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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Monday, September 10, 2018

Galloway gets its Hoard Back

Galloway non-Viking Hoard
I did a lot of briefing and campaigning  on the Galloway Hoard  last year- and wrote several posts here. Now there is good news.

From the Scotsman 8 September 2018

The biggest collection of Viking-age objects ever found in Britain will go on show close to where they were found in Galloway after a deal was struck to share the treasures with Edinburgh.

The Galloway Hoard, which is made up of more than 100 items of gold, silver enamel, glass and silk, was discovered by metal detectorist Derek McLennan on Church of Scotland land in 2014. Disappointment was felt in Galloway after it lost out in the race to buy the treasures, with National Museums Scotland able to raise the £1.98m needed to secure the collection.

Keeping the hoard in area was regarded as a major opportunity to boost tourism and illuminate its rich history. Now, the hoard will go on show at Kirkcudbright Galleries for nine months from December 2020 after a 25-year agreement was signed between NMS and Dumfries and Galloway Council. A long-term display of a number of items has also been secured.

Dr Gordon Rintoul, Director of National Museums Scotland said: “We are delighted to make this joint announcement with Dumfries and Galloway Council of a 25-year Partnership Agreement.

“National Museums Scotland is keen to extend access to the national collections to people from across Scotland an beyond and this agreement helps to achieve that ambition. “We hope that as many people as possible from the local area or visitors to it, will take the opportunity to view the Hoard and enjoy this wonderful collection.”
Kirkcudbright Galleries will now also be used as a venue for touring exhibitions from the national collections

Councillor John Martin, vice chair of Communities Committee at the local authority, said: “The agreement is very significant. I would like to thank National Museums Scotland for working with the Council to broker an arrangemen which provides both organisations with a very satisfactory outcome. “I look forward to seeing the Hoard return home to tell part of the story of our cultural heritage.”

From the Scotsman https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/delight-as-hoard-of-viking-era-treasure-to-return-home-1-4796894

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

From Gaelic to Scots

Full text of William Neill's article

Gaelic in the Galloway News 1983

This the paper I will read on the shift from Gaelic to Scots in Galloway at the 'Galloway: Gaelic's Lost Province?' conference Saturday 8 September 2018.

In 1972, I had the opportunity to learn Gaelic at Castle Douglas High School. The class was taught by William Neill who was a teacher at the school as well as being a Gaelic poet and scholar. Mr Neill, as I still think of him, had been born in Prestwick in 1922. As a teenager he would visit the harbour at Ayr where he was fascinated to hear Gaelic being spoken by fishermen from the Western Isles which inspired him to learn their language.

Although I failed to learn very much Gaelic from William Neill, I recall him telling us that Gaelic was still spoken in Galloway in the time of Mary, Queen of Scots. In article he wrote for the Galloway News in 1983 about Gaelic farm names he said “Before 1560, the whole of the south-west was solidly Gaelic speaking according to modern scholarship.” 1560 is a date associated with the Reformation in Scotland suggesting that William Neill saw the Reformation as bringing about the transition from Gaelic to Scots in Galloway. This afternoon I will argue that the Reformation came towards the end of the transition from Gaelic to Scots in Galloway not its beginning.

The Galloway News article shows Mr Neill standing in front of the sign for Drumskelly, one of several farms with Gaelic names in Crossmichael parish. Before 1560, the farms in Crossmichael parish belonged to Lincluden collegiate church.

A rental roll for Lincluden in 1557 lists the farms owned and their tenants. Among the farms listed are Hillowton and Gerranton, both near Castle Douglas. Michael Hillow was a tenant of Hillowtown and John and Ninane Garrane were tenants in Gerranton. Chapmanton is also listed, but there were no Chapmans living there. Along with Blackpark, these are all Scots farm names which show that in Crossmichael parish at least, the people had ceased to be solidly Gaelic speaking sometime before 1560.

In neighbouring Kelton parish a list of farms compiled in 1456 includes two farms with Scots names- Carlingwark and Whitepark. However, the same list shows that next to Whitepark but in Buittle parish were the farms of Cuil and Corra, both Gaelic farm names. In 1324 king Robert I granted Buittle to James Douglas and the charter describes the boundaries of Buittle. Torrs in Kelton is mentioned but not Whitepark nor Cuil and Corra which were then still part of a large farm now called Breoch. 
One of the farms which is mentioned is the Scots Corbieton which belonged to the Corbett family. Unfortunately there is no certain date for when the Corbetts acquired Corbieton, but it is an early indication of the shift towards the Scots language.

Cuil and Corra were still not included as separate farms in a Buittle rental roll from 1375 so must have been formed and given their Gaelic names sometime between then and 1456. Carlingwark and Whitepark will have been given their Scots names in this same period. They were part of the arable grange lands attached to Threave castle which was constructed for Archibald the Grim after he gained control of eastern Galloway in 1369 and bought western Galloway from Thomas Fleming, earl of Wigtown for £500 in 1372.

Archibald, like his father James Douglas, was a Bruce loyalist. His task was to rein in the Gaelic kindreds of Galloway who had supported Edward Balliol against Robert the Bruce's son king David II. Archibald's success is shown on his seal where two 'wild men of Galloway' support his coat of arms.

Two wild men of Galloway tamed by Archibald the Grim 

What did Douglas rule mean for the leading Gaelic families of Galloway?

For Sir John McCulloch of Mochrum parish it meant losing his lands to a Scot from Midlothian. At Lincluden in September 1414, McCulloch resigned his lands to Archibald, 4th earl of Douglas, lord of Galloway and Annandale and son of Archibald the Grim. In October 1414, Archibald directed Uhtred McDowall, sheriff of Wigtown to transfer McCulloch's lands to William Hay of Locharwart, which is in Midlothian.

