07-08-2010 Battle of Killiecrankie Commemoration

On the 7th of August a small but select group gathered at the Old Blair carpark in Blair Atholl for the 2010 Killiecrankie memorial walk. This year's walk began at 12 noon and took place in warm sunshine. Numbers were somewhat down on recent years as the annual Robroyston commemoration was also taking place that day, including the unveiling of a plaque in memory of the historian David R. Ross.

The walkers included university students, a young couple working in the legal profession in Edinburgh and other enthusiasts. Right on cue, Kenny Borthwick arrived in a transit van. He'd driven up from his new family home near Gloucester the previous day, a distance of more than four hundred miles.

After Kenny briefly explained the background to the battle and issued the flags we made our way up the steep hill

to the Montrose Stone. In the warm August sunshine it really was hard work this year so most of us were happy to have a short rest and take photographs near the summit.

The peaks of Carn Liath and Meall Breac looked stunning in the bright sunshine, but the fine view was probably the last thing on the minds of John Graham of Claverhouse and his men on 27th July 1689 as they made their way across the moors to intercept the Government forces of Gen. Hugh McKay.

The slope down which the Jacobite forces charged at the height of the battle has been fenced off recently. But standing on that hillside it's easy to imagine the course of events, succintly described by Iain Lom, the Bard of Keppoch, who was present at the battle, " At the close of the day when we drew our swords, our lopping began as the sun went down."

The field containing the battlefield cairn was, as usual, boggy. Nick Brand of Siol na Gaidheal laid the wreath and the walkers who had made it to the cairn laid flowers in memory of those who lost their lives in the battle. There was a minutes silence and Kenny fired a musket salute.

The walkers were then driven back to the Old Blair carpark by car for the final part of the commoration in the ruins of St. Bride's Kirk, in the grounds of Blair Castle. Our arrival there coincided with a visit by a bus full of Italian tourists who took photographs and were evidently delighted to find such an event taking place during their visit.

A wreath was laid at John Graham's tomb in the kirk and Kenny together with Martin Kelly prepared to fire the salute. Jim Ingram, who had attended the event with his wife Doreen, escorted their dog to a place of safety, out of earshot.

" Its louder than a Status Quo concert " quipped Kenny, as our ears began to recover from the blast. Kenny paid tribute to his hero Dundie and thanked the walkers for attending. People then made their way to the Bridge of Tilt hotel where we enjoyed a drink in the sunshine.

By Chris Arundel

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� Crann Tara 2006