125 years ago to the month (almost to the week) that Crockett visited Ruskin in Brantwood, I was booked to speak at the Literary Houses Group Conference. It was a very interesting day on a number of levels.
First, obviously, to see Brantwood and stand where Crockett stood. Crockett visited Ruskin at a time which is little recorded, Ruskin suffering from regular and prolonged bouts of ‘madness’ (depression?stress?) and those at Brantwood were interested to hear of the visit. There’s much more research to be done in this area, but it serves to remind us that there is always another door to be opened, another corner to be looked into, another story to be brought into the light.
Second, the Conference itself was interesting in terms of discussing the relationships between Literary Societies and Literary Houses, as well as looking at ‘best practice’ and ‘models’ of how to engage members/friends/public with authors. I am thinking about many of the issues raised and these will inform the intended ‘refresh’ of Galloway Raiders into 2020.
Thirdly, my presentation went down very well. At least, when I showed Glenhead as it has been ‘developed’ the entire room of more than 50 people pulsed with a communal intake of breath - shocked and disgusted that such a thing should have been allowed to happen - and even more so about the decimation of the Glenhead Yew. It was somewhat cathartic for me to discover that there are people who do care about literary and historic cultural conservation and who can see cultural vandalism for what it is. It’s such a shame that in Galloway itself this is not recognised either by the general public or the bodies tasked with looking after and promoting the area from tourism to natural environment. If Galloway took a lesson from Hardy Country, both Crockett and all of us, would be better served. On a positive note, there was enthusiasm about the ‘saving’ and possibilities of Balmaghie Kirk and I hope that the Balmaghie Sacred Landscape Trust will become an active member of the Lit Houses Group in future as this is a networking organisation which could be really useful to them going forward. On that score, you are all probably aware that the Chair of that group, Sir Malcolm Ross died recently. Our thoughts are with his family. Hopefully, coming into 2020 the group will push forward in his memory as Balmaghie Kirk has been a great success story of this year but there is much still to do and the Crockett connection will hopefully flourish into the future.
So it was a trip well worth the making, even in the dark days of what appears to be an early onset winter. If you get the chance to go to Brantwood I’d recommend it - and if you’re in the area, the Ruskin Museum which also houses Arthur Ransome and Donald Campbell artefacts is also well worth a visit.
We're looking for place related quotes for a 'grassroots' literary tourism project which will start this summer in Galloway.
Please give us your quote below (referencing which book and actual place where possible!)
We want to put Crockett 'on the map' by geo-referencing/ app technology linking places in the novels to actual places (as done textually in Discovering Crockett's Galloway books). Does anyone have the skills or insights as to how to proceed with this?
YOUR COMMENTS PLEASE
'Is this Crockett's Sheil o' the Dungeon of Buchan? Our man in the hills Mark Hannay took this picture recently. He says that while it looks like nothing from the outside, inside there is a lot more space.
Here's a description from 'The Dark o' the Moon'
'For three years she had stood and watched at this spot every night at this hour of sunset. Down the long valley of the three lochs she looked, and as she leaned eagerly forward the dark masses of her hair broke tempestuously from the single strand of ribbon that confined them, and fell over her shoulders, outlining them smoothly and largely as water does a rock in the linn.
Behind her, almost from her heels, fell away the great cauldron of the Dungeon of Buchan, wherein white ground-mists crawled and swelled, now hiding from sight and now revealing the three lakelets, the Round Inch, the Long Loch, and the Dry. There were also in the Dungeon gulf tonight certain eery cloud-swirls, that seemed to bubble and circle upward like the boiling of a pot. Yet all was still and silent at the Shiel, so that the faint streak of wood smoke from old Meggat’s fire on the hearth rose straight up the cliff front, and was lost among the heather and rigged brushwood above. Down in the caldron itself, however, there was a veering, unequal wind, or, rather, strife of winds, teasing the mist into wisps white as lambs' wool and light as blown gossamer.'
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
There's loads (well, several) people around the world in the far flung reaches of North America and the Antipodes, who are interested in tracking down their Crockett connections - or more general genealogical links with Galloway.
The question is, how best to connect with them?
YOUR THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS BELOW PLEASE:
Galloway based Raiders know Criffel as the hill overlooking the Solway. However, in recent communication with someone I noted ‘Criffel Avenue’ in their street address in London. A bit of exploration and here’s the start of a connection:
Telford Park Estate, a piece of land originally owned by a tobacco merchant who gifted it to his sister and her husband, Charles Telford. When the Telford family died out, the estate passed to a close relative, Martin Stewart of Kirkcudbright. Stewart granted building rights to two developers who engaged the architect E. J. Tarver, a well-established designer of churches and stately homes and former President of the Architectural Assn. The Telford Park Estate consists of Telford Avenue, Criffel Avenue, Killieser Avenue and Kirkstall Road, laid out 1877-81, and Criffel, Killieser and Kirkstall are all named after lands on Stewart’s Scottish estate.
OPEN FOR THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS...