Battle of Mons Graupius

The battle of Mons Graupius was the first major battle between the Romans and Picts on Scottish soil in either AD83 or 84. The battle was the conclusion of a campaign of intimidation, pacification and conquest conducted by the governor Agricola after 79AD which as was intended to release the mineral wealth of Scotland to the Roman Empire. The normal Roman tactic was to conduct a campaign of destruction which either resulted in a pitched battle that Roman discipline could win or in the submission of tribes. In this case neither happened as the northern tribes simply kept away from the Roman army. The local tribes did conduct a successful guerilla campaign attacking outposts and small contingents.

After over wintering further south, Agrical returned to Scotland in 83AD and finding the tribal federation near Mons Graupius, erected a camp nearby. After the tribes declined to attack him, he marched out and attacked next day and through good discipline and the use of his cavalry reserve, rolled up the line of battle killing a supposed 10000 tribesmen at a cost of 300 dead. After the battle, Agricola returned south and later left britain.

The location of Mons Graupius has never been established and remains a mystery to this day.

Resources: excellent site on the battle and possible locations here and another from University of Chicago


Glasgow Gorbals

The Forgotten Gorbals

from Picture Post - 31st January 1948



Book and ballet brand it an evil quarter of Glasgow. It is indeed. Not because of the people in it. But because of the way they must live. It is high time change were made.

The air of calm that covers a multitude of horrors. Nearly 40,000 people live in the Gorbals. they live for, six eight to a room, often thirty to a lavatory, forty to a tap. they live in Britain's most abandoned slum.

At first sight, of an early morning, the Gorbals looks like any other poor area. Its flat wide streets are lined with flat-faced tenements. There is a pub on every comer and an undertaker's (open day and night) in almost every other block. The walls are covered with chalk messages: Love God, Vote for McShane, Kilroy was Here, Irish Border Must Go, and (fading now) Victory. Cats are every-where; and for good reason.

It is not until you get inside the tenements that you realise the Gorbals isno ordinary poor place. It is in fact an area that provides a very special version of the slum problem.

In its beginnings, the problem was one of immigration. A century ago, thousands of poor labourers began to arrive in Glasgow. They came to work on the new-fangled railways and the docks of the Clyde.

They came for higher wages, for fuller plates, for what they conceived to be a better way of life than was possible in starving Erin and the wasted Scottish Highlands. A big proportion packed themselves into 252 acres just over the Clyde south from the city centre, in the area known as the Gorbals. Till then the Gorbals had been 'A Good Address,' a place for successful lawyers, doctors, merchants to retire to. But now the speculators built tenemen

ts over the gardens and the orchards. They built them quickly and cheaply, to house folk whose standards were far lower than those prevailing in the Lowlands. And there the descendants of those folk, and the thousands of newcomers who have joined them, live today in poverty, squalor, and in the hope that things will be better in the afterlife.


(picture) Mary is sixteen. She works in a Bakery. she has the the fancies and foibles natural to a girl her age. she dreams of nice clothes, hamdsome suitors, happy times. But already her life is coloured by her surroundings. already futility and frustration stretch ahead. Already her dreams re losing their battle against reality.

North of the Gorbals are the black rat-ridden banks of the Clyde. South is the railway jungle that spreads out from the big Goods and Mineral Depot on Pollokshaws Road. The western end of the ward has the handsome classical terraces of Abbotsford Place and Warwick Street. The eastern end is bounded by the lowering mid-Victorian tenements

of Lawmoor Street. Within these bounds live some 40,000 shockingly-housed people.


(picture) Out in the street is a fading chalk scrawl: "Welcome Home, John" And here lies John under his army greatcoat. It is 11am. the rest of the family are long gome - his brothers to school, his 16 year old sister to work. In a thousand rooms, no bigger than this, some Gorbals folk sleep four to a bed.

The Gorbals has no large industries, and few small ones, where its residents may find work.

Some of the local girls have jobs at the 'hair factory,' the mattress-making establishment in Ballater Street. But most folk must go elsewhere to make a living. The ward is simply a vast lodging-house.

As a lodging-house, the Gorbals could hardly be worse. In it, people live huddled together 281 to the acre. They live in apartments that are mostly small, dark and dirty. They live five and six in a single room that is part of some great slattern of a tenement, with seven or eight people in the room next door, and maybe eight or ten in the rooms above and below. The windows are often patched with cardboard. The stairs are narrow, dark at all times and befouled not only with mud and rain. Commonly there is one lavatory for thirty people, and that with the door off.


