The Battle of Clachnaharry
Perched atop a hill overlooking the Beauly Firth in Inverness, the Clachnaharry Monument commemorates a particularly fierce battle between Clan Munro and Clan Chattan that occurred in 1454. After a day of sunbathing (in April) in the Highlands, I decided to take advantage of the unusually warm evening and take a walk out to the monument.
Clachnaharry is situated about 2 miles from Inverness and was once a bustling fishing village. The village takes its name from the Gaelic Clach na h-Aire (Stone of the Watch), referring to an irregular stone at the top of the hill used as a look out post to spot approaching unfriendly clans from the north. Just past the high street a little path leads through some woods and up a hill to where the monument is located, also providing a spectacular view of the Beauly Firth, the bottom of the Black Isle and Ben Wyvis.
Largely thought to have occurred in 1454, the battle came about when the Munros were returning home to Easter Ross through Chattan territory following a cattle raid in Perthshire. The Munros were led by John Munro Tutor of Foulis who refused to pay the customary tax on their plunder. This safe passage fee, or ‘road collop’ was often paid in the form of a number of cattle. A dispute broke out over the amount and when no agreement could be reached the Chattans gravely insulted the Munros by cutting the tails off of their horses. The Munros left to travel north, having sent their spoils ahead, but the Chattans caught up and ambushed them at Clachnaharry.
In the fight which followed many died including the chief of Clan Chattan. John Munro was left for dead on the battlefield, but was found by an old woman of the Fraser clan who nursed him back to health. Lord Lovat, chief of the Frasers, returned John to Foulis, however his hand was mutilated in the battle. He became known as Iain Bac-lambach (John the Lame-Handed). This act signaled the start of an enduring friendship between the Munro and Fraser clans.
The monument was built in 1821 by Major Hugh Robert Duff of Muirtown and originally included a figure on top of a 8m column. Unfortunately the figure fell off in a gale in 1934 and the column was blown down during a severe storm in 1954, leaving only the stump that remains today. Each side of the monument reads the two clan names, facing their respective territories. The Latin inscription is thought to read “Between these high, red rocks their bones are collected”. In recent years the monument was refurbished after it was vandalised and overgrown with foliage.
The monument is also conveniently located across the road from the Clachnaharry Inn, which provided the perfect cure (in cool, refreshing pint form) to the sunburn I received earlier in the day. You can click any of the pictures below to enlarge.