Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Steel Hand

Following on from his paragraph about the apparently famous 'Horn of Carslogie' JM Leighton, in his book ‘History of the County of Fife’, continued with this absolute gem:

“Beside the horn, the family of Clephane had long been in possession of a hand made of steel, in imitation of that of a man, which has also been brought into notice by Sir Walter. The tradition is that this steel hand was a present from one of the kings of Scotland to a baron of Carslogie, who had lost his hand in battle, in defence of his country. It does not seem, however, to be an agreed point what king this was, or which of the long line of Barons of Carslogie received the royal gift. It has been said that the hand was lost at Bannockburn, and that the gift was made by Robert the Bruce; but others say that it was at a much more recent period, and that it was presented to the great grandfather of the late General Clephane.” pp37-38

Images of the steel hand can be seen here, pages 206-207:

The last few posts have been mainly concerned with the life and interests of Rev. George Milne and the previous owners of the house in which RDM grew up, the Clephanes of Carslogie.  Although not directly linked, as far as I can tell, to the Clephane family it would seem incredible if the Milnes knew nothing of the legends of Carslogie, especially given Rev. George’s apparent interest in local history.

An ancient castle; daring-do in the name of King and country; a steel hand (just how cool is that?):  already sounds like something out of a book! Certainly my first impressions were of Walpole’s gothic horror ‘The Castle of Otranto’ (1764) but the steel prosthetic (and one which allowed its wearer to still grasp a sword) sounds more akin to sci-fi. As yet I haven’t found a tangible link to this an RDM’s work but it’s hard to imagine that such a place wouldn't have influenced such an imaginative mind.

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