Did you know that the Stonehaven Fatherland Burns Club is the only Burns Club in the world to have the word "Fatherland" in its title?

That is because Robert Burns had a very special connection to the Mearns and Stonehaven.

It was literally his "fatherland" - the land his father and forefathers had come from. 

His father William was born in the Mearns in 1721. He lived there until 1748 before departing to seek his fortune.

His grandfather Robert Burnes (how the family used to spell their name) was a gardener at Dunnottar Castle who lost his job after the 1715 Rising and became a tenant-farmer.

He worked at a number of farms in the valley before settling at Clochnahill, a few miles south of Stonehaven on the A90. It was from here that Burns' father left for Edinburgh in hope of a better life and the spot is marked by a stone cairn.  

Burns' connections to the Mearns stretch back to 1615 with the birth of his great-great grandfather at Bogjorgan Farm around 1615. 

Burns came back to his "fatherland". On his Highland Tour in 1787 he visited farms and estates his family had had a connection with. He visited Glenbervie Cemetery to see graves of his great grandfather James and great grandmother Margaret, as well as his great grand uncle and aunt.

Sadly his reflections on the Mearns are non too poetic; his main observations were on the quality of the land, perhaps appropriate for the "ploughman poet". He described it as 'A rich and cultivated but still unenclosed country.'

Every year an event is held to commemorate the day Burns stopped to water his horse while traveling through the Mearns.

How will you be celebrating the birth of our national poet? Comment below on how you are spending Burns Night.

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