Latha math!

Welcome to the unofficial Blog site for Clan Mackenzie. For those without the Gaelic, the greeting is simply “Good Day”. This is your opportunity of reading Blogs from those interested in Clan Mackenzie and  make your comments or open new topics.

Slàinte maith, h-uile latha, na chi ‘snach fhaic!
(Good health, every day, whether I see you or not!)

Posted in General | Leave a comment

The Launch of the Scottish Clans Event Fund

For some eight months the Highland Clans Partnership Group has been working on The Big Ask and has accomplished much in so short a time. Now the Scottish Clans Event Fund has been launched to support the growth of Clan Tourism and help the Clans enlarge and develop Clan Gatherings and Clan Events. Interested parties can contact Event Scotland.

I am delighted that in recognition of the importance of Clan Tourism to the Scottish economy Fergus Ewing, Minister for Energy, Enterprise & Tourism has launched the Scottish Clan Event Fund today – 23/10/13 
The fund is open to Clans and Clan Societies organising events across Scotland which take place out with the cites of Edinburgh & Glasgow.  It is designed to support additional elements or new activity specifically intended to grow Clan events and extend their appeal.  The value of the grants awarded will be between £1,000 & £5,000.    


Posted in General | Leave a comment

Clan Tourism Meeting

newdrumossie_exterior_headerFurther to the meeting at Castle Leod, there was a meeting at the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness on Friday 1st February which was chaired by the Minister for Tourism, Fergus Ewing MSP and included Visit Scotland, the National Trust For Scotland, Historic Scotland and representatives of no less than twenty two Highland Clans.  Some nine Clan Chiefs were be in attendance. This was surely be a marvellous opportunity for the Clans to cement their importance in the Tourism Industry of the Highlands. The outlook is rosy. A steering group is to be set up, jointly chaired by the CEO and Chairman of Visit Scotland to drive forward what has been defined as “The Big Ask”. There is a great deal of work to do but for the first time Highland Clan Tourism has a seat at the table and Clan Mackenzie are involved in that.

Update: The Highland Clans Partnership Group has now been formed to include representatives of the Highland Clans, Scottish Government, Visit Scotland, and Highland Council to drive forward delivery of ‘the Big Ask’. Under the patronage of the Tourism Minister and operating at the highest level, this is truly a seat at the table for the Highland Clans.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

New Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre Facebook Page launched

Andrew MacKenzie, membership manager at Culloden, is in the process of developing a great new Facebook page. Click to view if you are on Facebook

Battle of Culloden


Posted in General | Leave a comment

Clan Chief supports the Highlands from exploitation


wind wise John C

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Historic Meeting at Castle Leod

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA historic meeting took place at Castle Leod today 7th December 2012 with The Minister for Tourism Fergus Ewing MSP and included Hector Munro, Clan Chief of Clan Munro, Rosalind Macrae of Clan Macrae, Kit Bowen of Strathpeffer Marketing Group, Hamish Mackenzie and Graeme Mackenzie of the Clan Mackenzie Society of Scotland and the UK, John Graham and the Earl of Cromartie. The reason was to engage the Minister and the Scottish Government in appreciating the importance of Clan Tourism to the Highland Economy and providing financial support in promoting Gatherings. This they did in spades and the long term future of support from the Scottish Government  and it’s agencies seems now within reach. Further meeting with the CEO of Visit Scotland and the Minister plus other parties will be brought forward at the beginning of next year. There is a real feeling now that the Highland Clans have been heard and will now be taken seriously as Stakeholders in Scottish Tourism.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Clan Mackenzie AGM – Edinburgh – 2012

AGM2012The Society’s first AGM weekend outwith the Highlands for many years proved a great success in May 2012. New recruits from the Central Belt joined existing members from that area, along with the Chief and committee members from the Highlands, a number of members from London, and even one from Canada.

Alan McKenzie, Cabarfeidh’s Lieutenant in Canada, crossed the Atlantic to be present at the launch of Andrew McKenzie’s new history of the clan, “May We Be Britons”, which he had helped finance. Andrew himself came up from London with his parents and his brother Kevin, who had assisted with research for the book.

