Local Histories

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Local Histories

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:16 am

This is a place for tales and stories from your local area pertaining to its history, ideally some of the sightly more obscure stuff you are unlikely to find in the main tourist booklets.




So I will start it off with the history of Castle Toward-



The land the castle stands on, at the south edge of the Cowal Peninsula was bought by the Chiefs of the Clan Lamont in 1472. Back then the land was named Inveryne, and the charter of 1472 recognised it as a Barony.




To begin with it is is said the castle was little more than a Keep with four walls, but that was to change in 1535 and in 1563 when the 10th Chief of Clan Lamont, Sir John, purchased further lands from King James V in the surrounding area.


The original Keep, largely unchanged save for erosion since the last day of the siege that destroyed it.

Sir John had pressing reason for requiring the land and for hasting new works on the castle, he was expecting a Royal guest and in the summer of 1563 he got one, Mary, Queen of Scots came to reside.


Portrait of Mary, sister of Elizabeth the First, but unlike her sister, a Catholic.

In preparation for her arrival the Keep was joined by a Grand Hall and many extra rooms.


Looking across the Hall towards the main gate, on the right was the chapel for Catholic worship. The Lamonts were Royalists, and at this time that meant supporters of a Catholic Monarchy at a time when the official monarchy was Protestant and burned Catholics alive


During her time there Mary planted a tree, which outlived her and survived until 1818 when it was felled by Lord Provost Finlay of Glasgow. He had a wooden crown made from the tree and it was presented to the 10th Duke of Hamilton, it is still on display at Dungravel (these days Dungravel House is a controversial immigration returning station).

At Toward Point, where now a lighthouse stands, on September the 1st 1579, the Lamonts set pen to paper in an allegiance with the Lord of the Isles, the McDonalds.


Toward Lighthouse at Toward Point. the lord of the isles was hugely important, most movement was by sea not land, control of the waterways and trade routes was power, and the Lord of the Isles controlled them all on the west coast. Those mountains looming in the background are on the isle of Arran, the presence of the power of the Lord of the Isles was also physical, the land represented it, and it hung over all. It was not something you could ever forget.

Like the Lamonts the McDonalds were Royalists- keen to see a Catholic King returned to he throne and the McDonalds were also long term sworn enemies of one of the most powerful clans in the land, the Campbells. My ancestors.
And the Campbells were not Royalists.

Toward Castle meanwhile was gaining a reputation as a place of music and song, as one chronicler wrote- "the dwelling was not niggardly, wherein the roar of pipes, and the sounds of harps, with gleam of silver cups, making the wine flow free.'

But all was not going well for the Royalist cause.

It had started well, the Lamonts had raided Campbell lands in the surrounding area, pillaging and burning particularly at Kilmun , and Strachur, the latter being very near the heartland of Campbell power in Argyll, Inverarary, which was, and remains to this day, the seat of the Clan Campbell and Home of the Lord of Argyll.





Inverarary Castle, seat of power of the Campbells of Argyll, and currently home to the 13th Duke of Argyll, and Head of the Clan Campbell Torquhil Ian Campbell.

But since then things had gone form bad to worse, the cause of the Royalists was a losing one.
The 14th Chief of the Clan Lamont, also called John, received a letter from Montrose stating that he, John, was ordered to lay down arms.

This was a bit of a problem as the Campbells had responded, thirsting for revenge they  brought their army to lay siege to Toward Castle.

But there was family involved here too, the leader of the Campbell forces was Campbell of Ardinglas, whose sister was Lady Lamont.
But family meant little, the Campbells were incensed at the Lamonts earlier pillaging of their land and they were out for vengeance.
Among the many officers of rank they also brought with them the Reverend Colin MacLachlan, minister of Lochgoilhead, he was the official face of the Church's Divine Retribution and the legitamising force in the actions of those days.

With no hope of rescue or reprieve the Lamonts began to negotiate for their lives even as the Campbells began bombardment with canon from the sea.
After a fortnight of this and the situation within the walls becoming ever more desperate a deal was agreed and signed- Sir John agreed to capitulate, in return he,m his brothers, soldiers, wives and children would be allowed to go free with their baggage.

The agreement was signed upon but almost immediately the gates were opened the Campbells declared, "no captitualtions should be kept with traitors to God and his Covenant," whereupon they poured into the castle and seized and bound the garrison.
Reports state they also ill-treated and killed some thirty-six women and children, and pillaged and burned the houses and its plantations.
Of the men and boys of the castle some 200 were taken to the nearby town of Dunoon, where in the Churchyard they were hung and slaughtered. Their bodies, many said still to be breathing, were thrown into a pit and buried.


