The last instalment of the Loose Ends series saw me at Tranter’s Bridge at Aberlady Bay in East Lothian. I fancied going to Culross anyway but decided to tie it into Loose Ends, linking Nigel Tranter to Glasgow where he was born. Glasgow’s patron saint is St. Mungo who was born in…Culross. Thenew, his mother, was expelled by her father, King Loth, in disgrace back in the 6th century. She was cast out in an open boat and came aground up the Forth at Culross, where she was rescued by monks and gave birth to Mungo. Thenew was put out to sea in Aberlady so another definitive link there, though one I didn’t realise until I read the NTS guidebook sitting on a bench in Culross.
I got there about 3pm and I decided to go get a ticket to get into the Palace though I swiftly learned that last admission was 3.20pm. I am not a big fan of National Trust houses anyway and so I quite cheerfully didn’t bother, saving a few quid by just picking up the aforementioned guidebook. As I walked along, I looked across the Forth towards Grangemouth and Longannet, their silhouettes appearing through the haze. The old pier seems to be in the midst of restoration though I walked over to the other side where there were a few fine quotes and sayings on posts. Interestingly by the pier was a Chilean flag and it was only when I read the guidebook and looked at the statue of Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, that I realised that Cochrane was involved in getting various countries independent, including a fair few in South America as well as Greece. Hence the little bit of Chile in Fife.
I sat for a while in the Hanging Garden with a splendid view over the burgh and Palace. I read the guidebook then howled at Leathered, the latest novella by Chris McQueer which had come through the post the day before. I thought about some links to other places, obviously with Glasgow Cathedral where St. Mungo’s remains are, but also through mining to Prestongrange, Newtongrange and numerous other places. The name Dundonald could also take me to Dundonald Castle down in Ayrshire. A house once home to Bishop Leighton would also lead to his library which still exists in Dunblane.
I did a wee bit of psychogeography after that, following closes and streets and admiring the 16th and 17th century buildings all around me. I ended up going up a hill to the ruins of Culross Abbey and instantly regretted only having a few minutes as the Abbey was in a stunning setting. There wasn’t terribly much in the ruins bar an interesting ceiling and some pillars but that did me fine. If I had longer, I would have sat under a tree and pondered some more. A particular highlight was the information board which mentioned James Inglis, Abbot of Culross, who was murdered in 1530. He was a poet before going into the God business and Sir David Lindsay, prominent playwright of the time, said ‘Culros has his pen maid impotent’. It certainly would have if he ended up ambushed and deid.
All too soon and I was back on the bus to Dunfermline, feeling very much better for my two hours in Culross amidst the history and sunshine, another connection done.