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generations, all-powerful through the upper districts of Aberdeen and Banffshire—
"' By Bogie, Deveron, Don, and Dee,
"The head of 'the noble house of Huntly,' the chief of 'the gay Gordons,' enjoyed the soubriquet of 'The Cock o' the North,' and was also popularly known as 'The Guidman o' the Bog,' from his stronghold in the Bog of Sight, now known as Gordon Castle. During the great struggles towards the close of the last century, more than one regiment, raised for the service of the Crown, attested the influence still wielded by the Duke of Gordon. The last of these regiments, the 92d (Gordon Highlanders), which was rapidly recruited through the personal exertions of the Duchess of the day (known as the Great Duchess), still remains one of the best known in the British Army, and was, by the late Army Localisation Scheme, linked with the 93d (Sutherland Highlanders), and has its depot at Aberdeen.
"The Lordship or Thanedom of Strathbogie comprehended about 120 square miles along both sides of the river; but the modern Presbytery of that name is of much greater extent — comprising twelve parishes, situated in Aberdeen, Banff, and Moray shires. The Presbytery of Strathbogie attained much notoriety during 'The Ten Years' Conflict' in the Church of Scotland. Seven of its ministers were suspended by the General Assembly for having inducted a minister at Marnoch in opposition to the wishes of the majority (all except one) of the parishioners, in defiance of an Act of Assembly called the Veto Act. The law-courts exonerated the suspended ministers, and declared the Act of Suspension of the General Assembly null and void"—a decision which mainly led to the Disruption of 1843."
Strathbogie is famous for a reel that bears its name, "The Reel of Bogie," and for more than one good song and ballad. One of these, and perhaps the best known, is the "The Three-Gir'd Cog:"
There's cauld kail in Aberdeen,
I canna want my cogie;
Johnny Smith has got a wife
Wha scrimps him o' his cogie;
I canna want my cogie;
Twa-three toddlin* weans they hae,
The pride o' a' Stra'bogie;
Oh, wae betide the cogie 1
She fand him ance at Willie Sharp's,
Oh, wae betide the cogie!
Yet here's to every honest soul
I canna want my cogie;
An answer to this popular lyric was composed by Alexander, fourth Duke of Gordon, and was also pretty popular:—
There's cauld kail in Aberdeen,
Oin I ha'e but a bonnie lass
An' ye may sit up a' the nicht,
And drink till it be braid daylicht;
Gie me a lass baith clean and ticht
In cotillions the French excel;
John Bull loves country dances;
Mynheer an allemande prances;
Danced to the reel o' Bogie.
Come, lads, and view your partners weel,
I'll tak' this lassie to mysel',
Now, piper lad, bang up the spring;
The country fashion is the thing,
To prie their mou's ere we begin
Now ilka lad has got a lass,
Save yon auld doited fogie,
As they do in Stra'bogie;
To dance the reel o' Bogie.
Now a' the lads ha'e done their best,
Like true men o' Stra'bogie;
And tipple out a cogie.
To dance the reel o' Bogie.
Of Gartly itself there is nothing particular to be said. The parish is partly in Aberdeenshire and partly in Banffshire. The conical hill opposite the station is called Kirknie, and slates are quarried in it . The country is rich farming land down the vale, till we reach Huntly
5 miles from Gartly. 40f „ „ Aberdeen.
