THE STORY OF THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDERS!
John D. Keyser
Novelist Sir Walter Scott called them the 'children of the mist.' Little did he realize that the Clan MacGregor has a ROYAL background stretching through the mists of time to JUDAH THE SON OF JACOB. It is no accident the Highland clans of Scotland abhorred pork and exhibited many traits of the Israelites of old. Read about the Royal Scots and how they differed from the Scythae of the Lowlands; and discover the mysterious clan alliance called the 'Siol Alpin' that produced some of the most prominent men in British and U.S.history!
ALL of Scotland is divided into three parts - three distinct and easily discernible geographical regions that have provided three distinct types of Scotsman. It is important to keep this in mind because most people imagine Scotland as being divided across the center into Highlands in the north and Lowlands in the south.
The southern part of Scotland, where it borders with England, is the easiest to describe, because this is a region much less elevated and rugged than the Highlands.It consists largely of a wild moorland plateau traversed by rolling valleys and broken by mountainous outcroppings that rise to substantial heights. A few summits in this area exceed 2,500 feet in elevation. The border, which is marked mainly by the Cheviot Hills, has been a remarkably stable one over a long period of history.
While the border itself has been stable, the inhabitants of this hilly border region have not! The borderers, as they were known, a hardy fighting people who guarded Scotland's frontier with England, were always feuding and fighting among themselves when they were not harassing the English across the border. They have provided some of the best known Scottish surnames - the Armstrongs, Elliots, Kers, Scotts, Douglases, Hepburns, Bruces and Johnstons among them. While their role in Scottish history was crucial, they do not concern us directly because they are different people to the Highlanders.
Beyond the border region lie the Scottish Lowlands. This area is usually described as a narrow belt running east-west and comprising about one tenth of the area of Scotland. However, it also sweeps northwards up the east coast of the country. The Lowland border with the Highlands begins in the west at Dumbarton (on the north bank of the River Clyde) and progresses northwards and eastwards to embrace an eastern plain which stretches from Fife. It then passes through the rich Carse of Gowrie, up past Aberdeen and then sweeps round the northeast shoulder of Scotland and along the edge of the Moray Firth. It continues on past Nairn right up to Inverness itself, which is (and always has been) a "frontier" town, where Highlanders were not particularly welcome.
This triangular Lowland area made up the heartland of Scotland, and contained the national capital from the days of Kenneth MacAlpin onwards, who moved his seat of government from the western Highlands to Scone in Perthshire. Later it was moved to Dunfermline and finally to Edinburgh, which lies at some distance from the Highlands. The Highlanders always resented this movement of their royal line to what they considered an alien environment and inferior people. The third geographical region was the great mountainous mass commonly called simply the Highlands. More than one half of the surface of Scotland is occupied by this region - the most rugged landscape on the island of Great Britain. Consisting of parallel mountain chains with a general N.E.- S.W.trend and broken by deep ravines and valleys, the Highlands of Scotland are noted for their scenic grandeur. Precipitous cliffs, moorland plateaus, mountain lakes, sea lochs, swift flowing streams, and dense thickets are common to the Highlands, the most sparsely inhabited section of Scotland. Of the two dominant mountain ranges, one runs north-south along the axis of Scotland from Loch Lomond up to the Pentland Firth and forms the great backbone of Scotland. The other is a range curving off northeastwards to form the Grampians.
The Grampian range was never a formidable barrier to those penetrating the Highlands, because of the number of passes over it.The east end of the range opens onto a plain, thus making it very easy to simply bypass it.
The central Highlands, however, were much more formidable; and the only practical way to penetrate them was through the Great Glen, which runs from Inverness in the northeast to Fort William further south on the west coast. While it was comparatively easy to penetrate up into the north of Scotland along its low-lying east coast, it was a different story to venture into the Great Glen. Traveling this route led the fearless explorer further and further away from civilization and safety, and into an unknown world which basically remained cut off from the rest of Scotland until the aftermath of the Jacobite uprising of 1745-46.
THE PEOPLE OF THE HIGHLANDS
The people who inhabited this remote wilderness were known as the Highlanders - a self-sufficient and independent breed that eyed the rest of the country with some suspicion. Because of their remoteness from the trade routes, and the fact that they normally did not have much money, the Highlanders developed a close knit clan system and became proficient cattle breeders. Their wealth lay in the clan, its fighting force, and their cattle.
Although there is much evidence that in the Moray Firth area and in Western Ross the climate was surprisingly mild and agreeable, and although the entire Highland area was well forested and full of game, the Highlanders were the poorest inhabitants of the three divisions of Scotland.
In spite of this, author Charles MacKinnon notes that they were not poor in everything:
They were a hardy, active and warlike people - of this there is no possible doubt. Everybody who has left early evidence testifies to it, and not generally in flattering terms. Such people need to be well nourished, and the Highlanders were always great meat eaters. They bred cattle in their glens, and their woods were full of game that they loved to hunt. At a time when the Lowlander of central Scotland was little better than a serf, tyrannized by greedy bonnet lairds [landed proprietors], and lived mainly off brose and oatmeal, the Highlander was well fed. - Scottish Highlanders. Barnes & Noble Books, 1992. P.29.
