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Culture and Society
A Short Case Study in Cultural Memory: The Roots, Traditions and Events that Define Clan Donald in Scottish Culture and Society
In reading Jan Assmann’s, “Cultural Memory and Early Civilization” my interest was heightened by his reference to the Scottish invention of tartan. Even members of my immediate family, including my Father who is no slouch when it comes to knowledge of Scottish history (a point I will return to in due course), have questioned this assertion whenever I have put it to them. It was therefore rather re-assuring for me to read this point in an academic text because it was consistent with what I discovered in my own studies of the subject. However, because I am rather well-versed in this particular aspect of Scottish history, I also found cause to question Assmann’s version of the events and the related reasons for tartan being so readily accepted as a distinctive part of Scottish culture. It was this, and the related history of Clan Donald – the extended family of which I am a part – that gave me to the idea to adopt it as a case study for this paper. Clan Donald is the largest clan in Scotland and the largest in the world, when one adds the descendants of thousands of MacDonalds who emigrated to the USA, Canada, Australia and other countries. One estimate places the number of MacDonalds worldwide at over 2 million. The Clan’ history extends back to the 6th Century and to the legendary Irish King, Conn of the Hundred Battles, who embodied the poetry, grandeur and ultimately the doomed aspirations of the Celtic tradition in Scotland.
It is no joy without Clan Donald; it is no strength to be without them; the best race in the round world, To them belongs every goodly man. The noblest race of all created, in whom dwelt prowess and terribleness; a race to whom tyrants bowed, In whom dwelt wisdom and piety. Grimble, Clans and Chiefs (1980)
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A Short Case Study in Cultural Memory: The Roots, Traditions and Events that Define Clan Donald in Scottish Culture and Society
It is clear from the above verse and the following introduction to Williams (1984) single volume history of Clan Donald,
In after centuries, when much of the old fierce blood was diluted or dispersed, the Seannachies1 would still remember . . . and many still young among the Highland men would recall the stories of the Clan Donald in might: when the tribal genealogy was a testament of greatness, and the names of their ancestors could inflame the swordsmen of the clan to battle.
that the Clan was shrouded in glory – it was no ordinary clan. In fact, at the height of its power in the mid-1400s, Clan Donald controlled most of the western Islands, much of the western Highlands, and northeast areas of what is now Northern Ireland. That this power was largely derived from prowess at sea is reflected in the Clan’s motto, per mare per terras (“by sea and land"). The head of the clan, the Lord of the Isles was as powerful as the then King of Scotland who at that time presided over what was still an emerging nation. By contrast to Scotland’s King, the Lord of the Isles made no distinction between Irish and Scottish there was only Clan Donald and its heritage was a
Territories of the Lord of the Isles
combination of Celtic and Norse.
In all histories of Clan Donald, Somerled (d. 1164), meaning Summer Sailor, is considered the first in the line of the Lords of the Isles and his grandson, Donald, who
A very important class in every clan was that to which the seannachies and bards belonged. These men were historians and genealogists. There were hereditary seannachies in the household of every Chief, and it was their business to learn from their fathers all the records of the past, to recite them at the banquets in their Lord's hall, and to hand them down to their descendants. Their knowledge was very rarely committed to paper until comparatively recent times, and some writers hold that the traditions, which have come down to us, are without any value for historical purposes. But three circumstances are worthy of consideration. In the first place, the seannachies were trained men. It appears that there were colleges in Ireland, where history and genealogy were taught, and that many of our Highland bards and seannachies had been educated at these seats of learning. Secondly, just as John Barbour put his history of "the Brus" into metrical form, so the old Highland traditions were put into the form of poems. This made it easier to remember them, and though it did not prevent a fraudulent bard from interpolating spurious matter of his own, it made it less likely that he should do so accidentally. In the third place, the bards and seannachies not only had to recite their effusions before chiefs and clansmen, who would be unlikely to detect any errors they might make, but also in the presence of other bards and seannachies, who would be perfectly capable of doing so, and who, as there was a great deal of jealousy amongst these men, would certainly not allow them to pass unchallenged. These considerations induce me to believe that, in the old traditions which have come down to us, we have more or less trustworthy records of events which really did take place in the past. (Rev. Canon R. C. MacLeod of MacLeod, 1920’s)
