Thursday, 29 March 2007

East Coast of Scotland Arbroath Abbey

East Coast of Scotland Arbroath Abbey
Foundation of the Abbey

King William the Lion founded the Arbroath Abbey in 1178 in honour of the murdered St. Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury. It was placed in the hands of the Tironensian order based in Kelso. King William granted his new Abbey independence from the mother house. He also showered it with endowments. These included the income from 24 parishes, a toft of land in every royal burgh, lands, fisheries, salt pans, ferries and of course Arbroath itself. The monks were permitted to set up a burgh, hold a market and to build a harbour. Even King John of England granted the Abbey the privilege of buying and selling goods anywhere in England, except the City of London, toll free.

The function of Arbroath and every other Abbey was to provide an ordered way of life based on the Gospel’s teachings under which the monks could serve God and sanctify their souls. The monks did not work outside the Abbey. Their chief function was to perform the Divine Office.

Arbroath Abbey hosted the most significant event in Scottish history. On 6 April 1320 the Scottish Declaration of Independence was signed by the assembled Scottish nobility in Arbroath Abbey. The Declaration was addressed to the Pope who had given his support to Edward II and excommunicated Robert the Bruce. The nobles had to intervene in the dispute between the Bruce and the Pope. The Declaration explained how the Bruce had rescued the country from a dreadful situation and for this they would support him in all things.

Declaration of Independance

The Declaration was an inspiration for future generations. The most famous quote is this:

"For, so long as a hundred remain alive, we will never in any degree be subject to the dominion of the English. Since not for glory, riches or honours do we
fight, but for freedom alone, which no man loses but with his life."

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

East Coast of Scotland Lower Largo

East Coast of Scotland Lower Largo

Lower Largo, on Largo Bay with its sandy beaches and golf courses, lying in the shadow of the old volcanic mound of Largo Law ( hill ), forms an attractive setting for the old villages of Lundin Links and Upper Largo. Consequently Lundin Links has always been a favorite of vacationers and especially golfers. The Lundin Links course was designed in 1868 and today is of the required standard to hold the qualifying rounds of the Open Championship when it is held in St Andrews. The course is dotted with ancients stones and ruined towers from ancient times.

Lower Largo is a popular tourist resort with an attractive harbor at the mouth of the Kiel River which is dominated by the towering arches and pillars of the now defunct railway viaduct. Lower Largo is renowned for its association with Alexander Selkirk, who was to gain fame for his self-imposed exile on a desert island in the Pacific Ocean. Selkirk was born in the village in 1676 and in his youth developed a keen interest in the seafaring life. Eventually, he ran away to sea and in the year 1704 was sailing on the ship " Cinque Ports " across the Pacific Ocean when after a violent disagreement with the captain he was put ashore on the island of Juan Fernandez. It was four years and four months before he was rescued and returned to London. Daniel Defoe, the novelist, became interested in the real-life story and in 1719 published Robinson Crusoe. In Lower Largo a small statue of Andrew Selkirk, dressed in familiar desert island goat-skin clothing, marks the site of the cottage where he was born.
Stay nearby at Castaway Cottages for a perfect break from it all.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

East Coast of Scotland Pittenweem

East Coast of Scotland Pittenweem

Pittenweem is a fishing village in the East Neuk of Fife, east of St Monans. A royal burgh since 1541, it was a thriving trading port and remains an active fishing community with a busy fish market. Several buildings dating from the 16th and 17th centuries have been restored by the National Trust for Scotland. Kelly Lodging in the High Street dates mainly from the late 16th century and was the town residence of the Earls of Kellie. The Augustinian Priory moved here from the Isle of
May in the 13th century, and the remains of its church are incorporated in the present parish church which incorporated the Tolbooth Tower of 1588. The monastic buildings partly survive, the 15th century gatehouse, the dormitory and the Great House, and the Priors Lodging, remodelled as the rectory in 1840. There is a cave associated with St Fillan.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007


Crail has one of the best small harbours in the area and is well know for the shellfish that is caught and sold here, you won't get any fresher. Dating back to 16th century, the curved breakwater was built giving it protection against the Forth and in 1826 Robert Stevenson contributed the straight west pier, which was built by rubble.

Coming up from the harbour you find the main street through Crail. Following the road towards the golf course you will bypass the Crail History museum and shortly before the Marketgate there is a road leading down to Crail Pottery. In the Summer and other school holidays the pottery puts on classes for children, who find the whole idea great fun. The Marketgate, now lined by trees, was once the largest medieval market places in Europe.

Continuing on, you pass the Parish Church on the left, this Romanesque sapling c1160 has been gradually added to with possibly the oldest free standing tower in Fife, before coming to the golf courses. The Balcomie and the Craighead Links. Both these courses have a large waiting list because of there popularity but visitors are welcome but it is advisable to try and book first.