Mountbattock, how dark is the cloud on thy brow,
How grateful its gloom to the valley below;
For the hand of the reaver has smitten so sore,
The days of our mourning will never be o'er.
The sward of Gleneffock is shining in red,
The down of the thistle with crimson is dyed;
The bloom of the heather is steeping in gore,
And the hollow wind murmurs - Lochaber no more.

Laing's "Wayside memories".

(Mountbattock is a little to the north and east of Cairncross lands, and is the source of Turret, one of the boundaries of those lands.)

(Gleneffock is a little to the west and south of them.)

In order to understand the cause of the raid, it is necessary to look into the genealogy of the Duncansons or Robertsons of Athol (Clan Donnachaidh):- Gilmur was the seneschal of the earldom of Athol in A.D. 1200, and is claimed by the clan of Donnachaidh to have descended from the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles. Gilmur's son, Andrew de Atholia, married the heiress of Athol, who was the proprietrix of Glenorchy, afterwards called Strowan and later Struan. She was the daughter of Ewan, son of Conan, son of Henry the Fourth, and last, Celtic Earl of Athol. Andrew, de Atholia.'s son, Duncan the Fat, was the recognised founder of the Clan Donnachaidh, and his eldest son, Robert de Atholia, married a daughter and co-heiress of Sir John Stirling of Glenesk; the other daughter and co-heiress married Sir Alexander Lindsay, who was then designated "of Glenesk". These marriages led to a bitter disagreement between Robert de Atholia and Lindsay's son, Sir David Lindsay of Glenesk, concerning the ownership of some of the Glenesk lands, and culminated in the Raid of Angus.

The most reliable account of the raid is given by Andre of Wyntoun in his rhyming history[1]. This Churchman was a regular canon of the priory of St. Andrews at the time of the raid, and in or before 1395 was elected prior of' St. Serfs, the priory being situated on a small island in Lochleven.

[1] See Appendix (No.2 - p.158) for original.


His was the first history of Scotland to be written in the common language of the people, and, omitting the stories of pre-historic fictions indulged in by writers of that time, he has been proved by the records of his own and other countries to be a reliable historian. Dr. John Hill Burton, the well-known modern historian of Scotland, says that Wyntoun probably had the account of the fight at Gasklune from an eye-witness, if, indeed he was not present himself.

Wyntoun's account rendered into plain modern English prose reads as follows:

In A.D. 1392 there were three great chieftains of the Highlanders, named Thomas, Patrick and Gibbon Duncansons, and a bitter dispute arose between them and Sir David Lindsay, lord of Glenesk. A date was fixed to discuss the matters in dispute, but the meeting did not take place, so Sir David, being a wise man, secretly sent a spy into Athol, the Duncansons country, to bring him information as to what was going on there. The spy never returned. At this time the Sheriff of Angus was Sir Walter Ogilvy, a manly knight, renowned for courage, skill and strength. He chanced to be at Kettins, near the south-west corner of Forfarshire, and the good knight, Sir Patrick Gray was nearby. Sir David was in Dundee, when the news quickly spread that a great company of at least three hundred Highlanders was nearing the river Isla. Ogilvy and Gray got together as many of their friends and fighting men as they could and took the nearest way to stop or scatter the invaders, without waiting for Lindsay, and they had already engaged the enemy at Gasklune when Lindsay joined them. All told, the Angus men numbered little more than sixty men. As usual, Sir David distinguished himself in the fight; some he killed outright, and some he severely wounded. At last he pierced one through the body with his spear and pinned him to the ground. Nevertheless this Highlander raised his body on the spear, and with a mighty swing of his sword struck Lindsay to the bone through stirrup and boot. Death would have ensued, had not his men against his will hurried him away to safety. Sir Patrick Gray was also dangerously wounded, but he was taken off his horse by his friends and carried off the field. By this time it was seen that Sir Walter Ogilvy and his half-brother Walter of Lichtoun were in extreme peril, and Carncors, Forfar and Guthrie, William the younger of Ochterlony, and other gentlemen and yeomen of his kin and household, rather than save their own lives, rallied around the Sheriff, and they all perished fighting to the last.


Such is Wyntoun's account.

Apparently the Highlanders did not get into Forfarshire at all, and even if Angus, in those days, extended beyond the present boundaries of the shire, only a very small portion of Angus could have been raided, This lamentable affair was the occasion of a general council held by Robert III at Perth on March 26th, 1392, when Duncan and Robert Stewarts, Thomas and Patrick Duncansons, and many others were denounced for the slaughter of Lord Walter of Ogilvy and his friends.

The next account by a contemporary is by Walter Bower (1385 - 1449) elected in 1418 abbot of Inchcolm in the Firth of Forth, after his return to Scotland from his course of study in Paris. He completed John Fordun's "Scotichronicon", written in Latin. Fordun, who is supposed to have been born in Fordun, in Kincardineshire, was a chantry priest in the cathedral of Aberdeen, and died about 1385. Bower seems to base his account on the general council alluded to, and gives the scene of the battle as being in Glenbrierachan, a few miles east of Pitlochry, and on the road to Kirkmichael. Gasklune, given by Wyntoun, is a little to the north of Blairgowrie, and on the road to Kirkmichael. Bower makes out the Duncan Stewart mentioned first in the proceedings of Robert the Third's general council to have been the favourite natural son of Alexander Stewart (the notorious-Wolf of Badenoch), the King's younger brother. The Wolf had no family by his wife Eupham, countess of Ross, but he had several illegitimate sons; Robert Stewart, mentioned before the Duncansons, was probably another of them. As the King's nephews they would be placed on the list before the others, Hill Burton mentions Alexander Stewart, the Wolf's natural son, as being the instigator and leader of the Highlanders in the raid. This Alexander was afterwards earl of Mar, and after brilliant service in France, he defeated Donald of the Isles at the great and most important battle of Harlaw.


As Dr. Maclagan says in his "Scottish Myths: Notes on Scottish History", we pin our faith on Wyntoun's account. The late Mr. Fittis of Perth, in what is probably the best and fullest modern version of the affair, asserts that the Sheriff and his friends were killed at Gasklune, but that the Lindsays went to attack the Highlanders later on to punish them, having no faith in the ability of the king to do so, and that they were again defeated at Glenbrierachan.

The reader is reminded that this lamentable affair called "The Raid of Angus" was really the result of a family feud about property between marriage connections, the Duncansons or Robertsons[2] of Athol against the Lindsays of Glenesk. Sir Walter Ogilvy, the Sheriff of Angus, who with his followers was the first in the field to prevent the Highlanders from invading Angus, was as true a Celt and Scot as the Duncansons themselves, though doubtless more abreast of the times. Sir David Lindsay was a Scot by birth and education; and a Norman, not a Saxon, by descent. Carncors, in whom we are particularly interested, was a Celt, and no doubt all the others, or a majority of them at least, were also Celts. In any case, it was Scots on the one side against Scots on the other. The Duncansons had the advantage in numbers, but were on foot armed with sword and target only, while the weakness in numbers of the Angus men was counterbalanced by their mail-clad horsemen, armed cap-a-pie in Norman fashion. The better armed force, however, underestimated the valour and determination of their opponents.

[2] The Genealogy of the Robertsons is taken from "The Raid of Clan Donnachie" by the late Mr. Fittis of Perth.

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