But in 1418, Hay complained to Archibald that he 'could nocht gett payt his mailis ' due to the 'etting his lands', which as a result were 'skaithit', that is harmed. Archibald responded by instructing Robert Crichton of Sanquhar and his 'fellow Mcgyewe' , who were his officers on the west side of the Cree to 'distress' those responsible until they fully amended their fault. John McCulloch is the person most likely to be responsible for the etting and so would have been 'distressed' by Archibald's officers.

The Scots language of these and other documents show that the administration of Galloway was conducted in Scots throughout the period of Douglas rule until it ended in 1455. Despite this use of Scots we have evidence that Gaelic survived.

Evidence that Gaelic survived the period of Douglas rule comes from two sources. From 1487 there is a complaint that John Brown, the Scots speaking vicar of Kirkcolm 'does not understand and cannot speak intelligibly the language (that is Gaelic) of the place in which it is situate, to the detriment of souls…'

The second source is research by John Bannerman and others which revealed the existence of at least three generations of clarsach players in Wigtownshire between 1471 and 1513. The last of these was Roland or Lachlann McBratney who played for king James IV and may also have been employed by the prior of Whithorn. In one of the royal treasurer's accounts of payments to Lachlann, he is described as an Irish, that is Gaelic, harper. In another from 1503, he was paid 5 crowns for a journey to 'the isles'.

Significantly, another branch of his family were renowned harpists living on Gigha and Bannerman speculates that Lachlann visited them in 1503. It has even been suggested that the Gigha branch of the family originally came from Galloway via the Priory of Whithorn's lands in south Kintyre. But although Gigha was part of a cultural network which linked Gaelic Scotland and Ireland in the fifteenth century, Galloway under its Scots speaking Douglas lords had not been part of this network. 

As an aside, while researching the McBratneys, I discovered that there are still McBratneys living in Whithorn and was able to pass on my findings to Alexander McBratney from Whithorn who is now professor of soil science at the University of Sydney.

Then, during the later fifteenth century, Galloway became even more Scottish. A major influence on the shift from Gaelic to Scots in Galloway were the burghs of Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Wigtown and Whithorn. In the far west there was also Innermessan until it was supplanted by Stranraer in the seventeenth century.

Part of the burghs' importance are their locations. Kirkcudbright lies at the southern end of a broad strip of good quality farm land stretching from the Fleet to the Nith at Dumfries. A smaller strip of good quality land lies along the coast between Kirkcudbright and Dumfries.

In 1755, even before the towns of Gatehouse, Castle Douglas and Dalbeattie had been established, 70% of the population of the Stewartry lived in this lowland area which was predominantly an arable farming district.

In 1684 parish lists of all the inhabitants of Wigtownshire and Minnigaff over the age of 12 were compiled. The lists give the number of occupants of over 650 farms as well as the burghs and the village of Minnigaff. Even for the overwhelmingly upland parish of Minnigaff, 54% of the population lived in Minnigaff village and farms on the fertile carse land beside the Cree.

In Wigtownshire, only 10% of the population lived in farms on poorer quality land, spread across the upper parts of Inch, New Luce, Kirkcowan and Penninghame parishes. 40% of the Wigtownshire population lived in the Machars which included the burghs of Wigtown and Whithorn. Although these burghs only accounted for 7% of the total Wigtownshire population, 19% of the population of the Machars lived in them.

The Wigtown Burgh Court books survive for the years 1513 to 1534. They are written in Scots and have been analysed by linguist Joanna Kopakzyk who concluded that the language used was typical of the Scots written and spoken across Lowland Scotland in the sixteenth century. She also noted that ‘the Burgh Court Book has no passages written in Gaelic or translated into or from Gaelic. There is no mention of interpreters needed for trials or for documents, therefore one may infer that Scots was a well established means of communication in the burgh.’

If Scots was already established in Wigtown by 1513, how far did that influence extend? Researching the place names of Wigtowsnhire, John McQueen found that farms recorded in Penninghame parish with the Scots names Meikle and Little Elrik in 1506 were then recorded with the Gaelic names Heilrikmore and Neilrikbeg in 1507. This suggests that Gaelic as well as Scots was spoken in the area at this time.

The farms are 9 miles north west of Wigtown. If Gaelic was still spoken in upper Penninghame in 1507, it must have been in retreat since their Gaelic names were not used again and it is as Meikle and Little Eldrig that the farms became known.

Significantly, a circle with a radius of 9 miles centred on Wigtown takes in most of the Machars as well as the more fertile parts of Penninghame and Kirkcowan. When the burgh of Whithorn and its immediate area is included, then by the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Scots language was well established in the Machars.

On the other hand, we know that Gaelic was still the main language of the Rhinns in 1487. In 1684, the Rhinns accounted for 29% of Wigtownshire's population. Before the creation of Stranraer in 1595 the nearest burgh to the Rhinns was Innermessan in Inch parish. However, Innermesan was a very small burgh so its linguistic influence would have been limitedm slowing the advance of Scots into the Rhinns.

However, an indication that the market economy was expanding into the west of Galloway comes from 1495 when the village of Ballinclach, now Glenluce, became a burgh of barony with a weekly market.

In the Stewartry, the size and importance of Dumfries is likely to have made Scots the dominant language east of the Urr many years before 1500. Much closer in size to Wigtown than Dumfries, Kirkcudbright's Scots footprint would have covered the area between the Fleet and the Urr and stretched up to the edge of the Glenkens. As a consequence of the combined influence of Dumfries and Kirkcudbright, by 1500 70% of the population of the Stewartry were potentially Scots speakers.

If the balance between Gaelic and Scots use had begun to shift in favour of Scots between 1455 and 1500, what happened over the next 60 years? Written evidence for the use of Scots increases since more legal documents and letters survive. For example, in the protocol book of notary Herbert Anderson, dated 23 May 1541, Alexander Gordon of Airds in the Glenkens made a declaration in Scots concerning the disposal of the estate of the deceased Ninian Glendinning of Parton.