The book launch, which was held at Bonhams premises in Queen Street, Edinburgh, kicked off the weekend on Thursday evening. On Friday members spent the day in the country to the south of Edinburgh, firstly visiting spectacular Traquair House, which claims to be “Scotland’s Oldest Inhabited House”. Then, after lunch at The Gordon Arms in West Linton, members spent a damp but enjoyable afternoon in the lovely gardens and glasshouses at Portmore, which was once home to a prominent family of MacKenzies.

In the evening members members welcomed to Register House in Edinburgh, the home of “The National Records of Scotland”, by the Keeper of the Records, George MacKenzie. He gave them a special guided tour, followed by a dram and some nibbles laid on by his charming wife.

After supper at the Ellersly House Hotel, where many members were staying, Graeme Mackenzie gave a short presentation on MacKenzie families associated with Edinburgh.

On Saturday morning members gathered in the burial ground of Greyfriars’ Kirk to view the spectacular tomb of the 17th century Lord Advocate of Scotland, Sir George MacKenzie (a.k.a. “Bluidy MacKenzie”), which is said to be haunted. Some of us then had lunch in a rather spooky pub nearby, before returning to the Ellersly House Hotel for the actual AGM.

The weekend was rounded off that evening with a most enjoyable dinner at the hotel. The picture above shows members on the terrace at the hotel before dinner.

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Wills and Testaments

Launch of the Scottish Wills and Testaments, from 1902 to 1925

Scotland’s People are delighted to announce that the Wills & Testaments for 1902 to 1925 are now live on the ScotlandsPeople website! With this latest addition of records, researchers can now access 1 million Scottish Wills & Testaments, covering the period 1513 to 1925.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Homecoming 2014 and Clans 2014

Those that have been following this will know that it is an awful Bùrach and no real qualified information is being supplied to the Societies. The original Clan Gathering 2014 at Stirling has been cancelled which caused a great annoyance for those planning a visit. Over the last few days the Bannockburn website of the National Trust For Scotland has stated that there will be an extra day of re-enactments and a Clan Village will be provided NTS Bannockburn web site. Discussions on the possibility of a March of the Clans is ongoing. Bannockburn however does not readily spring to mind as an ideal site. A commercial web site has quite a bit of information but should perhaps be treated with caution. Scotclans. A meeting at the Stone Mountain Games at Atlanta between a representative of the Scottish Government, the US Council of Scottish Clans and Associations, Sir Malcolm MacGregor of MacGregor, Covenor of the Standing Council of Clan Chiefs and the US Clans discussed the ramifications of Stirling Council’s decision and the SCCC seem to be driving the event at the moment. As the Scottish Clans have been asked to Host their own Clan Gatherings in support of the event, the situation is somewhat confused. The US Clans main pre-occupation was a march down the Royal Mile. We shall see.

It seems like that the new dates will be over the weekend 20th to 30th June 2014 at Bannockburn but Visit Scotland and Events Scotland are still somewhat coy about this and the space at Bannockburn for parking and accommodation in the immediate area still raises a few eyebrows. Watch this space!

So what happens about the Clan Mackenzie Gathering which should originally have taken place in 2015 but was brought forward to coincide with Clans 2014. Original plans for Stirling have been scrapped and new plans cannot be made until there is clarity to the actual plans for Bannockburn.

So what is Homecoming 2014? Apart from the Commonwealth Games at the end of July a selection of other events have been listed:

  • Hogmanay – Edinburgh and Scotland Wide
  • Celebration of John Muir Day (21st April) and opening of John Muir Coast to Coast Trail from Dunbar to Helensburgh (through the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park)
  • May will see a month long programme across Scotland as we celebrate Whisky Month (Spirit of Speyside a lead festival)
  • 28th, 29th & 30th June will see the 700th Anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and this will provide many opportunities for you all to engage in the activities surrounding this event.
  • August will see the world famous Edinburgh Festivals
  • September will see a strong focus on Food & Drink as well as the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles
  • October will see a strong Gaelic offering in the Highlands centred on the Royal National Mod.

Mostly a re-run of existing events with a 2014 logo on the front reminiscent of 2009.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Castle Leod finds a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

A rough winter for those living in the ‘Big Hoose’ down at Strathpeffer. The winter gales caused extensive damage to the roof which resulted in a fairly extensive insurance claim. Good news is that the work is now finished and the serious condition of the roof is now much improved. An ill wind and all that!

