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    In Memoriam of 13 February 1692: Glencoe Massacre…

    In Memoriam of all the villagers of Glencoe who died
    on 13 February 1692 and in the following days
    during and after the infamous Glencoe Massacre…

    The Massacre of Glencoe took place in Glen Coe in the Highlands of Scotland on 13 February 1692, following the Jacobite uprising of 1689-92. An estimated 30 members and associates of Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by government forces billeted with them, on the grounds they had not been prompt in pledging allegiance to the new monarchs, William III of England and II of Scotland and Mary II. (Wikipedia)

     … many more people died in the mountains where they desperately tried to escape in the cold!


    Wee candles in Glen Coe mountains on December 31st 2020 © 2019 Scotiana

    Wee candles in Glen Coe mountains on December 31st 2020 © 2019 Scotiana

    On the eve of Hogmanay, in the cold and wintry night of 31st December 2019, we walked down the solitary valley of Glencoe, flashlight and moonlight preventing us from falling on our way down the steep and slippery slope covered with wet heather, stones and mud, trying to find the best place to light the  four little candles we had brought with us… we were alone there though we noticed two little lights twinkling on the path which climbs up and down the mountains… maybe you can see them on our dark picture above… they seemed to go down the path, very slowly and we watched them for a moment trying to follow their progression… maybe late climbers walking down to try and go back home in time for the Hogmanay festivities… not easy walk anyway for the path is narrow and very dangerous in some places… but we’ll never know…

    Candlelight in Glen Coe mountains on the eve of Hogmanay © 2019 Scotiana

    Candlelight in Glen Coe mountains on the eve of Hogmanay © 2019 Scotiana

    “Burning bright in the forests of the night…”

    Oh cruel is the snow that sweeps Glencoe
    And covers the grave o’ Donald
    And cruel was the foe that raped Glencoe
    And murdered the house o’ MacDonald
    They came through the blizzard, we offered them heat
    A roof ower their heads, dry shoes for their feet
    We wined them and dined them, they ate o’ our meat
    And slept in the house O’ MacDonald
    They came from Fort William with murder mind
    The Campbell had orders, King William had signed
    Pit all tae the sword, these words underlined
    And leave none alive called MacDonald
    They came in the night when the men were asleep
    That band of Argyles, through snow soft and deep.
    Like murdering foxes, among helpless sheep
    They slaughtered the house o’ MacDonald
    They came from Fort William with murder mind
    The Campbell had…
    Below is a chronology of the events which led to the massacre of Glencoe, on that fateful day of 13 February :
    Glencoe Massacre Chronology

    Glencoe Massacre Chronology

    Below is a selection of the books I have in my library about the Glencoe massacre.

    • Glencoe by John Prebble : this book is the first one I’ve read about the subject. It has been very popular since its publication in 1965 and it has been very criticized too, as well as his author. One can easily understand why when we read the foreword reproduced below. Glencoe is the third volume of the Fire and Sword Trilogy, following Culloden (1962) and The Highland Clearances (1963)
    The Fire and Sword Trilogy is about the fall of the Scottish clan system. Culloden was the first book and it chronicles the defeat of the clans in one pivotal battle. The two other works were The Highland Clearances (1963) and Glencoe (1966). Glencoe was a study of the causes and effects of the Glencoe massacre in 1692, when British soldiers and members of the Campbell Clan attacked and killed members of Clan Donald who lived in Glencoe, a remote glen in the west highlands of Scotland. The book focuses on the political machinations to bring the unruly MacDonalds to heel, both by King William and by Scots with ambitions in royal circles. The massacre was notorious, both then and now, for the Campbells had abused the hospitality of the MacDonalds who had given them food and lodgings for several days before. (Wikipedia)


