When I stopped to take the photo of the Elephant, Robert seemed surprised. It seemed such a simple thing. But a massive Asian elephant in the middle of the room seemed to be worthy of telling a story I thought to myself. The plaque next to the huge beast told a story of how this particular elephant was part of a circus. In the year 1909 it had attacked its owner and killed him, so the elephant was humanely put down and the body donated to the museum. There he's stood ever since.
Not far from the elephant stood one of the most famous horses that ever lived in Scotland. He was a Clydesdale, and we discovered later on thanks to the help of Google, the Clydesdale breed was actually first discovered in Clydesdale, Scotland. Robert had said as much right off the bat, but not completely convinced of it, he did the research for me to discover the origins of the breed.
This particular horse was quite special though. This was the most expensive horse in Scotland's history. Due to a dispute between two people claiming to own the same horse by the name of Baron of Buchlyvie, he was put up for auction to settle the dispute. The high bidder paid what would be equivalent to £365,000 by today's standards. That's roughly $587,798.54 in dollars. That was one expensive horse!!
While the paintings in the Kelvingrove numbered in the thousands, there were a few that resonated within me. One of the most famous paintings of Mary Queen of Scots was actually never signed. Nobody knows who painted the masterpiece and it's likely the world will never know. Another was the most famous painting of Robert Burns, the man who wrote so many of the Scottish poetry known world wide - including the song American's hear every New Year, Auld Lang Syne.
The painting to the left is actually the earliest known paining of a man in Highland Dress. The kilt is something people generally associate with Scotland, but how many American's know what else accompanied the kilt and why? The long socks were to protect the mens legs from the thistle that grew wild in the countryside. It's a fairly impressive painting and dress style, and worth clicking on to see the full size image.
Probably the most impressive (if not gruesome) item I saw in the museum that day was the cast that was made of King Robert the Bruce's skull. While first all I noticed was the lack of teeth in the front, I started to realize other small details about this man's life that made him stand out among all others. He was a true warrior king in every sense of the word. The plaque next to the skull told even more of a story.
Apparently Robert the Bruce wasn't killed by the massive cut into the brow bone over his left eye. I somehow find that to be rather typical of the Scottish people - they aren't afraid to stand up in the face of adversity, give it their all, and keep going when any other human on the face of the earth would fall and admit defeat. It spoke deeply to me of the character belonging to the man I had loved for nearly 7 years. He came from such a proud, strong and noble people, willing to keep fighting when the battle is nearly lost.
"The battle scarred skull of Robert the Bruce, one of scotland's greatest heroes, was dicovered in the 19th century. It has several deep sword cuts, one cutting deep into his left brow. Loaned by the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow."
I still had much to learn, but I was ready to learn something about the people as they were today, not as they were hundreds or thousands of years ago. I was about to get that chance while on an overnight road trip with Robert, his sister and her husband up into the countryside, to the banks of Loch Lomond.
TO BE CONTINUED...