Although the lochs and rivers of Scotland abounded in fish, the Highlanders preferred meat and regarded fish as a rather poor substitute for it. It is noteworthy that PORK WAS ABSOLUTELY DETESTED, and pigs were rarely to be found in the Highlands. They were considered UNCLEAN and anybody raising them was looked upon in the same light. This disgust, of course, reflected the attitude of the Israelites towards unclean meat, particularly pork, which was FORBIDDEN in the food laws of Leviticus 11.
Highland clothing was of necessity more basic the further removed the Highlander was from contact with the outside world, but it was warm, comfortable and well adapted to his needs. He wore the SAFFRON SHIRT OF THE IRISH, a warm garment reaching to the knee and belted at the waist.
To the shirt was added the great tartan plaid, known as the "great kilt." This was laid on the ground and gathered into folds in the center. The wearer lay down on top of it and gathered the loose ends across his stomach, fastening them there with a belt, and then stood up. He now had a short kilt reaching to slightly above the knee and a great length of material hanging from the belt that he gathered up behind and fastened to his shoulder with a large metal brooch. This great kilt was a kilt and plaid in one - and was an excellent sleeping bag at night!
Tartans, as we know them today, were haphazard. The different tartans were NOT heraldic badges indicating name or clan, as modem custom has tried to make them. The clan tartans were a LATE development, proliferating greatly AFTER the 1746 ban on Highland dress was lifted. At this time the Highlanders rushed to make clan identifications again. Before this time there were indeed tartans, but they INDICATED RANK rather than clan. Like the saffron shirt, the tartan came from the Highlanders Celto-Irish ancestors.
In the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, by the Four Masters, we learn that Tigheammas, the ninth Milesian king of Ireland (1354-1278 B.C.), introduced to Ireland the art of dying clothes. "It was by him that clothes were dyed purple, blue, and green." In the reign of the following king - Eochaidh Eadghadhach - these colors were used to distinguish rank. "He was called Eochaidh Eadghadhach because it was by him the variety of colour was first put on clothes in Ireland, to distinguish the honour of each by his raiment, from the lowest to the highest. This was the distinction made between them: ONE colour in the clothes of slaves; TWO in the clothes of soldiers; THREE in the clothes of goodly heroes, or young lords of territories; SIX in the clothes of ollavs [poets, sages]; SEVEN in the clothes of kings and queens." The Book of Lecan adds that ALL these colors were later used in the dress of Bishops.
The REAL origin of Tartan, however, is found in the Book of Genesis in the Bible. In chapter 37 we read how the brothers of Joseph sold their younger brother into slavery in Egypt. This brother was the favorite son of Israel or Jacob, and verse 3 mentions that his father gave him "a tunic of MANY COLORS." This "tunic"or "coat" of MANY COLORS is also mentioned in verses 23 and 31-33. It seems fitting that JUDAH, who was responsible for turning his brother over to the Midianite traders (see verse 26), should have descendants wearing clothes of "MANY COLORS".Down through their long history in the British Isles this appeared as a token of shame for the reprehensible thing he had done.
The Highlander went barelegged and often barefooted, which caused the curious description of the Highlanders as "redshanked." This does not mean that they were red-haired. The true Highlander is predominantly DARK:
Mr. Pinkerton, who says that "in person the Lowlanders are TALL and LARGE, with FAIR COMPLEXIONS, and often with FLAXEN,YELLOW, and RED hair, and BLUE eyes: the grand features of the GOTHS in all ancient writers," adds, that "THE HIGHLANDERS ARE GENERALLY DIMINUTIVE, WITH BROWN COMPLEXIONS, AND ALMOST ALWAYS WITH BLACK CURLED HAIR AND DARK EYES."- Annals of the Caledonians, Picts, and Scots, by Joseph Ritson. Vol. II.W. & D. Laing, Edinburgh. 1828. Footnote p. 7. 27
THE REGAL SCOTS
It is a mistaken concept that all those living in Scotland are "Scots." The name "Scots" more correctly belongs to the Highlanders, people quite different to the Lowlanders - as we have just seen. L. G. Pine understands thisdistinction:
The SCOTS had been originally a tribe FROM IRELAND who had settled IN ARGYLLSHIRE [DALRIADA] AND THE NEIGHBOURING ISLANDS By a series of accidents, their name became applicable to the whole realm and people of Scotland. For many centuries, however, a DISTINCTION was made, BY SCOTS THEMSELVES between people in the Highlands and in the Lowlands. The former were styled 'Redshanks,' 'wild Scots,' and 'savages,' and they spoke a language quite different from English. - The Highland Clans. Charles E. Tuttle, Inc. Rutland, Vermont. 1972. Pp.13-14.
The Scots of the Highlands were a different CLASS of people to those living in the Lowlands. When talking of the Irish Scots (from whom the Highland Scots came) Dr. Moore, in his History of Ireland, notes a CLEAR DISTINCTION:
"It is indeed evident that those persons to whom St Patrick applies the name SCOTS, were all of THE HIGH AND DOMINANT CLASS; whereas, when speaking of THE GREAT BULK OF THE PEOPLE, he calls them HIBERIONACES, - from the name Hiberione, which is always applied by him to the island itself." (P. 72).
