Burns honoured in Hillside

Pictured, from the left, are: president of Arbroath Burns Club Rusty Smith, Dr. Cheryl McGeachan, Dave Ramsay, Alan Mowatt, president of Montrose Burns Club Ross Thomson, Aberdeenshire councillor Bill Howatson and Ruth Ferguson.

Pictured, from the left, are: president of Arbroath Burns Club Rusty Smith, Dr. Cheryl McGeachan, Dave Ramsay, Alan Mowatt, president of Montrose Burns Club Ross Thomson, Aberdeenshire councillor Bill Howatson and Ruth Ferguson.

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A commemoration event was held on Sunday to mark the date on which Robert Burns stopped to water his horse at Hillside on his Highland Tour of 1787.

Accompanied by his travelling companion Willie Nicol, Burns stopped in Hillside on his way to visiting the ancestral graves of his forebears at Glenbervie, and the various farms and relatives connected to the family of Robert Burns.

His father William Burnes, was born at Clochnahill in the parish of Dunnottar, just a few miles from Stonehaven, and a stone cairn was built at the side of the road to Stonehaven, to commemorate this connection with the Bard.

The memorial took place on the same date that Burns passed through Hillside all those years ago. This was the seventh annual memorial service, which took place at a plaque dedicated to Burns on Rosemont Road.

To mark Burns passing through the village, a simple plaque a wall on Rosemont Road in Hillside was placed there and it was only through the Father of the Bard Project (2008 to 2010) that the full story emerged, thanks to Harry Harris, of Yorkshire, formerly of Montrose.

In 1930 the Sunnyside Hospital Superintendent, C. J. Shaw, along with Willie Herd, and Joseph Harris (Harry’s father) two ward orderlies, placed the memorial plaque in the wall.

The plaque was sculpted by Adam Christie, who was a patient at Sunnyside for 50 years, and last year Adam Christie was acknowledged and celebrated by a Historic Scotland plaque for his artistic achievements, and his distinctive carvings of faces in stone.

The memorial event focused on the four men of Hillside.

An Historic Scotland commemorative plaque to Adam Christie was unveiled at Sleepyhillock Cemetery, and a similar plaque was unveiled in Aith, Cunningsburgh, Shetland - his birthplace.

The keynote speaker was Aberdeenshore Councillor Bill Howatson, who has been involved since the inaugural event. He provided the address and a dedication to the late Reverend Catherine Hepburn.

The Rev. Hepburn, who passed away this year, was involved with the first dedication of the plaque in 2009, as a member of the Glenbervie Burns Memorials Association.

Dr Cheryl McGeachan, Glasgow University, who is pursuing new research into Adam Christie, gave a speech.

Ross Thomson, president of Montrose Burns Club, provided the Montrose reading from the diary of Robert Burns, and Rusty Smith, President of Arbroath Burns Club provided the Arbroath reading.

Gourdon piper Tom Roberts provided the welcome and farewell to Hillside on the Highland pipes, and Ruth Ferguson of Arbroath laid five red roses at the commemorative plaque.

Dave Ramsay, Director of the Howe o’ the Mearns Heritage Association, who organises the events, said: “This year has seen new recognition gaining for Adam Christie and his life and work.

“It is always a pleasure to see the wide range of people who attend, from local Burns clubs, and heritage societies, and it is important that we continue to promote this important piece of local heritage and legacy for future generations.”