Photographer: Ogle, Thomas
Medium: Photographic print
“At length they came where, stern and steep,
The hill sinks down upon the deep.
Here Vennachar in silver flows,
There, ridge on ridge, Benledi rose;
Ever the hollow path twined on,
Beneath steep bank and threatening stone;
A hundred men might hold the post
With hardihood against a host.
The rugged mountain’s scanty cloak
Was dwarfish shrubs of birch and oak,
With shingles bare, and cliffs between,
And patches bright of bracken green,
And heather black, that waved so high,
It held the copse in rivalry.”
This view of Ben Ledi, a mountain in the Scottish Highlands, is one of 13 evocative landscape photographs by Thomas Ogle illustrating an 1863 edition of Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem ‘The Lady of the Lake’. It accompanies a passage describing the country through which the King of Scotland, James V, travels in disguise as a Saxon knight towards a confrontation with Roderick, a rebel Highland chief of Clan Alpine. Under his leadership, warriors of the clan are mustering throughout the Highlands in readiness to do battle with the King.
Scott (1771-1832) was the author of immensely popular historical novels and poetry. Their combination of history, chivalry and romance was especially beloved by readers of the Victorian era. ‘The Lady of the Lake’ (1810) was the third of his long narrative poems inspired by the landscape and legends of Scotland, and is set in and around the beautiful and dramatic scenery of the mountains, glens, lakes and forests of Perthshire and Stirling in central Scotland. The great success of the poem made Loch Katrine and the Trossachs a fashionable destination for 19th-century sightseers.