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Authors: Margaret Skea

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Historical, #Historical Fiction, #Scottish

Turn of the Tide

Turn of the Tide

Margaret Skea was born in Ulster, and now lives with her husband in the Scottish Borders. Her degree in Linguistics at St Andrews University was followed by a Ph.D on the
Ulster-Scots vernacular, which led, in turn, to an interest in 16th century Scottish history. An Hawthornden Fellow and award winning writer: Historical Fiction Winner in 2011 Harper Collins and
Alan Titchmarsh People’s Novelist Competition, Neil Gunn 2011, Chrysalis Prize 2010, and Winchester 2009. A finalist in the 2012 Historical Novel Society Short Story Competition and
shortlisted for Mslexia Short Story 2012, she has been long-listed in the Fish Short Story and Fish One Page Prize, and published in a range of magazines and anthologies in Britain and the USA.







First published by Capercaillie Books Limited in 2012.

Registered office 1 Rutland Court, Edinburgh

© Margaret Skea. The moral rights of the author have been asserted.

Printed by Antony Rowe, Chippenham

Set in Galliard by, Edinburgh

A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN 978-1-909305-06-9

eISBN 978-1-909305-07-6

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s
prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. All rights
reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise without the written permission
of the publisher.


Main Characters



Part One

Part Two

Part Three





To the many family, friends, and fellow authors on Authonomy and elsewhere, who encouraged me while I was writing this novel – thank you. Particular thanks to James Long
and Sam Llewellyn who, by suggesting I focus on Munro, led me, one sunny afternoon, to revisit my manuscript, and thus to begin
Turn of the Tide

Main Characters

All the main characters are real unless specified otherwise. By convention Earls were often referred to by their title rather than family name and lesser nobles by their place
of residence. This avoided confusion among the many branches of one clan.

The Cunninghame Faction



Earl of  Glencairn:


The head of the Cunninghame clan, ranked 11th in the order of precedence among the Scottish earls. These rankings were often a matter of dispute, with earls petitioning the King to raise their ranking. His primary residence is Kilmaurs in the bailliewick of Cunninghame in Ayrshire.

Lady Glencairn:


his wife.



his brother.

William, his eldest son and heir


Master of Glencairn.

Clonbeith, Robertland, and Waterstone:


other prominent members of the Cunninghame clan in Ayrshire, owing allegiance to the Earl of Glencairn.

Patrick Maxwell of Newark:


a cousin of the Cunninghames.

Lady Margaret Langshaw:


a Cunninghame by birth, but married into the Montgomerie clan.

The Montgomerie Faction



Earl of Eglintoun:


The head of the Montgomerie clan, ranked 12th in the order of precedence among the Scottish earls. His primary residence is now Ardrossan, Eglinton castle having been razed to the ground by the Cunninghames.

Robert Montgomerie:


brother to the earl and Master of Eglinton.

Jean Montgomerie:


Robert’s wife.

Adam Montgomerie of Braidstane:


a Montgomerie laird, close kin to Eglinton.

Hugh, his eldest son:


Master of Braidstane.

George, Adam’s second son:


a cleric at the court of Elizabeth Ist.



a cavalry officer in a French regiment, Adam’s third son.



a physician in Padua, Adam’s fourth son.

Grizel,  Braidstane’s daughter. (Fictional)


Though evidence exists of Adam having (un-named) daughters, few records remain.

Alexander Montgomerie:


a poet and favoured courtier to King James VI, who is later accorded the title of ‘Master Poet’.

The Munro Family



(All members of this family are fictional.)





a minor laird who’s family have had close connection to the Cunninghame clan since the 14th century. They live at Broomelaw, a tower house near Renfrew, gifted to Munro’s father by the Cunninghames.



his wife.

Robbie and Anna:


his 3-year-old twins.



Munro’s younger brother.

Mary Munro:


his mother.

Sybilla Boyd:


a family friend.

The Shaw Family



James Shaw:


a merchant with many connections to Europe, and laird of Greenock; his tower house is prominently situated above the port of Greenock.

Jean, his wife:


a Cunninghame by birth.

John, his eldest son:


Master of Greenock.

Elizabeth (marries Hugh, Master of Braidstane), Christian and Gillis:


his daughters.

Sigurd Ivarsen, (Fictional):


a Norwegian merchant regularly trading into Edinburgh, charged with transporting Queen Anne’s carriage from Norway, following her marriage to James VI.


In 1567 Mary Queen of Scots was forced to abdicate in favour of her one-year-old son James and fled to England. A magnet for Catholic plots, including the infamous Babington
conspiracy, which threatened both Elizabeth I’s throne and her life, Mary was imprisoned in England and finally executed at Fotheringhay on 8th February 1587. The years of James’
minority were characterised by lawlessness, brutality and the escalation of many of the centuries old feuds between clans and families. Nobles jostled for control over the young king and over
precedence in the official ranking of the earls. When James became king in his own right every aspect of Scottish life, political, social, religious and economic was in turmoil. He set out to
subdue the earls, to encourage a professional aristocracy from among the lairds, to regulate the new Protestant religion and to establish a more settled and stable society.

The Cunninghame and Montgomerie feud was the most notorious in Ayrshire’s history, beginning in 1448 and not finally resolved until the early years of the 17th century.

Part One

April – May 1586


In all of Ayrshire there was no feudal hatred so long and so engrained as that between the rival Lords of Eglintoun and Glencairn.


Ayrshire, Its History
by William Robertson

Chapter One

The dying sun held no heat and little colour, nevertheless it dazzled both mare and rider as they crested the rise.

‘Easy, lass, easy.’ Munro slid his hand from the reins to gentle Sweet Briar, his palm, as he stroked her neck, dragging against the salt sweat. Stifling his disquiet, he pressed
again with his heels and, his thoughts focused on the task ahead, allowed the mare to pull away, trusting her instinct to carry them safe over the uneven ground. They flowed swift and smooth across
the grassy, heather-studded hillside, flushing a scattering of partridge as they went. Had anyone watched their passing, they would have found it hard to distinguish where man finished and mare
began, for both were dun coloured – from the top of Munro’s soft bonnet, devoid of decoration, to the mare’s fetlocks – the only flashes of contrast the dark hooves and the
pale oblong of Munro’s face in the fading light.

Another mile, another crest, and Langshaw’s towers ahead of them, drowsing, half in, half out of the shadows. The mare faltered again, her ears flattening.

‘Come on lass,’ Munro’s hand strayed to the letter tucked into his jerkin, ‘I haven’t a choice, and the sooner it’s done the sooner food and rest for us
both.’ He leaned forward to flick at her ear and she snorted back at him, accepting his pressing.

As they came through the arched gateway, a stable lad tumbled from the hayloft, his legs spindle-thin.

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