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The Battle of Flodden

6th September 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

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One of the worst military disasters in Scotland’s history

On the 9th of September 1513, an invading Scottish army under King James IV fought an English army under Catherine of Aragon, fighting on behalf of her husband King Henry VIII of England. 

The two sides met at Flodden Hill, Northumberland.  The defeat was catastrophic for Scotland’s leadership, claiming the lives of the King as well as many leading nobles.

In 1513 the relationships between England and Scotland were fractious. James IV, King of Scots, was an ambitious, determined and powerful figure in his kingdom, and keen to make Scotland a player in the European theatre of politics. Henry VIII, King of England, had been ruling his kingdom for some four years, and similarly had grand ambitions, claiming overlordship of both Scotland and large parts of France.

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James IV of Scotland

 

A chance for James IV to assert his position in Europe emerged when rivalries between city-states (including the Papal States) in Italy came to a head, spilling into a wider European conflict. England had sided with Pope Julius II in a war against France, using the pretence of loyalty to the Pope in order to expand English control in France. James IV, though technically at peace with England, had been angered by Henry VIII’s claims in Scotland. The ‘Auld Alliance’ between Scotland and France had been dormant for some years, but Henry VIII’s departure for France in April of 1513 presented the opportunity James IV desired, to revive the alliance with France and attack England.

 

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Henry VIII (1491-1547)

Setting off in mid-August, James IV brought his army of 30,000, as well as artillery including the Mons Meg cannon, to the river Tweed, which he crossed on the 24th of August. Besieging and destroying several castles in England, James IV made progress south. In keeping with the tradition of chivalry, James IV had notified Queen Catherine of his intention to invade a full month before the invasion took place. As a result, the English managed to prepare an army and supplies ahead of James’ arrival.

Meeting at Flodden

The two armies met at Branxton village in Northumberland. The Scottish army had been stationed at Flodden hill, but under threat of a flanking manoeuvre by the English, moved to another hill near the village. In this movement, the Scottish army was not able to properly set up its artillery; the English army, however, was able to begin an extensive and destructive bombardment of the Scottish infantry on the hill from their position lower down.

Unwilling to sustain any more losses, the Scottish infantry moved at pace down the hill towards the English line. Initially maintaining the compact ‘sheltron’ formation with long spears, the Scottish infantry began to lose its shape as the ground was uneven and muddy. Upon reaching the English, the infantry were unable to reform. In the face of the shorter, more flexible English weapons (the ‘bill’, a spear with hooks), the Scottish army was massacred. Among the casualties were King James IV himself, along with dozens of Scottish nobles and leading Churchmen.

The Aftermath & Legacy of the Battle

After the battle, the English army pressed north into Scotland. The state of chaos following King James’ death meant that no formal defence was organised. In this of this, towns in the Borders region of Scotland took to creating their own militia to defend themselves from the English pillagers; these groups of armed townsmen with no formal military training were called Common Riding. Though existing before the battle of Flodden, these organisations are recognised today for the role they played in the aftermath of the defeat.

Several towns in southern Scotland also hastily constructed walls around their urban settlements to allow for improved defence against English pillagers. The Flodden Wall in Edinburgh is one such example, though this fulfilled an economic as well as military function, allowing for more control over the entrances to the medieval burgh.

Image & Audio © National Museums Scotland, University of Glasgow / Francis James Child, National Galleries of Scotland, Lennoxlove House LtdLicensor Scran

‘Excessive golfing dwarfs the intellect…’

7th June 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

canmore_1439121Tom Morris known as ‘Old’ Tom Morris is a Scottish golfing legend and famous golf course designer.

In recognition of his achievements, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club House in St Andrews permanently displays his portrait. Born and bred in St Andrews, at age eighteen, Tom Morris was apprenticed to Allan Robertson (1815-1859) the greatest player of his time. Tom Morris was a golf ball and club maker before turning to professional play. In 1862 he won the British Open by 13 strokes and this margin of victory still stands as a record. He won the Open Championship four times. In 1867 Morris won his final Open.

