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Lochmaben’s Merlin links revealed

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By Christie Breen
Lockerbie and Lochmaben
Lochmaben’s Merlin links revealed

A NEW trail exploring Upper Annandale’s links to the legend of Merlin has the potential to expand and include Lochmaben.

The Arthur Trail Association recently secured £30,000 of funding from various sources including Foundation Scotland and Clyde Community Fund.

It will be used for a feasibility study for a multi-million pound Dark Age Centre at Beattock and Moffat, which will reveal the true story of the real man behind the Merlin legend, who lived and died locally in the 6th century.

The study will recommend a development strategy and organisational systems and structures as well evaluating appropriate strategic recommendations with research, analysis, concept designs and costs.

Robin Crichton, chairman of the Arthur Trail Association, attended Monday’s meeting of the Royal Burgh of Lochmaben and District Community Council to give more context to the burgh’s connection with the legend. He said: “The whole idea of the Merlin trail is to get people off the motorway and explore this beautiful area we have. And I believe that Lochmaben has the potential to be a satellite location, as it has such a rich history from the Romans, to the dark ages and the Robert the Bruce connections.

“But the Merlin connection is something completely unique, and the ‘Maben’ in Lochmaben refers to a god, who was the pagen version of Apollo. And in the original tale, Maben was the child of the sun and mother earth which made him the god of fertility.

“This legend then spread from this area down into north Wales and referred to a well here in Lochmaben that was believed to cure infertility and Merlin was the chief druid of the clan that lived here in the 6th century.”

Community councillors were keen to explore the burgh’s links with Merlin but wanted to gather public views before committing fully to the trail.

Vice-chairperson May McKerrell said: “Robin first got in touch three or four years ago and told me about this project and listening to it my first thought was ‘that doesn’t sound like Lochmaben’. It sounded too fantastical but the more I listened to him and learned about the connections, the more real and possible it became.”

Chairperson Kenelma McCrae added: “This is something we’d have to look more into and get the community’s thoughts about and we will look into creating a survey. But this is the kind of thing we could include in our Local Place Plan.”

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