The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art


I happened upon this whilst looking for Menteith-related stories. So it's not exclusively about this area, but does include it. And I think it's really nice. It mentions white bulls - those famous ancient beasts of the Tain (or Cattle Raid of Cooley) epic, and maybe the sort whose descendents you can visit at Chillingham. Thoughts of the wild wood I suppose. The original was written in Latin by Hector Boece in his 'Scotorum Historiae'. But there's a translation of the 1575 version at this website
Marching with Argyll and Lennox in the interior lie the districts of Sterling and Menteith, and not far distant a town of this same name of Sterling, together with a very stout castle formerly named Mons Dolorosus. Once upon a time the Caledonian forest began here, and the old names Callendar and Caldar still remain. It ran in a long expanse through Menteith and Stratherne as far as Athol and Lochaber.

This forest is wont to produce very white bulls that have lion-like manes but otherwise resemble domesticated ones, but they are so wild and untamed that they avoid contact with men, and if they sense that some plant or tree has been touched by human hand, they shun it for several days thereafter. If they are captured by some trick (a very difficult thing to do), they soon die of sorrow. And when they see they are being attacked, they charge whomever they encounter and lay him low, having no fear of dogs, javelins, nor any kind of steel.

They say that Robert Bruce, having gained the throne and pacified his kingdom, hunted here for his recreation and came close to destruction. For when he was wandering about wherever his fancy took him, carefree and unescorted, he was confronted by a bull of this kind that had been wounded by a hunting-dart. Driven to a frenzy, it confronted Robert and threatened him with imminent death, and the king had no way of avoiding the danger. While all his company saw this and were standing stock-still in amazement, one present-minded man, willing to sacrifice his life for the king's sake, took the bull by the horns with might and main, and not only stopped it in its tracks, but very courageously wrestled it to the ground without suffering any harm himself.

Then the bull was slain by the spears of those who came a-running, and this averted the king's impending death. As a reward for saving his life, the king handsomely rewarded the fellow by conferring on him the name of Turnbull. Families of this name, possessed of no small degree of nobility, still exist, and that king is said to have been the first to give them this name and distinction.

The meat of this animal is delightful to eat and our nobility is particularly fond of it, although it does have gristle. But the gaming that used to be found in all that forest are now to be seen only in that part which is called Cumbernauld, having been hunted to extinction elsewhere to appease Man's gluttony.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
1st March 2011ce
Edited 2nd March 2011ce

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