Clans and Families
of Ireland and Scotland
IV. The Kingdom of the
Picts: Christianity, Paganism and the Making of Gaelic Scotland
the unit of barter. This socio-economic
collapse was part of the larger struggle in Britain (and Ireland) reflected in civil wars
between 1642 and 1746. This struggle was ostensibly between Episcopalian Royalists
(Cavaliers and Tories) on the one hand and Puritan or Presbyterian Parliamentarians
(Roundheads and Whigs) on the other, yet at a deeper level it was the traditional rural aristocracy
fighting a losing battle against the inevitable rise of an urban mercantile electorate
with an epicenter in the English Midlands. In this light the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 forms the midpoint
between the beginning of this struggle in 1642, and the final battle, waged in America
between 1861 and 1865. Virginia, mother of Presidents, had seen a rush of Cavalier
immigration after the English Civil War (Henry "Light-Horse Harry"Lee,
17561818, father of Robert E. Lee, was himself the fourth-generation scion of a
Cavalier family), while North Carolina received the bulk of Highland immigration to
Colonial America (south of Canada) following the last Jacobite rebellion in 1745.
Whether in 650 or 1650, the Gaelic heroic ethos was based upon the
doings of the Gaelic aristocratic hero. It involved the Úlan of a Celtic warrior
aristocracy on horseback. The Gaelic hero was a man admired, idealized, and perhaps
sacrifical in the eyes of his tribal following. This was the archetypal Highland squire.
Educated, perhaps bilingual, he was a man bestriding both eighteenth century and Gaelic
values. Quintessentially Celtic in his outlook, he bears strong resemblance to the hero of
Y God oddin. He could sing sweetly at the midwinter feast, or stand grimly with
heirloom weapons imbued with magical powers: The basket-hilted broadsword, the dirk, the
targe of PictoGaelic genesis, the speckled gun with its magic stock: Here is the
ideal of the half-naked, well-armed Highlander. A man with two pistols in his belt and a
"heart for attachment" to the Stuart kings. Here is the heroic irrationale of
the Gaelic mind, at once Scotlands destruction and her saving virtue. It is a mind
phallically bent on fulfilling its cultural aesthetic, as related in this translation of
the late seventeenth-century vernacular poem "The Day of the Battle at the Head of
Loch Fyne" by Alexander Robertson:
The Laird of Inverslany
Was standing in the sand
Having discharged his gun
In the face of the cavalry.
He had an embossed shield on his elbow,
A bloody sword in his right hand,
A pair of pistols on his hips.
Going to strike a blow at Archibald [Campbell of Argyle].
End of Part 1