Hoo it wis then … Nae nice

They say that a wee bit o torture dis ye guid

Ye’ve hud a few weeks freedom frae ma ramblins so mibbe it’s time tae dieve ye again aboot the past.
Somethin a wee bit different this time.

penitentstool copy Supposin ye’d been misbehavin, ah’ll nae mention hoo, an wis caught oot. The penitent stool wud be brocht oot in the kirk an ye’d huv tae sit in fu view o the congregation fur as lang as the kirk elders decreed … dependin on yer supposed crime. At the least it wud be vera embarassin if no mortifyin.An no jist fur yersel, whit aboot yer family?

torture1 copy Mibbe ye wur a thief or hud done somethin mair serious. Fancy they scissors cuttin aff yer ears or the end o yer nose withoot ony anaesthetic? Naw ah didna think sae.

torture2 copy As fur a wummin whae cannae keep her mooth shut,or is accused o aye complainin. Weel this delectable heid
piece wud be fastened on an locked, again fur as lang as wis decided.
Pair wummin hud nae say … literally. Some o them hud a bit gangin unner
the tongue as weel wi sharp nodules on it.

torture3 copy Mibbe ye kent a secret or wis accused o sic a thing. Or mibbe the law jist wantit ye tae confess tae somethin, whether ye’d done it or no didna maitter as lang as ye said the richt thing. Thumbscrews tichtened and tichtened wud fairly focus the mind.

This kinda torture wis common in 17th century Scotland so think yersels lucky.
Mony a covenanter experienced the shears, or the tongue brank, or the thumbscrews, or worse lik the boot whaur the hale leg wis inside a wooden boot then staves hammered in makin it tichter an tichter. Ah huvna got a guid pictur o ane … Mibbe jist as weel. It’s nae nice. This wis a favourite torture fur covenantin rebels.

surgeon2 copy An if ye wurna vera weel an needed a wee operation. Fancy this wee selection o tools tae dae the job?

As fur the stool …

penitentstool copy Weel namin an shamin is done differently noo that’s aw … think social media an whit it’s capable o dain tae a reputation.

When ye see aw they it tells us that times huv chainged fur the better. Agreed?

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A week in the life o Richard Cameron

covenaterbadge 338 years ago on 22nd July Richard Cameron, whae wis ane o the maist important Covenanters, had his D day.

Why ah’m a tellin ye this? … Weel he features in ma 2nd book ‘Dark Times’ which ah hope ye’ll want tae read when it appears. Cameron’s kent as the ‘Lion o the Covenant’ Gies ye a clue whit he wis like. A wee tad radical … Naw totally radical and that convinced he wis richt that arguin wi him wis oot the question.
Some o the things he got up tae scare me witless. He certainly wis as brave as they come.
The Cameronian regiment wis cawed aifter him an very prood o that.

He wis also a great preacher, that guid he drew crowds o ower a thoosand on several occasions tae his open air meetings. Can ye see that happenin the day? Dinna answer.
Ye also huv tae mind he wis dain aw this when it wis illegal tae preach lik that an illegal tae go an hear a sermon oot in the open insteid o in a kirk as approved by the government. If caught ye cud be fined, or tortured, or even shot…. Quite a few paid a penalty so folk musta wantit tae hear him. He wis kent as ‘God’s moothpiece’ quite a compliment for a man in his twenties. This photo shows him on horseback giein it laldy.
cameronhorse copy
chouse He wis born in this hoose in the photo, in the Fife village o Falkland, the son o a merchant an weel brocht up. He went tae Saint Andrews University, comin awa wi a Masters o Arts degree so he wis a brainy cheel.
At first he worked as a schoolmaister alang wi an Episcopalian curate but that didna last long. He wis soon involved wi the Presbyterians, took tae the preachin lik a duck tae watter an travelled aboot the south-west o Scotland for a while afore goin ower tae Holland whaur his fiery passion really taen aff. He wis ordained there, in Rotterdam, then came back tae challenge the problems he’d left ahint in Scotland.

He wis totally agin everythin Charles 11 claimed for the crown, totally against the Privy Council an the great Lords whae governed the land on behalf o the king.
Ah think ye can guess he wis in for a difficult time.

Strangely enough Richard Cameron wisna even in Scotland at the time o Bothwell Brig he wis in Holland, probably reflectin on the strange providence that hud taen him oot his beleagered country for the first time in his life.
Here he came under the influence o anither, aulder, mair senior meenister McWard whae’d urge him tae become the lion, tae become the witness tae the truth and save the country’s conscience afore it wis too late.
Hooivver, McWard hud nae intention o dain this himsel. He’d bide in Holland, safe an soond, behavin lik a puppet master pooin the strings.

