Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bothwell CT is a ticket to the Holy Fair.

Here is one more Glasgow square: it is one of my favorites -- a stylish one from Bothwell dated 1811.
     Bothwell is a village (once small) located nine miles from Glasgow to the southeast, along the north bank of the River Clyde. The parish church is a monument to late 14th-century architecture. The building was reconfigured in 1833, but as you can see, its majestic stance was preserved.
     During the killing times, Bothwell was the site of a brutal clash between the covenanters and the royal army in 1679. The English launched their assault at Bothwell Bridge; the covenanters were poorly organized and were routed. Many were rounded up and incarcerated. Hence, Bothwell is hallowed ground. This history was certainly not lost on the parishioners who traveled far to gather under trees like their forefathers did in covenanting times.
     By the early 1800s, large holy fairs (as they were called) were held all across Scotland. And so it was at Bothwell. Many tents were erected in the Bothwell churchyard. This CT was part of this passionate celebration of the almighty.
     We can only imagine what it must have been like at the fair. The gatherings often led to too much revelry. As one observer quipped: "The nearness of the tavern life to the devotional meeting soon brought about a mingling of the two which did not make for decorum."
This Bothwell square has a full design.
The letters & ornaments are meticulous.
A careful eye will see some re-cutting.
     Another wrote poetically:

     The morn was wet, the thunder loud,
     Yet without bread or care,
     From many quarters folk did crood
     To Bothwell holy fair.

     Some cam tae hear word laid down,
     Some drink wi' Meg or Askin;
     There's godly folk frae holytoon,
     And Colliers frae the faskin.

     The Bothwell CT is a bold square of 23mm with saw-tooth borders (like those of the Associate churches in Ayr). A second border of angled incisors enclose the now familiar pair of concentric circles. Each corner is adorned with four pellets (one neatly centered above three). The legend: Bothwell 1811 is as expected with the date placed at six. The minister's initials -- MG -- stand for Rev. Matthew Gardiner. He was 35 years old when, at the fair, he implored the masses to examine their lives. He had assumed his post at 26 and served until his death at age 90 -- he was subsequently honored with the title: Father of the Church.
Bothwell parish church.
From Iain Thompson on Wikimedia.
     Most Bothwell CTs are found with a table number punched on the blank reverse, attesting to the bigness of the event.
     This CT (Burz941) is frequently available in the marketplace. Many of them are in like-new condition, so they were only used once, if at all. Apparently a bag of them was discovered and the pieces dispersed into the collecting field. At auction, they bring strong bids in the $25 to $50 range. One sold about six months ago for $25 on ebay.

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