Your History?


None The Wiser
Jul 24, 2003
The fact that there are members from all over the world made me think that it might be interesting to tell each other a bit about the history of their own little part of planet Earth.

Me? I'm in the south east of Scotland in a region called East Lothian. My hometown is Dunbar and it's famous for a few things.

First it is the birthplace of John Muir - conservationist and father of America's national parks. Until recent years, he has been more famous in the USA than in Scotland but that has changed and now he is commemorated both by a statue in Dunbar High Street and, I think more fittingly, by the John Muir Country Park and the John Muir Trust.

Another local heroine is Lady Agnes Randolph Countess Of Moray and wife of Patrick, Earl of Dunbar. She is better known as Black Agnes because of her dark hair and complexion. Her fame came about when her husband was away in 1339 and England invaded Scotland. The Earl Of Salisbury laid seige to Dunbar Castle, which Agnes held successfully for five months with a mere handful of men under her command. It's said that after the English bombarded the castle walls, she would send out her ladys in waiting to sarcastically dust down the ramparts to infuriate the English beseigers. When the seige was coming to an end (relief came by sea) Black Agnes supposedly baked some bread and sent it with a nice bottle of wine to Salisbury. What a gal! :)

There were also a couple of significant battles against the English here - 1296 when John Balliol was king of Scotland and fought for independence against the English and 1650 when the Covenanters took on Oliver Cromwell and his New Model Army. Both were significant defeats for the Scots. Until a fire destroyed it, there was an old house called Cromwell House and the old harbour is still called Cromwell Harbour (there are two harbours in Dunbar, the other, newer one is called Victoria Harbour). Cromwell Harbour also has a set of steps called Johnny Cope's Steps and is said to be where the general John Cope took to ship after fleeing the defeat he suffered against the Jacobites at Preston Pans a few miles up the road.

But perhaps the most significant peice of history East Lothian has provided to Scotland is the Saltire. It's said that local Pict leader Oengus led his forces against the Angles and their leader Athelstane (the battle occurred at the now-named Athelstaneford in East Lothian). On the morning of the battle, white clouds formed the cross of Saint Andrew in the sky. Victory went to Oengus and the omen then became the Scottish Saltire.

I think the saddest thing about Dunbar is that its once impressive and imposing castle was destroyed to make way for the new harbour. It was already a ruin by then but the devastation caused by the construction made things one hundred times worse.

So there you have it, a bit of my local history. What about yours?


Member and remember
Mar 25, 2013
Idaho, USA. Famous now, unfortunately, as a friendly home to white supremacists. While Idaho is deeply conservative, the reputation stems from groups who came here thirty years ago or so and were high profile in the 1990s. That all has gone quiet, if not completely faded away.

Idaho was not always like this. It was, a century ago, a hotbed of left wing radicalism. The IWW, the International Workers of the World was strong among the miners up in northern Idaho--ironically, exactly where the white supremacists took root. Most famously, it was home to Joe Hill for a time, who became a cause celebre in the workers' movement. Another fellow, more infamously, blew up a governor (retired at the time), Frank Steunenberg, in 1905. The action was allegedly fomented by Big Bill Haywood of the Western Federation of Miners. The years prior to the First World War were, as I'm sure people elsewhere can verify with their own local stories, a kind of heyday of terrorist attacks, with bombs being the favored means.

Idaho is home to the Nez Perce Indians, whose most famous chief was Chief Joseph who gave a short, poignant speech of surrender. The History Place - Great Speeches Collection: Chief Joseph Surrenders

It is home to a large population of Basques, who came here at the end of the 1800s for the mining boom, then stayed to become shepherds.

Lastly, Idaho is the birthplace of the poet Ezra Pound and the novelist Ernest Hemingway. It's worth noting that both left their native land early, though Hemingway did keep a home up in Sun Valley.


Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Oct 5, 2011
blah - flags. So many flags.
Where do I start....?