Rents are low. The average is rather less than ten shillings a week for a room, or £4 for an eight-roomed house. But in some parts, particularly in the handsome westward section, it is common to find a single tenant will lease a whole house cheap and then_ sublet to other tenants, room by room, till even the kitchen and the bathroom have a family living in them. This section around Warwick Street was a respectable professional-class neighbourhood till only twenty years ago Nowadays its facades hide some of the worst horrors in the Gorbals. It is known as 'Chinatown' or “Burma”, because of the many Orientals—Indians mostly – who live there. Some investigators declare that sub letting racketeers may make nearly £2,000 a year from a single house hereabouts. But over most of the Gorbals, tenants pay the low 1914 rent, plus 40 per cent, for repairs, if they ever get done.


(picture) Mrs Lundy of Bedford Street, autctions bedding, crockery, clothes, The notice says "Goods not claimed in 7 days after first deposit will be sold"

Low rent is one reason why people stay in the Gorbals. Another reason may be the liking an Irishman has for an Irishman's company. And anyway, a man seeking to move now is lucky if he can find a place to go. Once the area had a large immigrant Jewish population, and the district round Gorbals Cross was called 'Little Jerusalem.' But many Jews left as their economic condition improved and nowadays, though you still see Jewish names over the shops, the main landmark at the Cross is Doyle's Irish House.

Not that the Gorbals is Irish only. There are probably just as many Scots in the ward, living in the same conditions, and having the same reactions; and you couldn't tell them apart, except by who goes to Mass and who stays at home. There is no discrimination between Scots and Irish. What they know is they are all fighting for a living together, and finding it an affair of ups and downs. Some work in the foundries, some in the shipyards, some on the docks.

Almost all are unskilled labourers; and on that account the area is most sensitive to economic ebband flow. There are always a lot of Gorbals residents on Public Assistance, either through sickness, or in the interval between one short job and the next. But at present, most are in work, and few have to dodge the factors' men when they come round after the overdue rent.

As is usual where people find circumstance a hard thing to grapple with, the Gorbals is a great place for pipe-dreams; a place where folk think passionately of sudden fortune. Street bookies do a roaring trade round the ramshackle back-courts; and in many tenements the dream-book is the only literature.


(picture) Corportation Burial ground in Rutherglen Road - The only bit of green in the Gorbals


Football takes on the proportion of a mythology, and players are seen as heroes of a fantasy world. In the bars and on the street corners you run into men with, you would think, small capacity for academic learning, but with such knowledge of the intricate history of professional footbal? as would earn them a professorship in any other field.

It used to be said "Every man has two capital dues—his own and Paris." In the Gorbals, everyman has two football teams—his own and Celtic. The local team is Clyde. But the dream team is the one with the green-and-white hoops. Inside Gorbals houses, the commonest pictures are of The Sacred Heart and the Celtic team. You see few likenesses of the Saints but many of Johnny Thomson, the Celtic goalkeeper, accidentally killed on September 5, 1931, in a game against the Rangers, and now spoken of reverently as a popular martyr and a bright hero brought down by misfortune.

(picture) Mrs Greenan of Commercial Road has bourne 13 children, lost 7 from pneumonia


In the past, writers have given the Gorbals a bad name, as an area for razor-toughs and meth-drinkers. This penny-dreadful picture has distracted the attention of liberal citizens from the real facts of life as they affect the district. It is not as the sensation-mongers pretend. Some criminals live there. So do some hunchbacks. The population is not composed of criminals, nor of hunchbacks.

Murder is rare in the district. Last August there were two cases in a single week. That was the year's quota. Organised crime, in the sense of gangs, hardly exists; though a while back a bunch of movie-inspired adolescents banded themselves into an outfit called the 'Hammer Gang,' and gave the police some trouble before they were broken up.


Assault is a frequent affair, especially wife assault. Razor fights are uncommon. If they do take place, it is generally with the old-fashioned cut-throat blade. Serious assaults, involving a number of assailants, occur from time to time, usually as part of some family feud. The use of the bayonet, is not unknown in the neighbourhood.

In his annual report, Glasgow's Chief Constable does not consider it politic to give a ward-by-ward breakdown of crime figures. But at 'A' Division's ' sub-station in Lawmoor Street, the cagey officer will tell you that the Gorbals is a pretty rough area, but that there are plenty of places just as rough elsewhere. The opinion of the bobby on the beat is that the sensationalist just don't know what they're writing about.


(picture) Recreation facilities are few in Gorbals. Pubs are plentiful. there are 174 of them (above Frank Judge's Bar) Some are good, some bad, all popular. but the idea that gorbals is peopled by roughnecked boozers is erroneous. The area is remarkble for kind, friendly folk, with a strong feeling for social justice.


