The Gods were surely smiling on Braemar on Sunday, July 29, writes Mary Munro.
In this changeable ‘summer’ weather, many an outside event has been spoilt, but on Jacobite Day, spells of warm sunshine - and little sign of the predicted thundery downpours - made the afternoon so enjoyable for the crowd that converged on Braemar Castle grounds for the historical pageant.
The Rise and Fall of Braemar Castle, written and directed by Marilyn Baker, portrayed the history of the castle through the three main Jacobite risings.
Set in 1820, the story is narrated through the eyes and memory of Peter Grant, Auld Dubrach, who was the oldest surviving Braemar member of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. The setting of the ancient castle, standing on a grassy knoll among the trees, with the Dee at its back, lent itself perfectly to this type of pageant.
All the players have to be congratulated on their authentic Highland costumes, compiled with the advice and skills of Michel and Magali Brat.
The combination of appropriate Jacobite songs, led by the Kinaird Ceilidh Band, bagpipe music from Diane and John Wright and dancing by the Castleton Dancers, made history come alive.
There was strong audience participation, as children who, earlier in the day, had earned white cockades through a series of challenges and skills, were encouraged to follow the marching players, even enacting – with swords and targes – the Battle of Killiecrankie. The children performed the fight scenes with great gusto, ensuring this was an event they would always remember!
The action centred on three of the main characters from the Jacobite uprisings, Bonnie Dundee, played by Simon Blackett, the Black Colonel, played by Garry Marsden and the Earl of Mar, played by Gordon Rattray.
Richard Baker, Roger Sudworth and Tom White played a number of supporting roles and one of the most moving moments came when the survivors of the Battle of Culloden, defeated and dejected, wound their weary way home, accompanied by the haunting song Ghosts of Culloden, sung by Brian Casey.
A fierce wind provided extra challenges for John Macpherson’s sound production and special effects, but added to the realism of this grand outdoors setting for a tale told by a man of 106, the Auld Dubrach, Peter Grant himself, who eventually agreed to accept a pension from the Hanovarian King George II, even though he remained “yer majesty’s auldest enemy”.
All of the players and helpers must be commended for giving so much time and enthusiasm.
I found the use of the Doric tongue in the conversations between Peter (Pete Mulvey) and his daughter Annie (Joan Anderson) particularly pleasing, as it gave a real flavour of authenticity to this production. Well done, indeed!