Why Celtic Country?
There are compelling reasons why Glen Innes and surrounding Severn Shire is known as Celtic Country. The district’s first settlers, who arrived within 50 years of First Settlement, were mostly Scots. The very first of them was a Selkirkshire, Cambridge-educated barrister Archibald Boyd who in 1838 took up what is now known as Stonehenge Station and held a number of other properties in New England.
Boyd’s party was guided to the area by bearded stockmen William Chandler and John Duval who today are celebrated in the annual Land of the Beardies Festival and in the naming of the Land of the Beardies History House. Boyd went broke in the 1840 Depression, returned home where he inherited the family estate and wrote historical romances.
Among the early settlers was William Vivers from Dumfriesshire who founded Kings Plains Station which covered almost 30,000ha. His grandson Dr George Vivers, a ship’s doctor from Dumfries, built a castle on the property – which still stands today – to re-create a piece Scotland in the Australian bush.
Glen Innes was named after another Scot, Archibald Clunes Innes, from Thrumster, Caithness-shire. A captain in the Third Regiment (Buffs), he arrived in Australia in 1822 on the Eliza in charge of 170 convicts. He, too, held a number of New England properties including Glen Innes Station.
The town of Glen Innes was gazetted at the height of the gold rush in 1852. The Celtic heritage is cherished by today’s Glen Innes citizens – so much so that a public-spirited group established the Australian Standing Stones, a megalithic array like those around which the ancient Celts danced. They are unique in the southern hemisphere and officially recognised as the national monument to Australia’s Celtic pioneers. The Stones are the venue for the annual Australian Celtic Festival held on the first weekend in May.