Perhaps, as a non-native family, the Gordons of the Glenkens had never been Gaelic speakers, but the family of Thomas McDowall of Glenluce certainly had been. In 1556, Thomas represented his grandmother Janet McDowall at the Baron Court of Glenluce where she was accused of passing on her tenancy of Sinniness farm to another person without permission. The case lasted several days and the record of the proceedings shows it was conducted in Scots.

Although Janet McDowall could have grown up in a Gaelic speaking household, her grandson was a fluent Scots speaker able to hold his own in the baron court and get the case transferred to Edinburgh. Yet as the grandson of a tenant farmer, he was of low social status. Could Thomas McDowall have spoken Gaelic as well as Scots? Unfortunately it is impossible to tell from the evidence available. What we do know is that the Scots language in Galloway was soon to get a powerful ally- the Reformed Church.

Alexander Gordon of Airds is reputed to have pioneered the Reformation Galloway in the 1530s when he secretly read from an English translation of the bible to his family and his tenants in Airds wood. However, this was an essentially private affair, very different from the national Reformation which began in 1560.

The Reformation in Scotland was deeply influenced by Calvinism. Robert Kingdon has described Calvinism as

a serious attempt to control human behaviour in all its variety. It meant that the church had a responsibility not only to present true Christian doctrine but also to shape true Christian behaviour. And this responsibility, Calvinists believed, could not be left to individuals or to governments. It had to be assumed, to as great a degree as possible, by the church… which became a remarkably intrusive institution, penetrating every aspect of life.

In other words, the new Calvinist faith was about much more than simply requiring the faithful to attend church on Sunday. It also sought to extend its influence into the home, to shape and influence family life. Men, women and children were all expected to have an understanding of the Christian faith and to be able to demonstrate that understanding by reciting the key principles of the Reformed religion.

In the Highlands and Islands the Reformers had to translate and adapt their message in order to reach Gaelic speakers. But in Galloway, by 1560 the gradual expansion of Scots outwards from the burghs had made Scots the majority language. Unfortunately, parish records from Galloway for the period 1560 to 1640 have not survived. This is frustrating since it means we don't know if they contained any references to the survival of Gaelic in the upland districts or in the Rhinns.

It is therefore possible that Gaelic may still have been spoken in some parts of Galloway into the seventeenth century. Indeed, we may even have evidence that it was.

Dr Christopher Irvine was an Edinburgh based physician and historiographer to kings Charles II and James VII and II. He was born in 1618 at Enniskillen in Ireland where his Scottish father had been granted lands as part of the Plantation of Ulster. The Irish uprising of 1641 forced the family to take refuge in Scotland, passing through Portpatrick in the Rhinns as they fled Ulster. Although his father and brothers later returned to Ireland, Christopher did not.

In his book 'Historiæ Scoticæ nomenclatura Latino-vernacula' published in 1682, Irvine wrote-

Vetustus Sermo : the old language of our ancestors, the Galick Albanich, the Highland galick, which at this day is spoken in all our Hilly Countries and Isles, and in my time was spoke much in the Rinns of Galloway.

What Irvine seems to be saying is Gaelic was still present in the Rhinns in 1641 when he heard it spoken. However, unlike in the 'hilly countries and isles', by 1682 Gaelic was no longer spoken in the Rhinns.

If Irvine's statement does mean that Gaelic was no longer spoken in the Rhinns by 1682, this accords with Andrew Symson's 'Large Description of Galloway'. Symson was minister of Kirkinner parish in the Machars for over 20 years during which time he acted as secretary to the Synod of Galloway. This gave him a good knowledge of Galloway and makes the Large Description, which began compiling in 1684, a very comprehensive document It includes, for example, a discussion of the Scots dialect spoken by the 'country people'. However, Symson does not make any reference to the survival of Gaelic in the Rhinns- nor anywhere else in Galloway.

Christopher Irvine spent only a short time in the Rhinns, unlike the Reverend John Livingston, who my family claim as an ancestor. Livingston first visited Galloway in 1626 at the invitation of John Gordon of Kenmure, the founder of New Galloway. In 1630 Livingston became minister of Killinchy in County Down before crossing back to Galloway where he became minister of Stranraer parish in 1638. In an account of his life, Livingston says that he chose Stranraer because its proximity to Portpatrick allowed him to keep in touch with his former parishioners. He also mentions the Irish uprising which broke out in the autumn of 1641.

The winter following many came fleeing over to Scotland, sundry to Ayr and Irvine, and other places of the west, by sea; but the greatest number came by Portpatrick and Stranraer, and were generally in a very destitute condition.

In Stranraer, Livingston was a very active minister, leading daily prayer sessions in his church. He had been brought up in Lanarkshire and was not a Gaelic speaker. However, unlike John Brown of Kirkcolm in 1487, Livingston experienced no difficulties communicating with his parishioners nor those of neighbouring parishes when he attended communion.

During my abode in Stranraer, the neighbouring ministers with whom I kept most society, were my brother M‘Clellan at Kirkcudbright, Robert Hamilton at Ballantrae, George Hutchison at Colmonell, Alexander Turnbull at Kirkmaiden in the Rhinns, John Dick at Inch, George Dick at Glenluce,Andrew Lander at Whithorn, and John Park at Mochrum. With all these I have been at their communions, and most of them have been at communions with us at Stranraer.

This creates a problem. If Gaelic was still 'spoke much' in the Rhinns 'in my time' as Irvine claimed, why did Livingston not mention this fact?

A possible answer is that the Gaelic Irvine heard was restricted to the ferry boatmen who crossed between Donaghadee and Portpatrick. The ferry service was established after James Hamilton and Hugh Montgomery began the Scottish plantation of Ulster in 1606. On the Irish side, where there were 16 passage boats by 1617, the crews must have been drawn from the Irish population of County Down since even by 1630 there were only 2000 adult male settlers from Scotland scattered across the county. The Plantation did not remove Irish speakers and there were still 984 Irish speakers living around Donaghadee in 1659.

