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Good King MacBeth

Hidden : 7/9/2006
Difficulty:
4.5 out of 5
Terrain:
2.5 out of 5

Size: Size: small (small)

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Geocache Description:

The coordinates will take you to College of Roseisle a hamlet, which 1000 years ago stood on the northern shore of an inlet of a sea loch that separated the island of Roseisle from the mainland to the south. There is not much to see here today but at that time a small monastery or college of priests stood here, and it close to this spot that MacBeth the future King of the Scots, son of Finlay Mac Ruari Maormor of Moray, grandson of King Malcolm II, was born in 1005.

Altyre Stone

The Altyre Stone was removed from College of Roseisle around 1810 by the Laird of Gordonstoun as it was "the right shape for a cattle rubbing post". It now stands in a field south of Forres.
Today the Hamlet stands between Roseisle Forest and the fertile agricultural plain of the Laich of Moray which for long ages has made Moray the breadbasket of Scotland. The surrounding landscape in MacBeth's time you would have seen the upright forms of Pictish standing stones, which commemorated the great and the good of the Fortriu (Northern Pictish Kingdom). These stones showed the importance of the island as the southern heartland for the Pictish elite; to the north was the citadel of Burghead while to the east was Kinnedar the seat of the Bishops of Moray, near Lossiemouth.

MacBeth himself stands on the cusp of a great change in both the Government of  the nation and the Economic Geography of northern Europe. 1000 years ago the North Sea was the focus of trade and government, Berwick was Scotland's largest city and major port, Moray was the richest region and stood as a buffer to the Norse across the Moray Firth and to the south England was ruled by a Danish King who was also King of Norway. The Scots, who in 836 had been absorbed into Pictland, a generation later were Kings of Alba as Kenneth MacAlpine was the heir to the Pictish throne by the dominant matriarchal line. The Kingship of Scotland however descended by a system called tanistry; the Tanist was the nominated heir chosen as the best qualified candidate within the competing Royal Houses of Alpin and Athol, who took it in turn to rule the nation.

Malcolm II was the cause of the problem, he nominates his grandson Duncan, Prince of Cumbria, as his Tanist, despite his youth and his membership of the out of sequence royal house. Malcolm then aranged the assassination of most candidates ahead of Duncan and in the resulting blood feud he gets himself killed near Glamis. Duncan succeeds him and decides to invade England where he is soundly beaten outside the walls of Durham. Licking his wounds he decides to cheer himself up by taking his army north to sort out MacBeth, who by any sensible measure should have been Malcolm's Tanist as both he and his wife Gruoch are of the Royal line (meeting both the Scottish and Pictish criteria for succession) and he's the most successful leader in the country. Duncan picked the fight but it is MacBeth who wins the day in the battle near Spynie where the incompetent Duncan gets himself killed.

An so King MacBeth and Queen Gruoch rule Scotland for 17 years of peace and plenty, and even find time to go on a pilgrimage to Rome.  Until 1054 when Duncan's son Malcolm Canmore, sails into Dundee at the head of an English army of Northumbrians who defeated MacBeth army on the plains of Gowrie to the west of the city. MacBeth retreats to Moray where he dies in 1057 and is buried on Iona.
So how did so successful a King, who despite being cheated of his rightful title by the machinations of his grandfather and being forced into battle by the inept bullying of his cousin King Duncan, end up with such a bad press. Might it be that:
  • Malcolm Canmore grew up in the court of Edward the Confessor and introduced male patrilineal decent - making MacBeth's tanist and matrilineal claims invalid.
  • The House of Stewart (in England Stuart) traces its decent through Malcolm.
  • Shakespeare's main historical source was based on Hector Boece's Scotorum Historiae which was written as a Stewart hagiography for James IV
  • Shakespeare wanted to flatter James VI, and show his right to be King of England.
And so to the cache: you are seeking a 1 litre lock & lock hidden within 2 km of the above coordinates. The cache is deliberately not close to any prominent topographic or landscape feature; so you must solve the riddle before you can find the cache.
riddle

G:UK cache rating
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Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Ol jbbq naq fgbar V znxr zl ubzr.

Decryption Key

A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M
-------------------------
N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z

(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



 

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