Discrimination against Campbells at Clachaig Inn, Glencoe.

This evening, I am posting information on a memorial to one of the most infamous events in Scottish history.

The ostensible reason for the Massacre of Glencoe was an edict issued by King William III requiring all clan chieftains to sign an oath of allegiance by Jan 1st 1692. The MacDonald chief was 6 days late in signing the required oath.This was because he first went to North, to Fort William in error and was redirected South to Inveraray where the Sheriff received the required oath on January 6th.

However, long-running tensions between the MacDonalds and neighbouring Campbells combined with the Government’s irritation with the MacDonald chief resulted in a military force being billeted with the MacDonald community.On February 1st 1692, a 120 strong company of Argyll’s regiment under command of Robert Campbell of Glenlyon were billeted in the Glen with the local MacDonald community.Relations between the military force and the MacDonalds was initially amicable but on February 12th Glenlyon received instructions from Robert Duncanson, a major in the Argyll Regiment which required the force to “fall upon the rebels the MacDonalds of Glencoe, and to put all to the sword under seventy. You are to have special care that the old fox and his sonnes do not escape your hands.” (The “old fox” is a reference to the local clan chief, MacIain.)

In all 38 MacDonalds were shot on the day (February 13th.) but due to a policy of burning houses and driving off cattle, leaving neither shelter nor food, the actual number of dead is not certain but could have been as high as 127.

The Massacre shocked the people of the day, principally because the soldiers had previously accepted hospitality of the MacDonalds and breach of the Highland code of hospitality was taken very seriously.

Simple memorial at Inverigan where eleven MacDonalds were shot.

Ruins of a house at Inverigan which was built on site of a MacDonald house existing at time of Massacre.

A memorial was erected in 1883 to the murdered chief. This can be accessed (on foot) from the village of Glencoe.

Inscription on Massacre memorial

Glencoe today is a small Highland village close to the River Coe and Loch Leven, about 25 miles south of Fort William.

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