St John's Church in the centre of Dunoon, not the original church that stood there, but if you look carefully at the green grassy but in front of it you might just be able to make out a large iron wrought streetlamp standing in the centre of that area, the only black lampost there- it marks where once upon a time stood the gallows tree.

The surviving women and children were put in boats to find their own luck or starve to death.

However the Lamonts survived.
One of the survivors of that day was Isobel, sister of the Chief of the Lamonts, she had been stripped down to her shift but still managed to hide, among the coils of her hair,  the signed surrender document with her brothers, and Campbells names upon it.
That document was instrumental when the Maquis of Argyll was tried and executed in 1661, with the massacre at Toward Castle listed among the charges.

The events are marked in Dunoon with a Celtic Cross, but the town has grown around it-






Modern day Toward Castle looks like this-



It was built in the gothic style in the early 1800's by a Lord Provost of Glasgow, but was later augmented with Italian flourishes- it has had an interesting history itself, serving as a training centre for amphibious landing testing in WW2, particularly its where D-Day was put together and craft tested, then it became an outdoor centre for underprivileged kids from Glasgow post the war until the 1990's. Currently its the centre of a right old rumble between the community and the local council, who currently own it but want to sell it, whereas the Community want to buy it, but the Council wont agree terms.
So Toward Castle is still the centre of dispute.

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Re: Local Histories

Post by David H on Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:10 am

Fascinating story, Petty. I can't help drawing parallels to the Glencoe massacre. Were they about the same time?

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Re: Local Histories

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:28 am

Yes, we are in the same moment in history as it were, Glencoe was 1692, not long afterwards, about 40 years.

The acts committed here (which didnt come to public light until the trial of the Maquis of Argyll in 1661), coupled with the breach of the Highland Code at Glencoe and the subsequent massacre cemented the Campbell reputation for treachery and for double dealing to this day.
What they were really were political operators, they tended to be found on the winning side of history so whilst the reputation persists it never really did them any harm.
And although they eclipsed their rivals the McDonalds, Lords of the Isles, in later years in the political field, they never did rival them for power and prestige at their height.
Although these days thats mainly remembered in the fact there is always one ship plying the west coast out there at any time bearing the name "Lord of the Isles"- here's the current one-




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Re: Local Histories

Post by David H on Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:45 am

And both families would go on to found dynasties of mediocre American food for the masses. It just goes to show.....something....I think.... Suspect

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Re: Local Histories

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:48 am

Got to fill those sporrans somehow now your no longer allowed to just go twat the other guy over the head and steal all his shit Nod

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Re: Local Histories

Post by Bluebottle on Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:09 pm

Wait, Scottish food isn't considered one of the great cuisines of the world? Shocked

All very innarestin', Petty. Nice idea for a thread. Nod

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Re: Local Histories

Post by azriel on Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:27 pm

I thoroughly enjoy local history Very Happy I like the secret hidden surprises that sometimes pop up Very Happy
The castle in the snow looked lovely !

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Re: Local Histories

Post by Eldorion on Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:44 pm

I always enjoy your posts (and photos) about the west coast of Scotland, Petty. I might try at some point to write up a little about where I live. I moved here fairly recently but since doing so I learned that there was a battle in the War of 1812 fought about 20 minutes from where I am now (Battle of Havre de Grace), in addition to the later construction of a major military base (Aberdeen Proving Ground) that is still one of the biggest employers around here.

'Course the recorded history of the area only goes back a few hundred years; I'm jealous of people with so much older history around them. Wink
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Re: Local Histories

Post by halfwise on Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:01 pm

American Civil War history is ridiculous. Razz Having so little documented history to pull from, anywhere that folks took a few potshots at other folks, or even camped for a night will get it's own historical marker.

I wonder if there's an archive of the text on Civil War markers? It would be hilarious to see how tiddly-winky some of it is.

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Re: Local Histories

Post by Eldorion on Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:34 pm

That's a good observation as to why the Civil War gets so much obsessive treatment. Razz In the town where I grew up, there was a plaque set up the Daughters of Confederate Veterans indicating that some Southern colonel had once owned a house in the area, IIRC.  In downtown Baltimore, they have a whole "Civil War Trail" detailing the history of the riots and assassination plots against Lincoln at the outset of the war.  Then if you go to the site of a major battle like Gettysburg, the entire town is taken over by historical commemoration (and tourist traps).