First Cameron needed tae be ordained. This taen place in the Scottish kirk in Rotterdam in late July 1679. It followed the traditional practice o layin hands on the candidate’s heid in token o his investment in the office o the ministery. It still happens the day in the Church o Scotland..
At this point thur wis a strange happenin. Maister McWard hud a sudden vision o the future, so vivid that it taen him awa frae whaur he wis an landed him on an Ayrshire moorland in the future, a year aheid on a day in July 1680. He seemed in a trance fur a guid few meenits an ivverythin stopped till he opened his een again. Aw this is recorded as havin happened so weird as it is ah dinna doubt it.
Finally he turned tae the watchers and cawed oot “Behold aw ye, here is the heid o a faithfu meenister an servant o Christ whae shall lose the same for his maister’s interest, an it’ll be set up afore the sun an moon in the public view o the world.” Scary stuff.
layingonhands A prediction lik this wud hae pit maist folk aff but Cameron … naw. He wis awa hame only a few weeks later, arrivin at Newcastle an makin his way tae south-west Scotland whaur he did a bit o preachin an learnt hoo dangerous it wis, hoo he’d huv tae hide frae the troopers noo scourin the countryside fur the likes o him.

Undeterred he began a roond o visits tae mony meenisters whae hud kept thur heids doon since the defeat at Bothwell. They wur aw hopin if they kept thur noses clean thur wud be nae mair arrests, or torture, or hangin.
Cameron tried tae persuade them tae join in his intention tae field preach, tried tae convince them that this wis the way furrit, tae rouse the folk tae mair resistance against the government.
Nane wud hae it so he cursed them an turned his back on them aw an set oot tae dae it himsel. He wis that determined …. An he did.
This bit appears in ‘Dark Times’ an gies ye a feel o the man himsel.

Cameron taks aff on his field preachin mission. Ane ither preacher, an aulder man, Donald Cargill, agreed wi him on jist aboot ivvery aspect an joined in wi Cameron’s plans fur field preachin. Sometimes they wur thegither or they’d travel in the opposite direction tae try an reach as mony folk as possible.
They baith covered great distances maistly across the south o Scotland. No the easiest terrain tae journey on wi rough moors, an hills, an bogs, an few roads. Apart frae the effort o jist goin tae as mony places thur safety wis aye at risk fur the govenment hud a constant number o troopers scourin the country on the look oot for onythin suspicious.

Ane o Cameron’s problems wis his popularity. Ay, it helped huvin folk willin tae hide him, gie him a bed fur the nicht as weel as feedin him but some got that cairried awa wi him an his preachin that they stertit tae accompany him on his travels frae place tae place. Gradually he hud a big group alang wi him, some on horseback, some walkin. As thur numbers increased it got easier fur them tae be seen, tae be spied on an talked aboot. Much mair dangerous fur them aw. He hud a gid few narra escapes.
Ye’ll mibbe mind Lucas Brotherstone the meenister iin ‘Changed Times,’ weel he’s involved in aw this. No that he’s muckle help. Mibbe ah shudna gie that awa.

preaching copy Ye’ll notice in this photo that while the meenister is preachin in the open air thur’s at least twa lookoots …. jist in case.
Later when the Cameronian regiment wur at thur devotions they aye hud four pickets posted. Afore the service cud stert the pickets wud need tae report if aw wis clear. This went on richt up till the regiment wis dismanded in the 1960’s. Auld habits die hard.

Cameron wis a powerfu preacher, very direct but peruasive in his delivery which hud folk listenin an agreein wi him. In nae time he wis gainin mair an mair support.
Nixt thing he taks his plan fur resistance a stage further.
22nd June 1680 alang wi twenty followers he rides intae the wee toun o Sanquhar in Ayrshire an fixes a declaration on the merkat cross. Ye’ll note the date … the aSanquhar townhall copynniversary o Bothwell Brig. Very symbolic.
The declaration denounced King Charles an the government in the strongest language, left the king an government in nae doubt. as tae thur failins

When the Privy Council heard aboot the declaration they wur in a richt lather, declared that Cameron wis guilty o high treason an pit up a bounty o 5,000 merkson him … deid or alive.
No that this stopped sic a determined man. He kept goin. But lik ah said earlier things are hottin up fur Cameron. Few folk wur willin tae betray him but the temptation must hae been strong wi 5,000 merks reward fur his capture.
The government troops stertit tae search frae Clydesdale intae Nithsdale an Galloway, westwards tae Cumnock an Ayr. A huge, wild area wi the roughest o terrain an whiles no the best o weather. Come whit may they wur determined tae catch him
The Earl o Airlie an his troops wis oot ivverywhaur followin each reported sightin but somehoo they either arrived ower late or he wisna there.
Extra spies an informers wur recruited, an the hale area wis pit unner martial law which wi far frae pleasant fur the locals.
It got that desperate that the great General Tam Dayel
l himsel left his base in Edinburgh an moved tae Lanark tae supervise the operation. Three weeks passed withoot success. Cameron wis still free.

