The famous Bass Rock is a small island that sits like a monstrous stone about a mile off the East Lothian coast, a tourist attraction at the beginning of the last century, but the steamer only went out when the weather was good; high winds made it impossible to moor at the small island’s only jetty. This mountain of stone in the sea is impressive. It is populated by thousands of gannets, which were once a part of the region’s diet. The population was badly hit by the avian flu in 2022. A Stevenson lighthouse seems to cling to the steep wall, ruins of an ancient residence crumble in the middle of the rock. Nothing grows here except loneliness.
Saint Baldred’s miracle
As early as the 6th century, Saint Baldred performed miracles here. Apparently he made a large rock disappear which might come in handy if you are working your miracles on an enormous rock off the East Lothian Coast. This particular troublesome rock was situated between the Bass and the coast and it seems to have been his only miracle but he performed it rather gallously by nodding his head. Then the stone moved tot he coast where it remained from henceforth close to Tantallon Castle.
No stony grave for the hermit
Apparently, the hermit was not buried where he died as The Scotsman discovered in 2017.
„St Baldred died on Bass Rock in 606 with much myth surrounding his burial. Some say his body was split in three with the pieces distributed between the three parishes that he served. Other accounts claim three bodies were identically wrapped in a white sheet and collected by parish.” (https://www.scotsman.com/whats-on/arts-and-entertainment/hermit-who-lived-bass-rock-603684)
This might make you think of William Wallace, who was hung drawn and quartered, his four body parts taken to four different places of the realm.
Lauder of the Bass
The name the Bass is mostly associated with is not Baldred but Lauder. The first Lauder of the Bass received this title for his heroic support for the independence fighter William Wallace. Such a stone in the sea would not necessarily have been an overwhelming sign of gratitude, but the stone came with a considerable estate on the mainland and that was another matter. The Lauder family has produced many ambassadors and churchmen over the years.
Bass Rock is not only famous, it is also notorious as the Scottish Alcatraz. Here, in the former summer residence of the Lauder family, around 40 Covenanters were kept in a prison that was cold, damp, and utterly terrible. After the revolution of 1688, fate turned, four prisoners were able to free themselves, and because their escape was impossible, they captured their guards instead.
The government had no choice but to watch helplessly from the coast as the prisoners took over the prison. All attempts to regain Bass Rock failed. It took three years for the occupiers to give up. The prison was destroyed at the end of the 18th century.
Liked the read? Scotland for Quiet Moments is available on Amazon!
Scotland is a country full of history, stories and secrets. Often, the three cannot be separated. That is what makes this country so wonderful and unique. The stories of this book have been discovered and gathered for Erkenbach’s blog, Graveyards of Scotland, over many years.
Her main sources were historical travel guides from the 18th and 19th centuries, where the finds were scary, beautiful, funny, and sometimes, cruel.This unusual approach to a country’s history has produced amazing results. You don’t have to share the author’s passion for cemeteries to enjoy this book; only a small number of the stories in this collection take place in graveyards, though they do all end in them, so perhaps it helps.
The fairy hill in Inverness, a nitrate murder on Shetland, a family of left-handers, wolves, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace shown in a new light, the secret bay of the writer Gavin Maxwell, a murdering poet and so many things you didn’t know about Scotland, its clans and its history.