March 27, 2003
Inverness, 7:45 a.m.
I’ve been awake about an
hour or so on a beautiful (for a desert dweller) very cool morning in
Inverness. I slept soundly, snuggled as usual under a warm and airy duvet,
which I still think of as a “feder decke” or “feather blanket” from our
three years living in Lutjenburg, by Kiel in north Germany (1968-1971)
when John was in the Navy. There must be a rule here in Scotland that all
bed and breakfast beds must be covered by a soft, light, cozy duvet – I
really must get one.
I also love the little
“geysers” as they were known in my days here or probably “water heaters”
now. In all the showers I’ve encountered during this trip, each has their
own personal tank, about the size of a legal sheet of paper (12” x 14”) or
so, which heats the water as used. I’ve never run out of hot water, and it
seems more economical than our single, big water tank in the garage in
At Dunlaw House, the wash
hand basin had its own mini version. They’re smaller than the one we had
in our house in Hill Street, but reinforce to my mind that although there
is much new here in the land of my birth, Scotland really hasn’t changed
TV is all war news. If I
allowed myself, I could easily feel guilty to be so relaxed and really
carefree at this time, believing my family to be safe and well in the US
and my work responsibilities toward the dialysis patients where I’m
employed under control.
I feel sad, however, that
we are at war. No decent person wants that. But I do believe to prevent
worse results that could be seen if Saddam and his regime were not
removed, this is necessary. The “coalition” has lost a member of the Black
Watch. The news doesn’t say where he’s from, but most likely from Dundee,
Angus, or some other Tayside region. God bless his family.
Aberdeen. Hilton Treetops 10:05 p.m.
The day began rainy in Inverness, but leaving at 10:00 a.m. allows the
weather to clear up and the sun to come out. It was misty and moisty again
as we left Inverness and headed towards Culloden Moor.
There was a light mist on
the moor when we arrived this morning, not too many days before the
anniversary of this 1746 defeat of the Clans and the atrocities of the
English reprisals on the battlefield against the Clansmen and through many
years after 1746 against their families and highland Scots. Nowadays, we’d
call it “ethnic cleansing” and English “humanitarians” would be up in arms
against such action. But, I’m not bitter – much.
The visitor center movie
was clear and, unlike my rendition of the events at Culloden,
dispassionate and informative. The exhibits and artifacts in the Center
enlarge the picture of the 45 Rebellion and the escape of Prince Charles
Edward (I call him that to keep the difference clear between him and the
current person of like name who lives in England), aided by brave and
loyal clansmen and women, and also includes Flora McDonald’s life story.
Lest you get me wrong, I’m
not a romanticist about the Bonnie Prince. I’ve read my history and spent
my time thinking and interpreting what this man’s upbringing and life, and
behaviors before, during, and after the rebellion did to Scotland. It’s
not him I admire – because he did show princely arrogance towards the Clan
chiefs whose experience and advice, if he had followed it, could have
brought about different results and interesting ramifications to current
life in the British Isles. I admire the courage and the loyalty of those
who promised him their all, and I’m upset at the massacre that followed.
I’ve been told by supervisors and mentors that I have a deep sense of
loyalty and justice. I hope it’s the highland blood in me that hasn’t been
too diluted – after all, we’ve only added Welsh and Belgian ancestors to
my mix. During the trip when I’ve gotten on my hobby horse regarding
Scottish history and our relationship with our neighbours to the south, I
know I’ve said to my friends on several occasions, “I remember Culloden.”
There’s a depth of meaning to that, deep in my soul, because these are my
people who fought and who died in this place. And these are my people who
I asked the visitor center
guide for directions to my clan’s markers, the McIntosh – my granny was
Charlotte Beat McIntosh (born 1890), her father Alexander McIntosh (born
about 1860), and his father Robert McIntosh (born about 1800). I haven’t
got my genealogy beyond Robert, who lived in Stanley, Perthshire. But it
doesn’t take much imagination to consider that Robert (my third great
grandfather) was the child of a father, probably born about 1770) whose
father would have been born into a family of the Culloden era around 1740
or so. And if my great, great, grandfather Robert McIntosh was raised on
stories from the Highland tradition of bards and storytelling as I was by
my Granny, Culloden and the ’45 would have been just as real to him as
World War II was to me because my mother and grandmother told me such
vivid stories about that time and what it meant to them, their lives, and
to us as a family. I pass these World War II stories on to my children,
and the tradition of remembrance continues.
