Saturday, May 26, 2007

Wasp Bike, North Fife

A Queen wasp hibernates over winter and starts a new bike (nest) building the first part herself, builds the cells for the first workers. These are fed and reared, about 20 or so who then add to the bike in increasing layers until by the end of the summer the numbers are huge, males and virgin queens are grown and the cycle goes on with the queens only over-wintering. With my preference non stinging insects how we here will cope with them remains to be seen. Insects abound everywhere not least in North Fife and since these wasps have made their residence under the lintel of a front window we will see in future posts the outcome. Watch this space. zzzzzzz

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Shuttlefield, Newburgh, North Fife

Similar view of Shuttlefield Newburgh, North Fife Taken today. Shuttlefield Map. Shuttlefield can be seen from this aerial view running at about 9 o'clock from the junction of 5 roads, just below is a bowling green and a war memorial. The end of Shuttlefield runs into "top park" which still retains the contours of medieval field workings.

Shuttlefield, Newburgh, North Fife

An old view of Shuttlefield, Newburgh, North Fife, Scotland.

Kilmany, North Fife

An old view of Kilmany, North Fife, Scotland.

Kirkton of Balmerino, North Fife

An old view of Kirkton of Balmerino, North Fife, Scotland.

Newburgh, North Fife, Self Catering House

In a secluded and tranquil hillside location, on the fringe of Newburgh village, Abbotshill nevertheless enjoys easy and convenient access to the motorway, rail, bus and air networks, and provides a central base from which to explore the kaleidoscopes of sights, sounds, people and places which are so unique to Scotland. Newburgh is a thriving, welcoming and friendly village, of which the residents are justifiably proud, where age old tradition and the sense of community still prevail. Believed to have been in existence for some 1,300 years, this ancient Royal Burgh received it’s Charter from Alexander III in 1266, at which time it was known as the New Burgh, beside the Abbey of Lindores. Later privileges were granted by the Abbot in 1457, and yet more by both James VI and Charles I. When built in 1843, Abbotshill was so named, since Monks’ Well, from which fresh water for the Abbey was drawn centuries before, is a mere 50 yards distant, if now inaccessible. Abbotshill House.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Newburgh North Fife

Newburgh looking West early in the morning with the sun in the East

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ballinbreich Castle North Fife

Most days I travel to Newburgh and each time in passing I gaze at the ruins of this castle and think of the times when it was alive and vibrant. Apparently the stonework from the beginning was of unusually high standard and over time has been understandably robbed of choice pieces. Ballinbreich is one of the oldest celtic names in Fife and is a corruption of Balan-breac, meaning "town of trouts". This is of course a reference to the salmon to be found there, and even in modern times it has enjoyed the reputation of being a first class fishing station. Alas no longer as the nets have gone along with the decline of salmon and trout.

Ballinbreich (popularly Bambreich), a ruined ancient castle in Flisk parish, North Fife, on a steep bank overhanging the Firth of Tay, 2¾ miles NE of Newburgh. It was a parallelogram, 180 feet long by 70 wide, with an enclosed court; consisted, on three sides, of buildings four stories high, on the fourth side of a high curtain wall; was surrounded by a moat; and is now a mere shattered shell, of picturesque outline, embosomed in a small plantation. The Earls of Rothes long resided in it, and took from it the title Baron Ballinbreich (cre. 1457). The estate connected with it was purchased by Sir Lawrence Dundas, grandfather of the first Earl of Zetland. An ancient place of worship stood adjacent to the E side of the castle, on what is still called Chapel Hill.

Birkhill North Fife

These giant redwoods are an example of some of the magnificent trees on Birkhill estate. The clement climate and varied soil types in North Fife gives rise to abundant growth.

Birkhill North Fife

Birkhill is the family home of the Earl Alexander Henry Scrymgeour, 12th Earl of Dundee and Siobhan Mary Llewellyn Countess of Dundee and their family, as well as their two friendly dogs! They say that guests will very quickly feel at home in the friendly atmosphere. Located on the shores of the River Tay, a short distance from St Andrews, the castle offers a wide range of facilities for corporate and private groups alike. The castle is also a most romantic venue for weddings.Set in glorious countryside, right on the coast in North East Fife, Birkhill was built in 1780. The house is surrounded by beautiful gardens and guests can wander through these and see a number of rare trees and plants. Birkhill is primarily a family home and offers a warm welcome to all that cross its front door.

