Saturday the 26th of July 2008, a warm sunny day in Killiecrankie - Scotland. More than 80 people made an effort to join in for the annual Killiecrankie walk, remembering all those killed on both sides during the battle that took place here 319 years ago. One person was remembered in particular, John Grahame of Claverhouse – much later known as Bonnie Dundie – who was killed in his moment of glory on the 27th of July 1689. He fell during the early stages of the engagement between his Highland army and the superior forces of the usurper… Victory and death… It was the very first Jacobite battle.
At 12.00 noon Kenny Borthwick opened the day in the Old Blair car park, giving a brief insight into the war council that was held the night before the actual battle in the banquet room of Blair Castle. Then the present “army” was led up the gruelling hill by the standards of Grahame and King James. For once the Young Pretenders outdid the Old Pretender and arrived (very slightly) ahead at the Montrose Stone near the summit. Here Alec Calderhead told the story of another famous time in history, when the Great Montrose raised the Royalist standard on a knoll on the hill of Lude.
Some refreshing water gave new energy to continue the walk through the picturesque landscape towards the battlefield. It is a moving moment to appear on the ridge above the field, casting your thoughts back in time to 1689. Kenny gave a short historical speech about the positioning of the armies on the field that day, and thistles - representing the fallen soldiers - were handed out for people to scatter them onto “the field of blood” with whatever thoughts they had at the time. But before this moment of lucidity, all the groups including Crann Tara, Siol Nan Gaidheal, Na Fir Delieas, Clann Gaidhealach to name a few, created a spectacular sight when they charged onto the field of battle.
At the Cairn on the battlefield, David R. Ross and Andrew Murray Scott spoke about what it meant for Scotland back in those days and today, and about the cause that day and what it meant in Jacobite terms respectively. A humble Nick Brand of Siol Nan Gaidheal, at being given the honour, laid the wreath of remembrance on behalf of Crann Tara to those who gave their lives. Vanessa Livingston also laid her wreath on behalf of Urrard House. Prayers were said by Rab Cairney, followed by a musket salute and a minute of silence.
People were then driven back to Old Blair car park, to line up for the last part of the commemoration, the service of remembrance at the final resting place of John Grahame of Claverhouse – St. Brides Kirk within the grounds of Blair Castle.
Here Kenny read a moving tribute to his hero Dundie, after which wreaths were laid at John Grahame’s tomb. Crann Tara’s wreath was laid by Vanessa Livingston of Urrard, followed by the tributes of Siol Nan Gaidheal, Na Fir Delieas and Alison Faulkner. Rab again did a flawless prayer before Kenny and Bruce Ogilvie fired their musket and pistol salute respectively. As happened regularly during battles in those days, the pistol failed to fire. However, in a lighthearted manner Bruce finally got his wish by firing the musket.
A minute of silence allowed for the last tribute of respect, and Kenny closed the event by thanking everyone present for their time and effort on the day on behalf of Dundie, and wished them a safe journey home.
Date of next years commemoration 25th of July 2009
By Topsy & Wee Dundie