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Dance The Bob of Fettercairn 610

Reel · 24 bars · 2 couples · Longwise - 4

Devised by
William (18C) Campbell (1796)
88 80 88 = 83% (1 turn), 57% (whole dance)
  • Skip-Change, Slip-Step
Published in
Recommended Music
Extra Info
The Bob of Fettercairn

(See also “The Bob o’ Dowally”)

In the Howe of The Mearns in Kincardine, an east coast county between Aberdeen and Montrose, is the inland valley of Fettercairn. There, in a pleasant landscape of rolling hills and fertile fields are four “castles”, all of which have a story to tell.

The oldest, “Finella’s Castle of Fethercarne”, a legendary ruin on the banks of Devilly Burn, was the home of the daughter of the Earl of Angus and the wife of the Mormaer or Earl of The Mearns. Local tradition has it that in 995, Finella or Fenella, in revenge for the murder of her son by Kenneth II, artfully contrived the king’s assassination by lavishly decorating a room in one of the castle’s towers. Around the walls she hung tapestries and behind them she created an arrangement of crossbows and arrows. In the centre of the room, as the piece de resistance, she placed a bronze statue of Kenneth holding a golden apple in his hand. After the banquet which she and her husband gave for the king, she invited him to view the room and, human nature being what it is, when he saw the golden apple extended toward him, the kingly hand reached for it, thus triggering a device by which the arrows flew from behind the tapestries and Kenneth fell dead. After an event like that it was to be expected that Finella gained the reputation of being a witch and legend describes her flying over the Howe to Ecclesgreig, now St. Cyrus, where she died in Finella’s Den.

The second, now demolished, was the royal castle of Kincardine where in 1296 John Balliol, “Toom Tabard”, surrendered Scotland’s sovereignty to the might of Edward I. Balliol and his son, Edward, were transported to England and, later to France where Balliol died on his Norman estates. (See “The Auld Alliance”)

Nearby is the tower house of Balbegno, built in 1596 by John Wood, a descendant of Admiral Sir Andrew Wood of Largo. Sir Andrew, who has been referred to as the Scottish Nelson, a gross exaggeration, fought two minor but successful sea battles against the English in 1489. One took place in the Firth of Forth, two Scots ships against five English, and the other a few months later began in the firth and ended off the coast of Angus. As thrilling as those battles must have been to the Scots, crowds of whom watched from the shore, they were an embarrassment to James IV who wanted at all costs to maintain peace with Henry VII, an effort which he courageously sustained until Henry VIII came to the throne of England and cast greedy eyes upon Scotland.

The fourth, Fettercairne House, tells a typically 18th century story of heroine, hero and a foredoomed romance. Built around 1660 by John, 1st Earl of Middleton, it became the home of Williamina Belsches, daughter of Sir John Belsches and granddaughter of the Earl of Leven and Melville. Impressionable Williamina was fifteen years old when she met the nineteen year old Walter Scott whose literary genius was beginning to bud. Heavily influenced by German, French and Italian romances, Scott fell in love with the young heiress and she, also being of romantic fabric, found in Scott a companion rather different from the other young men who frequented the balls in the Assembly Rooms during the Edinburgh season. However, her mother had other plans for Williamina’s future and within a very few years she was affianced to William Forbes, the son of Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, an influential banker of Coutts, later Forbes Hunter and Company, whose firm provided much of the funding necessary to the building of the “new” Edinburgh. It is doubtful if Williamina was ever really in love with the future Sir Walter. For his part, Scott was grief-stricken. But his sorrow fed his genius and in 1796, a few months before Williamina and young William were married, Scott published a poem ironically entitled, “William and Helen”.

The Bob of Fettercairn 2/4L · R24
1c+2c circle4 and back
1c lead down the middle and up
1c+2c Allemande
The Bob of Fettercairn 2/4L · R24
1s+2s circle 4H round & back
1s lead down the middle & up to top
1s+2s dance Allemande

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Andrew Carnegie SCD Club, Auckland, NZ, 2023

Added on: 2023-06-01 (Murrough Landon)
Quality: Good

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