Huntly is the principal town of Strathbogie, its capital, so to speak. It is a burgh of barony, the Duke of Richmond and Gordon being the feudal superior, and its population with the parish is about 4000. Prettily situated on a ridge of rising ground, it is neatly built with good streets and a spacious market square. "Huntly stands on an angle of land at the juncture of the Deveron and the Bogie, and, being surrounded by rising grounds, has a most comfortable cosy aspect about it. The most favourable view of the town is to be had as we approach per rail from the south, as the eye can not only range all over the town, but take in the finely varied background, conspicuous in which are the ruins of Huntly Castle, Huntly Lodge (the residence for long of the late Dowager Duchess of Gordon), and the wood-clothed Bin Hill of Huntly, rising to the height of 1032 feet above the level of the sea." There are some fine buildings in the town, most prominent of all being the Gordon schools, erected by the Dowager Duchess in memory of her husband George, the fifth and last Duke of Gordon, as the
legend on his statue in Castle Street, Aberdeen, sadly tells. They are situated at the entrance of the castle park, the drive to the lodge passing under the arched central tower, and the schools and teachers' houses being placed at each side. "It is indeed," says Grant, "a noble memorial both of the deceased Duke and of the practical and munificent benevolence of the Duchess of Gordon." The front is to the principal street of Huntly, and the back towards the pleasure grounds of Huntly Lodge, which are entered through an archway in the centre of the building. Inscribed over the archway on the outside we read,
"Gordon Schools, erected in Memory of George Fifth Duke of Gordon, by his widow: founded 1839, opened 1841."
Within the arch on the right hand is placed a marble bust of the late Duke, and on the left one of his widow: both by Campbell the sculptor. Over the point of egress is this inscription :— "These Memorials of George, Fifth Duke of Gordon, and his Widow, Elizabeth, Duchess of Gordon, are placed here in testimony of the respect and affection of an attached tenantry and a faithful people."
In a description of the castle, which stands beyond within the grounds, we may follow Grant. He says—
"As we are informed that we may enter the grounds and visit the old castle on any lawful day, without any one finding fault with us, if we only observe the polite injunction, 'Please to keep off the grass,' we shall avail ourselves of the privilege. Strolling for about half a mile down an avenue, skirted with ornamental trees and shrubs, we come in front of the magnificent ruins of Huntly Castle, great even in decay; but we must go a little further ere we can obtain possession of the keys. This we do by calling at the next cottage standing on the rocky brink of the Deveron, where the river is spanned by the bridge on the avenue leading to Huntly Lodge. The cottage is not a couple of hundred yards off; but ere we knock at its door and make our request, let us stand for one moment on the bridge and gaze into the limpid waters as they ripple on their rocky way. This is a sweet romantic spot such as might delight the soul of poet or sentimental maiden who love to wander lone where murmuring waters flow and scented wildwoods spread their sheltering arms. But we have to deal with facts, and not with sentiments, so let me take this opportunity to tell you that the Deveron rises in the Cabrach hills, and, pursuing a winding north-easterly course through Aberdeen and Banff shires, falls into the German Ocean at the town of Banff. Its length may be about 60 miles, and it has a good reputation as a trouting and salmon stream. The scenery along its lower banks is delightful, but its beauties above Huntly are of a sterner aspect. Now we knock at the door of the porter's lodge, receive the keys, and approach the ruin through the surrounding woods. Standing on a rising ground, with the Deveron in its rear, and what must have been a moat in front, with its thick walls and towers of defence in sufficient preservation to indicate its former strength, the ruin carries back the mind to ages when Huntly was 'Cock o' the North.'
"When might was right, possession law,
"The Comyns or Cummings, the first lords of the Castle, as we have previously remarked, forfeited their lands and castles, and Sir Adam Gordon received a grant of this castle and the lands of Strathbogie from Robert the Bruce. Sir Adam's son, Sir Alexander, was the first Gordon who took the title of Lord of Huntly. About the close of the fifteenth century, the Lords of Huntly became Earls; in 1599, Marquesses; and in 1684, Dukes of Gordon. On the death of George, fifth Duke of Gordon, in 1836, the title of Marquess of Huntly devolved on the Earl of Aboyne, and is now held by the son of the same. The Gordon estates were inherited by the late Duke of Richmond, whose mother was the eldest sister of the last Duke of Gordon, and are now the property of his son, the present
Duke of Richmond [and Gordon, the Dukedom of Gordon having been conferred on him in 1876.] The Castle of Strathbogie was almost entirely destroyed after the battle of Glenlivet in 1594, and rebuilt in 1602, under the title of Huntly Castle, by George, first Marquess of Huntly, who married Henrietta Stewart, daughter of the first Duke of Lennox. These rudely built vaults and ivy-covered walls, round what appears to have been the court of the Castle, are supposed to be vestiges of the Castle of Strathbogie. The mass of better preserved buildings before us must have been the more recently erected Huntly Castle. On a nearer survey, we observe above what appears to have been the principal inner entry door, a good deal of partially traceable heraldic sculpture, amongst which we can make out the Royal Arms of Scotland, with the inscription—
