Sunday, 21 December 2008
20 years ago, I was driving home from work when news of a plane crash came over the radio. I heard that it had happened at Lockerbie. It came as a shock, as this is such a rural area, things like that do not happen here. When I got home, I phoned the local hospital to offer help, and blankets. I was told that blankets would not be needed........... My reaction was to say," Are you saying what I think you are saying?" "Yes was the reply.
The night sky was lit by the blaze which could be seen from Dumfries. How could this have happened to our little Lockerbie? That night we were all watching or listening for news as it came through. Planes and helicopters started to fill the skies. Was our country under attack? ..... we did not know.
Phone lines became blocked, we did not know why. As the full extent of what happened gradually became clear, shock set in. Stories started to emerge from the people of Lockerbie, and from the local emergency crews who had attended the disaster. I cannot write about these as they are too shocking.
Now the person who is in a Scottish jail, found guilty of the bombing, is asking for release, due to the fact that he is terminally ill. Did he do it ? ......many people, including some families of the victims, think he is not guilty.
Out of such disaster has come good. Lasting links with Lockerbie and the families of the victims. Scholarships to the University of Syracuse, a Cairn of remembrance made of our local red sandstone built in the USA. A Garden of Remembrance on the outskirts of Lockerbie, with breathtaking views.
View from the Garden of Remembrance
Patchwork picture in the Visitor Centre
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
This is a photo of a swan with a satellite tracker attached to its back, just the same as Doon has. Each of these trackers costs in the region of £20,000! All the more reason for people to sponsor birds.
Saturday, 29 November 2008
More Interesting Swan Facts
(From the information pack I received as sponsor of Doon.)
Swans belong to the same family as geese and ducks.
There are 8 different swan species.
Mute,Trumpeter, Bewick's, Whistling, Black, Black-necked, and Coscorba.
Mute, Whoopers and Bewick's occur naturally in the wild in Europe.
The Mute is UK's heaviest resident bird, the male weighing in at 12 kg.
It takes about 40 days for a Black Swan's egg to hatch which is longer than any other wildfowl species.
Swan parents help their young to feed by bringing up submerged vegetation, or pulling off overhanging leaves.
Unlike most ducks, the sexes in swans are similar in appearance, although the male is usually larger.
The male is called a COB, the female a PEN, and the young are CYGNETS.
Swans have more vertebrae in their long necks (25 in total) than any other animal. This allows them to reach submerged vegetation to a depth of 1 metre. Compare with the giraffe which has only 7 vertebrae!
Swans need a runway to take off, look for them running along a waterway in order to get airborne.
Swans find it difficult to change course quickly in flight. Collisions with overhead wires and buildings are the most comon cause of swan death in UK.
Swans occasionally mistake motorways and roads for open water and are either killed or injured when attempting a landing.
Mute Swans, despite their name, are not silent. They have a range of gentle grunts, and make a whistling noise whilst in flight.
At the beginning of next week, and Scottish weather permitting, I hope to go to see Doon, Balfron and family at Caerlaverock. I shall report on this after my visit.
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Friday, 7 November 2008
Caerlaverock Nature reserve is located very near to Caerlaverock Castle.
5 November 2007
Doon has become the first satellite tracked Super Whooper to arrive at a WWT centre this autumn. He arrived at his winter home at WWT Caerlaverock yesterday (4 November) with his mate Balfron, but minus one of their five cygnets.
Doon is one of seven Whooper Swans fitted with satellite transmitters as part of the Lough Neagh Whooper Swan Project this summer at their breeding grounds in Iceland. There, Whooper Swan expert, Richard Hesketh, reserve manager at WWT Caerlaverock, was joined by Kate Humble and a BBC film crew to film the Super Whoopers for Autumnwatch which begins tonight on BBC 2.
Doon, Balfron and their cygnets made this treacherous journey together for the first time, and the youngster are only three and a half months old! The group flew from Iceland and headed south over the western isles via Lewis and Skye before hitting the mainland in Ayrshire and landing appropriately at Loch Doon.
Richard Hesketh said: "When we saw them yesterday at Caerlaverock we could only see four cygnets, we feared that one of the youngsters must have perished on that terrifying 500 mile maiden flight over the sea. However one of our contacts on the island of Mull reported a lone Whooper cygnet on a lochan and managed to read the ring on its leg and sure enough it was our missing cygnet.
"The chances of her being re-united with her family are fairly remote, she will probably latch on to other Whooper Swans as they pass through."Of the other six remaining Super Whoopers, Blidfinnur also appears to be heading towards Caerlaverock, Fiachra and Merlin are in North East Scotland, Conn and Jaleel have reached Northern Ireland, and Gudjohnson is yet to leave the breeding grounds in Iceland.
You can follow the flights of all of the Super Whoopers at www.wwt.org.uk/superwhooper and on BBC Autumnwatch from tonight or even better come to see Doon, Balfron and their family with hundreds of other Whooper Swans at WWT Caerlaverock. The centre is open from 10am to 5pm daily with a chance to see the swans at close quarters at the spectacular Wild Swan Feeds at 11am and 2pm every day.
