Burns’ links to the Mearns remembered

Left to right - Dave Ramsay, depute Provost of Aberedeenshire Ron McKail, Joan Christie, John Knox, president Arbroath  Burns Club, Sonia Proctor, Hamish Murray, president Montrose Burns Club, Eck Whitton, Provost of Angus, Ronnie Proctor
Left to right - Dave Ramsay, depute Provost of Aberedeenshire Ron McKail, Joan Christie, John Knox, president Arbroath Burns Club, Sonia Proctor, Hamish Murray, president Montrose Burns Club, Eck Whitton, Provost of Angus, Ronnie Proctor

The 11th commemorative event took place on Sunday at the Burns plaque at Hillside in Angus to celebrate where the Bard stopped to water his horse on his Highland tour of 1787.

The ceremony also celebrated sculptor Adam Christie, who spent 50 years as a patient in Sunnyside Hospital, Montrose, where he developed a skill for stone sculpture, using only an old file, a six inch nail, and broken glass for finishing.

The inaugural event took place in the Year of the Homecoming in 2009, as a result of research through the Father of the Bard project, led by its director Dave Ramsay.

It was a joint initiative between Aberdeenshire Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Dave said: “Both of these stories could well have been lost to our heritage, but thanks to the success of this event, through the support of local Burns clubs, heritage groups and the public, we can now ensure that this part of our rich heritage in Angus and the Mearns is now firmly embedded for future generations.”

Robert Burns’ Highland tour of 1787 included a visit to the farms, locations and relatives of his family in the Mearns.

His father, William, was born at Clochnahill, on the outskirts of Stonehaven.

He left as a young man for Edinburgh and Alloway, where he built the cottage in which Robert was born.

At Sunday’s ceremony, Aberdeenshire Depute Provost Ron McKail and Angus Provost Ronnie Proctor paid a special tribute to Adam Christie, in a tribute to his legacy, from the work of local author and poet Joan Christie.

Readings were given from the diary of Robert Burns on his journey through the Mearns and Angus.

Meanwhile, Dr Cheryl McGeachan, of Glasgow University, is currently undertaking major research on Christie as a sculptor and “artist extraordinaire”.

Dr McGeachan and Dave Ramsay are working on a new book about him, to pick up the Adam Christie story from 1984, to ensure that a remarkable story is never allowed to fade.