"A Man's a Man for all that!" - Rabbie Burns
Feb 9, 2008
This is a Panoramic view of Dunottar Castle, Stonehaven near Aberdeen in Scotland.
42x14 Photographic Print. This is a wonderfully atmospheric photograph of Dunottar Castle
A little of The History of Dunottar Castle
William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II, all stayed Dunottar Castle. the castle is perhaps best known as the site where Cromwell’s army was thwarted for eight months by a small garrison who saved the the ‘Honours of Scotland" (the Scottish Crown Jewels). The Honours of Scotland consist of a Crown, sceptre and sword and are now kept at Edinburgh Castle.
In 1685 of a group of Covenanters who refused to acknowledge the King’s supremacy in spiritual matters where imprisoned in the castle in the ‘Whig’s Vault’. The Whigs’ Vault is a chamber about 15 feet by 15 feet, and 12 feet high with two tiny windows once secured by strong iron bars. High in the stone walls are cut horizontal niches from which prisoners were hung by their hands.
At that time authorities in London and Edinburgh were concerned about their Covenanters prisoners who were being kept in the Tolbooths in the High Street and the Canongate of Edinburgh.
On the 18th of May the prisoners were taken down to Leith,Edinburgh, where they were kept overnight in open boats, and ferried the next morning at daybreak across the Firth to Burntisland.
There were initially over 22o of prisoners but the Laird of Gosford at Burntisland then satisfied himself that a number were of little concern and these were returned to Edinburgh. The remaining 184 were to be sent to the vault in Dunnottar Castle. The prisoners were then marched through Fife and Forfar during which time some escaped. Some more had died by the journeys end, 45 women and 122 men– 167 souls - to be imprisoned castle Dunottar.
The Governor of the castle, George Keith of Whiteridge then saw that the prisoners were herded into the cramped and filthy Whigs vault where there was barely air to breath or room to sit. For days, despite the sickness of some, the prisoners were kept in the dark and with only meagre provisions. The soldiers forced the prisoners to pay even for water to drink.
Later forty were taken to a dungeon beneath the vault, a hell below a hell. This cell had no light at all save through a small slit in the wall. The Governor's wife became aware of this however and entreated her husband to make some small steps to alleviate their suffering.
25 prisoners decided to attempt an escape and let themselves down the perilously steep rocks which overhang the sea. The prisoners were in such poor physical condition however that they could not evade their jailors for long and 15 were sooon re-captured.
The re-captured were then taken to the guard-house and laid and bound on benches. Then they were tortured for hours with fire to their hands. It is said that some had the bones of their hands reduced to ashes.
Eventually the flames of the Covenanters rebellion dimmed and the prisoners of Dunotter Castle were offerred release if they would swear allegiance. Some, broken by their imprisonment did swear the oath. The majority though, despite their ordeal, stood firm and for their pains were sent in a fever-stricken ship to the plantations in the Americas.