Gradually Cameron gied up tryin tae travel wi as few numbers as possible. The way things wur goin folk tellt him that mibbe thur wis safety in numbers.severalhorseswalking copy copy

Aifter a sermon at Kypewater near Lesmahagow he hud as mony as twentythree horse riders an mair than forty on foot followin him. Mair than sixty on the move is hard tae hide but his supporters insisted this wis the best way furrit. They seemd tae believe a confrontation wi the government wis comin an the mair ready tae defend the man the better. Thur’s mair aboot it in ma second book ‘Dark Times.’

Mair information on his movements came in, mair chasin taen place but still he remained free. Aboot noo he wis joined wi ane o his strongest supporters, Hackston o Rathillet. He’d been a fierce fighter at Bothwell as weel as ane o the nine wi murdered Archbishop Sharpe on Magus muir on 3 May 1679. Sharpe hud a terrible death but in truth he wis also a man mair than askin fur it aifter the way he’d tortured as mony he believed wur Covenanters. It wis definitely if ye’re nae wi me ye’re agin me. Hackston is important ye’ll se why the morn. Ye’ll also see hoo mibbe Karma dis exist.

cpreaching Durin his field preachin Cameron wud gie communion tae those as wantit it, baptised mony a bairn, conducted a few weddins, as weel as gien a rousin sermon. Aw in the open air amang twedding copyhe heather an the moorland. No quite hoo we dae things nooadays.



When he left Kypewatter he headed for Sorn in Ayrshire an lodged at Meadowhead Farm north o Sorn wi a strong supporter William Mitchell an his family.
Meanwhile his supporters wur exercisin, gettin ready fur the confrontation they thocht wis aboot taetroperssearcihng tak place.

When Cameron got up on the mornin o the 22nd July he seemed tae ken it wud be an eventfu day. An so it wis.
His supporters wur jittery fur they’d heard somebody hud gied awa thur location. Because o that they’d spent the nicht on the moor an in the mornin checked aw roond tae see if thur wis ony movement. Aw wis clear.
As Cameron left Meadowhead farm the daughter o the hoose brocht him water tae wash his face an hands. When he wis feenished he luked at his haunds an is reported as sayin, “I hae need tae mak them clean fur there are mony tae see them.”
Prophetic indeed.
Oot on the moor aw seemed quiet an the 60 or so men set oot towards Muirkirk. Naethin went wrang an they made guid progress, arrivin at a spot kent as Airds Moss in the aifternoon. They stopped there fur a bit tae eat an a rest when a local shepherd appeared wi the warnin, “Troopers ken whaur ye are an are comin.”
An so they wur. Within meenits a mounted force cud be seen in the distance.
A few men wantit tae scatter but Cameron wis hain nane o it an his strong supporter Hackston began organisin a defence.
He picked the edge o a mossy marsh an lined them up tae face the enemy. Ye’ll mibbe mind a marsh helped the Covenanters at Drumclog.
Thur wis a quick prayer endin wi, “Spare the green an tak the ripe.” This is a favaorite quote frae Cameron.The government leader wis Andrew Bruce o Earshall. Years before he’d been a neighbour o the Cameron family an kent them weel so he’d nae difficulty in kennin which ane o the rebels wis Richard Cameron.
Twenty dragoons attacked the flank o Cameron’s party. Hackston saw this an sent some men tae meet them while the rest advanced on the main government force.
A few shots wur fired an then baith sides got entangled in the marsh. The riders wur forced tae dismount. It wis haund tae haund and fierce. Later Bruce wud describe the rebels as, “‘Fightin lik mad men.”fighting copy
This went on fur aboot hauf an hoor afore Bruce’s better equipped men got the upper haund, killed Cameron an his brither Michael an the heart went oot o the rebels.
9 Covenanters an 28 troopers wur deid … So the rebels a gied guid accoont o thursels.moorland The rest o the rebels scarpered across the moor leavin the deid an 4 captives. An important ane wis Hackston. He’d mair than git his come uppance, endin hanged, drawn, an quartered in the Edinburgh Grassmarket. Mibbe auld Archbishop Sharpe hud the last laugh on his murder … Or mibbe it wis Karma.drawn&quartered copy

Cameron’s heid an haunds wur cut aff, bagged an cairried awa as the proof necessary fur the reward o 5,000 merks. His heid an haunds eventually landed on top o the Netherbow in Edinburgh as a warnin tae ony ithers plannin rebellion. So he wis richt … Monetherbpwny did see his face an haunds. Hackston’s heid an haunds sat alangside. A sorry sicht indeed.

