Societies With Secrets [Radio Scotland]


01The Word And Grip20130904


Billy Kay celebrates convivial clubs like the Crochallan Fencibles and the Cape, masonic degrees like the Realm of Zion and the Sangreal, ethnic fraternities like the Scottish Brotherhoods in Poland, secret nests of Jacobite exiles in the most illustrious Order del Toboso, exclusive associations based on occupations like the Horseman's Word and the Free Gardeners, and ancient incorporations like the Baxters and Bonnetmakers which survive and thrive in our major cities today.

In the first programme we look at how Scotland' ancient trades incorporations developed from closed, self help fraternities into organised societies which still flourish - Billy attends Hammermen and Bonnetmakers initiations in Dundee, where the history of the Nine Trades is carved in stone in the city's ancient Howff Cemetery. We hear how many societies copied the operative Stonemasons Lodge system which developed into the speculative Freemasonry, which began in Scotland and took off round the world with its heady mix of morality and mysticism, charity and conviviality.

We visit Ayr Shed No 2 of The Corporation o' Squaremen e.g. an order linked to Freemasonry, but with its own history going back to the 17th century. They raise money for charity and have a lot of fun in the process. They also use Scots in all their communication, so Billy enjoyed speaking to fellow Ayrshiremen in the mither tongue. We also visit the north east to explore the ritual of The Horseman's Word, which arose in the era of working horses in the fermtouns there, and was a means of passing on the skills, cures and mysteries associated with horse whispering, as well as providing social bonding through initiations where whisky played a central role.

02Merriment and Glee20130911

Billy Kay celebrates the convivial and bawdy clubs of enlightenment Scotland.

03The Scottish Brotherhoods20130918

Billy Kay explores the Order del Toboso in Russia and the Scottish Brotherhoods in Poland.

04 LASTFreeman Stand Or Freeman Fa'20130925

Billy Kay celebrates the survival of societies like the Free Colliers and Free Gardeners.