Saturday 28th July saw the 318th anniversary commemoration of the 1689 Battle of Killiecrankie. Over 100 loyal Patriots of Scotland gathered in the car park at Old Blair to follow in the footsteps of “Bonnie Dundee” and his mainly Highland army who fought and won the day near the pass of Killiecrankie. Groups from all over Scotland were represented by Crann Tara, Siol nan Gaidheal, Na fir Dileas, Clan Graham Association, The Scottish Fellowship, Paisley Tartan Army and many others. This was the nearest Saturday to the Battle which was fought on the 27th July 1689 between the Royal forces of King James the VII and those of The Convention of The Estates of Scotland loyal to King William of Orange.
|The march was led by Kenny Borthwick and with the Royal Standard of King James and The Graham banner at either side held aloft by Conor and James the group set of to the sound of the pipes. Following the line of the old Wade road as it crosses the river Tilt the pace was fast as the march climbed uphill leaving the Wade road behind and heading around the base of The Hill of Lude banners flying. Lachlan in the wheelchair was setting a great example following in the footsteps of the mainly Highland Army as it tackled the steep climb away from the Tilt. The marchers stopped to take in some well earned breath and refreshments at the memorial cairn at the roadside where close to the spot another Graham clansman James Graham The Marquis of Montrose raised the scarlet rampant lion “Royal Standard of Scotland” in 1644. Cameron Graham of The Clan Graham Association addressed the group at the cairn in memory of Montrose and some flowers were laid in tribute.
The march then continued around the base of the Lude Hill following the road as Glen Fender leaves to the east until reaching Loch Moraig before cutting inland across the hills towards the Braes above Killecrankie. Passing some ancient hut circles and old farmsteads at Margdow and Balinloan the going was wetter than last year and with some local cattle in attendance kept the marchers on their toes. With the pass of Killiecrankie opening up below and the heights of Craig Eallaich above to the south the march continued to the hillside where Dundee drew up his forces that late afternoon. On reaching the location of the main battle lines the group paused to take in the battlefield below as passing motorists on the a-9 began to realise the spectacle made with the banners flying proudly on the hillside. The spot chosen to stop was to the right of centre of Dundee's line and it was here that Kenny Borthwick addressed the group with a fine description of the events that unfolded that late day and the charge made by Dundee and the Clansmen. Small thistles were handed out by Kenny's partner to the group for release on the battlefield as a personal tribute to those who fell. With the A9 now slowing to a crawl and cars parking at the side of the road to take photos, the group charged down the hillside and made their own personal tribute to all who fell that day with Dundee, by releasing the thistles into the air.
On reforming with those who couldn't make the march over the hills, the group made their way to the memorial cairn which marks the spot where the officers were buried after the battle. It was here that a floral tribute was laid by Kenny Borthwick following a fine address on the events following the battle and how Dundee died in the thick of the action. Jim Singer led a prayer and further floral tribute was made by Marti Morrison and the group dispersed to be shuttled back to Old Blair for the final tribute at the Kirk of St Bride where the body of Dundee was interred following his death that day. Marching up in order with pipes playing and banners flying the group made its way from Old Blair to the Kirk passing Blair Castle and the many tourists taking in the old castle and its grounds. On assembling in the Kirk, Kenny once again led the address in tribute to Bonnie Dundee and a wreath was laid by Big Brian in respect to the great man and his achievements in the cause of his King. The customary salute from Kenny's musket prior to a minutes silence brought the day to a close and the sound of this echoed all through the surrounding hills of Atholl. A truly memorable tribute as the smoke from the musket drifted up through the roofless kirk. Jim played out the lament on the pipes and so ended a great day and tribute in memory of a great man who as “Dark John of The Battles” will be remembered not only for that hour in battle but his undying loyalty to King and Scotland.
Report by Stewart Connor