Virtual Scotland  

Virtual Scotland

Scottish History - Cluny MacPherson

Scottish History - Cluny MacPherson

Cluny MacPherson hid on Creag Dhubh
Creag Dhubh
click to enlarge

"Cluny Macpherson" - Ewen MacPherson of Cluny, Chief of Clan Chattan, joined the Stewart army with about six hundred men but missed Culloden as they had been sent to guard the passes in the Badenoch. After the failed Jacobite rebellion of '45 the British Redcoats searched the highlands for leaders and members of the Jacobite army. Cluny's house was burnt to the ground and all his possessions looted so it became necessary for him to scatter his men and seek refuge

Cluny, with a small party of men, headed towards Loch Ericht. On the sides of Creag Dubh he took refuge is a small cave. The cave wasn't much more than a hole in the ground with a fallen tree forming the roof but it was large enough to accommodate two men resonably comfortably. The image above (click to enlarge) shows how difficult it would have been to find the cave, which has become known as 'Cluny's Cage'. Even when you are almost upon the cave it is almost impossible to find (see image below). Cluny was able to light a fire as the smoke disapated over the hill top and was not seen.

Cluny MacPherson was joined by Bonnie Prince Charlie, who remained there in hiding for about 5 months. It is said that the Prince asked for Cluny 's plaid because it was thicker than his. Cluny refused to give it up but offered to share so Cluny and the Prince slept under the same plaid .

Cluny remained in hiding (in the cave) for nine years. Many people knew of his whereabouts, but despite enormous rewards no tongue betrayed him. There are many stories about his protection, one of which tells of the the little "Drummer Boy".

The little drummer boy, who was aged about 10, who was captured by British Army. He had been suspected of supplying food to Cluny. Having been forced to lead them to where Cluny was in hiding he was desparate to raise the alarm. On the way up the mountain, the boy began to talk to the drummer about his drum and how he wanted to become a drummer. Eventually the drummer allowed the boy to take a look at the drum. Seizing his opportunity the little boy beat on the drum as loud as he could. When the British reached the cave Cluny had fled.

In 1765 he escaped to France and died soon afterwards of a broken heart said to have been caused by his longing for his nomeland of Speyside.

Cluny's CageCluny MacPherson was mentioned in Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped. Cluny Macpherson is portrayed by Stevenson as a powerful man who spends his time listening to the grievances of the people and entertaining guests. Although he is in hiding, Cluny still emerges as a strong character with his sense of dignity and pride intact. 'Cluny's Cage,' is mounted on a hillside with a tree serving as the central beam for the roof (see image to the right - click to enlarge - you still can't see it!).

Cluny Macpherson's cousin William Macpherson 'the purser' of the clan, was killed fighting for the Jacobite Cause at Falkirk in 1746. 'The purser's nephew, James Macpherson of Balavil, gave to the world the controversial but marvellously beautiful 'translation' of ossian, which even moved Napoleon.

More details on the Clan Macpherson site


Back to

About Scotland