Thursday 28 October 2010

The Kings of the Cats

Scottish Wild Cat
An intriguing story, one which has not only an international resonance but has subsequently become connected with the MhacMhuirch bardic family, is ‘The King of the Cats’. This particular version of the story names the king as Cugarbhat (sometimes he is called Cugrabhat), probably a corruption of a Latin name. He is said to have been slain by MacMhuirich who then proceeds to boast of his deed to the kitten by the fireside, saying that the king of the cats is dead. This enraged the kitten so much so that it grew and attacked MacMhuirich three times. He was only saved by his steel helmet. Judging from other versions of this tale it would appear that what Alexander Carmichael wrote down here was perhaps either only a mere summary, or what the reciter could remember. The tradition bearer from whom Carmichael collected this anecdote was Neil MacEachan (c. 1802–1883), a crofter from Howbeg in South Uist.

Cugarbhat was ri[gh] nan cat.
Macvurich & was sealg & his
dogs. Kil[l] Chugarbat in a cairn.
A Mhac tu tha piseag chnoc
pheal[lach] an oir na lua[tha] ag
that you abhag kil[l] chug
arvat. So he did – A phi[sea]g
chnoc ph[eallach] ? ? Kil[l] cug[arbhat]
Did m[y] dogs Kil[l]? Really she
asked the pest 3 times she sprung
coil[ed] at his throat. His clog
ada cruach saved him
He grew larger & larger ea[ch] time.

CW90/87, f. 36r.
Ó Néill, Eoghan Rua, ‘The King of the Cats’, Béaloideas, vol. 59 (1991), pp. 167–88.
Gillies, William, ‘Alexander Carmichael and Clann Mhuirich’, Scottish Gaelic Studies, vol. XX (2000), pp. 1–67.
Image: Scottish Wild Cat.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Nether Lochaber: The Rev. Alexander Stewart – III

Here is the third and final excerpt of the appreciation of the Rev. Alexander Stewart contributed by Donald Ross to the Inverness Courier where the minister’s interest in the natural world is highlighted, some background to his character, his interests in literary criticism and his final fortnightly column preceding his death. There can be little doubt that he achieved a great deal during his lifetime and his literary efforts were recognised by the University of St Andrews, his alma mater, with the award of the degree of LL.D. in 1884. Previously in 1876 he had been elected, just as Alexander Carmichael had been, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and he was also made a Fellow of the Royal Physical Society of Edinburgh, and of the Geographical and Natural History Societies of Glasgow. He was also a corresponding member of several learned Societies on the Continent. In addition to all of this he also managed to find time to devote his attention to editing Logan’s Scottish Gael, a two-volume tome of substantial portions. Perhaps the inscription on his memorial best sums up the man and his achievements: “In memory of Rev. Alexander Stewart, LL.D., F.S.A. Scot. For fifty years minister of Ballachulish and Ardgour. Died 17th January, 1901, in the 72nd year of his age. Scholar, naturalist, seanachie, and bard. Distinguished for the variety and charm of his writings; dear to all how knew him, and most dear to those who knew him best.”


Perhaps Stewart was at his best and happiest when discoursing on the habits, trials, and charms of the songsters in his glebe. Not only were his descriptions accurate; they were often amusing, provoking a smile or outright laughter. One of the most hilarious letters to the “Courier” in 1890 (alas printed in no book) is about an inveterate tearer-up of books, Jack the Ripper, his pet jackdaw, who was excused the complete destruction of a Book of Common Prayer in an Episcopalian home in Onich because “he had been brought up a Presbyterian.” He was equally at home with fishes and people brought to his manse all the odd infrequent creatures of the deep, caught or cast ashore, for his learned identification.

He was in other ways a curious mixture of convention and unconvention. He had no Victorian inhibition about stripping in a boat and enjoying a swim in Loch Leven. He writes without embarrassment or apology about sly allusions in a Gaelic poem to the significance of the loss of the maidenly snood. Yet he was against “innovation.” He would not tolerate any interference with the established texts of his Church. He protested against the new translation of the Scriptures, and he would have no truck with the replacement of the Paraphrases by hymns. As for the emancipation of the fair sex, he was convinced that women’s supremacy should be limited to the nursery or the kitchen!


In his pastoral life he had the full confidence and warm affection of the people: not only the established of his own flock, but also the adherents of all the many other sects in the district. They all called him “Nether.” He was a popular preacher, equally fluent in Gaelic and English, but happier and freerer in his mother tongue. He had no clerical starchiness, and said that on occasions a song with a moral was better to be used than a sermon.

