Dumbarton feels a bit miserable. The people of the town amble around in
what can only be described as a state of some miserableness. Their
elephant has gone. Yup, there's nothing quite like a missing heffalump
for making a person feel a tad on the miserable side, that's for sure.
Dumbarton is probably showing more signs of wear and tear than most
other Scottish towns that I have come across. There are countless vacant
shops to let on the High Street, and an almost deserted concrete
shopping centre - the Artizan Shopping Centre - that must surely be the
ugliest thing we have ever had the misfortune to construct. And also on
that High Street sits the Elephant & Castle pub, closed and abandoned, a
portentous symbol of the decline of this small, once industrious town.
Dumbarton's coat of arms is made up largely of an elephant; an elephant
with a little castle on its back. Why Dumbarton should have such a coat
of arms has been a topic of much debate. Some say that the rock on which
Dumbarton Castle sits looks like an elephant. Perhaps. But this Royal
Burgh has been identified with the Roman place, 'Theodosia'. The Romans
did use elephants: war elephants. Might it be the case that the Romans
brought elephants to Dumbarton? I truly believe that the answer to
Dumbarton's fortunes lies in the past, a past where once there were
elephants, and shopping centres had yet to be invented.