This is an old mirror of Nessie's Loch Ness Times.

Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 21st April 2001
Issue No 228

Greyfriars Bobby: Real Owner Identified Claim

An amateur historian claims to have found the real owner of Greyfriars Bobby, the legendary Skye terrier which faithfully kept watch over his companion's grave all his life.

For decades, historians have argued over the ownership of the famous Edinburgh dog whose legend has been celebrated in countless books and on film. But now, amateur genealogist Jude Ruane believes he has found definitive proof that the terrier belonged to John Gray, a policeman from Forfar. The research runs counter to claims that the dog belonged to a shepherd who frequently visited the city. Mr Ruane said: "I'm not aiming to debunk a myth, because a lot of the Greyfriars Bobby story is true. "But the commonly accepted belief that the dog's master was a farmer from the Pentland Hills is an embellishment, and the records trace John Gray right back to Forfar." One of the best known versions of the Bobby legend claimed that Bobby's companion was a shepherd who was set upon by youths in Edinburgh and died. When he was buried in the Greyfriars Kirkyard, Bobby spent the last 14 years of his life watching over the grave until he died in 1872. Soldiers at Edinburgh Castle often shared their lunch with the dog, who always returned to his master's resting place. Bobby's life was later commemorated by the erection of a statue and fountain by Baroness Burdett Coutts. However, another version of the story portrays Bobby's owner as a policeman who died of tuberculosis. Mr Ruane's research now suggests that that story is historically correct. He said: "John Gray was a policeman who joined the force in Edinburgh on February 1, 1853, and whose beat took in Greyfriars Kirkyard." Mr Ruane stumbled across the information when as a member of the Tay Valley Family History Society, he was researching background on a Fife descendant of the Gray family. "John Gray was said to have been a gardener in Forfar, but moved to Dundee and married Jess Petrie in 1838. "In the cold weather of 1852 - a period of heavy frosts lasting several months - he must have lost his job and finally went to Edinburgh to look for work." He continued: "He applied for a job with the police and was hired in 1853. He was given a police house in Hall's Court, in the Cowgate, and his beat was Upper Cowgate, the Grassmarket, Greyfriars Kirkyard, Candlemakers Row, the grounds of Heriot's Hospital and the Cattle Market. "The constable patrolled with a dog and he was given Bobby, a Skye terrier, in about 1856. John Gray died of consumption on February 8, 1858." Mr Ruane, who lives in Forfar, is confident that he will uncover more information about the Gray family. Matthew Hale, founder of the Greyfriars Bobby fan club, welcomed the news. He said: "Obviously, Bobby is more than a myth and this kind of information is very valuable."

Population Falling

The population of Scotland is forecast to decline while those of England, Wales and Northern Ireland will grow, according to Government projections. While the United Kingdom population is calculated to grow from 59.5 million in 1999 to 64.3 million by 2036, the number in Scotland will drop, the Office for National Statistics 31st annual social trends survey has predicted. The figure is expected to fall from 5.1 million in 1999 to just over 5 million in 2036. Populations in Wales and Northern Ireland are predicted to peak in about 30 years' time, then start to fall back. The Highlands have the lowest population density of anywhere in the British Isles. In 1999, Scotland had an average of 66 people per square kilometre: England had and average of 381. Urban development trends also show that cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh had larger populations than many English cities in 1831. By 1999, the trends had reversed. Glasgow and Edinburgh have been overtaken by areas like Manchester. The survey found that the most significant determinant of population change is regional migration. The survey also showed higher Scottish mortality in most age groups than anywhere else in the country.