I'm from Northern Ireland, that disputed little area that's causing the UK government significant headaches at the moment (again)

As with all of NI my town is very much of one political persuasion (I'm one of the lesser-spotted NI moderates). Suffice to say anyone in NI knows my religion, and likely voting preferences - although see above - within a minute of meeting me - and me, them.

In my town we have a very large medieval castle, one of the finest in the UK (where I once worked). If you know the term 'beyond the pale' - the pale was the area of Ireland controlled by the English - which was Dublin and Carrickfergus, my town. The name means 'Rock of Fergus' after a king who died, dashed on the rock the castle is now built on. It's also where King William III (known as King Billy over here) landed to cause all the darned trouble :D

I was born in Belfast at the height of the Troubles - Christmas 1971. My mum vividly recalls the shooting out in the city while we were in the hospital - and planning where she would hide me should the ambulance be hijacked on the way home. Having said that, my town was peaceful and I wasn't directly affected growing up - although sectarian division was, and is, a feature of life here.

So, the pros? NI is gorgeous. Still very unpopulated, with great beaches and countryside. It's very compact with good museums etc a half hour drive away, with rural stuff no more than 5 mins away she the sea about 5 mins walk away.

And it gets into you, this fierce little place.

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Nov 10, 2008
nearly the New Forest
I'm in Hampshire, England. On the outskirts of the village where I live is the former family home of Florence Nightingale OM (1820-1910), the great Victorian social reformer, and she is buried in our village church. Although she is most popularly known for her work in nursing in the Crimean War -- she was dubbed The Lady of/with the Lamp -- her true legacy is being effectively the founder of modern nursing.

The village itself is mentioned in the Domesday Book compiled in 1086, and lies just outside one other important creation of William the Conqueror, the New Forest. Confusingly, perhaps, the Forest is mostly open land, not woodland, as "forest" in this context is a term akin to "preserve". Basically, it was an area set aside in which the King and his court could hunt for game, and the whole area was subject to special forest laws eg protecting game animals and preventing the felling of trees. Although it's no longer a royal demesne, the Forest is still governed in part by its old rules. It's looked after by verderers and agisters, whose roles were established in the early Middle Ages, and commoners who own or rent property on the Forest still have important rights over the land which aren't available to outsiders -- eg the right of pannage, allowing pigs out in Autumn to eat the fallen acorns and beech mast -- and their New Forest ponies (a native breed), donkeys and cattle roam free everywhere.

The only major incident I know of in the Forest happened in 1100, reputedly a few miles away from where I live, when William II, aka William Rufus, the Conqueror's son and successor, was shot and killed by Walter Tirel/Tyrrell in what might -- or might not -- have been an accident when they were out hunting. If it was an accident, it was of great benefit to William's younger brother, Henry, who was of the hunting party. He left the body where it lay and rode at once to Winchester, a few miles from here, to secure the treasury, and he was crowned King within days. The body of William Rufus was taken to Winchester Cathedral for burial, and there's a plaque in our nearest market town, Romsey, to commemorate the street down which the death cart was driven en route to the burial.

Romsey itself is also in the Domesday Book, and has an Abbey which was originally founded by the Anglo-Saxon King Edward in 907 as a nunnery, though the present building was erected by the Normans c1120-40. It was saved from destruction at the Dissolution as the town bought it for use as the parish church, which it remains. Romsey changed hands a few times in the Civil War, but I don't know of any major battles in the immediate area, and nothing much else of great note happened there. It has seen famous residents and visitors, though. The Victorian Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, lived at Broadlands, a country estate on the edge of the town, though it's more well known as the home of Lord Louis Mountbatten, the uncle of the Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke and HMQ spent part of their honeymoon there, as did Charles and Diana 34 years later. Mountbatten himself is buried in the Abbey.

We're only a few miles from Salisbury, Winchester and Southampton, each of which has a long history. Pulling one notable item for each at random, otherwise this would become an essay, Salisbury Cathedral has the tallest spire in Britain and possibly the tallest in Europe, Winchester was the city of Alfred the Great and once capital of England, and Southampton was the port where Henry V set sail for France in his claim to its crown, his trip culminating at Agincourt.

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