Scottish Highlands

On The Road Travel Essays

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Scottish Highlands

(COURIER: This is an all-purpose section, and does not match any one itinerary. Pick those parts you can use. A brief introduction to Glasgow is at the end.)

Scottish "Clans"  The word "clan" means "children." In theory, the members of a clan were all children of a common ancestor. Also in theory, each clan occupied a distinct territory. But wars between clans altered the boundaries of these territories; some clans enlarged their territory (e.g. the Campbells in Argyll). Others, unable to hold their own, like the Comyns and MacGregors, lost almost all their lands.

Although in theory, the members of a clan were all related, in fact the founder of a clan was usually an invading chieftan (often from Scandinavia) whose followers were not necessarily related to him by blood. Once established in Scotland, a clan would draw others under its protection. Later (17-18th century) the clansmen would take the surname of the chief as their own, whether or not they were actually related to him.

Chief: The clan chief was the leader in time of war, and the father figure in time of peace. He held the power of life or death as supreme judge, and was the holder of the clan's lands. But generally the clan system was not well defined, any more than primitive tribal systems are clearly institutionalized. After the rising of 1745 (see below) under Bonnie Prince Charlie, the British central government tried to eliminate the clan system, and forbade the wearing of clan coats-of-arms. The "chiefs" simply became landowners whose lands were worked by peasant sharecroppers. But by the 19th century, the "clans" had come into fashion again, mainly as a cultural curiosity: each clan had its own "society" (including some in the U.S.). Today about the only evidence of the clans is at Highland gatherings and festivals, where clan societies or clubs have booths and tents full of ancient regalia.

Scottish Tartan  Tartan or plaid is as old as Scotland, going back at least as far as the 13th century. But the identification of specific plaids with clans is much more recent, and probably comes from the tendency of weavers in various districts to develop their own patterns. (E.g. Argyll weavers evolved theirs, Perth weavers developed Black Watch, weavers in Bariff, Aberdeen had theirs, etc.) Much care was taken over the basic "sett" that gave the pattern, but there was no consistency over the size of the pattern. After the rising of 1745, the tartan was banned by the British central government as a symbol of Scottish rebellion. But the ban was lifted in 1782. The popularity of the tartans was due to Queen Victoria, who developed a fondness for all things Scottish and especially the lore of the Highlands. In fact it was Victoria who put the Highlands "on the map" as a popular vacation spot, and made Scottish plaid a fashionable dress design.

The Kilt: No longer the ordinary dress of the Highlander, but mainly ceremonial. However, up north around Inverness you'll find some old timers still wearing it. The kilt in its present form is known as the philibeg, from the Gaelic feileadh beag, and is a separate garment, made like a woman's skirt with the pleats sewn and pressed in. The older kilt (used until the 18th century) was called the feileadh mor, and was not a separate garment but a length of cloth (15 feet long) slung over the shoulder and gathered around the waist by a belt. This garment was popularly called a plaide, Gaelic for "blanket," which is where our word "plaid" comes from. later, the kilt became the separate skirt-like garment we're familiar with today.

Bonnie Prince Charlie  Various risings of the Scots against the British central government occurred in the 18th century. The partisans of the anti-British movement were known as "Jacobites" because they believed in the legitimacy of James, son of James II who was a Catholic and deposed by the English Protestants. ("Jacobus" is the latin version of the name James.) Believing that James rather than William and Mary was the true heir to the British throne, the Jacobites continually stirred up anti-British sentiment among the Scottish Highlanders. One rising took place in 1715, but the main one was in 1745 under Bonnie Prince Charlie (Prince Charles Edward, a descendant of the original James). Prince Charlie landed in Scotland and eventually drew Highland clans to his side. The prince took Edinburgh (but not the castle), and marched south into England, getting as far as Derby. The prince's army was almost wholly composed of Highlanders. Few English Jacobites were to be found, and Charlie, seeing little chance of the English joining him, retreated back north. The final defeat came at the Highlands town of Culloden, near Inverness. A price of 30,000 pounds was put on the prince's head, but loyal Highlanders kept him safe, moving him from house to house. Many romantic tales have come from these events. Charlie eventually escaped to the Continent and spent the last years of his life living a high old time, dying in Rome in 1788, some say in a drunken state.

It was in reaction to this rising that the ban was put on Highlands "clans" and tartans, which was eventually lifted. Also, in order to put down any future such risings, the British government laid out roads all over the Highlands (for troop movements) which made possible 19th-century tourism and the economic development of the area.

