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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 7th July 2001
Issue No 239

Scotland's Wedding Capital Could be in England

Scotland's wedding capital Gretna Green is part of England, according to an ancient document discovered in a Texas attic.

The charter, issued by King James VI in June 1603, shows he gifted the border town, then known as Gretenhow, to the English as a coronation present. If authenticated, it means thousands of runaway couples who thought they were exchanging vows over Gretna's famous anvil on Scottish territory, could be illegally married. The unsigned document, bearing a Royal crest and seal, has already been carbon dated to the early 17th century and has now been sent to London for further authentication. It was discovered in the attic of a wealthy Texan philanthropist by his widow. She contacted her local TV station, Tel-Y-TV, who sent a film crew to Gretna recently along with the tattered manuscript which is written in Latin, the official language of the time. In 1603, James VI of Scotland came to the English throne as James I of England. The charter suggests he gave Gretna to England in a bid to placate English lords unhappy with the arrangement. A leading Scots historian described the find as "very intriguing" saying it should not be dismissed out of hand. John Young, senior lecturer in Scots history at Strathclyde University, said the charter could be a lost memo. "James regarded himself as the first king of Britain although many in England weren't keen on that title. "Gifting Gretna to England could have been his way of placating them because the land around the town wasn't controlled by either country," he said. Translated, the document reads "The King, having in mind the improvement of this land which for time has offered dwelling to persons of inordinate life, states that Gretenhow shall be, and for ever shall remain, English". Encased in a glass frame, it was on show in Gretna for four days while a crew from Tel-Y-TV filmed a programme, History's Mysteries. English historian, Professor Henry Peters, who is based at the Institute of Wyoming, is convinced of the charter's authenticity. He said: "James was keen to stamp out the lawlessness of the Borders, especially that caused by the Border reivers. Because this document is unsigned, it could be a copy and a signed version might still be around." Solway Border councillor David Sword dismissed the find as a "curiosity." "Everyone in Gretna considers themselves to be Scottish and, even if the charter is authenticated, it's not going to change that. "We're not going to re-write maps and change borders. Gretna will remain the gateway to Scotland not England. "However, if it is genuine, there are an awful lot of illegally married people out there."

In the Doghouse

A Border collie found himself in the doghouse with the police recently, after he accidentally dialled 999 on the dog and bone (phone). Seven year old Oak's embarrassed owner, Grant Gallagher of Aviemore said: "I could not understand it when police came racing to my door to say they'd received an emergency call from my house. "I was completely stumped until I suddenly remembered that a few minutes earlier I had walked into the room and found Oak lying on the floor beside the phone with the receiver knocked off its cradle. "There was a long tone type of noise and I just put the receiver back in place." It was particularly embarrassing for Grant, who is leisure manager at the Dalfaber Golf and Country Club, as he is Nite Time presenter on local Speysound Radio. He said: "I have a crime link on the show with advice over the air from Aviemore police station. One of the things we've discussed recently is police time wasted on false emergency calls. "Also the need to keep phones out of reach of small children because they may accidentally dial 999. "All sorts of things were going through my mind when the police arrived on my doorstep but the last thing I was thinking was that Oak had made an emergency call." Grant said that, several weeks ago, Oak was chasing a ball when he fell over, suffering the canine equivalent of a slipped disc. To get the dog's muscles back in trim, he and his head receptionist partner, Heather, had been encouraging their pet to run about. The trouble was that, when the dog came back home, he just flopped down exhausted anywhere, and on this occasion flopped on the phone. A police spokesman said: "We got the 999 call and traced it to Grant's house. "However, the check revealed that the dog, who is just recovering from an operation, had managed to dial the number."

Flower Power

The only Scottish village entering this year's prestigious Britain in Bloom contest had a massive clean up operation recently. Children and adults alike were on hand to assist in clearing rubbish from the streets of Drumnadrochit, Inverness-shire, and the surrounding woodland area. Although all areas in the Highlands are getting involved in co-ordinating clean up operations, Drumnadrochit is the only village with a stake in the national contest. Pat Veitch, a Highland Council worker, who has given up her free time to organise clean-ups in the village over the last 20 years, was pleased with the turn out. She said: "We have had brownies, guides, cubs and scouts who turned up to help, as well as adult helpers who went through the village and Balmacaan Woods, clearing litter. "Anything we found that was too big to move, the council provided a pick up service and removed it later. "As the operation expanded, we involved people nearer to the ground and gave them a chance to be proud and do something for their own community." Merkinch Community Council, in the South Kessock area of Inverness, also got their own green project off the ground recently. A group of volunteers gathered to take part in a variety of activities, from litter collecting to painting and planting, as part of Keep Scotland Beautiful "Bin it" campaign.

