a Redcap once it has set its sight on someone! Sometimes they roll boulders on top of unsuspecting strangers’ heads from high up in a tower; other times they bite and scratch their victims to death. It is then that they drink some of the blood, before dipping their caps into it, an important step, for if the cap dries up, the Redcap immediately dies.

We hope you enjoyed these tales, this week brought to you by Jodie, who is currently gaining experience with the Learning Team here at Culloden. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and keep on coming back for more.

All the best, K & D

Time for some Birthday Cake!

With the 31st December marking Prince Charles Edward Stuarts birthday we thought we’d look at his options for a birthday cake!

cake
What we hope 18th Century cake will resemble

 

Firstly from ‘The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies’ we have a light sponge with lemon and caraway entitled ‘Mrs Townleys Cake’

Mrs Townleys Cake

A pd of sugar, dryed, pounded & sifted, half a pd of flower, 12 eggs, half ye whites. The yolks & whites beat seperately. Put the sugar to yr yolks, beat them till as white as cream. Then, put in the whites by degrees. As the froth rises, great in the rinds of 4 lemons, an ounce of carray seeds. Then put in yr flower. All together mix it well. Butter yr pan. An hour bakes it.

We don’t know who Mrs Townley was but the recipe sounds pretty good so we’re assuming she was a nice woman. Not much is said about decoration so we’re going to allow ourselves free reign to try and jazz it up a bit and make it look elegant and pretty.

cake2

Secondly, from the book with our favourite title ‘The Whole Duty of a Woman: Or, an infallible Guide to the Fair Sex containing Rules, Directions and Observation, for their Conduct and Behavior through all Ages and Circumstances of Life, as Virgins, Wives, or Widows.’ little fruity cake that must be good as it is called a ‘Queens Cake’

Queen’s Cakes

You must take a pound of dry’d flour, a pound of refin’d sugar sifted, and a pound of currants wash’d, pick’d and rubb’d clean, and a pound of butter wash’d very well, and rub it into the flour and sugar, with a little beaten mace, and a little orange-flower-water; beat ten eggs, but half the whites, work it all well together with your hands, and put in the currants; sift over it double refin’d sugar, and put them immediately into a gentle oven to bake.

Most of the recipes and references seem to make these into small cakes, like cupcakes. Whilst Prince Charles never quite made it to being king we though a Queen’s Cake might be fitting allow him to take out some of his disappointment by devouring the entire batch himself.

Good luck if you try to make these recipes. As always please share, comment, like, tweet, follow, re-blog but try not to do too much over the festive period apart form have fun.

All the best, K & D

After Culloden: the Prince and the Butcher

Culloden is considered by many to be the end of the ’45 Rising but what happened to the two men who led the armies at this important battle?

 

bpc
Prince Charles Edward Stuart by Allan Ramsay

 

Considering the Jacobites first, their leader, Prince Charles Edward Stuart did not fall at the battle but was able to escape the field. The day after Culloden those Jacobites who had been able to escape made their way to Ruthven barracks to regroup. Here they expected to find Prince Charles, but when they arrived they were met only with orders to disperse. Abandoning the cause Prince Charles spent the next five months on the run. He managed to find his way between loyal supporters and evaded the government’s roving eyes spending time in the Hebrides to the west of mainland Scotland. He was lucky in that his men never betrayed him but he knew if he was to survive in the long time he would have to make his way back to the continent.

 

bpc2
Prince Charles as an older man

Finally, in September 1746. Prince Charles met up with a French rescue ship and sailed to France. Initially he was greeted warmly but in 1748 following the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle , which helped bring the war between France and Britain to an end, he was expelled from the country. For several years Charles lived with his Scottish mistress, Clementina Walkinshaw and the two had a daughter, Charlotte in 1753. The relationship was not to last though and in 1760 it was over amid tales of jealousy, alcoholism and violence. Eventually Charles made his way to Rome and married nineteen year old Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern in 1772. Once again the relationship did not prosper and Louise left Charles in 1780 with claims of physical abuse. From 1783 Charles was known to be ill and was nursed by his daughter but not long after his 67th birthday he suffered a stroke and died on 31st January 1788.