Scotch Whisky  (COURIER: Tread carefully on this topic, adjusting your remarks to the level of maturity of the students.)

The brew is spelled "whisky" in Scotland and "whiskey" (with an "e") only if it's made in Ireland. The name comes from the Gaelic words "wisge-beatha," meaning "water of life." In the Middle Ages, whisky was officially called aquavita, water of life in Latin. There are many distilleries in the Highlands, with a much greater variety of whiskies available there than are to be found down in England. Brands in England will go up to 70o proof; in Scotland you will find whiskies up to100o proof. There are three types of whisky: malt, grain, and blended. Malt is the oldest type, distilled from fermented barley, and generally considered the best. Grain whisky is distilled from unmalted barley and is popular because of the large quantities it can yield in a short period of time, but lacks the quality of malt whisky. Most brands of whisky are blends of grain and malt. Most Scotsmen prefer pure malt whisky — when they can afford it.

Footnote: Use the word "Scotch" only to refer to whisky. In all other cases, use the word "Scottish."


Edinburgh to Trossachs  Falkirk: Today, a busy industrial town (population 40,000), with iron and aluminum works. At the Battle of Falkirk in 1298, the English under Edward I defeated the rebellious Scots under William Wallace, who lost 10,000 men. Bannockburn, today a small coal-mining village. Nearby was the old Field of Bannockburn where (1314) the Scottish forces, under Robert the Bruce, defeated the army of the English King Edward II. There can still be seen a stone called "The Bore Stone" which marks the place where the Scottish standard was raised.

Stirling: An ancient town on the banks of the River Forth, dominated by its famous castle. The castle was a favorite residence of Scottish kings. The Romans were the first to settle here, however, building an encampment in 81 A.D. After they left, the Picts established a community, and Scottish citizens huddled in the castle for protection against Danish raids in the 10th century. In 1165, the Scottish Mint was established in the castle, considered throughout the Middle Ages to be one of the strongest in the country. Many of Scotland's kings were born in Stirling Castle, and Mary Queen of Scots spent her early childhood here.

Callander: (Population 2,000) A popular gateway to the Highlands for visitors. Loch Venachar is to the west, and the River Teith flows from the loch into the town. As we drive along Loch Venachar, we can see the peak of Ben Ledi to our right (2875 feet). ("Ben" is an old Gaelic word for "mountain.") It's possible to climb Ben Ledi in about 3 hours, and mountaineers do it regularly. Trossachs. The name means "bristly country" in Gaelic, and the description fits this valley extending from Loch Achray to Loch Katrine. The district was made famous by Sir Walter Scott's poem The Lady of the Lake. Although the defile is only about a mile long, its beauty has made it one of the Highlands' most popular places for visitors. The mountains around here and to the north continue to be associated with the Scottish "Robin Hood": Rob Roy MacGregor (1671-1734), who is to the Scots what Jesse James was to the Old West and William Tell was to the Swiss. To the Scot, Rob Roy typifies his secret ambition, to rob the rich to help himself and the poor, to elude authority and beat any man in the world in open fight. Sir Walter Scott glamorized his career in a novel, and every little Scottish lad, playing with a wooden sword, will say, "I'm Rob Roy MacGregor ye ken!" In fact Rob Roy was a farmer who found life at the plow dull. Instead, he led bands of raiders against the farms of southern Scotland and came back with cattle and spoils. The English sent several people to capture Rob Roy, but they all ended up face down in the river. Rob Roy actually made his way to London and proclaimed himself openly, then slipped back up to Scotland. What made for Rob Roy's popularity among the Scots is that he was openhanded with his spoils — and the Scots like nothing so much as a free handout. Rob Roy died where he was born, at his farm in the village of Balquhidder, about 15 miles north of the Trossachs.

Loch Lomond  The largest lake in Britain: 23 miles long, and varying from 1 to 5 miles in width. It is the most popular vacation spot for people from Glasgow, which is situated close by. The lake was made famous by Sir Walter Scott and by the popular Scottish ballad about "the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond." The lake contains some 20 small islands, and fish of all kinds abound, making the lake popular for anglers. Overlooking the lake is Ben Lomond (3192 feet), the first real Highland mountain seen by visitors coming from the south, and sometimes snow-capped.