Bruce's Spikes on Display

The tips of wooden stakes believed to have been used by Robert the Bruce's army to impale the English cavalry at the Battle of Bannockburn, have gone on public display for the first time. They were discovered by workmen digging drains in 1923 but have been stored in a museum's vaults. It was only after research backing up their authenticity, that the Smith Art Gallery and Museum in Stirling decided to make them the centrepiece of an exhibition. Archaeologists working for Stirling Council have identified a series of crop marks using aerial photographs as traps dug by Bruce's army. The stakes were found south of the Bannockburn Heritage Centre and support findings from Dr Fiona Watson, senior lecturer at Stirling University, who claimed that the second day of the battle in 1314, considered to be Scotland's greatest victory over the English, took place on the playing fields behind Bannockburn High School. Michael McGinnes, collections manager at the museum, said: "The placing of the pits would have forced the English army into this position. "Bruce wanted to fight with the slope behind the English army so that they would retreat down the slope and become scattered, with horses falling on the infantrymen. The stakes were discovered in a group, 6ft below the surface in a distinct pit. "They had been sharpened and the tips had been burned to harden them. You can see the marks of the knife used to cut them and they were pointing south, in the direction from which the English were expected to attack." Only the top 12in of the stakes have survived but they are thought to have been up to 8ft long. The museum plans to have them carbon dated to establish beyond doubt that they were used in the Battle of Bannockburn.

Tycoon's Gaelic Gesture

A rich foreign laird, who has built the most expensive palace in the Highlands for a century has now splashed out to save the ancient Gaelic language. But Swiss financier Urs Schwartzenbach's 700,000 is not bound for Scotland. The largest private cash injection to the failing Celtic tongue is heading across the Atlantic to a Canadian University. The billionaire international currency trader, who has lavished over 35 million in constructing luxury Ben Alder Lodge, near Dalwhinnie, is funding a new professor's chair in Gaelic at St Francis Xavier University, at Antigonish, Nova Scotia, a leading outpost of Gaelic education in Canada. This surprise backing comes when the 2001 Census is likely to show that the number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland has dipped below 60,000 for the first time. Alan Campbell, who heads the Inverness based publicly funded Gaelic development agency Comunn na Gaidhlig, said Mr Schwartzenbach's donation was the most generous private one that he had ever heard about. He added: "The next 10 or 15 years are vital for the survival of Gaelic, a mother tongue of Scotland. "We would prefer to see a chairman of Gaelic in the new University of the Highlands and Islands. But of course we welcome Mr Schwartzenbach's contribution to the language, which to my knowledge is unprecedented in size."

New Lord Lyon

Scotland's new Lord Lyon King of Arms was announced by the Scottish Executive recently. Robin Blair, who was also appointed as Secretary of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, succeed Sir Malcolm Innes of Edingight who retired after 20 years in the post. Based in New Register House in Edinburgh, the Lord Lyon is responsible for granting armorial bearings to individuals and corporations throughout Scotland, as well as a number of applications coming from within the Commonwealth. His judicial functions include ruling on who has the right to bear an existing coat of arms and the authorisation of matriculations of differenced arms. Mr Blair, who is officially appointed by the Queen, was recommended to First Minister Henry McLeish by a selection board which interviewed five short listed candidates following public advertisement of the post. A former partner in Dundas and Wilson solicitors between 1972 and 1997 and a partner in the firm Turcan Connell WS between 1997-2000, Mr Blair was educated at Rugby School and at St Andrews and Edinburgh universities. Since 1988, he has held the post of Purse Bearer to the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Gaels Hi-Tech Boost

Gaelic learners throughout the world have welcomed news that a Norwegian software company has just released the first Gaelic language Internet browser. Both Comunn na Gaidhlig and An Comunn Gaidhealach are delighted with the announcement, which will enable more widespread access to Gaelic learning by people across the world. Oslo based Opera Software has released free, downloadable browsers operating in the four major Celtic languages - Gaelic, Irish, Welsh and Breton - and feel it would be a great boost for minority languages. "Part of Opera's mission to preserve cultural diversity and to make the Internet easily accessible to all," said chief executive of Opera, Jon S von Tetzchner. "This release will lower the barrier to make use of the Internet for Celtic minority speakers and help the Celtic language flourish in the Information Age." Opera say the main market for their offerings will be bilingual schools and local authorities wishing to allow pupils, employees and other users the possibility to work in their own language. They add: "Opera is the first IT company to answer the demand of a specific market - the minority languages - and to stress the concept of linguistic diversity for and on the Web." Chief executive of An Comunn Gaidhealach, Donald John MacSween, stated: "We welcome this sort of development. "Any proposal that helps to promote Gaelic, especially in the education sphere, is very welcome indeed." He went on: "This year is European Minority Language Year and we hope there will be many more developments of this sort in the course of the year."

