The Strategic Placement, and defensibility of, Pictish Brochs In Southern Scotland

When you look at the placement of Pictish Brochs in Southern Scotland, the purely defensive placements of such structures is clearer to see, than at any other Broch site in Scotland. As without the surrounding defensibility of countless mountains, Lochs, straits and Islands, the Brochs of Southern Scotland, and their strategic placement, stand out even more so as a result.

Incidentally, it seems that most southern Brochs are larger than those found in the north also, perhaps as a direct result of having to contend with enemies such as the Romans and Proto-English tribes from the south more so than those further north.

Edin’s Hall

Take for instance Edin’s Hall, which stands atop the northeast slope of Cockburn Law, just above a fairly steep slope down to the Whiteadder Water. Note the haugh (Low-lying land) that compromises all of the southern and western-facing terrain, of which provides views for several miles in both directions (Almost all the way down to the Cheviots!). As mentioned above, the Broch is also situated close to a source of water, and therefor food, as well as a forest, of which would have acted as a screen for miles to the north. The forest of course, would have also served as a ready source of timber, game, and foraging; and all of which would have been easily defensible through proximity to the Brochs strength, the bend in the river, and the vantage afforded by the fortifications height itself.

It is also worth noting that Edin’s Hall is defended by the ramparts and ditches of an even earlier Iron Age Hill-fort, consisting of a large roundhouse in the center, close to the Broch, and a double rampart and ditches surrounding, all of which being enclosed by a larger oval area some 442ft by 246ft, the placement of which can be seen in the satellite image below.

Edin's Hall Broch

Not a Broch, but worth noting also, are the complex fortifications of Cockburn Law, pictured below, and of which stands roughly a half mile to the south west of Edin’s Hall, and as a testament to the area’s highly defensible nature, evidently valued by the ancient Celtic peoples who inhabited the area previous to their Pictish descendants.

Cockburn Law

The fort on the summit of Cockburn Law is of an oval plan construction, and measures 360ft by 280ft internally. It is defended on the Eastern side by one rampart, with a wide linear boulder spread, which runs parallel to the foot of the natural slope, which may be a further line of defense thereupon. On the south side, the fort is defended by two ramparts, and by three stone and earth ones on the west and north facing side, giving an overall dimension of 500ft by 380ft. There are three entrances, one situated on the North-West, a West facing one, and another on the South facing side.

Within the interior of the fortifications themselves, of which is guarded by a large enclosing stone rampart, at the highest point, is the remains of a cairn, and north of that, a series of bands made from stones, which suggest huts having been once situated there. At the base of the hill, from the southern entrance, to the northern one, is a row of large boulders that seem to have bordered an enclosure of some type during it’s Iron Age occupation; a sheep fold perhaps? A storehouse of some sort, or a tannery? Or maybe even an area for surrounding civilians to shelter in times of war or assault?

Bow Castle

Bow Castle Broch

Bow Castle sits atop it’s namesake, Bow hill, on the level ground on the brink of it’s steep southwest facing slope. The Broch has an internal wall some 15ft thick, enclosing a court-like area 32ft in diameter, the entrance of which is situated in the east-facing wall. However, the Broch was originally surrounded by another wall some 15ft thick, with the entrance to the entire fortification situated in the northeastern side likewise.

Further still, are the obscured remains of what might have been even more fortifications, again, on the north east facing side, in the form ditches and walls, which suggests a concentration of strength at the fort’s entrance, and seemingly most vulnerable side. Incidentally, if you look closely at the above ariel photograph, you will notice the gentleness of the aforementioned sides approach, whereas the other sides are somewhat protected by the surrounding steepness, with the northwest side in particular defended naturally by a nearly vertical, broken face.

The placement of the Broch is also telling, for not only does it overlook the Gala water and surrounding forests, but also sits on the western part of a rise that forms a crescent ridge at the head of the Galashiels. A well placed vantage, and easily defensible strength if pressed from any direction North, west, or south of it’s lofty position. There also seems to be a natural pass dividing the crescent ridge in the middle, through which a traveler going east to the higher ground that sits beyond the Broch, would likely need to traverse if he wanted to shave 3-6 miles off of his journey, and this, the fort was also well placed to monitor.

Bow Castle ordinance survey map

It’s worth mentioning that the surrounding area is also littered with numerous settlements and cairns, concentrated on or near the summits of the many hills that dot the landscape. It seems this area was a hub of sorts during the Iron Age, and it is easy to see why.

Torwoodlee Broch

Torwoodlee Broch

Torwoodlee Broch is situated on the site of an earlier Hill-fort on the shoulder of a ridge, over 800ft OD, of which affords the fort extensive views, especially across Galashiels to the Eildon Hills, and is proposed as having been built solely in response to roman presence in the outlying area. Most likely the site was chosen because of the earlier fort already built thereon. And like Bow Castle Broch some two miles north, Torwoodlee was also built upon an easily defensible ridge with easy access to water and timber.
The Hill-fort is an irregular oval in shape, measuring in at massive 449ft by 446ft. Along the Western side, the defenses would have consisted of two ramparts each with an external ditch, traces of which, can be seen continuing around to the North facing side. Unfortunately, both the South and East facing sides of the fort have been destroyed beyond recognition.

