athelstaneford

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Barnes Castle, East Lothian, Scotland

Barnes Castle is an unfinished castle, with a number of defensive banks, on the slope of the Garleton Hills, located 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) north-east of Haddington and close to Athelstaneford in East Lothian, Scotland. The castle was started by Sir John Seton of Barnes, diplomat at the court of Philip II of Spain and later James VI’s Treasurer of the Household and an Extraordinary Lord of Session, who died in 1594. The entrance gate was in the center of the south-west wall. It was a modern and symmetrical design for its time.

Athelstaneford - Birthplace of Scotland’s Flag 

The Saltire, the oldest flag in the British Commonwealth, has its origins in a battle which took place at Athelstaneford in East Lothian, some twelve miles east of Edinburgh. In the early ninth century at the site of the village, a large army led by Saxon king Athelstan met a force of Scots/Picts led by King Angus.

Seeing he was outnumbered Angus prayed to St Andrew, and just before the armies clashed a saltire appeared created by clouds which formed a cross against the blue sky. Angus realised this represented the cross on which St Andrew had been crucified, and took it as a sign that his forces would be victorious. With renewed heart, Angus and his men took to battle and a great victory followed.

In addition to being the birthplace of Scotland’s flag, Athelstaneford is home to Scotland’s oldest church, the original having been built in 1176. The village is important academically, too. Sir David Lyndsay, writer of the “Three Estates” was born in nearby Garleton Castle. Adam Skirving (1719-1803) East Garleton Farm, wrote the Lyric: “Hey Johnnie Cope” and the “Ballad of Prestonpans”. Two of its Ministers Robert Blair (1730-45) wrote the poem “The Grave” and John Home (1745-57) wrote the dramatic Play: “The Douglas Tragedy”.

Athelstaneford also has important links in military history. Sir John Hepburn, born in the village in 1598, founded the First or Royal Scots Regiment, of which he became its Colonel, before being made a Field-Marshal of France in 1636.

photo by vmanseventy

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Such is the legendary origin of the Scottish flag. A memorial stands in the churchyard at Athelstaneford, East Lothian, and there the flag of St Andrew, “azure, a saltire argent”. flies permanently.
Armorial of Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount 1542St Andrew was probably the patron of Scotland by the year 1000. In 1286, the Seal of the Guardians of Scotland already bears, on the obverse, a representation of St Andrew on his X-shaped cross, with the Latin inscription “ANDREA SCOTIS DUX ESTO COMPATRIOTIS” (St Andrew be leader of the compatriot Scots). In I 390, St Andrew was used as a national symbol on a coin of the realm, the five-shilling piece minted in the reign of Robert Ill.
In 1385, as the Scots made preparations to invade England, the Scots Parliament decreed that “every man shall have a sign before and behind, namely a white St Andrew’s Cross, and if his coat is white he shall bear the same white cross on a piece of black cloth”

On September 21st 1722 Minister, historian, playwright and tutor John Home born.
John Home was born in Leith, Edinburgh, on 21 September 1722. He was educated in Leith and then studied at Edinburgh University with a view to joining the Church. He was licensed as a probationer by the Presbytery of Edinburgh in 1745. During the Jacobite Rebellion he enlisted for the defence of Edinburgh and he was present at the Battle of Prestonpans and the Battle of Falkirk. For a short time he was imprisoned in Doune Castle. In 1747 Home became Minister of Athelstaneford, East Lothian. While at Athelstaneford he completed the tragedy of Agis which he took to London at the end of 1747. After his return to Scotland he set to work on his tragedy of Douglas founded on a popular Scottish ballad. Again he took it to London. Both of these tragedies had been rejected by David Garrick (1717-1779) the actor, manager, and dramatist, and so with the support of his contemporaries Douglas was put on in a theatre in Edinburgh’s Canongate in December 1756. Although the work was enthusiastically received by the public, the Church was outraged and the play was denounced as profane. 

In February 1757, Home went to London and in March the play was produced at Covent Garden by Rich. On his return to Scotland, the Church took proceedings against him but these were cut short when he resigned his charge at Athelstaneford. Soon after, Home was appointed as Private Secretary to Lord Bute and also became the tutor of the Prince of Wales. From this position he was able to persuade Garrick to put on Agis, and it was performed at Drury Lane in February 1758. In 1760, his Siege of Aquileia was produced at Drury Lane too, followed by Fatal discovery in 1769 and Alonzo in 1773. In 1802, Home published The history of the rebellion of 1745. John Home died in the Merchiston district of Edinburgh on 5 September 1808.

For me personally I love this anecdote from after the first performance of his play “Douglas”, people asked “Whaur’s yer Wully Shakespeare noo?”


It’s interesting how some history connects, Home, as well as having  the Prestonpans link from this date is also linked to Walter Scott , he is  depicted here on the Scott Monument