Men and women living to-day in Onich were christened by “Nether”; those who cannot remember him a vivid picture of his personality handed down on by their parents. His memory is green — a memory of a vigorous, eager and buoyant character. If he had never written anything, he would be remembered as a first-class sailor, a good swimmer and horseman, a successful fisherman with a rod and line, a hill-walker. As pater-familias, he instructed his three children in the natural history of the sea, shore and land. He was a farmer, like many country ministers, busy tilling, sowing, and harvesting his glebe, managing the byre and poultry-house.


For all his love of the classics, Stewart was a keen critic of modern literature. And in the field of Gaelic song, original and translated, he has a right to be classed with Pattison of Islay, Sheriff Nicolson of Skye, and his friend John Stuart Blackie. If he contributed less than these, he had the gift of introducing the Gaelic bards to English readers. Fourteen of his songs, favourites at mods, are preserved for posterity in Malcolm C. Macleods’ “Modern Gaelic Bards, Second Series” (1913): they include a translation of Robert Tannahill’s “Gloomy winter’s noo awa’.”

Nether’s final contribution to the “Courier” appeared in the issue which briefly announced his unexpected death on 17th January, 1901, suddenly after an illness brought about by an accident a year before. It was a typical letter on folk-lore and Highland custom, about the Black Art and the playing of the trump or Jew’s harp at ceilidhs.


Two-and-a-half years after the say day of his burial another great concourse assembled on the 18th July, 1903, by the lochside road at Onich, again to pay homage to the beloved pastor and man of letters. A public subscription organised by the Stewart Society had provided a memorial in the form of a 20-feet high Celtic cross. It was unveiled by Stewart of Achnacone, and Stewart of Ardvorlich pronounced the address to the memory of a great clansman, “venerable divine, a learned doctor, a great Celtic scholar, a lover of nature, a true Highlander well versed in the lore of his country.”

The cross was removed for safety from quarrying operations in 1955 to the new village cemetery at Innis a’ Bhiorlinn, secluded on the sloping hillside near Corran Ferry. Facing towards the gates of Ardgour, the inscription is from 1st Kings IV, 33, in Gaelic and English, aptly from the record of one other who, too, was a singer of songs and the embodiment of wisdom—“and he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beats, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.”

Ross, Donald ‘Nether Lochaber: Memories of a Well-known Highlander’, The Inverness Courier, no. 11943 (20 Jan., 1961), p. 3
Image: Portrait of Nether Lochaber from The Celtic Magazine, vol. IX, no. 5 (1901), p. 19

Monday 18 October 2010

Nether Lochaber: The Rev. Alexander Stewart – II

Continuing with the second excerpt from the appreciation of the Rev. Alexander Stewart contributed by Donald Ross to the Inverness Courier, more detail emerges of Nether Lochaber’s fortnightly literary columns. The two books, which were the fruition of such literary labours, are also name-checked. It may also be added at this juncture that the Rev. Alexander Stewart was also a notable poet – much of his output was posthumously edited by Malcolm C. Macleod and appeared in Modern Gaelic Bards (1913) – as well as a founder member of An Comunn Gàidhealach (or the Highland Society), founded in Oban in 1891, and the Gaelic Mòd, an annual festival held for over one hundred years now and celebrated recently in Caithness.


During the first ten years of his ministry, Stewart must have developed into an assiduous student of nature in all its moods, for he became a district correspondent to the “Inverness Courier,” then edited by Dr Robert Carruthers. Carruthers had earlier been the literary godfather of another of his country contributors, the Cromarty stonemason-geologist, Hugh Miller. His first article appeared on 21st April 1859, entitled “Lochaber—A Chapter for Ornithologists.” It contained 1,100 words, unsigned, on birds and meteorology, and started with a note on recent weather “with us in Nether Lochaber” and dealt with a weather forecast and a find of old coins. On 19th May it was about potatoes and grampuses. The fourth letter, a fortnight later, appeared under “The Weather, etc.” discussing peat; and dogfish at Corran. In June there was more of weather, a dissertation on the cuckoo, and a report of the drowning of a village child in the peat moss at Cuilchenna.

