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The indefatigable Judy Fisken, the ex-Curator of Rosslyn Chapel, may have
moved to pastures
new at Falkland Palace but her enthusiasm for research into the Sinclair
family continues and
her recent overtures to the famous Bodleian Library in Oxford has brought
a real breakthrough.
After the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, when the forces of Oliver Cromwell
defeated the Scots, the
English army proceeded their triumphal march towards Edinburgh and were
greatly elated when
the Ramsays surrendered Dalhousie Castle which became a comfortable
billet for Cromwell's
However, their high spirits received something of a shock when they
reached Rosslyn Castle
which stubbornly refused to surrender. General Monk positioned his
battery of artillery on the
other side of the North Esk River and proceeded to bombard the Castle
until it became a pile
of stones. John Sinclair was taken prisoner and
remained in English custody for 29 long years.
In ill health, he was allowed to return home where he died shortly
afterwards. His brother, Sir
William Sinclair, had been killed at the Battle of Dunbar. He was
the last Sinclair to be buried
in the vaults of the Chapel which were hastily sealed just before
Cromwell's troops arrived under
the command of General Monk who proceeded to stable his horses within the
he received a direct order from Cromwell himself: "Do not touch
Cromwell had been a Barrister at the Temple in London. He was
also Master Mason of England.
He knew the importance of the Chapel to the Masonic movement and it is
thanks to his timely
intervention that Rosslyn Chapel did not join the other ruined Chapels
which lay in the wake of
the Covenanter Army.
There was another General with Cromwell's forces who wasn't looking
for booty in the normally
accepted sense of that word. He was the scholarly General
Fairfax. He was looking for rare
books and manuscripts. He knew that the Library at Rosslyn Castle was the
in Scotland. For example, it contained a copy of the Wycliffite New
Testament, the writings of
Bede on the early English Church and the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and
the King's Quair.
But there was another manuscript which Judy's researches has now
unearthed. Let me quote
the answer she received from Dr Bruce Barker-Bentfield of the Bodleian
manuscript itself is so important and the facsimile's
introduction so full of references to the Sinclair family
that you should certainly try to obtain a copy of this
facsimile which, I'm afraid, is priced at £395.00"
The facsimile is the collation of the researches of Julia Boffey
and A.S.G. Edwards three years
ago. They had access to the Fairfax papers which are now housed at
the Bodleian. It would
seem that they throw considerable light on the history of the Sinclair
Needless to say, I have ordered the book together with complete microfilm
copies of the
other Fairfax papers which were stolen from the Rosslyn Library.
The Bodleian is cooperating
with although it will take them up to six weeks to complete the
Ladies and gentlemen, I am elated.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am impatient.
I can't wait to get my hands on the facsimile and to devour every word
because I have been
aware of a huge gap in our knowledge about our family and it may be
within my grasp in days.
Do you share my excitement? Don't you often wish you were me at the
cutting edge of
research and discovery?
I also wish I could dredge the harbour at Kirkwall to find out if the
Orcadian papers which
James III ordered to be sent to Edinburgh are lying on the bottom of the
sea. These were (allegedly)
placed in a hogshead which was subsequently washed overboard. There
are those who do not believe
that story. They believe the papers (which would reveal a great deal
about Prince Henry's voyage to the
New World) were hidden away somewhere because the fiercely independent
islanders hated the idea
of giving up their Norwegian sovereignty and Norse identity to become
part of Scotland! They were
damned if they were going to risk the eradication of the history of the
islands by surrendering the
papers. They knew that conquerors invariably destroyed all evidence
of past culture and achievement
in order to instill their own brand of nationalism. The English
tried to do this in Scotland. The Scots,
in their turn, tried to do it in Orkney. Neither succeeded.
Thanks Judy. You are a treasure. Pity, I will see the book
before you....you deserve to be the first
to flick over the pages.......