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Torrent by the Hero's Targe

Torrent by the Hero's Targe

Photographer: Ogle, Thomas

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1863

Shelfmark: 1347.f.19

Item number: 111

Length: 19

Width: 14.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

View of a mountain torrent at Glen Finglas, a valley in the Trossachs in Scotland. This 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 sacrifice of ‘Duncraggan’s milk-white bull’, slain by the rebel Highland chief Roderick Dhu. Under his leadership, warriors of Clan Alpine are mustering throughout the Highlands in readiness to fight the King of Scotland, James V. The animal was killed as an augury by Brian the Hermit (the wizard of the passage below) to foretell the outcome of the impending battle:

“‘That bull was slain; his reeking hide
They stretched the cataract beside,
Whose waters their wild tumult toss
Adown the black and craggy boss
Of that huge cliff, whose ample verge
Tradition calls the Hero’s Targe.
Crouched on a shelf beneath its brink,
Close where the thundering torrents sink,
Rocking beneath their headlong sway,
And drizzled by the ceaseless spray,
Midst groan of rock and roar of stream,
The wizard waits prophetic dream.”

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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