 

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The Tom Morris 27 1/2 gutta percha golf ball

‘Old’ Tom and his son ‘Young’ Tom became the only father and son to hold successive open titles when ‘Old’ Tom became the oldest player to win a title, aged 46 years and 99 days, in 1867. ‘Young’ Tom won in 1868 and in the following year he won again and his father finished second. ‘Old’ Tom later became custodian of the links at St Andrews. As a renowned as a club and ball maker, he established his own club-making firm and designed many famous Scottish golf courses.

 

02290129‘Young’ Tom Morris (1851-75) was outright winner of the Open Golf Championship at St Andrews 1868-1870, when he claimed the Challenge Belt as his own after the hat trick. ‘Young’ Tom Morris has the distinction of being its youngest ever winner. There was no Open Championship in 1871. He won the 1872 Open and was awarded the new Claret Jug trophy. Young Tom died at the age of 24, just three months after the death of his wife. His grave is in the grounds of St Andrews Cathedral, beside that of his father, Old Tom Morris; a memorial stone is set in the old priory wall.

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The origins of golf are a matter of controversy. Only from the mid 18th century, when the first golf clubs were formed, do records appear which give a more detailed account of the game. Golf was almost exclusively a sport for the Scots until the second half of the 19th century, and it was played by a limited number of people. It expanded quickly, particularly after 1880 and was taken up by the English and by women. The game became increasingly popular, leading not only to the creation of new golf courses, but also to an outpouring of golf literature. This is apparent in the appearance of books of instruction in golf, such as this, histories of clubs, anthologies of golfing prose and verse, and journals devoted entirely to the sport.

 

07570131Sir Walter Simpson’s 1887 book, ‘The Art of Golf’, was the first to feature photographs and is informative as well as humorous. Discussing the mental qualities needed to be a good golfer, he famously wrote, Excessive golfing dwarfs the intellect. Nor is this to be wondered at when we consider that the more fatuously vacant the mind is, the better for play. It has been observed that absolute idiots play the steadiest!

Images © Historic Environment Scotland, National Library of Scotland, St Andrews University Library| Licensor Scran

Beltane Festival & May Day

25th April 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

The term Beltane is thought to mean bright fire. The festival’s origins lie in Scotland’s distant past when people lived by herding animals. They marked the seasons with community celebrations. Beltane signified the transition from Spring to Summer.

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Before banks had holidays or even the advent of Christianity, there has been a festival held at the start of May to celebrate the first day of summer. Early agricultural peoples across Europe used seasonal indicators like the flowering hawthorn to mark the start of the summer in northern Europe. For the early farmers, summer was a time of warmth and plenty of food between the winter and before the hard harvest work, a great excuse for a party.

Paganism Plagiarism

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Minister conducting a May Day service, Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

When the first Christians arrived in Britain to spread their faith, they used many of the existing customs as a foundation. Major Christian festivals like Christmas and Easter fall near important dates on the solar calendar like winter solstice and spring equinox. By incorporating familiar holidays and symbols, Christian missionaries could encourage piety without asking their converts to stop their fun or completely change their society. Even today, services are held at the top of Arthur’s Seat as the sun comes up over Edinburgh on May 1st. Images of the pagan symbol of rebirth and renewal, like the Green Man who is particularly associated with Beltane, have been included in Christian gravestones for centuries.

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Green Man screaming in panic

Bring Back the Best Bits

This basic need for a holiday still holds true today. In our increasingly hectic world, people are becoming more curious about their ancient ancestors and customs. Revivals of pagan celebrations of the seasons are becoming popular, and sometimes spectacular events.

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Green Man in the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle

In Edinburgh, a contemporary Beltane Fire Festival is held on Calton Hill on the evening before 1st May to mark the beginning of summer. This variant of the Beltane festival was started in 1988 by enthusiasts, with academic support from the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Since then it has become an immensely popular event in the city’s calendar, drawing on a variety of historical, mythological and literary influences including the Green Man and the May Queen.