Gaelic Works

The Gaelic Society of Inverness launched a new catalogue of its substantial library at its annual business meeting at Highland Council headquarters recently. The society's library, consisting of some 2500 items, is housed in the Highland Libraries reference department at Farraline Park, Inverness. It comprises material on a wide range of subjects, including Gaelic and other languages, history, literature, mythology, religion, science, song and sport. Society librarian Murdo MacLeod said: "The society's library is a most valuable collection with a wide range of texts and other items and by making this catalogue available, researchers will be able to plan their activities in advance before coming to Inverness." Professor Alistair MacFarlane, director and chief executive of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institute, was the guest speaker at the annual meeting which was also open to non-members.

A "Quixote" of His Time

Alasdair Ranaldson Macdonnell of Glengarry was a 19th century man of contradictions, once described by Sir Walter Scott as a "kind of Quixote in our age", says the author of a new book. Glengarry embraced the conversion of clan chiefs from paternalistic leaders to rent collectors, promoted sheep farming and the philosophy of clearing his clansmen from the land. Yet he clung fondly, and at times outrageously, to the ways of an old Scotland, promoting its ancient customs. When he died in 1828, Glengarry left behind him little but debts and a trail of argument, controversy and ongoing litigation. He never occupied any major offices of state, wrote nothing of significance and failed in what was probably his dearest desire - to have the family peerage restored. Debts forced the sale of the once vast family lands shortly after his death, and with the disposal of Knoydart, the Glengarry estate was reduced to a ruined castle and mausoleum. Hardly then the subject of a biography. But says biographer Brian Osbourne, whose book The Last Chiefs was launched at Glengarry Castle Hotel recently, he was an unusually interesting man living in interesting times. "His life and career illustrate many of the most significant features of Highland life at the time," says Mr Osbourne in his fourth book.

A Helping Hand

Jake the new born Clydesdale foal made his entrance to the world recently but had problems for the first few days standing up to feed from his mother, Highmoor Midnight Melanie. Owned by Calum Mackay and his 21 year old daughter Julie, of Inverness, the mare and her foal were kept inside and while Jake learned to place his four hoofs firmly on the ground he was bottle fed just to make sure he was getting all the necessary nutrition. The foal requires constant attention and seven year old Stephen is just one of the family members who takes a turn at giving Jake his bottle. The colt, born on an Inverness farm where Melanie is stabled, had to be fed every three hours. Julie, who is training to be a nurse in Glasgow, was determined not to miss Jake's arrival and jumped on a train north as soon as she heard he was on his way. However, when she returned to her studies, Calum, who is a driving instructor, had to fit in meal duties between lessons. Calum said: "We've been weaning the foal as it's not good for him to be on a bottle, but he just needed a wee boost for the first few days." Jake was even named after the wine which had been in the bottle - Jacob's Creek - which Julie opened when he was born. Good natured mare Melanie, who is over 17 hands high, was the overall champion at the Black Isle Show in 1999. Jake, being a colt, is expected to grow even bigger and the family hopes he will follow his mother's show success.

Rare Portrait Snapped Up

A rare picture of Russian musical genius Tchaikovsky has been sold for four times the expected price at auction. The photographic portrait of him taken by his friend, singer and photographer Eugene Oudin, together with a handwritten letter from Tchaikovsky, were sold for 800. The Victorian items have been kept in Cluny Castle, near the Inverness-shire village of Newtonmore, and were put up for sale by the 19th century photographer's great-grandson Lieutenant Colonel Richard Spencer. The photograph and handwritten letter were catalogued at between 150-200. Perth auctioneer and valuer Lindsay Burns, who handled the sale said eight to ten people were interested in the sale. He said: "It was bought by a Dundee family with musical connections against opposition from telephone bids from America." Lt Col Spencer who collects books on military law described parting with the heirlooms as a heart wrenching affair. He said: "I think it was a fairly rare item. "I hope the best man won, It's sad when everything goes abroad. Thank you to our friends in Dundee. "I am not surprised. It's fascinating. It's one of those things that happen. "I'm very pleased that it's going to someone who will love and honour it."

Charity Event

Children from an Inverness school kept quiet about their fundraising for a local charity, despite netting almost 3000. Over 370 pupils from Crown Primary took part in a sponsored 10 minute silence recently to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Relief and managed to raise 2889.73, almost equalling the total amount raised by all the schools in the Highlands for last year.

Political Roundup

Scotland Subsidising UK by 300 Million, says a Report

An independent Scotland could cut income tax by 1p in the pound and still keep its finances balanced, according to a report by City accountants Chantrey Vellacott DFK. The report argues that, if North Sea oil is taken into account, Scotland does not receive an overall subsidy from the Treasury. Rather, Scotland subsidises the rest of the UK by around 300 million a year, it claims. The findings were seized on by the SNP as a vindication of its argument that Scotland more than pays its way.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Cloudy. Rain or showers, some thundery out breaks. Winds light/mod N-NE. Temperature 11c to 16c.
Saturday Night
Cloudy. Misty. Rain or showers easing later. Winds light/mod N-NE. Temperature 8c to 13c.
Mainly cloudy with periods of rain and an increasing risk of pm thunderstorms. Freshning winds.
Mainly cloudy with periods of rain or blustery showers also breezy and cool.

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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?

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