Remote from the influence of Scots speaking burghs and only 21 miles across the North Channel from Irish speakers, there were probably still Gaelic speakers in the Rhinns before the Plantation in 1606. If the Donaghadee passage boats were crewed by Irish sailors, frequent contact with them could therefore have sparked a minor Gaelic revival in the Rhinns, centred on Portpatrick.

However, this revival is unlikely to have survived Irish uprising of 1641. Although 12 000 Scots and English settlers were killed in the uprising, exaggerated accounts soon circulated claiming that as many as 150 000 Protestant settlers had been massacred by Irish Catholics. Some of the refugees who fled to Scotland were Irish. Six reached Kirkcudbright where they were arrested and sent to England. It was not a good time to be Irish in Scotland.

To protect the Scottish settlers, a Scottish army was despatched to Ulster. John Livingston was with this army as a chaplain in April 1642.

I went with the army to the field, when they took in Newry. A part of the rebels that made some opposition by the way at the entry of a wood were killed. They were so fat, that one might have hid his fingers in the lirks of their breasts.

Only two years earlier, in the summer of 1640, the Army of the Covenant had besieged Caerlaverock castle in Nithsdale and Threave castle in Galloway. The castles were held for Charles I by Robert Maxwell, the Roman Catholic earl of Nithsdale. Most of the defenders were drawn from the local Catholic community which had survived the Reformation under the protection of the Maxwells. Unlike in Ireland, after the castles had been surrendered, their defenders were allowed to depart peacefully rather than being slaughtered.

During 1644-45, the campaign of Montrose supported by Irish Confederate troops led by Alasdair MacColla brought the bitterness of Ulster back to Scotland. Contemporary Covenanter propaganda focussed on the 'Irish rebels' rather than Montrose and when the tide finally turned in the Covenanters favour, any Irish soldiers captured were executed automatically. In July 1645, female Irish camp followers were also rounded up and killed.

Although MacColla led the Irish troops, he was born on Colonsay. However, he was a member of Clan Donald South and cousin to Ranald McDonnell, the Roman Catholic and Gaelic speaking earl of Antrim. Many of the Irish Confederate troops MacColla led were from Antrim. Ironically, James VI and I had intended the Plantation of Ulster to drive a wedge between the Gaelic communities of western Scotland and north-east Ireland and bring an end to the military and cultural connections between these communities.

Scotland and Ulster as mapped circa 1600

If there had been a significant Gaelic speaking population in Galloway in the 1640s, particularly in the Rhinns, they would have figured in the political and military calculations of the time. The Irish would have seen them as potential allies, the Scots as potential enemies. A possible Galloway connection did emerge in 1643 when Ranald McDonnell was captured by the Scottish army in Ulster. Among the letters found on McDonnell was one showing that he had been seeking support from Robert Maxwell, earl of Nithsdale.

However, although a Roman Catholic and a Royalist, neither Maxwell nor
Galloway's Catholic community were Gaelic speakers. They were treated with suspicion and hostility, but even when the Synod of Dumfries took action against 39 named Catholics in 1647, they were excommunicated rather than being executed. As Scots speakers they were not subject to the fear and hatred directed against Gaelic speaking Roman Catholics in Ireland and Scotland.

Thus leads on to a significant point. Despite 250 years of hostility and occasional persecution, what had been an important part of Galloway's medieval culture- its religion- survived into the nineteenth century. In 1704 there were still 418 Roman Catholics in the eastern Stewartry and Webster's Census of 1755 recorded 349 Roman Catholics in the same district.

Religious continuity was preserved through chapels served by Jesuits which were maintained by members of the Maxwell family near New Abbey, near Dumfries and at Munches near Dalbeattie. The chapel at Munches survived until 1811 when it was transferred to Dalbeattie.

But while Galloway's old religion survived, its old language did not. 

The National Covenant was passionately embraced in Galloway. A copy survives from Minnigaff parish where the entire adult male population of 355 signed it. Minnigaff is one of the upland parishes where Gaelic is most likely to have survived, but as hostility to the Irish and their language grew, social pressure would have enforced the hegemony of Scots as the language of the Covenants.

It is possible then that the final stage of the shift from Gaelic to Scots involved a form of collective self-censorship, of a religiously inspired rejection of Galloway's Gaelic past. By the time Andrew Symson began compiling his Large Description of Galloway in 1684 he had been minister of Kirkinner parish in the Machars for 20 years during which time he acted as secretary to the Synod of Galloway. This gave him a good knowledge of Galloway and makes the Large Description, a very comprehensive document. It includes, for example, a discussion of the Scots dialect spoken by the 'country people' as well as some Galloway folk history. But Symson makess no reference to the survival or recent loss of Gaelic and the folk history recorded does not date back further than 1450s.

 Then, a cewntury after Symson, in 1787 Robert Burns' frind Robert  Riddell recorded a tantalising piece of folk history.

The two snowy years of 1671 and 2 ruined the Gallick speaking tenants of the upland farms of the South of Scotland who were then replaced by others speaking only Lowland Scots

James Hogg also passed on shepherds' tales of an extreme winter, which he thought was that of 1620. Weather records don't show the winters of 1671 or 2 as expectionally snowy but they do identify 1674 as the winter when many thousands of sheep died in an area between Peebles, Selkirk and Eskdale during the 'Thirteen Drifty Days of March'. The most detailed account by William Napier in 1822 includes a list of the farms worst affected- Sundhope, Over-Delorian, Phaup and Over-Cassock- in the central Borders but no suggestion that any of the farms affected had Gaelic speaking tenants. An investigation of estate records from the Borders may solve this mystery.

