Thursday, 16 February 2012

Meigle Knights

Fantasy Bob is sure that the hearts and minds of his world wide readership are with Scotland's cricketers as they meet the challenge of the UAE in their ICC Championship match that gets underway in Sharjah today.

Sir Drummo
Scotland have played 2 matches in the round-robin tournament. While they are unbeaten, they have had 2 draws which puts them a bit behind table toppers Ireland who scraped a second win last week against Kenya after being bowled out for 75 in the first innings. So come on Scotland.

Travelling from the dead of Scotland's winter to the Middle East for a global cricket tournament seems to FB a trek of the sort that once was enshrined in the legends of Arthur - although there is no evidence that the Knights of the Round Table were all that keen on cricket, preferring jousting and similar activities. However Scottish skipper Gordon Drummond may well have a connection with Arthurian lore and be a worthy successor to the Gawains and Lancelots. He could be Sir Drummo.................

Drummo was born and bred in the Perthshire town of Meigle. But there are other reasons to celebrate Meigle. For one thing, it contains the home and the burial place of long past British Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. Campbell-Bannerman was the first holder of the office to be called Prime Minister (previously known as the First Lord of the Treasury) and he led a liberal administration which introduced, among other things, free school meals and pensions for the over 70s. While Bannerman had no reported interest in cricket, he had to resign through ill health before he could consider legislation for free cricket coaching for all children.  But FB digresses - he was building up Drummo as an Arthurian hero...................

Meigle 2
And here is the point, Meigle is also celebrated for its fine collection of Pictish carved stones. Perhaps the finest of these is known, with scant regard for poetry, as Meigle 2. It is 2.5m high and probably once stood beside the entrance to the churchyard. The stone features a wheel-headed cross with raised bosses, resembling the rivet heads of metalwork, and interlaced images of beasts on the shaft.  On the reverse is a hunting scene and what appears to be beasts tearing at a figure.

There is a local tradition that Meigle 2 marked the grave of Vanora - and there is a mound in the churchyard that bears that name to this day. Vanora will be better known to FB's readers as Queen Guinevere, wife of King Arthur, who, according to one set of stories about her, was abducted by King Mordred and held captive on Berry Hill, near Meigle. When she returned to her husband, he sentenced her to death by being torn apart by wild beasts. The scene on the stone is believed to depict this tragic event.  Carving the scene on a stone was the best they could do in those days, there being no phone cameras available at the time to capture the image and post it on Facebook.

So, come on goodly knight Sir Drummo.  Excalibur to the fore.  Come on Scotland.
Meigle Churchyard - Vanora's Mound


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