Q: Many of our newer readers may have
missed your previous explanation in The Family Tree when Volume 1
was reviewed as to the duties of the Unicorn Pursuivant. Would you briefly
explain your duties in regards to The Lord Lyon.
A: The Lord
Lyon is "Her Majestyís Supreme Officer of Honour" in Scotland - in charge
of all matters armorial including matters of succession and of all State
Ceremonial. He has a full-time assistant in the person of Lyon Clerk who
is also Keeper of the Records. In addition, he has six Officers of Arms,
part-time members of Lyon Court who appear on State Occasions and who
operate practices which help clients in their approach to Lyon Court on
any matter. At the moment these consist of Albany, Rothesay and Ross
Heralds and Unicorn, Carrick and Bute Pursuivants.
Q: Volume 2 is, as you had told me
previously it would be, A History of Clan Campbell, "warts and
all". What has been the reaction of Clan Campbell members to your telling
"the good, the bad, and the ugly" side of Clan Campbell, for which I might
add, I admire your candor and objectivity in doing so?
A: Anyone would
be stupid who insisted that skeletons in the family cupboard were
impossible. There has been absolutely no negative reaction nor would I
expect there to be. No doubt the media if interested at all will try and
make something out of the account of Glencoe in the next volume. In spite
of repeated statements by historians that this was not a clan affair but a
regular regiment of the British Army under orders, ignorant journalists
will insist on referring to this as an instance of clan warfare.
Q: "Supporting the Crown was a family
tradition", and I wonder if you will tell us why this position was
initially taken and why it was adhered to over the centuries with one
the Campbells were employed by the Scottish Crown to contain the Clan
Donald who were a major threat to Scotland - quite ready to cooperate with
the Norse, or the Irish or the English in order to establish themselves as
an independent power. Having taken on the task and having been rewarded
for it, the Campbells tended to support the Crown - whoever was wearing
it. It was the clash between Religion and Loyalty that made things
difficult; during the Civil War when the Marquess of Argyll did try to
reconcile the two and failed and during his sonís rebellion in 1685.
Q: Is there any evidence that Dubh-sidh
or Shaw of Jura was ever honored or rewarded by the MacDonalds for the
slaying of Lachlan Mor in 1598 since his arrow turned that battle into a
A: Not that I
Q: The dust jacket of Volume 1 has a
beautiful painting of Innischonnel Castle on Loch Awe while Volume 2 has a
painting of Kilchurn Castle, also on Loch Awe, and both are reproduced by
the kind permission of the artist - Alastair Campbell. What training have
you had in this talented area of your life? Can we look forward to another
of your paintings gracing the cover of Volume 3?
A: Not a lot; normal teaching at
school and a couple of short courses. I have always painted - usually
military or heraldic subjects but took on landscape painting seriously
when I came to live here in this astonishingly beautiful part of the world
some twenty years ago. The plan is that the last volume should have a
painting of Inveraray Castle on the cover - by the same artist.
Q: Volume 3 of The History of Clan
Campbell will be published in 2004. What do you have on the back
burner for your reading public after all these years of writing the three
volumes of your clan family?
A: I shall not
be idle; I have been tasked to rewrite Sir Iain Moncrieffe of that Ilkís
"The Highland Clans" - a project which is well under way and I plan a book
on an aspect of Highland Military History for which I have long been
collecting material. There is a book on Argyll scheduled to come out this
year published by Birlinn for which I have contributed two chapters; I
have contributed a good amount to the recent Scottish History Societyís
latest volume on Scotland and America and there is a forthcoming volume
promised on the papers delivered at a conference a few years ago on the
Lordship of the Isles. I am also doing an illustrated book on the history
of my regiment, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, for a series which
has been going for some years on various regiments.
Q: Thank you for Volume 2. It has lived
up to your promise that it would be a very exceptional book, and I highly
recommend it to any student of Scottish history. I greatly appreciate the
courtesies you have extended to our readers in the two "chats" with you on
Volumes 1 and 2. Is there a final word for our readers?
A: Thank you
for your courtesy and kind words. I am lucky in that I do believe in what
I am doing; for anyone with a genuine interest in their past, there is no
substitute for proper study of the subject, combined with, if at all
possible, some knowledge of the terrain. Unfortunately the level of much
of what is taken as history is still pretty low and there are people
around who are disseminating sheer nonsense under the guise of "fact". The
sadness is that they get away with it.