Tarbet, a small village on the western shores of Loch Lomond. It faces Handa Island, 766 acres in the area, in the west are cliffs some 400 feet high. The island is uninhabited, and functions as a bird sanctuary: gillemots, razor-bills, puffins, and kittiwakes. There are even seals.

Edinburgh to Perth  We're traveling along the Firth of Forth, the river running halfway across Scotland. "Firth" is from an old Norse word, fjorthr, meaning inlet or estuary (related to our word ford - to ford a stream), and is used often in Scotland.

Forth Road Bridge: This road bridge was opened in 1964, replacing the old car ferry which used to be the only way for autos to cross. It is supposed to be one of the strongest in Europe, and will be the largest until the Tagus Bridge in Lisbon is completed. It was built in five years at a cost of 16 million pounds, the bridge is 1 mile, 588 yards long, 220 feet above the river, and has Europe's longest suspension span.

The Rail Bridge, which we see to our left, is an iron masterpiece finished in 1890, a monument of engineering and Victorian design (its survival depends on constant and costly repainting). Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, it shows the pinnacle of technology and beauty reached at the end of the 19th century. The engineers were Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker, also responsible for the earliest parts of the London Underground. (It was Baker who designed the Aswan Dam in Egypt.) These were Englishmen (not Scots), but the construction work was done by local Scotsmen. Over 54,000 tons of steel were used, held together by 6-1/2 million rivets, and the whole thing came to only $12 million (remember: in 1890). You might ask: why a rail bridge then, not an auto bridge? Recall how recent motor traffic is, and how everybody traveled long distance by train, even 30 years ago. Travelers taking the overnight train from London to Aberdeen would make a special point of getting up early to peer out the window at these massive girders, thinking themselves at the dawn of a new technological age (which they were). The bridge is a mile long.

Rosyth: Once across, we're at the anchorage of Rosyth, once a great naval base that cost millions to build and maintain: its conditions of depth, tide, and security were perfect. But the dockyards started to run down after World War II, leaving only rats to run among the submarine yards, docks, oil tanks, workshops, and huge warehouses for imported products.

Kingdom of Fife: We've entered the county of Fifeshire, still called the "Kingdom of Fife." It is one of Scotland's proudest counties, having been indeed a separate kingdom in Scotland's early days. Its ruling earls were first among Scottish nobility, and they placed Scotland's crown on the head of each new monarch. Because of this early prestige and wealth, many monasteries were founded in the kingdom, and almost every village has its tales and legends of early greatness.

Dunfermline, off to our left, was the proud captial of the Kingdom of Fife, and in Dunfermline Abbey rest the bones of many an early Scottish king, including Robert the Bruce (one of the few Scotsmen to defeat the English in battle). The bones of St. Margate also rest in the abbey: she was much venerated during the Middle Ages for having brought civilization to the early tribesmen, and pilgrims came here for centuries. Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, and after he made his fortune in the U.S., donated a public library that has one of the finest collections of Robert Burns' works. He also purchased the Pittencrieff Park and gave it to the town; the reason: as a boy he would look at the park through railings, not permitted to join the well-to-to citizens socializing here (he was born in a poor hovel in the town), and he wanted other people of similarly humble origins to be able to enjoy the greenery and fresh air. Today, Dunfermline is a major center of linen manufacturing.

Kinross, off to the right, is the "capital" (population 2,000) of its own county, Kinrosshire: the smallest county in Scotland - 82 square miles. The town of Kinross lies on the west bank of Loch Leven, only 6 square miles, but famous for its fishing: excellent trout. International angling matches take place here. The little lake is full of miniscule islands, including Castle Island, famous in history. The ruins of the castle remain. In that castle, Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned for a year by the rebellious Scottish noble Douglas, and was forced to abdicate. But she managed to make a daring escape on the evening of May 2, 1568. Mary, still only 26 years old and very attractive, won the heart of young Willie Douglas, a child of the family imprisoning her, and a lad of 16. Willie helped her escape by securing a small boat, setting the other boats adrift, locking the castle gates (to keep pursuers inside), and throwing the keys into the lake. Willie also lent her some of his clothes as a disguise. Mary made one more attempt to regain the throne at the Battle of Langside (near Glasgow), but was defeated and fled south into the waiting arms of Elizabeth, who kept her confined in various castles for 19 years.

Perth (Population: 45,000)  One of Scotland's most historic cities, and its former capital. Known as the "Fair City" because of its setting on the River Tay and the surrounding hills and woods.

