Monday, 27 October 2008

The Trebuchet

The Trebuchet

This is a sort of enormous catapult, used to sling stone balls at high velocity towards a target. It was also possible to hurl infected corpses at the enemy in a form of germ warfare!

An operational trebuchet can be seen at Caerlaverock Castle.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Germ Warfare -The invention of!

Germ Warfare

The Scottish Border Clan families were always fighting one another, and when they were not at each others' throats, they were fighting the English.

One of the particularly unpleasant ways of "doing the dirty" on their foes was for the archers to urinate then dip the arrows in the urine just prior to firing them. Thus this early attempt at Germ Warfare!

Saturday, 11 October 2008

A Mediaeval Village at Caerlaverock Castle

Mediaeval Scotland

Recently I went to see a working medaeval village. The backdrop was Caerlaverock Castle. It was a very spectacular sight. Firstly I shall show some photos, before going into some interesting historical details.

The day was run by Historic Scotland, and member groups from all over Scotland dress up to show how a Mediaeval village would have operated.On the day, boys could train to be knights, girls to be Princesses, and those not wishing to be either could become merchants. Each received a certificate at the end of the day to show they had passed their training. A great way to keep the children occupied, and a wonderful way to learn history.

During the day there was a battle, involving the children, and another involving the members of the Border Clans.

Demonstrating how the weapons were used.

Making bows, and playing musical instruments

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Rev Dr Henry Duncan

Henry Duncan

Born the son of a church minister, near Dumfries in on the 8th October 1774, the young Henry attended Dumfries Academy, which is where I also went to school. After school he went to St Andrews University at the age of 16 years, but when a relative offered the chance of employment in a bank in Liverpool he went there after only two terms at university. Here he honed the commercial skills which were to lead to his establishment, years later, of the First Savings Bank.

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.

He married twice. His first wife Agnes bore him a son George, and when she died he went on to marry Mary the widow of a friend.

Henry was a great writer and his circle of friends included the likes of Thomas Carlyle, James Hogg, Sir Robert Owen, Sir David Brewster.

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.

An accomplished artist and sculptor, Henry painted local scenes as well as making a replica scale sculpture of the Ruthwell Cross which can be seen in the Savings Bank Museum.

Henry Duncan died, of a stroke, at the age of 71 in 1846, whilst preaching a sermon in a neighbouring Church.

So ended the life of a uniquely talented man who gave the world so much. He and his family are buried in the graveyard of Ruthwell Church.