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Annual Beltie Magazines
The Belted Galloway Society has produced full-color, 36- to 44-page magazines annually since 2004. An extracts from one of the publications is accessible below. Obtain copies of the most recent printed edition by sending a request with your snail mail address to the Executive Director at Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Old Place of Mochrum
Premier Beltie herd's Scottish home
Old Place of Mochrum was built by the descendants of Thomas Dunbar in 1368. It originally consisted of two towers built around a courtyard. Over the centuries the structure became derelict but in 1876 the 2nd Marquis of Bute began restoration work. The castle was completed in 1911 by the 4th Marquis, Sir John Crichton-Stuart. During reconstruction the two towers were connected by a building.
Mochrum is an agricultural parish described by its minister in 1838 as "bleak but healthful.' It is situated some ten miles between excellent loamy soils to the east and the stony, rocky west, and stretches four or five miles inland from a smooth gravel beach on the Irish Sea. The fells of the coast recall the Norse settlements around 900 AD. The landmark castle Old Place of Mochrum at Port William, Wigtownshire sits amid moorland lochs.
Modern conveniences added during renovations over the years have made the castle quite comfortable. The residential quarters encircle an open central paved courtyard. There is a lovely chapel in one tower. The walled garden is lush with fruit trees and perennials.
The Stuarts, direct descendants of William the Conqueror, have inhabited the castle since the mid-19th Century. The Mochrum Belted Galloway herd on the estate was begun in 1890 by Sir John.
References to belted or "sheeted' cattle had appeared in art, literature and agricultural texts since the 16th and 17th Centuries, but when Sir John's herd was formed no registry existed for Belted or Dun colored Galloways. Sir John, with Sir Ian Hamilton and several other interested breeders, petitioned for inclusion in an appendix to the U.K.'s Galloway herd book. The request was denied, but after some delays and difficulties the petitioners were given governmental permission to begin their own registry.
The Dun and Belted Galloway Cattle Breeders' Association was formed in 1921. The first herd book included just over 200 Belties registered by 17 Scottish and 9 English breeders. By 1951 the Galloway book at last accepted Duns, so the newer association was renamed the "Belted Galloway Society.'
Sir John's third son, David, born in 1911, developed a love for the cattle that lasted an entire lifetime. In addition to refining and developing the Mochrum herd which had passed into his care, he served for many years as President of the Belted Galloway Society and traveled extensively to research belted cattle breeds around the world.
Lord David's health was poor by the 1960s but, assisted by his daughter Flora, he worked determinedly to complete the book that we still consider the definitive word on belted breeds - An Illustrated History of Belted Cattle. The manuscript was published by the Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh, in 1970. Sadly, the publication was issued posthumously, as Lord David Stuart passed away in 1969.
Flora Stuart was born on the Isle of Bute in 1941 and moved with her family to Wigtownshire in the post-war years. Tragedy struck in 1962 when her 15-year-old sister Rose was killed in a car accident, and again when her father died in 1969, losses Flora felt particularly keenly. She subsequently devoted her life to hill farming in the moorlands. Flora became known the world over for her role as President of the Belted Galloway Society, and for her dedication to the breed's promotion and improvement.
Her consuming interest in livestock was not confined to Belties. Flora maintained a flock of Shetland sheep and assorted goats on the land around Old Place of Mochrum, and an interest in Quarter Horses took her to riding events across Scotland. Skilled and innovative in stock-rearing, she earned a universal reputation for her capacity for hard work, which often found its reward in championships for her Belted Galloways.
Flora, at heart an intensely private person, nevertheless was in great demand as a livestock judge and adviser. She made many trips abroad, helping to insure the international success of the breed she loved. Farmers in Germany, Australia, the United States, New Zealand and Canada were among those to benefit from her advice and by acquisition of prime Mochrum breeding stock.
She built up her Belted Galloway herd to become one of the finest in the world. With careful husbandry and astute stockmanship she built on the foundations laid down by her ancestors. Among Flora's approaches to cattle husbandry was a herd maintained at Airylick, where she crossed Beltie cows with a White Shorthorn bull to produce distinctive Blue Greys. In turn these cows were crossed with a continental bull to produce a superior beef animal exhibiting the best qualities of the Scottish and continental breeds. Flora felt such innovations would help to secure the Galloway's status in the Scottish beef industry - and she was right, judging by growing demand and recent sales prices.
Flora was a staunch supporter of local, national and international cattle shows, and was always enthusiastic about the Belties' prospects. She was quoted, "There's just an incredible demand for the cattle - hardly a day passes but there's a phone call from someone asking for breeding stock. We've already got orders for cattle that haven't been born yet."
Alan Bias (MT) enjoyed an extended visit at Old Place of Mochrum. He recalls, "The castle was a fascinating place to wander. Flora pointed out that the flower gardens were a shell of their once grand state. In the time of her grandfather a staff of 2-3 were dedicated to them. Most of the farm help had been part of the estate for several generations and were highly thought of.
"Flora's living quarters were above the great room and accessed by a secret door on the left side of the fireplace that led to her father's study and a stairwell. The large table in the dining hall was actually only half of the original, the other half was upstairs in the second tower. Seeing the estate on foot or horseback was a gratifying experience, as it encompassed superb views of the sea, Loch Mochrum, lowland pastures and peat fields."
Of Flora's cattle Alan said, "She bred and maintained the Belties pretty much as three separate herds of Blacks, Duns and Reds. She also founded a solid Red Galloway herd in the early to mid-90's, maintained at The Derry near Polbae where her close friends Basil and Irene Wilson lived. A small herd of White Galloway cows with black, red and dun points was scattered in among the Belties. When I asked why she kept no solid Black Galloways, she simply responded that they were "already in good hands.'
"A sense of tradition was ingrained in her persona. Yet, she balanced this with the needs of the present. During my visit the re-emergence of Riggit Galloways was of keen interest. We visited several Riggit breeders and stopped numerous times to scope out a possible calf among the Blue Greys in other herds.
"When I asked about Flora's favorite animal over the years she named Mochrum Kestrel, dam of Mochrum Kingfisher, as her crowning accomplishment. Kestrel was a very well balanced cow. I feel that Flora had the two traits most needed to be a successful breeder of any type of livestock - a good eye and infinite patience."
Tragically, Flora Stuart died of cancer on February 27, 2005. She was laid to rest next to her parents and sister at the family's ancestral home on the Isle of Bute. She is sadly missed by all who were privileged to know her.
Belted Galloway breeders were heartened, however,
to learn that the Mochrum herd is continuing under the stewardship of
Flora's cousin David Bertie, and will continue to be represented at the
Royal Highland and other prestigious shows.
Obtain Lord David Stuart's An Illustrated History of Belted Cattle from the U.K. Belted Galloway Cattle Society's Secretary Myrna Corrie, email@example.com.