J R A R
6 S (King James the sixth.) (Queen Anne Stewart.)
And the Huntly arms initialed
G. M. H. H. S. M. H.
(George, Marquess (Henrietta Stewart, Marof Huntly.) chioness of Huntly.)
"On the lintel, the date 1602 may with difficulty be traced. Going round to the front, we have two round towers, flanking the building on the east and west, and the principal apartments of the castle between them. Over the upper row of windows in that part of the building between the two towers, runs a broad belting, bearing the inscripions the one over the other—
George • Gordovn . First • Marqvs • Of • Hv. Henrietta • Stevart • Marqvsse . Of • Hv.
The rest of the inscription—likely ntlie, to complete the HV.'s—has been broken down. "We shall look into the interior now, but we cannot afford time to speak of the vaulted chambers individually, neither would we willingly descend into the dungeon under the east tower, for the way is steep and pitchy dark, and the smell dank and noisome; but we must climb the spiral staircase of the west tower, and from its top enjoy a brief survey extending over hill and dale—over Huntly Lodge, and lawn, and forests, stretching west away for miles along the Bin Hill, over the valleys of the Deveron and the Bogie, and the town of Huntly. Fain could we linger here, but time's up, and back we fly to Huntly station.
"How quick is a glance of the mind I
The third Duke of Gordon's brother was Lord Lewis Gordon of " the Fortyfive," and the hero of the popular Scottish ballad—
O send Lewie Gordon hame,
Ohon my Highlandman,
0 I to see his tartan trews,
That's the lad that I'll gang wi'.
This lovely youth of whom I sing,
01 to see this princely one
George Macdonald, in his story of "Alec Forbes of Howglen," introduces Huntly old Castle, and the extract may be interesting to visitors. It is as follows:—
"The red light melted away the mist between them, and they walked in it up to the ruined walls. Long grass grew about them, close to the very door, which was locked, that, if Old Time could not be kept out, younger destroyers might. Other walls stood around vitrified by fire—the remnants of an older castle still, about which Iamblichus might have spied the lingering phantoms of many a terrible deed.
"They entered by the door in the great tower, under the spiky remnants of the spiral stair projecting from the huge circular wall. To the right, a steep descent, once a stair, led down to
the cellars and the dungeon ; a terrible place, the visible negations of which are horrid and need no popular legend, .such as Alec had been telling Kate, of a walled-up door and a lost room, to add to their influence. It was no wonder that, when he held out his hand to lead her down into the darkness and through winding ways to the mouth of the far-off Beehive dungeon— it was no wonder, I say, that she should shrink and draw back. A few rays came through the decayed planks of the door, which Alec had pushed to behind him, and fell upon the rubbish of centuries sloping in the brown light and damp air down into the abyss. One larger ray from the key-hole fell urjon Kate's face, and showed it blanched with fear and her eyes distended with effort to see through the gloom. . . .
"' Gin ye want to gang up than, I'll lat ye see the easiest road. It's roun' this way.' And she pointed to a narrow ledge between the descent and the circular wall, by which they could cross to where she stood. But Alec, who had no desire for Annie's company, declined her guidance, and took Kate up a nearer though more difficult ascent to the higher level. Here all the floors of the castle lay in dust beneath their feet, mingled with fragments of chimney-piece and battlement. The whole central space lay open to the sky. . . .
