In light of recent calls that our Scottish Battle-fields be given official protection, it may be of interest to our readers to read of what took place when the monument at Bothwell Bridge was unveiled over 100 years ago. On Saturday 20th June 1903, “over 25,000 people assembled at Bothwell Bridge to witness the unveiling of a monument to the Covenanters who fell in battle at that place.” (FP Magazine Vol. 8, p. 120) More interesting even than the fact of the great number gathered is the detail of the speech delivered on the occasion by Lord Overtoun. After giving a stirring historical account of the battle and its surrounding events, his Lordship went on to say the following:
“We have heard and our forefathers have told us, of the cruel oppression of the Romish Church. In this favoured land Roman Catholics as well as others are by law protected in the observance of their religion, but it must ever be remembered that Roman Catholicism is not only a religion but a system which aims at universal supremacy over Church, State and conscience, and has ever been a deadly foe to civil and religious liberty, and if our religious freedom is to be preserved it is necessary that only a Protestant shall wear the British crown. You know that in these days repeated efforts have been made to relax and remove these safeguards of our freedom. Are we alive to our responsibility in this matter? The Episcopacy of the Covenanters’ time was practically Roman Catholicism. We trust our neighbours across the border are awakening, and will not allow the Church of England to be undermined by Ritualism, Sacerdotalism, Confessional and the Mass; but we in Scotland have no less a task incumbent on us to keep the true gospel in the forefront, and not lower the old blue banner of Christ’s Crown and Covenant.”
How far England and Scotland have departed since 1903 from the old blue banner is to be read in the history of the past century. It is surprising how relevant the remarks are for today and it is worth more than we can tell to pay heed to the exhortations and warning.
by Rev David Campbell