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Jacobites

f the three Jacobite Rebellions — 1689, 1715 and 1745 — none were successful in restoring the Catholic House of Stuart to the British throne. The best known of those was the ’45 which was certainly the one with the most devastating consequences for the Highlands of Scotland, its culture and people. Often thought of as a Scots v English contest, those were in fact power struggles between cousins of different religious persuasions. The conflicts were sectarian in nature, not national, or necessarily patriotic. There were Highland clansmen fought in the Government army, and there were English, Welsh and Irish Jacobites fought on the Jacobite side for “Bonnie Prince” Charles Edward Stuart. The term “Jacobite” means supporter of James/Jaques Stuart, referring to the “Old Pretender” son of James VII (James II of England) and father of the “Bonnie” Prince. Whilst the campaign reached…

Castles

Across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland castles come in many shapes, sizes and guises. Some, like Edinburgh and Stirling, are formidable fortresses and fortifications even by modern standards. Others are administrative buildings such as the current Inverness Castle, home to the Sheriff Courthouse. Others are grandiose baronial homes. Still others are not castles at all but merely boundary keeps and hunting towers which masquerade as castles to capitalise on the tourist and wedding markets. Perhaps the most interesting ones can often be part ruins like the wonderful Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness where tenure was won and lost, legends born, history made and blood shed. Often a symbolic image will speak volumes about a cruel past such as in the wall of the dungeon in Dunvegan Castle where the prisoner’s tongues have indented the wall to…

Great Glen

Also known as Glen Albyn or An Gleann Mor this feature is in fact a geological fault line. It dissects the country, running, as it does, from Fort William on the West Coast to Inverness on the East. It is made up of a series of lochs (“lakes”, in English) — Loch DochfourLoch Ness,Loch OichLoch Lochy and Loch Linnhe. Very little land mass lies between these lochs and it has been put to use over the years for varying purposes. Thomas Telford engineered the Caledonian Canal in the 19th century linking these lochs to provide a navigable waterway across the country shortening the route by many sea miles round the top of Scotland and the perilous waters of the Pentland Firth. 100 years before and using the same “fingers” of land the infamous Duke of Cumberland built the strategic defences of Fort George, Fort Augustus and Fort…

Music

As well as giving the world the International anthem “Auld Lang Syne” Scotland has bred a treasury of music and song telling, not only its own poignant story, but influencing other cultures in the process. Celtic Connections are worldwide. From Cape Breton, the Appalachian Mountains and the Louisiana bayous to the African continent and beyond, all bear testament to the tradition in their music. Throughout your tour we will link the experience in story, music and song relevant to your visit. Ballads, often penned in adversity, illustrate history in a unique way. “Nobody does pathos quite like the Gael.” Even people who have no understanding of the Gaelic language are moved by the experience of listening to the exquisite beauty of the songs.

Highland Clearances

Why are there so many people of Scots descent in places like North America? A Scottish “Clan” is an extended family of people related by blood and ancestry, not unlike the indigenous tribes of North America. It was the hereditary duty of our chiefs to safeguard the wellbeing of the people. For centuries this tradition prevailed and was considered to be sacrosanct. Clansmen and women responded by giving in return unquestioning and unconditional loyalty and service to the Clan through their chiefs. Betrayal of this age old bond of family loyalty was perpetrated by many of the chiefs who had been corrupted into an aristocracy, distinct and remote from their kinsfolk. During the 18th and 19th centuries throughout the Highlands and Islands, in what we now call The Highland Clearances or Fuadaich Nan Gaidheal (the expulsion of the Gael), a policy known…

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