Am Baile/Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Location: Glencoe and Kinlochleven
the jacobites

Corrag... again

Local amateur historian Arthur Smith, who died in 2005, was brought up in the 1930s by his Gaelic-speaking grandmother. In a time of no television and limited radio, she would entertain him with marvellous stories of the Jacobites and the myths and legends of Glencoe.

'One of the stories told to me by my Granny was of a local witch, Corrag. At the time of the Massacre, Corrag had warned everybody that the Redcoats were up to no good, but nobody listened. The evening before the Massacre, Corrag fled up into the hills, wrapped herself in a plaid and stayed out all night. She came back the next day and the village was empty, the houses were burned, the cattle had been driven off and there was just the haze of smoke lying over the glen. The myth is that she went to where MacIain, the Chief, had been shot by the Redcoats and she took his broadsword down the glen to the Narrows, where she threw the sword into the water. Corrag made a prophecy that the men of the glen had suffered enough, and as long as that sword lay undisturbed by the hand of man, no man from this glen would ever die by the sword again. Now that’s the myth and the legend' added Arthur, 'I have checked, nobody from Glencoe was killed at Culloden, nobody was killed at Waterloo or the Thin Red Line, Balaclava, and nobody from the village was killed in any of the Victorian Wars.

'During the Boer War in 1900, the boy McCall died but that was cholera and Granny said that didn’t count. 1914, 1915, 1916 nobody from the village was killed and then in June 1916, they brought up a dredger from Glasgow to dredge the loch... for the war effort. On the night of 30 June 1916, the captain of the dredger went into the Old Glen Hotel with a handle of an old sword that had come up in the basket. The men were horrified and rode out into the loch and threw it back in. Now that is fact. And the other fact was that next morning, seven men from the village were killed at the Western Front and up until then nobody. Now you can mix fact and legend or it could be a coincidence - 1 July 1916 was the first Battle of the Somme and the casualties were enormous…….'

Contributed by Scott McCombie, Senior Ranger/ NNR Manager at NTS Glencoe Visitor Centre. The story was told to him by Arthur Smith who volunteered at the NTS and the Glencoe Folk Museum.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.