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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree - February/March 2005
The Other 70%

by Judith Lloyd

With Tartan Day right around the corner I thought I would write a bit on the event and its history as well as the area of Scotland where it all originated.

Tartan Day is celebrated in a few countries, though not all on the same date.  In Canada and the U.S. it is celebrated on April 6th through Senate Resolution 55 which was enacted in 1998 for the U.S.  The celebrating of Tartan Day on that date was started in Canada and quickly spread to the U.S. Last year the Scots also began celebrating this day of remembrance of one's Scottish heritage at the place of its beginning, the town of Arbroath. The largest celebration that I know of is in New York City where they have one of the largest parade of pipers in the world.  The reason the date was chosen is that it is the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath. The Abbey was built by King William the Lion in 1178 and was dedicated to Thomas Becket.  I would imagine that Robert the Bruce may have chosen this place for the gathering of the nobles since it was easily accessible from both highlands and lowlands alike in its perch on the North Sea coast. The Declaration was written by the Scots (purportedly by Bernard de Linton, abbot of the Abbey) and sent to Pope John XXI on April 6, 1320. It  proclaimed them a free and independent nation, declared that Robert the Bruce would be the King of Scotland, and asked him to intervene for them with the king of England, who at that time still considered Scotland as being under English rule. This document has been noted as the first document of its kind, declaring the independence of one nation from another.

Arbroath is the largest town in the district of Angus on the northeastern border of Scotland just north of the Firth of Tay and extends to just south of the Grampian Mountains.   It is not only known for the fact that the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath occurred here, but for the fact that theStone of Destiny, stolen from Westminster Abbey in 1950, suddenly appeared here in 1951.

The area of Angus ranges from the glens of Angus with its rolling hills and craggy mountains in the northwest to rich farmlands to seashores.  The ancient name for Angus is Angus, but at one time it was known as Forfarshire and is sometimes referred to by that name even today.  It was the home of the Lindsays, from the time when Sir David Lindsay of Crawford obtained lands there through marriage.  The Lindsays were considered a lowland clan even with their close proximity to the Grampian Highlands. In one of the glens of Angus is the ruins of Edzell Castle which was the home of the Lindsay Lord's of Edzell.  They were continually loyal to the Stewarts from Queen Mary through Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Another castle, more well known, is Castle Glamis which was built in the 1400's, was the childhood home of the Queen Mother, Elizabeth, and the birthplace of Princess Margaret.  Pictures of Castle Glamis show a well kept structure which is still in use today.

Fishing and agriculture are the main industries of Angus, though the city of Dundee, which sits on the Firth of Tay has been know as an industrial city for many years.  In the Strathmore valley of Angus are grown potatoes, fruit, and the black Angus cow.  This breed, now thriving in many countries, including the US, was at one time a very pampered, calm, and obedient animal, kept inside during the harsh winters of Scotland. It is imported by other countries for its ability to sustain itself in all types of weather and feeding ranges.

So as you attend your celebrations of Tartan Day this April, no matter where it may be, think of the reason we have such a day and the area it originated in.

Return to February/March 2005 magazine


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