Hillside ceremony dedicated to bard's tour

An annual ceremony commemorating Angus’s connection to national bard Robert Burns took place at Hillside recently.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 2:03pm
Hillside ceremony dedicated to bard's tour
Pictured (from left) are Dave Ramsay, Eck Whitton, John Knox, Arbroath Burns Club president, Cathy Braes and Tom Murray.

This is the 13th year that the commemorative event took place at the Burns plaque in the village marking where Burns stopped to water his horse on his Highland tour of 1787.

The event also celebrates the life of sculptor Adam Christie, who spent 50 years as a patient in Sunnyside Hospital, where he developed a skill for sculpture in stone, using only an old file, a six-inch nail and broken glass for finishing.

It was Adam Christie who sculpted the original memorial plaque in the wall in 1930, and C. J. Shaw, Sunnyside superintendent, and Willie Herd and Joseph Harris, ward orderlies and Burns enthusiasts, who were responsible for its installation.

The inaugural event took place in the Year of the Homecoming in 2009, as a result of research through the Father of the Bard project, led by project director Dave Ramsay, in a joint initiative between Aberdeenshire Council, and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Dave said: “Both of these stories could well have been lost to our heritage, but thanks to the success of this annual event, through the support of local Burns clubs, heritage groups and the public, we can now ensure that this part of our rich heritage in Angus and the Mearns is is now firmly embedded, for future generations.”

The poet’s tour included visits to relatives of his family in the Mearns. His father, William Burnes, was born at Clochnahill, just outside Stonehaven.

Tom Murray, of Montrose Burns Club, gave the ‘Hillside Address’, and paid a moving tribute to Nommie Braes, past club president and a great Burns enthusiast, and as landlord at the Hillside Hotel always welcomed guests after previous events.

Dave Ramsay, Mearns Heritage Services, Tom Murray, Montrose Burns Club, and John Knox, President of Arbroath Burns Club, gave readings from the diary of Robert Burns of his Highland tour and Nommie’s wife Cathy laid roses for the six men of Hillside including her late husband – C.J. Shaw, Willie Herd, Joseph Harris, Adam Christie, Robert Burns. Eck Whitton of Arbroath Burns Club gave a moving rendition of the Star o’ Rabbie Burns, dedicated to Nommie Braes.

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