Ye’ll read mair aboot this episode in book twa ‘Dark Times.’

Aifter this the only ither field preacher on the loose wis Donald Cargill … He got captured an then hanged an the Covenanters wur left withoot ony leader. At least they wur till anither came on the scene.
Ye see thur’s aye anither yin.
He wis James Renwick, jist as determined as Cameron. But his story is fur anither day. He appears in book three ‘End o Times.’

So that’s that … The Lion o the Covenant’s deid but nivver forgotten, still remembered, talked aboot, argued aboot, written aboot. Whit he did wisna jist pairt o oor heritage it still maitters the day.airdsmossmemorial copy
Airds Moss memorial. This lets ye see hoo desolate a spot it really is.

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22nd June 1679

Battle o Bothwell Brig …. a tragedy

Richt here we go wi the Battle o Bothwell Brig but it’ll need tae be in twa pairts fur it’s ower complicated.monmouthon horse

Ah’ll gie ye the line up as it appears in ma book’Changed Times.’
Robert Hamilton the Covenanting army commander. His richt title is Sir Robert Hamilton o Preston an Fingalton. Luks a richt tube. Is a richt tube. In ither words a richt waste o space. Ye can mibbe guess whit comes nixt.monmouth Duke o Monmouth is sent by King Charles tae sort oot the rebels. A grand gentleman an nae fool when it comes tae poshairlie2military strategy. An of course thur’s Claverhoose an Jamie Ogilvie, the grand Earl o Airlie, a richt auld rat bag.wmorange

John Steel is ma main character. A farmer an nae lukin vera happy as weel he micht fur the battle line up disna luk vera promisin.

flobothwelllineup Aw that’s stoppin Monmouth’s army is the bridge across the Clyde bein protected by an auld canon brocht frae Douglas Castle. Ane wee canon against a hale battle hardened, weel trained army. Haurly bears thinkin aboot.

 Bothwell Brig …. The battle pairt twa 

The Covenant banner flutters bravely in the early mornin sun on 22nd June 1679. Duke o Monmouth, the royalist leader, decides tae gie the rebels a chance tae negotiate.banner copy Robert Hamilton, the so cawed covenantin leader, refuses tae even speak. Aifter that thur’s nae way back.

Men are on the brig wi ane cannon. The brig is high an narra an fur a while they haud thur ain against the royalist hordes. Meanwhile Robert Hamilton jist sits on his horse at the edge o Hamilton Palace wood withoot sayin anither word. Nae orders, nae strategy, nae supplies o gunpooder fur the muskets, nae nuthin but ill trained men wi swords an pikes.


Within an hoor the wee cannon runs oot an splutters tae a halt. Nae further supplies are forthcomin. Only swords an the brute force o a wheen brave men hauds Monmouth’s trained men an cavalry back a while langer. As the rebel fighters grow tired thur forced back across the brig an the royalists hae the upper haund. Within meenits 15000 o them swarm across the brig towards 4000 uncertain covenantin rebels waiitn on the river bank.
Nae quarter will be gien. In nae time thoosands are deid, or wounded, or captured, or fleein. Whit ye caw a route.
Revenge taks ower. The wounded an the captured will wish they wur deid when whit’s aheid comes tae pass.bothwellfighting copy

In ‘Changed Times’ John Steel fights bravely durin aw this but at the hinner end he sees hoo hopeless it is an wisely decides tae turn an retreat afore it’s ower late.
Jist then the great earl o Airlie, Jamie Ogilvie, ane o the royalist cavalry leaders, spies him, sees John’s fine horse an thinks ah’ll hae this. He has a go. John an him clash …. Airlie gits the worse o it …. John escapes. Ye’ll git the details in the book.

This is whit ye caw a definin meenit in John’s life. In the nixt book ‘Dark Times’ ye’ll discover jist hoo definin. The consequences are far frae pleasant, an nae jist fur John.
His wife, weans, onybudy whae kens him are fur it…..
But ye’ll need tae wait a wee while fur that bit.