Later contributions demonstrated and consolidated the evidence of his intimate knowledge of folk-lore, and Gaelic poetry, tradition and legend. They grew under the influence of his mentor Carruthers into a familiar and characteristic form. Stewart applied to this writing his experience and the imagination which flourished on experience and the deductions of his enquiring mind. His greatest quality was his ability to write in an unaffected, graceful literary style, unpatronising, apparently artless, yet full of art. He talked about archaeology, natural history, the habits of birds, beasts and fishes, and he could communicate to his readers the wonders of science in a manner painless and pleasant.

The heading of his articles, “Nether Lochaber”, soon became his pen-name, and ultimately a second, informal everyday name. Long before 1881, when Alexander Mackenzie, historian of the clans, champion of the oppressed, and editor of the “Celtic Magazine”, named him the “Prince of Provincial newspaper correspondents,” his column was established as one of the most attractive features of the “Courier.”


It is not surprising that public acclaim demanded book publication, and the first Stewart collection came on in 1883, aptly titled “Nether Lochaber: the Natural History, Legends, and Folk-lore of the West Highlands.” The book contained a selection from the records of the years 1868 to 1878. Chapter I is a good introductory example of “Nether Lochaber” in all his exuberance and diversity—primroses and daisies of early March, a weather forecast embellished with a Latin tag, quotations from Burns and Coleridge, the translation of a Gaelic poem, and the explanation of the Hebridean customs it described. The book was highly praised by the press. Among the many journals, Scottish and English, that welcomed it was the “Spectator,” whose review, a model of perspicacity and concise summing-up, said that it was “written…with that entrain with which a busy man throws himself into the favourite occupation of his leisure hours.”

The publishers must have been encouraged by the success of the book, for in 1885 appeared a second selection, “’Twixt Ben Nevis and Glencoe,” covering the years 1878 to 1883. This book continued to exhibit the author’s versatility and literary gifts as well as his accurate knowledge of scientific advance natural history, and Celtic folk-lore. Writing in 1881, Alexander Mackenzie has expressed astonishment of readers of the “Courier” that such a flow of science in popular form, and prose-poetry, could emanate form the “literary desert” of Lochaber. Yet we know that Stewart’s seclusion was pleasantly broken by visits from eminent men and women, and that correspondence linked him with people far and near. His memory was well stored with his youthful reading, and in the press of a busy pastoral life he kept abreast of the literature of the day. His material, too, was everywhere around him, the lore which he picked up in his rambles among the hills or along the shore, and in his talks with men and women at their daily lives.

Ross, Donald ‘Nether Lochaber: Memories of a Well-known Highlander’, The Inverness Courier, no. 11943 (20 Jan., 1961), p. 3
Image: Portrait of Nether Lochaber from The Celtic Magazine, vol. IX, no. 5 (1901), p. 19

Friday 15 October 2010

Nether Lochaber: The Rev. Alexander Stewart

A name to be reckoned with which has cropped up in this blog on more than once occasion is Nether Lochaber, the pen-name of the Rev. Alexander Stewart (1829–1901). Over more than four decades of contributing a more or less fortnightly column to the Inverness Courier resulted in two publications: Nether Lochaber: The Natural History, Legends and Folk-lore of the West Highlands (1883) and ’Twixt Ben Nevis and Glencoe: The Natural History, Legends, and Folk-lore of the West Highlands (1885). His namesake Alexander Carmichael may have got to know him from these very columns but it is likely that they may have come across one another earlier than 1859, the date on which Nether Lochaber penned his first of many contributions on wide-ranging topics such as folklore, poetry, meteorology and ornithology. An occasional contribution, as we have seen already, would wend its way from Carmichael when he was resident in Benbecula. This was the very island of Nether Lochaber’s birth for his father had been on the island working for the excise at that time. The well-respected minister passed away in early 1901, only a few months after the publication of Carmina Gadelica. It might well have been one of the last books that the Rev. Alexander Stewart was to read. Although we have yet to find evidence to the contrary, it is likely that Carmichael would have been present at his friend’s funeral. The following is the first excerpt of an appreciation of Nether Lochaber written by Donald Ross.