After dark, the sky is red from the glow of Dixon's Ironworks, and even in bad weather the streets are full of folk who do not care to sit around in a crowded house whose evening breath is, as they say, like a lung-sick beast's. The district is a poor one for pleasure, though it contains the Citizens' Theatre, and an imposing set of 174 pubs, mostly of the pitch-pine and engraved-glass kind. Some of these are bold and bright, like Milarky's celebrated Horseshoe Bar in Crown Street. Some are sad and dismal, like the panhandlers' houses in Gorbals Street, where ' the habitual 'wine'-drinkers befuddle themselves with Red Biddy at is. 6d. a gill. Drunkenness, the old Glasgow trouble, is not sensational in the district. Of the 38 City wards, Gorbals comes sixth for the number of drunk-and-incapables apprehended over 12 months. With 122 arrests, she lags far be hind the less-populous districts of Calton (345) and Exchange (267). Drinkers of methylated spirits, surgical spirit and perfume are slightly on the increase just now, but (with 147 arrests in the whole city) they are four times fewer than they were in 1937.

Good-looking girls are numerous, and they wear their Marks and Spencer clothes with an air. Transparent macs and printed scarves are de rigueur. For the girls and their boy-friends there are two or three cinemas of varying dubiety, and Joe Diamond's Dancing Academy, a bright respectable place with a goodish if decorous band. There are also the railway arches. Living as they commonly do, huddled together with adults/often in the same bed, Gorbals youngsters find few mysteries among the facts of life. At the same time, the percentage of illegitimate births is not remarkably high (with 9.6 per cent. Gorbals' illegitimacy rate ranks sixth in the City). By and large, the youngsters have plenty of pride and few. illusions. Said one girl, "I hate it in the Gorbals. If I meet anyone new I have to give a false address." And another (with the words Biarritz, Quaglino's, Arc de Triomphe, Juan-les-Pins on her scarf) said, "We're eight in the one room. We go to bed in relays. My elder brothers walk round the court while we girls undress. Then they come back and kip down on their mattresses on the floor beside us. The cat sleeps with us. If a rat runs over the blankets, he springs out and has it."

At midnight, if you stand on any of the four bridges that run across the Clyde into the Gorbals, you see the windows still lit; for when the gas goes down, the rats come out in strength. So the lights bum dimly all night, and they shine on the huddled sleepers, on the delicate faces of the girls, and on the ravaged faces of the women who once were girls and on the men's faces that look like the broken slabs of every commandment in the decalogue.

(picture) Bright light for Gorbals youngsters is Saturday night at Diamond's Dance Hall (Academy) - They get no hard drinks; but the band is good


Here is our most loathsome slum, and a horror to be cleansed. Who owns it? Private people in London, Sydney, Shanghai and elsewhere. Factors (house-agents, they call them down South) own some tenements. Others belong to the Glasgow Corporation. Many were formerly the property of the L.M.S. Railway, and now presumably are the nation s affair. Sometimes the ownership is vague What is certain is that whoever owns the Gorbals precious little has been done, year by year, to case its hideous condition.

Let no one think the residents of the Gorbals like the way they live, or are apathetic to any agitation for change. They have an unusually deep awareness of their plight, and a hot anger for listless authority.

With Dundee, Gorbals was the first Scottish constituency to return a Labour member to Parliament That was in 1906. The vote has been solid for Labour ever since, because it is still believed that their lies the only hope for a change in local circumstance. Gorbals' present M.P. is Minister of Pensions, George Buchanan, recently raised to the dignity of Privy Councillor.

Perhaps because change is so slow to come, the local Communist Party is strong and well-received, and one of its leading members. Harry McShane, is something of a local hero on account of his fight for improved conditions. Nevertheless, partly from religious opposition, the Communist Party is not much voted for. The Gorbals and Hutchesontown Tenants Association (membership about 100) is active in canvassing the City Corporation for repairs to individual houses, but it carries rather less weight than the Gorbals Housing Campaign Committee, an organisation of combined political and professional men, started by the Rev. Bill Smith, a Church of Scotland minister, and Communist McShane, with the help of local doctors, lawyers and the like. Even so, the Glasgow Corporation—which has the greatest responsibility—is slow to move; and in the Gorbals the theory is widely held that 'the Corporation is no longer shockable.'

(picture) A young girl plays in the back-court of the gorbals. broken concrete, flooded pools, heaps pf smelling rubbish and rats


What could be done ? Most of the district was built up intentionally as a slum in the 1840's and i850's, and has so remained without change and almost without repair. The local folk say the area is ripe for dynamiting. Certainly nothing short of an over-all slum clearance would meet the case. The harassed Corporation has a proposed Fifty Years' Plan, under which they hope to re-develop most of the Gorbals for industrial purposes. The intention is to reduce the population density of that pan of the ward set aside for residence to 66 people to the acre.