Real talk though, the new visitor center is Gettysburg is legit, and the experience of walking the battlefield and seeing all the monuments (hundreds of them >link<) is really powerful.
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Re: Local Histories

Post by Bluebottle on Fri Apr 24, 2015 8:55 pm

I might be reflecting my current interest in this place, but I'm not sure I can think of any interesting local history. scratch We do have some ruins, I guess. Although considering what they did with simillar ruins in Trondheim, that reconstructed are quite spectacular..



Ours.. not so much.



There's a music festival there every year though.. or used to be.. I seem to remember them moving it temporarily or something. scratch

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Re: Local Histories

Post by Bluebottle on Fri Apr 24, 2015 8:58 pm

The mention of the Glencoe massacre, reminds me of George RR Martin saying he got a lot of inspiration from Scottish history. The Glencoe massacre, the Black Dinner. In his words, the bloodiness of Scottish history was a real help in writing his series.

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Re: Local Histories

Post by azriel on Fri Apr 24, 2015 9:02 pm

Beautiful building in the 1st picture, Blue

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Re: Local Histories

Post by Bluebottle on Fri Apr 24, 2015 10:04 pm

Yeah, that's Nidarosdomen in Trondheim.

I used to walk past it all the time when I lived there. Always felt a bit special. Nod

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Re: Local Histories

Post by David H on Fri Apr 24, 2015 11:57 pm

Bluebottle wrote:Yeah, that's Nidarosdomen in Trondheim.

I used to walk past it all the time when I lived there. Always felt a bit special. Nod

I once spent Posker eve sleeping on a hard park bench outside Nidarosdomen in a wet snow, listening to the music of the midnight mass, because there was no room at the inn. Miserable, but still a good memory...

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Re: Local Histories

Post by Orwell on Sat Apr 25, 2015 4:14 am

Excelent read, all the foregoing. Great idea Petty. I knew you'd be the ancestor of bloodthirsty murderers and abuses of women and children. It's always nice to know you've picked your man. Very Happy

I live on the Bendigo Goldfields, where the original people were efficiently killed and raped and given plenty of pestilences and alcohol to just about (but not quite) erradicate them and their culture. Also, the industrious Chinese who were very useful, especially in market gardening, but treated very shabbily as well and mainly got rid of promptly after the Gold Rush period under the White Australia Policy. Ironically, we nowadays are better at celebrating the great skills and wisdom to be found in 40,000 years of Aboriginal history, and the 150 odd years of Chinese contribution - but I guess you can't have everything. Very Happy

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Re: Local Histories

Post by Ringdrotten on Sat Apr 25, 2015 5:16 am

David H wrote:
Bluebottle wrote:Yeah, that's Nidarosdomen in Trondheim.

I used to walk past it all the time when I lived there. Always felt a bit special. Nod

I once spent Posker eve sleeping on a hard park bench outside Nidarosdomen in a wet snow, listening to the music of the midnight mass, because there was no room at the inn. Miserable, but still a good memory...

I'll probably think of you the next time I pass it now Laughing  Very Happy

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Re: Local Histories

Post by Forest Shepherd on Sat Apr 25, 2015 11:10 am

I don't like where I live now or else I might be tempted to write about it here. Razz

I could put up something about Southeastern Minnesota (that bastion of culture and political intrigue) soon though, my birthplace and childhood home.

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Re: Local Histories

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Apr 26, 2015 10:38 am

Go for it Forest Nod

And Orwell, I am sure you've got some local tales from the colonial years and before to tell.

And you Dave, I know you've got some history round your way older than your country is.


On the point of every historical site in the US having a commemoration, a museum, a gift shop or whatever- its because you dont have enough history- I mean, imagine that here, if you put a gift shop and a visitor centre at every historic site, every castle ruin ect thats all there would be! There'd be thousands of the buggers, everywhere.

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Re: Local Histories

Post by David H on Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:48 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:
And you Dave, I know you've got some history round your way older than your country is.

The trouble here is that the older Native American stories were rarely written down, and most were lost in the 19th century plagues that completely wiped out so many of the families that were keepers of the stories.

The written history is of course all from the Euro-American side. It doesn't begin in my neck of the woods until 1788, and it's a bit sporadic and biased for the next 100 years.

But since you asked, I'll give it some thought and come up with one or two stories for you folks that the tourists usually don't get. Just give me a day or two, OK? Smile

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Re: Local Histories

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Apr 28, 2015 5:52 pm

Thumbs Up

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