Just as the ordinary
clansmen were being driven from their homeland, there was a revival of
sentimentality about the Highlanders and their culture. We might say
that this rebirth began with the romantic "English literature" of Sir
Walter Scott (1771 - 1832) and continued with the subtle invention and
reinvention of pretty plaids and "revived traditions" during the
mid-nineteenth century ... at a time when the clan system of the
Highlands was on its deathbed.
Abbotsford House took six
years to build, and was completed in 1824. The house was opened to the
public in 1833, five months after Sir Walter's death, and has been
enjoyed by visitors ever since.
Most acknowledge that Sir
Walter Scott was a leading historian of his era, and that he was fluent
in a good number of languages. His many friends were also privy to the
fact that he was a devoted collector, but it is only by visiting
Abbotsford House that reality truly sinks in. His study and library
contained over 9,000 rare volumes on many subjects. The centrepiece on a
circular table is a journal taken from Napoleon following his surrender;
other historical curiosities, include Rob Roy's purse, a tumbler once
owned by Robert Burns and a lock of Bonnie Prince Charlie's hair. One
is also amazed by his immense collection of other historic relics,
weapons and armour. He even has the sword and gun of my very distant
cousin in the House of Glengyle, Rob Roy McGregor.