Scottish 17th century lady-in-waiting’s gown discovered off Texel


Painting by Sir Anthony van Dyck, on the occasion of the wedding of William II and Mary Stuart

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Texel gown belonged to member of royal court of Queen Henrietta Maria

20 April 2016

Archival research has revealed that the wardrobe discovered near Texel belonged to the royal court of the English Queen Henrietta Maria. In March 1642 the queen was travelling to the Netherlands on a secret mission when one of her baggage ships sank in the Wadden Sea. This discovery was made by cultural historians Nadine Akkerman from Leiden University and Helmer Helmers from the University of Amsterdam.

Divers had found the gown in a shipwreck off Texel in 2014.

The 17th-century dress, photo Kaap Skil museum on Texel

Scottish lady-in-waiting

The now famous silk gown is still remarkably well preserved and is the showpiece of a larger archaeological find near Texel. It probably belonged to Jean Kerr, Countess of Roxburghe (approximately 1585-1643), lady-in-waiting and confidante to Queen Henrietta Maria (1609-1669). There was also a younger lady-in-waiting whose clothes were being transported in the ship, but the more outdated style and size of the gown indicate strongly that it belonged to Kerr, the elder of the two.

Elizabeth Stuart

Cultural historians Nadine Akkerman and Helmer Helmers are experts on the British Royal House of Stuart. Their findings are based on a letter written by Elizabeth Stuart (1596-1662), the Stuart princess who found refuge in The Hague after being exiled from the Kingdom of Bohemia. In this letter to the English diplomat Sir Thomas Roe, dated 17 March 1642, Elizabeth describes how her sister-in-law lost a baggage ship during the crossing. In addition to the clothing of two ladies-in-waiting and their maids, the queen herself lost the chalices from her private chapel in the shipwreck.

A secret mission

The official story behind Henrietta Maria’s trip to the Dutch Republic was one of royal connections: she was delivering her 11-year-old daughter Mary to the court of William II, Prince of Orange and future stadtholder, whom the girl had married the previous year. This was only a ruse, however: her real mission was to sell the crown jewels and use the proceeds to buy weapons. These were essential for King Charles I to take on Parliament in the English Civil War. According to Akkerman and Helmers, the find at Texel represents a tangible reminder of the strong Dutch involvement in this conflict.

Winter Queen

Akkerman, Assistant Professor of Early Modern English Literature at Leiden University, and Helmers, Assistant Professor of Early Modern Dutch Literature and Culture at the University of Amsterdam, were able to solve the mystery of the unknown owner of the gown reasonably quickly. Akkerman: ‘Once Helmer alerted me to the find, it took us about five minutes to unearth the relevant letter, as I remembered transcribing and deciphering it in 2006. We are still finding even more references.’ Akkerman is the editor of the Correspondence of Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia, while Helmers is the author of The Royalist Republic, on Anglo-Dutch relations in this period.

Unnecessary speculation

The mystery and speculation in the Dutch press surrounding the origin of the wardrobe were unnecessary. With the discovery of the family crest, the evidence quickly started pointing towards the Stuarts. Helmers: ‘It’s a pity we weren’t consulted sooner – the puzzle would have been solved much earlier. The archaeological experts have focused primarily on the material side. That’s important, of course, but the historical texts also tell a thrilling story.’

(CvB)

1970s killer whale still alive


This video from the USA says about itself:

29 April 2013

A couple vacationing in Mexico encountered a number of killer whales swimming alongside their boat during a trip.

From the BBC, with video there:

1970s killer whale Dopey Dick spotted off Scotland

3 hours ago

Scientists studying Scotland’s killer whales have made a remarkable discovery.

They have identified a whale which hit the headlines in the 1970s after swimming up the River Foyle in Northern Ireland.

Back then, he was dubbed “Dopey Dick”.

Today, he’s known as Comet… and is still believed to be alive and well.

BBC Scotland‘s environment correspondent, David Miller, reports.

Muslim shopkeeper murdered in Scotland


Asad Shah

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Man arrested over ‘religiously prejudiced’ murder of Muslim shopkeeper

Police say they are treating the death of Asad Shah as ‘religiously prejudiced‘ after he was savagely killed

Lewis Smith

25 March 2016

A devout Muslim shopkeeper was savagely killed in the street shortly after posting an Easter message “to my beloved Christian nation”.

Asad Shah, 40, died from injuries sustained in the attack on Thursday night in which his killers are believed to have stabbed him and stamped on his head. Medics tried to save him but he died in hospital.

Police Scotland, who have arrested a man in connection with the attack, said they were treating the death as “religiously prejudiced”.

An eyewitness said two men had set upon the shopkeeper and said: “One was stamping on his head. There was a pool of blood on the ground. ”

Floral tributes were placed outside Mr Shah’s shop, a newsagent and convenience store close to where he was attacked in Shawlands, Glasgow, as residents left messages of sympathy.

A few hours before he was killed, Mr Shah wrote on Facebook: “Good Friday and a very Happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation… Let’s follow the real footstep of beloved holy Jesus Christ (PBUH) [peace be upon him], and get the real success in both worlds xxxx.”

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

‘Wonderful’shopkeeper stabbed to death

Saturday 26th March 2016

POLICE confirmed yesterday that a much-loved Glasgow shopkeeper died following a horrific attack in the city’s Southside.

Forty-year-old Asad Shah was brutally stabbed and beaten outside his newsagents’ in Shawlands on Thursday night.

The victim was found with serious injuries and was taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, where he later died from his wounds.

A second man is believed to be injured but no details have been released.

Local people have been arriving at the scene since the incident to speak to the police as well as lay flowers and messages.

