One of the great things about cycling is that it gives you time to notice things that would be mere blurs when travelling by car. I am fascinated by the little pieces of history that can be found just off our highways. I hope that you will find this self-indulgent drivel interesting...

Other Counties




The Lothians


I have been passing this way for ages, seen this plaque and never bothered stopping, and now I have stopped, I am glad I did. The plaque is in memory of Marjorie Fleming and bears the inscription, "Pet Marjorie, 1803-1811, Marjorie Fleming wandered here, "in rural felicity and pleasure" and praised it in her journal as a "delightful place, Braehead by name, where there is ducks, hens, bubbly-jocks (old Scots word for a Turkey), 2 dogs, 2 cats, swine and which is delightful." There is a stone horse trough to the left of the plaque.

This "wonder - child" Marjorie Fleming, was born on January 15th, 1803, at 130 High Street, Kirkcaldy, Fife, and died on January 19th, 1811 - a short life, but a happy one with a mission. Her short life is remembered for the diary she kept during her last eighteen months, which was first published in 1858. The diary was a great success in Victorian times.

Buried in Abbotshall Kirkyard, Kirkcaldy.

From Andrew Crumey's web site and from the Fife Post

The plaque is on the NCN 1 between Cramond Brig and Gamekeepers Road.

marjorie plaque
Pet Marjorie memorial


Broughty Ferry

...for those in peril on the sea.

There is nothing trivial about this item, a memorial on the side of the lifeboat station at Broughty Ferry commemorates the loss of the Royal National Lifeboat Mona, from Broughty Ferry, which was lost with all hands while responding to a distress call when the North Carr Lightship broke her mooring cables, 8th December 1959.

Mona memorial
The memorial


Standing in a field, straddling the A907, Alloa Road and the NCN 76, is the Hawkhill Stone. There are crosses cut into the front and the back of the stone and nothing else. My "Wee guide to The Picts" suggests that this may have been a gravestone.

There is no clear route to this stone, I waited until the crop was in before making my way from the Clackmannan to Alloa section of the NCN 76.

Hawkhill stone
The Hawkhill stone

This is the keystone of Mary's Bridge, which carried the main road into Clackmannan over the Black Devon River.

The bridge is built upon the site of a former bridge that Mary, Queen of Scots once crossed over. The inscription reads "Mary's Bridge A D 17th April 1796." The scraping of red paint is not so historic.

key stone
Keystone, Mary's Bridge

The old Tollbooth, Merkit Cross and King Robert's Stone can be found the in the centre of Clackmannan town. The tower is all that remains of the Tollbooth, which was an administrative building for the town, Taxes, Courts and prison to name a few.

The Merkit Cross or Market Cross marked the site of the town market. It is inscribed with the coat of arms of the Bruce family.

The stone in the background is said to have connections with King Robert The Bruce, though what is unknown.

merkit dross
The old Merkit Cross

The Dunfermline to Stirling cycle route NCN 76 leaves Clackmannan opposite the cemetery and goes through a set of gates heading towards Alloa. Either side of these are two inscribed stones.

This one is the northernmost one, which bears the inscription, "This wall was built enclosing fully 2500 yards of Alloa Park by the directions and care of John Francis, Earl of Mar, Lord Erskine in the 36, 37, 38 & 39 year of his age & ANN DOM 1832, 33, 34 & 35." Or in other words Keep out - Johnny Mar said so!

The second stone on the southern wall reads, "John Francis, Earl of Mar, Lord Erskine RL of Kellie, Viscount Fenton and Baron Dirleton Ædificare fecit anno 1836."

Park gates
Alloa park gate stones


I have passed this way countless number of times and never noticed these two holes in the wall. My suspicions were confirmed when I climbed onto the wall to see what was on the other side. The holes have been widened on the far side so a rifle or machine gun could have a wider field of fire.

Looking at the emplacement today, you would wonder why have an emplacement here in the first place? The penny dropped for me when I saw an old mile post a little farther up the road — until the A90 dual carriageway opened in 1964, this was the main road into Edinburgh from Queensferry and is opposite one of the entrances for the Craigiehall Army Headquarters. The emplacement must have been made during WW2 as a home defence measure.

The holes can be seen north of Cramond Brig Inn, opposite the Vehicle Inspectorate weighbridge.

gun loops
The two home defence gun loops


Admiralty Boundary Stones.

It would seem that I am becoming fixated by these stones! I found these three marker posts in Cromarty on a street along the shore. There are four "stones" three have been used as a garden gate while the third is outside the Cromarty Courthouse Museum.

The "stones" are in fact made of concrete and bear the numbers 1, 5 and 6 in Roman numerals. Number 4 is outside the courthouse. All four of the stones probably date to WW1 and delineated the Navy property boundary around the harbour.

Compare this picture to the Ferry Toll stone Ferry Toll

Cromarty stones Cromarty stones
The No. V & VI stones
The other number I forget, It is holding up the gate!


Windmills in Scotland are a rare thing, I found this one off a minor road between Letham and Arbroath. There is not much to look at now except a forlorn tower devoid of the sails.
The moulin whur?


North Carr Lightship has has a chequered career, built in 1933 it was in operation until 1976 when it was sold to Fife Council and retired to Anstruther Harbour for a number of years before being moved to its present berth in Dundee, Jan 2002.

The ship is now owned by the Maritime Volunteer Service and is not open to the public.

Northern Lighthouse Board - North Carr

North carr North carr
North Carr Lightship The light

The frigate Unicorn is a wee gem and is well worth a visit.

His Majesty's Frigate UNICORN, was built for the Royal Navy in 1824 and is a unique survivor of a bygone age.

Have a look at the Unicorn web site

Frigate unicorn
HMS Unicorn at sun set


This is a replica of the Dunnichen Stone which was found near the site of the battle of Nechtansmere. It depicts the battle between the Picts and the Northumbrians. The Picts used a bit of tactical guile and lured the Northumbrians into a trap with deadly results.

It is said that the outcome of this battle was instrumental in the foundation of the Scotland as an independent nation, paving the way for the Scots to unite the country under one king.

The original is located in the Meffan Museum, Forfar

dunnichen stane
The Dunnichen Stane

East Haven

During WW2, the Fleet Air Arm needed places to train pilots and East Haven was one of those places. Commissioned as HMS Peewit, the base had a aircraft carrier deck marked out on the runway to give the pilots something to aim for. After the war was over the station was paid-off and was returned to the original owners.

A number of small aircraft type hangars can be found, still doing sterling service in the agricultural sector, along with a number of brick buildings. Most notable is a long, low command bunker in the field opposite Hatton House.

It was the norm to name an airfield after the nearest place, which in this case would have been Hatton, however it was named East Haven, to avoid confusion with the RNAS station at Hatston, near Kirkwall.

east haven hangar
The blister hangar

Higgins Neuk


Higgins Neuk was the southern ferry terminal for Kincardine-on-Firth, which closed in the late 1930s when the Kincardine Bridge was built.

This is a set of ambush gun loops either side of the road from the slip way, presumably built during WW2 to repel the Germans. What I can not understand is why build them?

The ferry terminal was closed, the slip could have been easily blocked or blown up and there is no cover for the defenders either side of the road. The Home Guardsmen could easily be seen from the river and dealt with.

This site may be at risk of destruction from the new river crossing at Kincardine which may well go through this way.

gun loops
Higgins Neuk gun loops.

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