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A Short Case Study in Cultural Memory: The Roots, Traditions and Events that Define Clan Donald in Scottish Culture and Society
gave his name to the Clan. In fact, the denomination Mac or Mc simply means sonof. As it is not the intention to dwell on history let me to turn to Assmann’s writing so that I may begin to demonstrate its relevance to this case. Firstly Assmann (2011) speaks of Halbwach’s use of the hierarchy of the medieval feudal system to illustrate the relationship between the collective memory and the image a group has of itself and its social function. In this sense coats-of-arms and family crests assume symbolic importance, indicating, as they continue to do even to this very day, various rights and privileges. For instance, technically speaking I should seek formal permission to use the crests that I have displayed below. Assman (2011, pp26) continues by quoting Halbwach when he says that the rank of a family was, “clearly defined by what it and others knew of its past” and that they had to “appeal to the memory of society in order to obtain an allegiance that was later legitamized by stressing the usefuleness of the services rendered and the competence of the magistrate or functionary”. The first of these quotations is clearly significant when we take account of the footnote on the previous page concerning the role of the “Seannachies” in Clan life. It might be reasonable to propose that the very existence of such a role within a Clan might indicate something about its general standing. It would seem likely that Assmann would class the less well-known Seannachies alongside the sages and scholars of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, to mention but a few.
Clan Donald Crest
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It should come as little surprise to readers that the collective-image of clan members was that of immensely proud sea faring warriors who were at the beck and call of their Clan Chief to whom they owed fealty (the fidelity of a vassal or feudal tenant to his lord) as a father figure. In this sense, the translated motto of the Clan Ranald crest is somewhat revealing, “my hope is constant in thee”.
Opposite is the coat-of-arms for Godfrey James Macdonald of Macdonald The 8th Baron Macdonald, Chief of the Name and Arms of Macdonald, High Chief of Clan Donald and 34th hereditary Chief of Clan Donald. Note the presence of the Highland galley, or birlinn, sea-faring vessels which were used in conflicts with other clans. The distinction between the coat-of-arms and the Clan crest should also be noted. The former is for the exclusive use of the individual leader whilst the latter is a collective crest.
At this point I should declare my own hand so to speak because I am a little more privileged than I have so far revealed. I happen to be a personal friend of Ranald Alexander Macdonald of Clanranald, the 24th Captain and Chief of Clanranald, which is one of the major branches of Clan Donald. His youngest son, Andrew Macdonald of Boisdale, was my colleague and business partner for some years and he also remains a close friend. Through this association, I not only participated in various Clan events but I also had cause to explore my own roots and the history of Clan Donald in much more detail than the average Clan member might. As a consequence I feel able to express a degree of empathy with the aforementioned Seannachies whilst I am also confident when expressing the view that the pride that many of my forefathers may have experienced as members of Clan Donald is still alive and well today. In fact this may be viewed at any Clan gathering or céilidh (an informal social gathering with folk music, singing, dancing, and storytelling). In these events we see signs of what Assmann (2011, pp 120) refers to as “rites and dances, patterns and decorations, costumes, tattoos, food and drink, monuments, pictures, landscapes
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and so on”, all “symbols to denote a community” and an example of cultural formation.
Clearly Some People Enjoy Dressing in Tartan Left to Right: The Chief of Glengarry, The Chief of Sleat, Lord Macdonald of Macdonald, The Captain & Chief of Clanranald, The Earl of Antrim. Photo by Anthony MacMillan, Fort William.
