In another piece of local history I knew nothing about until I visited its site, here are some photos from Ormond Castle, which I walked around the other weekend.
It’s not really a castle any more – in fact, not even “not really”, more “not at all”. It’s just a hill, flat at the top, that you think might once have been a good location for a castle. Which you would be right in thinking, because indeed it once was.
In the thirteenth century, according to both Wikipedia and the plaques adorning the cairn, the castle was where Andrew de Moray raised his standard during the Wars of Independence. He was a key ally of William Wallace, though died from injuries sustained at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.
As I say, there is a cairn, with a couple of plaques and a saltire on a flagpole. But not much more to indicate its historical importance, nor had I heard of it before. No doubt in many other countries, sites like this would be part of a nationally-renowned trail, something that commemorates key locations in Scotland’s history.
Not here; such things would be deemed “political”, perceptibly playing into the hands of nationalists. But what sort of timorous country would be ashamed of a period in its past when it fought for its very survival? Whether or not one believes that independence for Scotland was right then or is right now, it was certainly an important era in the country’s development which – thanks to the unhelpful romanticism of Braveheart et al – is not properly known.
Now of course, modern Scottish nationalism is a forward-looking movement and not one stuck in the past. But I can’t help thinking that if – or when – the referendum is won in 2014 and Scotland becomes independent, we’ll see a bit more exploration of our country’s history, turning the subject from a political football into something that is quite normal, as in other countries. Places like Ormond Castle deserve to be less the possession of romantics and distantly-focussed historical nationalists, and be instead the preserve of the entire country’s heritage.