Commemoration of Bard’s visit

The Burns commemorative plaque in Rosemount Road.'Staff photograph
The Burns commemorative plaque in Rosemount Road.'Staff photograph

A NEW memorial plaque will be unveiled in Hillside at the end of this week commemorating a visit to the village by national bard Robert Burns.

Organised by the Glenbervie Burns Memorials Association, the plaque will be unveiled at the same spot on Rosemount Road where a sandstone plaque was inserted into the Rosemount Estate wall marking where Burns stopped to water his horse during a tour of Scotland in 1787.

Light was shed on the original plaque’s origins, which had been shrouded in mystery, more than three years ago after research by the Father of the Bard project. It bears the poet’s name, the date of his visit and the year 1930, when it was set into the wall but little else was known about it.

The Father of the Bard Project was a two–year investigation which researched the life and times of William Burnes, the father of Robert Burns, and particularly his Kincardineshire links.

While Burns’ work is known the world over, it is not so commonly known that William Burnes, Robert’s father, was a native of Kincardineshire.

When Burns was returning to Edinburgh from his Scottish tour in 1787, which included visiting relatives and the graves and farms of his ancestors in the Mearns, his journey took him from Laurencekirk to Montrose and he and his travelling companion Willie Nicol stopped to water their horses at this spot in Hillside.

Frustrated by the lack of documentary evidence relating to the plaque, the research team placed an appeal in the Review which attracted the attention of 90-year-old Harry Harris, who claimed the stone had been carved by Adam Christie, a well-known former Sunnyside Hospital patient and artist. Mr Harris also said his father Joseph, a ward orderly at the hospital, helped set the plaque along with superintendent C.J. Shaw and colleague Willie Herd.

The new memorial’s unveiling on Sunday, September 30 will be performed by Robert Stewart, Robert Burns World Federation president, in front of a gathering of invited guests and Montrose Burns Club president Dr Tom Brighton and Arbroath Burns Club president Dr Rusty Smith will provide readings from the diary of Robert Burns relating to his journey from Laurencekirk to Arbroath. Five red roses will also be laid at the plaque as part of the ceremony.

This will be followed by a short reception in Hillside Village Hall.

Dave Ramsay, President of the Glenbervie Burns Memorials Association said: “The Glenbervie Burns Memorials Association now has an additional piece of Burns heritage, and the remarkable story behind it, which we want to share with a wider audience.”