If I was to select one more recent event in the history of the Clan Donald that has served to define its identity, and to impact the collective cultural memory of both Clan members and others, it would be the Massacre of Glencoe of 1692. Briefly this involved a series of events whereby King William, the Prince of Orange, offered a pardon to those Scottish clans whose chiefs would swear the oath of allegiance to him before January 1, 1692. Now many of those chiefs owed their allegiance to King James VII of Scotland (respectively James II of England), the last of the Stewart Kings who had been ousted from the throne in 1688. It was therefore no simple matter to switch allegiance since it was considered a matter of deep honour. Much in the same way that Clan members were sworn to their Clan Chief, so the Clan Chiefs had sworn their support to the Stewart monarchy in Scotland. In essence, in the absolute hierarchy, it would have been the equivalent of asking King James VII to renounce God. Therefore, in order to answer in the affirmative, the Clan Chiefs who
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faced this predicament needed to be released from the allegiance that they had sworn to King James and such a release was only delivered at the last moment. A further series of events, and some say manipulations, meant that MacIain, chief of the MacDonalds of Glencoe, missed the deadline for swearing allegiance to King William. However, his oath was accepted some days after the deadline and all was assumed well. In February of that year a company of troops, mainly from the Clan Cambell, in the service of the Prince of Orange arrived at MacIain's home in Glencoe, ostensibly to collect tax in the area. They were offered hospitality by the MacDonalds of Glencoe, which they accepted for over a week but on February 13, without warning, they fell upon the community, burning all the houses and massacring the people. Some 38 (of about 200 inhabitants), including MacIain himself, were killed whilst others who had fled into the mountains died in the next week from cold and starvation (Prebble, 1973). Even in Scotland, were stories of barbarous behaviour both on the part of the Clans towards others and by others towards Clans and their members was not unheard of, this incident caused considerable uproar. It almost immediately established the Macdonalds of Glencoe as victims of a heinous and vile crime since and by Highland culture and standards it was considered a terrible and treacherous act.
Had the clan been proceeded against in open and legitimate warfare, resulting in its utter extinction, the affair might have occupied no more than a short paragraph in this and other histories. There can be no doubt that what gives the deed its nefarious stamp, is the fiendishly deliberate and deceitful way in which it was accomplished, in violation of laws of hospitality which are respected even by cut-throat Arabs. And after all it was a blunder. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1785 from The Massacre of Glencoe 1692 (McGowan, 2008/2009)
"What particularly distinguishes this act from others, and why it resonates today, was the absolute betrayal of the [tradition of] Highland hopitality by the Campbell forces.
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And the other was the hand of the government in it - the government had ordred it. It was a genocidal act." James Hunter, Scottish historian from The Massacre of Glencoe 1692 (McGowan, 2008/2009)
Arguably The Massacre of Glencoe served to nullify the reputation that many of the Macdonald clans had for being semi-barbaric whilst bestowing a reputation for treachery, ruthless and inhumane behaviour on their arch-enemies the Campbells. At the same time, it reinforced the notion of a Clan system that provided hospitality to those in need, despite many Highlanders being somewhat notorious for committing theft and banditry. In summary, excepting the cruel loss of life, the Macdonalds came out of the whole incident rather well whereas the Campbells live with an ignominious crime to this very day.