Finally the modern memorial tae the occasion. Folk drive by constantly nivver gien a second thocht tae whit happened here on the banks o the Clyde in 1679 an yit it still reverberates doon tae this vera day.


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Golden Jubilee Service

12th June Dalserf Kirk in the Clyde Valley, Scottish Covenanter Memorials Association Golden Jubilee …. An it didna rain.

dalserfservicechurch copyvillage1 copy

Whae are they? …. A bunch o die hard enthusiasts that gang aw roond the country tryin tae luk aifter memorials an plaques fur Covenantin folk …. aw voluntary. An thur nae alane they huv aboot 350 members frae aw the airt an pairts, even abroad.
Since this is the history period ah’m writin aboot ah’ve met a few an ken a wee bit aboot them, ordinary folk dain special things tae preserve oor heritage. Ah wis that impressed wi thur commitment that ah joined as weel. Each tae thur ain madness ah suppose.
Unlike last week’s conventicle at Drumclog it wis a mair general event altho we did hae some auld Cameronians mindin us hoo it aised tae be done … Four pickets or guards wur set oot then anither cam back an tellt the meenister ‘pickets set, nae enemy approaches so the service can begin.’
wreathprayer copy2guards.jpggrave copy
A piper played, the colours wur cairied then dipped in respect tae aw the martyrs frae the past as weel as them as jist suffered fur their beliefs. In this parish alane 35 folk wur sent tae trial in ane year alane. Multiply that across the country an ye git an idea hoo muckle sufferin went on durin this time.
Thur wis a grand turn oot this aifternoon, As weel as the Lord Porvost an Deputy Lord Lieutenant we hud a richt motley collection o folk, plenty curiosity wi cameras clickin tae record the moment, especially when wreaths wur laid at a grave stane tae the Laurie Family. They wur staunch covenanters an due special respect …. except ah wis a wee bit surprised tae discover the main man William Laurie, whae wis supposed tae be hung at the Edinburgh Grassmarket in 1683 an then reprieved at the last meenit, wisna mentioned on the stane. That ah dinna unnerstaun. Must try tae find oot.
Aifter a final psalm an prayer awbody went indoor fur a grand spread, an a lang catch up on this that an the ither.

oldsoldiers copyrespect copy

A wunner whit the original Covenanters wud hae made o aw this respect fur whit they did.
Ane thing fur sure …. History lived this aifternoon an oor heritage wisna forgotten in this pairt o Clydesdale


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2016 Drumclog Conventicle

drum2 copy

drum copy

5th June 2016

TODAY ….. 337 years and 5 days aifter the Battle at Drumclog mair than 100 folk turned up for a Conventicle in memory o the Covenanters stand against John Graham o Claverhoose and his royalist troopers. It wis a success fur the Covenanters but sadly their only success that year. In a maitter o weeks Claverhoose wud hae his revenge fur bein chased awa.
This aifternoon the sun shone on a motley crowd o aw ages. Psalms were sung, prayers said, a challengin few words thrown at us by the meenister and then we aw luked back at the field and fell silent as we minded whit happened oot there, hoo important it is tae oor Scottish heritage. Aifterwards we aw had drinks an shortbreid and mony a talk taen place. Aw very civilised compared tae 300 years ago.drum5 copybattlesceneclosememorial
There wis three very welcome visitors, aw the way frae the USA in tribute tae their ancestor Thomas Brownlee who fought in the battle. A lang way tae come but they seemed real prood tae be pairt o the commemoration.drum4 copy
The Battle o Drumclog appears in ‘Changed Times,’ my first book in a trilogy aboot 17th century Scotland. Ah’d aready done research aboot the battle but staundin there starin at the big, gree field fu o jaggy thistles hud me thinkin aboot the anger o the Presbyterians, mindin hoo they lowped frae tussock tae tussock as they fired at the troopers. Ah cud even hear the noise in ma heid, see the musket smoke.
Here’s whit it wis aw aboot ….. Scottish Presbyterians who resisted King Charles 11 determination tae mak them adopt the English style o worship found themsels declared rebels against the king and made tae suffer the consequences.
1st June 1679 Rev Thomas Douglas wis takin a conventicle, an illegal open-air service, at a spot kent as Glaisser Law, nae far frae Loudon Hill. Mair than 250 folk had turned up fur the occasion. Unfortunately the Royalist commander, John Graham o Claverhoose, whae became Bonnie Dundee, wis in the area. He’d been tipped aff aboot the conventicle and set oot tae deal wi the rebels.
Reverend Douglas got news that mounted troopers were comin. He wis defiant and tellt his congregation ‘Ye hae the theory noo fur the practice’ They aw agreed, said a prayer then mairched across the moor towards Stobieside at Drumclog and lined up tae wait for Claverhoose. There wis aboot 50 horsemen, 50 infantry wi guns, the rest hud pitchforks an halberds.
Claverhoose had collected a few prisoners alang the way and left them at North Drumclog farm afore sendin word tae the Covenanters demandin surrender.
They refused.
A stretch o boggy ground lay atween the twa sides, no guid for horses tae cross. At first there wis the odd shot back an furrit then the Covenanters, who kent hoo tae cross a bog stertit runnin furrit, pickin aff a mounted trooper then retreatin. Claverhoose decided tae pit an end tae this and ordered some troopers tae cross. Mistake. The horses panicked as they sank in the mud. Their riders were thrown aff and easily shot. The ither troopers defied Claverhoose and fled.
Claverhoose wis chased and nearly caught when ane o his pursuers managed tae stab his horse. The beast ran anither mile then fell deid. Luckily Claverhoose hud the horse frae his deid trumpeter alang wi him. He jumped ontae the fresh ane and escaped, aw the way tae Glesca.
That nicht
he’d write a sorrowfu report tae his commander in chief the 3rd Earl o Linlithgow warnin aboot increased rebellion.
Aifter the battle, or skirmish, dependin on yer point o view, the Covenanters got cairried awa wi themsels. Thoosands joined and they mairched against the King and Government. 21 days later the royalist army defeated them at the Battle o Bothwell Brig.
This wis only the stert. Years o sufferin wud follow for the Covenanter folk … 10 years afore it wis ower.



