Old Nungate Bridge carried a main route into Scotland over the river Tyne. A bridge has existed on the site since the 13th century but the present structure dates from about 1550. It is thus one of the oldest bridges in Scotland. It consists of three red sandstone arches and is 30 m. long. Masons’ marks on the stone suggest it may have been removed from ruined parts of the nearby St. Mary’s church. An iron hook remains in one of the arches from which criminals were hung. The bridge is now used only by pedestrians.
On August 7th 1548 the five year old Mary Stewart, Queen of Scots set sail from Dumbarton Castle, to France.
The ink must have been barely dry on the Treaty of Haddington when arrangements were made to send Mary to France. The agreement was that Queen Mary would be married to the French heir, the Dauphin, and be sent to France for her upbringing. This suited both countries, it gave the French a foothold in Scotland and it meant the young Queen would be safe, her early years were spent in an atmosphere of unease as her mother, Marie de Guise, sought to protect her from the predatory Scottish nobles who fought for the regency and for control.
The nobility was divided between those who supported the traditional French and Catholic alliance that Marie represented, and those who looked to a newly Protestant England to support the burgeoning Scottish Reformation.Despite this tension, Marie de Guise sought to give her daughter a happy childhood, and appointed four girls to be her companions and, later, ladies-in-waiting. And so it was she sailed down the Clyde Estuary to France with the French fleet with, Lords Erskine and Livingston, her nurse Jean Sinclair, her governess Lady Fleming, the four Maries, Ladies Fleming, Seton, Livingston and Beaton, three of her half-brothers and other children of the Scottish nobility. Six days later the fleet arrived at Roscoff in France.
The girls endured a rough crossing – all except the queen were afflicted with seasickness. Livingston and Fleming at least had the consolation of travelling with their families, since Lord Livingston and Lady Fleming as guardian and governess accompanied the queen. On arrival, Mary was immediately taken into the household of King Henri’s children. By all accounts she got on well with everyone, King Henri is quoted as saying “from the very first day they met, my son and she got on as well together as if they had known each other for a long time”
Without any doubt the next thirteen years were the happiest of her life, described in contemporary accounts as vivacious, beautiful, and clever,Mary learned to play lute and was competent in prose, poetry, horsemanship, falconry and needlework, she was taught French, Italian, Latin, Spanish, and Greek, in addition to speaking her native Scots.
In 1558 her wedding was a lavish event at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. The bride reportedly wore white - apparently starting that centuries-long tradition - and was exceptionally beautiful. A French poet, Pierre Brantome, described her appearance “… a hundred times more beautiful than a goddess of heaven … her person alone was worth a kingdom”
Mary became Queen of France when Henry II died the following year, but Francis died prematurely in December 1560, Mary was grief-stricken, her mother in law, Catherine de’ Medici, became regent for the late king’s ten-year-old brother Charles IX, who inherited the French throne, she was no longer welcome in France, within a year she bid a tearful farewell to the country she grew up in to return to the turmoil of post reformation Scotland.
The picture shows Mary with Francois from Catherine de’ Medici’s Book of Hours
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.
Tradition relates that in AD 832 the king of the Picts, ‘Aengus MacFergus’, with the support of 'Scots’ from Dalriada, won a great battle against King Athelstane of the Northumbrians. The site of the legendary battle became known as Athelstaneford in present-day East Lothian.
It is said that before the battle, King Aengus dreamt of St Andrew bearing his Saltire cross. According to the legend, during the battle Aengus saw a cross of white clouds against a blue sky.
The Picts and Scots won the battle. The Saltire - a white diagonal cross on a blue background - became the flag of Scotland and St Andrew was adopted as Scotland’s patron saint.
The Scottish Flag Heritage Centre in Athelstaneford, near Haddington in East Lothian, tells the story of King Aengus and the Battle.