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Scotland's Barons Celebrate Our Gothenburg's Centenary

A Man's a Man for a' That

click on all images to enlarge

The 4th Scottish Barons' Day celebrations, held on the Royal Yacht Britannia and at the Prestoungrange Gothenburg, were most particularly notable for the zeal with which Coreen Scott led many if not all those assembled in the singing of Burns' famous poetry. The third verse had especial appeal:

Ye see yon birkie ca'd a lord
Wha struts and stares and a' that
Tho' hundreds worship at his word
He's but a coof* for a' that
For a' that and a' that
His riband, star and a' that
The man o' independent mind
He looks and laughs at a' that

The zeal was perhaps most manifest amongst the guests at The Gothenburg who were there with a different but most significant agenda - to celebrate the Gothenburg's Centenary!

Both institutions, Scotland's feudal Baronage and The Gothenburg, have been resurrected in The Pans because there is a belief they do have significant contributions to make in the 21st century. Both feudalism and Gothenburg Principles, at their best, represent the triumph of community spirit over whatever the rest of the world might throw at us all. They both stand on the shoulders of community history. And their renaissance is a distinction that Prestonpans alone holds across the nation.

And for the record, the magic of November 28th lies in that it was on that date in 2004 that the law in Scotland changed for ever. No longer could Barons place miscreants in the stocks for two daylight hours or levy fines of 40/-, or Pardon Witches one might add. Whatever responsibilities they had in their communities must since then proceed without such sanctions; and without the pomp that clearly pervades the stories that Royal Yacht re-tells.

Yet the Celebrations were as they should be

Pipe Major Richard Feirney of the Alan Breck Regimental Pipes and Drums [aka Prestonpans Royal British Legion] welcomed the 60 guests to dinner in the Thomas Nelson Suite prepared by Andrew Laurie, the Gothenburg's fine chef. Six Barons acted as table hosts to the assembly and the newest amongst them Baron Newabbay made the now traditional speech and his pledge, attended from his dinner table by three Heralds Quite Extraordinary adorned in tabbards created for just such occasions.

Hamish Moore, recently returned from our own twin Tuscan city of Barga, joined with Carole Melrose and George Pitblado to provide musical enjoyment after the Barons of Beef had been consumed [or the vegetarian option] and Coreen Scott sang alone and along for the Burns. All this before consumption of the Goth's acclaimed steamed pudding with les anglais providing the sauce.

The last man in the stocks in Scotland in July 2004, Arts Festival Convenor Andrew Crummy, proposed the toast to The Gothenburg's Centenary and Brian Hamilton, market-maker in Scottish baronial lands and titles, fittingly proposed the toast to The Baronage of Scotland. But Burns' rendition of Auld Lang Syne as ever got the last word and quite rightly as his 250th Anniversary dawns.

Memories are made like this

There were no fireworks to be heard as those assembled made their ways home. But there was a sentiment amongst most who were still expressive that it had been a fine evening, a worthy tribute to 100 years of Goth-going by Panners and 1000 years of Scotland's feudal baronage. There can be no doubt the founders of both institutions would be amazed if they returned in this 21st century to see what now goes on in their names, but it must be hoped they would approve. They were properly honoured, and they can expect to be so for more than a few more years to come.

* blockhead, rogue, fool, simpleton, feckless, lout or coward .. not a kind ascription!

Published Date: December 6th 2008

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