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Burns Hillside Event 2012

“In 2012, a new memorial plaque was installed at a site in Rosemount Road in Hillside, where Robert Burns and his travelling companion Willie Nicol stopped to water their horse, on the journey from Laurencekirk to Montrose, as part of the 1787 Highland Tour by Burns.

A plaque had been inserted in the wall by four men in 1930 to commemorate the event, but the story behind the plaque had long since disappeared.

As part of the two – year Father of the Bard project, which was researching the history of William Burnes, the father of Robert Burns, the story began to unfold..

William Burnes was born in the parish of Dunnottar, and left the Mearns to seek his fortune and to help his family at Clochnahill.

Robert Burns on his Highland tour came back to the Mearns, to meet his relatives and visit the farms which they had worked.

Through research, Dave Ramsay, Project Director of the Father of the Bard Project, discovered the real story behind the plaque. In 1930, C.J. Shaw, Superintendent of Sunnyside Hospital, two ward orderlies called Willie Herd and Joseph Harris, were all great Burns enthusiasts. The fourth man was Adam Christie, a long – stay patient at Sunnyside Hospital, where he had developed a real skill in stone carving, without any formal training, and he had carved the plaque which was placed in the wall. (Adam Christie, “The Gentle Shetlander” has since been recognised by Historic Scotland as an “artist extraordinaire” with a plaque placed on his grave site in Sleepyhillock cemetery Montrose.)

Glenbervie Burns Memorials Association decided to install a new plaque, to tell the story of the old one, and Bob Stewart, then President of the Robert Burns World Federation unveiled the plaque, so that this remarkable story, lost for 80 years, would never be forgotten.

Since 2009, a memorial service has been held each year to celebrate Burns and Adam Christie, with five red roses being laid at the plaque, to the four men of Hillside, and Robert Burns.

Here we have a short video clip of Alan Mowatt of Arbroath Burns Club leading the guests in a stirring rendition of the “Star o’ Rabbie Burns” with the sun dappling through the trees on this historic site.”


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