Continuation of Saturday 25 April 2020
And so to continue the walk of last Saturday, rather later than I had hoped but you know what these lock downs are like , just never the time do the things you would like.
I ended last weeks blog in front of the Old steeple and St Mary’s church, having told the story of Mary Slessor and continuing along the High Street it brought memories of, as a young Lad I would come down here to a shop in Lindsey Street to buy molds and plaster for the models I made. an interesting hobby which if I remember correctly ,the models usually turned out perfect but the paint work to complete them was somewhat of a disappointment , not just to me but I assume also to the people I gifted them to.
So onward along the high Street passing Whitehall street looking down towards Whitehall crescent and the Gilfillan Memorial Church. Arriving at the City Square . Now I could write a book about this place as it was, where, in 2014 we, the Yes Bus team campaigned almost constantly during the last months of the referendum. Some day I will write a book about all that happened here and I promise , it will open some eyes and cause a few bad moments for certain people . However, that is for another day, and today I cast my mind back to the good times we had during that campaign for Scottish freedom from the last vestiges of the British Empire.
In the Months before the referendum my family decided to do a few things to help the cause of independence. We donated a full sized coach to act as a battle bus for Business for Scotland, an organization of businesses who were supporters of independence., It spent two months traveling around Scotland, making the business case for an independent Scotland,
We took Chris Law’s ( now Chris Law MP) 50 year old ex Army fire engine into out workshops and completely refurbished it including a full re paint. Chris then took it on a very successful campaigning trip around Scotland and after the referendum Chris with the help of the Yes Bus team was firstly, selected by the SNP to stand for the UK parliament and then, was successful in fighting the seat for Dundee West., Unfortunately Chris like most of the MP’s we sent down to Westminster has been a disappointment, as five and a half years after loosing the referendum we are no nearer to taking the field once again to gain our independence.
The other thing we did as a family to help the referendum campaign was to put the yes bus on the road and make it available to any of the disparate groups of yes campaigners, to campaign in their own particular manner. The yes Bus was a double decker which started its life some 20 years before in Falkirk where it was built by Alexander Dennis . We naturally, also formed the Yes Bus team which was made up of anyone who wished to campaign with us. I believe the yes bus team played a very big part in making Dundee the highest percentage of yes votes in the whole country. Again all of this is for a more detailed story some time in the future.
The building at the end of the square is the Caird Hall, gifted to the city by the Cairds , owners of Ashton Works and latterly Craigie works , they also gifted Caird Park to the city.
With my back to the City square I looked up Reform street towards the High school of Dundee the forerunner of which was the school where William Wallace, one if Scotland’s great heroes was educated.
Then my vision wandered above the School to the hill sitting to the north of the city Centre, Dundee Law, quite commonly and mistakenly called the Law Hill. Mistakenly, because the old scots for hill is Law.
Now the Dundee Law has more of a place in History than a lot of people realize as it was the place where John Graham of Caverhouse raised the standard in the first Jacobite uprising in 1689. Ok, so briefly. James the seventh if Scotland and second of England was deposed firstly by the English parliament and then by the Scottish parliament in favor of William of orange this happened in 1688 in England and in 1689, a convention if the estates was held in Edinburgh and it was decided to depose James seventh and invite William to be king. At that meeting John Graham walked out and marched his men to Dundee where he was the constable, He then , on the 13 April 1689 raised the Jacobite standard on Dundee law. Claverhouse was known as Bonnie Dundee, a phrase often wrongly associated with the city itself . Burns wrote a song about the affair called, Up Wi The Bonnets Of Bonnie Dundee. Again wrongly ( although tenuously) associated with Dundee, In the song it says ” gang doon the west port and let us gang free” Well it was the west port of Edinburgh Burns was depicting, not the West Port of Dundee and it was after Ckaverhouse stormed out of the Edinburgh parliament, However, he did bring his regiment to Dundee and did raise the standard on Dundee law ., He then went on a progress around Scotland raising the clans to fight for King James , which is also where the name Jacobite comes from as Jacobus is the Latin for James.
Eventually after several near encounters with the British forces, Claverhouse met General McKay on the slopes of Killiecrankie on the 27 July 1689 . The Jacobite’s were victorious but Claverhouse was mortally wounded. There was an indecisive battle a few weeks afterwards in Dunked but the cause was finished without the characteristic leader that was John Graham of Ckeverhouse, Bonnie Dundee,
Heading east along what is left of the High street and turning into the Seagate I walked along to Peter street where at the foot of the lane there is a cross marked out in the cobblestones. This is where the last Witch to be executed in Dundee was burned, her name was Grissel Jafferay, Generally Witches were people who were natural healers and this fell fowl of the church at the time, The reason being that the church believed that they were the only people who could indulge in black magic and cure people so they persecuted those who they saw as competition, The difference was of course that the people they called Witches were more able to cure using pants etc. than the church was using prayer.
Grissel was tried on the evidence if two ministers of the church, found guilty sentenced to death and was strangled then her body burned. Incidently the last witch was a Scottish women named Hellen Duncan from Callander , She was tried in 1944 and sentenced to 9 months prison she died in 1956.
Right, so I have once again went on too long and this time instead of the two miles I walked I have only walked less than half a mile but started blethering too much, so to save you all falling asleep I will again cut this short and finish the walk with you ,hopefully tomorrow.
Take care and don’t venture out of the lock down except for essential supplies and of course your daily exercise. stay safe