Well in excess of 150 people gathered at the Sheriffmuir Inn late on the afternoon of the 13th November for the Annual Commemoration of the Battle of Sheriffmuir.
The sky was clear and dry and dusk seemed to hesitate, delaying the March by almost an hour. The event was organised by Na Fir Dileas, 'The Loyal Men', and many of them had spent the afternoon marching up over the Moor from their assembly point at Blackford. Dressed in period garb and armed with a variety of weapons, they come to Sheriffmuir each year to remember those who gave their lives for their Prince on that bleak spot so many years ago. Many others join them, representing many of the Clans and Families who were present at the Battle. This year, our numbers received a welcome boost by the arrival of Colonel Bert MacRae, Commandant of The Black Watch Battalion, The Army Cadet Force, accompanied by his sons and a group of cadets. Also present was Australian visitor Andrew MacRae from Raeburn Station in New South Wales.
The road from the Inn to our Clan MacRae Monument was marked by flaming torches as the Company set off. Clan MacRae was honoured by being asked to lead the March with Tony and Ewan MacRae carrying our Flag and Banner, followed by two Pipers and illuminated by torches carried by wild looking clansmen. As we marched down the road, it was as if we also marched back in time and we felt that those brave MacRaes from 1715 were beside us. More torches lit the monument as the Service began, held high by clansmen standing on the plinths on each side of the stone and by others standing on the parapet wall. It was a most incredible and emotive sight. An ancient account of the Battle was read out, the piper played a lament and James MacRae from the Black Watch contingent laid our wreath of white roses.
As we walked back up the hill to the Inn, the buzz of excitement and conversation that had been so obvious on the walk down was replaced by a thoughtful silence as we reflected on the event in which we had just participated in and in the tragic memories of the place. A splendid poem written by Colonel Bert MacRae gives a heart-gripping account of the Battle. For the full text of this poem, click here or go to our 'Feature Articles' page.
The Loyal Men then moved down to the Blackford Hotel, for a very full and lively evening's entertainment. Among the Guest Speakers were Prince Michael of Albany, a descendant of the Bonnie Prince, Jamie Erskine, the Earl of Mar, a descendant of the Commander of the Jacobite Army and our own Fraser McRae, descended from who we are not quite sure! One unwelcome guest was a Redcoat, fresh from the Battlefield, who gatecrashed the party and who provided a very exciting diversion from the enthusiastic wining, dining and music from the excellent Schiltrum.
Why not join us on Sheriffmuir in 2005?
Photo: Na Fir Dileas