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Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock

GUEST,leeneia 09 Feb 14 - 10:34 PM
Bert 09 Feb 14 - 10:46 PM
GUEST 09 Feb 14 - 10:57 PM
GUEST,leeneia 10 Feb 14 - 09:59 AM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Feb 14 - 08:09 AM
GUEST,leeneia 11 Feb 14 - 09:06 PM
GUEST 11 Feb 14 - 09:55 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Feb 14 - 10:03 PM
Effsee 11 Feb 14 - 10:13 PM
Megan L 12 Feb 14 - 04:00 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 12 Feb 14 - 06:07 AM
Jack Campin 12 Feb 14 - 06:42 AM
Jim McLean 12 Feb 14 - 08:55 AM
GUEST,leeneia 12 Feb 14 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,leeneia 12 Feb 14 - 10:52 AM
Jack Campin 12 Feb 14 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,leeneia 12 Feb 14 - 11:11 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Feb 14 - 07:49 PM
GUEST,leeneia 13 Feb 14 - 11:01 AM
Jack Campin 13 Feb 14 - 11:38 AM
Mysha 14 Feb 14 - 07:07 PM
GUEST,leeneia 15 Feb 14 - 10:20 AM
Mysha 16 Feb 14 - 07:48 AM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Feb 14 - 08:01 PM
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Subject: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 09 Feb 14 - 10:34 PM

My husband and I are planning a trip to Scotland, and as part of it, we are learning about Scotland's geologic history. Well, I was poring over the map, looking at the folds and intrusions on the eastern coast, and there in the water off Dundee was a tiny speck labelled 'Inchcape Rock.'

Good grief, that took me back. In the fifth grade, we had a pile of battered old black books at the back of the room, and when Mrs. Klinke ran out of things to do with us, we would get them out and read aloud. One thing we read was a poem about evil Ralph the Rover, who cut the warning bell off the Inchcape rock and (of course) came to grief on the rock himself a few years later. The last line of the poem has stayed with me for 58 years:

"the fiends below were ringing his knell." Strong stuff!

I'm considering setting it to music. Surely Halloween is just crying for this to be a song. It's wordy and it's ragged, so I'm folk processing it. Here it is.

The Sun in the heaven was shining gay,
and all things were joyful on that day;
The sea-birds screamed as they wheeled around,
And there was joyaunce in their sound.
The buoy of the Inchcape Bell was seen,
naught but a speck on the ocean green.

The goodly Abbot of Aberbrothok
Had placed that bell on the Inchcape Rock;
On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung,
And over the waves its warning rung.
When the Rock was hid by the surge's swell,
The Mariners heard the warning Bell;
And then they knew the perilous Rock,
And blest the Abbot of Aberbrothok

Sir Ralph the Rover walked his deck,
And fixed his eye on the darker speck.
He felt the cheering power of spring,
It made him whistle, it made him sing;
His heart was mirthful to excess,
But the Rover's mirth was wickedness.

His eye was on the Inchcape Float;
Quoth he, "My men, put out the boat,
And row me to the Inchcape Rock,
And I'll plague the Abbot of Aberbrothok."

The boat is lowered, the boatmen row,
And to the Inchcape Rock they go;
Sir Ralph bent over from the boat,
And he cut the bell from the Inchcape Float.
Down sank the Bell with a gurgling sound,
The bubbles rose and burst around;
Quoth Sir Ralph, "The next who comes to the Rock,
Won't bless the Abbot of Aberbrothok."

Sir Ralph the Rover sailed away,
He scoured the seas for many a day;
And now grown rich with plundered store,
He steers his course for Scotland's shore.
So thick a haze o'erspreads the sky,
They cannot see the sun on high;
The wind hath blown a gale all day,
At evening it hath died away.
On the deck the Rover takes his stand,
So dark it is they see no land.
Quoth Sir Ralph, "It will be lighter soon,
For there is the dawn of the rising Moon."
"Canst hear," said one, "the breakers roar?
For methinks we should be near the shore."
"Now, where we are I cannot tell,
But I wish we could hear the Inchcape Bell."

They hear no sound, the swell is strong,
Though the wind hath fallen they drift along;
Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock,
"Oh Christ! It is the Inchcape Rock!"
Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair,
He curst himself in his despair;
The waves rush in on every side,
The ship is sinking beneath the tide.
But even in his dying fear,
One dreadful sound could the Rover hear;
A sound as if with the Inchcape Bell,
The Devil below was ringing his knell.

