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Flower of Scotland

There are many towns, villages and areas throughout Scotland famous for having a battle-site or two, but the Aberdeenshire Royal Burgh of Inverurie can boast a total of three major battles, fought in or about the town.

The first was a clash in the 14th century between Robert I, King of Scots, and his arch-rival John Comyn, Earl of Buchan, who led a combined force of English and Scots. The date of the Battle of Inverurie is uncertain and suggestions range from Christmas 1307 to 23 May 1308. One certainty however is that The Bruce rose from his sick-bed to lead his troops and roundly defeated the Comyn. The victory was followed by ‘The Herchip o Buchan’ when the King of Scot’s forces ravaged the earldom of Buchan and laid it bare. King Robert then went on to free Scotland in the long Wars of Independence against England.

The second battle was also a threat to the Scottish throne – this time the Stewart line – as Donald Lord of the Isles led his Highlanders towards Aberdeen in order to secure his claim to the Earldom of Ross. Victory for Donald would have possibly seen the end of Stewart rule but he was stopped at the Battle of Harlaw, 2 miles north-west of Inverurie, on 24 July 1411 by the fighting men of the north-east – Irvines, Leslies, Keiths and Forbeses plus the Provost and burgesses of Aberdeen, all under the command of the Earl of Mar. Known as ‘Red Harlow’ it was one of the bloodiest engagements fought in Scotland and although there was no outright winner the Highlanders retreated and the threat to the Stewarts passed.

The third Battle of Inverurie is the one which concerns us this week as it fell 262 years ago on 23 December 1746. Once again the Stewart cause was involved but this time they were in exile and Bonnie Prince Charlie was attempting to recapture his family’s throne as his Jacobite supporters emerged victorious at Inverurie.

The victors were led by Lord Lewis Gordon, who was appointed a member of Bonnie Prince Charlie's Council at Edinburgh where he had joined the Prince in October 1745. The Prince sent him north to recruit in the counties of Aberdeen and Banff and to collect arms and money. He not only raised a regiment of two battalions but completely defeated the Hanoverian troops under MacLeod of MacLeod and Munro of Culcairn at Inverurie. Among the prisoners taken by the Jacobites was the great Skye piper Duncan Ban MacCrimmon. The morning after the victory, the Jacobite pipers refused to play until Duncan Ban was released. Hugh MacDiarmid said of this act  - 'the silent bagpipes of Lord Lewis Gordon on the morning after the battle of Inverurie was the greatest tribute ever paid to genius.'

He used the incident in his poem 'Lament for the Great Music' -

'Only one occasion
Would I have loved to witness - after Inverurie
When Lord Lewis Gordon's pipers kept silence
Since Duncan Ban MacCrimmon was his prisoner.
No Scottish Army or English, no army in the world,
Would do that today - nor ever again-
For they do not know and there is no means of telling them
That Kings and Generals are only shadows of time
 But time has no dominion over genius.'

Duncan Ban MacCrimmon was released, but the story did not end happily as he was the only fatality at the Rout of Moy in 1746.

In his day Duncan Ban MacCrimmon was regarded as the flower of all Scottish pipers and this week we invite you to raise a Flower of Scotland to your lips and drink to his memory.

Flower of Scotland

Ingredients: Scotch Whisky; Sourz Apple spirit; elderflower cocktail; ginger ale; wedge of fresh lime

Method: Take a clean highball glass and fill it with fresh, solid ice cubes. Squeeze a wedge of lime over the ice and drop it into the glass. Add 1 ½ measures of Scotch Whisky. Add a ½ measure of Sourz Apple and a ½ measure of the elderflower cocktail. Top up with ginger ale, stir for a few seconds and serve.


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