Origins: Perth started out as a Roman camp, and the name "Perth" comes from an old Pictish name for "camp": Bertha. The early Scottish kings made the city their capital, which meant that the city was fought over by rival clans each claiming to be the ruling family of Scotland. The Scottish King James I was assassinated here in 1437, and subsequent kings, fearing the same fate, moved their court to Edinburgh, where Edinburgh Castle offered better protection. But in the early days as capital, Perth enjoyed much wealth. Perth is the headquarters of the Black Watch, a famous military regiment whose insignia is (you guessed it) Black Watch plaid. This regiment was probably at more battles and was more decorated than any other such regiment. John Knox: this fiery Reformer preached a famous sermon at St. John's Church in 1559, denouncing idolatry (i.e. Catholic rituals, vestments, church ornaments), and this set the townspeople ablaze; they destroyed four monasteries in the city and other priceless works of religious art. For this reason, little of medieval architecture survives in the town. Sir Walter Scott's novel, The Fair Maid of Perth, popularized the town for visitors and is set here. (One of the landmarks of Perth is the Fair Maid's House - though the Fair Maid is a fictional character.) Two lovely parks in the town are called the North Inch and South Inch. ("Inch" = an isolated piece of land, such as a hill or island, from the Gaelic innis, island.) In the North Inch, in 1396, a famous tournament was held, described by Scott in Fair Maid of Perth and called the "Battle of the Clans." Thirty warriors of the Clan Chatton fought with 30 of the Clan Kay before a great crowd of townspeople. The warriors killed and wounded each other until one survivor was left. Poets for years afterwards said the grass grew greener there because of the blood spilled. (Today it's a golf and race course.) Perth today: the main industries are whisky distilling (the famous brand of Dewars was developed by a man of this name in Perth - Perth water was excellent for whisky, and the barley grown in nearby valleys made a superior brew), cattle auctions, and ropemaking. Cattle raising, by the way, is a major activity in this part of Scotland - something in the grass makes for superior stock, so cattle raisers in Argentina or Texas periodically improve their herds by coming to Perth to buy bulls and cows - the famous breed of Aberdeen-Angus (bred over years to produce lean beef), jet black and hornless. Golf, though associated with St. Andrews, was actually born in Perth, when,, it is said, the invention of gunpowder put the local bow-and-arrow makers out of work, so they turned to making golf clubs instead. Scottish rulers actually tried to outlaw golf, because they thought that the defeat of Scottish archers by English archers was due to Scots' spending their time golfing instead of practicing archery. Many of the people you see in Perth are farmers or cattle raisers in from the country, and you're likelier to see the tartans (plaids) actually worn here than in the big cities. Though a market town, Perth is known for the high sales resistance of its people. It's said that if you're a salesman, the local man of Perth will listen to your pitch without expression, and then say, clearly and without elaboration, either "Nae" or "Aye" — most likely "Nae." Homely Scottish dialect words like "bonny," "braw," "lassie," or "awfu" will be heard in Perth. Shopping: Harris tweeds (hand woven on traditional looms in Outer Hebrides islands), leather gloves, and hand-blended tobacco.

Scone: Two miles north of Perth is the abbey-palace where Scottish kings were crowned, seated on a stone, the Stone of Scone. In 1297, the English King Edward I (the "Hammer of the Scots") captured it and brought it back down to Westminster Abbey, where it was used for the coronation of English kings — and remains there today. On Christmas Eve 1950, the stone was stolen from Westminster Abbey by young Scottish nationalists, but recovered and returned. The abbey-palace is little more than a ruin today.

Perth to Fort William (via Dalwhinnie)   Approaching Dunkeld: south of Dunkeld, and rising among woods, is Birnam Hill, where, in Macbeth, Malcolm's soldiers cut branches to disguise their approach to Dunsinane, some 14 miles away. Dunkeld (population 900), on the River Tay, is an ancient town, one of the centers of Pictish tribes. In 848, Kenneth McAlpin, King of the Scots, brought certain sacred relics here from the island of Iona to preserve them from raiding Norsemen. (Iona was the center of Scottish Christianity.) One of the relics was part of the body of St. Columba, the saint from Ireland who brought Christianity to Scotland. Thus, the cathedral in Dunkeld was dedicated to Columba, but has lost its roof in the centuries since. Bishops ruled the town for much of the Middle Ages; envious Highland clans would raid the town to get the gold and silver vessels.

