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Sea stack mystery

On Tuesday, the Press & Journal published a piece about our forthcoming Moray Coast Trail guidebook, including a photo from the book. (On Monday late afternoon, while up a ladder painting my daughter's flat I got a phone call saying they wanted a photo, but needed it inside half an hour for the next day's paper, so having raced home to email it, I was pleased to see printed.) It shows Covesea Bay, including a sea stack at lower right:


I had identified this sea stack as Gows' Castle (gulls' castle) in a caption that I thought was beyond doubt, because I had seen it thus named on the Moray Coast Trail website map as well as on its official leaflet and also by other sources including another newspaper. It seems I was completely wrong.

Happily the P&J not only included my caption, but also when Iain Campbell, a sharp-eyed resident of Hopeman of over 60 years' standing, saw the piece and wrote in to tell them that the sea stack was wrongly named, they forwarded his letter, which arrived today. The story is extraordinary: it seems that in 1941 when the Home Guard were practising firing mortars in thick mist, they blew up the real Gows' Castle by mistake. Must have been mortified!

Here is an archive photo of the former Gows' Castle, which stood about half a mile further west, and which Mr Campbell tells me is known locally as Groff Haughs (Legs):


For comparison, here is today's sea stack as it appears in our guidebook's geology section:


As you can see, the two are totally different shapes. It all underlines how easily a mistake, once made, is propagated. Indeed, for all I know there may be people who will contest Mr Campbell's assertion, although I am persuaded by his total clarity on the point and the attention to detail in his letter. Anyway, had the information come just 24 hours later, the mistake would have been perpetuated in my book, so I feel indebted to both Mr Campbell and the P&J.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 18, 2010 5:33 PM.

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