Monday, 29 April 2013

Watt's This? Giant Robot Attack!

Few work in progress snippets from Andy Lee, wonder watt this thing could be?

And on a totally unrelated note, here's the first in an irregular series of strips by Andy n myself highlighting some of the social niceties of living in the West of Scotland.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

On Lurg Moor

Here at Magic Torch, we're fairly big fans of all the things the Romans did for us, and have over the years enjoyed exploring the sites associated with Roman's locally - even though we're folklorists, not archaeologists. We especially enjoyed a piece on the Roman Fortlet on Inverclyde TV recently. Here's an opportunity for you to enjoy some of the same terrain next Bank Holiday weekend, on a guided walk. Thanks to Evelina Longworth for this post...

We invite you to join us for a walking tour commencing at 2.30 PM on Sunday 5th May 2013. Led by Stephen Jennings, it will show you the amazing and important archaeological sites on the slopes around Corlic Hill and Lurg Moor just south of Greenock and in our magnificent Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park.

We have to restrict the number of people attending and you can book by contacting Nigel Willis on Bookings will be accepted on a first come first served basis so book early! If you also say where you will travel from we can try to arrange car sharing, if that is of interest.

The area of our walk was the place that the very first Greenockians lived and farmed and includes iron age Celtic structures, cup marked stones, the Lurg Moor Roman Fortlet and the Roman road, a rare intact and fully enclosed Iron Age Stone Hut Circle Farm and is the location of abandoned 18th, 19th and 20th Century farms with rig and furrow marks, walls and roads from various periods.

Some of these structures have been officially recorded but not all and Steve Jennings, as a result of working there for over a year, has made new discoveries. This is a great opportunity for you to reacquaint yourself or learn about this important area for the first time. The following is an extract of Steve's paper Archaeology in the Hills Above Greenock.

"But the most essential feature of this area and what makes it truly unique is the very presence of a Roman fortlet amidst an Iron Age Scottish landscape with a density of population. The ScARF (Scottish Archaeological Research Framework) report makes this very clear, the “panel was set up to incorporate the study of the Roman impact on what is now Scotland and it is important to consider the relationship that Iron Age peoples of this zone had with Rome and the wider world”. Clearly in these hills resides the rare opportunity to find several answers with an importance not only on the regional and national stage but European wide as well. With one of the best preserved records of Iron Age life, Scotland, and in particular this area stretching from Lurg Moor to Corlick, is positioned to help fill out the history of the relationship Iron Age Celtic peoples had with the invaders of Rome from trade, assimilation, rejection to co-option. Though it must first be established if there indeed was contemporary overlap between the local people and Romans before we can discern the nature of their relationship with one another, this can only be done through more intensive methods than have hitherto been brought on the landscape and further cements its criticality in understanding the wider import of Roman Scotland. Any additional disturbance and development of the lands will gravely harm the ability to gain further understanding of this period in our history.

While the importance of these sites to a wider audience is beyond doubt it would be a mistake if one failed to contemplate local interest as well for these archaeological remains are what is left of the history from Kilmacolm through Greenock to Gourock and beyond. Indeed, far from the desolate and boggy terrain many see today, this vibrant landscape is the link to Inverclyde’s agricultural and Iron Age past. It is therefore imperative the region from Lurg Moor to Corlick receives the benefit of protection and further understanding that only a more rigorous review can provide. To disturb the archaeology, much worse destroy, could potentially be a loss to culture tragic in its scale"

Meeting place: the MOD mast, east of Whitelees Cottage.

How to get there:
Driving from Drumfrochar Rd / Cornhaddock St, Greenock - Turn up Peat Rd, past Drumfrochar Station onto the Old Largs Rd. Keep going on this road past Whinhill Golf Club towards Loch Thom and take the first road to the left. The attached map shows where to park and then walk to the meeting point beside the mast.

Driving from Largs or Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park's Greenock Cut Visitor Centre - drive up the Old Largs Rd along the east side of Loch Thom towards Greenock till you are clear of the dam. Carry on towards Greenock and take the third road to the right. The attached map shows where to park and then walk to the meeting point beside the mast. 
N.B. If you find you are beside Whinhill Golf course you have gone too far. Turn round and follow instructions for finding it from Greenock!

Length of walk: approx 1.75 to 2 hours.

Terrain covered: part road, part sheep track, part open moorland. Moderate fitness required.

Footwear: boots or wellies if you prefer. Depending on weather, some of the ground could be wet.

Things to bring other than suitable clothing: Camera, binoculars (very helpful for looking at more distant archaeological remains and the magnificent views, but not essential), water and snack.


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Old Greenock Characters - Cockin' Kirsty

Another of John Donald's Old Greenock Characters, presented as intended by the author.

Miss McKellar, or “Cockin’ Kirsty” as she was called, resided at the junction of Tannerie Close (Harvie Lane) with Dalrymple Street. She was of medium height, fresh complexion, mincing gait, precise in speech and manner, dressed eccentrically in an old fashioned silk gown with flounces, an equally out of date pelisse, and an early Victorian hat of most intricate trimming. Never without her green silk parasol (in all weathers) and her old, almost blind, dog, her principal object in life while out walking appeared to be to keep the unfortunate animal either immediately in front of her or close by her side, and the parasol was chiefly used for prodding the dog so as to effect her purpose.

She was approaching her residence after an outing one afternoon when she observed her purblind companion trotting dully towards the edge of a deep excavation in the street, apparently unaware of his danger. “The hole, the hole,” she screamed; but she was too late. Over went the dog. A navvy was digging below, and when the brute landed on the back of his neck, his yell of “murder!” might have been heard at Rue-End.

“Miss McKellar and her auld, broon, culy dog,” was the title of a song which I heard sung by the author, a man called Docherty, and known as “the Taylor’s Close poet.” That the lady’s habits were as singular as her dress may be inferred from the fact that it was her invariable custom to bathe in the river below Fort Matilda about six o’clock every morning, rain or shine, frost or snow, all the year round.

Miss McKellar was the daughter of a deceased ship-master and the owner of certain heritable subjects in town, whence she derived her income.

You can read about another unfortunate animal who was acquainted with Cockin' Kirtsy in the rare tale of Cockin Kirsty's Monkey

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Wee Nasties : Cover Reveal

This is Mhairi's lovely cover for Wee Nasties, launching soon.

There's all sorts of Wee Nasties hiding around Inverclyde, a bogle with smelly feet, a grumpy old wizard catching spells, and even a (mostly) friendly monster in the river.

Meet them all and hear about some of the strange things going on in your home town...

Wee Nasties is our new childrens book, funded by Heritage Lottery to help introduce younger audiences to the myths and legends of the area. It will be launched at The Dutch Gable House on Thursday 16 May, during the Inverclyde Festival of Heritage as part of a day of storytelling.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Storytelling Training - Book Now!

Just a wee friendly reminder...only a few spaces now left for these two FREE sessions, email if you want to book on.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Granny Kempock's Boots

Another wee look at how our Tales of the Oak comic is coming along, here's one of our hosts, Granny Kempock settling down to tell us a tale. You can see Andy's original sketch below for comparison.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Identity : Comet Cartoon

Just thought we would share this one as it's a wee cracker. As part of the Identity project run by Inverclyde Community Development Trust, the team worked with St John's Primary School to produce an animation based on the story of the historic vessel.

The film was illustrated, scripted and recorded by pupils - it's smashing.

St John's also worked with the team to tell the story of their own school for the Identity Graphic Novel, The Archivist's Treasure.

Identity - The Archivist's Treasure