Monday, May 01, 2006

Gleneagles - place and family

Over lunch the other day Gillian Tindall, whose The House by the Thames has just been issued, told me how she feels place is much more important than family - that you absorb more from where you are than from who you c0me from.
I'm just back from a research trip up to Scotland. What a powerful combination it is, when family and place both power you through life. I walked the hills around the family seat of Cloan near Auchterarder, as my biographical subject J.S.Haldane used to do. Those hills made the man to a great extent, so I learned about him as I climbed. I also went down to the more ancient family seat of Gleneagles - predating the hotel's usurping of the name by many centuries. The name Gleneagles actually stems from glen d'eglise - the glen of the chapel. This tidy chapel of ancient stone used to stand at the crossroads of a Roman road. J.S.Haldane's ashes were buried there, and a column proclaims the life of him and his siblings. The Haldanes have held sway over this Gleneagles land for a millennium. J.S. carried the power of the name, and the land, with him through a life in which he kept challenging conventional wisdom and governmental folly. He was strong enough in himself to change the world.
Revolutionaries may wish to unseat the landed gentry - but it's intriguing to see how that intense sense of privilege and belonging can also be used to serve and change the world.


Blogger Matthew Sinclair said...

Ross lives in Auchterarder.

3:36 PM  

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