Similarly, Dr.Wylie mentions that there were TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLES dwelling in Ireland - the HIBERNI and SCOTI. There was a MARKED DISTINCTION between the two.
"The SCOTS ARE THE MILITARY CLASS;THEY ARE THE NOBLES... The latter [the Hiberni] are spoken of as the COMMONALITY the, sons of the soil" (History of the Scottish Nation, Vol. L, p. 281).
Raymond McNair, in his unpublished manuscript, states that
"the main difference between these peoples is that the Hiberni are descendants of Dan by Jacob and his concubine Bilhah [I disagree with this - see later]. The PEOPLE OF SCOTI [SCOTA - wife of Gathelus] ARE DESCENDANTS OF JUDAH by Jacob and his wife, Leah. Many Scots today [the Highlanders] contain tribal elements of ZARAH-JUDAH The majority of Scots [the Lowlanders] appear, however, to be descendants of Joseph. It was only the descendants of Joseph who were to be blessed with the birthright blessings (I Chronicles 5:2). JUDAH WAS TO BE THE REGAL TRIBE." (In Search of the Lost Ten Tribes. Copyright 1981. p. 146).
The. nineteenth-century Jewish Prime :Minister of Great Britain - Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81) - understood the truth about the background of the Scots:
"It was the 'sword of the Lord and of Gideon' that won the boasted liberties of England; and the SCOTS upon their hillsides' achieved their religious freedom CHANTING THE SAME CANTICLES THAT CHEERED THE HEART OF JUDAH AMID THE GLENS." (Tancred, quoted in the magazine "Wake Up!" Nov/Dec. 1992,p. 143).
Dr.Wylie goes on to say:
"St Patrick often uses SCOTI and REGULI as equivalent terms. To the term SCOTTUS he adds often the word NOBILIS; whereas he has no other appellative for the NATIVE IRISH but HYBERIONE, or HYBERNIGENAE, THE COMMON PEOPLE." (History of the Scottish Nation, fn. p. 282).
McNair states that such names as IBER, EBER, HEBER, EBORNES, and HIBERONES, are all words designating the ancestor HEBER - from whom the HEBREWS have all descended.
Joseph Ritson, in the Annals of the Caledonians, Picts, and Scots, also notes this distinction amongst the Irish:
The distinction between these two nations [Hiberni and Scots] is manifested in an ancient treatise, supposed to have been written by saint Patrick, and entitled his "Confession" or "Apology," in which the SCOTTI, as being the conquerors, masters, and MILITARY MEN, appear as the NOBILITY, or gentry; FILII SCOTTORUM ET FILII REGULORUM; which he repeats, joining, in both places, the SCOTTI and REGULI, as being SYNONOMOUS EQUIVALENT TERMS; and adding, generally, to the name SCOTTUS, that of REGULUS or NOBILIS; whereas he NEVER calls the native Irish anything but HIBERIONOE, as being the COMMON and ORDINARY PEOPLE. - Vol. 11.Ward D. Laing, Edinburgh. 1828.Pp. 4-5.
This distinction was TRANSFERRED to Scotland when the Irish Scots established the colony of Dalriada in Argyllshire.The Highlanders (Irish-Scots descent) became the SCOTTUS NOBILIS in their new land, and the Lowlanders (of Scythian or Gothic descent), who arrived later, were the "common" or "ordinary people" of the land.
ARE THE SCOTS "SCYTHAE"?
There is yet another distinction that must be made: That of SCOTI and SCYTHAE. Many historians claim that the Scots and the Scythians are the same people, that Scoti derives from Scythae. This simply is NOT true. Evidently this practice originated with the British (Welsh) historian Nennius. Joseph Ritson notes that "there is, however, NO IRISH WRITER of any antiquity or repute, who maintains this opinion; and with respect to Nennius, who seems to be the father of it, his work is justly characterized by Mr. Pinkerton himself 'as the weakest that ever bore the name of history ' " (Ibid., p.6 ).
Ritson goes on to say that "the remark of Reincrus Rinectius, 'that at this day the name of the Scythians survives in that of the Scots,' is a FALSE AND ABSURD CONCEIT These HIGHLANDERS, or IRISH SCOTS, cannot, therefore...be a race of Scythians, as he elsewhere asserts, and pretends to prove, that the SCYTHAE AND SCOTl...are one and the same people " (Ibid, footnote pp. 6-7).
Elsewhere in his book, Ritson says the following:
Nennius, it is true, who brings the SCOTS from Spain, uses PROMISCUOUSLY the names of SCYTHAE and SCOTI for the same people....
It is, at the same time, utterly improbable that Ammianus Marcellinus, and the other writers of his age, had they meant to call this people SCYTHAE, would have written it SCOTI: for why should they call one branch of the Scythae SCOTI, and NOT the whole? Orosius, too, who wrote in the 5th century, has much about the ancient Scythae, but calls the INHABITANTS OF HIBERNIA AND MENEVIA SCOTORUM GENTES. It is, therefore, a solemn and notorious FACT that NO ancient or respectable writer EVER CALLS THE SCOTS OF IRELAND (OR OF SCOTLAND) SCYTHAE, or the SCYTHIANS THEMSELVES SCOTI. - Ibid, p. 7-9.