The “Inverness Courier,” in the issue of 25th January 1901, reported the death and funeral of a Highland scholar, “a patriot who name would be handed down to posterity as the revered and honoured of Celts all over the world.” Three days earlier the largest gathering possibly ever to assemble by Loch Leven in Nether Lochaber had witnessed the burial of Dr Alexander Stewart, minister of the Established Church at North Ballachulish, a man who had become a legend in his own time. For almost fifty years he had been respected, indeed revered, for his scholarship, love of nature and homeland, and, above all, for his humanity. It was a day of lowering and overcastting sky and mist driving over a background of sea and snow-clad mountains. Pipers of Ballachulish Volunteer Company of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders preceded the procession from the manse at Onich, playing “MacCrimmon’s Lament,” “Lochaber no More,” and “The Land o’ the Leal.” Then came representatives of the clans, learned societies, the Presbyter of Abertarff, the Stewart Society; and Cameron of Lochiel. Nearly every man and boy in the locality followed, and women and girls stood on the mile-long route, or watched from the hillside above the churchyard. It is clear from the account of the day that all were filled with emotion to a degree that could have come only from a sense of irreparable loss and identity with a great heart that has been lost to the Highlands. It is fitting, sixty years later, that we should recall with pride the name and work of Alexander Stewart, “Nether Lochaber”.

He was born in 1829 in Benbecula, where his father was an officer of the Inland Revenue. When Alexander was young his family moved to Oban. He went to school there, and later at Kilmichael in Perthshire, and had ample opportunity to acquire much of his early knowledge of the lore of the Highlands before he entered St Andrews University in 1843. He obtained his M.A., distinguishing himself especially in literature and the classics.

Stewart was ordained in 1851, after service as a missionary in Oban and assistant in Paisley. He started his ministry in Nether Lochaber, being presented by the Crown to the combined parish of North Ballachulish and Ardgour. He had charge of 1,100 souls, and two churches, and preached in Nether Lochaber and over Corran Ferry in Ardgour on alternate Sabbaths. He received “Royal Bounty” stipends totalling £120 supplemented by sums from the heritors, and a glebe of 3 to 4 acres. In 1852 he married Janet Morrison, eldest daughter of one of his Argyll parishioners, Lieutenant Morrison, R.N., of Sallachan House, and brought her to the manse in Onich to be his trusted helper for nearly fifty years.

Ross, Donald, ‘Nether Lochaber: Memories of a Well-known Highlander’, The Inverness Courier, no. 11943 (20 Jan., 1961), p. 3
Image: Portrait of Nether Lochaber from The Celtic Magazine, vol. IX, no. 5 (1901), p. 19

Friday 8 October 2010

Carmichaels in the Census - I

The blog ‘a’ spaidsearachd agus a’ meòrachadh’, by ‘Direcleit’, is a constantly expanding treasure-house of information about the people of the Outer Hebrides in the nineteenth century. A recent entry on Alexander Carmichael has inspired us, for our hundred and first post, to take a closer look at how the folklorist and his family were recorded in the censuses and other official documentation. We shall begin with Carmichael in his bachelor years, before his marriage to Mary Frances Macbean in January 1868.

Alexander Archibald Carmichael is relatively easy to track down. He was born on the 1 December 1832 to Hugh and Betty née MacColl in Taylochan, Lismore, and baptised a week later. A marginal note, ‘Ex[amine]d A.C.’, shows that Alexander must have looked up his own baptismal record during one of his visits to Lismore as an adult! The 1841 census has Alexander, recorded as seven years old, living with his tenant father, his mother, and his 20-year old brother Donald at Killean on the island. Ten years later, having finished his schooling, he is working as a ploughman at his parents’ house – a reminder of the strength and stamina Alexander Carmichael would need both for his career as an exciseman and for his avocation as a folklorist.

In 1861 Carmichael, recorded as 27 years old, is staying in Talisker at the foot of Glen Òraid in Minginish in the Isle of Skye, where he worked as an exciseman at the Talisker Distillery, actually nearly five miles away at Carbost, from September 1860 until March 1862. He is a visitor – that is, a lodger – in the substantial household of the owners of the estate, the 80-year old sheepfarmer from Kilmonivaig, Ewen Cameron (1780–1863), and his son Donald Colin (1827–83). Ewen Cameron’s father, Donald Charles, was born in 1745, his middle name deriving from the fact that among those attending his baptism was the newly-arrived Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

Ewen Cameron had come across from Beolary in Glenelg to take over Talisker from Hugh MacAskill in 1849, after the potato famine had devastated the latter’s finances. Both tacksmen left behind them a bad reputation for carrying out clearances, a charge forcefully put by John McCaskill or MacAskill, shoemaker, from the village of Fernilea (Fearann an Léith) on the tack, to the Napier Commission on 18 May 1883: ‘what the Assyrians left undone, the Babylonians finished.’

