We have a save the date for you today. We are pleased to announce that we will once again be exhibiting at the Great Western Brick Show in Swindon. The show is in its 15th year and will be held over the weekend of 7th and 8th of October 2017.
Held in Swindon’s Museum of the Great Western Railway it is undoubtedly one of the UK’s best shows with tons of superb models and lots of fun activities. We’ll be displaying The Jacobite Risings: The Fight for Britain’s Throne along with a number of smaller models; keep following this blog to find out what.
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Erskine didn't get the epithet 'Bobbing John' for nothing and in 1715 decided to rescind his support for the government and take up the Jacobite cause. Towards the end of August of that year he marched from his ancestral castle of Kildrummy and using Corgarff Castle as rendezvous with further troops, continued on to Braemar. On 6th September, possibly at the ruinous castle, possibly somewhere else, he rose the standard of King James VIII and III. The rising would not be a long one and after an indecisive battle at Sheriffmuir and defeat at Preston enthusiasm among the Jacobites was on the wane. When James landed at Stonehaven in December the rising was effectively over. In February 1716 James, Erskine and the rising’s other leaders fled to France and shortly after Corgarff would be the scene of the Jacobite army’s dissolution. The castle was brunt once again, this time by government forces.
By the “Forty-five” Corgaff Castle had been repaired and would again play its part, for a short period acting as strategic munitions dump for Jacobite forces and the intended rendezvous of Jacobite forces. However, the rendezvous never happened as the castle was promptly raided by a party of the Government troops. The Jacobites were forced to quickly flee, leaving the greater part of their stores behind. We are fortunate to have a vivid account of the raid, written in a letter from Aberdeen on 6th March 1746, by Alexander Stuart of Dunearn, Captain in Lord Mark Kerr's regiment of Dragoons, to his brother, James Stuart of Drumsheuch:
"I returned on Wednesday from an expedition into the Highlands of Aberdeenshire, fifty miles from hence, to destroy a Magazine of the Rebels at Corgarff, which lies near the head of the Don. Three hundred foot commanded by Major Morris, and one hundred Dragoons commanded by me—the whole under the command of Lord Ancrum, were ordered for that duty. We marched from this on Friday, 28th February, in a snowy day to Monimuss, Sir Archibald Grant's house. Next day over mountains and Moors almost impassable at any time of the year, but much more so when covered with snow, to a place called Tarland. As soon as they saw us directing our March thither, they suspected our design on the Magazine there, and some rebels who lived there sent away an Express immediately to acquaint the Garrison, and to Glenbucket, who was with some men at Glenlivet above Strathdon, about Ten miles above the Castle.
On Saturday morning we marched from Tarland, a most terrible march, to the Castle, which stands on the side of the Don, where I daresay never Dragoons were before, nor ever will be again, nor foot neither, unless Highlanders! Though we marched early in the morning it was past four before we arrived there. We found it abandoned by the Garrison, but so lately, that the fire was burning, and no living creature in the house but a poor cat sitting by the fire. They had thrown the barrels of powder down the bank into the river in order I suppose to destroy it, but had not time—and had conveyed the arms up and down the hills near it in different directions, and hid the bayonets under a dung-hill. However, we found all out, and brought away 367 firelocks, 370 bayonets. There were some more arms destroyed, which we could not carry. Ten thousand musket balls we threw into the river and amongst the heather, etc., etc., and it being impossible to convey away the powder for want of country horses, all gone to the hills with the country folks who had run away, being told by the rebels that we were to burn and destroy the whole country. We staved 32 double barrels of exceeding fine Spanish powder equal to 69 of our barrels, and threw it all into the river—and afterwards, for want of horses, were obliged to burn and destroy so many of the firelocks, that we brought but 131 to Aberdeen. We returned on Wednesday from such a country that a hundred men might beat a thousand from the hills above them—and had it snowed another night when we went there, it had been impossible to have returned. We were obliged to be two nights in the open fields—and sit on horseback all night. However, we happily executed what we were sent upon— and, thank God, returned safe, with only the loss of one horse. I do assure you the Clergy, who have everywhere in Scotland much distinguished themselves for our religion and happy constitution, behaved very kindly to us, were our guides and intelligencers everywhere—and three of them went quite up to the Castle of Corgarff with us, from whence, I forgot to tell you, we were obliged to return eight miles for quarters—and 'twas two o'clock in the morning before we arrived. Guess what a journey in such a country, in a dark night, snowing the whole time! . . . I hear now the Rebels are in great want of provisions. This Magazine is a great loss to the Rebels—it supplying them with ammunition in their marches thro' the Highlands, where carriages cannot go."
In Dougal Graham's history of the rising, published in September 1746, the only account to ever be written in rhyming couplets, a short description is given of the capture of Corgarff Castle. Graham however chose to apply a little artistic license claiming Lord Ancrum blew up the castle with the captured gunpowder barrels rather than simply staving them:
We look forward to unveiling LEGO Corgaff as part of The Jacobite Risings: The Fight for Britain’s Throne – why not be the first to see it at Manchester’s Bricktastic this July?
We have our first save the date of 2017 for you. Bricktastic is back on July 1st and 2nd at Manchester Central (formally the GMEX). We'll be there with the first part of our latest build The Jacobite Risings: The Fight for Britain's Throne.
Early Bird tickets are on sale until March 31st, after that they will increase by £1/ticket. Find out more and buy your tickets at:
We are pleased to announce the title and theme of this year’s big build - The Jacobite Risings: The Fight for Britain’s Throne.
So what where the risings and why have we chosen them?
