Following on from the previous post about Largo House, the Eagle Gate Lodge and Major Makgill Crichton, the article above from the 4 September 1902 Leven Advertiser reports on an "exciting incident in the bay". Makgill Crichton had recently succeeded to the estates of Largo, Lathrisk, Monzie and Barelaw and his title was Lieutenant (the rank at which he had served in the 78th Royal Highlanders). Recently married, he owned a steam launch, named Shelda or Zelda (both names are used in the article). It was upon this vessel that he and his wife had arrived in Largo to take up residence earlier in 1902.
However, on 30 August 1902, while waiting off Largo Harbour for additional passengers, ahead of going on to a yachting regatta at Leven, the Shelda/Zelda had an accident. She caught the Ring Rock about 100 yards from the harbour and began to list. The vessel was unable to move for about an hour until the ebbing tide eased her off the rock. The Ring Rock was described as having "a conical apex and flat sides". The Shelda/Zelda survived the incident relatively unscathed, aside from some damage to cabin crockery. The photograph below shows a similar steam launch, the 40-feet Netta, captured in 1899 by Lady Henrietta Gilmour of Montrave (courtesy of the University of St Andrews Special Collection).
No doubt Shelda/Zelda was not the first, nor the last vessel, to fall foul of the Ring Rock. So, what was the Ring Rock? A clue to how it was used could come from another Ring Rock, at Portknockie in Moray. Their heritage leaflet tells of the Ring Rock "off the mouth of the harbour" which was "used to kedge off sailing boats when the wind was light or adverse". Another local leaflet further describes the named rocks at Portknockie shoreline - see below - telling of how their Ring Rock once had a ring embedded in it. In their example, "ropes were passed from the quay and through the ring and were used to pull sailboats from the harbour until the wind caught their sails".
"Kedging" or "warping" is a technique for manoeuvring engineless vessels in calm conditions, including in and out of tight harbours, to a point where their sails could better catch the wind, by hauling on a line attached to a kedge anchor, a sea anchor or a fixed object. Small boats might simply throw the anchor in the intended direction of progress and haul in after it settles, pulling the boat in that direction. Larger vessels could use a smaller boat to carry the anchor ahead, drop it and then haul. An alternative approach would appear to be to used a fixed point outside the harbour as part of this process. If you have more information about the use of Largo's Ring Rock, please leave a comment.
The Ring Rock is just one example of a named rock or boulder on the Lower Largo shore. Below is a fascinating excerpt from 26 August 1893 Glasgow Herald. In addition to the Ring Rock, the article lists the following other names:
Parten Rock (likely intended to be Partan, the Scots word for a crab)
The piece explained that the spring tides in Largo Bay (i.e. tides just after a new or full moon, when there is the greatest difference between high and low water) had uncovered more of the shore than normal. Mr Butters senior - James Butters a fisherman - had explained that every large boulder in Largo Bay had been christened.
Can you help match the names mentioned in the 1893 article to the boulders that we see on the beach today? If you can - please comment. Likewise if you are aware of other named rocks not mentioned in the piece - such as the Punch and Judy rocks at the Temple, please comment, so that this very localised information (which tends not to be formally recorded) can be saved for future generations.