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Lanrick Mead

Lanrick Mead

Photographer: Ogle, Thomas

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1863

Shelfmark: 1347.f.19

Item number: 85

Length: 19

Width: 14.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

View of a valley at Lanrick in the Scottish Highlands with cottages in the foreground. This is one of 13 evocative landscape photographs by Thomas Ogle illustrating an 1863 edition of Sir Walter Scott’s long narrative poem ‘The Lady of the Lake’. The poem tells the story of Ellen Douglas, the beautiful daughter of an outlawed Scottish clan chief, James Douglas, the Earl of Bothwell, and the uprising of Clan Alpine against the King of Scotland, James V. The photograph illustrates a passage spoken by the poem’s tragic hero, the rebel Highland chief Sir Roderick Dhu. The ‘vindictive’ King has launched an assault on Border chiefs and in response, Roderick sends a messenger across the Highlands with a flaming wooden cross as a signal to gather warriors of the clan together at Lanrick Mead in readiness to fight:

“Then Roderick, with impatient look,
From Brian’s hand the symbol took:
‘Speed, Malise, speed!’ he said, and gave
The crosslet to his henchman brave.
‘The muster-place be Lanrick mead –
Instant the time – speed, Malise, speed!’
Like heath-bird, when the hawks pursue,
A barge across Loch Katrine flew:
High stood the henchman on the prow;
So rapidly the barge-men row,
The bubbles, where they launched the boat,
Were all unbroken and afloat,
Dancing in foam and ripple still,
When it had neared the mainland hill;
And from the silver beach’s side
Still was the prow three fathom wide,
When lightly bounded to the land
The messenger of blood and brand.”

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 epic poems inspired by the landscape and legends of Scotland, and is set in and around the beautiful 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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