The Curse of Scotland

There are some who refer to the nine of diamonds in a deck of cards as the ‘curse of Scotland’. But, why is this and where did this belief first appear?

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There seem to be two main stories.

Firstly, to us here at the Battle of Culloden. Here it is said that on the eve of the battle the Duke of Cumberland was playing cards with some of his men. A young officer arrived wanting to know the Duke’s orders for the next day. The Duke allegedly ordered “no quarter” to the Jacobites. Worried about the nature of the order and the outcry it could cause the officer asked for the it to be written down. In annoyance the Duke grabbed a playing card and wrote the order down. The card the Duke picked up was supposedly the nine of diamonds. This may be a good story but it is highly unlikely to be true. The first references to the nine of diamonds as the curse of Scotland existed years before Culloden took place so the true origin must be earlier.

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Culloden Memorial Cairn

 

This leads us to the second story and to the massacre of Glencoe in 1692. Here the MacDonalds of Glencoe were massacred by another clan, the Campbells, after they missed the deadline to pledge their allegiance to King William.  Sir John Dalrymple, 1st Earl of Stair and Secretary of State for Scotland was the man who gave the order to carry out the massacre in February 1692. The Dalrymple coat of arms features nine diamonds arranged like the playing card, so it is very likely that the nine of diamonds became associated with the much-hated Dalrymple and the curse of Scotland was born. Again a good story but whether there is any truth to the matter remains to be seen.

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Dalrymple Coat of Arms

 

 

Other theories abound as to how the curse came about. It has been suggested that it is a misreading of the “Corse of Scotland” i.e. the “Cross of Scotland”. The St Andrew’s Saltire is similar in design to old style nine of diamond cards.  Whilst the cards of today  are arranged in an H pattern, early versions favoured an X shape. When viewed sideways, these cards look very similar to the Scottish flag. Some contest that it is possible the card was actually known as the Corse of Scotland and there is no curse at all.

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The Scottish Saltire

 

Finally worth mentioning is a theory from the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. During her reign nine diamonds were stolen from the crown of Scotland by an Edinburgh freebooter called George Campbell. After the theft a tax was levied on the Scottish people to pay for them and the tax apparently got the nickname “The Curse of Scotland”.

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Mary Queen of Scots

 

Who can say which theory if any is true but it is safe to say that many people still regard the nine of diamonds as an unlucky card so next time you’re playing you might want to steer clear of the nine of diamonds.

We hope you enjoyed this post and as always please like, tweet, share, comment and remember, never ask a Scotsman for the nine of diamonds if you’re playing ‘Go Fish’.

All the best, K & D

Battle of Aughrim

On 12th July 1691 the Battle of Aughrim commenced and was one of the decisive battles of the Williamite War in Ireland. It effectively ended Jacobitisim in Ireland, leaving subsequent Jacobite Risings to be fought just in England and Scotland.

The Williamite War ran from 1689 to 1691 and was fought over who would be king of England, Scotland and Ireland. Jacobites supported King James VII & II who had been removed from the throne, whilst Williamites fought unsurprisingly for King William.

In 1689 William landed a party of English, Scottish, Dutch, Danish and other troops in a bid to tackle the growing Jacobite resistance. The well known Battle of the Boyne was fought in 1690 which saw a Williamite victory and left the Jacobites demoralised. William took Dublin while the Jacobites retreated to Limerick. After the battle some believed that the war was over but William’s apparently over-harsh peace terms encouraged the Jacobite army to keep fighting.

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William III of Orange

 

Finally, in July 1691, events came to a head with the Jacobite army holding a defensive position around Limerick. They were waiting for aid from France to help them re-take Ireland which the Williamites were determined to stop. As the Williamites began their march to Limerick they found their way blocked at Aughrim. Here both armies, roughly 20,000 strong a piece, lined up for battle.

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The Battle of Aughrim by John Mulvany

The Jacobites held a strong position with infantry lining the ridge of Kilcommadon Hill and stone walls and hedgerows marking local farmers fields helping provide defences for their men. In addition to this to the left of the army was a bog with only one causeway limiting any access to their left flank. These defences helped the Jacobites hold off numerous advances by the Williamite men. They pushed the assault back and drove the Williamites into the bog where many were killed or drowned.