Attacks: Artist James Hamilton's famous 1884 depiction of the Glencoe Massacre http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1228227/Massacre-Glencoe-300-year-old-document-orderedkilling-Scots-show.html
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In many ways Glencoe illustrates what Halbwach and Assmann declare to be the importance that reference to time and place has in reinforcing and sustaining collective memory. Accounts of the Massacre (see Appendix 2 for the written orders carried by the offending Cambells), James Hamilton’s painting and since 1963, a song alternately titled The Massacre of Glencoe (see Appendix 1) or Macdonald’s Lament, all serve to prolong the cultural memory and define and reinforce group identity. However, it is perhaps the message that was carried by what Assmann calls the “communicative memory”, recollections of witnesses and other spoken accounts that are handed down, which had the biggest impact on Scottish society. The betrayal of the Macdonalds of Glencoe by the government in London served to ensure that when the time arrived for the Jacobites to rise again on behalf of the Stewart Monarchy they would find a hotbed of support amongst Clan Donald and the other sympathetic Clans. I mentioned at the outset that I believe Assmann’s account of why tartan was readily accepted by the Scottish requires more clarification than he provided. To demonstrate this it is necessary to consider the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, which remains to this day the last military uprising against a government and/or monarch in the United Kingdom. That it was almost spectacularly successful, and would have been had promised French support materialised, perhaps goes some way to explaining post-Culloden events (Prebble, 1961). These events saw Clan members who rose with the Bonnie Prince Charlie, the last Stewart heir to the British throne, relentlessly pursued and, in the main, annihilated. Around this time a solution to the problem of rowdy and lawless Highlanders had already been implemented in the creation of Highland Regiments in the British Army (Prebble, 1975). The Highlander was renowned for his hardiness and fighting spirit and it was not unusual for them to fight as mercenaries across Europe. Therefore the creation of the Highland regiments was in many ways a natural progression. However, in the years that followed Culloden a new social phenomenon emerged, which also served to attack the problem of unruly Highlanders, namely the highland clearances between 1810
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and 1855 (Prebble, 1982). The clearances effectively resulted in the destruction of the entire, troublesome, clan system as Highland inhabitants were shipped off to far off places like America, Canada and Australia and the land was largely populated by sheep. My faith is constant in thee acquired a rather hollow tone because it was always intended to be a reciprocal arrangement. The greed of the Clan Chiefs, and other senior members of the clans, effectively undermined the economic system and kinship upon which the whole Clan system had evolved. Here we can draw a parallel with Assmann’s depiction of a culture as an immune system for a group (2011, pp121). Assman (2011, pp137) also suggests that a loss of land, temple, and political identity can lead ethnic groups to forget who they are, or were, and lead them to merge with other groups. Therefore, we may consider whether the loss of land and place served to diminish the group culture and identity of Clan Donald and made it more vulnerable to be subsumed in a broader Scottish culture and identity. I would argue that this is exactly what happened because in my own experience it is somewhat difficult to draw a line between my sense of being a MacDonald and a sense of being Scottish. The one notable exception that I have highlighted is the impact of the Glencoe Massacre that seems to have left an indelible mark on anyone who shares the family name and, conversely, those with the misfortune of being named Campbell. Assmann (2006) would call this an example of “the irreconcilable, mutually opposed memories of the winners and losers, the victims and perpetrators.” The above-mentioned events and processes created major internal political problems in Scotland and this arguably led the Scots back to earlier memories of a nation in its infancy, one that was trying desperately to establish sovereignty and independence from the “auld enemy”, England. Here in its external and ancient foe, the Scots found a solution to their deep divisions – as Assmann indicates (2011, pp133) one way to deal with such “political problems is to pursue an aggressive foreign policy”. The Scotland of the early 19th century was rife with wounds and desperately needed a means of integration and, in the case of the Clan Chiefs, one might even say salvation.
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“Remembrance of the past may give rise to dangerous insights, and the established society seems to be apprehensive of the subversive contents of the memory.” Luhmann (1971) as quoted in Assmann (2011)
My father has told me on numerous occasions that as a child, he and his fellow students were not taught Scottish history in school. As a consequence, it has always been my father’s opinion that it was not in the interests of those in authority for the Scots, and particularly the working class, to know too much about their history. When I was young and at school I never gave this much thought because on the contrary I was taught Scottish history and, to be honest, I found it to be rather bland. I could not imagine why anyone would wish to refrain from sharing it with young students. It was only as I grew older that I developed a deeper interest in Scottish culture and history (I believe that this comes naturally to people when they move to live in another country and therefore gain a different perspective). At this time I came to understand what my father had meant. For instance, it is typically believed in Scotland, and sadly now further afield too, that William Wallace of Braveheart fame, is the country’s national hero. There is no doubt that he is an inspirational figure and achieved some great things on behalf of Scotland. However, my father always told me that James Graham, The Marquis of Montrose, and often referred to as “Montrose” or “The Great Montrose”, is the true national hero of Scotland. How could such a figure, who I cannot even recall being mentioned in my Scottish history lessons, be Scotland’s true national hero? Now today, I not only agree with my father’s point of view but I also see clearly why Montrose’s role in Scottish history has been downplayed. Quite simply, whilst his reputation is secure and he commands respect, he does not serve to integrate the Scottish people in the way that Wallace or Robert the Bruce, the country’s most famous and revered King, can. Sadly Montrose lived during a time (1612 – 1650) of great division amongst the ranks of the Scottish people, when a large number turned against their rightful King Charles I for religious reasons.
