General George Monck was you might say one of Oliver Cromwell’s rottweillers not that the aforementioned decapitator of monarchs really needed attack dogs. Preferred to do the job himself by all accounts! But in September 1651 General Monck looked upon this sight and then set about massacring thousands of the city of Dundee’s inhabitants. It’s St. Mary’s Tower in the heart of the city known to locals as the Old Steeple!
Now it’s perhaps best not to delve into the reasons why the Scots got involved in the War of the Three Kingdoms (nee English Civil War). It’s complicated and brings on migraines! Suffice to say that Dundee not known for its royalist sympathies today was on the side of the Stuart Kings at the time their having Scots blood in them. And people changed sides often during said conflict. General Monck did it as did the Scots. But if we freeze frame it in 1651 Dundee is a royalist stronghold and OC and GM are parliamentarians. Get it? Got it? good!
Not only that Scots gold from Edinburgh and Stirling etc had been secreted behind the strongly fortified Dundee walls. So General Monck having already razed tracts of Scotland to the ground rolls up and calls on Robert Lumsden the Governor of Dundee to surrender. The then Dundonians tell the General to go and raffle himself – but they are prepared to accept his surrender vastly outnumbered though they are! Cue mayhem.
Then it turns out that the doughty defenders are usually drunk before lunch and the city walls are hence breached. Governor Lumsden walks out to surrender and it’s off with his head on the spot not far probably from where the pic was taken. The Roundheads then loot rape and burn the city while the General quaffs some of its fine wines no doubt! And though Dundee took time to recover it rose again and has risen again many times since. It’s doing it today from the ashes of the Jute Industry. V&A anyone? But I still feel a shiver when I look up at the Old Steeple.