To those who accuse them of apathy, the authorities point to the 850 slum houses that have been closed or demolished since 1920. In reply the impatient inhabitants point to the crumbling walls, the broken floors of the places they live in still. If ever there was a top priority—not only for the Glasgow City Corporation, but for the nation, too, if it values its self-respect—it is the destruction of the old Gorbals and the building of a better one.

A.L. Lloyd

Picture Post 31st January 1948


Pictures by Bert Hardy


The Bishop's Wars of 1639

The Bishops' Wars are a pair of conflicts between England and Scotland between 1639-40. They were primarily caused by the strong Scottish reaction against King Charles I's attempts to reform the Scottish church. The King planned to replace the Scottish Presbyterian system of church government with the Episcopalian or High Anglican system in order to harmonise the two churches of England and Scotland. Furthermore, Charles intended to finance his reforms by re-possessing lands formerly held by the Roman Catholic church in Scotland, which had been sold off at the Reformation (The Act of Revocation). The proposed reforms alienated both landowners and noblemen whose holdings were threatened as well as the general Protestant/Presbyterian population of Scotland. He further infuriated the Scots with the style of his enthronement at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh where he insisted on a full English style of service. A riot ensued

Opponents of the reforms united around the Scottish National Covenant of February 1638 (see separate article). The Covenanters became the leading political and religious force in Scotland after they succeeded in dominating the Glasgow Assembly the following November. With neither the King nor the Covenanters prepared to compromise their religious convictions, a military solution to the crisis became inevitable.

First Bishops' War, January-June 1639

Preparations for war began in January 1639. The covenanting Lords Argyll, Montrose, Rothes, Balmerino and others (called The Tables)met in Edinburgh to co-ordinate strategy. Instructions were issued to Scottish shires to start recruiting and training for war and an appeal was issued calling upon Protestant Scots serving abroad to return and fight for the Covenant. Among those who responded was Alexander Leslie, who was appointed commander of Covenanter forces. Meanwhile, King Charles proclaimed his intention of raising an army against the Scots and summoned his nobles to attend him in arms at York in April. The King planned an ambitious campaign: he would raise an army of 20,000 men to attack Edinburgh, the Earl of Antrim would invade western Scotland with troops from Ireland while the Marquis of Hamilton would command a naval expedition to land troops behind enemy lines on the east coast. With Royalist clans attacking from the Highlands, it was expected that the Covenanters would be quickly overwhelmed. However, the King's preparations proceeded slowly, hampered by a lack of funds. There was little enthusiasm for the war in England, where most Puritans were sympathetic to the Covenanters' cause.

During March 1639, the Covenanters moved swiftly to secure major ports and strongholds. General Leslie secured Edinburgh Castle without loss after blowing in the main gate with a petard. Lord Rothes seized the King's main arsenal and the Scottish crown jewels at Dalkeith, the port of Dumbarton was captured against the possibility of Royalist reinforcements arriving from Ireland. Support for the King was concentrated in Aberdeenshire, where the Marquis of Huntly rallied his forces at Kintore. In mid-February, however, Huntly withdrew from a potential confrontation with several hundred Covenanters assembled at Turriff. The Earl of Montrose occupied Aberdeen unopposed at the end of March, after which Huntly virtually abandoned his leadership of the Scottish Royalists and allowed himself to be arrested at Edinburgh in April 1639. Sir George Ogilvy of Banff and other Royalist lairds remained in arms in Aberdeenshire. On 14 May, they drove the Covenanters out of Turriff in an action known as the Trot o' Turiff from the speed with which the Covenanters fled from the village. Ogilvy's Royalists briefly occupied Aberdeen and plundered the houses of leading Covenanters, but dispersed when Montrose began concentrating Covenanter forces in the region.

The King rode for York in March 1639 to lead the main English army against the Scots in person. With no standing army to call upon, a special levy of 6,000 foot and 1,000 horse was raised, then another 4,000 troops were recruited by mobilising the Trained Bands of the northern border counties. King Charles also revived the medieval practice of summoning his nobles to attend him in person, each accompanied by a troop of armed horsemen, which caused further resentment amongst the nobility. Although by June the English army was 18,000 strong, it was mostly made up of raw conscripts. The Earl of Arundel, earl-marshal of England and lord-general of the army, had no previous experience of war. His second-in-command, the Earl of Essex, was demoted in favour of one of the Queen's courtiers, the inexperienced Earl of Holland. Veteran soldiers like Sir Jacob Astley, commander of the infantry, despaired at the English army's lack of training and equipment — many of the northern Trained Bands were armed with bows and arrows.

