The battle cries of the Highland clans

Battlecries were used to undermine their opponents - and find each other on the battlefield
Battlecries were used to undermine their opponents - and find each other on the battlefield
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USED by clans to rattle their fighting foes and to help distinguish different sides during a battle, each Scottish clan had its own war cry that would have a psychological effect on the enemy, as well as helping to find comrades on the battle field.

The battle cries of the clans would often include the rallying points of home or immortalise powerful leaders.

David Quillin, of Durham, N.C., competes in piping competition at the 46th Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans at MacRae Meadows near Linville, N.C.

David Quillin, of Durham, N.C., competes in piping competition at the 46th Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans at MacRae Meadows near Linville, N.C.

Meanwhile, some simply sought to noise up the opposition with claims of their fighting power.

We take a look at this history behind nine Scottish clan battle cries:

Cameron

Chlanna nan con thigibh a’ so ‘s gheibh sibh feòil! - Sons of the Hounds Come Here and Get Flesh!

Six-year-old Andrew Warburton of Marion, N.C., plays his bagpipes along with the Grandfather Mountain Highland Pipe Band at the 44th annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans, at Grandfather Mountain, near Linville, N.C., Saturday, July 10, 1999. (AP Photo/Alan Marler)

Six-year-old Andrew Warburton of Marion, N.C., plays his bagpipes along with the Grandfather Mountain Highland Pipe Band at the 44th annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans, at Grandfather Mountain, near Linville, N.C., Saturday, July 10, 1999. (AP Photo/Alan Marler)

Camerons were known as fierce fighters with most of their territory sitting at more than 1,000ft in altitude, including Ben Nevis. The last wolf in Scotland is said to have been killed in 1680 by Ewan Cameron of Lochiel, one of the most renowned chiefs of any clan. He was the only chief who did not submit authority to Oliver Cromwell.

Campbell

Cruachan

Thought to refer the mountain which dominates Loch Awe and much of Argyll but also linked to the farm of the same name on the west bank of Loch Awe, directly opposite the clan stronghold of Innischonnell Castle, which became a natural rallying point.

Cruachan is also used by the old Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders regiment.

Colquhoun

Cnoc Ealachain - Hill of the Black Willow

Cnoc Elachain sits near Rossdhu at Loch Lomond close to the clan seat of power at Luss. The Hill of Black Willow was the gathering place of the clan.

Grant

Craig Elachaidh - The Rock of Alarm

The Grants were in Strathspey during the reign of Malcolm III and were tasked with lighting a beacon on at the summit of Craigellachie, by Aviemore, to warn the king if danger loomed from the North. When lit, clan members would mobilise there.

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Mackay

Bratach Bhan Chlann Aoidh - the White Banner of Mackay.

In reference to the white battle flag carried by Angus Du Mackay, 7th of Strathnaver, who led his men to victory at 1431 the Battle of Drumnacoub against the Clan Sutherland at Tongue. Once an incredibly powerful clan, the Mackays had their roots in Moray and gained influence across the Highlands from the 14th Century.

MacLean

Fear eil’ air son Eachainn! – Another for Hector!

In memory of seven brothers that fought in the Inverkething battle of 1651 and died when trying to defend Sir Hector MacLean of Duart, who was also killed in the battle against the New Model Army.

Inverkeithing ended in a decisive English victory that gave Oliver Cromwell’s forces control of the Firth of Forth.

Macneil

Buaidh no Bàs! - Victory or death

The Macneils were infamous throughout Scotland and beyond for their pirating and great seamanship, with the clan raiding the seas from their base at Kisimul Castle on Barra. Recent research on DNA of clan members found that they descended not Ireland’s “greatest” King, Niall of the Nine Hostages, but from the Vikings.

Stewarts of Appin

Creag an Sgairbh – Cormorant’s Rock

The cry comes from Castle Stalker, the first clan castle built around 1540 by Duncan Stewart of Appin

around 25 miles north of Oban. It was later gifted to James IV for use as a hunting lodge. It sits at the mouth of Loch Laich by Loch Linnhe on a rocky islet known as the Rock of the Cormorants.

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