However the spring brings new cheer and a welcome respite to the recent problems. Historic Scotland looks set to grant some £219,000 to assist in regenerating the Castle and repair the large tower as a catalyst for the multi-phased repair scheme that in total comes to something in the region of £4 million. Although still the family home to the Earl of Cromartie, it is hoped that this redevelopement will lead to greater use of the building as a centre for music, performance arts and re-enactments. The Castle has recently applied for a Weddings Licence which will hopefully prove popular with local people and Clan members alike. Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, on announcing the grant, stated “It is vital we preserve our historic environment, not only for future generations to enjoy, but to attract visitors from around the World who come to explore our history and heritage”.

The grounds already host the Strathpeffer Golf Club and the Strathpeffer Highland Games as well as the local Shinty and Cricket clubs. More walks will hopefully be envisaged within the planned developments as Castle Leod’s Parkland already includes some of the finest trees in Scotland, amongst them the largest, a Wellingtonia, and a Spanish Chestnut planted in 1550, the earliest known planting of any tree in Britain.

Castle Leod is the home of John Mackenzie, Earl of Cromartie and Chief of Clan Mackenzie.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Culloden 2012

Every year the Gaelic Society of Scotland arranges a comemoration service on the neareast saturday to the anniversary of the Battle of Culloden. This year it was on the 14th April. The day dawned in much the same way as on that fateful day in 1746 with snow showers from the north. A goodly crowd from all over the world gathered at the Cairn for a service in gaelic followed by a pibroch from a lone piper. Clan Mackenzie was represented by the Clan Chief, the Earl of Cromartie, the President Hamish Mackenzie and the Chairman Graeme Mackenzie. After the service, on which the sun chose to shine, wreaths was laid on behalf of the Gaelic Society of Scotland, The National Trust for Scotland, and the Highland Clans and respective Jacobite associations. The Clans then dispersed to the various Clan graves around the site for their own dedications. Clan Mackenzie continued their day back at Castle Leod with a dedication at the Jacobite Stone reflected on all Mackenzies that have died in conflict wherever in the world. This was followed by tea and cake in the Castle, a reading by John Mackenzie, Earl of Cromartie, from the journal of one of his ancestors from the Battle of Falkirk. This was followed by a very moving poem about the Battle of Culloden from Sonia Cameron Jacks, a recitation of the Valet’s Tale, a poem from the ’45 from Ian Blake and then a selection of reels and strathspeys by fiddle and guitar courtesy of the piper Duncan Macgivray and his daugter. A wee dram of the Dalmore Castle Leod was taken.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Roderick Mackenzie Information Board

Thanks to funding from Tullach Ard, The 1745 Association and Highland Council Ward Discretionary Fund, a new information board is now installed at the Cairn, Glenmoriston. The official launch was on the 14th June 2012.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

The Prince’s Cave

The tale of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the aftermath of Culloden is inextricably linked with the Seven Men of Glenmoriston, or should it be eight, and the Prince’s Cave.

The Prince's Cave

Many wish to pass this way and the most usual route is via Cluanie. There is another route possibly tracing the steps of the way that the Prince escaped Glen Doe and travelled into Glen Cannich(Glen of the Cotton Grass) It is suggested that Beinn a’Chairein (Hill of the Peatmoss) was the most northerly point that he reached.

For those of an athletic disposition this makes a marvellous day in the hill. HOWEVER THESE ARE AMONGST THE MOST REMOTE AND ROUGH HILLS IN THE HIGHLANDS. This is only for those hill walkers that are experienced and equipped with the correct clothes, boots and maps or who take along a guide.

The route originates at Cougie, possibly the most remote settlements in the Highlands. By car leave Beauly on the road to Cannich and Glen Affric. Pass through Struy, Cannich and at the Fasnakyle Hydro Station take the left fork and follow the signs to the right for Tomich. In Tomich you will find a good hostelry that serves excellent food. Carry straight on taking the left fork to Plodda Falls. The tarmac runs out here and for the next six miles you will be on a forestry road. You will need OS map 34 for this trip. At the Highland Trekking Centre at Cougie you will leave your car and head off into the wilds.

