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
Link to
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 by sheep.

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 index.

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.

The Trial of Patrick Sellar
Link to 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.

The 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 acknowledgements.

The Saltire Society is Scotland's Principal Cultural Body.

page created 5th July 1999 - last updated May 2003

Click here for Books on Scotland

Return to previous page  

Reload Home Page of Clan Mackay

Images of Mackay Country - next page

[ about | introduction | clan history | further reading | poem | links | forum ]

Copyright © 1998 - 2006 John Mackie