"Bless you Nessie"

The Loch Ness Monster may be blessed by a white witch this summer. The High Priest of British White Witches is planning a trip to Scotland and will visit the shores of the loch to wish the monster long life. Kevin Carlyon, from Hastings, said: "I want to do a Nessie ritual and, if there is an animal there, it will help it live its life in safety." Mr Carlyon is planning to visit Scotland when the weather gets warmer to set up covens of the 100 or so witches living north of the border. He is also a paranormal researcher and wants to visit haunted houses and stone circles which may have social healing powers. "There is still a lots of fear about persecution, so most people are low key about their interest in witchcraft. We come from all walks of life - from policemen to journalists, housewives to unemployed people. "We don't dance around naked - this is a myth that has come from books by Dennis Wheatley. Besides, if you danced around naked in Scotland at the moment, you could get frost bite," Mr Carlyon said. He hopes his visit will provide a focus for people interested in white witchcraft or earth magic who are currently fragmented.

Nessie Say's...Nessie says.. "Look forward to meeting you Kevin. Just wave your magic wand beside Urquhart Bay and I'll pop up and say hello."

Charity Event

Pulling a 7000 cheque from the 18th hole at the Loch Ness Golf Club puts a smile on the face of Chest, Heart and Stroke fundraiser, Una Taylor. The cash was raised at the Loch Ness Celebrity Golf Classic staged towards the end of last year.

Political Roundup

Freedom Award for the Voice of Caithness

Community leaders and VIPs in Caithness turned out in force to honour MP Robert Maclennan as he was bestowed with the country's highest civic honour. The freedom of Caithness has been granted just three times in the past quarter of a century, with the previous recipients being the Queen''s Own Highlanders in 1986 and the Queen Mother in 1990. The accolade has come in the twilight of Mr Maclennan's political career, which has seen him combine a turbulent time on the national stage with a widely respected record as a constituency MP.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Rain from W. Bright in E then cloudy with rain. Winds mod/fresh SW'ly. Temperature 9c to 11c.
Saturday Night
Cloudy, rain at times. Far W dry later. Winds light/mod S'ly. Temperature 6c to 7c.
NE overcast with outbreaks of rain at first. Rain clearing from W. Dry and sunny in the afternoon.
Sunny start in most places, thickening cloud from the SW will spread bringing showers later.

Glenmoriston Arms Hotel and Restaurant

Glenmoriston Arms Hotel
Character, Comfort and Creative cuisine just a short stroll from Loch Ness and in the very heart of Highland history.
Where each guest is welcomed as an individual and owners Neil and Carol Scott make sure that guests enjoy a unique blend of warmth, elegance and informality.

Glenmoriston Arms Hotel

(Sponsors of Legend of Nessie site)


This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

Homepage Back to Mainpage..

Homepage Back to Index4..

[Searching for Nessie] - [Nessie's Diary] - [Nessie's Loch Ness Times] - [Nessie's Chatterbox]
[Nessie's Multimedia Index] - [Contact Nessie] - [List of Sightings] - [The Nessie Hunters]
[Film Evidence] - [Geology of the Loch] - [Sonar Contacts] - [Loch Ness Mystery]
[Nessie Sketches] - [Stories] - [Nessie Question] - [Is This Nessie?]
[Nessie's Favourite Links] - [The Official Nessie Fan Club]
© CARUS. 1996 - 2001

Notice : This page is intended to be viewed with a resolution of 800 x 600 or higher. We are sorry if this causes any inconvenience.