While the King marched north from York, the Marquis of Hamilton's fleet sailed from Yarmouth with 5,000 men, most of whom were completely untrained. Hamilton anchored off Leith in the Firth of Forth early in May 1639 but the Covenanters' control of the region made landing impossible. The Marquis of Huntly's younger son Viscount Aboyne went north with some of Hamilton's ships to occupy Aberdeen and lead the Royalist Gordons early in June. From Aberdeen, Aboyne marched to Stonehaven. He intended to advance further south but was driven back by Covenanter forces on 14 June and took up a defensive position at Brig of Dee which guarded the approach to Aberdeen. Montrose mounted an artillery bombardment of Brig of Dee on 18 June. The Royalists were driven from the town the following day.

In mid-May 1639, King Charles issued a proclamation announcing that he would settle all Scottish grievances as soon as order was restored in the kingdom. He would not invade Scotland providing the Covenanter army remained at least ten miles north of the border. The King joined his army camped near Berwick on 30 May. Lord Arundel led a detachment across the border to Duns to issue a proclamation promising to pardon all rebels if they submitted within eight days. In response, the Covenanter army advanced to Kelso, well within the ten-mile limit. The Earl of Holland's cavalry advanced to probe the Scottish position on 3 June. Although the Covenanter army was still undermanned, the professionalism and discipline of its officers overawed Holland, who retreated to Berwick. When General Leslie advanced to Duns, morale in the English camp collapsed amid rumours that the Scottish army overwhelmingly outnumbered the English. The King was unnerved and decided to negotiate with the Covenanters.

The Pacification of Berwick, June 1639

Treaty negotiations opened at Berwick on 11 June 1639. The chief spokesmen for the Scots were Lord Rothes, Johnston of Wariston and AlexanderHenderson. They negotiated with King Charles in person. The Covenanters' demands were: that the King would ratify all acts of the Glasgow Assemblyincluding the abolition of episcopacy; that all ecclesiastical matters in Scotland would in future be settled at the General Assembly and all civil matters in Parliament; that all forces sent against Scotland would be recalled; that all "incendiaries" who had caused the troubles should be returned to Scotland for punishment (i.e. the excommunicated bishops who had tried to introduce Laud's reforms).

Although the King apparently conceded that church matters should in future be governed by assemblies, he was adamant in his refusal to ratify the Glasgow Assembly of 1638. The Covenanters were aware that their military position was not as strong as was widely believed and, after a week of legalistic wrangling, they too agreed to modify their position. A treaty was signed on 19 June 1639. The King agreed to authorise a General Assembly of the Kirk at Edinburgh in August, to be followed by a meeting of the Scottish Parliament. Both sides agreed to disband their armies. Other controversial issues were left deliberately vague or as verbal agreements only. The treaty was poorly received in Edinburgh where Covenanters complained that the commissioners had made too many concessions.

During the following weeks, relations between the King and the Covenanter leaders deteriorated. In an atmosphere of mutual mistrust, King Charles left Berwick and returned to London In July 1639.

Second Bishops' War, 1640

King Charles was determined to subdue the Covenanters by force and summoned Sir Thomas Wentworth from Ireland as an adviser. Wentworth was created Earl of Strafford in January 1640. He coerced the Irish Parliament into granting funds to raise an Irish army for service against the Scots and advised the King to summon a Parliament in England to raise further funds. The Short Parliament duly assembled in April 1640. When Parliament refused to grant funds for the war, the King appealed for a loan from Spain while the Queen appealed to her brother the King of France and even to the Pope. These appeals were in vain, however, and the King was left to his own devices. The northern militia from the First Bishops' War was disbanded and a new levy was raised in the south. Untrained and poorly-disciplined, many of the southern levies deserted on the march to the north. Others were prone to mutiny: two officers found to be Catholics were lynched by their own men, who then dispersed. Violent disorders were reported from all parts of England that the levies passed through. By August 1640, the King's forces had mustered in Yorkshire and Northumberland, most of them poorly-armed, unpaid and underfed. Strafford's Irish army was not ready in time to take part in the campaign against Scotland.

