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Gàidhlig

Ambaile.Org.Uk

Wonderful Websites

Learn Scottish Gaelic

https://learngaelic.scot/?


Am Baile (The Township) - History of Gaelic Scotland

http://www.ambaile.org.uk/en/page/show_home_page.html


Slighe nan Gaidheal

http://www.slighe.org/

Courses

The following courses are offered through a chapter of Romance Writers of Amercia, but anyone may register for them.


Sponsor: Hearts Through History Writers Workshops

rhttps://www.heartsthroughhistory.com/workshops/scottish-highlands-1500-1800/#register


Scottish Highlands 1500-1800

5- 31 March 2018


Medieval Ireland 

April 2018


Celtic Mythology 

January 2019


Richard the Lionheart & the Crusades

April 2019

History


Scraps of History

After the Wars of Independence, conditions in many parts of Scotland were chaotic and lawless; the most secure social grouping proved to be the family and clan. Feudalism alone could not provide security. Even in the Lowlands there was a tendency to trust in kinship more than in feudal relationships. The Crichtons, the Livingstones, Homes, Hepburns were kindreds whose family pride was expressed in tailzies (entail) to heirs male who were obliged to bear not only the heraldic arms of the family but its name as well.

 The term 'clan system' is relatively recent--General Stewart of Garth wrote about 'the system of clanship' in his Sketches of the Highlanders (1822). Frank Adam used the term 'Highland Clan System' in his book of 1906. The common perception of a clan according to David Stevenson is:

 'a body of people related by blood, descended from a common ancestor, inhabiting a clan territory, ruled by a chief who is head of the kin, wearing a clan tartan and all having the same surname.'

 So what is a clan?

 Clans served social, cultural and military functions. The basic structure was composed of chiefs, their kin, chieftains (more remote kin to the chief or vassals) and their near relatives. They occupied a certain territory which they believed inalienable to their people; that is, it could not be sold. There were a number of itinerant people, poets, musicians, tradition bearers, supported by the elite.

 Some writers have described the clans as feudal but that is a simplification. As was mentioned before, Gaelic society was an accommodation of a kin-based society to feudalism. There was a lot of overlap between the two legal systems: Gaelic and feudal.

 The difference between feudal and Gaelic law 'although the theories of landholding that underlay the two systems were so different, in practice Gaelic clanship and feudalism were very much alike'. (Kermack  64)  

 For example, tenants (tuathanaich) gave rents to the lord/chief/king in return for protection. As well as certain labour services, military service was expected of the tenantry. The elite were expected to give justice and to protect their kin and tenants from their enemies, and provide for them in famine times.

 What made the Gaelic clan different from a Lowland family? Language: Highland clans spoke Gaelic; Lowland families spoke Inglish, later called Lowland Scots or Broad Scots. The most powerful of the Lowland leaders had feudal titles such as baron or earl, and they obeyed Scots Common Law. The most powerful of the Highland clans may also have held feudal titles, but their clansmen held them in awe as quasi-sacred figures. Gaelic chiefs were inaugurated like the ancient kings of Ireland and Scotland.  Highlanders also believed in the sacred nature of the land, a remnant of pagan belief that the land was a woman, married to the chief or king of a people.

The Banshee of Castle Muirn

I've always loved reading about the history of Scotland and Ireland. And it all started with a love of fairy tales. Imagine me pestering my poor mother to tell me more, more, more! So my first novel is set in Scotland in the 17th century and the heroine is a banshee, a nice banshee of course. This except from The Banshee of Loch Muirn gives you an idea of what a banshee does:


The crow had a more important task--to find out if Morag had secured an apprentice. Only one other of Morag's kind lived in the district--Shona, the chief's daughter. Both women had silver-grey eyes, a sure sign.

The crow nibbled seeds spilled on the floor. "Keep your mind on your business, old dear."

 Morag put on a worn linen shift and an earasaid of grey and white, and belted it with a sash of green silk, the emblem of her calling.

"You're dragging your tail feathers." The bird jumped from floor to chair to chest.

"You'd know more about that than I."

"Someone's outside. Stay here. I'll go see." The bird flew out the smoke hole, and found a young man with his arm about a girl by the garden wall.  They thought birds had no power to understand human speech, and they'd ignore her. When they left, she returned to Morag's and landed sideways on the chain holding her old bronze cauldron over the fire.

"Two young lovers. And the men in black cloaks and breeches nearby. Too bad the young ones will be caught up in this. But the death of one of them is the beginning of change in Glen Muirn. I saw it.”

“It can’t be changed."

Morag pinned her garment with a silver brooch so big that the bird could have built a nest on it.  "Let's go," she squawked.

"Hush, rude bird. You'll wake the dead."

"They'll wake with all the people to join them this year."

"Ready."

The crow enabled the old woman to keep her nocturnal walks a secret. Morag skirted the edge of the village---she had to appear from the west if anyone saw her, and the crow flew overhead to make sure no one encountered her while she was working. During all the years the old woman had done her job, the villagers had remained ignorant of who predicted death among them.

The people of the baile knew Morag only for her knowledge of herbs and simples. And so they should. Now the crow had the duty to help her find a replacement. "Only one silver-eyed woman has the copper in her blood. Only one person sickens with iron."

Morag wants Shona Campbell to be her apprentice, but Shona is the chief's daughter and destined for marriage and children to keep Clan Campbell strong. A banshee is weakened by iron and childbearing—in my story at least. Folklore has inspired the story, but I've changed a few details.

About Me

While I was born on the east coast of Canada, I have lived in British Columbia for many years and love the sea and mountains on this side of the country. 

My father was in the military and I was fortunate enough to live in Europe for over eight years. As a long-time fan of history and language, I studied Scottish history and Gaelic at the University of Glasgow.  

I've taught Irish, Scottish & Medieval History as non-credit university courses, and have also taught online courses. Teaching obliges me to read carefully to prepare courses and I think my books will benefit from the new information from non-fiction books.

Life intervened and I had to stop writing for a time

I am currently writing a trilogy of historical fantasies set in Scotland—of course!

 

World of Fantasy

© Sheila Currie  2018