Glencoe

"You are hereby ordered to fall upon the rebels, the M'Donalds, of Glencoe and putt all to the sword under seventy. You are to have 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 may escape... This is by the King's special command, for the good 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 treated as not true to the king's government, nor a man fitt to carry a commission in the king's service. Expecting you will not faill in the fulfilling hereof as you love yourself, I subscribe these with my hand. Master of the Stair (John Dalyrmple)."

This is history in black and white as it rarely is; 300 hundred years hence and every footfall still echo the butchery of man against man in the Lost Valley of Glencoe.

At 5am on 13 February 1692 in an atrocity, which today would be called "ethnic-cleansing" Captain Robert Campbell led two companies of men (about 120 soldiers of the British Army) in the massacre of the MacIans (a sept of the clan Donald). It is universally agreed that that 38 men, women and children were murdered in their beds (another 200 - 300 hundred escaping to the hills only to die of exposure or be shot in the back fleeing). What's so unforgivable is that this was done after accepting traditional Highland hospitality of billeting with their hosts for almost a fortnight. Moreover, Campbell turned on his own niece and her husband, a clan Donald member.

Hundreds of thousands of pages of history have been recorded concerning Glencoe, and it would be unwise to claim any scholarly knowledge of this event; your personal investigation is encouraged.

One comment needs to be made of the man who wrote the command, Lord Advocate John Dalyrmple, the chief legal officer in Scotland at the time. He was never brought to trial and while he was forced to resign his post he soon returned to politics to serve as a chief architect of the Treaty of Union which Scots still chafe and a general sentiment remains that Scotland was sold cheap to England. Inadvertently, Dalyrmple is responsible for the rise of the Scottish National Party and the policy of devolution championed by so many to this day.


Eilean Munde, where the MacDonanalds are laid to rest