I am having a bit of trouble keeping up with Nicholas Crane’s journey around Britain. I have watched and enjoyed all of the episodes, the last two dealing with Scotland and Ireland, but this post is about the second episode: Britannia: The Great Elizabethan Journey: A Journey Through the Borders and Scotland.
NOW I am come to Scotland, and willingly, I assure you, will I enter into it, but withall lightly passe over it. For I remember well that said saw, In places not wel knowne, lesse while we must stay , as also the admonition of that Grecian, ξένος ὢν ἀπράγμων ἴσθι, that is, Art thou a stranger? Be no Medler. And verily I should play an unadvised part if I would insist long in that wherein I am but little conversant. But yet, seeing Scotland also joieth in the name of Britaine, let it be lawfull for me (reserving the due honour to the Scotish) according to my purpose, having boldly undertaken to illustrate Britan, to proceed with their good favour, leave and license, and by withdrawing aside in some sort the curtaine of obscure antiquity, to point out with my finger, if I shalbe able, some places of ancient note and memorie.
The highlights of this episode were Linlithgow Palace, the Cairngorm Mountains and a strange bit where Crane packs his stuff into a waterproof bag and proceeds to swim with it across the river Tay.
Crane described Linlithgow Palace as the ‘Hampton Court of Scotland’ as it was the country’s main royal palace. For this reason, it is pretty much omitted from William Camden’s book as any mention of the Scottish royal family at that time could have been dangerous. Mary Queen of Scots was born at the palace in 1542 and at the time Britannia was being published, she was in prison in England only one year away from her execution. She had been a threat to Elizabeth I for years and so it’s clear that Camden didn’t want to cause any trouble by mentioning anything related to her in his book.
My favourite part of the programme was when Crane went walking in the Cairngorm Mountains using an Elizabethan map made by Timothy Pont, who was the first man to draw up detailed maps of Scotland. The mountains are beautiful and as evening draws in, Nicholas Crane puts up his one man tent on a peaceful plateau at 3000 feet and goes to bed. It looks so calm and beautiful and I would love someday to just put up my in some picturesque spot and sleep after a long day’s walking. That would be perfect.