    Glencoe John Prebble 1966

    Glencoe by John Prebble – 1966

    I HAVE written this book because its story is, in a sense, a beginning to what I have already written about Culloden and the Clearances–the destruction of the Highland people and their way of life. The Massacre of Glencoe is commonly thought to have been a bloody incident in a meaningless feud between Campbell and MacDonald, which it was not. On a higher level, it is also thought to have been incidental to the political events of its time, an accident of judgement almost, whereas it was the product of them. It can be understood only within a knowledge of the Highlander’s resistance to an alien southern government. The quarrel between Clan Donald and Clan Campbell was a rivalry for the leadership of Gaeldom, embittered by the Campbells’ growing support for that government. The Highland people were once the majority of Scotland’s population, a military society that had largely helped to establish and maintain her monarchy. This society, tribal and feudal, could not change itself to meet a changing world, nor did it wish to. Its decline became more rapid in the second half of the seventeenth century, and within a hundred and fifty years its people had been driven from their mountains. By 1690 the Highlanders were already regarded by many Lowlanders as an obstacle to the complete political union of England and Scotland, and their obstinate independence of spirit–expressed in their customs, their clothes and their language–had to be broken and humbled. The MacDonalds of Glencoe were early victims of what the Highlanders called Mi-run mor nan Gall, the Lowlander’s great hatred. Lowland leaders naturally despised what they wished to destroy, and therefore that destruction seemed to be a virtuous necessity. No Scots or English statesman would have thought of ordering the extirpation of a Lowland or English community, but a Highland clan, particularly one of the Gallows Herd, was a different matter. One of the principals involved in the Massacre said afterwards, ‘It’s not that anybody thinks that the thieving tribe did not deserve to be destroyed…’ It was only regrettable that the murder of men, women and children should have been carried out in a dishonourable way. The same contempt for the Highlander was responsible for the brutalities that followed Culloden in 1746, and the same indifference to his way of life was shown when the Clearances began fifty years later. In the end Mi-run mor nan Gall was triumphant. The story has a relevance for us. Our age has seen a monstrous attempt at genocide, and we have had to determine the moral responsibility of those who carried it out under orders. October, 1965 JOHN PREBBLE (Foreword)

    Slaughter Under Trust Donald J. Macdonald 1965

    Slaughter Under Trust – Donald J. Macdonald – 1965

    The author of this book, Donald J. Macdonald, is a man dedicated to the service of his Clan. His direct ancestor, Macdonald of Castleton, took a leading part in the resounding Highland victory of Killiecrankie. For years he has laboured to keep alive among his fellow clansmen the memory of the old traditions and feelings of kinship that are the lifeblood of a clan. He is thus well equipped to trace out the story of the long struggle between the MacDonalds and the Campbells which was so largely responsible for the tragedy of Glencoe. (extract from I.F. Grant’s Foreword)

    The two following books come back with us from our last trip to Scotland in January 2020. I fell upon Magnus Linklater’s book in a second-hand books shop in Oban…

    Massacre - The Story of Glencoe Magnus Linklater Collins 1982

    Massacre – The Story of Glencoe Magnus Linklater Collins 1982

    As a journalist, venturing into the jealously guarded territory of Scottish history, I was grateful for the initial encouragement of Mr John Prebble,
    whose own book on Glencoe was an inspiration, and whose research on the subject was a constantly daunting challenge.
    (Magnus Linklater, London and Riemore 1981 – From “Acknowledgments”)
    (…) The casualties in Glencoe that night scarcely compare with some of the bloodier massacres of a turbulent period. But the episode remains today one of the most emotive in Scottish history. Behind it lay a plan to remove a troublesome people by a simple expedient: elimination. The method chosen shocked (…)
    Where did so ruthless an idea originate? Was it, as some supposed, merely an extension of the endless feuding between Campbell and MacDonald, with Campbell soldiers settling and ancient score? Or did responsibility lie higher up? (…)
    The scandal was finally forced into the open by a pamphleteer whose questions became too insistent to ignore – perhaps the first example in Britain of campaigning journalism – (…)
    Magnus Linklater traces the background to the affair, and brings the Glencoe story vividly to life through the characters who set their stamp on events: the cunning and devious Earl of Breadalbane; the drunken, gambling Campbell of Glenlyon; the cold but vitriolic Master of Stair; and the proud MacIain, twelfth Chief of the MacDonalds of Glencoe, who pleads, weeping, for his people, and is then cut down on the night of reprisal.
    (Massacre: The Story of Glencoe – front flat cover)
    (to be continued soon)
    Á bientôt.
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