Resident Isabella Graham said Mr Shah was “an amazing, wonderful man.”

She added: “He wouldn’t hurt anybody. Nobody in Shawlands would have a bad word to say about him.

“I can’t believe he’s gone.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Officers are currently pursuing a positive line of inquiry in connection with the death.”

The Sun has been ordered to admit a controversial story that said one in five British Muslims had sympathy for Isis was “significantly misleading”: here.

International seabird conference, Scotland, September 2016


This video from Scotland says about itself:

18 July 2013

A short video featuring (HD 720p) the magical spectacle of a seabird colony in summer at Fowlsheugh on the east coast of Scotland. The video and audio are the copyright of Scottish Natural Heritage.

From the International Seabird Group Conference site:

The 13th International Seabird Group Conference is taking place in Edinburgh on 6th-9th September 2016 and is being organised by Francis Daunt and colleagues (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) and Sue Lewis (University of Edinburgh).

​The Seabird Group, a registered charity, was founded in 1966 to promote and help coordinate the study and conservation of seabirds. It maintains close links with other national and international ornithological bodies. The Group organises regular international conferences and provides small grants towards research and survey projects. It was part of the SEABIRD 2000 partnership, a major initiative to census all the seabirds breeding in Britain and Ireland between 1998 and 2002. The Group actively encourages its members to get involved in surveys of seabirds and other research work.

Scottish Orkney islands whale watching


This video from Scotland says about itself:

4 December 2014

Orkney is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna all year round. We are perhaps best known for our seabirds and seals, but there are many more species here, including many other birds, the tiny but very elusive Orkney vole and the even tinier Primula scotica.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

The Orkney call to eco whale-watchers

Friday 18th March 2016

PETER FROST is off to an archipelago full of spectacular vantage points for a highly rewarding observation of its rich wildlife from puffins to whales and its ancient history

New Zealand, Australia, New England and California are just a few places advertising themselves as holiday destinations at the moment. Most of them make great play of the fact that you can watch whales as part of your holiday.

In fact you don’t need to go that far, or spend anywhere near as much money, if you want to make whale spotting a main theme of your break.

Many of us, I am sure, have had our interest in whales sharpened by the tragic strandings of five huge sperm whales in Norfolk and Lincolnshire early this year.

There are whales in waters around the British Isles and thats why I’m planning to go back to Orkney this summer, where I fully expect to see some whales and other sea mammals as well as other, just as exciting, wildlife.

Orkney is a great holiday destination, fabulous scenery, a rich history from pre-historic tombs, Stone-Age villages to memories of the last two world wars.

There is a rich cultural heritage with Orcadian fiddle music being famous around the globe.

Add to that amazing seabirds like puffins and gannets, seals, otters, even leatherback turtles and so much more to see.

Best of all are the cetaceans, the whales, dolphins and porpoises that are so often seen, not from special and expensive whale-watching boats but from the headlands and inter-island ferries.

More and more conscientious nature lovers are trying to do their whale-watching from the shore rather than the sometimes huge fleets of boats that can so often cause distress to whales.

Most spectacular of these Orkney sightings have been of killer whales. I’ve seen there a pod of killer whales or orcas, which happens several times most years — in fact 90 per cent of such sightings in Britain are off Orkney and Shetland.

The so called killer whale isn’t actually a whale at all. It is a large and truly spectacular member of the dolphin family. Orcas can measure up to 9.7m (32 feet) in length. They are easy to recognise by their distinctive black and white markings.

This awe-inspiring ocean predator lives in social groups called pods with the oldest female taking the lead role.

Pods with up to 150 animals have been spotted off Orkney.

They mainly hunt for fish including herring and mackerel but also snatch seals and porpoises, often seen throwing their prey up in the air.

The best time to see them around Orkney is between May and September although they are present all year round.

Other common whale sightings in the area are of the most numerous baleen whale, the minke whale. These marine mammals, with plates and sieve-like hairs in place of teeth, can reach up to 8.5m (28 feet) and are slender with a central ridge and a small dorsal fin. The hotspots to see minkes are the coastal waters around headlands and smaller islands.

Other, rarer whales which have been Orkney visitors include the pilot whale, sperm whale, humpback whale, fin whale, sei whale and very rarely the biggest animal ever to appear on our planet, the blue whale.

A 50-foot sperm whale appeared in shallow water near Kirkwall Pier in October a year or so ago. It remained there for some time before heading out to deeper water.

Huge whales are sometimes washed ashore during storms and often when already dead. Sometimes they perish on the beach as refloating them is near impossible and rarely can they escape to deeper waters.

In days past a whale stranding was a cause of celebration as it meant a large source of food, oil and bone. Huge pods of pilot whales would mysteriously beach themselves and people would come from all over the islands to harvest the unexpected bounty.

In earlier times whales were driven ashore by islanders. Many Orcadians joined the whale fishing fleets to Iceland and Greenland in the 18th and 19th centuries and later crewed the British whaling steamers that caused such destruction to Antarctic whale populations.

Now in Orkney the appearance of the whale is heralded as a good omen for eco-tourism, rather than food or whale oil.

The Stromness Museum on Orkney displays the rich story of Orcadian whalers with the artefacts including scrimshaw — carved and elaborately engraved whale ivory.

For the best whale-watching, I would recommend Cantick Head on the island of Hoy, Noup Head on the island of Westray and North Hill on the tiny island of Papa Westray. The latter can be reached by the world’s shortest scheduled flight that takes two minutes.

Do remember Orkney isn’t an island but an archipelago known by the collective name Orkney. The locals will quickly correct you if you refer to their home as the Orkneys. Each island in the group has its own name and its own unique character.