In Edinburgh, the Scottish Parliament appointed the Committee of Estates to direct the defence of Scotland. The Earl-Marischal William Keith occupied Aberdeen for the Covenanters in May 1640 while Major-General Robert Monro invaded the lands of the Royalist Gordons in the north-east. In June, the Earl of Argyll was granted a commission of "fire and sword" and led 5,000 Campbells in a six-week expedition to pillage and burn the lands of Royalist clans in the Highlands. Once the Scottish Royalists had been subdued, Argyll besieged Dumbarton as a precaution against the possibility of Strafford's Irish army landing in western Scotland.

Several regiments of the Covenanter army had remained in arms after the First Bishops' War and, with another war imminent, new levies were quickly raised. By early August 1640, the Covenanter army massed on the border with England was around 20,000 strong with an artillery train of sixty guns. The English army was concentrated in two areas of assembly: one in central Yorkshire awaiting the arrival of the King, the other in Northumberland. The Earl of Northumberland, commander-in-chief of the English army, had fallen ill. The commander of the northern army, Viscount Conway, concentrated on building up the defences of the border town of Berwick and seems to have disregarded the mustering of the Covenanters until it was too late.

Faced with the difficulties of keeping the Covenanter army supplied while it remained on the defensive, the Committee of Estates unanimously decided to mount a pre-emptive invasion of England. On 20 August 1640, General Leslie crossed the River Tweed at Coldstream and marched into England. Leslie thwarted Conway's defensive preparations by simply bypassing the well-defended town of Berwick and marching straight for Newcastle and the rich coalfields that supplied London with coal. As the King hurried north to York, the Scots arrived at the outskirts of Newcastle on 27 August.

The Battle of Newburn, August 1640

Rather than attack the strongly-fortified northern approach to Newcastle, Leslie marched west along the River Tyne to Newburn Ford, the first crossing point over the Tyne, a few miles upstream from the city. He intended to secure control of the northern and southern banks of the Tyne and then to encircle Newcastle.

Viscount Conway sent 1,500 horse and 3,000 foot to reinforce the troops guarding the ford. Two improvised earthwork forts had been constructed on the south bank of the Tyne, each manned by 400 musketeers and defended by four light artillery pieces. However, the forts were poorly placed. Leslie's expert artillery officer Alexander Hamilton, who had served under the great Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, deployed Scottish field artillery on higher ground on the north bank of the Tyne. Light guns were hoisted to the top of Newburn church tower so that the Scottish artillery completely dominated the English position.

Leslie sent a messenger to Conway saying that the Scots did not wish to fight but only wanted free passage in order to petition the King. Conway had no option but to refuse. The first wave of Scottish cavalry advanced towards the ford in the early afternoon of 28 August 1640 but was driven back by gunfire from the English entrenchments. In the ensuing artillery duel, Colonel Lunsford was unable to restrain his raw troops. Under intense bombardment, they deserted the earthworks and fled. The Covenanters poured across the ford to take possession of the undefended river bank. Henry Wilmot, commander of the English cavalry, led a gallant charge to try and drive them back but was overwhelmed as disciplined Covenanter musketeers were posted to secure the position. Most of the English infantry fled in panic towards Newcastle. Colonel Monck managed to retain control of his regiment and retreated in good order with the English artillery.

General Leslie ordered his troops not to pursue the fleeing English to avoid causing ill feeling by inflicting unnecessary casualties. To the amazement of the Scots, Viscount Conway decided that Newcastle could not be defended and withdrew the garrison to Durham. On 30 August, the Covenanters marched unopposed into Newcastle.

The Treaty of Ripon, October 1640

The morale of the English army stationed in Yorkshire collapsed after the defeat at Newburn. On 24 September, King Charles summoned a Great Council of Peers at York — a revival of an institution that had not been used since the reign of Edward III. The Council almost unanimously advised the King to negotiate a truce with the Scots and to summon another Parliament in England. While the Council of Peers continued to sit in York, English and Scottish commissioners met at Ripon in October 1640 to negotiate a treaty.

The Treaty of Ripon was signed on 14 October. A cessation of hostilities was agreed. Negotiations for a permanent settlement were to be negotiated and ratified by a new Parliament to be summoned in London. Meanwhile, the Scottish army was to occupy Northumberland and Durham, exacting an indemnity of £850 a day from the English government for its quarter; furthermore the Scottish government was to be reimbursed for its expenses in prosecuting the war against England.

The Treaty of London, August 1641

In desperate need of money, King Charles was obliged to summon the Long Parliament, which first assembled on 3 November 1640. A week later, the Scottish commissioners arrived in London to finalise the treaty. Despite King Charles' denunciation of the Scottish army as rebel invaders, the commissioners were welcomed by the Puritans of London, and the King retracted his remarks.