=================
The poem is by the English poet Robert Southey. This version ends with the Devil, but I like 'fiends' better. (How can anyone take a villain named Ralph seriously?)

I expected the rock to be made of tough old granite or basalt, but it isn't, it's sandstone, I believe the New Red.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: Bert
Date: 09 Feb 14 - 10:46 PM

We had to read that in school Leenia. The ending that I remember was.

He heard the sound of the Inchcape bell as
the fiends in triumph were ringing his knell.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Feb 14 - 10:57 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_Rock_Lighthouse

That link may interest you, leeneia. Sounds like you have a wonderful trip ahead of you. Enjoy!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 Feb 14 - 09:59 AM

Hi, Bert. It's good to hear from someone else who remembers poetry from school. Thanks for your vote for the fiends.
============
Thanks for the link, Guest. The story of the Bell Rock lighthouse has much in common with the story of the Eddystone Light, which I have also read. Life was so hard and so sad then!

I suspect that 'Aberbrothock' in the poem is actually Arbroath. The ruined abbey is built of the same red sandstone as the Inchcape Rock.

It's easy to find a picture of the abbey online.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Feb 14 - 08:09 AM

"How can anyone take a villain named Ralph seriously?"

Pronounce it "Rafe" and he sounds villainous enough. That's how I've always heard it in this context.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 11 Feb 14 - 09:06 PM

Aha! Thanks.

Just like Rafe Vaughn Williams, then.

I think the poem would have more validity if Southey had explained that Ralph was drunk when he loosed the bell. Then, when his ship hits the rock a couple years later, he says, "Hell! I sawed through the chain! I forgot all about that!" Naturally it would have to rhyme.

Just yesterday I was thinking that the plot of this poem is so trite, and that in real life villains never get their comeuppance so neatly. Then today I read about a terrorist near Baghdad blowing up himself and a bunch of terrorist-trainees while showing them how to make car bombs.

There is a God.

But while we are talking about pronunciation, do you know how to pronounce 'Scourie.' Scourie is a small Scottish town famous because of the geologic exposures nearby.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Feb 14 - 09:55 PM

Scoorie.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Feb 14 - 10:03 PM

I've always assumed he was away a long time, and assumed that by the time he came back a maintenance crew would have got round to fixing things. I suspect vandals often make that kind of assumption.

Incidentally mention of vandals ties into your comment about Ralph not being a plausible name for a villain. At the same time the historical Vandals were rampaging around after the fall of the Roman Empire there was another mob in the same line of business - the Alans. But somehow, unlike the Vandals the name never caught on in later years... Some names work for villains, some don't.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: Effsee
Date: 11 Feb 14 - 10:13 PM

Sorry, that was me back there at 09.55...my cookie went walkabout.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: Megan L
Date: 12 Feb 14 - 04:00 AM

Ralf is a form of radeulf and therefor means Counsellor Wolf


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 12 Feb 14 - 06:07 AM

Leenia- if you are going to Fife & have an interest in such things, there's an old pub in the middle of Tayport called the 'Bell Rock Tavern' which has obvious links to the place! Fairly basic as I recallm but it used to do food & with an amazing & friendly landlady who floated around the bar room in a long dress....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Feb 14 - 06:42 AM

And Ralph Vaughan Williams spelt his name with four A's. In English (unlike American) the middle one has two syllables. (The BBC pronounces his first name Rafe, but I don't know whether he did himself - that pronunciation is now archaic).

BTW the red sandstone cliffs north of Arbroath, up to Auchmithie, are a nice walk on a sunny day.

A Google image search for "Inchcape Rock" gives you some neat pictures (including a sheet music image pointing you to a choral setting by Horace Keats, whoever he was). There is a good book about lighthouses of this period, Bella Bathurst's "The Lighthouse Stevensons".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: Jim McLean
Date: 12 Feb 14 - 08:55 AM

I had friends whi lived in Scourie and pronounced it as it Scow ree.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 12 Feb 14 - 10:44 AM

Thanks to everyone for the information. We are interested in rocks, birds, and traditional music. The walk along the cliff top sounds good, because it would probably not be too hilly.