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If you were working class

What was it like in Changed Times?

outsidedoor copy Okay… lets step inside a typical farmhouse and see what we can find.
We’ll start with a kitchen laid out in usual way for 17th century Scotland. Looks rather romantic but take a closer look everything is workman like, useful, nothing fancy or even comfortable. And how about cooking family meals using that fire?

womanfire2 copy

As for the woman cooking on the griddle … It’s back and forward from the table, bending, stretching, checking the flames. You’ll notice she’s  well covered by a thick linen apron for protection. And how about washing up with no running water, no just turning the tap on, maybe a well outside, or maybe it’s some distance away. Fancy carrying a heavy water bucket? …. And maybe the weather isn’t kind like raining or sleet or even snow … Or may be you couldn’t be bothered … so no washing up gets done … And then what?
griddlecookingJPG copy Work in the house was considered women’s work. It was expected. They had little choice but get on with it.  Dare one whisper it’s aye been?
fruit copy No fine china here. Wood turning, earthenwar, forged metal. Finery was too expensive and wouldn’t last. Practicality was the name of the game … and as little expense as possible.
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 And so to bed after a long days work.It might be a dark cupboard with a door to shut out the cold. There wouldn’t be much air in there especially if you shared the bed. A cupboard bed was usually in the kitchen. Maybe the door gave a little more privacy as well as keeping the heat in.
If you’re rich enough it might be a posh one with silk hangings and a horse hair mattress.
poshbed copy  The cleaning and washing of big items like covers, sheets etc was a major problem, took hours of preparation, hours of work, never mind the drying and folding, the ironing, and finally putting away in a big kist or chest of drawers.
And don’t forget you have to pull the water up from from the well first, lug it to the wash house or into the kitchen hen heat it up in huge pans. Not fo the faint hearted or the weakly.
Sometimes there would be a large metal basin built on bricks above a small stove. Basin would be filled with water. How many trips back and forward to the well?  The fire would then be lit, flames teased to a good blaze and gradually the water would come to the boil … gradually.
The washing itself would be done with wooden paddles.
Once washed there was still rinsing to do. Just think about trying to lift out heavy, sodden sheets, wringing them out then carrying them outside to a bucket with clean water or down to a steam, wringing them again then hanging up to dry … provided it wasn’t raining. And if it was ?
And don’t forget the big basin with the dirty washing water. It now needs emptying and cleaning.
And once everything is dry enough it’s time to carry it all in, heat up a heavy metal iron on the fire and do the pressing before putting the clean, fresh linen away with sprigs of lavender in between the folds.
Still seem romantic?  What did I say about ‘and so to bed after a long day’s work?’

So far we’ve touched on very little but maybe you’re exhausted by all that work. More later…..

