Readers who have stayed on board with the spirit of my recent postings concerning maritime messages encoded in virtual disasters - Astral, the Red Sea of Pennan and, very relevantly as will transpire, the ancient burial cairn trail of The Spinningdale - will no doubt be stricken by this tale of yet another "heaven sent" nautical nod towards our captivating future.
This time we travel to the East Lothian coastal village of Dunbar, to hear the sorry story of local Royal National Lifeboat Institution craft,the Sir Ronald Pechell, the boat tearing free of her home-base mooring during a ferocious storm before smashing against rocks at nearby nuclear Torness, the unmanned vessel receiving significant stuctural damage.
The incident took place, according to the BBC website, at "about 2250" on 21st March, close enough(bearing in mind my previous postings) to a symbolic eleven minutes to eleven to excite my curiosity; and hopefully yours.
The unlucky lifeboat was named after Sir Ronald Horace Pechell, the 9th Baronet of the Pechell Baronetcy - a Baronetcy which itself would end with his death on 29th January 1984 - the line having started back on 1st March 1797 with Sir Paul Pechell, a Royal Dragoon army officer who's Huguenot (French Calvinist) semi-noble grandfather had fled France after "religious" persecution in order to begin a fresh life in Ireland.
Further investigation into the source of the ancient name Pechell reveals:
"A coat of arms associated with the name has the blazon of a blue shield charged with a silver eagle displayed."
"Introduced into the British Isles at or shortly after the famous Norman Invasion of 1066, it derives from the word "pech" meaning sin or sinful"
And yet whilst Dunbar, home village of the lifeboat,also possesses an ancient and historic history, it is to her most famous former inhabitant that must I draw your attention; for this small village is birthplace of none other than famed naturalist John Muir, a man who later emigrated to the United States and subsequently founded The Sierra Club.
Readers may need to be reminded that it was in fact John Muir Trust Land where Fran Lockhart, partnership manager of the trust itself, captured the ominous and significant white stag on camera recently
Torness, where the ship was wrecked, a combination of two words,
Tor, "probably of Celtic origin" and remarkably similar to cairn:
- A high rock or pile of rocks on the top of a hill.
- A rocky peak or hill.
A cape or headland.
Just a few miles up the coast from Dunbar lies North Berwick and her landmark Law - a curious pyramid shaped hill, once topped with an upturned whalebone.
Then, if that were not enough, out of the blue on Saturday I received an e mail referring to my MacLantis post and suggesting that I read an article called The Pyramids of Scotland by Jeff Nisbet; the sender in the process also remarking further on North Berwick Law .
Digging into the aforementioned article - which I would thoroughly recommend - and it's various astronomically, and other, based "theories", I was somewhat startled to find a direct link to the Hill of Tara in Ireland.
"I then drew a line from the May, through the Lamb and the exact midpoint between Rosslyn and Temple, just to see where it might lead. It led to a tiny spot called Tara, far away in Ireland, where the high kings of that land were crowned—kings descended from Scota and Gaythelos."
Startled, because it was just last week that I watched Her Majesty the Queen "breaking centuries of tradition" by visiting Armagh, not too far north of Tara, on Maundy Thursday, the day before the shipwreck, in order to ceremoniously present alms purses and coins, to 164 (add it up) "poor people".
"Representatives of the Jewish, Muslim and Hindu faiths have also attended the service, at which the Catholic Primate, Cardinal Sean Brady, and the Duke of Edinburgh gave readings."
"Maundy Thursday has been celebrated since the earliest days of the Christian Church."Armagh, built on the site of:
"Emain Macha (or Navan Fort) at the city's edge, is believed to have been used as an ancient pagan ritual or ceremonial site. According to Irish mythology it was once the capital of Ulster, until it was abandoned during the 1st century CE. The site was named after the goddess Macha, and as the settlement grew on the hills nearby, it was also named after the goddess — Ard Macha means "The Height of Macha".
Yet Maundy Thursday can be seen in a different light - from 33 degree freemason Jim Shaw:
"In the Scottish Rite the Thursday before Easter, "Maundy Thursday," is an important day. On this day we always performed a special service of Communion in the local Scottish Rite Temple. At this time I was Wise Master in the Chapter of Rose Croix and it was my job to preside over the exemplification (dramatization) of the ceremony. I had done this many times and was known for my knowledge of the service and for "doing a good job" of putting it on."
"After this we took our places at the table shaped like a cross and sat down. The setting was dark, our long, sweeping robes were solid black, our faces nearly concealed in the hoods, and the mood was one of heavy gloom. The Christ-less prayers and the hymns we sang fit right in. The one word that would describe the entire event would be "black." It was, indeed, a Black Communion - a strange Black Mass."
And, in a similar multi-religious angle as Her Majesty's ceremony:
"Instructions and signs were given. Upon the altar were four "holy books" (the Bible, the Koran, the Book of the Law and the Hindu Scriptures)"
Of course I don't only have to rely on the words of Mr Nisbet, nor the ominous white stag , for what may seem a slender Royal connection between the two events, my faith is further compounded by the bloodline of Sir Paul Pechell, his potentially sinful grandfather fleeing France to Ireland, and Sir Paul's occupation himself, military equine with the Royal Dragoons,the same regiment as Prince Harry and featured in my posting of last October, The Magic of the Antiques Roadshow.
More tellingly though perhaps, Ness, in Irish mythology, was an Ulster princess
Also, another must read - The Irish Origins of Civilisation
Lifeboat BBC report is here
Queen, Ireland, Maunday Thursday BBC report is here.