Pitlochry: (population 2,500) The name of this town comes from the Gaelic tongue-twister Pit-clochaire. The "Pit" prefix, meaning "dwelling," is common to a number of Scottish towns, and may suggest a connection with the Picts. Clochaire comes from the Gaelic word for "stone." Pitlochry is a fairly modern town in appearnce, set on the River Tummel, and is very popular for visitors in summer. It is claimed that the town sits on the geometrical center of Scotland. West of the town, the River Tummel has been dammed, but to enable the salmon to make it upstream, a series of "fish pools" runs like stairsteps from the bottom of the dam to the top. The salmon, always good leapers, jump up from pool to pool.

Blair Atholl: A modern village at the foot of Glen Tilt, where River Tilt joins River Garry. North of the town of Blair Castle, seat of the dukes of Atholl and open to visitors. The forces of Cromwell occupied the castle during the English Civil War, and there has been fighting here several times since. During the campaign of Bonnie Prince Charlie (1745), the prince's allies besieged the castle; this made Blair the last castle in the British Isles to suffer siege. The Atholl Highlanders form the Duke's private army, the only one left in Britain. (They're local volunteers, and their role is mainly ceremonial.)

Grampian Mountains: We now start to climb a great chain of mountains, known as the Grampians, which run across Scotland from SW to NE. The name "Grampians" was given to the mountains in 1520 by Hector Boece, a Latin scholar who was infatuated with the Roman historian Tacitus' account of Roman campaigns in Scotland. In our Introduction to Scotland, we mentioned that the Roman general Agricola conducted a campaign deep into Scotland, and reached as far as these mountains, which he called Mons Graupius, and where he defeated a tribe of Picts (84 A.D.), leaving forts behind. Tacitus and other Romans continued to call the mountains by this name; hence "Grampian." Mountains covered by grasss and heather, and rise in places to over 3,000 feet. Skiing is popular in places in the winter, but mainly it's summer visitors who drive through to enjoy the wild scenery — some of Europe's last undeveloped land.

Drumochter Pass: (This marks the border between the counties of Perthshire, which we're leaving, and Inverness-shire — COURIER: look for the dotted gray line on your Michelin map.) This is one of several important passes through the Grampians. It was used by the general Agricola, and by English knights on their expeditions into Scotland. For this reason, famous battles have been fought here or nearby over the centuries, in spite of the isolation and seeming military unimportance of the site. Whoever controlled these passes controlled the Highlands. The Drumochter Pass reaches a height of 1,484 feet. This is the highest point reached by the British railroads. If your name is Robertson, McInroy, or MacPherson, this is "your" territory — the seat of the clans by these names.

Dalwhinnie: A tiny Highland village (population 180!) located in the wildest of the wild country. On each side of the road are miles of uninhabited land, with no roads, no villages, no telephones for lost mountaineers. This area is as isolated as the Highlands ever get. Dalwhinnie is becoming ever more popular for winter skiers: the hills around the village have long slopes ideal for skiing. Dalwhinnie has a distillery with curious Chinese-capped towers (what Highland town of any size doesn't have its distillery?) South of the village is an obelisk war memorial. The village sits at the end of the Loch Ericht, which extends SW for 15 miles. The lake is famous for its bull trout, and fishermen flock here in summer. North of here the mountains get even higher, and now is often visible in mid-summer.

Dalwhinnie to Spean Bridge: (COURIER: A 889 to A 86, going west) Loch Laggan is long lake to our left (where the road climbs to 900 feet), followed by Loch Moy. Before coming into Spean Bridge, we enter the Great Glen at its southern end. This glen is the backbone of the Highlands, a huge rift caused by a splitting and sliding apart of two land masses. Along this rift are long, pencil-shaped lakes, connected by rivers. This pattern of "sausage-link" lakes can be seen all over the Highlands. The Great Glen has other such glens branching off from it, but it is the most popular to drive through. Roy Bridge is the town you come to a few miles before Spean Bridge. The town is situated on the Roy river and nestles in Glen Roy, where there is a series of parallel "roads" (so-called), actually parallel ledges on the hillsides. These are the effects of earth movements during the Glacial Age (when the Highlands came into being). The leges are beaches of former lakes which rose and fell at various periods.

