The Dalmally Stones Project

Background

 The village or clachan of Dalmally is situated near Loch Awe in Argyll. It’s old name is Dysart, which means a retreat or a hermitage and it is recorded, under various spellings, as Clachan Dysart in early Scottish annals. The present church at Dalmally is the third one known to have been built on the site and is called Glenorchy Parish Church. The original parish of Glenorchy comprised the ancient MacGregor lands of Glen Orchy, Glen Lochy and Glen Strae.

The Church and Graveyard

 The original church is first mentioned in written records as a burial place of Clan Gregor in the 14th century, with The Book of the Dean of Lismore giving detailed accounts of the Chiefs of Clan Gregor interred there, circa 1390 – 1528. The present building, which is a superb, white painted, octagonal design with bell tower, was constructed by the Earl of Breadalbane in 1811.

Around 30 years ago, extensive repairs were carried out to strengthen the stairwell in the tower and to support the gallery in the main body of the church. When part of the floor was dug up for this purpose, a scatter of human bones were found. These were presumed to have been disturbed during construction of the building in 1810/11.

With the floor removed, signs of the medieval church were also found but these were insufficient to give an exact layout of that building. It would seem, however, that the High Altar, at which the leaders of Clan Gregor were buried, must lie under the present tower. This conclusion stems from the earlier churches being of different design.

The graveyard contains several sculptured stones from the 14th and 15th centuries. Many appear to have been re-used, as was common in earlier times, and most are found on the west side of the church. The likelihood is that that they were placed there during The Reformation in Scotland when great change took place. Altars were moved and burials within churches were forbidden in 1572 so cists, i.e. stone coffins, which had previously lain inside churches, were thrown out. This may be why one of the MacGregor stones, which lies among the early sculptured stones, appears to be part of a cist.

The graveyard is very ancient and also has a MacNab stone, a walled Campbell enclosure and an area said to be for tinker children’s burials.

THE PROJECT

Clan Gregor Society has taken an active interest in the church and conducted historical research there for some years now. In 2011 we donated a beautifully carved wooden lectern to commemorate the building’s 200th anniversary and in 2012 we surveyed the interior of the church, using ground penetrating radar, as part of our archaeological program of digs in the surrounding area. We seek to discover and preserve Clan Gregor history within the church itself and in the adjacent clan lands of Glen Orchy and Glen Strae. We also seek to protect and preserve the Clan Gregor gravestones from further decay by wind and weather.

One possibility is to mount the stones inside the church, together with a history of Clan Gregor, as part of a display, thereby preserving them for future generations to see. Another is to house them in a separate building adjacent to the church. Either way the cost will be considerable and we urge members and readers to donate to this worthy cause via the Contact Us directory here on the website.

Extracts from the Book of the Dean of Lismore

“Death of John Macgregor of Glenurquay, at Glenurquay.” (Glen Orchy). “He was buried in Dysart on the north side of the High Altar, on the 19thof April, in the year 1390.”

“Death of John Dhu Macgregor of Glenstray, son of Patrick, at Stronmelochan (Stronmilchan).  He was buried in Dysart, north of the Great Altar, in a stone coffin, upon the 26thof May, in the year 1519; on which day a great meteor was seen in Glenurquay.”

 Comments

Glenorchy Kirk is a beautiful church in a superb location. It is well worth visiting now. If you also visit Kilchurn Castle, the magnificent MacGregor holding on nearby Loch Awe side, it puts the church’s position within the clan lands into context.

We have received very welcome donations from all over the world which have allowed the Society to set up the Dalmally Stones project, the Ed Boothe Fund and the GPR projects. We are extremely grateful to our American cousins and, in particular, to Ms JoAnn Pippin, her family and the members of SEUS, for their generosity.  – Sincere thanks to everyone who gives of their time and resources, and to Dalmally church itself, for the progress we have made in five years of archaeology; a study never done before, in the clan’s history.

 The Dalmally Stones Project will take time to complete but it will make the church an even greater attraction for visitors and researchers once the MacGregor grave stones  are readily on view.

(Sources = Clan Gregor Society, Wikipedia, Church of Scotland).

Posted in History

International Gathering 2018 – Now Sold Out

 

Full details on The 2018 International Gathering, as well as how to apply, can be found on The Gatherings Page which is under the heading Membership above.  

NB. Due to the huge demand we are now sold out and have had to open a Waiting List.

If you have already expressed an interest but find that you cannot come, please tell us, straight away, for the sake of those on the Waiting List.  

