This one really wasn’t planned. I sometimes walk from work into Paisley to catch a bus. It helps clear my head plus of course it is good exercise. It was a bright, pleasant weekday teatime and I was proceeding on foot to Paisley. I was just in Gallowhill, not long having crossed the motorway, and I realised that the Marjorie Bruce cairn ahead of me would be a great Loose Ends link, connecting with Dirleton Castle in various ways. Dirleton is a medieval castle, Princess Marjory Bruce died in 1316, bang in the middle of that time period. That is perhaps a better connection than horses – Dirleton is right next to a farm, which has horses, Marjorie Bruce died by falling off one – so we’ll go with medieval. The cairn sits by the side of Renfrew Road, across from a KFC and a petrol station, in front of a housing scheme. It often strikes me as incongruous that a fairly important event in Scottish history, the King’s daughter dying, happened right there then again Scottish history is weird like that. We had a king, Alexander III, who died after falling off a cliff in Fife.
Princess Marjorie Bruce had a son who became King Robert II, the first Stewart king of Scotland, begatting a dynasty which caused no little bother in these islands and of course ultimately leading to the mob we have today. There are quite a few places connected with royalty in Scotland. The barony of Renfrew is one of Prince Charles’s lesser titles or I could go to Rothesay Castle, as he is Duke of there or indeed any one of the isles he is Lord of. His second son recently became Earl of Dumbarton, which I can happily go to, also linked to Mary, Queen of Scots who left from Dumbarton bound for France when she was wee. The Queen has at least two hooses in our fair land – Balmoral and the Palace of Holyroodhouse – and I could go to one of those. The castle known as the cradle of the Stewarts is Dundonald Castle in Ayrshire, which I’ve been meaning to go back to for yonks. Or I could go somewhere interesting next to a KFC and a Tesco Express. I’m sure there must be one or two.
I’ve actually spent longer writing this than I did looking at the cairn and taking photos of it. Sometimes that’s just the way of it but it’s a testament to the value of walking and what you see when you put one foot in front of another.
Thanks for reading. Another Loose Ends adventure follows next week. It wasn’t any of the connections suggested above.
Also, given that Marjorie Bruce lived in medieval times, there does not seem to be a standard way of spelling her first name. The cairn spells it one way and online sources spell it another. I’ve gone with the way the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (it is generally possible to get access with a public library membership) spells it.