 

Eventually the Williamites decided their only option was to try and flank the Jacobites along the narrow causeway through the bog. The worry was this was a bottleneck and the Jacobites would protect it fiercely. Luckily for the Williamites the Jacobites were running low on ammunition and their reserve ammunition would not fit in their French supplied muskets. The Williamites managed to breach the causeway and held a perfect flanking position.

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James VII & II

 

Meanwhile the Jacobite commander, Marquis de Saint-Ruhe, was still confident the battle could be won. However, as he tried to rally the cavalry he was struck by a cannonball which decapitated him. Without his leadership the Jacobite position very quickly collapsed. The cavalry fled leaving the Jacobite flank wide open as the Williamites surrounded them. Those who tried to flee were killed as they ran, chased down by the Williamite cavalry.

The battle of Aughrim was one of the more bloody battles in Ireland with an estimated 5-7,000 men killed and became referred to by some as ‘the Flodden of Ireland’. Many of those killed were Jacobites with some claiming as many as 4,000 men were killed with a further 4,000 taken prisoner after the battle. Not only this but the Jacobites lost much of their equipment and supplies as the Williamites ransacked their camp. Although the city of Limerick held out until the autumn of 1691 the battle of Aughrim is considered by many the final act in the end of Irish Jacobitism.

We hope you enjoyed this little insight into the Battle of Aughrim and the Jacobite rising in Ireland. As always please share, comment, like, re-blog and keep coming back to learn more about Jacobite history.

All the best, K & D

 

Something off the beaten track…

Most of the properties the National Trust for Scotland looks after are pretty well known and are easy to find on the map but there are a few that are tucked a little bit away from the main path. Today we choose a few of our favourite lesser known properties.

Firstly, the one nearest us, Boath Doocot.

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Boath Doocot

 

This is a small 17th century doocot (or dovecote if you prefer) which stands looking over the site of the Battle of Auldearn which took place in 1645. Just 20 minutes from Culloden it makes a nice stop between ourselves and Brodie Castle to pack a little bit more history into your trip. The doocot stands 7.5m high and houses 515 nesting boxes within its walls. It was donated to the NTS in 1947 by Brigadier J Muirhead of Boath.

Out west we have the ruins of Strome Castle.

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Strome castle ruins

 

One of the best things about this castle is its location as it sits on a little rocky outcrop at the end of Loch Carron offering gorgeous views out towards the Isle of Skye. If you catch it on a sunny day then it is a wonderful drive out along the west coast. The castle is believed to have been built in the 14th Century and changed hands many times over the centuries. Finally in the 1600’s it was besieged by Kenneth MacKenzie, Lord of Kintail and was eventually blown up.

To the east in Fife we have Balmerino Abbey.

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Balmerino Abbey ruins

Though now ruins the abbey was once an impressive Cistercian monastery from the 13th Century. Whilst it may not be as fancy as it once you can still see the beautiful stonework and the arches of the cloisters. Also in the grounds is a beautiful Spanish chestnut tree that is said to be amongst the oldest in Scotland. Tradition says it was planted in 1229 by Queen Ermengarde but more recent studies have shown it to be roughly 500 years old.

Finally why not head out to see Black Hill.

Black Hill

 

Found not far from Glasgow this hill makes a wonderful walk on a nice day. From the top are lovely views down the Clyde Valley and the hill also has a rich archaeological history. The site is home to a Bronze age burial cairn and was once an Iron Age fort. The area was donated to the National Trust for Scotland in 1936 and was designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument in 1969.

We hope you enjoyed reading about this different places. As always please tweet, comment, share and try to check out some of these places for yourself.

All the best, K & D

 

Lord George Murray

We all know Prince Charles Edward Stuart led the Jacobite army in 1745 but he had plenty of help from his band of advisers and generals. One of the most well known members of Prince Charles’ council was Lord George Murray.