On the left of the first building at Cougie, take the forestry track for a quarter of a mile until you get to a line of trees coming down the hill on the left in which you will find a small burn(239 207). Cut up this following a steep grassy track on the right which crosses the burn before the edge of the forest. Soon there is a gate which takes you out onto the moors. Continue across the moor on an indefinite path for about half a mile, heading for an obvious shallow bealach(mountain pass). Carry along the path until you arrive at a small burn, Allt na Muic(Burn of the Pig), (253 188) Follow the burn south for two miles (no path), then go through new tree plantings for about a mile until you arrive at a small dam(260 145). A track leaves the dam doing west, follow this for about 4 miles, looking down on Glen Moriston, until you reach the River Doe(211 127). Cross the river and go into Glen Mheadoin(Middle Glen). At the west end of the Glen you will find the Prince’s Cave, Uamh Ruaraidh na Seilg, the Cave of Roderick the hunter (139 156), a jumble of boulders rather than the usual definition of a cave but marked by a metal information plate. It is immediately beneath the highest crag in the corrie. From here you will need to retrace your steps to the River Doe. Stay on the north bank for a mile until a path going north appears. Take the path, gradually going uphill at first. Eventually it becomes a good track and soon you arrive at a forest gate. Turn right through the gate and in two or three miles you will be back at Cougie. All in all about 26 miles!!!

Places of interest in Glenmoriston by William Owen

Connection to Clan Mackenzie are through one of it’s more famous members, Roderick Mackenzie

Posted in General | Leave a comment

The Jacobite Stone

Strathpeffer 17th -18th September 2011

Dr. Ian Blake and The Earl of Cromartie unveil the Jacobite Stone

The annual AGM of the Clan Mackenzie took place this weekend at the Ben Wyvis Hotel at Strathpeffer. The weekend included a walk to Loch Kinellan and Blar na Pairce. On Saturday evening members listened to a lecture by Andrew Mackenzie of London based on his new booklet “Clan Mackenzie and the Jacobite Risings”. The AGM took place at the Ben Wyvis on Sunday morning followed by lunch at the Hotel. In the afternoon, a large crowd gathered for the

The Jacobite Stone

unveiling of the Jacobite Stone by Carbarfeidh, Chief of Clan Mackenzie, The Earl of Cromartie and Dr. Ian Blake, a Past President of the Society. The stone commemorates all those Mackenzies who died fighting during the Jacobite rebellions. Mackenzies fought on both sides during the rebellions between 1689 and 1746. The stone was blessed by the Rev. Gordon Maclean, a retired Church of Scotland Minister from Strathpeffer. The procession to the memorial was led by a Piper, a Redcoat and an 18thC Highland Warrior, to signify the two sides of the conflict. A lament was played by Piper James Mackenzie and flowers laid in memory of fallen Clansmen.  

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Roderick Mackenzie Memorial Service 16/07/11

 Nellie Leitch and members of her family; who are related to Roderick Mackenzie; Cabarfiedh, Clan Chief of the Clan Mackenzie, and family, Jenny Mackenzie from Fort Augustus; who has close family ties to the site through her late daughter Sasha; Ian Blake and our young piper Archie led a parade to the grave site of Roderick Mackenzie where a lament was played, a dram of whisky poured over the grave and Ian Blake, after explaining the significance of the event, read a poem by the Jacobite poet of the ’45 Dug-Aid Graham.

The dram for the piper, due to his youth, was kindly taken by the Clan Chief, who attested to it’s excellence. The party then adjourned to the riverside where a barbecue was prepared that all enjoyed thanks to Jenny’s son’s culinary expertise! In total there were twenty five in attendance and a very enjoyable time was had by all. The weather was kind to us and, despite heavy showers earlier in the day and the very occasional raindrop during the picnic, we were very much blessed.

It was especially grand to see so many young people there, as it made the event a real family affair.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

AGM 2010 Glen Mhor Hotel, Inverness


Pipe Banner Hand-over to 4 Scots at 2010 AGM

 Our 2010 AGM Weekend

Hamish Mackenzie


One of the features of our calendar in recent years has been an “AGM Weekend”. The title has perhaps been something of a misnomer, since we have not just held the formal meeting required by our constitution but have tried to provide interesting talks, particularly on topics of interest to our clansfolk, and tours taking in places with Mackenzie associations. We have tried too to base ourselves at comfortable hotels offering acceptable terms and good food. In the last three years we have had weekends at Gairloch (where Ian Blake organised a tour in the Mackenzie heartland), Tain (where yours truly tried to show Mackenzie connections in Easter Ross) and in 2010 in Inverness. Cabarfeidh and most of our activists have been able to attend, and I would certainly urge readers of this magazine to join us on future occasions.


