The Strathnaver Trilogy
Dr Ian Grimble
The late Dr Ian Grimble, was a well-known historian of the
North of Scotland, he lived in Strathnaver and made a special
study of its history. The three books forming The Strathnaver
Trilogy have been recently re-published by The Saltire
Society. This trilogy relates specifically to the Clan Mackay.
Chief of Mackay
This is the first book of
The Strathnaver Trilogy, bringing into focus and describing
in tragic detail the fate of the Mackay country - Duthaich
'Ic Aoidh - in the extreme northwest of Scotland, west of
Caithness and north of Sutherland, and larger in extent than
either of these earldoms. A Gaelic society was maintained here
despite the relentless encroachment of the Gordon earls of Sutherland.
Because of gradual changes in the idea of chieftainship, the
people underwent a transformation from a traditional tight-knit
Gaelic-speaking community to a down-trodden helot population
to be cleared away at the will of the landowner and replaced
This story is told with clarity and with a passionate intensity
by the late Dr Ian Grimble. It is very well researched and much
of the text is a direct translation of correspondence and journals
of the time. The book provides an enormous amount of information
on the first Lord Reays, it is fully referenced and has a comprehensive
The front cover of the this paperback publication is designed
using the Stettin print (1631) showing men of Mackay's regiment
in the Swedish service during the Thirty Years War.
Trial of Patrick Sellar
This second part of "The
Strathnaver Trilogy" follows "Chief of Mackay"
and describes the fulfilment of the anti-Gaelic, anti-Mackay
policy of the House of Sutherland, under which the entire population
of the north-west of Scotland was displaced in what became known
as the "Clearances". The principal agent of the Duchess
of Sutherland in this early version of "ethnic cleansing"
was Patrick Sellar, a chief beneficiary. In 1816 he was tried
and acquitted on charges that included culpable homicide. In
that year a volcanic eruption fortuitously caused a deterioration
in the weather which appeared to justify his economic theories,
and to this day there are still historians who defend his character
and actions. But Gaelic tradition preserves a picture of Sellar
that has received startling confirmation from documents until
recently hidden from the public.
World of Rob Donn (new edition)
This is the final volume of Strathnaver
Trilogy . The Mackay bard, Rob Donn, was an oral poet of great
power, considered by many scholars to be the Gaelic equivalent
of his contemporary Robert Burns. He lived in Strathmore throughout
the dramatic events of 1745 and their aftermath, and his elegies
and satires paint a vivid picture of highland life at a crucial
moment in its history. In the first edition of this book, the
late Dr Ian Grimble used Donn's life and work to demonstrate
the vitality of the Gaelic way of life and literature before
the Highland Clearances.
This new publication includes a narrative of Rob Donn's life,
all of Donn's poems are presented in the original Gaelic together
with rigorously revised English translations which reflect current
standard orthography. It is hoped that the publication of The
World of Rob Donn will play a part in the current, welcome
revival of Gaelic scholarship, a cause very dear to the heart
of Dr Grimble.
Published by The Saltire Society - with
Saltire Society is Scotland's Principal Cultural Body.
page created 5th July 1999 - last
updated May 2003
Copyright © 1998 - 2003 John