As I stood by the
Mackintosh grave markers and the mounds of my clan dead I first felt my
heart beat race and a lump come to my throat as a physical reaction to my
presence among the dead. It was as if the flight or fight response was
within me. I felt passionate and angry about the lies of the Duke of
Cumberland to his troops, falsely telling them the clansmen would “give no
quarter” to government soldiers. Out of this lie came the slaughter, the
reprisals, the Clearances, and the breaking of the Clans.
Then, as I walked away from the graves, I felt peace replacing the anger.
The Clansmen, like my Welsh grandfather who was killed in 1918 when his
submarine was torpedoed, are at rest with their clan companions with whom
they marched and fought and died.
They sleep together, their
blood mixed as a part of the earth and the land they loved. Their families
may be dispersed and gone from our clan lands near Inverness, and these
men may no longer fight in the thick of the battle which was Culloden Moor
that 16th day of April, but the clans are gathering and those of us who
claim to be McIntosh understand and honor our heritage.
And I now can remember
Culloden not as a defeat, but as a remembrance of the courage of those who
fought, and a promise of the fortitude of those who survived.
My friends and I met up as
we walked back to the visitor center. Their mood was somber and our
laughter was gone for the moment. They had respected my need to be alone
on the moor. They understood that to me, my Scottish birth and blood
merged with my father’s American citizenship, gave Culloden Moor an equal
significance to that of Arlington National Cemetery.
Our visit to the Gift Shop,
however, was cheering. We met an American woman who was traveling the UK
with her husband and family who told us they had brought their four
daughters to Culloden because she was reading Diana Gabaldon’s series of
historical novels about that time and place, and “just had to see it” for
herself. Three of us in our Girls Road Trip are members of this almost
cult like group avidly following the adventures of Claire and Jamie Fraser
and having serious “withdrawals” during the long, long, waits between the
release of each new novel – helps me understand the Harry Potter followers
a little more. So we all commiserated for a few moments on our wait for
the next installment.
We initiated an “All hail
the mighty Diana” moment by chanting the words and genuflecting right
there in the gift shop in front of one of her books. Mad, quite mad.
The tour guide who gave me
directions to the graves had also mentioned a book about heroines of the
’45 Rebellion. Steve, our driver, must have overheard that conversation.
When I got back to the van, there waiting for me, was the gift shop’s one
and only copy of “Damn Rebel Bitches, the Women of the 45.” And there is a
Mackintosh “Rebel Bitch” (according to the English) with a chapter in the
book – another heroine for me to learn about. That will be on my reading
After Culloden it was on to
Aberdeen. We stopped at Elgin for lunch, on the High Street, in a
converted Church, followed by another of our frequent shopping strolls
around the town. The shopping results we’re showing are a mix of
Scotland’s best – not in any kind of preference or order – books, jewelry
(heather gems and silver), music, woolens, food (shortbread and marzipan)
among them. I’m still looking for a copy of Valerie Dunbar’s CD, Forever
Argyle, which was the music Jane played during our dinners at Greshornish,
but no luck yet.
Before lunch, however, we
stopped at Speyside’s smallest distillery for a tour and a taste. Much
more low key than the Famous Grouse tour, but more intimate and very
personalized. An experience my friends enjoyed. (A wee note, here – these
pictures are on the second roll of film I sadly lost somewhere in
So, having spent about an
hour and a half to two hours each at Culloden, the Distillery, then Elgin,
we added a little more time to our expected three and a half hours drive
or so from Inverness, and it really should come as no surprise we didn’t
get here to Aberdeen until about six this evening.
The Girls Road Trip evening
tonight began with a room service party in Belinda and Kari’s room. Just
like a pajama party! Then, a nice surprise: Lia has an e-mail friend who
raises Skye Terriers and lives near Aberdeen. She came to meet Lia and
brought her beautiful eleven year old Skye, Misty, to meet us all. Wee
oohed over Misty, then left Lia and her friend, Kathy, to cement their
friendship in the real, as opposed to the cyber, world.
It’s now almost 11, and
time for me to settle down for the night. Tomorrow we will end this part
of the trip with a day in Glasgow after a stop in Stirling at the Castle.
Maybe we can make this three hour trip in less than six. Who knows?
Sleep in Peace
Now, Soldier Laddies
The heather moor and peat bog
the Highlanders had to charge across
May they rest in peace
For the Appin Stewart
The Well and the Wall
Where the McIntosh Stood
McIntosh Clan Grave Mounds
Sleep in Peace
Now, The Battle’s O’er
Click on the above to read the text
Message on a tea towel I bought at Crianlarich