The  October 2010 weekend, master-minded by Graeme Mackenzie, met all the above criteria. Graeme himself conducted a walking tour of the “Capital of the Highlands”, which took in the High Kirk, the Eden Court Theatre, and the attractive Ness River Islands. The highlight was a visit to the Town House, where Roddy Balfour, Highland Councillor and about-to-be-elected Deputy Chairman of the Society, gave us a fascinating commentary.


The big theme of the weekend was the connections between the Clan Mackenzie and the Highland regiments. Dr Alix Powers-Jones gave us an interesting illustrated presentation on the 18th century Mackenzie origins of the  72nd Highlanders (The Duke of Albany’s Own) and the 78th Highlanders (The Ross-shire Buffs), their amalgamation as the Seaforth Highlanders in 1881 and the subsequent transmogrifications into what is now the 4th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. She also talked about future plans for The Highlanders Regimental Museum at Fort George, of which she is Curator, and which incorporates the museum collection of the Seaforth Highlanders.


The martial theme was continued on the Sunday morning. Our clan charity, the Tullach Ard Charitable Trust, had commissioned a pipe banner for the 4th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. Graeme organised, with a precision that the military must have envied, a presentation ceremony with a troop from the Battalion and, through the good offices of Finlay MacKenzie, a pipe band from the Inverness Branch of the British Legion. Cabarfeidh inspected the troop. I had the privilege of presenting the banner, which had on one side the arms of the Regiment and on the other those of our Society, including the words “Clan Mackenzie Society”. This will be borne for years to come at parades wherever the Regiment goes. We have in the pipeline further projects which celebrate the Mackenzie heritage, and any donations which members may wish to make to the Tullach Ard Charitable Trust which finances them will be most welcome.   

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Highland Time – a tall story!

Some ten years past, whilst Cabarfeidh was climbing on the west coast, he had the misfortune of his old faithful boots succumbing to the hard toil. On his return, as he passed through a small collection of houses, hardly large enough to call a village, he noticed an old cobblers shop, little more than a front room with adverts for long gone polishes  in the window. More chance of a repair here than in the posh shops in Inverness and, without doubt, cheaper too. As circumstance dictates opportunities for return to the area proved few and far between and it was some ten years before he found himself in that neck of the woods again. As he drove towards the west he thought back over those years and the boots that had travelled so many miles with him. “I wonder” he thought. “Surely not after all this time”. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The wee shop was still there. Paint now peeling on the wood window frames. “C” fumbled through his glove box and sure enough, underneath the sweet wrappers, discarded orange peel and long forgotten notes he found his repair ticket. He pushed open the door and a little brass bell jangled a welcome. The room was much as he remembered, a simple counter, single light


bulb dangling in the middle of the shop, unlit as any careful man would save the electricity until the last light fades. A shuffle of footsteps and the old cobbler came into the shop. “C” wondered whether it was the same stained jumper and same slippers as all those years ago. “I wonder whether perhaps you still have my old boots” “C” asked proffering the ticket. “Ah weil, let me have a wee look” the cobbler intoned turning to an old shelf at the back of the shop. Tickety-tackety boots scraped across the wood shelves as he moved the detritus of years past. With a cry of success, the cobbler swung the boots around and held them up for “C” to view. “I suppose you’ll be wanting them” a statement of fact more than a question. “C” smiled and affirmed his wish to recover his boots. “Och weil, they’ll be ready by Thursday”. Such is the urgency of time in the Highlands!