Now, whilst the earlier Hill fort is certainly impressive in size and scale, the Broch itself, which lies on the southwest side of the fort, and is built partly on top of the earlier defenses, is a great deal smaller than it’s older counterpart, with a diameter of 76ft, but with an outer wall coming in at a sizable 17ft thick it is among one of the largest Brochs discovered. The inner court, or living space, has a diameter of roughly 39ft, with the entrance on the East side, and a door-check in each wall of the passage leading in. It is reasonable to assume that, although the Eastern defenses are all but lost, being situated around the entrance of the Broch would suggest similar defenses as afforded to the North and West facing sides, if not more so.

Furthermore, this particular Broch is highly unusual in that is was surrounded by a ditch, with a causeway in front of the entrance. Excavation showed this to be V-shaped in section, some 8.8ft wide and 5.2ft deep. An Iron Age moat, of sorts.

The archaeological finds from this Broch also suggest that it was inhabited by a rich, and influential chieftain, with many bronze artifacts, roman coins and loot, as well as native glass armlets having been found within it’s walls.

Torwoodlee ordinance survey map

Doon Castle

Doon Castle Broch

This Broch is situated within an outwork placed on a rocky promontory on the South side of Ardwell Point, on a narrow spit cut off from the land by a wall, and traversed by a ditch spanned by a built-up causeway. The Broch, comparatively well preserved, with entrances on both the North-East and the South facing sides, and a mural chamber on the Eastern side, with a probable second on the Western. The interior of this impressive Broch measures in at about 30ft in diameter, and is enclosed within a wall anywhere from 12ft in thickness, in the Northeast, to 15ft on the East facing side. A more than adequate defense given the already imposing strength afforded to the fort by the rocky outcrop, and the relatively narrow causeway linking it. I would think that no more than two men abreast could cross it at any given time, and so the defensibility and strategic placement of this Broch really needs no explanation.

Doon Castle ordinance survey map

The outwork, however, of the surrounding fortifications is compromised of a wall at least 8.5ft thick, which encloses an area measuring 46ft from East to West, by 33ft between the Broch and the North end of the promontory. On the East facing side, the rubble of the outwork merges with that of the Broch itself.

The entrance through the outwork, rather than the Broch, was probably on the Northeast facing side, opposite the aforementioned causeway, which had been constructed across a natural gully some 19ft wide, and 8ft deep, of which cuts off the promontory from the North. The causeway itself is only 6.2ft wide and 3ft high.

Laws of Monifieth

Laws Of Monifieth

Monifieth Laws Broch sits on the plateau within an Iron Age Hill fort, of which overlooks the Firth of Tay to the south. It should be noted, in the interests of defensibility, that Laws hill, upon which the fortification rests, rises to an elevation of around 400ft above sea level. On the summit, are the aforementioned remains of what had once been a very large and substantial fort. The entrance appears to face South-East.

Originally, the Hill fort was no doubt a small stronghold which, like the others on this list, had been built during the centuries of intermittent warfare. The walls of were likely added to, extended and strengthened as necessity required, until the whole hill-top had been covered by huge ramparts of stone surrounding the central buildings within, where men and stores could be housed, and with space seemingly sufficient enough even for the accommodation of cattle no less, such is the apparent scale of the fortifications.

Laws of Monifieth ordinance survey map

The site itself, occupies an area of about two acres, having an almost elliptical boundary at a whopping 1110ft in circumference. The length from east to west is about 510ft. It`s position is one of the highest elevations in the district. As a defensive position it was the strongest possible. There was a good water supply from springs, and the walls, of which vestiges remain in the shape of enormous masses of stonework, point to an almost impregnable fortification.

The outside diameter is 64ft, with a wall thickness of 16ft, and an inside diameter of around 33ft. However, despite the fantastic nature of the earlier fort surrounding it, the construction of the Broch itself, is of a poor standard compared to those Brochs found in the north. Yet, despite it’s shortcomings, the site does have clear views all around the Angus country-side, apart from that obscured by the hill to the north. The fort also belongs to the class, vitrified; the stones being bound together by a glaze that could only be produced by a fire so hot, and so long applied, as to fuse the stones until they were connected by a cement resembling melted ore.

Interestingly as well, in mentioning Angus, the capital of Pictland was continuously changing. Each King would make his headquarters in the district where he possessed territory, and where he would be surrounded by those personally devoted to him. Queen Fichem was the wife of King Oengus, (Angus) who reigned from 729 to 762 AD, and who was in residence at Balmossie when she gave the gift of the hall and royal place to the monks, who had with them the relics of St. Andrew. It may be therefore, that Fichem, or Finchem, belonged to some Pictish family of consequence, whose possessions lay in Forfarshire, and whose stronghold was the Laws Fort. Incidentally, the presence of a number of class II and III Pictish stones in the surrounding area, also points to Monifieth having had some importance as an ecclesiastical center to the Pict’s, for the lands were a possession of the Céli Dé monastic order, until they were granted to the Tironensian monks of Arbroath Abbey in the early 13th century.