 

cumber3
William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland

On the Government side the Duke of Cumberland was initially hailed a hero in his defeat of the Jacobites and he quickly set about ensuring there would not be another rebellion. Amongst other things the composer Handel wrote ‘Judas Maccabaeus’ supposedly for Cumberland which contains the anthem “See the Conquering Hero Comes”. Cumberland was also was given the freedom of the City of  Glasgow and made Chancellor of both Aberdeen and St Andrews Universities.  He spent years trying to improve the army but as word of his brutal treatment of the highlands spread his reputation slowly became tarnished and he was given the name ‘The Butcher’.

 

cumber4
William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland

In 1757 Cumberland was given command of the British forces in the Seven Years War but was defeated in the Battle of Hastenbeck. He was severely criticised for his defeat and publicly reprimanded by King George II. Cumberland resigned his office and retired to his estate. A leg wound he received at Dettingen, in 1743, never healed properly and he ended up gaining excessive weight before suffering a stroke in 1760. In 1765 whilst in London he had a heart attack and died on 31st October 1765 aged 44.

Prince Charles is probably the more ‘famous’ of the two men today with his story being romanticised over the years and his tale focussed on the year he was actually in Scotland. History was perhaps not so kind to Cumberland who is most known by his moniker ‘the Butcher’ more than anything else. It is safe to say though that Culloden was a key moment in both these mens lives. We hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse into their post-Culloden lives and as always please like, share, tweet, comment and visit us anytime.

All the best, K & D

 

A week at Culloden

 

This week we have a guest post from our S5 work experience student! Hope you enjoy:

After spending a week completing work experience in the educational sector of Culloden Battlefield centre, I have broadened my understanding of this particular historical profession as well as enriching my knowledge of the battle that has deeply influenced the Highlands. Initially I was apprehensive but was immediately reassured by the friendly welcome I received from every member of staff. The atmosphere throughout the week was great and everyone I worked with was extremely positive and motivational; making me feel like the work I was doing was valued. With little knowledge of what happened at the battle when I began, I found that I learned so quickly by immersing myself in this environment.

Throughout the week I worked on a project in which I created a database cataloguing the handling objects that were being stored at the centre. Through this, I learned so much about the way of life of both the Jacobites and the Government soldiers and discovered some fascinating objects. This also gave me an insight into the nature of a curatorial profession.

I was also given the opportunity to shadow the volunteers who carried out presentations for the public. This was a very interesting experience and I was inspired by their fascination and love for the history of the site.

Throughout the week, there was also an archaeology workshop which I had the opportunity to observe, adding a more light-hearted element- yet still educational- to the day and showing me the versatility of a historical profession.

I also helped to find evidence in response to a research enquiry which involved the use of historical books which was extremely interesting and gave me an indication of the nature of historical research; something I will inevitably use if I study History at University. In addition to this, I researched a segment of the Jacobite army, the Royal Ecossaise, which was particularly fascinating for me as it referred to the involvement of French soldiers: I have French/British nationality. I created a summary of their involvement through the use of historical books for research.

Overall this week has hugely increased my knowledge of the battle, which was such a fundamental part of Scottish History, as well as developing my researching skills. However, the experience was dependant on the support and guidance of the members of the team whose passion and knowledge was an inspiration to me and has secured my ambition to continue studying history.

 

Bonnie Prince Charlies Flummery?

Flummery, when we first saw the word we had no idea either, but it turns out that flummery is rather interesting.

First a description, flummery is a sweet dessert pudding that was popular in the UK from the 17th to 19th Century. We first found the word upon seeing an interesting dish for Bonnie Prince Charlie Flummery and naturally had to discover more.

flum
Flummery tin – a similar one can be seen at Glenfinnan

 

According to one legend Flora MacDonald was half way through a dish of flummery when she was arrested for her part in helping Prince Charles escape following his defeat at Culloden. Another says that she made the dish for Prince Charles before he escaped, but who knows which, if either, is true. Even so it was enough for us to find out what on earth flummery is!