‘He [Ewen Cameron] got the tack thirty-three years ago, and when he came on he made up his mind that there should be nobody in the place at all, for McAskill had left remaining some of the people for his own convenience. When Mr Cameron came to Talisker he was not to do with any of the people, and as I have understood, he began to litigate with the landlord, holding out that the people being allowed on the tack was not mentioned in the lease. He would give us nothing, and he would keep nothing from us. The matter then came that he would have to take the tack as he got it, or leave it, and he stuck to it. He then deprived the cottars of the grazing which they had, and grazing for cows could no longer be got, not for twenty years or so. He took from us our peat mosses, and gave us a bog which neither man nor best made use of up to that time.’

MacAskill goes on to allege that Cameron cleared some twenty families from other parts of the estate into his own native township of Fernilea, using them as an enforced agricultural labour force for his farm.

MacAskill was probably related to another John MacAskill, cottar, Fernilea, who recited Carmichael a story about his ancestor Mac Iain Duibh mhic Thasgail on Hallowe’en Night, 1860, as well as to Kenneth MacAskill, one of the boys who recited the story Cigean, Cuaigean, is Boc Geal an Reubain on 30 January 1861.

Given his sympathies with the crofting cause, Carmichael’s association with the Camerons appears rather ill-starred. The connection, however, may have given Carmichael a first contact with the Outer Hebrides, a possible factor in suggesting to him the idea of working in Uist. It is likely that Ewen Cameron’s son Donald Colin was then already courting the woman he was to marry on 24 July 1863, Jane Macdonald (c. 1835–1915) of the Balranald family in North Uist.

Jane was the daughter of James Thomas Macdonald (d. 1855), the erstwhile factor of the North Uist estates known to the islanders as Seumas Ruadh. She was the sister of Alexander Macdonald of Balranald (d. 1901), Alick Bhaile Raghnaill, one of the most respected and popular tacksmen of his day in the island. Another of her siblings was Anne Margaret, wife of the Sheriff-Substitute at Lochmaddy, Charles Shaw W.S. (d. 1885), ‘An Siorram Glas’, to whom Carmichael would bring ‘strong recommendations from friends of the highest respectability’ when he arrived to take up his post in Lochmaddy in December 1864. The Shaws’ daughter Anne would marry Ewen Cameron’s nephew, Donald Charles Cameron, farmer of the neighbouring tack of Glenbrittle, in 1873. Yet another sibling of Jane’s was Jessie Catherine (d. 1895), the famous Seasaidh Bhaile Raghnaill whose romantic elopement with Donald MacDonald, the son of the tacksman of Monkstadt in Skye, had caused such a stir throughout the islands in 1850.

A playful love poem, Anns a’ mhadainn chiùin Chéitein, to Jane – ‘Sìneag uasal nam blàth-shùl’ – probably dates from the late 1850s. It was composed by the Rev. John Norman MacDonald (1830–1868), minister of Harris, in the name of the Rev. John Alexander MacRae (1832–96) of North Uist. Jane was MacRae’s first cousin.

National Archives of Scotland GD1/126/8/1/90, Charles Shaw to W. F. Skene, 10 June 1869
National Library of Scotland Adv. MS 50.1.11 fos.365–6v
CW MSS 109 fo.37; 382 fos.50–5; 441

John Francis Campbell (ed.), Popular Tales of the West Highlands (Edinburgh, 4 vols, 1860–62), p. 454
Revs A. & A. MacDonald, The Clan Donald (Inverness, 3 vols, 1896–1904), iii, pp. 492–3
iidem, The MacDonald Collection of Gaelic Poetry (Inverness, 1911), pp. 141–2.
Napier Commission, vol. 1, p. 331

Talisker House

Thursday 7 October 2010

Alexander Carmichael’s Dedication to his Wife

It should come as no surprise that Alexander Carmichael may be best described as an inverterate and constant tinkerer – he was fastidious and took great pains over his writing, especially with regard to his Introduction to Carmina Gadelica. Drafting and redrafting this particular, and it must be said rather tricky, part of Carmina was extremely important for a number of reasons: it allowed the author to give a general introduction to the reader with regard to the books’ contents; it also allowed Carmichael to try to explain the stucture of the present work and how the genesis of collecting and compiling finally reached the state in which it was ready to be published; the author’s editorial methodology would also be touched upon (something which Carmichael would at times lose sleep over) in order to forestall any potential criticisms; and finally where Carmichael could also acknowledge the assistance he received from many, many people, both friends and colleagues alike.