Finally we come to a number of reports of the survival of Gaelic in Galloway and Carrick into the eighteenth and even ninteenth centuries. Investigated by William Lorimer in 1949, these included several 'last speakers of Gaelic' living variously in Glenapp 1750, Maybole 1760, Barr 1762, Minnigaff 1775 and here in the Glenkens 1780.
Of these, the most intruiging is the one from Minnigaff where it is claimed Alexander Murray, the celebrated linguist, learnt Gaelic from his aged father. Murray died in 1813 making him potentially the last native Gaelic speaker in south-west Scotland. Unfortunately, Murray himself said that after first learning Welsh in 1792, he later taught himself Gaelic using William Shaw's 'Analysis of the Gaelic Language' published in 1778, Shaw's 'Gaelic English Dictionary ' published in 1780 and Alexander Stewart's 'Elements of Gaelic Grammar' published in 1801.

Other reports investigated by Lorimer, including the Gaelic schoolmaster recruited for Barr parish school in 1762, turned out to be the product of the fertile imagination of Robert de Bruce Trotter in his 'Galloway Gossip' books. Even the more plausible reports left open the possibility that the 'last speakers' may have learned their Gaelic from Irish or Scottish sources rather than inherited it as part of continuous tradition. As Mark Twain might have put it, rumours of Gaelic surviving into the eigthteenth century are greatly exaggerated.

In conclusion then, I must disagree with William Neill. Even before 1560, the south-west had ceased to be soldily Gaelic speaking. The point of the wedge that was to eventually to divide the land of Galloway from the Gaelic language and the people from their history can still be seen. It is the imposing 80 foot high castle of Threave, built for Archibald the Grim. As lord of Galloway, Archibald achieved what no king of Scotland had managed to do - he tamed its wild men and women the McDowalls, the McCullochs and the other Gaelic kindreds - and made an enduring plantation of Scots speakers among them.

At the same time, the Douglas lordship preserved the territorial integrity of Galloway and conserved a degree of cultural continuity with the kingdom founded by Fergus three centuries before. The deepest link with Galloway's past was the language of its people, which preceded even Fergus' kingdom. Galloway's Gaelic language survived the Douglas lordship, but, as the final assimilation of Galloway by Scotland got underway, by 1500 the Scots language had already advanced from the burghs into the surrounding countryside. Even without the assitance of the Reformation, by 1560 Scots was already so widely spoken that the transition from Gaelic to Scots would probably have been completed within one or two generations.

But tragically, in becoming Scots speakers, the people of Galloway had lost a huge part of their own history. The oldest pieces of folk history Symson recorded concerned 'the Black Douglass' and Threave castle. One described the execution of Patrick McClellan of Bombie at Threave in 1453 and the other that the great iron gun called Mons Meg had been wrought and made there. The survival in folk history of these stories, but none from earlier, illustrates the profound rupture in Galloway's collective memory which the shift from Gaelic to Scots created. 

The totality of the physical erasure of Galloway's past was brought home to me when I began researching the Galloway Levellers and discovered that no traces of the Galloway landscape that they knew have survived. The process of agricultural improvement- the Lowland Clearances- had swept away the medieval fermtouns, the cottars and their crofts - even the fields of rig and furrow that had been cultivated for centuries were obliterated. Researching the transition from Gaelic to Scots in Galloway I have found a similar cultural erasure of Galloway's Gaelic past.

As we have found today , much of Galloway's forgotten Gaelic heritage has been recovered. But sadly, this knowledge has yet to become part of our collective awareness. As a consequence, the people of Galloway still lack consciousness of their own history.

However, rather then end on a downbeat note I will attempt some optimism. There is a campaign to make Galloway a national park. Part of the campaign involves arguing that there is an overlap between the geographical and geological boundaries of Galloway and Carrick and the area's natural heritage. Equal weight is also being given to the historical coherence of the area's cultural heritage.

The Kingdom of Galloway restored

If the the national park proposal suceeds we will no longer be able to describe Galloway as Gaelic's Lost Province. In recognition of the region's cultural heritage the proposed full title of the new park will be 'The Kingdom of Galloway National Park'.

I asked about the inclusion of Kingdom in the title at the National Park Association's recent agm, where I was assured by the Association's Chair Dame Barbara Kelly that it had been been approved by no less an authority than Professor Ted Cowan.

Thanks to the Gaelic (Scotland) Act of 2005, the Park's name will be present in Gaelic as well as English on all its signs and logos. Galloway's first kingdom was a Gaelic speaking kingdom. If Galloway becomes a kingdom once again, then our Gaelic heritage will become very publically part of our future as well as our past.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Beyond the fields we know

Carlingwark Lane- looking towards pumping station from railway bridge.
 Photo John Howat circa 1970

The railway line from Castle Douglas to Kirkcudbright opened in 1864 and closed in 1965. It ran past my parents' house. Soon after it was closed, my father took me and my brother Ian for a walk out along it, before the track had been lifted. We walked out to the bridge over the Carlingwark Lane canal and then along the edge of the canal to the Blackpark pumping station then up an access track to Blackpark farm and then back into town.

For a 7 year old and 5 year old it was an exciting adventure, one which we repeated on our own and with schoolfriends over the next few years.

Mostly we played in the deep railway cutting beside our house, hacking paths through the nettles and brambles which soon grew up once railway workers with scythes stopped mowing the grass. But every so often we would walk under the railway bridge and on to the embankment beyond. It ran beside a field and the golf course for a few hundred yards then curved past the town's sewage works before passing under the road to Blackpark farm. We would pause by the sewage works to throw stones (railway ballast) into the settling tanks. Beyond the bridge was another smelly place- the town rubbish dump, the cowp in Scots.

