From the recording Our Living Rivers and Glens
I initially found that there was almost too much which inspired me within the interactive project map; it’s a great tool. After much deliberation I settled upon writing three different tunes inspired by three very different subjects. The pieces can be played separately or as a set or suite of music.
The Death of Lulach as Essie: The Essie burn flows below the hill of Tap o’ Noth near Rhynie and it was here in 1058, between the hills of Tap o’ Noth and Milduan, that a small but important battle took place which would change the course of Scottish history (The battle site is unmarked on the Ordinance Survey map but details of its site are mentioned in the “Canmore National Record of the Historic Environment” web page). I visited what’s thought to be the site of the battle on a very wet but atmospheric morning during the summer of 2021 and it’s obvious that this lonely site rarely visited. Lulach was High King of Scotland for less than a year following the death of his stepfather Macbeth, near Lumphanan in 1057. Lulach and Macbeth were the last High Kings of Scotland to be interred on the Holy Isle of Iona.
Hosie’s Tears: This piece was inspired by a tragic legend which I was previously unaware of and I’m grateful Professor Pete Stollery for uploading it to the map. Legend says that on the eve of his wedding to Jean, Hosie decided to take part in the defence of Aberdeen and the north east from an invading West Highland army led by the Lord of the Isles. In the battle which followed (Harlaw 1411) Hosie was said to have fought well but he was captured and carried to the Hebrides in chains. Held captive for several years, he eventually escaped and made his way home to the Garioch. Meanwhile Jean, who had though Hosie slain at Harlaw had recently become engaged. Upon his return, Hosie visited the spot overlooking Bennachie where Jean and he had first sworn their love for each other and it was here that Jean and his fiancee came upon him by the side of the path. Jean dies of shock, right on the spot and Hosie dies of a broken heart by her side. The pair were buried together on the spot and almost immediately a spring appeared which is said to be the tears of Hosie which flow eternally for his lost love.
Millert o’ Rhynie: One of the contributors to the interactive map was Allan Mackintosh from Rhynie, and I was interested to hear him talking about his grandfather during one of the project workshops. His grandfather had been the miller at Rhynie and being a great character had clearly been a man about whom you could write a song or a Bothy Ballad. I really felt that it needed a reel to go with Hosie’s Tears so I decided to write one in memory of Millert.