Beltane celebrates fertility and the earth’s ripe abundance. Various rites were performed to ensure the fertility of nature and the fires were believed to purify and protect against plague and epidemics. Modern day Beltane festivals are mainly for public entertainment.

The Victorians

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Peebles First Beltane Queen – Friday 23rd June 1899

The Victorians also realised the value of a celebration for the whole community and began ‘reviving’ local customs in towns across Britain, like the Riding of Marches in Peebles to define the town’s boundaries. Here the Beltane originally celebrated the advent of the Summer Solstice in May and in folklore was a Celtic festival devoted to Baal, the God of Fire.

The modern celebration, marking midsummer, is primarily a children’s festival and incorporates the Riding of the Marches. In 1899, the first Beltane Queen was crowned with all due pomp and ceremony, moving the celebration to mid June. The Peebles Beltane Festival continues into the 21st century bringing tourism to the town.

Images © Scottish Media Group, National Museums Scotland,  Beltane Fire Society & Gerry McCann, Historic Environment Scotland, Collection of Bert Robb & Eric Stevenson  Licensor Scran

Battle of Culloden

12th April 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

10100018The battle at Culloden was fought on the 16th April 1746 and was the last major battle to be fought on British soil. It is commonly believed to have been a battle between the Scottish and the English, but in reality Scottish and English fought on both sides.

Background

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Portrait of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, 1720-1788

King James the VII of Scotland and II of England, a Stuart King, fled Britain for France in 1648. The Scottish and English Parliaments asked William of Orange to rule Britain. He accepted, which led to the Hanover family ruling Britain. James VII’s son tried to win the throne back and failed and his son Charles Edward Stuart or Bonnie Prince Charlie was determined that he would succeed where his father had failed. Living in France he stirred up French support and headed back to Scotland to rally the Stuart supporters. These supporters gave themselves a collective name ‘Jacobites’ from Jacobus, the Latin for James.

While the Stuarts were in France, the Scottish and English parliaments had joined. They ruled Britain closely with the King, George II, and were opposed to the Stuarts regaining the throne. Bonnie Prince Charlie found many supporters both in the Highlands and among English Catholics. But their numbers did not amount to the scale of the army that the Jacobites needed. The Jacobites fought several battles. Culloden proved to be the last.

The Night Before

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Redcoats arrive on Culloden moor

The Duke of Northumberland commanded the Government troops. They arrived in Nairn on April 15th 1746, the Duke’s 25th Birthday. To celebrate the men were all given brandy. Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite army at Culloden decided to use an old trick and sneak up on the Government forces and attack at night. This would give them a huge advantage over the sleepy and hung-over Government men. This should have proved to be a winning move, but moving large amounts of men across dark, marshy moorland was problematic. Dawn was rising before the Jacobites had reached their enemies and, as the element of surprise would be lost in daylight, they turned back. On arrival back at Culloden the men were exhausted and hungry, but rest was not an option as enemy forces were already approaching.

The Battle

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Clan mass grave on Culloden Battlefield

The Jacobite army was around 7,000 strong. It was outnumbered by the Government troops whose numbers were around 8,000. The Jacobites were already disadvantaged: not only were they exhausted and hungry but they lacked training and their weaponry was far inferior to the Government’s artillery. The battleground was marshy and uneven with thick grasses growing underfoot.

The armies faced each other and the Jacobites slowly advanced, waiting to be given the order to break into the infamous Highland Charge. Some of the Government troops separated and headed for the Jacobites’ right flank. While a small part of the Jacobite army broke off to protect its right flank the rest continued their advance towards the enemy. This strategy relied on the Jacobites advancing in line formation, but the uneven ground meant the flanks to the far right moved faster than the rest and lines were broken up.