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This brings me back to the issue of integration and what is now largely seen as the trigger for the creation of the modern day Scottish identity.
From the mock pageantry of the Highlanders to the carefully stage-managed rediscovery of the Scottish Regalia, this trip [the visit of King George IV to Scotland in 1822] was a key event in the creation of romantic Scotland. Behind it all lay the great stage manager, Sir Walter Scott. This was the first visit of a British monarch to Scotland for nearly two hundred years, following only two years after the grim horror of the Radical Insurrection, which saw the last armed rebellion in British history when sixty thousand workers went on strike. The Highland clans that Scott called to Edinburgh were, even as they marched, the subjects of eviction and persecution in their homeland. And yet in this stirring blend of pomp and pageantry, Scott was able to override the grim reality of day-to-day life2 in a surge of support for a monarch and monarchy, even in England, the subject of ridicule and derision. Prebble brilliantly reveals the rotten heart of corruption, betrayal, and intrigue at the heart of the ceremony of this great occasion, and from it all emerges a vision of Scotland that remains with us today. Sleeve notes to John Prebble’s, The King’s Jaunt, 1822 (1988)
At the time of the visit of King George IV to Edinburgh, Sir Walter Scott was still fresh from the outstanding success of his first novel Waverley in 1814, a romanticised account of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1945, which is now widely considered to be the first ever historical novel (Scott, 1972). Based on the success of his first novel, Scott went on to publish a series of books, collectively known as the Waverley Novels, about Scottish and Highland history, including Rob Roy (1817), which covered the events leading up to the Jacobite rising of 1945. However, it is Waverley, and its sugar-coated representation of the 45, devoid of the harsh treatment that was meted out to participants in the uprising, and their dependents, which seems best to embody the approach that Scott employed in his arrangement of the pageant that was to greet the King on his visit. For that pageant, he borrowed large elements of Highland and Jacobite tradition and portrayed the King himself as a Highland Jacobite replete in tartan dress. According to Prebble (1988) this portrayal may not
Assmann (2011, pp 69) states that ”cultural memory gives us the fresh air in a world that, ”in the reality of daily life”, becomes too narrow for us.”