It should be said, that of all the Brochs mentioned, the Laws of Monifieth has so far yielded the greater amount of ancient artifacts, including a bronze spiral finger ring, which was recovered during 19th excavations, as well as many fragments of tobacco pipes made of clay, not differing much from the modern shape, but clumsier and thicker, along with not only human bones, but articles of daily life including a stone cup, a sword, querns, and iron implements too.

A smoke, a drink, and good fight! How little life in Scotland has changed, it seems…

Cinead MacAlpin.


On This Day, 1305

On this day in 1305, Sir William Wallace was tried in Westminster Hall on the charge of High Treason, during which a garland of oak was placed upon his head mockingly, to signify him as the King of outlaws. His grisly sentence, of course, was read out immediately following the verdict, and included the full details of the punishment, known as “hanging, drawing and quartering”.

He was then beaten and dragged outside to a pair of waiting horses, and subsequently chained prostrate onto a hurdle (just a piece of fencing, not the wheeled construction shown in the film) before being dragged through the filthy streets of London for the public to mock, throw rubbish at, and stone.

He was drawn first to the Tower, about two and a half miles from the site of his trial, and then on to Smithfield via Aldgate, another mile or thereabouts so that all could look upon his mighty person and safely jeer. When his would be humiliation was finally complete and he had arrived at the spot of his execution, without ceremony, a noose was swiftly tightened about his neck, after which he was hanged all the way up and to the point of unconsciousness, being cut down just before passing out, or strangling to death. He was not racked as shown in the film however, nor was he allowed a chance to submit to Edward’s peace or even take a breath, and thereby cut short his suffering; rather, whilst being held upright by the hangman’s rope, like a carcass in a butchers yard, his private parts were swiftly cut away (all of them, and hence emasculation, not castration) of which were then summarily burned in the brazier in front of him. Then, while still upright, and very much alive and conscious, his stomach was slit open so that he could be ritually disemboweled for a baying crowd of filthy, cowardly peasants. His entrails were burnt on the brazier likewise.

Not content with the excruciating torture already dished out to the bound prisoner, the cruelty of the English rarely sated when given the chance at psychopathy, and so the final act was to be decapitation, and then quartering. You will note that in effect, these are three symbolic deaths: first, hanging, second, evisceration, and finally, decapitation. But before that small mercy, his arms and legs were first hacked off of his body, and for at least some of that, or perhaps even all of it, Wallace might very well have been conscious enough to know what was happening to him. I only pray shock had fully set in then, and all was but a detached numbness as his body wracked and spasmed from the blows of the axe slowly, but steadily detaching the broken limbs from his body.

But why did such a cruel injustice befall Wallace, one might ask, and for what reason would such a horrific punishment be devised? Look no further than Edward I then, who is said to have decreed that treason was a triple crime: against God, against man, and against the King. Hence the triple death sentence. The grisly, grotesque nature of the killing was explained in the severe language of the law with the intention that it should terrify the listeners and enhance the misery of the man whose body would soon illustrate the reality of the horror it entailed.

Needless to say, afterwards, Wallace’s head, dipped in tar, was then fixed to a pike, and subsequently displayed atop London Bridge, to be joined alongside by those of his brothers later on.

“I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject.”- Wallace at his trial.

This barbaric murdering, in fact, was employed by the English for the execution of Scotsmen even as late as the 18th century, and as given by Lord Chief Justice Ellenborough (1750-1818) the wording was as follows:

“You are to be drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution, where you are to be hanged, but not till you are dead; for while still living, your body is to be taken down, your bowels torn out and burnt before your face; your head is then cut off, and your body divided into four quarters.”

P.S Tonight, I’ll be raising a glass of Bourbon in the name of Scotland’s Immortal Guardian.

“A Wallace, a Wallace!”- The War-cry of the men who had the fortune to follow him.


Òran na Cloiche

Poem by Donald MacIntyre; arranged by Kathleen MacInnes, and Iain MacDonald.

Òran na Cloiche

A’ Chlach a bha mo sheanmhair
‘S mo sheanair oirre seanchas
Air tilleadh mar a dh’fhalbh i
Mo ghalghad a’ Chlach
‘S gur coma leam i ‘n Cearrara
An Calasraid no ‘n Calbhaigh
Cho fad’ ‘s a tha i ‘n Albainn
Nan garbhlaichean cas

‘S i u ro bha ho ro hilli um bo ha
Hilli um bo ruaig thu i hilli um bo ha
‘S i u ro bha ho ro hilli um bo ha

Ga cur an àite tearmainn
A chumas i gu falachaidh
‘S nach urrainn iad, nach dearg iad
Air sgealb dhith thoirt às
A’ Chlach a chaidh a dhìth oirnn
Air faighinn às an ìnean
‘S gu deimhinne, ma thill i
Tha ‘n nì sin gu math

Mionnan air fear deàrnaidh
Gach màthair is mac
Nach leig sinn ann an gàbhadh
Am fear a thug à sàs i
‘S a mhiontraig air a teàrnadh
À àite gum tlachd
Ma chuireas iad an làmh air
Chan fhuilear dhuinn bhith làidir
Is buill’ thoirt air a thàillibh
Le stàilinn amach