An example of a draft dedication penned to his wife is contained in one of his field notebooks and written down sometime after 1893:

This book is dedi[cated] to the [del: best of wives]
The best of ^[supra: wives] and the best of mothers
The severest of critics but the warmest of friends
Thee my beloved Mary.

In simple but apposite words Carmichael reflects the affection, warmth and respect that he showed his wife of more than two decades (at the probable time of writing). Certainly, Carmichael had a lot to be grateful about for it was his wife who had painstakingly undertaken the chore of drawing of the ‘Celtic letters in the work have been copied … from Celtic MSS … This has been a task of extreme difficulty, needing great skill and patient care owing to the defaced condition of the originals.’ One of the most distintive aesthetic touchstones of Carmina Gadelica is this very lettering and it would have been a rather different book (and look) if it had not been for her artistic input. But for whatever reason the above dedication remained in manuscript and instead Carmichael offered his thanks to his wife thus in Carmina’s Introduction:

Again and again I laid down my self-imposed task, feeling unable to render the intense power and supreme beauty of the original Gaelic into adequate English. But I resumed under the inspiring influence of my wife, to whose unfailing sympathy and cultured ear this work owes much.

There is no doubt that Carmichael was sincere when he penned these words but it is neither quite as touching nor as direct as the warmth shown in the draft dedication which never made its appearance in print. All this, it may be said, just adds to the adage that behind a good man is a good woman.

CW129(g), fo. 253r
Carmina Gadelica, i, pp. ix–xxxvi.
Image: Mary Frances Carmichael (née MacBean)

Friday 1 October 2010

The Tyranny of a Uist Factor

A rather unusual contemporary example collected by Alexander Carmichael from the very person to whom it happened – John MacMillan (fl. 1860–1880) of Daliburgh, South Uist – concerns a factor named William Birnie (c. 1807–1880). It is likely that Birnie hailed from Aberdeenshire and he was but one in a long line of factors in South Uist. During his time as factor he would have been one of the main agents of change at the time Colonel John Gordon of Cluny died and his South Uist estate passed to his wife. Colonel John Gordon of Cluny had bought South Uist (along with Benbecula, Eriskay and Barra) in 1838 thus ending almost five hundred years of possession by the MacDonalds of Clanranald. This heralded unprecedented change and social turmoil in the Southern Hebrides which saw mass clearances of many islanders who were forced to emigrate to Canada. It is little wonder then that William Birnie is not fondly remembered as he was the very public face of a landlord’s oppression motivated by greed and the pursuit of profit with hardly a second thought for the consequences of the poor people who would be affected by such measures:

John Macmillan skipper Dallabrog
ten[ant] lent £10/ to a neighbour who was to repay
him at the first market in summer.
But not having done so & aft[er] trying for
5 or 6 years to get it he saw the man
before small debt court. On the morning
of the court while skating on the ice in front
of the house a son of John Macmillan
fell & broke his col[l]ar bone &c. This rendered
the fath[er’s] app[earance] in court 10 min[ute]s late & decr[ee]
was bro[ugh]t out against him with £5 more
than he lent the man. The acc[oun]t was made
up no person knew how but without
foundation (The Macleans of Mull
had only Eachann us Eoun The acc[oun]t made
up like this.) John Macmillan showed the
decree to the fiscal & asked him how he cou[l]d
obtain a rehears[al] of the case & place the shoe
maker on oath about this extra acc[oun]t. The
fiscal said the decree was absolutely
worthless & wholly illegal. This came to Birnie’s
ear & when paying the rent he att[acked] Macmillan
& aft[er] damning & calling him everything for showing
his decree to the fiscal daring him to have his
decision reversed by the sheriff or that
he w[ou]ld put him out of his croft. Should you
put me out of Uist & out of the Kingdom
I who know the truth of the case will not
submit to such a dec[ree] till I bring the case
before the sheriff. Mr Birnie rose from
the side of the room walked across it &
struck Macmillan in the cheek in presence
of his clerk ---- ----!

CW108, fos. 18v–19r
Stewart, James A. ‘The Jaws of Sheep: The 1851 Hebridean Clearances of Gordon of Cluny’, Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium, vol. 18/19 (1998/1999), pp. 205–26.
Image: Ruined Hebridean Crofthouse.

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). [©]