Sunday, September 6, 2009
Lockhart, the name, the story, our Legacy
No I'm not a Lockhart, as far as I know. I am a distant offspring of the McDougald clan, a bunch of rowdies that hired out as mercenaries over the centuries, and helped to establish the Royal Galloglas. Other Scottish names like Hamilton, Bein, and Spraggins dot my genealogy as well. Still, this legend of the Lockhart speaks to me for several reasons.
Sure it is a stretch, but even a watered-down descendant can appreciate what his ancient countrymen thought to be noble and great, even fifteen generations ago.
Some of what they thought and did, and perhaps not enough, still affects our attitudes and our culture today.
I am fascinated by men with such resolve and devotion to a single leader, who would obey a command from his deathbed that would require immense sacrifice.
I wonder what of this character still lingers in the hearts of our people, and me, today.
The Lockharts of Washington County had no doubt, just one hundred years ago, that they too were unmistakenly cut from this cloth, even though they left it to the reader of their book to decide. They inserted the poem, for all to decide, whether Dr. Lockhart was worthy of such an ancestor. Most who read his book would say he was.
In this poem, "Sir Simon of the Lee," is mentioned early on. But the poem does not explain that after the tragic battle where "The Douglas" is killed trying to save his compainion Sir William of St. Clair, and in the process hurls the heart of the Bruce into the rushing Moors, it is Simon who retrieves the locked case which contained the heart of the beloved King, and is entrusted to keep it. He was from that day on called "Lockhart." Just picture that if you can.
"Hey Lockie, what's that stinkin' in yer saddlebag?"
Much later the heart of the Bruce was buried in the floor of a church. And then even more recently was exhumed, inspected, and buried again, this time with a wonderful insignia you see at the top of the page, to mark the spot.
As in most great legends, there are more questions than answers. Why was King Robert the Bruce so intent on his heart of all things, being buried near the grave of Jesus, knowing full well that Jesus' body was not there? What kind of man who supposedly loves his countrymen would make such a wild and costly request? What kind of man would be able to cut out the heart of the Bruce in the first place? What kind of men would put everything aside, leave their families and business concerns, and travel so far at their own expense to deliver such a cargo? What kind of men, when stumbling upon somebody elses war, would set aside their sacred task to join the battle? Even lead the charge?
And after meeting such a deadly encounter, what kind of men go home, content to just bury the heart of the Bruce in his own countrie, after all? The lack of a welcoming committee, upon their return from such an expedition, says volumes. There was little glory in it, and yet, in the Scottish mind, it was Divine. Things like keeping your word, pitching the heart of a great king into the pagan hordes, dying in an effort to fulfill his last request, then scooping up the heart once again, these were actions of sane, good men. Helping some pitiful Spaniards in the defense of their homeland was a gentlemanly thing to do. Worth dying for. They saw the Cross of Christ as sacred, and much to His chagrin I'm sure, considered war against other Christians as war against themselves. They saw no conflict between random wars and the King of Peace. They were an odd lot, and yet they seemed to have a grip on what was important to them, a selfless love for one another, and the courage to face death for their convictions. What kind of me were these?
You see it was Robert the Bruce that left an enormous clue as to the ancient identity of the Scots. He explained that it was his ancestors who came over from the Caspian region, via a short stay in Egypt, where they served as mercenaries. They stopped for awhile in the Mediterranian, and Iberia before settling in Ireland and finally the northern British Isles. Actually, they were "Skuts." This word was lost to us during the Romanization of our language. We began to read a hard C as an s sound, and a Y as an i, rather than the Celtic uh. Robert the Bruce knew that his people were the lords of the Russian Steppes, the inventors of chariots and trousers and the compound bow. They were the greatest bowmen and horsemen and horsebreeders that ever lived, the Skuthani, what we call "Scythians" today. Some of the Persians were Skuths. Buddha was a Skuth. It was Skuths who established "Scythopolis" in Judea. The Macedonians were really Makedani, Skuts who established Greece. later Rome was ruled by ancient descendants of the Russian Kazhars, and called their leaders Caesar, pronounced Kaezar. When we look upon Sir Simon of the Lee and wonder, we are looking at the apex of four thousand years of freckle-faced, red headed, fiery tempered, wandering, venting, inventing, intervening, brother cleaving, heart locking, freedom loving fools. And I'm sort of proud to be one. Or proud to be sort of one.
When King Robert the Bruce sent his heart to the Holy Land, he was sending it H O M E, to the East, the Celtic Motherland. Or as much a home as the Skuthani peoples had ever known, and perhaps the most special. These people, the descendants of the legendary Japhethites, had migrated and settled into, and became known as Ashkenaz, Togarmah, Gomer, Madai, Galatians, Galicians, Gauls, Armenians, Macedonians and many groups famous in Biblical times. Robert saw his tribe as the westernmost vanguard of the nomadic sons of Japheth.
Skutani. Scythians. Scots. Kazhars. Armenians, Cimmerians. Parthians. Phrygians. We have lost so much of our heritage and character. And words like stour and dree and lyart, and their meanings. Yet some of it is right here, unchanged after the relentless layers of ages. Anything with a wheel, anything made of iron or steel, anything to do with horses, or cattle, or pigs, anything to do with hunting, especially with a bow, anything to do with warfare, wagons, mining, metal arts, trading, and sure, a little pirating and looting and raiding every now and then... Maybe with our modern technology, we can know who we are better than ever. If cultural identity and multiculturalism are good for our children, maybe it could be good for us, to understand who we are and who we were. Even who we can be. Robert the Bruce knew.
Now so many hundreds of years ago, it is stunning to read of one who was so motivated by his fathers from hundreds, perhaps thousands of years before, as to send his comrades thousands of miles back to the motherland, to make a point. Robert was saying to his countrymen; This is WHO YOU ARE. Go there, take my heart with you. Remind yourselves of your legacy, your heritage and traditions. Never forget where you came from. And they tried. And Lockhart was entrusted with the cultural icon that represented all those things... and perhaps it was he who first coined: "Home is where the Hart is."
And the fact that I spend your time and mine pondering these relics of the past proves I have at least an ounce of Scottish blood left in me, that is still stirred by such a tale, or entirely too much time on my hands. Yet I look upon them with as much amazement as I would a Comanche warrior, perhaps more so, because I know that somewhere, deep within that wild primitve mind, resides mine.