Although the castle focuses on private and corporate groups, accommodation is also available on a bed and breakfast basis and private dining can also be provided for non-resident groups (both strictly by prior arrangement).

The Countess of Dundee
KY15 4QP

T: +44 (0)1382 330 200
F: +44 (0)1382 330 230

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Welsh poppies in North Fife

These bright yellow poppies bloom much earlier than red and oriental varieties and seem to attract mainly hover flies.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Bees North fife

I have alluded to non-aggressive bees in a previous post, here is an example of a non stinging masonry bee sheltering from the wind on a bramley apple tree in my garden North Fife,see how soft, almost limp compared to others, by the way.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Creich Castle North Fife

Creich Castle backed by Normans Law in North Fife, as with many abandoned stone buildings the reachable dressed stones have been removed and recycled many years ago.
The nearly solid rock mound in an old marsh offered a good place to build a defensive tower. Rock gave a solid foundation and marsh slowed the advance of the enemy. In the 8th and 9th centuries Viking raiders rowed their longships up the river looking for rich farms to attack. The ridge between the rock mound and the Tay afforded a lookout point little noticed from the river. If the Vikings did stop to attack, there was time to gather goods and people to the rock mound in the middle of the marsh.

The Earl MacDuff chose this site for one of his defensive towers. A trustworthy family of his clan was installed as Constable of this new defensive tower south of the River Tay. Called Creich Castle - a castle on a rock in Gaelic language, very similar to old Celtic French language. Queen Gruoch (Lady MacBeth of the old Scoto-Pictish royal line) was contemporary to and cousin to King Malcom Canamore. Malcom killed most of the rivals of the Clan MacDuff (Queen Gruoch line). Malcolm and Margaret Althing of England produced several children. Aethelred, oldest son, married the heiress of Clan MacDuff (Queen Gruoch line). He was installed as Earl of Fife and Abbott of Abernethy to reduce tensions between rivals.

Aethelred and his wife (Scoto-Pictish royal line) produced several children. The oldest son was to inherit Earldom of Fife. One of the younger sons was installed as Constable of Creich, probably, as was the custom, by marriage into the Creich family. This son and his wife lived in Creich Castle as part of the extended royal family. Also, as was the custom, the oldest son inherited property; later sons were installed as knighted clergy. This way the family was able to hold administrative, military, and religious control of their assigned territory for the Crown.

The first Creich by name is recorded as Donald de Creich, a knighted cleric, after the fashion of the new Norman society. Simon de Creich was the religious Canon of Moray. The male line of Creich Castle family failed in 1353. The oldest daughter married Andrew Murdock, contemporary of King James I. Reared in the Norman English court with King James, both went back to Scotland as young men. Andrew Murdock was the grandson of King Robert Bruce, son of Robert, Earl of Fife who died in 1420. Andrew Murdock now became the Duke of Albany, strongest figure in Scotland, second to the king. Married to a wife reared at Creich Castle, related by blood and marriage to most of the landed gentry of Fife, the Duke spent much time in the rich farmland area. Edinburgh was full of strife and intrigue. Creich was peaceful and family.

King James V had a first son by a distant relative, but the child was born out of wedlock (very common occurence in the best of families). This son, Lord James Stuart, was not elligible to be king, so was created the Earl of Moray. I believe Moray moved the studious members of family Creich to Edinburgh to be his trusted clerical staff.

Kinsmen of the Leddel and Beaton families were installed as Constable of Creich Castle. Farmers of Creich family stayed on the farm to continue to produce the food required by the favorite royal castle of Falklands. The Laird of Creich, Beaton by name, had an older brother who was the Archbishop of St. Andrews nearby. The third son of Laird Creich, Davie Beaton, went to work for his uncle, the Archbishop of St. Andrews. Hard-working, he married a distant cousin named Margaret, daughter of Lord Ogilvie of Airlie. Lord Ogilvie was and is now the Chief of the ancient Pict clan of Ogilvie and Angus, living at Castle Airles Angus.