We plan to visit Loanhead of Daviot, which is an ancient stone circle not too far from the Inchcape Rock.

My husband, who is a retired geologist, has been throwing himself into the study of Scottish geology, and I have been following along. Did you know that Scotland north and west of Loch Ness is entirely different land, with a different history and from a different place than the rest of Great Britain? That land is one with Newfoundland.

We will be returning to the notable road cut at Laxford Bridge. Nowadays it is written up on the Internet, but in 1995, when we first visited Scotland, we had never heard of it. We were driving down a lonely road, saw the rocks and cried, "What's THAT?" Of course we stopped to look and take pictures.

I'll attach an image.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 12 Feb 14 - 10:52 AM

Here they are

pink and gray

I would estimate that the beds of rock here are two to four feet thick. I wish there had been a person in the pictures to give some idea of the extraordinary scale of these rocks.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Feb 14 - 11:01 AM

There is a good restaurant specializing in smoked fish at Auchmithie, for when you've finished the walk.

Scottish geology is exceptionally complicated and historically important. Mull is maybe the most heterogeneous spot, with a vast ancient volcano, a great big fossil tree, unusual red granite and the columnar basalt of Staffa. There's a good ten-miles-to-the-inch geological map of the whole country.

Hugh Macdiarmid once suggested that Scotland's separate geology was an argument for independence. Not one of his more persuasive ideas. One bit of Scotland really belongs to Venezuela - it left home about 100 million years ago and is now underneath the whisky-producing peat bogs of Islay. So perhaps the Islay locals ought to be learning Spanish.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 12 Feb 14 - 11:11 AM

Interesting. I didn't know you were interested in geology, Jack. that's nice to know.

I'll make a note of the good restaurant at Auchmithie.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Feb 14 - 07:49 PM

Many years ago we went to a paleontological meeting in Edinburgh. We took time to tour around and collect samples at a few interesting places, which I have forgotten.

At one place we wanted to sample some Lower Paleozoic shales, but found it was on a fairly large estate/farm with all sorts of keep out and no trippers signs. Gathering our courage, we drove in the gate and up to the house. We were welcomed, offered coffee and conversation, and ended up exploring, taking the owner's dog with us as they had to attend a meeting with some sheep raisers.

Of all the places we have visited, we found the Scots the most friendly.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 13 Feb 14 - 11:01 AM

Thanks for the memories, Q. It sounds like that was a wonderful encounter.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Feb 14 - 11:38 AM

Try googling "oil shale scotland" for some surprises about shale. You pass the waste heaps ("bings") from the world's oldest oil industry on the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: Mysha
Date: 14 Feb 14 - 07:07 PM

Hi,

leeneia: Were those photographs taken at that time in 1995? A friend of mine, also a geologist, wondered about the rocks being so clean and fresh in your photographs, but if those cuts were quite recent at the time, that would fit.


I noticed one source (Wikipedia?) described Ralph as being a Dutch pirate. I'm not sure in that case "Ralf" wouldn't have been more likely, but times were different then, I guess.

But it made me wonder: A Dutch pirate would probably have communicated in Dutch, so what we read here would be a kind of overdubbing. That's probably not that unusual. But are there songs/poems where a foreigner is heard speaking his own language (as well)?

Bye,
                                                               Mysha


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 15 Feb 14 - 10:20 AM

Hello, Mysha. I don't know when the photographs were taken. They were put on the website by someone at Oxford University.

There is no reason to believe that Southey's Ralph the Rover was Dutch. I've read the poem, and that's not in there.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: Mysha
Date: 16 Feb 14 - 07:48 AM

Hi leeneia,

Sorry, I read this garden path -

* Of course we stopped to look and take pictures.
* I'll attach an image.
* Here they are

- and apparently ended up at the gazebo, rather than the house.

Well, I guess he'll have to ask the uni then, if he wants to know more.


I know the poem doesn't say the rover is Dutch, but I did read the claim somewhere. Of course, as in the time frame mentioned a "Dutch man" could have been from anywhere where the common language was spoken, that origin doesn't say very much.

Bye
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: Folklore: There IS an Inchcape rock
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Feb 14 - 08:01 PM

If you tell a story about a Dutchman on a Dutch ship in an English narrative, of course you'd have him talking English.


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