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Aberlady Church, East Lothian

Aberlady Church, East Lothian, Scotland

This evening, I am posting information on the historic church at Aberlady, a village, near Haddington, on the southern coastline of the Firth of Forth which is about forty five minutes east of Edinburgh.

Aberlady Church, East Lothian

Aberlady Church, East Lothian, Scotland

At Aberlady, Christianity can be traced back to the 6th-7th centuries. There is tangible evidence from the 8th century in the form of the Aberlady Cross (on which more below). The Culdees  indigenous Celtic Church of Scotland) were active there in the 11th-12th centuries and were probably connected to the Culdee Monastery at Dunkeld in central Scotland. In the 13th century, a Carmelite Monastery existed towards the east of Aberlady. In the 15th century, the tower of the current church was built, a robust structure 60 ft high with 4′ thick walls, with dual spiritual and defensive roles. A chancel was added to the tower in 1509. Additional aisles were added in the 16th and 17th centuries.

In 1773 change to the church occurred when the church was rebuilt whilst retaining the tower and aisles. This structure lasted until 1886. In 1887 a new church was built, much as it exists today.

Inside Aberlady Church is a copy of the shaft of the Aberlady Cross which may date from the 8th century.The original was found in the grounds of Aberlady Manse in 1863 and now resides in the National Museum in Edinburgh. Carving is of high quality and may be Pictish-Celtic or Anglian in origin. No trace of the rest of the cross has been found. A reconstruction of the cross stands close to the church.

Replica Cross

Reconstruction, Aberlady Cross

Reconstruction, Aberlady Cross, Aberlady Church

The church, village and immediate vicinity are pleasant and welcoming and deserving of a visit. The local bay is a nature reserve with appeal to tourists and ornithologists.

Aberlady Bay, Scotland.

Entrance Arch at Jedburgh Abbey, Scotland.

This evening, I am focusing on the charming, historic town of Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders, about fifty miles south of Edinburgh. This town conveniently sits on the main route linking England and  Scotland and hence attracts many visitors.

The name is derived from ‘Jedworth’ meaning enclosed village close to the Jed Water (river). Population is about 4,000 persons.

Mercat Cross, Jedburgh

There are five principal attractions in Jedburgh:

Jedburgh Abbey

This is one of the collection of Border Abbeys, all of which are in relatively close proximity. Location on main north-south route was unfortunate because this positioned the abbeys right in the path of advancing English armies during the Wars of Independence and other conflicts during medieval times. The wealth and power of the abbeys made them ideal targets for the English armies  Jedburgh Abbey was destroyed and rebuilt numerous times. The roofless, but well-preserved red sandstone ruins, are deserving of  a visit. The structure of the Abbey includes a few blocks with inscriptions from the Roman era, some 1000 years before the Abbey’s founding in 1138.

Jedburgh Abbey.

Jedburgh Castle

Technically a misnomer because the castle no longer exists. Like its neighbour the Abbey, the castle oscillated between English and Scottish control during medieval times but was finally destroyed in 1409. Four centuries later the site was used to construct a (now redundant) Reform Prison in 1823 and it is this building which now forms the visitor attraction.

Entrance to Jedburgh Castle

Mary Queen of Scots House

This fortified crow-step gabled house is where it is believed the tragic Queen (1542-1587) stayed in 1566. Inside is a museum where can be seen the Queen’s death mask.

Mary, Queen of Scots House, Jedburgh

Robert Burns Connection.

Robert (“Rabbie”) Burns (1759-1796) is Scotland’s National Poet.

Burns travelled widely around Scotland.His journal records that on Tuesday 8th of May, 1787 “He came up Teviot and Jed to lie, and to wish myself goodnight” The house in which he stayed for three nights was situated at 27 Canongate, adjoining Deans Close. A plaque was erected in 1913 to commemorate his visit. His host was Mr James Fair.

Burns was then granted equivalent of the Freedom of Jedburgh: “On the 11th May 1787, Robert Burns Esqu. was entered and received into the liberties of this Burgh and made a free Burgess and guild brother of the same, who gave his oath with all ceremonies used and wont. Whereupon he required acts of court and protested for an extract of the same under the common seal of the Burgh.”

Robert Burns Plaque next to Royal Hotel, Canongate, Jedburgh.

Bonnie Prince Charlie Connection.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart lodged at Blackhills House November 6-7, 1745.

Blackhills House, Jedburgh

Views of High Street, Jedburgh.

High Street, Jedburgh

High Street, Jedburgh

Below is New Gate House, a gatehouse surmounted by a steeple which dates from 1761.

New Gate House, Jedburgh

Rannoch Moor with surrounding mountains in winter

This evening, I am posting information on Rannoch Moor in the Scottish Highlands.

A moor is a word used in Britain to describe a relatively high elevation of landform which is usually inherently wet and/or otherwise unsuitable for agriculture or settlement.

Vast numbers of visitors do, in fact, traverse Rannoch Moor using the A82 en-route to/from popular spots such as Glencoe and Fort William without realising the story behind the rugged and usually bleak landscape.

The Rannoch Moor plateau is at an altitude of about 1200 feet and surrounded by a rim of mountains. The core rock is granite which has been eroded by severe glacial erosion. In fact, this is where the last ice sheet to cover Scotland originated about 25,000 years ago and where the ice finally melted about 10,000 years ago. The landscape has been fashioned by glacial ice movements resulting in numerous irregularly shaped lakes separated by hummocks of glacial debris. The glacial ice radiated out from Rannoch Moor north-east to the Spey, eastwards to the Tay, southwards to the Clyde and westwards to Loch Linnhe.

Irregularly shaped lakes

Waterlogged surface of Rannoch Moor

Landscape in winter

Waterlogged surface

This largely treeless area also forms part of the West Highland Way, a long-distance hiking trail between Glasgow and Fort William.

In the right weather and visibility conditions the Moor provides good opportunities for photography.