Sharon Turner, in his History of the Anglo-Saxons (quoted by Raymond McNair in "In Search of the Lost Ten Tribes"), clearly shows which peoples are descended from the Scythians:
The early occupation of Europe by the Kimmerian and KELTIC races has been already displayed. The NEXT STREAM of barbaric (?) tribes, whose progress formed the SECOND GREAT INFLUX of population into Europe, were the SCYTHIAN, German, and Gothic tribes. They also entered it out of Asia....
Herodotus, beside the MAIN SCYTHIA, which he places in EUROPE, mentions also an Eastern or ASIATIC SCYTHIA, beyond the Caspian and the Iaxertes.... The Anglo-Saxons, LOWLAND SCOTCH, Normans, Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, Germans, Dutch, Belgians, Lombards, and Franks, have all sprung from this great fountain of the human race, which we have distinguished by the SCYTHIAN, German or Gothic. - pp. 81-83.
Even the Bible itself delineates between those descended from Judah and the Scythians! Notice:
"There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, SCYTHIAN, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all." - (Colossians 3:11).
The Highlanders, being descended from Judah, are DIFFERENT to the Lowlanders, who are descended from the Scythians. ALL, however, are Israelites! A correct understanding of the DIFFERENT arrival times of these groups into Britain is expressed by W.H. Bennett:
Spain...is the GATEWAY through which so many sections of the Israel people passed on their way to NORTH-WEST EUROPE (INCLUDING BRITAIN). Many of these stayed for a time, some for several generations, before moving on.
Apparently THE FIRST of these was a section of the ZARA BRANCH OF THE TRIBEOF JUDAH (Gathelus and his people, ca. 1445 B.C.). These stayed for some time, during which they began the building of a city which still bears their name, ZARAGOSSA.This city is on the banks of a river which bears their RACIAL NAME, THE EBRO (HEBREW). Some time later they were followed by another section of ZARA-JUDAH, THE REFUGEES FROM THE DESTRUCTION OF TROY (Brutus and his people, ca. 1100 B.C.), and also by a large group made up of members of SEVERAL OF ISRAEL'S TRIBES who left the main body during the forty years of wandering in Sinai AFTER the exodus from Egypt. These were the IBERIANS or HIBERIANS (HEBREWS) (St Patrick's HIBERIONOE or "ORDINARY PEOPLE"] who settled in and gave their name to the whole peninsula of which SPAIN now comprises the largest part. (These people were NOT predominantly Danites as Raymond McNair claimed). Some HUNDREDS OF YEARS LATER most of these, pressed by the expanding Roman Empire, MOVED ON TO BRITAIN and the coast lands of northwest Europe.
Other sections of the Israel people who passed through and lived in Spain for a time were parts of the BRIGADE OF DAN, the TRIBE OF DAN, the TRIBE OF SIMEON and the TRIBE OF GAD. Incidentally, it was a part of the tribe of Gad who, about the year 1100 B.C., founded the city now called CADIZ, but anciently known as GADES.
.... there is in the Register House in Edinburgh (Scotland) an ancient document usually referred to as the Scottish Declaration of Independence, signed by King Robert the Bruce and all the nobles of Scotland, which says that the Scots (LOWLANDERS) came from SCYTHIA via the Mediterranean Sea, that they sojourned IN SPAIN for a long period of time and that they CAME TO SCOTLAND 1,200 YEARS AFTER the deportation of Israel. - Symbols of Our Celto-Saxon Heritage. Canadian British Israel Assn. Windsor, Ontario. 1985. pp. 192-193.
THE PHARAOH'S DAUGHTER
Since the Scots of Ireland and Scotland do not derive their name from Scythae, from where, then, do they receive it? The answer to this is surprising! Notice:
"The ninth name (of Ireland] was SCOTIA;and it is the sons of Mileadh (Gathelus] who gave that name to it, FROM THEIR MOTHER, WHOSE NAME WAS SCOTA, DAUGHTER OF PHARAO NECTONIBUS " (The History of Ireland, by Geoffrey Keating. Vol. I. The Irish Text Society, London; 1902. p.l 03).
Seumas MacManus adds that "it will be remembered that our MOST ANCIENT poets and seanachies claimed that an early name for Eirinn, SCOTIA, was derived from SCOTA, QUEEN MOTHER OF THE MILESIANS " (The Story of the Irish Race. The Devin-Adair Co. N.Y.1949. p.192).
Actually, the name Scota or Scotti was first applied to the people Gathelus brought with him to Spain from Egypt.This fascinating story is related by E. Raymond Capt:
SCOTA was one of the EARLIEST NAMES OF IRELAND - so named, it was said, from SCOTA, the "DAUGHTER OF THE PHARAOH" one of the ancient female ancestors of the MILESIANS. These people were commonly called "SCOTTI" or "SCOTS," both terms being frequently used by early Latin historians and poets. The IRISH LEGENDS also relate how this same "SCOTA" while in Egypt married "Gallo" (Gathelus), a "Miletus" (Milesian) chieftain, and that from this union the KINGS OF TARA were descended. The marriage is said to have occurred during the reign of a pharaoh who was "drowned" in the Red Sea...