The negotiations between the Scottish and English commissioners continued through the spring and summer of 1641. Against a background of civil unrest in London and the impeachment by Parliament of his principal ministers Strafford and Laud, King Charles was anxious to settle the treaty as quickly as possible. He therefore made a number of unexpected concessions: the resolutions of the General Assemblies that banished episcopacy from the Scottish church were ratified; the royal castles at Edinburgh and Dumbarton were to be used for defensive purposes only; no Scots were to be censured or persecuted for signing the Covenant; the Scottish "incendiaries" regarded as being responsible for creating the crisis were to be prosecuted in Scotland; all Scottish goods and ships captured during the war would be returned; all books, publications and proclamations published against the Covenanters would be suppressed. It was also agreed that the Scots would receive the sum of £300,000 as recompense for the wars, which Parliament regarded as "brotherly assistance".

The Scots were also anxious to conclude the negotiations. The commissioners had outstayed their welcome, particularly after they issued a denunciation of episcopacy in the English church and an attack on Strafford and Laud that were regarded as interference in matters that did not concern them. Covenanter proposals to adopt Presbyterianism throughout the Three Kingdoms and other contentious demands were quietly dropped. The Treaty of London was signed on 10 August 1641.

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James Hutton - founder of geology

James Hutton (1726–1797), a Scottish farmer and naturalist, is regarded as the founder of modern geology. Above all. he was a great observer of the world around him, but more importantly, he then proceeded to make carefully reasoned geological arguments from the phenomena that he had observed. As a result of this Hutton came to believe that the Earth was undergoing a perpetual process of formation and destruction; for example, that molten material is forced up into mountains, eroded, and then the sediments are washed away. He also argued that the forces visible in the present day are much the same as they were in the past and that therefore the history of the Earth could be determined by understanding how processes such as erosion and sedimentation work in the present day. These ideas and and his approach to studying the Earth established geology as a proper science.

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Stone Destiny


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Stone of Destiny

Like the Great War before it, the Second World War pulled Scotland and England together in a fight against a common enemy - Germany.

Old rivalries and tensions between the two countries were put aside as the whole of Britain put its shoulder to the wheel to defeat the Nazis.

It was during the war, however, that the seeds of the idea of Scottish independence were quietly being sewn - seeds which, just over half a century later, would germinate in the country once again winning home rule.

In April 1945, only weeks before the end of the war, a remarkable event occurred. In a parliamentary by-election in Motherwell, the SNP won its first ever seat, sending MP Robert McIntyre to parliament.

McIntyre only sat at Westminster for a few weeks - he lost his seat again in the General Election later in the year. But his victory sent a shockwave through the British political system, and laid the foundations for the huge success the SNP was to enjoy in future decades.

Ever since the Act of Union in 1707, dissenting voices had been raised against Scotland's incorporation into the United Kingdom. But by the Victorian era - where Scotland was so integrated into the rest of the country that it was often referred to as "North Britain" - the protests had more or less died out.

However, in the aftermath of the Great War, voices started to be raised again. In 1921 an organisation called the Scots National League, advocating independence for Scotland, was established by Ruaridh Erskine of Mar. In 1928 another key figure in the movement, John MacCormick, formed the Glasgow University Student Nationalist Association. Yet another body was the Scottish National Movement, formed by the poet Lewis Spence.

In 1928, all these bodies joined to form the National Party of Scotland. In 1932, another body, the Scottish Party, was formed as a breakaway from the Cathcart Conservative Association in Glasgow. Yet again there was a merger in 1934, and a new organisation was created - the Scottish National Party.

While the new party was trying to establish itself and promote its policy of home rule within the Empire - a sort of early version of the SNP's current policy of independence in Europe - other nationalists we embarking on a campaign of civil disobedience.

In 1937, the Wallace Sword was taken from the monument in Stirling and the Union Jack was taken down and replaced with Saltires at various Scottish castles.

The authorities, needless to say, were unamused. However, tensions really increased when the war broke out. Some nationalists, such as Arthur Donaldson, who was later to become the party's chairman, condemned the war and were imprisoned as a result.

Others, however, felt that Scots should lend their support to the battle against the Nazis. The party finally split in 1942, with John MacCormick, who believed home rule would be much more popular with Scots than independence, walking out to form his own grouping, the Scottish Covenant Association.

Robert McIntyre's victory in 1945 was remarkable, though it was more of a protest vote against the wartime coalition than anything else. After losing the seat again, the SNP settled back into obscurity.

In the general election of 1950, it fielded only three candidates and in the seats it contested, won just over seven per cent of the vote. Scots clearly had little interest in fighting for their own independence.