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Lord George Murray

 

Born in Perth, Scotland in 1694, George was the sixth son of the 1st Duke of Atholl, chief of Clan Murray. He joined the army in 1712 and then three years later, along with two of his brothers, he joined the Jacobites in the 1715 Rising with each brother commanding their own regiment of Atholl men. He fled to France for a while before returning to help aid the short lived 1719 Jacobite Rising. Here he was injured and spent months in hiding before finally finding his way back to the continent.

Not much is known of his life on the continent but he finally returned to Scotland in 1724 following his fathers death and settled down with a wife and five children. When the ’45 Rising began George was sceptical of Prince Charles and his scheme despite his earlier support of the Jacobites. Indeed a month after Charles landed in Scotland George went to pay his respects to Sir John Cope, commander of the government forces, and was appointed deputy-sheriff of Perthshire.

George then met Prince Charles for himself when he stayed at Blair Castle and eventually announced his support for the Jacobite cause. Something had changed his mind, though there were those that suspected he had never truly supported the government and still others that now thought he could be a government spy. Either way George quickly won the Jacobites armies confidence with his decisive leadership and by September he was practically running the army having ordered the successful attack at the Battle of Prestonpans on his own initiative.

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Battle of Prestonpans

 

Whilst he was certainly close to Prince Charles he did not always agree with the man. When the army moved into England George was against the plan but followed the Princes orders. In Carlisle George conducted the siege but after the town surrendered he resigned his command apparently claiming he felt his authority had been undermined by the Prince. His replacement, the Duke of Preth, was not well liked by the army and it was not long before George was reinstated and leading the army towards Derby.

Here George urged the Prince to retreat. He was concerned by the lack of both French and English support and felt it unwise to continue on towards London as the Prince wished. At a council of war the majority sided with Murray and a retreat was planned. Prince Charles had been out voted and was furious. He would never forgive George for turning against him.

During the retreat Murray commanded the rear guard as the Jacobites headed back north until they reached the fateful day of Culloden. Here Murray advised placing the army on the right bank of the river Nairn but Prince Charles ignored his advise at set the army on Culloden Moor to the left of the Nairn. The Jacobites were defeated, though George managed to escape the battle. He headed to Ruthven Barracks to try and piece together what was left of the Jacobite army and set about forming a resistance. It is said he managed to amass some 3,000 men however, whilst waiting he received word from Prince Charles that the cause was to be abandoned and the men were to disband.

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Ruthven Barracks

 

George managed to make his way to the continent where he was received well by Prince Charles’ father, James who granted him a pension. In 1747 he travelled to Paris to see Prince Charles but despite his fathers hospitality the Prince refused to meet with him. During the next decade George travelled through the continent living in numerous places before he eventually died in Holland in 1760 at the age of 66.

We hope you enjoyed this little insight into George Murray. As always please like, comment, reblog, tweet and feel free to suggest other figures you’d like to learn more about.

All the best, K & D

A Few Tasty Treats

18th Century cuisine was certainly interesting but a lot of recipes we’ve found don’t sound all that appetising.

Luckily we’ve found a few sweet treats that might be able to tempt you. These are all from a brilliantly titled book from 1737 called ‘The Whole Duty of a Woman: Or, an infallible Guide to the Fair Sex containing Rules, Directions, and Observations, for their Conduct and Behaviour through all Ages and Circumstances of Life, as Virgins, Wives, or Widows.’

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Firstly a Jelly of Raspberries.

First take six pounds of raspberries, then three pounds of currants and seven pounds and a half of sugar brought to the cracked boiling; strip in the fruits, and them let all boil together, scumming it ’til no more scum will rise, and the syrup is become between smooth and pearled; then pour it out into a sieve, set over a copper pan; take the jelly that passes through, and give it another boiling, scum it well, and put it in pots, or glasses.

With seven and a half pounds of sugar, this will certainly be sweet but, if that doesn’t strike you, why not try some Macaroons.