The "Chronicles of Scotland" by Hector Boece (translated into Scottish by John Bellenden, 1531), tell us the ANCESTOR OF THE SCOTS was "ane Greyk called Gathelus (father of Eochaidh, the Heremon, or Eremon), son of Cecrops (Calcol) of Athens, untherwayis of Argus, King of Argives," who came to Egypt when "in this tyme rang (reigned) in Egypt Pharo ye scurge of ye pepill of Israel" Gathelus gained a great victory for Pharo against "the moris and pepil of Yned" and "King Pharo gaif him HIS DAUGHTER, CALLIT SCOTA, IN MARRIAGE" (VoL I, pps. 21-27)....
The Chronicles of Scotland continue the story of Gathelus, recording that HE LEFT EGYPT WITH HIS WIFE(SCOTA), his friends and a company of Greeks and Egyptians rather than "to abyde ye manifest wengenance of goddis," after, "lang tyme he landit in ane part of Spayne callit Lusitan" (later calIed Portingall). After this he built the city of Brigance and "CALLIT HIS SUBDITTIS (SUBJECTS) SCOTTIS IN HONOUR AND AFFECCIOUN OF HIS WYIFF." - Jacob's Pillar. Artisan Sales, Thousand Oaks, CA. 1977. Pp. 30-31.
Such is the influence of a woman!
There were roughly THREE classes in Highland society - a society that was not at all class-conscious. There was the chief and his immediate family, followed by the chieftains or the tacksmen who were the principal landholders under the chief and the military leaders of the clan. Equal with the chieftains were certain individuals such as the hereditary seanachaidh, or bard, who always stood high in the clan hierarchy. It was he that guarded the clan history and traditions, and the chief's complicated genealogy. FinalIy come the ordinary clanspeople who might be young warriors, crofters, or the crippled and elderly of the clan who did what work they could on the land.
It is difficult to generalize about clan chiefs - they were the leaders and varied greatly in character as people usually do. The HALLMARKof the clan was its interdependence. Obviously some chiefs were worse than others, just as some kings were, but there was a BUILT-IN SYSTEM OF CHECKS AND BALANCES created by the self-interest and mutual dependence of the clan members. It is important to remember, however, that no Highland chief ruled except by the general consent of his clan. Chiefs who failed to please the clan could be deposed and even killed. In clan histories there are many instances of CLAN-POWER as opposed to chief-power.
The bard was one of the most important members of the clan. Each clan bard was its historian and, as such, he detailed every event in verse, as well as learning the verses of all his predecessors. And many of the clansmen themselves could match the bard in remembering the verses themselves. Since little or nothing was written down, the bard's memory was the most important tool of his trade.
The oral traditions passed down by the bards are EXTREMELY RELIABLE- far more so than many of the extensive written histories penned by the monks of the Catholic Church. The monks were UNCRITICAL historians and based their chronicles on little more than RUMOR and the monk's own strong imagination! Opposed to this, the bard could not twist facts to suit himself because he was dramatizing real events and there were just TOO MANY EYEWITNESSES for him to tamper with the truth.
The bard was the clan's news reporter, and when anything of interest occurred, he was expected to produce a poem or song or lose his hereditary office to somebody better equipped for the job. He could dramatize, but only WITHIN PERMITTED LIMITS.
One of the favorite clan recreations was the reciting of Gaelic poetry.At any ceilidh (evening entertainment) this was always a highlight, and the cIanspeople would listen to it for hours. As well as recounting the clan's prowess, the bard also spoke of the Gaelic greatness when the kings had lived in the Highlands. He fostered a belief, very STRONG among the clans, that their long gone greatness would one day return. There is a large amount of evidence showing that the bardic poetry ENCOURAGED A KIND OF MESSIANIC BELIEF THAT ONE DAY A GOLDEN-HAIREDYOUNG MAN WOULD RETURN TO RESTORE THE FORTUNES OF GAELDOM AND BECOME THEIR HIGH KING, LIVING AMONG THEM.
Everybody had an important role to play in clan life that was usually dictated by their abilities and not much else. There was a great mixing of social rank: Clansmen could and did rise to prominence by their military prowess; and chiefs' sons and the sons of tacksmen could DESCEND in the social scale. It was essentially a fluid society, not a rigid and stratified one.
ALL OF THEM, of course, looked upon themselves as being CHIEFLY OF ROYAL BLOOD.This was undoubtedly TRUE at any given time due to the great amount of intermarriage. Within the clan structure the poorest, most infirm clansmen shared in the clan's ancient and proud heritage. There was no caste system, for such a system was unworkable within the limits that bound the clan together; and evidently the clansman had nothing in common with a Lowland peasant. "He was proud, independent and at the same time interdependent, himself relied upon by others, and he was secure and relatively well fed. He lacked worldly goods; his life was essentially simple and pastoral; he certainly presented a peculiar appearance when he emerged into the Lowlands among his civilized 'betters' - whom he in any case despised, but on the whole he was a good deal more fortunate at any given time...than any peasant outside the Highlands." (Scottish Highlanders, p. 82).
THE RACES OF SCOTLAND
The people of Scotland descend from varied racial stocks, including the Picts, Celts, Scandinavians, Normans and Romans. The "Scots" divide themselves into Highlanders, who consider themselves of purer Celtic blood and retain a stronger feeling of the clan, and Lowlanders, who are largely of Teutonic blood.