Here there were pools of thick green slime with white bones sticking out and further along, where the edge of the cowp crept slowly out into the marshes beyond, it smoked and smouldered as still hot ashes from coal fires consumed yesterday's newspapers and other flammable rubbish. Occasionally the smoke would turn into fire until the town's volunteer fire brigade came and damped it down.

Beyond the cowp, the railway ran on embankment across the marshes towards the Carlingwark Lane which we called the Tarry Burn, since that is what my father had called it. Strictly speaking, the Tarry Burn was a stream which ran alongside the railway to enter the Lane where the railway bridged it. It had an oily, iridescent sheen to it- hardly surprising since as well as picking up seepage from the cowp, it was the outfall from the sewage works and collected up run off from the town gas works...

I recently found an illustration of the original wooden railway bridge over the Carlingwark Lane, but this was later replaced by an iron one. The iron bridge was supported on brick piers standing on concrete pads. The footbridge over the Lane still uses the conrete pads.

Once we walked beyond the bridge along the railway towards the woods on Barley Hill, but usually we would scramble down from the embankment and walk along the marshes which edged the Lane towards the pumping station. It was a strange landscape, open, flat and eerily quiet apart from the wind in the reeds. The water in the Lane seemed deep, unmoving and ominous. Closer to the pumping station the ground rose up and became a field.

The white square block of the pumping station was the only sign of civilisation. It emmitted a low hum of electricity, occasionally becoming louder when the pumps kicked in and the water would surge around the intake grills. A few strands of barbed wire were no deterrent to us climbing up and around the pump house.

Once we ventured beyond it, skirting the edge of a shallow lagoon into what seemed like a true wilderness. I still remember the plaintive cries of hundreds of peewits (lapwings) as they rose up out of the wetlands around the lagoon. It must have been winter because there was a flurry of snow. We took shelter beneath some trees and found dozens of shot gun cartridges left by wild fowlers. Skirting the lagoon, we saw another, smaller pump house on the edge of a wood, but it was on the other side of a deep drainage ditch.

With wet feet and feeling cold and tired, we left the primal wilderness behind and began our long walk back to civilisation. As we passed, the peewits ceased circling and started fluttering down to the damp earth like flakes of snow in the gathering darkness.

1961- train just after crossing Carlingwark Lane bridge. Cowp on left.

1964 - red  X my parents' house. Golf course left, sewage works right.

Blackpark Pumping Station, built 1938

Carlingwark Lane Canal today- from Castle Douglas A75 by-pass bridge

Friday, August 03, 2018

Castle Douglas and the Age of Reason

Before Castle Douglas - Roy's Survey 1755 

Introduction/ Summary
I recently spent four hours taking groups of people for a walk around my home town while talking about its history and place in the landscape. The walk was part of Castle Douglas Civic Week which celebrates the foundation of the town in 1792. However, a practical expression of the Scottish Enlightenment, involving constructing a canal in 1765 and improving agriculture in the surrounding area, had already created a thriving settlement here before 1792.

Both the actually existing Galloway Glens project and the proposedGalloway National Park emphasise the importance of 'sustainability'. The Galloway Glens will support 'the sustainability of communities' from Carsphairn to Kirkcudbright in the area it covers. The Galloway National Park will “promote sustainable economic and social development of the area’s communities.”

Unfortunately, 'sustainable' is an overused word but I argue in this post that it can be applied to the theories of rational improvement developed by Adam Smith and others during the Scottish Enlightenment. Applied to the area around Castle Douglas, the result was the sustainable growth of the local economy, reflected in the creation and enduring prosperity of Castle Douglas itself.

Then, as the Age of Reason gave way to the Age of Industry, the slow but sustainable development of rural regions like Galloway was displaced by the apparently limitless growth of urban and industrial regions. It is only now, as the irrational belief in growth without limits is beginning to end, that sustainability has re-emerged as the rational alternative.

But even now, it takes an effort of imagination to see that what appears as a natural landscape (when contrasted with urban/industrial landscapes) is a cultural landscape. That it is a landscape shaped and transformed by the Age of Reason. A landscape which should be recognised and valued as an expression of the Scottish Enlightenment alongside Edinburgh's New Town.

The Origins of Castle Douglas

While there are some very old towns locally- like Whithorn which is 1500 years old and Kirkcudbright which is about 1000 years old- Castle Douglas only dates back to 1792.

There were people living in the area 2000 years ago and there is a castle nearby which was built in 1369, but until 1765 there wasn't even a village here. All there was was an inn, a blacksmith and a few farm workers (cottars) cottages nearby.

By 1785, there was an industrial village spread out along the Military Road. It housed workers extracting marl from around and under Carlingwark loch. The marl was a silty clay, formed by the accumulation over thousands of years of fresh water snail shells and fish bones. Local soils are acidic. Spread on fields, the calcium carbonate from the shells and bones neutralised the acid in the soil, allowing better crops of oats, barley and even wheat to be grown.

A side effect of the Military Road was that it could be used by carts carrying marl to farms to the east and west of the loch. However, the road leading north towards Ayrshire was not improved. To overcome the problem, a mile long canal was dug from the river Dee towards Carlingwark Loch in 1765. This gave access to a 14 mile long inland waterway up the Dee and Ken rivers along which 20 ton (later 40 ton) barges could carry marl upstream and bring timber and oak bark (for tanning) back downstream.

Canal blue, Military Road red

From accounts of travellers and other interested observers, even before Castle Douglas was founded in 1792, the lower Dee valley/ central Stewartry of Kirkcudbright area was already prospering.

Advancing across the ridge which divides the Dee from the Urr, I found myself in a tract of country that presented every mark of rapid improvement. The fields are divided by stone-walls of suitable height and strength. The farm-houses are decently built, and have their roofs commonly covered with slate. New farm-houses are rising here and there, in the style almost of handsome villas. [Robert Heron, 'Observations made in a journey through the western counties of Scotland in the autumn of 1792'.]

