Jan 162011

The small town of Newburgh (pronounced “new-burra”), a mere 5 miles away from my doorstop here in Auchtermuchty, Fife, is rapidly teaching me the value of looking past a community’s surface blah-ness to discover its real personality, like taking the time to talk to the shy kid in the back of the class that is in reality scribbling down masterpieces in his notebook. I approached this town in my first week in Scotland, simply because it was the farthest I was willing to drive in my early days of UK driving terror, determined to keep myself entertained for an afternoon, acquiring a decent donut at the bare minimum. I left that day with an enriched understanding of the history of linoleum manufacturing, a new ball of homespun cashmere yarn, and the taste of my first cream donut lingering on my lips.

Today, feeling I’d already conquered the town, I grabbed my partner and headed towards it’s guardian hill, Ormiston. Armed with “Kingdom of Fife, 40 Coast and Country Walks” by Dan Bailey, a book that has become my little get-me-out-of-here-for-an-afternoon evangelist, we parked on the west side of town and began our walk. It’s strategy of ascent was to head straight up the hill without ceremony, which immediately endeared my partner to it. The endless feet of snow that has been falling from the sky in the last 2 months has all melted in just the last few days, so no matter where you stood, you were either IN an impromptu lake or IN an expanded girth of a burn (stream). I got over the wet feet resistance right away and learned to exaggerate for comic enjoyment the slipping about in mud and sheep poop. The views of the Ochils, the River Tay, and Clatchard Craig Quarry were nice but I was the most pleased when I looked up onto the slope of a neighboring hill and beheld my very first ever ‘crop circle’! (photo above) I can’t figure out what it is of. Maybe a yeti picking flowers off a saguaro cactus? A stalk-hugging bear? Dunno, but was thrilled to see the unification of art and agriculture in such a sleepy little town.

Down from the hill, we headed towards the ruins of Lindores Abbey to satiate my fondness for walls (which is all that is left of the dear place). Also in the ruins we found a recently hung tire swing, which I would have given a little spin if it wouldn’t have soiled my precious Paramo trousers, and what appeared to be the remains of an open casket, which I also would have lain in if it weren’t for the pants. Stifled by the love of my own gear, I was. But these were considerably odd things to find in an abbey ruin, and we kind of got the feeling we weren’t really supposed to be there and headed towards a trail along the river banks.

The River Tay was flowing with the majesty of the Nile with all of that snowmelt it was shouldering. Wide, rapid, and swallowing the limits of its banks and reeds, it also had apparently swallowed a little boat of some kind near the path. I’m sure it had already been a wreck, but wondered how much of it was usually visible, what it looked like, and of course whether or not there was a little chest of treasure in it. Today just wasn’t the day to scuba the Tay, so after a quick turn on the swing in the park, it was back to the car and Muchty.

Next weekend: 4 days in the Black and Red Cuillin on the Isle of Skye!  Will I conquer “The Bad Step”?

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  6 Responses to “~Scotland~Ormiston Hill~A Crypt, a Crop Circle, and a Sunken Craft”

  1. This might be relevant.


    I like your photos.

  2. Brilliant!! Thanks John!! It was making me crazy trying to figure out what the image was.. !

  3. enjoy the cuillin – the bad step is fine on the way in, but not on the way out…or the other way round, depending on whether you are left or right handed! But its a stunning loch so well worth it

  4. uh-oh.. because I’m going in from inland and out from the loch … hmmm… I do have a plan b 🙂 Don’t want to fall into that ocean 🙂

  5. I loved reading this post Kim! All of it! The early days of discovery and then the recent revelations; wonderful! So much heritage and so much to find out. I used to live in Warwickshire so the bear and shaft were instantly recognisable as it was used on the County arms when you entered, though I still don’t know how he’d migrated to your neck of the woods! I do remember driving past a crop circle on my way to work one day (up here) and gazing in awe (avoiding crashing); it looked so perfect, how could it be man made? Anyway…
    So jealous of the trip to Skye; I really do hope you love it and I’ll look forward to visiting your blog next week xx

  6. Here’s the skinny on the “crop circle” (gotta love Google):

    The bear is believed to be a depiction of a stone called the bear stone, from which the Bear Tavern takes its name, and was originally set into the abbot’s residence at Lindores Abbey.
    The bear and ragged staff is a device of the Earls of Warwick, and as a crozier or pastoral staff is evident above the now obliterated arms of Warwick, it may be he assumed that the stone was caused to be made by Guy, the first Abbot who was a cadet (the brother or son) of that family.
    The origin of the legend of the bear goes back to the time of Arthur and the round table. One of his knights was Arthgal whose name in the British language was Arsh meaning bear.
    The ragged staff is attributed to Morvidus, an earl of the same family who slew a giant with a young tree which he had pulled up by the roots.
    On the 12th June 926, a most terrible single combat took place between the champions of the Kings of England and Denmark, when Guy, Earl of Warwick slew Colebrand, an African giant. In the castle of Warwick can still be seen the helmet and spear of the redoubtable Guy, who is reputed to have been 7 ft. in height and the hero of many legendary stories.
    In 1076, the bear and ragged staff became Norman property when Henry de Newburgh was created Earl of Warwick He was the second son of Roger de Bellemonte, a knight of William the Conqueror and a commander in his army during the 1066 invasion. The male line of the Newburgh family ceased in 1242. A female descendant of Henry de Newburgh named Isabel was mated to Simon de Lis, 2nd Earl of Huntingdon. They had no family and on the death of Earl Simon, the King offered the title to William ‘The Lion’, King of Scotland who gave it to his brother David the founder of Lindores Abbey.
    Earl David was succeeded by his son John le Scot on whose death without issue in 1237 the earldom fell into abeyance.
    The bear on the hill was cut for a local festival / community project in 1980. The outline was ploughed by a worker from Parkhill Farm, and permission for the outline was given by Mr. Tom Howieson from Parkhill Farm The bear was cut onto Park hill, southeast of Lindores Abbey, not far from Newburgh. The figure was recut at New Year; it is constructed from a shallow trench in which the vegetation is regularly removed mainly by burning.

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