The Picts were the earliest inhabitants of Scotland, and arrived in Ireland from the Continent during the reign of Heremon (1433-1418 B.C.). According to tradition they landed in the southwest of Ireland, at the mouth of the river Slaney (Inver Slaigne). A tribe of Britons who fought with poisoned arrows was at the time ravaging that part of the island. The Picts helped to drive out the marauders, and in reward were granted a settlement there by Crimthann, the chief of the area. According to Seumas MacManus, "they [afterwards] had an outfall with Crimthann - and it was decided that they should be passed INTO ALBA (SCOTLAND). The three Pictish chiefs were given Irish wives to take to Alba with them, on condition that henceforth their royal line should descend according to the female succession - which, it is said, was henceforth the law among the Alban Picts." (The Story of the Irish Race. The Devin-Adair Co. N.Y 1949. pp. II-12).
The Picts became so troublesome to the later Roman provinces in Britain that in 208 A.D. the Emperor Lucius Septimius Severus traveled to Britain and vainly attempted to subjugate them. The Picts also figured prominently in the campaigns of Roman Emperor Constantius Chlorus in Britain in 296 and 306 AD. The Romans were forced to build huge walls to keep the Picts out of the conquered provinces. In time the northern Picts in Scotland were converted to Christianity (probably in the 4th century); and the southern Picts were converted in the 5th century. When the Saxons arrived in Britain they kept clear of the Picts, but when the former finally pushed further northward they, too, encountered these northern Picts and were defeated by them in 685. For a long time thereafter border warfare was carried on; and the Picts also fought continually in Scotland with the Scots who had settled there in the 4th century. In 850 the Picts were finally defeated by Kenneth I, King of Scotland, and mysteriously disappeared from the scene. Where they disappeared to is another story. A few remained in the land, however, and the clans of BRODIE, MACNAUGHTON, MURRAY AND MACKAY are descended from this remnant.
The Scandinavians arrived in Scotland with the Norse incursions of the 9th Century. The more congenial climate of Britain drew more Norsemen who settled in the Shetland and Orkney Islands, where they absorbed the remaining Celtic population. To this very day they are almost entirely Norse, and the people of these islands are proud of their Norse descent and refuse to be called Scots. Both the Shetlands and the Orkneys remained part of Norway until 1468, when they were ceded to James III of Scotland by Christian I of Denmark and Norway.
E.Raymond Capt notes that "Between A.D. 800 and 900, Norse and Danish raiders plundered the coast lands of Britain and Ireland, spreading havoc and destruction on all sides. They not only burned the churches and destroyed cities, but perpetrated the most barbarous cruelties upon the inhabitants. Encouraged by the rich booty the raids produced, the Norsemen, for over thirty years, regularly swarmed down the west coast of Scotland." (Missing Links Discovered in Assyrian Tablets. Artisan Sales, Thousand Oaks, CA1985.p. 179).
By the end of the 9th century the Norsemen were masters of Caithness, Sutherland, Ross, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. The Norse settlers married into the local races and established clans such as the MACLEODS, MORRISONS, GUNNS AND HENDERSONS.
"In A.D. 853 another group of Norsemen left Scandinavia under the leadership of ROLLO (Rolf the Ganga), and invaded the north of France. The territory which they acquired was called 'NORMANDY' (Northman's Land) and the Norsemen themselves who settled that part of France became known as 'Normans.' (A softened form of the word 'Northman'). In a short time these colonists adopted the French tongue and French customs. They adopted the growing feudal practices of France and developed them...into a harmonious system." (Missing Links Discovered in Assyrian Tablets, p. 183).
In 1066 these Northmen or "Normans" invaded Britain, landing on the Sussex coast. An English (Saxon) army led by Harold the Saxon, claimant to the English throne, met the Norman invaders under William the Conqueror at Hastings. In the ensuing battle Harold was killed and the Saxon government ended. In the days that followed the English estates were divided among the Norman conquerors, who gradually became absorbed into the peoples of Britain. Eventually the Norman influence reached up into Scotland where new clans were formed based on Norman blood. The BRUCES, CHISHOLMS, COMYNS (CUMMINGS) FRASERS, GORDONS, GRAHAMS, HAYS, KERRS, LINDSAYS, MAXWELLS, MENZIES, MONTGOMERYS, RAMSAYS, ROSES, SINCLAIRS AND THE STEWARTS can be traced back to the Norman invaders.
THE SIOL ALPIN
In the Highlands of Scotland are SEVEN CLANS that claim descent from the royal line of King Alpin I who was the 28th and last king of the Dalriadic Scots. This Alpinian family, better known as the SIOL ALPIN, is one of the least discussed and more mysterious of the clan alliances in Highland history. The seven families or clans that make up this confederation are the MACNABS, the MACGREGORS, the MACKINNONS, the MACQUARRIES, the GRANTS, the MACAULAYS and the MACFIES. There has never been a Clan MacAlpin living on its own clan lands, and with its own hereditary chiefs and chieftains. The present-day MacAlpin (with or without the e) almost certainly belongs to one of the above-mentioned clans of the Siol Alpin.