Having provided a pound of almonds, let them be scalded, blanched and thrown into fair water; Then they must be drained, wiped and pounded in a mortar, moistening them with orange flower water, or the white of an egg, left they should turn to oil. Afterwards taking an equal quantity of powder sugar, with three or four other whites of eggs, and a little musk, beat all well together, and dress your Macaroons on paper, with a spoon, that they may be bak’d with a gentle fire.

Finally to try, another classic, some Apple Fritters.

Beat the yolk of eight eggs, the whites of four, well together, and strain them into a pan; then take a quart of cream, warm it as hot as you can endure your finger in it; then put to it a quarter of a pint of sack, three quarters of a pint of ale, and make a posset of it; when your posset is cool, put it to your eggs, beating them well together; then put in nutmeg, ginger, salt and flour to your liking: Your batter should be pretty thick; then put in pippins sliced or scraped; fry them in good store of hot lard with a quick fire.

To help anyone who is wondering, a quarter pint of sack refers typically to sherry or fortified wine so there should be a bit of kick to the batter.

We hope you enjoyed these recipes, as always please like, share, tweet, comment and let us know who your desserts turned out.

All the best, K & D

The Battle of Killiecrankie

In 1689 the Battle of Killiecrankie was fought between Jacobites, led by Viscount Dundee, and Government troops, led by General Hugh MacKay. The battle was part of the first Jacobite Uprising that took place after King James VII & II was deposed and King William of Orange took the throne.

After the Scottish parliament decided, at a convention in Edinburgh, to support King William many people were upset and opposed the decision. John Graham, 1st Viscount of Dundee was one such man. He was a lowland Scot and Episcopalian and had been made commander of all of Scotland’s forces under King James. Leaving the convention he set out to summon another convention in Stirling, this one in King James’ name. On 13th April 1689 Dundee raised the Stuart Royal Standard on Dundee Law marking the start of the first Jacobite Rising.

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1st Viscount Dundee

 

Following this Dundee headed north to raise an army against King William and for the next couple of months the Jacobite army began to take shape. Initially recruits were slow to emerge but gradually support grew with various clan chiefs pledging their allegiance and men from Ireland coming over to add to Dundee’s men. By July the army had eight battalions of men and were performing the deadly Highland Charge manoeuvre against their enemies.

On 27th July 1689 the Jacobite men faced the Government troops at Killiecrankie. This battle would decide who would gain control over Blair Castle, a main point in the route through the Highlands. It is estimated the Jacobites had roughly 2,500 men whilst the Government stood at 4,000 men. To help them though the Jacobites held a strong position on a hilltop above the Government men and waited until the sun was setting before making their charge. The battle lasted only a few minutes with the Highland Charge so fast that, it is said, the Government men didn’t even have time to fix their bayonets, leaving them unarmed at close quarters. The Government men were quickly forced to retreat and about half of the Government army was killed as they fled the field.

Meanwhile the victory had also cost the Jacobites. It is suggested that almost a third of the Jacobite force was killed and Dundee himself was fatally wounded. Victory had come at a high price. Dundee was believed to have been hit by a musket ball which knocked him off his horse. His men carried him to the nearby St Brides Kirk where he was buried in a vault in the kirk. His helmet and breastplate, removed from the vault below the church in the 19th century, are still preserved in Blair Castle.

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Dundee burial marker at St Brides Kirk

 

For a while there was a legend that Dundee had not died from the bullet that hit him. People claimed that he had made a pact with devil who gave him a charm to make him invulnerable to lead bullets. Instead legend arose that one of the silver buttons from his own coat had been pushed into the wound and it was this that had killed him. Legends also say that Dundee rode a great black horse which was given to him by the Devil after it had been ripped from its mothers womb.

Regardless of the legends, the loss of Dundee at the head of the Jacobite army was a devastating loss and though the Jacobites continued to advance, without the strong leadership of Dundee they were defeated less than a month later at the Battle of Dunkeld.

This first step into Jacobitism did not end with Dundee though. IT would continue for years to come emerging in the 1715 and 1719 Rebellions before finally ending at Culloden at the end of the 1745 Uprising.