Spean Bridge, on the turbulent River Spean. The bridge of three arches was built in 1812 by the engineer Telford; the town exists as a major road jucntion. Commando monument, west of the town: designed by Scott Sutherland, this monument honors the commandos who trained in these hills during World War II. The commandos are shown looking toward Ben Nevis (4418 feet - highest mountain int he British Isles), of which this view is one of the most famous. "Ben" or "Beinn" is Gaelic for "mountain."

Ben Nevis, which we continue to see to our left, is the highest point of a horse-shoe-shaped chain — a massive hump of granite, schists, and lava rock. At the top are the ruins of an old observatory built in 1883 and afterwards used as a hotel (no road for cars - guests made it on foot!), abandoned in 1904. Only a footpath goes to the summit today, and is popular for hikers. It is said that a Land Rover made it to the top in 1963, with much bumping and even pushing; if so, it's the only vehicle ever to stand on the "Roof of the British Isles." (Nevis: pronounced Ne-vis, "e" as in "guess.")

Fort William  Population 3,000. It is a very popular holiday resort in the Highlands, and a popular take-off point for hikes up to Ben Nevis. Situated at the southern tip of the Highlands to pacify the Scots. On Thursday, June 22, 1654, Monk began the building of an earthen fort to maintain Cromwell's authority over the area, and this date marks the founding of the town. About 50 years later, the fort was rebuilt of stone and re-named "Ft. William" for the new English King William III (who reigned with Mary). The fort was besieged twice in the 18th century by Jacobite forces (see earlier section on Bonnie Prince Charlie), and the English actually maintained a garrison in it until 1855. The fort was demolished in 1864 except for the gateway. Aside from tourism, the town's major activities are distilling (of course!) and a large aluminum factory, which receives water from Loch Treig (15 miles away) brought by tunnels running under Ben Nevis. (Aluminum manufacturing depends on clear, pure water, and the lakes of the Highlands have some of the purest). The local museum (free-time possibility) is in an 18th century house in the town square; its collection has many objects associated with Bonnie Prince Charlie, whose forces attempted unsuccessfully to capture the fort in 1745. Inside the museum is the famous "secret portrait" which makes sense only when seen in a mirror. At the end of July, the Highland Games take place in the Town Park of Ft. William. Sailing on Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil is popular. Glen Nevis is Ft. William's own glen, one of the Highlands' most beautiful, and reached by a road in the north part of town. Several waterfalls and footpaths meandering in all directions make for spectacular and wild scenery.

Fort William to Glasgow  Loch Linnhe, to our right, is a "sea loch" 35 miles long (sea water). A popular way to enjoy its scenery is by boat, which takes you down to Oban, a popular resort. Rocks on the other side are famed for their bright colors: red, brown, blue, green, yellow. Ballachulish: A slate quarry was opened here in 1761, leaving large heaps of shale; quarry discontinued now. Ferries have been operating here for well over 200 years — since they save a 20-mile ride around the loch.

Glen Coe: In the opinion of many, this is the greatest of the glens, and the wildest. It figures in early Celtic folklore, in tales told by the Celtic bard Ossian, who lived in a cave of the glen. But Glen Coe is chiefly remembered for the massacre of 1692, the most tragic event, some say, in Highlands history. (Glen Coe means "Glen of Weeping.") At the time, this glen was inhabited by the Macdonald clan, sheep herders who had gained a bad reputation for thieving and cattle rustling. They were Catholics, nominally, and thus out of sorts with the surrounding Protestant clans. In 1688, King James II of England, a Catholic, was driven from the country and replaced by William III and Mary, Protestants. Many Highland clans refused to acknowledge the new king and rose in rebellion. The Macdonalds joined the rebellion, which succeeded at first, and after defeating English forces at the Battle of Killiecrankie, the Macdonalds returned to Glen Coe. On the way back, they stopped off to plunder the lands of the Campbell clan, bringing their horses, cattle, sheep, goats, and household goods back to Glen Coe with them. End of Chapter One: the Macdonalds are back at Glen Coe, chuckling at their success, and the Campbells are seething for revenge. Chapter Two: In 1691, William III, at war with France, and not wanting any more trouble with the Scots, offered full pardons for rebellious Highland clans provided that they signed an act of submission by the end of the year. The head of the Macdonald clan waited until December 31, and then went up to Ft. William to sign. But the right magistrate wasn't at Ft. William, and he was told to go down to Inverary, 50 miles south, and make his submission there. He did so, in a snowstorm, but didn't arrive until January 2 (1692); the right bureaucrat wasn't there, and Macdonald had to wait until January 6. The papers were sent down to Edinburgh. But enemies of Macdonald wanted to make an example of him and his clan, and secretly removed his name from the list of those who had submitted. Orders arrived to "deal with the Macdonalds in the appropriate way." Robert Campbell, head of the Campbell clan, marched up to Glen Coe with 120 men of the Argyll regiment (this is the county of Argyll, by the way). They gave as their excuse for being there the need to collect taxes, and the Macdonalds took them in and entertained them with typical Highlands hospitality for 12 days. At 5:00 a.m., February 13, 1692, as the Macdonalds still lay in their beds, the Campbells struck. Macdonald was shot in the heart as he sat up in bed; his wife was raped by the Campbells and died soon after. The Campbells burned all the Macdonald houses to the ground and took their cattle. About 38 Macdonalds were actually killed, but they were the leading members of the clan. Many other Macdonalds fled to the snow-covered hills, but froze or starved.

