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Beef in Whisky Sauce

This week we conclude our July visit to the Culloden Battlefield with a look at the reconstructed Leanach (Culwhiniac) enclosure, the front line of the Jacobite army and the Keppoch Stone, which you find on a path leading from the front line. The Culwhiniac enclosure stretched along the right wing of the Jacobite line where Lord George, the ablest Jacobite commander, commanded the first line with his Athollmen, the Camerons, and the Stewarts of Apppin. This upset Clan Donald who claimed that honoured spot by right, dating back to the Battle of Bannockburn in 1320. The men of Atholl stood on the extreme flank beside the dry-stane dyke of the Culwhiniac enclosure. The dyke should have been destroyed prior to the battle as the Athollmen found to cost as the enemy used it to devastating effect. Men from the Hanoverian supporting Argyll Militia, a 140 strong band of Campbells, occupied the enclosure and were able to exact a terrible toll on the Atholl Brigade. The reconstructed part of the wall 262 years on fully shows how the Campbells were well protected as they took their part in the killing field of Drummossie. The irony is that Butcher Cumberland didn’t want them to take part in the battle (distrust of Highland Scots!) but as scouts they arrived at Culwhiniac anyway.

On the left wing Clan Donald stood unwillingly and was slow to charge. Hearing the Clan Chattan’s slogans and the surge forward of both John Roy’s Stewarts and the mixed clans they slowly advanced with sullen anger. Young Alexander Macdonald of Keppoch shouted angrily to his fellow clansmen “Mo Dhia, an do threig Clann mo chinnidhmi ?” (My God, have the clansmen of my name deserted me?). The men of Clanranald, Keppoch and Glengarry went forward in a ragged manner, halted to fire their pistols and firelocks, but never advanced nearer than a hundred yards from the Government lines. Always under heavy fire when Kingston’s Horse came up on the flank of Clan Donald they fell back. The men of Keppoch running past their clan chief as he lay at the spot marked by the Keppoch Stone. Grape and musketry fire from Pultney’s had resulted in many casualties including Keppoch who had been struck in the arm, paralysing it and bringing him to his knees. He was found by James Macdonell of Kilachonat and as he attempted to drag his chief to the rear, Keppoch was struck by another bullet in the back. Macdonell fearing that his chief was dead fled the field. But Keppoch was still alive and was found by one of his sons, Angus Ban, who carried him to a near-by bothy. There Keppoch breathed his last and Angus Ban took his sword and dirk and headed for home. As Marilyn is descended form MacDonald stock, a visit to the Keppoch Stone is an essential part of any visit we make to Drummossie.

The First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond visited Culloden this week, prior to a Scottish Government Cabinet meeting in Inverness. He said that the battlefield would play a vital part in the 2009 Year of Homecoming. With that in mind, the timing of the new £9 million Culloden Visitor and Exhibit Centre couldn’t be better as the new centre can deal with many more visitors than the old one. The First Minister is right that Culloden should prove a great attraction for home-coming Scots and those of Scottish descent as the battle, 262 years on, stills tugs at the Scottish soul. Perhaps the great English historian and author John Prebble hit the nail on the head when he wrote of Culloden – ‘A lost cause will always win a last victory in man’s imagination.’ Scots, Scotland and particularly The Highlands paid a terrible price for the coming of the Italian cousin and his defeat at the hands of his German cousin. An episode in history which 262 years on continues to fascinate every generation. 

This week’s recipe combines two things which the Highlanders held dear – Black Cattle and Whisky – as Beef in Whisky Sauce combines both.

Beef in Whisky Sauce

Ingredients: 1 ½ lb sirloin steak: 1 oz butter; 1 large onion, chopped; 3 tbs Scotch Whisky; ¼ cup double cream; salt and pepper

Method: Cut the beef into thin strips. Cook the beef strips and onions in the butter for 5-10 minutes, until the beef is brown and cooked to taste. Stir in the Whisky and cream. Heat gently to reduce slightly.

 

 

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