The Trosach's Dell
Photographer: Ogle, Thomas
Medium: Photographic print
“Now wound the path its dizzy ledge
Around a precipice’s edge,
When lo! a wasted female form,
Blighted by wrath of sun and storm,
In tattered weeds and wild array,
Stood on a cliff beside the way,
And glancing round her restless eye,
Upon the wood, the rock, the sky,
Seemed nought to mark, yet all to spy.
Her brow was wreathed with gaudy broom;
With gesture wild she waved a plume
Of feathers, which the eagles fling
To crag and cliff from dusky wing;”
View of the Trossachs, a mountain glen 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 encounter between James Fitz-James, a Saxon knight, and Blanche of Devan, a crazed woman. He finds her on a crag in the Trossachs, a narrow valley known for its picturesque scenery between Loch Katrine and Loch Achray in Stirling. Blanche sings to Fitz-James of her tragic past, and her identity is revealed as a bride abducted on the morning of her wedding by the rebel Highland chief Roderick Dhu. She warns Fitz-James that Roderick and his clansmen watch for him and entreats him to exact vengeance on her behalf, before expiring from an arrow let fly from the bow of Murdoch, his guide and a Clan Alpine spy.
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.