The massacre horrified the Scots, even those hostile to the Macdonalds. It wasn't the slaughter so much as the violation of hospitality that offended them. It betrayed the old Celtic code of honor - that hospitality to the stranger should be reciprocated. This caused a furor, so King William was forced to conduct an investigation and the act was officially declared a crime. But Glen Coe was never the same again, and remains still largely uninhabited. It is said that the Scots still shudder with horror when they meet anyone named Campbell.

Today, Glen Coe is popular with mountaineers, who scale the heights and cliffs of the valley for commanding views of the whole region.

Argyll County: Though lightly populated, this is one of Scotland's largest counties: 3.000 square miles, no part of which is more than 11 miles from the sea or a sea-loch. Its coastline is rugged and uneven, punctuated by sea lochs and inlets. Innumerable islands, some large, some small, lie offshore and are popular with tourists. Argyll is part of the old Scottish kingdom of Dalriada, whose most famous ruler was Somerled, who is supposed to be the ancestor of the lords of the offshore islands.

Tyndrum, popular holiday center for visitors wanting to look at mountains around on all sides. Near the town is a spot where Scotland's king, Robert the Bruce, was ambushed by the treacherous MacDougall clan and almost killed. But he lost his cloak and a brooch, called the Brooch of Lorn, which remains with the chief of the MacDougall clan in Oban.

Loch Lomond: (See separate entry).

Dumbarton (Population 24,000) brings us to the outskirts of the industrial area around Glasgow. Main industries: shipbuilding, manufacturing of aircraft. County town of Dunbartonshire (only in Scotland: the town is spelled with an "m", the county with an "n"). Commanding the town on Castle Rock (250 feet) is Dumbarton Castle, used in the 13th century as a royal residence. During wars with English, the castle changed hands many times.

Introduction to Glasgow  (Population 1,090,000) Industrial capital of Scotland and its largest city, sprawling for miles along the River Clyde. Local saying: "The Clyde made Glasgow and Glasgow made the Clyde." Ships built in Glasgow link it to the world. The famous luxury liners Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and "Q.E. II", were built in Glasgow. (People of this city, incidentally, are called "Glaswegians.")

Industry includes engineering works, paper mills, steel works, and a thousand-and-one subsidiary industries. Yet the city has its intellectual life: Glasgow University was founded in 1451, and other universities offer technical courses. (David Livingstone studied medicine in Glasgow). James Watt, inventor of the steam engine, was born in Glasgow; Adam Smith, the economist, taught at the University.

The 19th century was the city's zenith; it was one of the most important industrial and commercial cities in the world, and wealth flowed into it. It was the top city in shipbuilding and iron and steel foundries. It lived for work alone: a local saying claims that its inhabitants were so shrewd that they insisted on keeping a hand in their money pocket even when embracing their mothers. With this wealth, the city built many imposing civic buildings, and it has been called "the finest Victorian city in Britain." Example: the City Chambers (municipal buildings), built in 1888 of marble and alabaster. It has one of the oldest subway systems in the world: built in 1896 (some of the original coaches, restored, are still in use.) Public parks were laid out (James Watt, while out on a walk in the park, thought up the principle behind the steam engine). Glasgow has its own opera house (Edinburgh doesn't), home of the Scottish Opera and Ballet.

Nice thing about Glasgow is its location: a half-hour away is Loch Lomond in the Highlands; and Edinburgh is only 50 miles away. An hour away is the "Burns country" in the Lowlands.


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