Monday, 5 November 2012

Never trust a Campbell...

So, today I was doing some research for a story, at the day job – yes, I expect I will feel terrible about it at some stage - about something my mother told me years ago when I was a kid. My mother, the daughter of a full blooded Scot from Wick, Caithness in the Scottish Highlands, told me you can ‘never trust a Campbell.’ Why?

On 1 February 1692, two companies of red-coated government soldiers (about 120 men, of whom only around a dozen were Campbells) were sent to Glen Coe. The commander of the government forces sent to Glen Coe was Captain Robert Campbell. He was 60 years old and through drink, bad decisions and loss of property arising from the Atholl Raid seven years earlier, had been forced to take up a commission in the army. He was, however, welcomed to the glen and he and his soldiers were sheltered and fed amongst the various cottages in the area. He was well-known to the MacIans and was related through marriage. But his orders arrived and at 5 a.m. on the morning of 13 February, he and his redcoats set about carrying out their orders. Whether due to incompetence or some of the soldiers not being enthusiastic for the task, "only" 38 men, women and children out of the 200 of the clan were killed (though others perished later on the snow-swept hills as they tried to escape). Some were shot in the back and the rings from the hand of chief's wife were hacked off - she died soon after. While the chief was also amongst the dead, his two sons escaped, possibly helped by the late arrival, due to a blizzard, of an additional force of redcoats, which should have blocked the entrance to the glen.

My Grandfather’s kin always passed down the "never trust a Campbell" thing to each generation and none forgot it. 

I may only be a quarter Scot but it’s something I've always remembered and I often have found myself assessing those named Campbell. Yeah, maybe it’s crazy or maybe it’s all to do with ancient bloodlines and inherent beliefs that somehow are ingrained in our souls that I believe make us who we are today in our current form.

The story I’m writing? It has a Campbell in it. The question is, she be trusted?