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Re: Ambush at Altimarlach
sorry..mail is a bit weird today..that went off without me finishing..At
any rate... Custer did not have a lot of luck...And thanks for the
Sinclair update on that! Gord
> I picked up the following description of the Battle of Altimarlach at the
> Dunbeath Heritage Centre in Dunbeath. No author or source is noted.
> "The Battle of Altimarlach
> Gaelic: Uilt na Muirleach--the Burn of the Thieves
> (so called because of the plunder taken from the bodies of the dead)
> The battle of Altimarlach was fought on 13th July 1680 between Sir John
> Campbell of Glenorchy and George Sinclair of Keiss over ownership of the
> Girnigoe Estates. A dispute arose over money alleged to have been borrowed
> by the 6th Earl of Caithness from Sir John who consequently laid claim to
> the estate and in 1677 was granted the title of Earl of Caithness, Lord
> Sinclair of Berriedale and Glenorchy. George Sinclair of Keiss, a close
> relative of the 6th Earl contested his claim and a series of disputes
> resulted in Glenorchy obtaining royal permission to invade Caithness to
> uphold his claim. He was also provided with several companies of the
> king's troops.
> This army marched from Perth and arrived in Caithness on 18th May and set
> up camp at Braemore, near Morven, which at that time was on the Berriedale
> estate which Glenorchy claimed as Earl of Caithness. On 12th July he
> marched his army to the Hill of Yarrows, and the site was long known as
> Torran nan Gael, the Highlanders Hill. From there he had a commanding view
> of the area and decided to approach Wick under cover of a sudden mist. The
> mist lifted as he was coming down the Haster Burn and the alarm was raised
> by Sinclair's forces who were deployed in and around Wick.
> Reports are confused but it seems that Glenorchy headed for Stirkoke and
> Altimarlach where he divided his force. Half were deployed on the haugh
> west of the burn and the others were concealed in the gully. When the
> Sinclairs came up Wick River to meet them, they were attacked by the group
> on the haugh, just where the burn met the river, and at the same time the
> ambush was sprung by the force in the gully. The Sinclairs were trapped
> against the river which is quite deep at this point and many men were
> drowned, or killed by the reserves if they managed to struggle to the
> opposite bank, on the Moss of Bronsie.
> There is no accurate record of the number of men involved, but Glenorchy
> would have had about 800, and the Sinclairs a similar amount. Sinclair
> casualties were high with possibly 300 men killed. Many of the dead on the
> Campbell side were buried where the commemorative cross now stands. Peace
> was made between the sides the following day and was signed in the old Wick
> Town Hall which stood on the east side of the present Market Square.
> The battle is notable for being the last major clan battle in Scotland and
> for the fact that two famous pipe tunes were composed by Glenorchy's piper
> Finlay Ban MacIvor, while the army was marching to Caithness. One was
> 'Breadalbane Gathering' and the other 'The Campbells are coming.' Until
> comparatively recently it was a gross insult to play these tunes in Wick."
> Note that, in this account, there is no mention of the Sinclairs being drunk.
> Richard Huseth
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