The following article has been contributed:
The Celebration of Robert Burns’ 250th birthday, and a flagging tourist industry sparked the largest gathering of the Scottish Clans since 1822. As part of the Scottish Homecoming Festival, the 25th and 26th July this year, saw THE GATHERING, held in the grounds of Holyrood Castle in Edinburgh Scotland with a Clan Parade up the ‘Royal Mile’ to a Pageant in the foyer of Edinburgh Castle itself. Over 50 thousand people attended, but only 8,500 could be accommodated at the Pageant. Lucky enough to be present, were Sarah and Michael Douglass, from Cairns (Far North Queensland). Sarah and Michael are the grandchildren of Jack and Melba Douglass of Maroota South and Descendants of William Douglass who came to Australia as a convict in 1804 on the Coromandel.
At the beginning of a three month tour of the British Isles, Sarah and Michael spent the first week at the Gathering and touring the Douglas Clan’s homelands of Southern Scotland.
Arriving in Edinburgh two days before the event, the kids enjoyed the sights and sounds of one of Britain’s oldest cities. Castles, Cathedrals and tours through ghostly underground vaults, they had only just begun what can only be described as the adventure of a lifetime for two teenagers. At the Gathering, they had the greatest fortune to personally meet and be photographed with Prince Charles (Prince of Wales) and Michael carried the ‘Douglas’ sign up the ‘Royal Mile’ in the pageant parade. They can be seen on film in the video section
. (Michael has the sign and Sarah is waving an Australian Flag given to her by another Aussie, Sue Sandilands from Coloundra).
Following the Gathering, they travelled to Tantallon Castle, near Gifford in North Berwick, the ancestral birth place of George Douglas and the ‘RED’ Douglas line. Next, they journeyed South to Melrose and the burial site of Robert the Bruce’s heart in Melrose Abbey. Not having any previous knowledge of their ancestry, Sarah and Michael were stunned at the vastness and historical influence of the Douglas family, not only on Scotland, but also English history. Leaving Melrose, their next stop was Douglas (Lanarkshire). Hardly recognisable as the place of so much fighting, bloodshed and devilish deeds in the past, Douglas is now a sleepy little town in the Scottish Countryside and the fabled ‘Douglas Water’ is but a mere trickle. Douglas Castle (now known as ‘Dangerous’ Castle after Sir Walter Scott’s novel) was built by Archibald Douglas and was the ancestral home of the ‘BLACK’ Douglas’. It was all but demolished in 1944 due to subsidence caused by the local mine. Little remains of this once proud fortification, but the local sheep still seem to love it. After a visit to the Douglas Mausoleum at the old St. Brides church and a personal tour of the Douglas Museum, the two headed North, where they spent a couple of days in Stirling and saw more historical landmarks including the monument to William Wallace. With heads swelling with new information and hearts fit to burst with pride in their ancestry, they visited the battlefield of Bannockburn, before heading back to Edinburgh to catch a bus to London for the next Phase of their Journey (a three week tour through the rest of Great Britain).
Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, we have been able to follow Sarah and Michael’s adventures daily. With the aid of Sarah’s laptop computer, photo file transfers and video conferencing via the internet, we have been able to talk face to face on a regular basis for free and so able to share some of their thrills and excitement
Daryl and Laurissa (‘Ris) Douglass
The proud parents