The Jacobite Risings, also known as the Jacobite Rebellions depending on the writer’s perspective, were a series of uprisings, rebellions and wars that occurred predominantly in Scotland, but also spread into Ireland and England, between 1689 and 1746. Following the deposition of James II of England and VII of Scotland in the Glorious Revolution, the aims of the risings were to return the Stuart monarch, and later his descendants, to the thrones of England and Scotland (and after 1707, the Kingdom of Great Britain). They take their name from Jacobus, the Latin form of James.
While conflict broke out in 1689, 1715, and 1719, the most famous rising is probably the last, that of 1745. During the “Forty-five" Charles Edward Stuart, also known as the Young Pretender or Bonnie Prince Charlie, led an army from the Scottish Highlands as far south as Derby before retreating north to be decisively defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Culloden was the last pitched battle to be fought on British soil and marked the end of any serious attempt to restore the house of Stuart to the throne.
This year is the Scottish Government’s year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and so we wanted to take part in the celebrations. We were already building a Lego Broch for Caithness Broch Project and so wanted something that was from a distinctly different time period but also covered a more specific and pivotal moment in Scottish and indeed British history. The risings presented the ideal choice.
Given the extensive time period, the number of important events and the varied geography over which the risings took place, deciding on what to build was a real challenge. Did we choose to cover one rising or several? If one, which one? And did we choose a specific geographical area or try and create scenes from across Scotland, England and Ireland?
One of the things we felt was extremely important was to instill the model with a strong sense of identity and the best way to do this was through its landscape. When you’re building a model of around 17m2 good landscaping can mean the difference between its success and failure. Crucially, we therefore decided that the model should focus on a distinct geography rather than a particular rising. In terms of the latter, we did not want the model to become of smorgasbord of disparate historical events either, so it will be largely based on those of the “Forty-five". The advantage of the “Forty-five" is that it allows us to build features, such as one of the Hanoverian Barracks built following the 1719 rising, that did not exist in earlier periods. The flexibility around the date also allows us to show some events that occurred in the run-up to the rising, such as the flurry of road and bridge building typically ascribed to the British Government’s General Wade.
As for the geography, despite events of the “Forty-five" taking place over most of Scotland and indeed much of England, it was clear that we should set our model in the Scottish Highlands and more specifically, the highlands of the area now designated as the Cairngorms National Park. The area was witness to important events during most of the risings, including the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689, the rising of James VIII and III’s banner in 1715 and the disbandment of the last Jacobite army in 1746, and is home to a number of buildings used during the conflicts, such as Ruthven Barracks, Corgaff Castle and Braemar Castle. The National Park also has an incredible landscape, with snowy mountains, ancient Caledonian forests, deep gorges, and idyllic straths and glens; it therefore provides us with an immensely rich palette to draw upon for what we hope will be a strong and distinctive model.
We’ll have more on The Jacobite Risings: The Fight for Britain’s Throne in the coming months, including the history of some of the model’s key features as well as write-ups of some of the field trips we undertook as part of our research. Stay tuned for more and if you haven’t done so already, keep up-to-date by following us on Facebook and Twitter.
Our models are massive and this means they only have a limited lifespan and are taken apart so that the parts may be recycled. They are never completely dismantled though because we like to keep parts of them so that they can be rented out and taken to other shows.
From England 793 we are keeping the island monastery built by Dan Harris and it is available to rent along with a number of other models. We call this part of the model 'Legofarne'.
The island is based on the famous Anglo-Saxon monastery at Lindisfarne in Northumberland, which was founded in the year 635. It was here in 793 that the first Viking raid is said to have taken place; famously the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reads:
You may also be interested to know that we have a range of other historic models available covering many eras of British History. Ask us about the packages we could provide you.
All photographs are © Brick to the Past and Andrew Whyte, 2016.
Sunday was the Aberdeen Children's Hospital Lego Show at the eponymous city's Airyhall Community Centre. This is the first show we've attended in Scotland and sent along Dan Harris to represent us. He took with him part of England 793 as well as a couple of smaller builds, one of which we are yet to reveal to you.
Dan said "the show was really fun and it was a pleasure to meet some of Scotland's best and most enthusiastic builders. The show's visitors were also great and I'm looking forward to future events!".
The show was organised by the local LEGO Club, Granite City Bricks, and raised money to buy LEGO sets for Aberdeen Children's Hospital. We thank the organisers for a great event and wish them luck with future ventures!
Last week we bought you our official photos of England 793 as seen at the Great Western Brick Show. You can see them again on the build's webpage. There were however lots of photos that didn't quite make the cut, because basically, there are only so many photographs a webpage can handle. So today we bring you our most loved extras.
A special thanks must go to Andrew Whyte of Long Exposures for taking many of the photos and Blocks magazine for arranging it. They were taken for an article in Issue 24 of the magazine, which is still on sale now. It's well worth getting a copy as it has lots more awesome photos as well as some interesting (at least we think they're interesting...) interviews with our builders.
Last week was Brick Live 2016 at the NEC in Birmingham and we sent along builders Tim Goddard and Simon Pickard to represent us. They took along sections of England 793 as well as a number of other high quality builds of their own.
Brick Live is the UK's largest Lego show, taking place over four days and attracting tens of thousands of visitors - so we were, to put it mildly, quite busy! According to Tim, he spent the day after the show feeling as though he had "just woken from a coma". There's no doubt it was worth the effort though, and Tim is keen to point out that both the public and his fellow AFOLs were wonderful and engaging and made the time fly by. "It’s always a pleasure meeting new fans and catching up with old ones", Simon added, "I'm looking forward to doing it all again next year!"
Blog to the past
On LEGO, History and other things by Brick to the Past