Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Culloden and Arnish

The inscription reads: HRH Prince Charles Edward with three attendants landed in Loch Seaforth 4 May 1746 and walking all night reached Arnish Loch at noon 5 May. In the evening he was received at Kildun House, Arnish, by the Lady Kildun (MacKenzie). Early in 6 May, he left Kildun in a boat and landed in Eilean Iubhard (Loch Shell) and remained there until 10 May and sailed thence to South Uist and Skye. [inscription obliterated] "Deoch Slainte an Righ" [inscription obliterated].

A few geographical and historical notes about the inscription. Kildun House no longer exists. By my information, it was destroyed by fire in 1975, prior to the construction of the present Arnish Yard. The hill on which it stood was bulldozed to make way for buildings for the yard. Eilean Iubhard can be seen from Lemreway, South Lochs, about 30 miles south of Stornoway (by road). I do not know what the inscriptions used to read that were rendered illegible.

I should make it perfectly clear that I have very little time for Prince Charles Edward, otherwise known as the Young Pretender or Bonnie Prince Charlie. His hare-brained idea to "raise the clans" in 1745 for a march on London was ill-thought through, and by no means received full backing from all the clans in Western Scotland. Because those with brains saw him for what he was. A fool, being used as a figurehead. He was no creditable tactician on the field of battle, allowing his advance to outrun his supply-train on the daring march on Derby. The rout all the way back to Culloden, near Inverness, was a disgrace. And at the end of the day, it was this silly enterprise that gave Scotland's enemies the pretext they needed to subjugate the country fully, after the 1707 Union. To try to destroy the culture and language, and impose their own values on the Highlands and Islands. Far from being the prosaic saviour of the West, I rate Bonnie Prince Charlie as the fool that brought on the destruction of the West of Scotland.

His flight through the islands, dressed as a woman for goodness' sakes, says it all. Poor old Flora MacDonald, she gave him succour and shelter, and got clapped in jail for all her bother. The stay at Kildun tells us that although the Stornoway worthies were not prepared to turn Charlie in (he had a prize on his head), they were not prepared to put him up either, being a liability. At the end of the day, Charles was a coward, used more to the comforts of the drawingroom and the bottle. He will have been happy when he finally boarded the French vessel L'Heureux (sic), bound for France.

Oh, I forgot. Many readers will be familiar with the statue at Glenfinnan, 15 miles west of Fort William. The figure on the pillar at the head of Loch Shiel. It's not Bonnie Prince Charlie. It's "a Highlander". Because it was there that Charles landed to "raise the firey cross" which started the whole campaign.

Please forget the mystique around BPC. He has done Scotland no favours at all.

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