Scotland needed a superb ambassador to France and Davie Beaton was appointed. While in France, Beaton was persuaded to take Holy Orders of the French Roman Catholic Church. Now Beaton was eligible to become the Archbishop of St. Andrews and ancient Kingdom of Fife. Davie Beaton did, in fact, follow his uncle to this postion. He was married to Lady Margaret Ogilvie for his entire Iifetime. When asked about being a priest and also married, he replied," I was married in Scotland. Later became a priest in France. Two countries and two different set of rules. I shall remain both!" Davie Beaton, Archbishop of St. Andrews was now the senior priest of both Roman Catholic and Old Celtic religious orders...Primate of Scotland.

Margaret and Davie were devoted to each other, and produced many healthy children. It seems that Lady Margaret lived most of her life at Creich Castle within the household of her father-in-law, the Laird of Creich. Those were violent times and disputes were settled by violence to all parties involved. Being reared in Creich Castle, most of the children of Davie and Margaret used the name Creich. Their grandfather was the Laird of Creich, a royal property !

The children of Davie Beaton and Lady Margaret Ogilvie were reared in Creich Castle with full knowledge of their ancestry. On their father's side were the Earl MacDuff, Robert the Bruce, Earl MacBeth, Queen Gruoch, the Malcolm Kings, Queen Margaret Althing of Hungarian royalty, English royalty and Thor Finn the Mighty's sister, Queen lngaborg, first wife of Malcolm Canamore III. On their mother's side their grandfather was Lord Ogilvie Earl of Angus, descendant of the Pictish kings of Angus. These children knew they were not ordinary landless peasants! They were children of Creich Castle, a royal property for 600 years!

Mary, Queen of Scots, had four ladies-in-waiting. One was Mary Beaton of Creich. Queen Mary often wrote of the kindness of the Laird of Creich in keeping Castle Falklands with plenty of good food while she lived at Falkland. The town of Creich, Scotland, grew up with Creich parish as a market place for Church.

By the time John Knox returned to Scotland preaching Calvinism, the Scottish throne and supporting nobility were corrupt. The nobility was using the Church in a way never seen before in Europe. Church was part and parcel of the scheme to keep control of the people and the nation. Christianity was preached, but not practiced. The Archbishop of St. Andrews, Davie Beaton of Creich Castle, religious primate of Scotland, made an enemy of Henry VIII of England, who wanted his daughter on the throne of Scotland. Beaton supported Mary as queen. No agreement could be reached. King Henry sent a professional assassin to murder Beaton. Learning of the plot, Beaton had the assassin tried and convicted of heresy. He watched from his episcopal window as George Wisehart burned at the stake. The next year a group of Scots nobles crept into Beaton's bedroom and stabbed him to death. They hanged his naked body by the ankle from the same episcopal window for all to see. Any friends or family of Davie Beaton, Archbishop of St. Andrews, were under death threats. The Laird of Creich and his family fled. John Knox preached for their death, and the castle was occupied by his followers and the property convered to his use. Mary, Oueen of Scots, was driven from the nation, Creich Castle was no longer a royal property and the official religion became Presbyterian.

To survive they must change their name and renounce their ancestors or keep their family name and leave home. Surely some chose security and renounced their heritage. The defiant ones kept their name and moved to areas where the name Creich was not associated with Archbishop Davie Beaton. Thus did the family name of Creich disappear from Castle Creich after 600 years of living there.

Richard Creich (Creech is the English spelling) emigrated to Jamestown, Virginia, as a mercenary guard to the English tobacco farmers. This Richard was killed on the outer perimeter of Jamestown during an attack by indians. His wife and daughter also died, but his two sons away at school at the time survived to become ancestors of the Family Creich in the colonies.

Friday, May 04, 2007

North Fife Flowers

Bluebells North Fife

Wayside Flowers North Fife

This time of the year as spring turns into summer the unique North Fife landscape abounds in blossom of many kinds, wild and cultivated.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Luthrie North Fife

There are three churches, two in ruins within a mile of each other surrounding Brunton, all within Creich though Luthrie is the only service functional one, the Minister presides over two others and the Sunday meetings are rotated. A sign of the times. Brunton itself arose through the church. The houses were each attributed land to ensure the occupants could support themselves with food, vegetables, pigs and such like. The main income came from the production of linen. The drying and sun bleaching fields still form the outer perimeter of Brunton. It is a tiny Hamlet, quaint and well tended and now attracting awards for the best kept village in North Fife. The Church itself houses some splendid stained glass windows and reflects the relative wealth of local donors of the times.