Posted in General | Leave a comment

International Gathering 2010

Strathpeffer August 2010 

The organiser and Clan Chief


Gathering 2010 was an event that seemed, as Fraser in Dad’s Army might say, ‘doomed’ to failure. However the Mackenzies proved to be made of sterner stuff. The world financial crisis following on after the Homecoming in 2009, followed on by the Icelandic earthquake and disruption to air travel over Europe, caused great concern to the organisers but, with Ian Blake’s steady hand at the wheel, we cruised into calm waters. It was not the mega event of 2005 but it was a fun Gathering. What we chose to call the Family Gathering. Despite the problems around the world we did still manage to draw support from all around the Globe and those that came entered into the spirit of the event with great enthusiasm. From the Bonfire opening to the Dinner at the Community Centre the sense of belonging shone through. We cannot forget to mention the members behind the scene from our Secretary Susan to Brian(membership) and Hamish, our President. We must comment on the Dinner where all tables were presented with a whole leg of lamb and an apron for the carver. Great fun and seriously good food. From the Bonfire and BBQ to Gairloch, a home day and visits to the Highland Folk Museum. Cabarfeidh and Alan’s talks. Every day was filled to the brim with activity and fun. Old friends and new. A special time. Last thanks must be to our Clan Chief, the Earl of Cromartie, and to our Chairman, Ian Blake, for making this such a special occasion.

Full report in the Magazine.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

AGM Weekend Tain 2009

The Morangie House Hotel in Tain was the venue for the AGM week-end.  Hamish Mackenzie our President organised this week-end which coincided with an umpteenth birthday of our Clan Chief. If it was anyone else’s birthday that week-end they did not declare it.

The Morangie Hotel, Tain

 We gathered on the Friday for a meal followed by an informal get together in the small lounge along with coffee, chocolates and drinks. Hamish led a discussion on “Mackenzie Connections in Easter Ross”, with particular  reference to visits planned for the  next day  On the Saturday morning we were joined by those who had not been present on the Friday for a day trip in the Tain area. About 5 cars took to the road and we moved off in convoy.  Hamish had arranged for us to visit Ballone Castle near Portmahomack, where we were also invited for coffee by the present owners, Annie and Lachie Stewart.  Ballone was once a Mackenzie stronghold which in recent times had become a sad ruin, facing South over the Moray Firth and visible from the hill above Portmahomack.  We arrived via a narrow road to nowhere and then on to a cliff-top track to the Castle.  To my surprise, being in the car in front, I was suddenly confronted by a 4 x 4 vehicle, at speed going sideways on the grass to miss us. That was a good start, it was our hostess en route for goodies with which to feed us.

At the Castle we were met by Lachie Stewart who explained to us how during the past 20 years, he had completely re-built many of the walls of the Castle, first finding the appropriate stones amongst the rubble of the ruin.  Once inside the Castle we were taken into the main hall which contained a huge table (possibly 12 – 15ft long), made of oak which was to be darkened to match an already existing oak chest.  Lachie also explained how he had arranged the heating system which eventually may minimise the overall cost of heating such large rooms. We were also all taken up ever narrowing spiral staircases to tiny bedrooms with wonderful views.  All very cosy and compact, but you would not run up and down those spirals in a great hurry on a regular basis. Two of our party were taken down a larger spiral since once up, you have to get down.  Eventually Hamish encouraged us all to leave as time was running short. Our next stop was the Tarbat Discovery Centre, a former Church in Portmahomack full of Pictish remains found in excavations in recent years, which has several Mackenzie connections. We were also shown a well from which is taken the Baptismal Water for the first born son of the Earls of Cromartie. The water was said to have some beneficial properties.  We then took our convoy of cars up to the small harbour in Portmahomack to see the pier built by the first Earl of Cromartie and the girnals (grain stores, one also built by the first Earl) before leaving for a very necessary lunch-break at another old Mackenzie house, the Kincraig House Hotel. There we had a very welcome lunch in a lovely Dining Room.

After exercising our various dogs we were off again to Kilmuir Easter Church to see a Mausoleum belonging to the Cromartie family.  We only viewed this from without, although it would appear from the gaps in the wooden door that maybe the odd small creeature could come and go at will.  Our next port of call was Tarbat House, a one time Cromartie property, now sadly a burnt-out shell, surrounded by self-seeded trees and Keep Out notices.  Inside the ruined house we stepped precariously over the rubble to see what remained of the interior,  the burned out stair-case space with the remains of the charcoal stair-treads visible in the walls.  We were then taken to the old walled garden. This looked a happier place, the wall is being restored and the garden itself cultivated by the present owners of the property.  Finally we visited Milton, a village on the former Cromartie estate, where Isma Munro, herself a resident, showed us round.

