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Loch Achray and Benvenue

Loch Achray and Benvenue

Photographer: Ogle, Thomas

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1863

Shelfmark: 1347.f.19

Item number: 194

Length: 19

Width: 14.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

View of the mountain Ben Venue rising over Loch Achray in the Scottish Highlands. It 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’. The image accompanies a passage describing the final moments of the poem’s tragic hero, the “sable-browed” rebel chief Roderick Dhu, who lies mortally wounded and close to death in a cell in Stirling Castle. He asks the minstrel Allan-bane to sing to him of the great battle between his Highland warriors – the men of Clan Alpine - and Saxon forces loyal to the King of Scotland, James V. Allan-bane evokes the lovely but forboding landscape of Loch Achray and Ben Venue, where he listened to the sound of the King's forces approaching, led by Lords Mar and Moray:

“The Minstrel came once more to view
The eastern ridge of Ben-venue,
For ere he parted he would say
Farewell to lovely Loch Achray –
Where shall he find, in foreign land,
So lone a lake, so sweet a strand! –
There is no breeze upon the fern,
No ripple on the lake,
Upon her eyry nods the erne,
The deer has sought the brake;
The small birds will not sing aloud,
The springing trout lies still,
So darkly glooms yon thunder-cloud,
That swathes, as with a purple shroud,
Benledi’s distant hill.
Is it the thunder’s solemn sound,
That mutters deep and dread,
Or echoes from the groaning ground
The warrior’s measured tread?
Is it the lightning’s quivering glance
That on the thicket streams,
Or do they flash on spear and lance
The sun’s retiring beams? –
I see the dagger-crest of Mar,
I see the Moray’s silver star,
Wave o’er the cloud of Saxon war,
That up the lake comes winding far!”

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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