‘S bha ‘m Ministear cho tùrsach
Sa mhadainn nuair a dhùisg e
‘S praban air a shùilean
A’ tionndadh amach
E coiseachd feadh an ùrlair
Ag ochanaich ‘s ag ùrnaigh
‘S a’ coimhead air a’ chùil
Anns an d’ ionndrainn e Chlach

Sin far robh an stàireachd
‘S an ruith air feadh an làir ann
Gun smid aige ri ràidhtinn
Ach “Càit ‘n deach a’ Chlach?
‘S a Mhoire, Mhoire, Mhàthair
Gu dè nì mise màireach
Tha fios a’m gum bi bhànrainn
A’ fàgail a beachd”

Gun tuirt e ‘s dath a’ bhàis air
“Cha chreidinn-sa gu bràth e
Gu togadh fear bho làr i
Nach b’ àirde na speach
Tha rudeigin an dàn dhomh
‘S gun cuidicheadh an tÀgh mi
Bha’ n duine thug à sàs i
Cho làidir ri each”

‘S i u ro bha ho ro hilli um bo ha
Hilli um bo ruaig thu i hilli um bo ha
‘S i u ro bha ho ro hilli um bo ha

‘S i u ro bha ho ro hilli um bo ha
Hilli um bo ruaig thu i hilli um bo ha
‘S i u ro bha ho ro hilli um bo ha.

I will be posting a translation of this poem/song tomorrow, but; if you would like to hear it sung properly, then I would implore you to click on the video link below, of which is a rendition sung by the incredible Scottish band: Mànran.

Cinead MacAlpin.

The price of a King’s life: a dead-eye, and one dead dog

The following is an account of the aftermath of a disastrous failed attack on Thirwall castle, in England, by Robert the Bruce and a handful of men who had rode thereto in order to aid in the attack against that castle, of which was supposed to have been mounted by Sir James Douglas, who was, it turned out, still riding through his own lands of Douglasdale, back home in Scotland.

Being pursued by a force of six hundred, who were themselves a small piece of an army several thousand strong, Bruce decided that it was imperative that he and his handful of men split apart; every man for himself so to speak, otherwise, they could end up being wiped out as one whole body. Immediately, his men flew to the wind, yet Bruce, who had noted how the Lord of Lorn seemed to pursue him even then, asked his foster-brother if he would accompany him, so as to ascertain whether or not he, the King, had truly been recognized among the scattering rabble, or whether or not it was simple bad luck that set the foe’s attentions squarely upon him.

And so, as he and his man sprinted across the rolling hills, indeed, the enemy yet pursued them directly; a great war-dog now heralding them loudly and swiftly. He was being tracked, of course, Bruce then realized. But given the unerring stamina of that powerful King, Lord Lorn sometime later called off the pursuit by the main force, and instead sent out a party of five men; his strongest and fastest warriors. However, upon spotting this, Bruce resolved to stand and fight these men, and was quoted as saying:

“Yon five are coming quickly; they are almost upon us. So will you help at all, for we shall be attacked pretty soon?”

To which, his foster-brother replied, “Yes, sir, all that I can”

You say well indeed,” said the King. “I see them coming close to us. I’m going no further but will stay right here, while I still have breath, to see what strength they can muster”

And with that, the King then planted his feet squarely upon English soil, all but alone, to await firmly these, the lord Lorn’s chosen executioners. And those five men, traitor Scots all, hurtled toward the steadfast King and his foster-brother with much threatening and jeering and the waving of axe and sword. Bruce, however, simply awaited them in quiet observation; his sword poised, but held without tension; relaxed, even, in his bodily manner, as those rough few who would be King-slayers charged him; at their backs, the sight of Lorn’s main host continuing their advance must have been terrifying, and yet Bruce and his man faced them down. Two men with courage enough to turn upon the dirt of a hostile nation and face the army bearing down, and there before it, meet a portion head first.


And so on they came, the fiercest of a fierce foe, arriving in two sets as they did, with three going straight for Bruce, and the other two to the King’s man. But, instead of holding his ground, or seeking only to survive, to withstand the encounter; Bruce went forwards instead, to meet the enemy boldly and directly, and so struck the ear and cheek off of the foremost of his attackers, the blade slicing right down to the neck and onward so that half of the shoulder meat came away also. The second and third men were evidently cautious now, and so much so, that upon glimpsing the precarious situation befalling his foster-brother then, Bruce reasoned it safe to abandon his own adversary’s a moment, in favor of those other two.

And so leaping across to where his foster-brother battled valiantly, Bruce landed lightly to the side of the fray, and from there, decapitated the closest man in a single blow of his sword. Then, after having evened the odds somewhat, returned again to his own attackers, who, having gathered their wits and courage by then, came again, strongly this time, and together, to best the lone King through brute force, where skill could not overcome.

And yet, it was futile, for even in the outnumbering, they were themselves, outmatched severely, and this was to be brought home to one of those men starkly when his attacking arm returned to him a bloody stump; the sword of The Bruce only slightly bloodied, such was it’s sharpness, and by the speed of which the amputation had been performed.