"After they had rambled over the lower part of the building, Alec took Kate up a small winding stair, past a succession of empty doorways like eyeless sockets, leading no whither, because the floors had fallen. Kate was so frightened by coming suddenly upon one after another of these defenceless openings, that, by the time she reached the broad platform, which ran all bare of battlement or parapet around the top of the tower, she felt faint; and, when Alec scampered off like a goat to reach the bartizan at the other side, she sank in an agony of fear upon the landing of the stair. . . .
"Seized with a terror she did not understand, Annie darted into the cavern between them, and sped down its steep into the darkness which lay there like a lurking beast. A few yards down, however, she turned aside, through a low doorway into a vault. B. rushed after her, passed her, and fell over a great stone lying in the middle of the way. Annie heard him fall, sprang forth again, and flying to the upper light found her way out, and left the discourteous knight a safe captive, fallen upon that horrible stair. A horrible stair it was: up and down those steps, then steep and worn, now massed into an incline of beaten earth, had swarmed for months together a multitude of naked children, orphaned and captive by the sword, to and from the trough where they fed like pigs amidst the laughter of the lord of the castle and his guests; while he who passed down there to the dungeons beyond had little chance of ever retracing his steps upwards to the light" (p. 282 et seq.)
451 miles from Aberdeen.
Leaving Huntly Station, the traveller catches first a sight of the gray ruined tower of the castle we have just been describing, and then a glimpse of the "meeting of the waters of Bogie and Deveron, and .presently he crosses the latter river by a handsome viaduct of five arches and 70 feet in height. He has now quitted Aberdeenshire and entered the county of Banff.
"Banffshire is bounded on the north by that part of the German Ocean called the Moray Firth; on the east and south by Aberdeenshire; and on the west by the counties of Moray and Inverness. Its greatest length from east to west along the shore, from the confines of Aberdeen to the confines of Moray, is reckoned 34 miles; and its greatest length, from the German Ocean, south-east to Ben Macdhui, the loftiest mountain in Great Britain, is about 67 miles. The superficial area of the county is estimated at 412,800 acres, about onethird of which is under cultivation, and the rest occupied by lofty mountain ranges, isolated hills, moors, mosses, and forests. The lands lying in the valleys and along the banks
of the Spey, the Deveron, and the Isla, are moderately fertile and pleasant to inhabit, but much of the uplands are thin, cold, and unsheltered. The exposed situation of much of the county, the vast tracts of uncultivated moor, moss, and damp soil, and the lofty mountain ranges, clothed with snow during many months in the year, combine to give the climate of Banffshire the character of being far less genial than the Lowlands of Aberdeenshire or the Laigh of Moray. Banff abounds with limestone; and a number of quarries in various parts of the county are very profitably worked. The principal towns are Banff and Macduff, Cullen and Portsoy, on the coast; and Keith and Dufftown in the interior; all of which have the advantage of railway communication except Cullen. The main line crosses the county at the narrowest part, running from east to west by Keith." Rothiemay is the first station in Banffshire.
James Gordon, "the parson of Rothiemay" in the middle of the 17th century, was a younger son of the celebrated antiquary of that date, Robert Gordon of Straloch, and besides assisting his father in making map3 of Scotland, wrote a narrative of the events so well described as "The Trubles." This narrative is known as "Gordon's History of Scots Affairs." He is to be distinguished from Patrick Gordon of Ruthven, who also wrote a history dealing with the same period under the title of "A Short Abridgment of Britaine's Distemper." Aberdeenshire also boasts another historian of the same period—Spalding, the author of "Memorials of the Troubles in Scotland." All of the three wrote from the Royalist standpoint .
There is nothing of interest to be seen from the station. The village lies two miles off to the right. Down the Deveron and on its north bank, but not in sight, are the mansion-houses of Rothiemay (W. J. Taylor, Esq.) and Mayen (Adam Hay Gordon, Esq.) Conspicuous to the east rises the Knock Hill, 1408 feet, and Deskford Hill, 956 feet.