According to Charles MacKinnon:
When the earnest Lowlanders, bent on giving surnames to Highlanders who had no surnames and spoke little English, realized the difficulty of their task, they must soon have discovered that the way to find out the 'name' of a Highlander was to question him about his chief. The clansmen had listened to the bardic recitals of clan genealogy from their earliest childhood, back to the FIRST man to settle on the land (and beyond.) Thus a MacKinnon might say that his chief was the son of Fingon (or Findanus) or he might easily say that he was the son of Alpin ('son' meaning 'House of') - for the early MacKinnon chiefs were all known as So-and-so of the House of Findanus (who gave the clan his name) who was of the House of Alpin (who gave the clan their lands). - Scottish Highlanders, p. 244.
Early Highland histories tended to dismiss the Siol Alpin as a fanciful, if not fictitious, piece of Highland boastfulness and nonsense. The reason for this is quite obvious - they searched the clan histories for the Siol Alpin and found absolutely nothing. They tried to compare it to another great confederation - the Clan Chattan - and could find no similarity. Based on this, they dismissed the Siol Alpin altogether. The evidence for the common descent of these SEVEN CLANS from the House of Alpin is traditional - as is the greater part of Highland history. However, bardic traditions (as we have seen) are far more ACCURATE than the garbled history of the early chronicles written by the Catholic monks. Any historian who summarily dismisses the traditions of a people is simply a FOOL.There is NO DOUBT that these clans shared the same COMMON ORIGIN; and the fact that it was ROYAL is nothing out of the ordinary! Most of the west Highland Celtic clans were CLOSELY CONNECTED WITH BOTH IRISH AND DALRIADIC (ARGYLL) ROYALTY.
The royal House of Alpin, which lasted down to the reign of Malcolm II (1005-34), gave widely separated grants of land to the younger sons of the family, thus keeping them well separated. This old and effective policy of divide and rule prevented the younger sons and their descendants from combining to put one of their number in place of the current ruler. Only a fool allowed younger sons and cousins to congregate together. Because of this policy the seven clans were widely scattered: Three are Hebridean and lived on islands, three are west Highland, and the Grants settled in the other side of Scotland - to the northeast.
According to this arrangement the original MacKinnon lands were in Mull; and from here they spread to Arran and Skye. The Grant lands were in Strathspey and Glenmoriston, while the MacNab lands were in Perthshire on the western shore of Loch Tay. The MacAulays had their seat at Ardincaple in Dumbartonshire; the MacFies in Colonsay, and the MacQuarries had lands in Mull near the MacKinnons. The MacQuarries also owned the island of Ulva, to the west of Mull. The proud MacGregors had a number of possessions, their early principal seat being Glenarchy. They also had estates at Glenstrae, Glenlyon, Glengyle, Glenlochy and Balquhidder - most of which was taken by the Campbells.
The clans of the Siol Alpin share a common plant badge - the pine. The MacFies and the MacKinnons have the same Alpin war cry of "Cuimhnich bas Alpein," meaning "Remember the death of King Alpin." The MacGregors were more boastful, adopting as their motto "S Rioghal mo dhream" - which means "ROYAL IS MY RACE." However, they are not alone in royal ties, nor are the rest of the Siol Alpin clans.
THE CLAN MACGREGOR
Scottish poet and author Sir Walter Scot called them "The Children of the Mist." This was a fitting name for a people who from 1488 to 1775 were stripped of all rights as Scottish citizens, and had to avoid all areas of population. The name MacGregor comes from the Gaelic "MacGrioghair" meaning "Son of Gregory." With the motto "Royal is My Race," this proud clan continually boasted of their ROYAL ancestry.They claim direct descent from Griogar, the son of KING ALPIN (833-841 A.D.), and have never failed to assert their seniority in the Alpinian "family."
The clan's earliest lands were in Glenorchy, as we have already noted, and date as far back as the reign of Malcolm Canmore (1058-1093). JOHN OF GLENORCHY, who was MacGregor chief in 1292, was captured by the English in 1296 when King Edward I conquered the land; and his successor in the chieftainship, MALCOLM, fought for Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn in 1314. Afterwards Malcolm accompanied Edward Bruce to Ireland, where he was wounded at the battle of Dundalk and known thereafter as "the Lame Lord."
Despite his support for Bruce's cause, King David II (Bruce's son) gave the Campbell clan title to the MacGregor's Glenorchy lands. The MacGregors did not take this sitting down and refused to quit their land. To evict them, the powerful Campbells used every legal process to obtain their ends and the MacGregors had to leave. lAIN DUBH, the second son of Iain of Glenorchy, then founded the Glenstrae branch of the MacGregors, which succeeded to the chieftainship when the Campbells ousted the house of Glenorchy.
Charles MacKinnon tells the story:
If the Campbells are to be accused of the deliberate and ruthless persecution of any clan, it is not the great Clan Donald, with whom they were engaged in a power-struggle for the supreme ascendancy in the westem Highlands, but the infinitely smaller clan of MacGregors whose Balquhidder lands the Campbells coveted for themselves.
