Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

We cross paths with Macbeth and trace my ancestry back to the Ark…

We booked a holiday in Cawdor. All the guides make spurious reference to Macbeth “Thane of Cawdor”. I doubt that Shakespeare would have ever come this far north – but anyway, this cutest of villages I think is mentioned near the start of the play where Macbeth and Banquo are staggering about looking for Forres. They happen upon some witches, one of whom says:

“All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!”

The Thanes of Cawdor hang out at Cawdor Castle, and so did we.

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Apart from Cawdor Castle and the Cawdor Tavern (that does an excellent “Culloden Chicken”: chicken stuffed with haggis – you should go there and have some. It was great) the only other place to ‘see’ is the churchyard.

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Maybe not such a crowd-puller – but for us it was interesting because our relis had told us that some of our ancestors are buried there, so we went for a walk, having a read of the gravestones.

“To linger by their graves, and contemplate

the shut volumes of their live

-the names, the years,

that the stones whisper to the weather;”

(From “A Resurrection of a Kind” by Christopher Rush)

Buried in Cawdor are two of my great great (not sure how many) great grandfathers and we found their headstones:

“Time, delicate vandal,

has sprayed each text with lichens…”

(From “A Resurrection of a Kind” by Christopher Rush)

Once the names and dates were scraped clear of the moss, we could see the surnames “Fraser” and “Birnie”. Odd to think that so many of the seeds of my DNA were there under the ground there with me and my family back more than a century later, walking around in the sunshine broad daylight.

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While there I was also remembering, from a school project, that there was talk of a “Noah Birnie” even further back in the Birnie line – and the belief that he had had a pub called the Ark. While standing there at the grave of Noah’s son or grandson or great grandson, I googled for it – and came up with the address “Ark Lane” in Fraserburgh – and hit the googlemaps picture and saw the pub that is either still there, or was there when the google camera went by – and it is called “The Ark Inn”.

After typing all this above – I went and had a browse around Ancestry.com – managed not to subscribe – could be far too addictive. I found that someone else had added a picture of one of the gravestones we looked at and managed to work my way back to a couple of Noahs, one of whom perhaps owned The Ark, and two generations before to a George Birnie born around about 1720 – and then the trail runs dry – hold on, no it doesn’t, I am now back in 1585 with a suspected great great great (don’t know how many) great grandfather “Johne”… although on some sites he doesn’t have a descendant called Noah…

I am not sure how robust all this research is.


But I didn’t appear ex nihilo.

So, road trip to Noak’s Ark?


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4 thoughts on “We cross paths with Macbeth and trace my ancestry back to the Ark…

  1. This sounds so lovely and historical

  2. Our great greats were near neighbours. 🙂
    My Scottish (secret identity) name means Son of Thane.

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