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Benvenue and Loch Katrine

Benvenue and Loch Katrine

Photographer: Ogle, Thomas

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1863

Shelfmark: 1347.f.19

Item number: 200

Length: 19

Width: 14.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

“‘Gray Benvenue I soon repassed,
Loch Katrine lay beneath me cast.
The sun is set; - the clouds are met,
The lowering scowl of heaven
An inky hue of livid blue
To the deep lake has given;
Strange gusts of wind from mountain glen
Swept o’er the lake, then sunk again.’”

View of the mountain Ben Venue rising over Loch Katrine in the Scottish Highlands. It is the last in a series of 13 evocative landscape photographs by Thomas Ogle illustrating an 1863 edition of Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem ‘The Lady of the Lake’. The image accompanies a passage describing the battle of Beal’an Duine, the dramatic conclusion to the poem’s tale of conflict between Clan Alpine Highlanders, lead by the rebel chief Roderick Dhu, and forces of the King of Scotland, James V. Roderick lies mortally wounded and close to death in a cell in Stirling Castle, and in his last moments asks the minstrel Allan-bane to sing to him of the battle. The clansmen occupied the heights of Ben Venue and the Saxons were massed by the lake below:

“‘I heeded not the eddying surge,
Mine eye but saw the Trosachs’ gorge,
Mine ear but heard that sullen sound,
Which like an earthquake shook the ground,
And spoke the stern and desperate strife
That parts not but with parting life,
Seeming, to minstrel ear, to toll
The dirge of many a passing soul.
Nearer it comes – the dim-wood glen
The martial flood disgorged again,
But not in mingled tide;
The plaided warriors of the North
High on the mountain thunder forth
And overhang its side,
While by the lake below appears
The darkening cloud of Saxon spears.’”

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.

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