There is no doubt at all that the Campbells pursued a policy of PROVOKING the MacGregors into acts of violence - acts which gave the Campbells a legitimate excuse for obtaining government authority to 'subdue' them. Nor is there any doubt that the MacGregors allowed themselves to be provoked. In 1488 James IV gave Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy and Ewen Campbell of Strachur royal authority to enforce an Act to pacify unruly behaviour in the west, and this was promptly used to EJECT MacGregors from Campbell lands and lands wanted by the Campbells. In 1502 Campbell of Glenorchy succeeded in getting a charter for the MacGregor lands in Glenlyon. It was a game of cat and mouse, and one has to admire the Campbell skill in playing it, but IT IS NOT A PRETTY STORY.- Scottish Highlanders, p. 181.
In 1589 the MacGregors murdered John Drummond of Drummond Ernoch, forester of the Royal Forest of Glenartney. This was an offense against the King himself and, as a result, fresh letters of REPRISAL were issued. The King declared it AN OFFENSE TO SHELTER MACGREGORS or even to have any sort of dealings with them. This was just the beginning!
In 1602 he MacGregors raided and killed a number of the Clan Colquhouns, and drove off some cattle. Alexander, the 17th Colquhoun chief, furious because he was given little protection against such raids, decided to obtain letters of reprisal against the MacGregors. Enacting a cleversubterfuge to convince the King, he and a number of Colquhoun women presented themselves before the King at Sterling (James VI of Scotland who soon became James I of Great Britain).The women each carried a bloodstained shirt, claiming it to be the shirt of their murdered husband.
James VI, notoriously terrified by the sight of blood, immediately issued the necessary authority to Sir Alexander to rout out and kill the MacGregors.
On February 7, 1603, Alexander and his clan set out to destroy the MacGregors, who apparently got wind of the threat and decided to set a trap for the Colquhouns. Assisted by the Camerons, the MacGregors set up an ambush at both ends of Glen Fruin.When Alexander's force entered the glen they found their exit blocked by a strong force of MacGregors, and at the same time the other half of the raiding force had followed them into the glen and now fell on them from behind. They were trapped with enemies in front and at the rear, and the steep slopes of the glen on either side. The Colquhouns were completely routed with much slaughter, and Alexander barely managed to escape with his life.
As a result of the slaughter the Privy Council passed, on April 3 of the same year, an Act PROSCRIBING the MacGregor name. " 'Proscribe' sounds innocent, but what it actually meant was that anybody bearing the name MacGregor could be beaten up, robbed and killed by anybody who felt like it, with total impunity. Nobody with the name MacGregor could be baptized, married or buried by the Church, nor could they hear Mass or receive Communion. All Macgregor charters (what few of them the MacGregors had troubled to obtain) were automatically voided. All debts due to MacGregors were cancelled." (Ibid, pp. 181-182).
From this time on the Government took perverse delight in persecuting the Clan MacGregor. Despite these persecutions, however, the clan somehow managed to retain its identity - even though they were reduced to outlaws by an Act of Parliament.
When King Charles I ascended the throne, he renewed the Acts against them. In 1644-1645 the clan followed Montrose when he fought for the King against the Covenant, despite the King's animosity towards them. Since they could not have been inspired by love for the King, one would have to assume they took this stand to hit back at the Campbells. Of course, there was always the chance the King would relax the penalties against the clan if they helped win the King's cause.
All did not work out as the MacGregors thought. It was not until 1661 (after the restoration of Charles II) that the Acts were finally repealed, only to give them relief for thirty-two short years. In 1693 William III RENEWED the Acts with full vigor.
Considering this, it is not surprising the MacGregors supported the Stuart cause in 1715 and 1745. In 1775 the Acts against the clan were finally repealed for all time.
Probably one of the most famous members of the MacGregor clan is ROB ROY- an outlaw whose prowess is the theme of one of Sir Walter Scott's novels. He received the name Roy from his red hair, and adopted Campbell as his surname because of the acts proscribing the name of his own clan. His father - Donald MacGregor of Glengyle - was a lieutenant colonel in the service of James VII and II. His mother was a sister of Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon who commanded the Government troops in the massacre of the MacDonalds at Glencoe. The exploits of Rob Roy's full and swashbuckling life read like a Hollywood film script and would fill a book! ROBERT, the chief of the clan, was imprisoned after the battle of Culloden and died in 1758. His brother EWEN, who succeeded him, served with distinction as an officer in the 41st Regiment in Germany. EWEN'S SON JOHN was a general in the service of the East India Company and was rewarded with a baronetcy in 1822. His only son was MAJOR-GENERAL SIR EVAN MACGREGOR, Governor of the Windward Isles, whose son in turn, SIR JOHN(the 3rd baronet), was Lieutenant-Governor of the Virgin Islands.
SIR WILLIAM MACGREGOR (1825-1919) was Governor of New Guinea, Lagos, Newfoundland and Queensland, Australia. SIR GREGOR MACGREGOR (d. 1845) was a General in the Venezuelan army under the famous Simon Bolivar.
Once the Acts against the clan were lifted, the MacGregors served their country well, underscoring the fact that brothers and sons of "wild primitive savages" outside the "laws of civilization" do not overnight make outstanding generals and administrators! The story of the MacGregors also underlines the WASTE of valuable manpower that the British Government either neglected or provoked over the centuries.
This proud clan of the Siol Alpin is descended from JUDAH through the Irish-Milesian kings, their family crest being the LION OF JUDAH with the ROYAL CROWN upon its head.
TO BE CONTINUED
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