Tuesday 2 November 2010

Sir Walter Scott in Appin

Between notes about his own family and general genealogical notes about the Carmichaels, Alexander Carmichael wrote down an anecdote regarding the time that Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832) visited Appin. The date of Scott’s visit is not known but it must have been prior to the publication of his first historical novel Waverley which took the literary world by storm in 1814. Scott may be given credit for the creation of the modern historical novel and some of his writings, such as Rob Roy (1817), were deeply influenced by Highland history. It must be said that Scott’s views of the Highlands were not detached from romanticism, such was the lingering influence of James Macpherson’s Ossian, but at the beginning of the nineteenth century his writings proved to be immensely popular. This anecdote begins with two Appin men who may have been escaping from Culloden, before the connection is then made with Sir Walter Scott.

Maccoll and a Carmichael were
pursued by horsemen and wishing
to preserve their swords they drove them
into the moss over which they were
pursued. They were imprisoned in
Castle Stalker Appin and when
liberated they went back in search
of their swords and found them.
When Sir Walter Scott was in
Appin he taught Archibald the son of this
Maccoll the rudiments of English [and] Latin
grammar along with the boys of his host
Stewart of Invernaoile
It was here that Scott heard mostly from the
miller of Inverfolla adjoining the episodes
of the 45–46 woven into the web of
Waverly. He took jottings
in house a bit of which is still up and
used as a milk-house and then went
to a cave up the hill side and then
extended his notes. This was his habit and
when at a subsequent period when he
became famous Scott visited Appin
he went to see the cave by the river on the hillside
where as he pathetically said he spent
some of his happiest hours.
This cave is notable from its having
been the place where his muime hid
Domhnull nan Ord Donald
the Hammerer when an infant
The history of Donald the Hammerer
is given by Sir Walter Scott in Jamieson’s
edition of Burts Letters from the Highlands.

Reference: CW 383, fos. 179r–180r
Image: Sir Walter Scott by Henry Raeburn (1822)

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Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4

Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4
Stone whorls collected by Alexander Carmichael, held by West Highland Museum (ref. WHM 1992 13 2.4). [© carstenflieger.com]