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Three Heidstanes

 Honouring Alexander Peden

graveyard2 copy.jpg Cumnock Graveyard

Aifter thur deid maist folk git a heidstane tae mark wur they lie. Some git naethin but that’s hoo it is. But hoo mony git three heidstanes, each ane mair grand than the yin afore?
That’s whit happened tae Sandy Peden. Alexander tae gie him his proper title.
He wis pursued wi the government till his death on 26th January 1686 an wis buried afore they caught up wi him. The first flat stane is his restin place in Cumnock graveyaird. The second heidstane is anither put up later an is jist aside the first slab.
This ane mentions hoo he wis dug up then buried again six weeks later.

pedan9 copy.jpg Slab stane o Sandy Peden’s restin place

The government wis that angry at missin the chance tae deal wi him alive they ordered troopers tae dig him up an then hang his corpse. Jist fur the show o the thing. Thur wis a fair stramash afore they gied up the idea. Nice folk in nice times. Mind ye ten years aifter Cromwell in England wis deid they dug him up,  hung his corpse then stuck his heid on a pole at Tyburn in London. And luk hoo important a man he hud been…. kent as Lord Protector o the hale country.
In they days when politics chainged naebody wis safe … even aifter death.

pedan8 copy.jpg Second upricht heidstane mentions the diggin up

pedan5 copy 2 Marble monument erected in Vistorian times

Finally thur’s oor Sandy’s poshest heidstane, mair o a monument than a heidstane, put up a hunner years later. Frae a simple slab lyin in the ground Sandy progressed tae a marble edifice wi posh writin on it …. He wis that weel thocht o.
The man himsel is still written aboot and gied the respect he deserves, his preachin skill talked aboot, his sermons read an analysed.
Ye’ll meet him in Changed Times an find oot he hud anither skill apart frae preachin the gospel… Ane ah find vera interestin fur a man o the cloth. He wis said tae hae the gift o second sicht. Indeed he prophesied a wheen things that cam true.
An odd man, a quiet, non violent man whae went his ane way dain whit he believed in as best he cud … an sufferin fur it alang the way.

 He deid at sixty … worn oot wi whit he’d been thru.

2trees copy.jpg Twa Hawthorns by Alexander Peden’s grave

A bonny tree wis planted beside his grave, a livin thing tae remind aw whae aw it o the livin word that Sandy preached…. Or so it’s recorded. Noo twa Hawthorns stand guard while maist folk hurry by unheedin o the drama represented in this quiet corner alangside a busy road. If ye jist stoap an luk, read the words on the stanes, then think …. The past is there .. No as far awa as we micht imagine an still affectin us altho we dinna often let on.


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Battle of Drumclog 1st June 1679

farmview copy Early in the morning of 1st June 1679 John Steel and his family set out from this peaceful farming scene for a prayer meeting at Drumclog, near Loudon Hill. It would prove an eventful day. For many who’d attend life was about to change forever. For John maybe more than most. In ‘Changed Times’ you’ll read all about Drumclog and how it affected John.
Loudon Hill is a volcanic peculiarity not far from the town of Strathaven and a landmark for miles around. The spot chosen for this prayer meeting was at Drumclog, close to here, almost on a road from Srathaven so not the wisest or most secret place. Since prayer meeting were illegal it was important not to be caught … or was it?
loudon3.jpg  John Graham of Claverhouse hears about the meeting and sets out from Strathaven to deal with the matter. Leading a platoon he assumes he’s nothing to do but round up the prayerful and march them to justice.
It didn’t quite work out that way. For a start he was heavily outnumbered and the prayerful had attitude, big time. They did invite the troopers to join them in prayer otherwise … clear off.


Incensed Graham ordered his men to charge. Unfortunately for Graham there was a stretch of bog between the troopers and the prayerful  …. The military horse stumbled in the mud, began to sink.covtroops6 Panic ensued while the prayerful jumped from tussock to tussock in the bog and picked off the helpless. It grew worse when more of the prayerful began to cross, firing muskets as they came. More troopers fell, one shot just missed Graham and killed his young cousin Cornet Graham.
Time for a swift exit. Graham grabbed the young man’s horse galloped off, holding it alongside his own horse. He was hotly pursued, almost caught, his pursuer coming close enough to sink his sword into Graham’s horse. Instead of falling the beast went into a frenzy and ran on for another mile johgraham copy 3before collapsing. Graham jumped across to the other horse and continued his flight …. all the way  to Glasgow.
That night he’d write a very careful letter to the Privy Council justifying what happened.
Now he was a man in need of revenge …. Within weeks he’d have that revenge and more.
battlescene.jpg Take a look at this photo  ….. It’s the scene of the battle. Doesn’t look much today. The dip in the middle is where the boggy ground is found
… I suspect that’s what really won the battle.
The prayerful were now jubilant although some of their own had been killed. You’ll find memorials to them in Stonehouse and Lesmahagow Old Parish Church graveyard. The success over Graham had the prayerful  believing themselves invincible. As news got out about their victory support flowed in. They decided it was time to march against the government.
That’s when everything began to go wrong, very wrong…. The stark consequences of this decision would be felt in Scotland for years. Changed Times explains the trigger.closememorial
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Black Bull Inn Moffat