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have been as far-fetched as it seemed since in his opinion, King George the IV’s claim to the Stewart line was as strong if not stronger than that of the Bonnie Prince Charlie, a claim that the King himself would not have discouraged. However, the following description from The Kings Jaunt, 1822, catches the eye of those concerned with cultural memory and particularly the cusp, or closing, of what Assmann (2011) and Halbwach term the communicative memory:
The moment seemed proper for such felicitous illusions. In the darkness that was finally closing about the exiled house [the House of Stewart], occasional glimpses of the memory seemed to glow more brightly. In the Highlands there were still eyes that had seen the smoke of Belford’s guns at Culloden and flesh that had plunged through it in a heather charge. John Prebble, The King’s Jaunt, 1822 (1988)
Not only was Scott’s planning and execution of the King’s visit perfect in terms of setting and splendour but even more so in terms of timing. However, once again, it is not the historical account of the visit that is of particular interest. As noted, Scott would go on to document Scottish history in the Waverley Novels and these not only influenced how the Scottish came to view themselves but since they were amongst the biggest selling titles of the 19th Century throughout Europe, they undoubtedly served to influence how the Scots were viewed from afar. When Assmann (2011) says that tartan is an invented tradition that does not go further back than the 18th century, we need not look far for confirmation. However, one might question the weight of his contention that “it was designed to upgrade and empower the periphery against the integrative central culture of the English realm”. I would suggest that those most likely to be enveloped by any creeping ‘English’ culture, namely wealthy lowlanders and highlanders, had already integrated vertically with their English counterparts, in much the same way that, as Assmann points out (2011, pp 130), “a Polish aristocrat of the time felt far more akin to his French counterparts than to the peasants of his country”. There is evidence to support a stronger argument concerning the use of tartan and other symbols to reinvigorate a
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sense of what it meant to be Scottish. This argument still places the ‘auld enemy’ as an external foe but one from the past that is used to bind fractured groups, many that were displaying signs of radicalism. It strikes me that Sir Walter Scott, and others who favoured the Union and the Hanoverian monarchy, knew exactly what they were doing when they evoked cultural memory as a means of manipulating Scottish cultural identity. In Assmann’s words (2011, pp114) they evoked the imagined community “based on an imagined continuity that reaches back into the depths of time”, one which was marked by antagonism to Scotland’s southern neighbour. It will have been noted that I have referred repeatedly to work of John Prebble throughout this paper. In some ways his work represents an emerging counterbalance to that of Sir Walter Scott. It can be argued that Scott’s canon of work, and that of the people he influenced, came to define Scottish history and identity. However, as indicated previously, much of that history was whitewashed and the stains of discord removed to leave a gleaming and romantic picture of Highland and Scottish life. When the literary critic James Hunter of The Scotsman, Scotland’s most respected newspaper, says “by giving us back our history, John Prebble has helped to restore our sense of worth” (sleeve notes to Prebble, 1988), one might ask who stole Scottish history in the first place? I trust that this paper has served to expose one of the more likely culprits. However, in the sense of Jan Assmann’s ideas and theories concerning literary cannons, I’m inclined to suggest that we are now in a process of review where there is a willingness in Scotland to probe issues that were previously off-limits. Ultimately this may see Scott’s romantic version of Scottish life consigned to a more fitting place in the annals of Scottish literature, paralleled by advances in our understanding of its role in shaping Scottish culture and identity and, ultimately, a shift in Scottish cultural memory. At a time when there are growing calls for Scottish independence such developments would be particularly welcome. In due course, this may even be reflected in the history that is taught to Scottish school children.
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I turn to my Conclusions with a little sadness, like an artist who has had to rush a painting because he has run out of time. The fact of the matter is that I have run out of time, at least for writing this paper. However, if it is a measure of the impression that Jan Assmann has made on me, I am now committed to not only reading and rereading his work to achieve a better understanding of his ideas and theories but also to seek out the work of Aleida Assmann so that I may deepen that understanding further. What have I learned from studying Jan Assmann’s work and in writing this paper? Perhaps most importantly, I now have a clear idea about different types of memory: what Assmann terms the Mimetic, Memory of Things, Communicative and Cultural. I understand in broad terms how writing has altered the memory landscape, creating new possibilities for the storage and retrieval of memory, yet paradoxically interfering with our ability to remember and creating conditions that encourage us to forget. Perhaps most notably, as I have demonstrated in this paper, I see how writing has made us vulnerable to manipulation and censorship and as such it has given those with the power to write and distribute their output the means to influence how we see and imagine ourselves. There is a clear link here to the formation and continuation of states and we need only look at how propaganda was, and continues to be, used to shape the cultural values and beliefs of individuals and groups. In closing, I can say that I have become utterly convinced that the questions, Who am I? and Who are we?, are of great importance. However, after reading Assmann, I know that the questions, Why am I who I am?, and Why are we who we are?, are of still greater importance.