There appear to be variations on flummery from as early as the middle ages where it was more of a broth that could be made by pretty much anyone. Oats were a staple food of many and thus even the poor could make their own flummery. Most recipes seem to follow along the lines of soaking cereal (oats appear most popular), the liquid from which is then set to form a clear jelly. Thankfully this then seems to have been flavoured with orange or rosewater and topped with honey.

Whilst we are calling the dish flummery in England it was said to have been called ‘wash-brew’, no doubt because the resulting grey liquid resembled dishwater. Regardless of its appearance the dish was considered healthy and was served to many invalids believing that its bland but hardy nature would strengthen those who were unwell. This practice of eating flummery when sick looks to have continued until the 20th Century though variations in the dish were becoming more common. As time went on the jelly like texture was achieved with gelatin and the basic dish was enhanced with cream, eggs, fruit and even wine.

flum2
Flummery (from http://www.historicfood.com)

 

If you want to give it a go here’s one of the best recipes we can find from ‘The Cook and Housekeeper’s Complete and Universal Dictionary’ from 1822:

Steep in cold water, for a day and a night, three large handfuls of very fine white oatmeal. Pour it off clear, add as much more water, and let it stand the same time. Strain it through a fine hair sieve, and boil it till it is as thick as hasty pudding, stirring it well all the time. When first strained, put to it one large spoonful of white sugar, and two of orange flower water. Pour it into shallow dishes, and serve it up with wine, cider, and milk; or it will be very good with cream and sugar.

Rather unappetizingly flummery became known as a word to mean bland or unsatisfying food and today the word is still used to mean an empty compliment or nonsense.

We think we’ll stick with having our oats in porridge or flapjack but if you want to give it a shot you can find more recent recipes for flummery on the internet. As always please like, tweet, comment, share and let us know how you enjoy your flummery!

All the best, K&D

 

A Government Spy…

Unsurprisingly the Jacobite Risings had lots of propaganda and intrigue and also plenty of opportunities for spies. Today we’ve picked a couple of the men believed to be spies during the ’45 Rising to have a look at their stories.

Firstly, Mr Dudley Bradstreet. Dudley was born in Tipperary in 1711 and his famly had once been quite well off during Cromwellian times. Unfortunately, by Dudley’s time the family had lost much of their land and money to bad debts and Dudley, as the youngest son, was raised by a foster family. In the 1745 Rising Dudley became employed by a government official to act as a spy in the Jacobite army. To be effective Dudley assumed the persona of a Captain Oliver Williams who was an ardent Jacobite, loyal to the Prince Charles Edward Stuart. However, when he could, he supplied both the Duke of Cumberland and the Duke of Newcastle with news of the Jacobite armies movements. It seems that Dudley’s cover held well and he managed to gain access to the Prince’s council of war in Derby. Here he is credited with persuading the Jacobite army to retreat back to Scotland. In the council he told of an army of some 9,000 men waiting for the Jacobites in Northampton. Of course, the force did not exist but this did not stop the Jacobites from believing him and it is considered one of the key points that led to the Jacobites retreating rather than carrying on to London.

Dudley is quite a well known example of a Government spy mainly because after the Rising the Government admitted he was under their services. However, despite this admittance Dudley was unable to get either money or a commission in the army from the government which he believed had been promised to him for his work. Eventually he managed to take his case and get it to the attention of the king. He then received a sum of apparently one hundred and twenty pounds for his spying efforts.

PCES
Prince Charles Edward Stuart, leader of the Jacobites

 

Lesser known is the spy who went by the codename of ‘Pickle’. Most people agree that this was actually Alastair MacDonnell of Glengarry who managed to stop the ‘Elibank Plot’, a last ditch attempt by some Jacobites to remove King George II from the throne. During the ’45 Rising Alastair was captured and held prisoner in the Tower of London. After almost two years he was freed and fled to France but by this time his families estates had been confiscated and he was facing a life of poverty.

