A major exhibition on Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites is being held this summer in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh from 23rd June until 12th November. Full details can be found by clicking here. It is of particular relevance to the Antiquaries because its curator, David Forsyth, will be speaking on this topic in the Society's forthcoming autumn programme.
On schedule at 1300 hours, 29 members boarded one of Ann's Coaches and departed on the first leg of the journey along the recently re-engineered roadworks of the M80, M73 and the M74 to South Lanarkshire. First stop was Low Parks Museum in Hamilton meet the guide for the tour of the Hamilton Mausoleum.
Hamilton Mausoleum. Built in the grounds of Hamilton Palace, the Mausoleum became the resting place of the Dukes of Hamilton In keeping with the grandiose plans of Hamilton Palace, Alexander, the 10th Duke of Hamilton, replaced the family burial vault in a nearby dilapidated collegiate church with a Roman-style domed structure. Building works started in 1842 and was completed in 1858 some 5 years after the death of the 10th Duke. The Duke was interred in an Egyptian sarcophagus while 17 of his ancestors were interred in the crypt below. The guide stated that the Mausoleum was 37m high but that over time due to mining subsidence the building had settled by some 16 feet or so. Because of this and potential flooding from the River Clyde, the family was re-buried in Hamilton’s Bent Cemetery. But more was to be revealed after we entered the building and appreciated the similarity of its internal architecture to the Pantheon in Rome.
|Members of the Society listening to the guide at Hamilton Mausoleum|
|Members inside the Mausoleum|
Inside the Mausoleum we were shown the original bronze doors featuring bas-relief similar to those on the Baptistery Chapel in Florence. Also on display was the sarcophagus, the beautiful multi-coloured marbled floor (possibly with Masonic symbolism), the niched walls and the 'Whispering Wa's' or walls that allow a whispered conversation to be overheard. Finally, and by no means least, the guide demonstrated a 15 second reverberation that at one stage held the world record. A great start to the day with a friendly well informed and very enthusiastic guide.
Low Parks Museum. The next part of the outing was a return to the Museum where we arrived just before the cafe was about to close. Refreshed, we learned that the Museum was opened in 1967 as the Hamilton District Museum and is located close to the site of the Palace which was demolished in 1927. The Museum comprises two main buildings – Portland built in 1696 and the Palace Riding School built in 1837. The group was given sufficient free time to visit the various exhibitions which included an extensive displays about the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and the history of the Dukes of Hamilton and their Palace. Exhibits also told the history of South Lanarkshire with an emphasis on weaving, agriculture and coal mining.
Roman bath-house. The next part of the trip was to Strathclyde Country Park to see the remains of the Bothwellhaugh Roman bath-house. Considered to have been in use between 142 and 162 AD it was surveyed in 1975 and because of potential flood damage was excavated and relocated to its current site in 1980. To the delight of us all, the Society’s secretary Don Martin was persuaded to give an account of the bath-house which comprised the changing room, the cold room (Frigidarium), two warm rooms (Tepidarium), a hot room (Caldarium) and the furnace room.. Adjacent to this site we were shown the so called Roman Bridge that spans the south Calder Water. However, also known as a pack-horse bridge it is unlikely to be Roman but rather late medieval and possibly about 500 years old.
|Don Martin interpreting the visible remains of the bath-house|
|Members about to leave Strathclyde Park for dinner in Bothwell|
Fortunately in spite of some thunder and a heavy sky, the weather held and we arrived dry at the Riva Restaurant, Bothwell for dinner. Saited and happy we arrived back in Kirkintilloch at about 20.15 after a most enjoyable half days' outing. Perhaps a precedent had been set.
Report by David Graham