Bruce sword
Lord Bruce presenting his ancestors Claymore

Needless to say, when it was all over; of the five, Bruce had slain four, with the other having ultimately fallen to the sword of his foster-brother. And with no time to wonder at their handy work, those two victors quickly took away, to make for a woodland nearby as the five hundred or so axes that accompanied the Lord of Lorn came rushing up to meet them; themselves in full battle-array, and with all but mere yards shielding the King from their wrath.

But, the King was cunning, you see, and knew fine well that the tracking hound would discover their trail whichever direction they took, and so told his foster-brother of how they could rob the hound of their scent if they jumped into he river that flowed through this place, and that if they could do that, then they would have no need to worry. Not surprisingly, his comrade agreed readily, and so both took away to the river as suggested; splashing down into it’s shallows, from which they then followed it’s course for some time.

But, unbeknownst to King, nor foster-brother, their plight had been observed by an archer of particular courage, who, upon having sighted the Lord of Lorn’s great tracking dog giving chase to The Bruce, resolved then to see it done away with, if he could, and so ensure that his King got away safely. And as that King and his man entered the shade of the wood, the archer had already crouched himself down in a bush great enough to conceal him, and from there, loosed an arrow into the great hounds chest, killing it instantly, so that it was to fall only meters from the tree line.

Scottish archer

And it’s more than likely that Bruce had made his escape without ever fully realizing just how dangerously close he had come to being killed that day, were it not for the unknown archer who, in anonymity, had quietly sacrificed himself for his King.

That man’s arrow, an instrument of fate; his nerve, a King’s reprieve; his aim, true enough to have maintained the very course of a nations destiny.

“For a’ that, and a’ that, their tinsel show, an’ a’ that; the honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor, is King o’ men for a’ that”

Cinead MacAlpin.


The Lay of the Last Minstrel; canto Third

The Lay of the Last Minstrel 
by Sir Walter Scott

Canto Third


And said I that my limbs were old,
And said I that my blood was cold,
And that my kindly fire was fled,
And my poor wither’d heart was dead,
And that I might not sing of love —
How could I to the dearest theme,
That ever warm’d a minstrel’s dream
So foul, so false a recreant prove!
How could I name love’s very name,
Nor wake my heart to notes of flame!

In peace, Love tunes the shepherd’s reed;
In war, he mounts the warrior’s steed;
In halls, in gay attire is seen;
In hamlets, dances on the green.
Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
And men below, and saints above;
For love is heaven, and heaven is love.

So thought Lord Cranstoun, as I ween,
While, pondering deep the tender scene,
He rode through Branksome’s hawthorn green.
But the Page shouted wild and shrill,
And scarce his helmet could he don,
When downward from the shady hill
A stately knight came pricking on.
That warrior’s steed, so dapple-gray,
Was dark with sveat, and splashed with clay;
His armor red with many a stain
He seem’d in such a weary plight,
As if he had ridden the live-long night;
For it was William of Deloraine.

But no whit weary did he seem,
When, dancing in the sunny beam,
He mark’d the crane on the Baron’s crest;
For his ready spear was in his rest.
Few were the words, and stern and high,
That mark’d the foemen’s feudal hate;
For question fierce, and proud reply,
Gave signal soon of dire debate.
Their very coursers seem’d to know
That each was other’s mortal foe,
And snorted fire, when wheel’d around
To give each foe his vantage-ground.

In rapid round the Baron bent;
He sigh’d a sigh, and pray’d a prayer:
The prayer was to his patron saint,
The sigh was to his ladye fair.
Stout Deloraine nor sigh’d nor pray’d,
Nor saint, nor ladye, call’d to aid;
But he stoop’d his head, and couch’d his spear,
And spurred his steed to full career.
The meeting of these champions proud
Seem’d like the bursting thunder-cloud.

Stern was the dint the Borderer lent!
The stately Baron backwards bent;
Bent backwards to his horse’s tail
And his plumes went scattering on the gale;
The tough ash spear, so stout and true,
Into a thousand flinders flew.
But Cranstoun’s lance, of more avail
Pierc’d through, like silk, the Borderer’s mail;
Through shield, and jack, and acton, past,
Deep in his bosom broke at last.–
Still sate the warrior saddle-fast
Till, stumbling in the mortal shock,
Down went the steed, the girthing broke,
Hurl’d on a heap lay man and horse.
The Baron onward pass’d his course;
Nor knew–so giddy rolled his brain–
His foe lay stretch’d upon the plain.

But when he rein’d his courser round,
And saw his foeman on the ground
Lie senseless as the bloody clay,
He badehis page to stanch the wound,
And there beside the warrior stay,
And tend him in his doubtful state,
And lead him to Brauksome castle gate:
His noble mind was inly moved
For the kinsman of the maid he loved.
“This shalt thou do without delay:
No longer here myself may stay;
Unless the swifter I speed away
Short shrift will be at my dying day.”

Away in speed Lord Cranstoun rode;
The Goblin-Page behind abode;
His lord’s command he ne’er withstood,
Though small his pleasure to do good.
As the corslet off he took,
The Dwarf espied the Mighty Book!
Much he marvell’d a knight of pride,
Like a book-bosom’d priest should ride:
He thought not to search or stanch the wound
Until the secret he had found.

