Tuesday, 15 June 2010

St Andrews - 16

Here we see the counter-mine leading into the mine.

After the murder of Cardinal Beaton, the castle was besieged by the Regent, the Earl of Arran. Towards the end of 1546 he tried to break through the defences by attempting to mine a tunnel beneath the gate tower.

This ploy failed because those in the castle responded by digging a counter-mine to intercept that of the Regent.

The counter-miners could see only the entrance point of Arran's mine, and were guided solely by the noises made by his miners underground. After several false starts, and with very little time to spare, they managed to break through to the mine and foil their adversaries.

The mine and counter-mine survive as one of the most extraordinary examples of siege engineering to survive anywhere in Europe.

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

Venerable J H Newman (1801-1890) - soon to be declared Blessed by Pope Benedict XVI

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