(Post updated 12 May 2017)  

Posted in Events

The Archaeology Project

The written history of Clan Gregor begins in the 1300s, in the area around Glen Orchy and Glen Strae, although oral tradition speaks of descent from Dalriadic kings of 500 years earlier. The subsequent moves eastward to Loch Lomondside and the Central Highlands occurred in later centuries, as a result of factors such as proscription, failure to secure written title to lands held and contest with the ever expanding Campbells of Argyll.  Finding ourselves landless in the aftermath of the Battle of Glenfruin in 1603, the “Children of the Mist” now have few original buildings or chiefly homes still in existence. This presents challenges when attempting to uncover archaeological evidence of those past buildings – but it has not deterred us from trying.

For the past 5 years Clan Gregor Society has been working with Northlight Heritage and it’s team of archaeologists, to investigate two sites associated with MacGregors of Glen Strae. We are seeking to find remains of their significant houses / homesteads.

This is stimulating work which has taken place in all weather conditions. We are grateful for the funding, which was entirely by donations and legacies from clan members, with our American cousins being extremely generous. We have also had assistance in the field from members of Dalmally Historical Association. – New technologies such as Ground Penetrating Radar, aerial drone photography and carbon dating have all been used in the task.

We began by investigating the site of a possible fortified manor house, called Bothan na Dige, by the banks of the River Orchy near Stronmilchan and reputed to be the home of MacGregor chiefs for centuries. Although no evidence of any structure was found, the dig provided excellent archaeological training for participating members.

We then focused on a location called Tigh Mor ( the Big House) which has a commanding position, overlooking the head of Loch Awe, at the mouth of Glen Strae. Thus far, two turf built rectangular structures, with interior hearths, have been identified, one of which is most likely a dwelling. We have also uncovered a bloomery (a medieval iron furnace) together with substantial amounts of slag iron and a collection of pottery, identified as Scottish Redware, dating from the 13th to 15th centuries. Radiocarbon dating of samples of charcoal found also confirms late 13th century. –  We will continue to work on Tigh Mor but we now move to news of our next dig.

On 29th July 2016 we were invited to a meeting with Glasgow University Archaeological Department and The Great Trossachs Forest Project who own / manage the lands around Inversnaid on Loch Lomondside. Clan Gregor Society was given the opportunity to explore (and hopefully discover) the site of Rob Roy’s house near the military barracks at Inversnaid. The investigation will begin in July 2017 and take place over the ensuing 3 years.

This is marvellous news. 2017 is the Year of Archaeology and Inversnaid was Rob Roy’s home during his turbulent years with the Duke of Montrose. The barracks were burned by Rob in 1718 and captured by his son James Mor, with only 12 MacGregors, during the 1745 Rising.

We hope that readers and members appreciate the importance of this new project, both to Clan Gregor and to Scottish archaeology. We will provide updates in due course and we thank you, once again, for all your contributions.

(Extract by courtesy of CGS newsletter).

Posted in news

Edinburgh Tattoo 2017 – Press Launch 8th May

INTRODUCTION

In a prelude to this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a  press launch was held on 8th May to announce the forthcoming involvement of the clans. Abridged details are given below.

NB. We take part on Monday 21 August. See below for how to join Clan Gregor in this fantastic event. 

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SCOTLAND’S CLANS WELCOMED AT EDINBURGH CASTLE’S GREAT HALL FOR THE FIRST-TIME IN HISTORY

March to the Castle

More than 30 clansmen and clanswomen marched to the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle today (Monday, 8th May) to mark a momentous occasion in Scotland’s history. This is the first time that Scotland’s clans have been welcomed into the Castle since the Highland Clans marched to the City of Edinburgh, to lay siege to the Castle, during the Jacobite uprising in 1745.

The event is being heralded by historians as the latest iconic tale from the colourful history of Scotland’s clans folk and an indication of the strength of the clan involvement which still survives in Scotland, with more than 350 clans in existence.

In September 1745 more than 900 Highland clansmen marched to Edinburgh to lay siege to the Castle. Although they captured the city and Holyrood, they didn’t succeed in capturing the Castle itself, as General Guest, Governor at the time, would not surrender the Castle to Bonnie Prince Charlie and his men.

During the Tattoo’s August extravaganza, the military showcase will champion the theme Splash of Tartan. In each evening’s opening ceremony, selected Clan Chiefs will lead their clan folk on to the Esplanade to the awaiting Tattoo crowd. Everyone across the city is being encouraged to dress up in finest tartan accoutrements.

Sir Malcolm MacGregor, convener of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, said: “It is a great honour for 57 clans and chiefs to be taking part in such a prestigious event as The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo this year. For the participating clans, it will be a dream come true to march onto the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, a location that has, over the centuries, been central to the clan story. Tartan will be to the fore with the clans kitted out in the ‘Garb of Old Gaul’. The great cloth, that has been worn by the Clans and Scottish Regiments since the Jacobite period of the 1700s, will be on full display and worn with great pride.”

Fiona Hyslop, Minister for Culture and External Affairs, said: 2017 is the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology in Scotland. The clans are an integral part of our rich heritage and I welcome their involvement in this year’s Tattoo.”