John Graham lived in relative comfort in the Black Bull while he and his armed platoons scoured the surrounding  moors for rebels. In the south of Scotland he earned his nick name Bluidy Clavers which still sticks today. I do wonder how well he deserves it. He was a man of his time. They thought diffe johgraham copy 3rently, had different values then. He certainly was a faithful servant to both Charles 11 and later his brother James and took his duties very seriously, and yes many a rebel suffered or was killed on his watch.
Many blame him for being anti-Covenanter. This is somewhat misplaced. He was anti those who were agin the king … end of. He couldn’t have been truly anti-presbyterian for his wife came from a well known Covenanting family. Mind you they were anti-Clavers and cut her off without the proverbial shilling after her marriage.
Early in his career in Holland he saved the Duke of Orange’s life during a battle. Later he joined the english court as a mercenary, quickly proving his military ability, becoming a favourite as a straight talking man who got things done and didn’t suffer fools gladly. This of course led to many of the great and the good taking against him … Not that he seemed to care. He had the king’s ear.  That mattered.
At the end of his career he died fighting the forces of the same man whose life he saved many years before … What comes around comes to mind.
In ‘Changed Times’ my main character John Steel encounters John Graham and soon discovers how clever and dangerous a man he can be…..


Today the Black Bull is a pleasant hotel and proud of its Claverhouse
connection. However the plaque outside only attracts the extra curious among the many tourists who stop off in the town of Moffat otherwise they stream past on the ever present hunt for a real tourist experience.
In Clavers time Moffat was an established market town, dependent on local activities to sustain its businesses nothing like the the bonnie spot where tour buses now stop … It’s Tuesday so it’s Scotland.  Lets have a pee, enjoy a meal then stretch our legs up and down the double-sided main street, maybe even buy a souvenir, preferably tartan. What’s the next stop?  How many take away the faintest idea of the real place. How many even notice that plaque let alone wonder who he was … A man whose name and influence still reverberate through history to influence the present day. Bonnie Dundee indeed. I’m rather fond of him …. dangerous talk indeed.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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Fact or Fiction?

steelscross copy
John Steel a special character

The story of Changed Times is mostly carried by a character called John Steel. He is, was fact, was a farmer who lived near Lesmahagow and is buried in Lesmahagow Old Parish Churchyard.
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After what is known as the Glorious Revolution – when William of Orange became the British King and Protestantism was back in force John refurbished his farmhous. This was 1707. We know this as he carved the date on the gable end of his house along with the words PRAISE GOD.We don’t know how long he lived after that nor do we know his exact resting place in the kirkyard. Why? As a modest man he was buried under what is known as a plain thruchstane – with neither name nor date.
He doesn’t merit any mention in the Covenanting Encyclopoedia  while his cousin David, who was shot as a martyr, gets much credit and is listed in all the well known reference books.
                                                                                                                                               Head of Lanark braes today

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So why is John interesting?

Well, he escaped after the Battle of Bothwell and was on the run for ten … YES ten years without ever being caught. He lost his farm, his property, wife and family forced to live rough on the moor. And that’s only for starters. He even has the crossroads at the top of Lanark Brae named after him. A spot where he nearly was caught, nearly was murdered but escaped to fight on, except at the end of the troubles he was neither bitter not sought revenge. An unusual man at any time … never mind the 17th century.
Someone like that does interest me. Someone like that fires the imaginination. He did and so my John was born and walks across the pages of all three of my books about this period. I know him so well I’d recognise him if I met him for real but I won’t because … although I have plenty research how I used it has created fiction.
Some of my other characters are based on fact too but like John I had to take those facts then imagine how and why and what they did … And then they are interwoven with the purely made up characters who are based on background reference of those types of people … great fun as well as giving a strong thread through the story which I hope becomes convincing enough to take the reader there …. and believe.

Anyway we’ll see!

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