The iron band, the iron clasp,
Resisted long the elfin grasp:
For when the first he had undone
It closed as he the next begun.
Those iron chlsps, that iron band,
Would not yield to unchristen’d hand
Till he smear’d the cover o’er
With the Borderer’s curdled gore;
A moment then the volume spread,
And one short spell therein he read:
It had much of glamour might;
Could make a ladye seem a knight;
The cobwebs on a dungeon wall
Seem tapestry in lordly hall;
A nut-shell seem a gilded barge,
A sheeling seem a palace large,
And youth seem age, and age seem youth:
All was delusion, nought was truth.<20>

He had not read another spell,
When on his cheek a buffet fell,
So fierce, it stretch’d him on the plain
Beside the wounded Deloraine.
From the ground he rose dismay’d,
And shook his huge and matted head;
One word he mutter’d, and no more,
“Man of age, thou smitest sore!”
No more the Elfin Page durst try
Into the wondrous Book to pry;
The clasps, though smear’d with Christian gore,
Shut faster than they were before.
He hid it underneath his cloak.
Now, if you ask who gave the stroke,
I cannot tell, so mot I thrive;
It was not given by man alive.

Unwillingly himself he address’d,
To do his master’s high behest:
He lifted up the living corse,
And laid it on the weary horse;
He led him into Branksome hall,
Before the beards of the warders all;
And each did after swear and say
There only pass’d a wain of hay.
He took him to Lord David’s tower,
Even to the Ladye’s secret bower;
And, but that stronger spells were spread,
And the door might not be opened,
He had laid him on her very bed.
Whate’er he did of gramarye
Was always done maliciously;
He flung the warrior on the ground,
And the blood well’d freshly from the wound.

As he repass’d the outer court,
He spied the fair young child at sport:
He thought to train him to the wood;
For, at a word be it understood,
He was always for ill, and never for good.
Seem’d to the boy, some comrade gay
Led him forth to the woods to play;
On the drawbridge the warders stout
Saw a terrier and lurcher passing out.

He led the boy o’er bank and fell,
Until they came to a woodland brook
The running stream dissolv’d the spell,<21>
And his own elvish shape he took.
Could he have had his pleasure vilde
He had crippled the joints of the noble child;
Or, with his fingers long and lean,
Had strangled him in fiendish spleen:
But his awful mother he had in dread,
And also his power was limited;
So he but scowl’d on the startled child,
And darted through the forest wild;
The woodland brook he bounding cross’d,
And laugh’d, and shouted, “Lost! lost! lost!”–

Full sore amaz’d at the wondrous change,
And frighten’d, as a child might be,
At the wild yell and visage strange,
And the dark words of gramarye,
The child, amidst the forest bower,
Stood rooted like a lily flower;
And when at length, with trembling pace,
He sought to find where Branksome lay,
He fear’d to see that grisly face
Glare from some thicket on his way.
Thus, starting oft, he journey’d on,
And deeper in the wood is gone,–
For aye the more he sought his way,
The farther still he went astray,–
Until he heard the mountains round
Ring to the baying of a hound.

And hark! and hark! the deep-mouth’d bark
Comes nigher still, and nigher:
Bursts on the path a dark blood-hound;
His tawny muzzle track’d the ground,
And his red eye shot fire.
Soon as the wilder’d child saw he,
He flew at him right furiouslie.
I ween you would have seen with joy
The bearing of the gallant boy,
When, worthy of his noble sire,
His wet cheek glow’d ‘twixt fear and ire!
He faced the blood-hound manfully,
And held his little bat on high;
So fierce he struck, the dog, afraid,
At cautious distance hoarsely bay’d
But still in act to spring;
When dash’d an archer through the glade,
And when he saw the hound was stay’d,
He drew his tough bow-string;
But a rough voice cried, “Shoot not, hoy!
Ho! shoot not, Edward; ’tis a boy!”

The speaker issued from the wood,
And check’d his fellow’s surly mood,
And quell’d the ban-dog’s ire:
He was an English yeoman good,
And born in Lancashire.
Well could he hit a fallow-deer
Five hundred feet him fro;
With hand more true, and eye more clear,
No archer bended bow.
His coal-black hair, shorn round and close,
Set off his sun-burn’d face:
Old England’s sign, St. George’s cross,
His barret-cap did grace;
His bugle-horn hung by his side,
All in a wolf-skin baldric tied;
And his short falchion, sharp and clear,
Had pierc’d the throat of many a deer.

His kirtle, made of forest green,
Reach’d scantly to his knee;
And, at his belt, of arrows keen
A furbish’d sheaf bore he;
His buckler, scarce in breadth a span,
No larger fence had he;
He never counted him a man,
Would strike below the knee:<22>
His slacken’d bow was in his hand,
And the leash that was his blood-hound’s band.

He would not do the fair child harm,
But held him with his powerful arm,
That he might neither fight nor flee;
For when the Red-Cross spied he,
The boy strove long and violently.
“Now, by St. George,” the archer cries,
“Edward, methinks we have a prize!
This boy’s fair face, and courage free,
Show he is come of high degree.”