In the summer of 1800 Richard Hodgkinson from Lancashire visited Galloway to meet his wife's family- the Cannons- who lived near New Galloway. He noted that the area around the new town of Castle Douglas was 'the richest and by far the most improved part of the country' contrasting it with (apart from the area immediately around New Galloway) with the 'mountainous, barren, craggy, rough and rocky' upland parishes of the district.

From the Old Statistical Account of Kells and other upland parishes which were written in the 1790s, we know that attempts improve upland farms were made. However, the combination of the cost of transporting marl and then lime to the upland farms combined with the poorer quality of the upland soils defeated improvers like the Newalls of Barskeoch. Instead, the upland farms were turned into sheep farms. Until the Forestry Commission began extensive planting in the 1960s, for about 150 years forty sheep farms occupied 200 square miles of the Galloway uplands.

What makes this period of regional history of national and international importance is that key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment- Adam Smith and Henry Home (lord Kames) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Home,_Lord_Kames
were directly involved in the agricultural and economic revolution which transformed the landscape and economy of Galloway and Dumfriesshire.

Then, even before the Enlightened Improvers had finished their work, the theory and practice of the Age of Reason was superseded by a world changing revolution. This industrial revolution used a fossil fuel- coal- as source of apparently limitless energy. The first industrial city was Manchester where a group of young men from Galloway pioneered the key technological shift from water to steam power in huge cotton mills.

An unintended consequence of their success was to make the existing theory and practice of economic development obsolete.

For eighteenth century political economists, agriculture was the foundation of a nation's wealth. The most effective way to increase a nation's wealth was to invest in the improvement of agriculture. However there was a limit to this growth. Poorer quality soils, like those found in upland areas, had limited capacity for improvement. Therefore growth through the expansion of agriculture would eventually tail off.

Both productive and unproductive labourers, and those who do not labour at all, are all equally maintained by the annual produce of the land and labour of the country. This produce, how great soever, can never be infinite, but must have certain limits. [Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations]

The land around what was to become Castle Douglas was of medium rather than high quality. It had been cultivated as arable land in the middle ages for the lords of Galloway and (Crossmichael parish) the Church. Although later broken up into many small estates, by 1760 the same methods of farming the land had been used for 600 years. It was therefore ripe for improvement.

In Kirkbean parish, the good quality soils of Arbigland had been improved by William Craik (1703-1798) since the 1730s. He was a close friend of Henry Home, lord Kames (1696-1782) who was a key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. Through his friendship with Craik, Kames was familiar with the practice as well as the theory of Enlightened improvement. His son-in-law was Stewartry landowner Patrick Heron IV (1736-1803).

In 1763, Kames drew up a plan for the improvement of Ingleston farm near Dumfries. To improve the 144 acres of Ingleston Hill, 90 horses and 24 workers laboured for 32 days to carry and spread 48 346 bags of shell-marl. The hill was then ploughed, first with a team of 6 oxen led by 3 men followed by a team of 4 horses.

Ingleston, Kirkpatrick Irongray

The shell-marl used on Ingleston Hill had to be carried a mile and half from a large pond. The sheer effort required to follow Kames' plan shows that without the Carlingwark canal and the Military road it would have been difficult if not impossible carry marl far enough from Carlingwark loch to improve more than a few farms in the vicinity.

However, as Adam Smith pointed out there were 'certain limits' to increasing the annual produce of the land. Initial applications of marl neutralised acid soils and increased crop yields, but adding more marl did not keep increasing the crops.

S curve

This S curve has a wider application. In the eighteenth century it was believed that it would apply to the Age of Improvement itself. A period of rapid growth would end and a 'stationary state' of little or no growth would then prevail. One of the reasons for this acceptance that there were limits to growth can be illustrated by a local example.

Hannaston was one of the farms on the Barskeoch estate in Kells parish owned by the Newall family. In 1760, John McConnel rented Hannaston for £33/ year for 19 years. Then, according to the Old Statistical Account for Kells, around 1770, William Newall began improving his lands, probably with marl from Carlingwark Loch. To recoup the costs of improvement, in 1779 when the lease was renewed John McConnel had to pay £52/ year. Unable to afford the higher rent, he gave up the tenancy in 1782.

Hannaston and Barskeoch estate are on the edge of the Rhinns of Kells. Hannaston farm house is at 500 ft and its lands lie between the 400 ft and 600 ft contours.

Hannaston is therefore right on the edge of the area of land which had the potential to be improved in the late eighteenth century. William Newall and his son John were unable to profit from the improvements they had carried out and sold Barskeoch, including Hannaston, to William Forbes in 1787. Forbes was very wealthy, having made his fortune by putting copper bottoms on ships belonging to the East India Company.

The limits of improvement were reached at about 500 feet. The lands beyond that limit were given over to sheep farming in the nineteenth century which in turn was replaced by forestry plantations in the later twentieth century.

John McConnel's son left Hannaston in 1781 to become an apprentice to William Cannon in Lancashire. Cannon was McConnel's uncle who had become a textile machine maker near Manchester. John Kennedy from neighbouring Knocknalling farm and Adam and George Murray from New Galloway were also apprenticed to Cannon. In the 1790s their skills allowed them to set up shop in Manchester where they progressed from making cotton spinning machinery to owing cotton spinning factories. By 1815 the factories of Kennedy and McConnell and A and G Murray were the largest in Manchester, each employing 1500 workers.

Kennedy & McConnell, A & G Murray mills, 1820

They succeeded where most other failed because their familiarity with cotton spinning machinery enabled them to overcome the technical problems of harnessing steam power to cotton spinning. Until then, and indeed for many years later, water power had been used as the energy source for cotton spinning.

This had the disadvantage of pushing the industry out into rural locations with good supplies of water- but few people. Industrial villages, like New Lanark, had to be built to overcome this disadvantage. Gatehouse of Fleet in Galloway grew rapidly after water powered cotton mills were built there in 1788. The mills in Gatehouse were supplied with water from Loch Whinyeon 3 miles away via a tunnel and a system of artificial streams.