By this time most of us were quite happy to return to the Hotel for some tea, it had been quite a hot day and we needed to recover ourselves for Dinner.

We all enjoyed an excellent Dinner followed by an illustrated talk by Hamish about Andrew Maitland and his sons, the architects of many of the more prominent buildings in Tain and Easter Ross, who also executed a number of works for Mackenzie clients.

The following day, Sunday and still quite hot and sunny, we  were joined for a buffet lunch by those who could not make the previous day. This was followed by our AGM.

The whole week-end was very well organised by Hamish our President. He probably found us difficult to control and a mini-nightmare.  It was well planned, so thank you Hamish, very enjoyable and appreciated by all.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Kinkell Castle

Kinkell Castle, one of the castles of the Clan Mackenzie, had an Open Garden day on 6th June 2011. Gerald Laing, the world-famous artist and sculptor, came across the Castle  in the 1960′s in some state of disrepair and bought it from a distant cousin for five thousand pounds. Over the years he has renovated it, removing the 18th century extension, and returning it to its 16th C origins. Done on a proverbial shoestring he must now marvel at the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds spent by such as the National Trust for Scotland on so many other properties. Whilst the house will not be open, the Gardens are open for that one day only. Regrettably for the rest of the year, it is a private house and not open to the general public.

Over for this year, this is a once a year opportunity in support of the Gerald Laing Art Foundation.

Kinkell Castle Cottage , in the grounds of the Castle, is available to let though

Obituary: Gerald Laing passed away in November 2012 at the Castle at the age of 75.

Posted in General, Historical, Social | Leave a comment

A History of Medicine in Scotland

Medical Matters

Prior to the end of the 19thC Medical care was in the hands of travelling healers, quacks and surgeon apothecaries. As there were very few in the Highlands of Scotland, self medication was the order of the day. Many of these cures were simply too repugnant to describe here as we have no wish to upset our readers! One of the less drastic concoctions was for pain in the ear: “Take ground worms and boil them in goose fat, and when they are well mixed, take and strain them and pour in a little of the liquor in the ear that is painful” [do not try this at home!] Other cures obviously had less of the apothecaries and more of the witches. This cure is for gout and may have worsened the condition of the patient considerably in the search for the foul which is not to be found in Scotland: “Apply the skin from the right heel of the big vulture to the right heal of the patient and the skin of the left heel of the same fowl onto the left heal of the patient” It is all the more surprising that the graveyards of the Highlands are populated by a great number of people that survived into their eighties and nineties.

The Healers, A History of Medicine in Scotland by David Hamilton ISBN: 1-84183-051-8

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Roderick Mackenzie

A Cairn by the side of the road in Glenmoriston signifies the point where one of the more colourful members of the Clan Mackenzie died in a skirmish with Royalist soldiers and in so doing sought to  to protect his leader, Bonnie Prince Charlie. Due to Roderick Mackenzie’s death and his mistaken identity as that of the Prince, this without doubt facilitated the Prince’s escape to France.


Lord Elcho's Lifeguards - Trooper

Roderick Mackenzie, the son of an Edinburgh watchmaker, a well dressed man of similar statue to the Prince and often mistaken for him, was attacked by some of Cumberland’s men and during the fight he was slain, crying out “You have killed your Prince” The soldiers struck his head from his body, no doubt very hopeful of the reward of some £30,000, which was truly a King’s ransome in those days. It is doubtful that they would ever have been paid as King George had insisted that the whole body must be presented for the reward.  Some of Roderick Mackenzie’s comrades are said to have interred his body in a grave on the other side of the road down by the river shortly afterwards. Despite MacDonald of Kingsburgh, a prisoner at Fort Augustus, failing to identify the head; he refused to identify the Prince without the body-he may well of realised the error but seen the advantage in it; the Duke of Cumberland, believing the Prince to be killed returned to London and the head was paraded through Inverness, Stirling and Edinburgh before being taken to London. The Prince’s valet, Eichard Morison was brought from Carlisle prison to identify it, which he failed to do. It was then realised that a mistake had been made, but in the meantime the Prince had made his escape to France. It may well have been the appearance in Paris of a very living Prince caused them to have realised their error. There are various accounts of Roderick Mackenzie’s heroism but we do know that the bulk of Elcho Troop surrendered to Inverness Garrison on the 19th April so we may assume that he and the others with him were hoping for the Prince to return with the promised gold and French troops that never materialised. He may well have been on the way to Kintail to seek refuge amongst his kinsmen. Tradition has it that he was a Murchison, a sept of the Mackenzies, whose members often have used the clan surname outwith the Highlands. It is also suggested that as a Jacobite fugitive he felt unable toreturn to Edinburgh lest he put his widowed mother and sister in peril.