“Yes! I am come of high degree,
For I am the heir of bold Buccleuch
And, if thou dost not set me free,
False Southron, thou shalt dearly rue!
For Walter of Harden shall come with speed,
And William of Deloraine, good at need,
And every Scott, from Esk to Tweed;
And, if thou dost not let me go,
Despite thy arrows and thy bow
I’ll have thee hang’d to feed the crow!”

“Gramercy for thy good-will, fair boy!
My mind was never set so high;
But if thou art chief of such a clan,
And art the son of such a man
And ever comest to thy command
Our wardens had need to keep good order;
My bow of yew to a hazel wand
Thou’lt make them work upon the Border.
Meantime, be pleased to come with me
For good Lord Dacre shalt thou see;
I think our work is well begun,
When we have taken thy father’s son.”

Although the child was led away
In Branksome still he seem’d to stay,
For so the Dwarf his part did play;
And, in the shape of that young boy,
He wrought the castle much annoy.
The comrades of the young Buccleuch
He pinch’d, and beat, and overthrew;
Nay, some of them he wellnigh slew.
He tore Dame Maudlin’s silken tire
And, as Sym Hall stood by the fire
He lighted the match of his bandelier,
And wofully scorch’d the hackbuteer.
It may be hardly thought or said,
The mischief that the urchin made,
Till many of the castle guess’d,
That the young Baron was possess’d!

Well I ween the charm he held
The noble Ladye had soon dispell’d;
But she was deeply busied then
To tend the wounded Deloraine.
Much she wonder’d to find him lie
On the stone threshold stretch’d along;
She thought some spirit of the sky
Had done the bold moss-trooper wrong;
Because, despite her precept dread
Perchance he in the Book had read;
But the broken lance in his bosom stood,
And it was earthly steel and wood.

She drew the splinter from the wound,
And with a charm she stanch’d the blood;
She bade the gash be cleans’d and bound:
No longer by his couch she stood;
But she has ta’en the broken lance,
And wash’d it from the clotted gore
And salved the splinter o’er and o’er.
William of Deloraine, in trance
Whene’er she turn’d it round and round,
Twisted as if she gall’d his wound.
Then to her maidens she did say
That he should be whole man and sound
Within the course of a night and day.
Full long she toil’d; for she did rue
Mishap to friend so stout and true.

So pass’d the day; the evening fell,
‘Twas near the time of curfew bell;
The air was mild, the wind was calm,
The stream was smooth, the dew was balm;
E’en the rude watchman on the tower
Enjoy’d and bless’d the lovely hour.
Far more fair Margaret lov’d and bless’d
The hour of silence and of rest.
On the high turret sitting lone,
She waked at times the lute’s soft tone;
Touch’d a wild note, and all between
Thought of the bower of hawthorns green.
Her golden hair stream’d free from band,
Her fair cheek rested on her hand
Her blue eyes sought the west afar
For lovers love the western star.

Is yon the star, o’er Penchryst Pen,
That rises slowly to her ken,
And, spreading broad its wavering light,
Shakes its loose tresses on the night?
Is yon red glare the western star?
O, ’tis the beacon-blaze of war!
Scarce could she draw her tighten’d breath,
For well she knew the fire of death!

The Warder view’d it blazing strong,
And blew his war-note loud and long,
Till, at the high and haughty sound,
Rock, wood, and river rung around.
The blast alarm’d the festal hall,
And startled forth the warriors all;
Far downward, in the castle-yard,
Full many a torch and cresset glared;
And helms and plumes, confusedly toss’d,
Were in the blaze half-seen, half-lost;
And spears in wild disorder shook,
Like reeds beside a frozen brook.

The Seneschal, whose silver hair
Was redden’d by the torches’ glare,
Stood in the midst with gesture proud,
And issued forth his mandates loud:
“On Penchryst glows a bale of fire,
And three are kindling on Priest-haughswire;
Ride out, ride out,
The foe to scout!
Mount, mount for Branksome, every man!
Thou, Todrig, warn the Johnstone clan
That ever are true and stout;
Ye need not send to Liddesdale,
For when they see the blazing bale,
Elliots and Armstrongs never fail.
Ride, Alton, ride, for death and life!
And warn the Warder of the strife.
Young Gilbert, let our beacon blaze,
Our kin, and clan, and friends to raise.”

Fair Margaret from the turret head
Heard, far below, the coursers’ tread,
While loud the harness rung
As to their seats, with clamor dread,
The ready horsemen sprung:
And trampling hoofs, and iron coat,
And leaders’ voices mingled notes,
And out! and out!
In hasty route,
The horsemen gallop’d forth;
Dispersing to the south to scout,
And east, and west, and north,
To view their coming enemies,
And warn their vassals and allies.