Water-powered cotton mill, Gatehouse of Fleet

Once the water supply system and water wheels were in place, it was difficult to alter water powered cotton mills, for example by increasing the power generated. The power of a steam engine could be much more easily increased and extra supplies of coal, since it was already used as a domestic fuel, were easier to obtain. Manchester had been supplied with coal by canal since 1765.

Manchester was already an important warehousing and distribution centre for Lancashire's traditional textile industry which had been growing in size and importance since the seventeenth century. As an existing population centre this gave the new cotton factories in Manchester the advantage of a ready supply of workers. This in turn encouraged more people to move to the town. This growth then stimulated technological developments like the Manchester to Liverpool railway which opened in 1830. John Kennedy from Knocknalling played a key part in the development of the railway.

Manchester population figures.
1773 24 386
1801 70 409
1821 108 016
1841 242 983
1851 303 382
1931 766 311 maximum population
2011 503 127

In 1755, the population of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright was roughly equivalent to that of Manchester. But although it grew over the next 50 years, this was only at fraction of the pace of Manchester's growth.

Stewartry population figures.
1755 21 205
1801 29 211
1821 38 903
1841 41 119
1851 43 121 maximum population
1931 30 341
2011 24 000 (smaller area)

A Stationary State?

The gradual rise in the population of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright between 1755 and 1851 followed by a gradual fall is closer to the eighteenth century S curve model of economic growth through agricultural improvement than that of industrial Manchester.

I now have a difficult argument to make, given that it is the Manchester model which the global economy has followed since the early nineteenth century.

The eighteenth century is also known as the age of reason or enlightenment.
It was followed by the age of industrial capitalism, but was that age, which we still live in, a logical progression from the age of reason? Was the rise of industrial capitalism anticipated by, for example, Adam Smith?

I suggest, based on the evidence in the ground here in Galloway, that it was not. Here, the theory of growth through improvement was put into practice. As predicted, it was successful where medium quality land could be improved but reached its limits at the boundary with poor quality land.
The result was an S curve of growth with a stationary state as the end result.

From a modern scientific perspective, the eighteenth century model of growth involved using improved farming methods to maximise the solar energy which could be harvested annually from plant photosynthesis. Once this maximum had been reached, the opportunities for further growth were limited.

What Adam Smith and his contemporaries were not able to take into account were the huge reserves of 'wealth' which lay beneath many (but not all) nations in the form of coal and oil. These were the concentrated accumulation of millions of years of plant photosynthesis. One miner could harvest as much solar energy in day as a farmer could in a year.

Early 19th century coal mine, north-east England

The eighteenth century economy was hedged around with limits and restrictions. These followed from reliance on renewable sources of energy- wind and water, human and animal labour. The shift to coal as an energy source removed these 'natural' limits on growth, leading to a chain-reaction as more and more countries became part of a global carbon economy.

UK coal production figures
1700 3 million tonnes
1750 5 million tonnes
1800 10 million tonnes
1850 50 million tonnes
1900 250 million tonnes
1913 290 million tonnes
1952 230 million tonnes

Current global coal production is 8 000 million tonnes.

The Landscape of Reason

From 1760 to 1800, Enlightened improvers transformed the landscape of lowland Scotland. In many areas, nineteenth and twentieth century urban and industrial developments have obscured this landscape. Lacking coal and with only one significant pre-existing town (Kirkcudbright), the central Stewartry area has preserved its eighteenth century farmed landscape along with the new towns of Gatehouse, Castle Douglas and Dalbeattie. Dalbeattie's growth was linked its granite quarries and Gatehouse to its water-powered cotton mills.

Castle Douglas was the new town most closely connected to age of Enlightened agricultural improvement, with its origins in the use of marl by improving landowners. The wealth generated by the shift from subsistence to surplus farming enabled the village of Carlingwark to become the town of Castle Douglas.

Yet even as rational grid of the new town's street patterns was being mapped in 1795, John Kennedy and James McConnel with Adam and George Murray were laying the foundations of their steam powered cotton mills in Manchester. The future now lay with the chaotic and explosive coal fuelled growth of towns like Manchester rather than the slow but sustainable growth of towns like Castle Douglas.

Manchester 1843 by William Wyld

It is raining tonight as I write, the first rain after three months of drought and heat. The first post I wrote for greengalloway 15 years ago was about the long hot summer of 1976. But the hot summer of 1976 was a local rather than global event. The summer of 2018 has been exceptionally hot across the northern hemisphere.

It is becoming more and more difficult to deny the reality of climate change. The climate change we are experiencing has its origins in the shift from renewable energy sources to coal. It was the same shift which saw the focus of modernity change from agricultural improvement to industrial revolution. Adam Smith and Henry Home had got it wrong and the future was to be made in factories not on farms. While the growth of rural regions still tended towards a 'stationary state', the potential for industrial growth seemed unlimited.

Now, as the consequences of 'unlimited growth' are becoming starkly revealed, the need to find alternatives to a global economic system based on burning coal and oil is urgent. The technologies of solar, wind and hydro electric power are important in this process. Understanding the history of how we came to rely on coal and oil is also important. Was the change inevitable?

Today the Castle Douglas area is a quiet rural backwater, long since overtaken by the industrial revolution. But embedded in the town and its surroundings is the rationality of the Scottish Enlightenment, a rationality based on what we now call sustainable development.

From the perspective of the Scottish Enlightenment and from a post climate change perspective, the intervening period was irrational, based on faith in limitless growth. As the pressure of events forces the world to adopt a sustainable rationality, then, as it was in the Age of Reason, the importance of the Castle Douglas area will be recognised again.

Castle Douglas 1795 overlay on present landscape