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Assmann, J. (2010) Cultural Memory and Early Civilization: Writing, Remembrance and Political Imagination Cambrige University Press, Cambridge Assmann, J. (2010) Religion and Cultural Memory Stanford University Press Grimble, I (1980) Clans and Chiefs Blond & Briggs: London Prebble, J. (1961) Culloden Penguin: London Prebble, J. (1968) Darien Disaster: a Scots Colony in the New World, 1698-1700 Secker & Warburg: London Prebble, J. (1973) Glencoe: The Story of the Massacre Penguin: London Prebble, J. (1975) Mutiny: Highland Regiments in Revolt 1743 - 1804 Secker & Warburg: London Prebble, J. (1982) The Highland Clearances Penguin: London Prebble, J. (1988) The King’s Jaunt: George IV in Scotland, 1822 Collins: London Scott, W (1972) Waverley Penguin: London Scott, W (1997) Rob Roy Wordsworth Editions Ltd: London Williams, R. (1975) Montrose: Cavalier in Mourning Robert MacLehose and Company Limited, Printer to the University of Glasgow: Glasgow Williams, R. (1984) The Lords of the Isles: The Clan Donald and the early Kingdom of the Scots The Hogarth Press: London
McGowan, C. (2008-2009) The Massacre of Glencoe 1692 Available at: http://www.thesonsofscotland.co.uk/themassacreofglencoe1692.htm Accessed 20 January, 2012 Rev. Canon R. C. MacLeod of MacLeod (1920’s) The Island Clans During Six Centuries, Chapter III. The Clansmen Available at: http://www.electricscotland.com/webclans/island_clans_chap3.htm and http://www.electricscotland.com/webclans/island_clans_ndx.htm Accessed 20 January, 2012
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The Massacre of Glencoe Oh, cruel is the snow that sweeps Glencoe And covers the grave o' Donald; Oh, cruel was the foe that raped Glencoe And murdered the house of MacDonald. They came in the blizzard, we offered them heat, A roof for their heads, dry shoes for their feet; We wined them and dined them, they ate of our meat, And they slept in the house of MacDonald They came from Fort William wi murder in mind; The Campbell had orders King William had signed; "Put all to the sword," these words underlined, "And leave none alive called MacDonald." They came in the night when the men were asleep, This band of Argyles, through snow soft and deep; Like murdering foxes amongst helpless sheep, They slaughtered the house of MacDonald. Some died in their beds at the hand o the foe; Some fled in the night and were lost in the snow; Some lived to accuse him wha struck the first blow, But gone was the house of MacDonald.
Lyrics and music by Jim McLean (JawMac@aol.com), 1963. Available at: http://www.jacobite.ca/songs/massacre.htm Accessed on 21 January 2012. The page is maintained by Noel S. McFerran (firstname.lastname@example.org) and was last updated October 25, 2003. © Noel S. McFerran 1997-2003.
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Copy of order to Capt. Campbell by Maj. Duncanson that sealed the fate of the Macdonalds of Glencoe
You are hereby ordered to fall upon the rebels, the McDonalds of Glenco, and put all to the sword under seventy. You are to have a special care that the old Fox and his sons doe upon no account escape your hands, you are to secure all the avenues that no man escape. This you are to putt in execution at fyve of the clock precisely; and by that time, or very shortly after it, I'll strive to be att you with a stronger party: if I doe not come to you att fyve, you are not to tarry for me, but to fall on. This is by the Kings speciall command, for the good & safety of the Country, that these miscreants be cutt off root and branch. See that this be putt in execution without feud or favour, else you may expect to be dealt with as one not true to King nor Government, nor a man fitt to carry Commissione in the Kings service. Expecting you will not faill in the fulfilling hereof, as you love your selfe, I subscribe these with my hand att Balicholis Feb: 12, 1692 (signed) R. Duncanson For their Majesties service To Capt. Robert Campbell of Glenlyon
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