The order for the Highland Charge to begin was given far too late. The right flankers were almost on top of the Government troops. The Jacobites didn’t stand a chance. Government troops simply fired into the massed Jacobites. Many were dead before they even charged. Others fled the battlefield and those who stayed to fight were easily cut-down. Around 1,500 Jacobites were killed that day. The Jacobites themselves only killed 50 of the Government’s men. The entire battle lasted less than an hour.

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The defeat of the Jacobites was a bitter blow for Bonnie Prince Charlie. His supporters were willing to fight for him again and gathered to plan their next move. But the Prince ordered them to disperse. He went into hiding and fled to France. The Government wanted to punish anyone who had supported the Stuart claim to the throne. Many of the Jacobites were from Highland Clans. The Government stripped clan chiefs of their power, weapons were taken from their owners and the kilt and tartan were banned.

Culloden Today

02750076Today there is a visitor centre at Culloden Moor. Visitors can learn about the Jacobite cause, the battle and the people and weapons involved. There is also an immersive, film projected onto four walls, which creates an illusion for visitors that they are actually on the battlefield during the action of the battle. The battlefield itself is maintained and protected and visitors can walk around it with an interactive guide.

 

Image © National Trust for Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland & Historic Environment Scotland | Licensor Scran 

Treasure, Targes & Tartan too.

25th February 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

Following on from our engagement work discovering Jolomo, there was whole-school learning through the visual arts in both Dunbarney & Abernethy Primary Schools – it could be said there was a hive of artistic activity.  So, let’s have a look at some distinctly Scottish outcomes.

P1/2 – got to grips with all aspects of tartan, weaving & some Katie Morag for good measure

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P4 – carefully considered and constructed a targe each to carry into battle

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P5 – created treasures inspired by Mary Queen of Scots through jewellery design &  feltmaking

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P6 – updated Burnsimage using Pop Art to produce drawing & painting portrait work

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All of this fantastic artwork was celebrated in an exhibition Inspired by Scotland, visited by family & friends over the course of several days.  Pupils also performed song, dance & poetry in an expressive arts event, drawing the whole project to it’s conclusion. Finally Scran would like to congratulate the staff & pupils on a job well done!IMG_1125

Images © National Museums Scotland, Blairs Museum, James Gardiner | Licensor Scran 

Dunbarney Discovers Jolomo

23rd February 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

IMG_1074Last month we told you about Scran working with Art & Design in Perth & Kinross, well here’s some of what we got up with Primary 7, in Bridge of Earn. Armed with a mobile art studio, laden with materials the class found inspiration in the work of Jolomo.

Through a series of research tasks and group conversations the class got to grips with heaps of visual and contextual information from Scran.  They expanded their visual literacy skills, extended their vocabulary with such terms as impasto and gained a new appreciation of Scottish Art.

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To deepen this understanding the pupils then created their very own paintings influenced by the techniques used by Jolomo.  The class had gone walk about with their cameras to capture the local landscape using photography. Their pictures were then used for each individual composition on canvas.

FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender (1)FullSizeRender (3)FullSizeRender (2)The pupils were able to explore using new materials such as texture medium to build up the surface of their work. Next they considered the vibrant palette and colours often used by Jolomo and mixed similarly lively hues for their own landscapes.

FullSizeRender (4)FullSizeRender (5)FullSizeRender (6)IMG_1099The culmination of the P7s’ hard work & focused learning was a whole-school exhibition Inspired by Scotland, which not only included these great paintings but all sorts of  arts activity – but more about that later…

Meanwhile over in Abernethy, Primary 7 were busy exploring their locality through Jolomo as well! They got creative with their texture too, adding in mixed media & all sorts, to create impressive effects too.

IMG_1146IMG_1147IMG_1151IMG_1153Thanks to Mrs McLaren & P7, all the staff at both schools and not forgetting the pupils, for making this successful partnership project and learning adventure happen – keep on creating!

Local Art meets Local History

9th October 2015 by Scran | 0 comments

Killermont get creative with Scran - Collage Frieze

You may have read about our collaborative school activity at Killermont Primary School, in Bearsden? This 6 metre long frieze is the result of P6’s hard work & creative flair.

