Scottish clan should celebrate beating King James VI's attempt to wipe them out

A 19th-century romanticised image of Clan MacGregor, which was outlawed by James VI following a particularly brutal episode of clan warfare (Picture contributed)A 19th-century romanticised image of Clan MacGregor, which was outlawed by James VI following a particularly brutal episode of clan warfare (Picture contributed)
A 19th-century romanticised image of Clan MacGregor, which was outlawed by James VI following a particularly brutal episode of clan warfare (Picture contributed)
Relics of Clan MacGregor’s past have been conserved to help its history live on

Some say the past is a different country, and it’s certainly hard to imagine Scotland being a place where an entire surname could be banned on pain of death. Yet this is what happened to Clan MacGregor, on King James VI’s orders, following the Battle of Glen Fruin in 1603, in which they had slaughtered the rival Colquhouns, apparently “without pitie or compassion”. Banned for 150 years, they were forced to take another name, with many choosing Bain or Drummond.

Given how long this attempt to completely wipe out the clan lasted, it’s a wonder there are any signs of it left at all. However, James’s ambitions were thwarted and, on Monday, 140 MacGregors from all over the world will gather at Glenorchy Parish Church at Dalmally, Argyll, where stones that marked the graves of the clan’s forefathers remain as its only surviving relics of note.

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Conservation work, paid for by 22 clan members, Historic Environment Scotland, the Pilgrim Trust and the Strathmartine Trust, should ensure the stones’ survival – the clan’s is beyond any doubt and worthy of celebration.

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