The ready page, with hurried hand,
Awaked the need-fire’s slumbering brand,
And ruddy blush’d the heaven:
For a sheet of flame from the turret high
Wav’d like a blood-flag on the sky,
All flaring and uneven;
And soon a score of fires, I ween,
From height, and hill, and cliff, were seen;
Each with warlike tidings fraught,
Each from each the signal caught;
Each after each they glanc’d to sight
As stars arise upon the night.
They gleam d on many a dusky tarn,
Haunted by the lonely earn;
On many a cairn’s grey pyramid,
Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid;<23>
Till high Dunedin the blazes saw
From Soltra and Dumpender Law,
And Lothian heard the Regent’s order
That all should bowne them for the Border.

The livelong night in Branksome rang
The ceaseles sound of steel;
The castle-bell, with backward clang
Sent forth the larum peal;
Was frequent heard the heavy jar,
Where massy stone and iron bar
Were piled on echoing keep and tower,
To whelm the foe with deadly shower
Was frequent heard the changing guard,
And watch-word from the sleepless ward;
While, wearied by the endless din,
Blood-hound and ban-dog yell’d within.

The noble Dame, amid the broil
Shared the grey Seneschal’s high toil,
And spoke of danger with a smile;
Cheer’d the young knights, and council sage
Held with the chiefs of riper age.
No tidings of the foe were brought
Nor of his numbers knew they aught,
Nor what in time of truce he sought.
Some said that there were thousands ten;
And others ween’d that it was nought
But Leven clans, or Tynedale men,
Who came to gather in black-mail;
And Liddesdale, with small avail,
Might drive them lightly back agen.
So pass’d the anxious night away,
And welcome was the peep of day.

Ceas’d the high sound. The listening throng
Applaud the Master of the Song;
And marvel much, in helpless age,
So hard should be his pilgrimage.
Had he no friend, no daughter dear,
His wandering toil to share and cheer;
No son to be his father’s stay,
And guide him on the rugged way?
“Ay, once he had–but he was dead!”
Upon the harp he stoop’d his head,
And busied himself the strings withal
To hide the tear that fain would fall.
In solemn measure, soft and slow,
Arose a father’s notes of woe.


A boundless ego, and the tears of a child: one man’s quest to be the most unlikable c**t

Alternate timeline

Lewis Hamilton poses in kilt in photo shoot to ‘make amends’ after mocking nephew for wearing a ‘princess dress’

Me: Didn’t quite catch that last part; can you repeat it…

Lewis Hamilton poses in kilt in photo shoot to ‘make amends’ after mocking nephew for wearing a ‘princess dress’

An incredulous Me: So you are equating the Kilt to a princess’s dress. Ah; right, I see.

And so, according to Lewis Hamilton, he wore the kilt to ‘make amends’ for berating a small child he had caught wearing a pink dress. In an interview with GQ Magazine, he spoke of his deep, deep shame and regret after posting the video wherein he yelled at the child the emotionally devastating line: ‘boys don’t wear princess dresses’.

The monster!

Small children, and culture! Is anything safe around this beast

And here’s how this whole fiasco went down, via British GQ:

“As well as wanting Hamilton to address the issue, we wanted him to appear on our cover either wearing something prominently pink or in something approximating a skirt or a dress. At the start of the year, when we found out that Hamilton was about to be appointed as an ambassador for Tommy Hilfiger, designing his own line for the brand, we suggested the idea to Hilfiger himself. Unsurprisingly, Hilfiger jumped at the idea, although Hamilton’s people were initially circumspect, worried that this would stir up the story again. As it was, when we suggested the idea to Hamilton himself, he loved it and set about designing his own kilt. He was aware he’d made a public mistake and he wanted to make a very public acknowledgement of this, obviously empowering his nephew in the process”

So, is wearing a Kilt really that much of a taboo? Is it something to snigger at and deride behind coquettishly covered lips? Is it so progressive and outlandish and bold for an Englishman to wear one, that it becomes such a huge statement towards inclusiveness and progressive ideology? Is that not in and of itself born of ignorance and prejudice; that for it to be believed to have impact, and weight, then the act itself must be considered taboo; otherwise, its just a prick in a Kilt.

Pictured: A prick in a Kilt

But hold on a minute, I seem to recall once punching a curry out of my pals hands; does that mean, by means of making amends for such shameful action, that I should then wear a saree? You know what, that makes perfect fucking sense. Its so clear now, that the right thing to do would be to equate the drunkenly assaulted curry with the wearing of a saree, right? I mean, both are enjoyed by the Indian people…

No, no; wait, that would be culturally insensitive, also, I’m a guy. A turban! Of course, a turban then! After all, people who wear turbans are apt to enjoy the diarrhea inducing gift that is curry, are they not?

What do you mean I’m being absurd; obtuse perhaps, but absurd? How is that any more absurd than Lewis Hamilton wearing a Kilt as a way to apologize to a fucking child who wore a pink dress?

No, Ill tell you whats fucking absurd, that that painfully uncool, try-hard little ponce Hamilton is equating the Kilt to a skirt, something inherently feminine, and all in one cringe-inducing photo shoot, complete with a whole heaping lack of self-awareness and irony; and in doing so, go on to ridicule an entire culture with his pseudo progressive apology. The imbecility of this little cool-kid wannabe is matched only by the hell of an ego he sports.

Also; did EDM really kill Avicii? That is the sort of serious questions that need to be answered here folks.

Cinead MacAlpin.