Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Scots sold as slaves in Istanbul markets. I'm not kidding.

The old Scottish stories are wonderful, but there were some dark, horrible times.

Take the Corran ferry, by Onich, drive for an hour and a bit and you'll find Kilchoan. A lovely delightful remote spot, just opposite Tobermory on Mull. Back down the coast a little way and you'll see an old Lord of the Isles Castle. Mingary.

It has a most gorgeous site. But in the dark days of the Vikings, it would have been the scene of many savage events. Between the 9th century and the 12th century there would have been raid after raid.

Vikings had a habit of attacking from the sea, at night, taking the men and women of a village back to the Orkeys, then shipping them on to Sweden. They would be transported then down the Volga River as far as Istanbul where they were sold in the many slave markets. Yes, I promise you, they went that far. Mingary probably had an old wooden structure for a castle to warn of Viking approaches. But the force used was usually overwhelming against a predominantly fishing community.

The men who resisted were beheaded, and their skulls mounted in Castle Walls. Not nice.This possibly led to later skull and crossbones carvings. You can see one of these at Ardchattan Priory, dating from the 15th century.

ps. If you are around Fort William  then a really lovely way to go to Oban that no one ever thinks of is to get the little Corran Ferry, drive to Kilchoan, get the Ferry to Tobermory on Mull, then Oban via the ferry. Takes you about 6 hours with stops. Wonderful. See Mingary castle as in the photograph. This is God's chosen country isn't it?

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