March 2012

Highland Tories

In The American Revolution


In the American Revolution, many of the Scots-Irish or Presbyterian Scots settlers were active participants in the Revolution, while most of the Scottish Highlanders in America were committed Loyalists. The political reasons for this were quite complicated, but even Jacobite rebels exiled to America generally took the British side in the Revolution, while one of the only Highland settlements to join the rebels (upstate New York's Argyll colony) was settled by the members of anti-Jacobite clans like the Campbells. Whether Scots-Irish or Scottish Highlander, Presbyterian religious faith was closely associated with support for the Revolution, but most Highlanders from regions other than Argyll were not Presbyterian.

Hints of Clan History

In The Crofter's War

The Crofter's War is the name historians often give to the civil disturbances of the 1880s in the Scottish Hebrides, where the local people finally began to use force to resist the Clearances. One interesting point about the Crofter's War is that it was expressed in terms specific to Gaelic culture and history. When policemen threatened to enforce an eviction, the crofters would send the fiery cross around the island, the same method that had been used by their ancestors two centuries before that to gather for a clan fight or a Jacobite uprising.

Up Helly Aa

Fiery Folk Festival

“Up Helly Aa” is a traditional Shetland festival, harking back to the days of the Vikings, in which a replica Norse longship is set on fire in a spectacular display. Except that it really isn't, because Shetlanders have only been doing the longship thing for about a hundred and twenty years, not since the days of the Vikings at all.