From Bishop Forbes “Lyon in Mourning” it is unlikely that Roderick Mackenzie was actually in touch with the Seven Men of Glenmoriston and the Prince himself and it may have been a freak of circumstances that they were so close at the time. The Prince’s records suggest they did hear the exchange of fire and made a speedy retreat to Glen Cannich, some way to the north. Wheter this was the skirmish with Roderick Mackenzie is debatable. Certainly, for the Prince, it was fortuitous as it meant that the hunt for him subsided allowing for his eventual escape to France. Previous suggestion of Mackenzie being killed by Redcoats is also doubtful as the majority of the “pacification” of the Clans of the Great Glen were carried out by the Highland Independant Companies. The comment “You have killed your Prince” actually makes far more sense addressed to other Highlanders. Records held at Culloden strongly question any Redcoat or regular soldiers being active in the area on that day. Cumberland did leave Fort Augustus in July, handing over to Lord Albemarle.  

“Rod’rick Mackenzie, a merchant-man,

At Ed’iiburgh town had join’d the Clan,

Had in the expedition been,

And at this time durst not be seen.

Being skulking in Glen-Morriston,

Him the soldiers lighted on.

Near about the Prince’s age and size,

Genteely drest, in no disguise,

In ev’ry feature, for’s very face

Might well be taken in any case,

And lest he’d like a dog be hang’d,

He chose to die with sword in hand,

And round him like a madman struck,

Vowing alive he’d ne’er be took,

Deep wounds he got, and wounds he gave;

At last a shot he did receive,

And as he fell, them to convince,

Cry’d, Ah! Alas! You’ve killed your Prince;

Ye murderers and bloody crew,

You had no orders thus to do.”

                               Dug-Aid Graham

Posted in Historical | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Medieval Sword Fighting in South Africa


Stuart Bennett, a South African Member of the Clan Mackenzie Society, has sent us this interesting article. I am not sure how medieval sword fighting ties in with South African History?

Stuart and his son Raistlin

Medieval combat alive and well in Africa

Greetings Swordsmen and women of Scotland. I am the Master-at-Arms of the Fourways Society for Medieval Combat Studies(FSMCS), based in Johannesburg, South Africa. It would be difficult for many British and Europeans to believe it, but in Africa and more
specifically South Africa, European or Western Martial Arts are well supported and well practiced by many. With the establishment of its Eastern counterparts over the years, many of us felt an urge to research and practice martial art forms, a little closer to our own European heritage and traditions. With the discovery, translation and interpretation of many European Medieval treatises and ‘Fechtbucher’ (Combat Manuals) in recent years, it has come a long way towards it being established as a formal martial art and sport in general, so much so, that in 2005 the majority of the Medieval Combat clubs and re-enactment societies, in South Africa, banded together to form an affiliation body called EMASA (European Martial Arts South Africa). The enthusiasm in general is fuelled, not only by the martial aspect of it, but also by the research in methodology and practice of armour-making and sword-smithing as practiced in Medieval Europe. With the exchange rate as it is in South Africa, the importing of armour and weapons has become prohibitively expensive. This has led to the development of a very rich pool of talent in the black-smithing and sword-smithing industry, so much so, that many of them produce for a wider market than just their own, and have gone as far as exporting abroad. It would be great if like-minded groups and individuals based in Scotland can make contact with us here in deepest, darkest Africa. We would love to plan an international tournament and invite clubs and groups based in the UK and Europe to compete.
Please contact us at:
Email: /
Website: / Mobile: +27
83 759 8689
Kind regards
Hein Jooste
(Master-at-Arms: The Fourways Society for
Medieval Combat Studies / Grand Master-at-
Arms: The South African Guild for Medieval
Combat Studies / Proprietor: HillTribe Armoury)

Posted in General | Leave a comment