Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Clans of Lochaber

Following the Battle of Culloden, the Duke of Cumberland suggested that men from the Clans of Lochaber - the most troublesome Jacobite clans - should be branded on the forehead with a 'Z' when deported to Carolina, so that if a man should return to Scotland, he could easily be identified as a villain. Thankfully the idea was never put into practice.

Lochaber is broadly the area round Fort William (it is no coincidence that Fort William was the first government fort in the Highlands). I was down there yesterday at the invitation of Lochaber College; we were discussing with Andy Mckenna who runs the definitive website on the area how we might provide an enhanced service to worldwide members of the local clans - Camerons, Macleans and MacDonalds - visiting their clan lands. More on this later.

On the way back I was more than delighted to see that the principal seat of one of these clans, the MacDonnells of Glengarry, is finally being consolidated. Perhaps the collapse of both stair towers has prompted some overdue support from the authorities. Credit for getting this underway must go to David and Janetta MacCallum of Glengarry Castle Hotel.

Prince Charles Edward reportedly arrived at Invergarry Castle late in the night following the Battle of Culloden. There were warm embers in the grate but no people, food or drink. Old Glengarry, having lost a son in the campaign and unsure who might be a-knocking on his door that tragic night, was presumably taking no risks. The castle was nevertheless later burned by government troops.

Although the collapse of the stairs means there is no access to the upper floors, this is still a noble ruin and a 'viewing platform' is planned. What a rich heritage of 17th century castles we would have in the Highlands were it not for that misconceived rising!

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