Brigadier David Allfrey, Chief Executive and Producer of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, said: “Edinburgh Castle has been at the centre of so many extraordinary events over the years and it is tremendous that we will see another story playing out this summer.

Major General Mike Riddell-Webster, Governor of Edinburgh Castle, added: “History relates that a Royal Castle has stood on the Castle Rock since the 12th Century. I am hugely honoured to be Her Majesty’s appointed guardian of this ancient fortress and am delighted to have the opportunity to host the clans in the Great Hall. I believe the Castle has been besieged 23 times in its long history and claims to be ‘the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world’.  This time though I hope everything will be peaceful.”

Addendum

Photographs of The Press Launch will be published shortly courtesy of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and Tony Marsh, photographer. Articles and other photographs can be seen in various Newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph and the Scotsman. Scottish Television (STV News) also ran the story at 1pm on 8th May with Sir Malcolm featuring in a televised interview.

We are immensely proud that our chief, Sir Malcolm, 24th Chief of Clan Gregor and Chieftain of the Children of the Mist, has been instrumental in setting up the relationship with the Tattoo.

Clans at Edinburgh Castle     Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle

BE A PART OF HISTORY!

Join Clan Gregor in this amazing spectacle and have the experience of a lifetime.

NB.  – Special passes are needed to be able to march.

  • Anyone wishing to take part, please contact Clan Gregor Society now at society@clangregor.org
  • Anyone who booked using the “public” Edinburgh Tattoo site and who intends on taking part, please contact us immediately.

 

Previously Published Details

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2017 will be unique as clans are participating for the first time. Clan chiefs are, therefore, sending out a rallying call to clansmen and women from all over the world to join them, in their tartan, at the Tattoo in August . The theme of the event, which takes place every year at Edinburgh Castle, will be a ‘Splash of Tartan’ and performances will have a strong clan content. Fifty members of each clan are invited to march in to the Tattoo with their Clan Chief, on a specified night, but you must be in tartan to march.

Clan Gregor takes part on Monday 21st August 2017 together with the Hannays and the Buchanans. Space is strictly limited to fifty members from each clan so, if you want to be one of the fifty MacGregors involved, please contact Clan Gregor Society and provide your details . Once the march is over, you then go to your allocated seats to watch the rest of the performance.

The Tattoo will run from 4th-26th August 2017. Twenty four performances with over 1,200 performers will take place on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, the iconic home of the world’s best known military spectacle. Performances are Monday to Friday at 9pm and on Saturdays at 7.30pm and 10.30pm, with standard ticket prices ranging from £25 to £74.

Full details of the 2017 The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo can be found at www.edintattoo.co.uk where tickets can be purchased online or by telephone on +44 (0)131 225 1188.

NB. We could, in theory, have more than fifty MacGregors wishing to march but, as mentioned above, only fifty will be allowed into the actual arena. We suggest you do not delay as The Tattoo is a hugely popular spectacle. It also takes place during the Edinburgh Festival when the city is full to the brim with people and other great events.

This is an exciting first for the clans and for Clan Gregor in particular. Let’s put on a great show for the sake of our members worldwide and for the 6000 plus spectators on August the 21st. It’ll be a fantastic experience.

Background    

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been taking place since 1950. It is run for charitable causes and is broadcast on BBC television each year. The Tattoo attracts over 200,000 spectators annually, with a further 100 million watching the televised showings in 30 different countries. It comprises military bands from British, Commonwealth and International armed forces, massed Pipes and Drums and spectacular performers from all over the world. – If you are coming from abroad, it is a definite highlight of your visit to Scotland.

Posted in Events

Society member honoured as Chieftain of the Games

By Lois Ann Garlitz

MacGregors ready to march in the noon parade.

MacGregors getting ready to march in the Parade of Clans.

I enjoyed a lovely weekend at Utah Scottish Festival and Highland Games at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah on June 12th and 13th 2015 as their Chieftain of the Games. As an additional honour, I was asked by the Chief of Clan Gregor, Sir Malcolm MacGregor, to fly his Pinsel flag as his personal representative in the United States.

What’s a Pinsel?

In heraldry, a Pinsel is small triangular flag granted only to Chiefs or very special chieftain-barons by the Lord Lyon King of Arms in Scotland. It’s used to denote a person to whom the Chief has delegated authority to act in his behalf on a particular occasion. The MacGregor Pinsel was presented to the American Clan Gregor Society decades ago by Sir Malcolm’s father, Sir Gregor MacGregor. You can see this special Pinsel flag in the photo below.

Lois Ann Garlitz with Steven Argyle

Lois Ann Garlitz with Steven Argyle holding the Pinsel.

Posted in Chapters, Highland Games Tagged with:
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