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Monday, 27 October 2008
Thursday, 23 October 2008
Saturday, 11 October 2008
Thursday, 9 October 2008
Henry lasted only 3 years as a banker, and returned to university to train for the ministry. After qualifying, he returned to preach at Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire, where his ministry spanned a half century. We have learned in the last few Blog entries of his restoration of the Ruthwell Cross, his establishment of the First Savings Bank, his discovery of the first fossil footprint, and his establishment of two local newspapers.
The garden of the manse was something of a showpiece which Henry's skills had developed. People would visit to see his garden and also the model farm he made, behind Ruthwell Manse.
Friday, 26 September 2008
What is the Connection between the 2 local Newpapers in Dumfries & Galloway and the Ruthwell Cross?
In SW Scotland we have 2 local Newpapers. The Dumfries & Galloway Standard, and the Dumfries Courier.
They were founded in 1843,with the aim of broadening the minds of the local people to appreciate not just local news but also news of world events.
The Standard is published twice a week, whilst the Courier is a free paper published once per week. In fact as I write this I am expecting to hear the Courier being delivered to my home any minute!
So who was the founder of these Newspapers?
None other than the multi -talented Rev Dr Henry Duncan!
Sunday, 21 September 2008
Here we can see the distinct footprint of a dinosaur. This is the first one to be found in the British Isles. It was found in a quarry at Lochmaben in SW Scotland. This footprint can be seen at the Museum of the Royal Society in Edinburgh.
So what is the connection with this footprint and the Ruthwell Cross?
Well, the extremely talented Rev. Henry Duncan was the man who discovered and identified it. After his discovery Henry Duncan presented a paper to the Royal Society in Edinburgh.
It is somehow appropriate that Scotland was the first country to set in place a Fossil Code, which gives guidelines about looking for, collecting, treatment of fossils etc. thus aiming to preserve the rich fossil heritage of Scotland.
Friday, 12 September 2008
There will be a new post next week about a dinsosaur fossil, and its link to the Ruthwell Cross.
Monday, 11 August 2008
Friday, 1 August 2008
This man personally underwrote a consignment of corn
to be shipped to the Solway from Liverpool, and arranged for its distribution.
On 10th May 1810, he set up Ruthwell's own Savings Bank in the Society Room
The tiny village of Ruthwell on the Solway Coast of Scotland had given the Savings Bank to the World.
A lovely collection of Savings Banks.
(I know this because I have one!)
It called to me the day I made my visit to Ruthwell!
Monday, 28 July 2008
These pieces remained in the Churchyard until a minister Dr Henry Duncan came along in 1799. He marvelled at these wonderful pieces of sculpture and determined to find out all about them. It became his mission to restore the beautiful Cross, to its original state.
But what to do about the missing crossbeam?
Henry Duncan researched the matter and together with a local mason came up with the design as it now stands.
Eventually it was complete, but although times had changed since the Reformation it was still deemed unsuitable to erect the Cross within the area of the Church. Henry got around this by erecting it in the garden of the Manse (Scottish name for the vicarage).
But then through time the vagaries of the Scottish weather were working against the preservation, and the sculpture was beginning to suffer.
In 1871 a new minister Rev James Caplin realised this and saw that if the Cross were to survive it had to go indoors. By this time it had become world renowned, and this project had the backing of prominent scholars from within Scotland and beyond. In the Year of Queen Victoria's Jubilee, 1887, it was taken in to Ruthwell Church. As it was too tall to be erected without raising the roof of the building a compromise was reached and a pit dug into the floor to house the beautiful Cross.
Detail on the Cross
The new Crossbeam with Archer underneath
Landscape around the Church
A brief description of the Cross.
Thicker at the base it tapers to the Crossbeam.
Jesus is always portrayed with a halo inside which is the shape of the Cross, other dignitaries whilst being depicted with halos, do not have a cross inside them.
It is thought that the Master Carver left some of the lesser work to an assistant, as some of the figures do not exhibit the same level of skill. The Master Carver however always carved the images of Jesus.
When the Cross was reconstructed it is thought that some of the parts may have been incorrectly placed.
Vine Scrolls can be seen in many European countries, especially in the Catacombs in Rome. The examples on the Ruthwell Cross far outshine the workmanship of those anywhere else.
There are also wonderful depictions of animals on the Cross. Look for lizards, pigs, eagle, dove...
The Story the Cross Tells
It tells of St John The Evangelist, and shows his emblem the Eagle.
One can see an act of penance where a woman washes Jesus' feet.
Also it tells of the Annunciation where Angel Gabriel tells Mary she will give birth to Jesus.
One can see the Visitation scene, where Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with her son who will be known to all as John The Baptist. The baby in the womb is said to have leapt with Joy when Mary came to visit.
There is a scene of the flight into Egypt, showing Mary and the Baby Jesus riding on a donkey.
At the base, there is a scene of the Cruxifiction.
Jesus is shown in one section standing on what looks like pigs, which illustrates the triumph of good over evil.
Two of the Evangelists are shown.
John the Baptist is depicted with the Lamb of God, his feet are placed on two orbs.
Another scene shows Paul meeting Anthony, a hermit, in the desert.
The Story of Jesus is there for all to see, and the message of the Ruthwell Cross will carry on down through the generations for all of time.
My Next post will pose a question.