We hope you enjoyed this brief insight into the Battle of Killiecrankie. As always please share, comment, like, tweet and head to Killiecrankie itself where you can learn more about its history.

All the best, K & D

 

 

The 1719 Rebellion

We here at Culloden tend to put most of our focus of the 1745 Jacobite Rising, but there were a few risings before this that are worth taking a look at. We explored the 1715 Rising in our earlier post ‘1715 – The Rebellion that should have Worked’ but today we look at the small rising of 1719.

With Britain at relatively peace with France the Jacobites found a new ally for this rising, Spain’s minister to the King, Cardinal Guilio Alberoni. Tensions were high between Spain and Britain as Philip V of Spain launched successful campaigns taking control of Sardinia and Sicily. In 1718 Britain responded declaring a violation of the Utrecht Treaty which then led to Spain declaring war on Britain. In order to try and stop, or at least delay, an attack Alberoni decided to stir up trouble in Britain.

The original Jacobite plan had two phases. A small fleet would land in Scotland and raise support in the west to distract the British army and then the larger fleet would land in South West England to march to London and dethrone King George I. The main fleet set sail but, three weeks after leaving Spain, they encountered a storm which damaged many of the ships and left the fleet scattered. The ships were forced back to several Spanish ports to repair and wait for better weather.

Unfortunately, by this time the small distraction fleet had already set sail and landed on the west coast of Scotland near Lochalsh. The men disembarked and set about raising the highland clans to join them. But, alas, another set back. Highlanders did not join the army in the numbers expected, they were wary of the plan and wanted to wait for news from the south before they committed to the cause. The men did not have enough support to make their way to Inverness and were forced to establish headquarters in the west at Eilean Donan Castle.

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Eilean Donan Castle

 

At the beginning of May 1719, the Royal Navy sent five ships along the coast to inspect the Scottish coastline. Two patrolled off Skye whilst three headed to Lochalsh. On 10th May the latter three ships, HMS Worcester, HMS Flamborough and HMS Enterprise anchored off Eilean Donan and as evening fell the ships boat went ashore and captured the castle against very little resistance. It is said they then spent the next two days demolishing the castle with some 27 barrels of gunpowder. The Jacobites were not defeated though. Much of the main force of the army, including Spanish troops, had left Eilean Donan to try and recruit more men to their cause and were on their way to Inverness.

After travelling for more than a month the Jacobite forces learnt that the main Spanish fleet would not be coming to help them. They had a little over 1,000 troops but were determined to fight. 12 miles from Eilean Donan they took defensive positions at Glen Shiel, a narrow valley which they had reinforced with basic fortifications to block the road as the Government army marched out from Inverness to meet them. In the afternoon of 10th June 1719 the Government forces made their move. Though the armies were fairly evenly matched in size the Government had the added benefit of four mortar batteries.

In an attempt to weaken the enemy, the Government first used the mortars to bombard the Jacobite position. The infantry then came forward to attack the Jacobite flanks, whilst they continued to shell the enemy centre. This kept the Spanish troops pinned down in their defences on the northern slopes of the glen. After three hours of stubborn resistance, the Jacobites were eventually driven from their defensive position and forced into retreat. The Spanish men surrendered later that evening with the local highlanders fleeing to escape execution as traitors.

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The Battle of Glen Shiel by Peter Tillemans

The Jacobite lost roughly 100 men and three of their commanders, the Earl of Seaforth, Robert Roy MacGregor and Lord George Murray who was badly injured. When the expected support from the Lowlanders failed to materialise spirits fell and the rising was abandoned.

The Spanish prisoners were taken to Edinburgh but were eventually released back to Spain later the same year. However, one of the peaks of the mountain in Glen Shiel on which the battle took place was named Sgurr nan Spainteach which translate as ‘The Peak of the Spainiards’ in honour of the Spanish forces who fought admirably in the battle.

We hoped you enjoyed this little foray into the 1719 Rising. As always please comment, like, share, tweet and keep coming back to discover more about the many tales of the Jacobite Uprisings.

All the best, K & D