Kelvin Grove at the Machrie Moor Stone Circles

This video is on the Isle of Arran, off Scotland's west coast, roughly across from Turnberry in Ayrshire.  You can read more about the song, Kelvin Grove, in my post on Crossraguel Abbey.  I'm playing not on a standard concert flute, but on an alto flute, which is quite a bit larger, and has a deeper voice.  In my humble opinion, it is the most beautiful of the flutes, and should be used far more.

Not only are the Machrie Moor Stones--six groups of them, one of which I'm standing in front of--interesting, but Arran is part of the Robert the Bruce story.

1306 was a bad year for the Bruce.  On February 10, he killed John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, before the altar at Greyfriars Kirk in Dumfries.  Technically, he only stabbed him, and raced out of the church to tell his men what he'd done.  Roger de Kirkpatrick, one of Bruce's supporters, said, "You doubt.  Ise mac siccar."  I make sure.  Hence, I make sikkar became the motto of Clan Kirkpatrick.

As a result of killing on sacred ground, Bruce knew he must race to be crowned King of Scots before he got ex-communicated--for an ex-communicated man cannot be anointed king.  So on March 25, 1306, Robert and Elizabeth became king and queen of Scots.  While this would normally be a happy event, it was a rushed affair, with little pomp (if any), and few supporters.  Further, as Elizabeth remarked, "We are but king and queen of the May."

The months that followed were hard living, in the wilderness, pursued by the English, and at war with Comyn's kin.

On April 5, Edward II granted Aymer de Valence, Comyn's brother-in-law, power to 'raise the Dragon Banner.'  This meant no quarter, no mercy, for Bruce or any of his supporters.  On May 20, Edward knighted 250 young men in preparation for the coming onslaught, and took 'the oath of the swans,' swearing to avenge Comyn's death.

On June 19, Aymer de Valence attacked Bruce and his party at Methven,  4,000 of his men were killed, nearly decimating what few followers he had at the time.  His friends, Bishops Lamberton and Wishart, were seized and taken into captivity.

On their retreat, with perhaps only 500 men left, Bruce was attacked by a thousand of the MacDougalls.  His losses were high.  Many or all of his remaining horses were killed by the MacDougalls, and among his closest friends, Gilbert Hay and James Douglas were both injured.

Bruce was now referred to by the English as "King Hob."  His kingship meant nothing, as he lived in the wilderness with his last few supporters.

But things were going to become still worse.  In an effort to protect the women, he sent Elizabeth, his daughter Marjorie, and his sisters Christian and Mary, to Kildrummy Castle for safety, escorted by his brother Nigel, or Niall.  The English, not surprisingly, laid siege to Kildrummy.  In the events that followed, Niall was killed by drawing and quartering, and in October, Bruce's wife, daughter, and sisters were taken captive.

No, it was very much not a good year.

With almost no one left at his side, Bruce fled here, to Arran to recuperate and regroup over that winter.


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