In 1749 Alastair visited London and it is believed it was at this time that he came to an agreement with the government to act as a spy on Prince Charles and the Jacobites over in France and on the continent. He would gather any information he could and then send it over to London signing off his letters as Pickle. One of the key things he is credited for is stopping the Elibank Plot. The plot apparently consisted of starting a rising in Scotland to coincide with an attempted coup in London. It was suggested the royal family of George II should be taken hostage and held until they agreed to abdicate. Alastair was a member of those involved in the planning and consequently passed all the information through to the government. When this was discovered the plot was adandoned, so no kidnapping ever took place. Alastair, or Pickle, was also responsible for the arrest of several key Jacobites including Dr Archibald Cameron. Another member of the Elibank Plot, Dr Cameron was arrested and imprisoned before being sentenced to death. He was executed in 1753 and was hung for twenty minutes before being cut down and beheaded.

For years the identity of Pickle remained a mystery, and some may say it still is today. It wasn’t until the 19th Century that a writer named Andrew Lang compared the writing on some of Pickles letters to those of a young Alastair MacDonnell and found that they shared a key similarity. It turned out that both men always wrote ‘how’ for the word ‘who’, thus seemingly confirming the identity of the mystery spy who had ruined the Elibank plot.

pickle
Andrew Lang’s book on Pickle the Spy

 

There were certainly many more spies infiltrating the Jacobites and indeed many working the other way. We know of a Matthew Prior who was assigned to the British Embassy in Paris and discovered a number of Jacobite spies travelling between France and London before 1715 preparing for a Jacobite Rising. His information enabled the Government to arrest several men and help hinder the Jacobite plans.

Many more men will never be known, their secrets kept safe over time but we hope you enjoyed these couple of tales and as always please share, tweet, like, comment and let us know if you are aware of any other Jacobite spies.

All the best, K & D

 

 

 

A Few Tasty Treats

18th Century cuisine was certainly interesting but a lot of recipes we’ve found don’t sound all that appetising.

Luckily we’ve found a few sweet treats that might be able to tempt you. These are all from a brilliantly titled book from 1737 called ‘The Whole Duty of a Woman: Or, an infallible Guide to the Fair Sex containing Rules, Directions, and Observations, for their Conduct and Behaviour through all Ages and Circumstances of Life, as Virgins, Wives, or Widows.’

recipes

Firstly a Jelly of Raspberries.

First take six pounds of raspberries, then three pounds of currants and seven pounds and a half of sugar brought to the cracked boiling; strip in the fruits, and them let all boil together, scumming it ’til no more scum will rise, and the syrup is become between smooth and pearled; then pour it out into a sieve, set over a copper pan; take the jelly that passes through, and give it another boiling, scum it well, and put it in pots, or glasses.

With seven and a half pounds of sugar, this will certainly be sweet but, if that doesn’t strike you, why not try some Macaroons.

Having provided a pound of almonds, let them be scalded, blanched and thrown into fair water; Then they must be drained, wiped and pounded in a mortar, moistening them with orange flower water, or the white of an egg, left they should turn to oil. Afterwards taking an equal quantity of powder sugar, with three or four other whites of eggs, and a little musk, beat all well together, and dress your Macaroons on paper, with a spoon, that they may be bak’d with a gentle fire.

Finally to try, another classic, some Apple Fritters.

Beat the yolk of eight eggs, the whites of four, well together, and strain them into a pan; then take a quart of cream, warm it as hot as you can endure your finger in it; then put to it a quarter of a pint of sack, three quarters of a pint of ale, and make a posset of it; when your posset is cool, put it to your eggs, beating them well together; then put in nutmeg, ginger, salt and flour to your liking: Your batter should be pretty thick; then put in pippins sliced or scraped; fry them in good store of hot lard with a quick fire.

To help anyone who is wondering, a quarter pint of sack refers typically to sherry or fortified wine so there should be a bit of kick to the batter.

We hope you enjoyed these recipes, as always please like, share, tweet, comment and let us know who your desserts turned out.

All the best, K & D