After thinking about the work of Willie Rodger, individual figures were printed by each pupil. These silhouettes represent Bearsden commuters, dashing to and from the railway station. Next, the class cut up pictures of local housing built following the arrival of the railway in 1863 – bringing businessmen & prosperity to New Kilpatrick. Finally, the local buildings & commuters were collaged together.

The class proved to be highly successful art detectives too – at home they researched the artist Willie Rodger using Scran. They shared their findings in class the following day. Astute observations were made & we discovered plenty of visual clues hidden in the imagery.

Following a group vote, with 6 votes each from of a class total of 32, the two most popular Willie Rodger artworks were The Chess Players & Honeymoon.

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From Dunbar to Durham

2nd September 2015 by Scran | 0 comments

With the recent archaeological discoveries in Durham of Scottish soldiers in a mass grave, you might be curious to learn more about what happened at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650.

Today Dunbar is affectionately known as Sunny Dunny by locals, however it has a much bloodier past. Cromwell invaded Scotland in July 1650, after the Scots had ignored his appeal for support and had proclaimed Charles II King. Cromwell crossed the border and attempted to meet up with his fleet at Leith and again at Queensferry, but without success.

He retreated to Dunbar where, in September of 1650, he was faced with a Covenanting army of over 20,000, led by David Leslie. To find out more see our dedicated Pathfinder: The Battle of Dunbar, it includes this medal, re-enactment imagery and an illustrated map of the event too.

Image © The Trustees of the British Museum, Military Award for the Battle of Dunbar, featuring Cromwell.  Licensor www.scran.ac.uk

Out & About with Scran

31st August 2015 by Scran | 2 Comments

Are you planning to visit a local historic property? If so, you may be interested to know that we have a whole host of new Pathfinders on Scran, investigating Historic Scotland properties.  They are bursting with fabulous maps, photographs, film footage, reconstruction drawings, aerial views as well as information for teachers, attached in PDF format.imgzoom-image-0757-07570012

From Arbroath to Urquhart, many of these informative guides are also available in Gaelic, for use in the classroom or on site during a school visit.

So, if you are studying a particular castle, abbey or historic site in Scotland, these resources are a must.

Image © National Library of Scotland, Plan of St Andrews, c. 1580. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk

Kite Aerial Photography

25th August 2015 by Scran | 3 Comments

Recently we’ve been getting to grips with the kite aerial photography kits provided by Dr. John Wells of the Scottish National Aerial Photography Scheme (SNAPS). As you can see we visited Tantallon Castle for a practice flight. We were quite pleased with our results & the potential for learning.

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We are planning on piloting this activity with schools over 2015/16, so if you are interested please contact us & lets’s go fly a kite! 

We believe exploring the aerial photography collections on Scran, in combination with the active learning involved in kite aerial photography, could lead to all sorts of creative learning.

For example, studying aerial photography can support the following Curriculum for Excellence experiences & outcomes within Social Studies.

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  • describe the major characteristic features of Scotland’s landscape and explain how these were formed (SOC 2-07a)
  • discuss the environmental impact of human activity (SOC 2-08a)
  • explain how the physical environment influences the ways in which people use land by comparing the local area with a contrasting area (SOC 2-13a)
  • use knowledge of a historical period to interpret the evidence and present an informed view (SOC 3-01a)
  • compare settlement and economic activity in two contrasting landscapes (SOC 3-13a)
  • explain the impact of processes which form and shape landscapes on selected landscapes in Scotland, Europe and beyond (SOC 3-07a)
  • evaluate the changes which have taken place in an industry and debate their impact (SOC 4-05b)
  • discuss the sustainability of key natural resources (SOC 4-08a)

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    Salisbury Crags Holyrood Park

  • assess the impact of developments in transport infrastructure in a selected area (SOC 4-09b)
  • describe and assess the impact of human activity on an area (SOC 4-10a)
  • explain the development of the main features of an urban area and evaluate the implications for the society involved (SOC 4-10b)