Thursday, 15 May 2014
St Ayles Skiffs To Pillage England!
It is all part of a feud that began in 1626 when some Annan men rowed to Bowness and stole the bell from the church, more as an insult than theft. Unfortunately, the men had been drinking, the bell was heavy and the boat was small: the bell went overboard and was lost forever.
The men of Bowness did not take this lying down, of course. A retaliatory raid was organised and the bells of Dornoch and Middlebie were taken and hung in Bowness church. To this day, apparently, the minister at Middlebie politely asks for his bells back and is just as courteously refused.
On Saturday, the Annan Harbour Festival will re-enact the original raid with a race across the Solway Firth under Scottish Coastal Rowing Association rules, but with the variation that crews must be dressed up and every boat fly a 'magnificent flag.' It should be quite a spectacle.
The 'raiders' will be 'fiercely resisted' in Bowness by local schoolchildren as they recover a symbolic bell, happily one that is unlikely to endanger the crew as they return.
It sounds fantastic fun and if I was not committed to the Hamble River Raid down south, I would be very tempted to go up. Details of the event are here.