They were, however, still excited by the idea of having their own parliament. After leaving the SNP, John MacCormick started up a home rule covenant - a petition for a parliament which he wanted ordinary Scots to sign.

In the event, the venture was a huge success. More than two million Scots - two thirds of the electorate - signed the covenant. However, it failed to make any real impact because the Covenant Association was apolitical and wouldn't fight elections, and because the Labour government of the day simply ignored it.

However, it did have one profound effect. Deprived of a political outlet for their frustrations, some Scots turned to romantic exploits to make their case for a Scottish parliament.

Among them was a young Glasgow University student, Ian Hamilton, who was a friend of MacCormick. Along with three friends, Kay Matheson, Gavin Vernon and Alan Stuart, Hamilton planned a stunt which would ultimately bring the whole of Britain to a virtual standstill and unite practically the entire Scottish nation against the English establishment.

The four youngsters decided they would seize the Stone of Destiny, the ancient stone on which Scotland's kings were crowned, and bring it back to Scotland. The stone was stolen by Edward I in 1297 from the abbey at Scone in Perthshire and taken to London as war booty, where it had been ever since. It was installed underneath the coronation chair in Westminster Abbey, and monarchs sat above it when they were crowned.

Hamilton's plan seemed audacious to the point of folly. He planned to break into the Abbey, drag the stone into a waiting hire car, and drive it north to Scotland. MacCormick thought it would be a wonderful wheeze, and the scheme went ahead.

The four chose Christmas Day 1950, when they felt Londoners would be too busy celebrating to notice what they were up to, for their adventure. They drove the car up a lane by the abbey and broke in through a side door.

At a critical moment, they were disturbed by a policeman on foot, but managed to persuade him they were simply innocent youngsters larking around. Hamilton hauled the stone out of the chair but, as it came out, he accidentally broke it in two.

They bundled the two pieces into the car and sped off, and the alarm was quickly raised. They fled back to Scotland with one half of the stone - the other piece was dumped in a field in Kent, from where it was later collected.

News of what had happened quickly swept the nation. Scots were delighted and hugely amused, but the English establishment were outraged. A massive search was organised and roadblocks erected to catch the culprits.

Despite the huge search, the students managed to get back over the border and the stone was hidden away, A home rule sympathiser, the industrialist John Rollo, kept it at his factory in Bonnybridge and pinned the two pieces back together.

Hamilton realised that the stone would have to be given back. It could not be hidden forever, and the police were closing in. In any case, the stunt had served its purpose.

On 11 April 1951, they wrapped it in a Saltire left it in one of the most symbolic places possible - on the site of the High Altar at Arbroath Abbey, where in 1320 Scotland's nobles had signed the country's historic Declaration of Independence.

The authorities responded by whisking it straight back to London and putting it back in the coronation chair, where it was used for the crowning of Elizabeth II on the death of her father.

Hamilton was never charged for taking the stone. The English, however, learned nothing from the episode. If anything, their insensitivity towards the Scots actually increased.

In 1953, the new Queen came to be officially crowned in Scotland. Instead of wearing the great robes of state, as she had at Westminster Abbey, she wore ordinary clothes, and many Scots felt insulted.

A bigger issue at the time, however, was the fact that she was termed Queen Elizabeth II. Since the original Queen Elizabeth had been a purely English monarch, with no jurisdiction over Scots, many Scots felt that their new monarch should call herself Elizabeth I of Scots when north of the border.

Some Scots took out their anger by blowing up pillar boxes containing the new symbol E II R. The authorities responded by redesigning Scottish boxes, making the symbol E R instead - and that's the way they are to this day.

In 1953, Ian Hamilton joined forces again with John MacCormick to mount a legal challenge to the monarch's status. The two men raised an action against the Lord Advocate challenging the Queen's right to call herself Elizabeth II in Scotland.

They lost their case - the court decided monarchs could call themselves whatever they wanted - but won an important moral victory when Lord President Cooper, delivering his judgement, said that the idea that parliament had complete sovereignty was a "distinctively English principle which has no counterpoint in Scots constitutional law".

What Cooper appeared to be saying was that in Scotland, sovereignty rested not with the Crown and parliament, but with the people. Scots were starting to reassert themselves against English rule. It was a process which would occupy the country's people and its politicians for the rest of the century.


  • 1928

Amelia Earhart is the first woman to fly across the Atlantic

  • 1928

Alvaro Obregon, the President of Mexico, is assassinated

  • 1950

The McCarthy "witch hunts" begin in America as the Senator searches for Communist sympathisers

  • 1951

Salvador Dali paints, "Christ of St. John on the Cross"

  • 1951

Colour television is first introduced in America

  • 1928

Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin

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