Battle of Achnashellach
|Battle of Achnashellach|
|Part of Rebellion of Domhnall Dubh|
Achnashellach Forest where the battle is said to have taken place
(Loyal to Domhnall Dubh)
(Loyal to James IV of Scotland)
|Commanders and leaders|
|Ewen Cameron, 13th of Lochiel||William Munro, 12th Baron of Foulis|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Achnashellach was a Scottish clan battle said to have taken place in the year 1505, in the Scottish Highlands at Achnashellach. It was fought by the Clan Cameron against the Clan Mackay and the Clan Munro.
Little is known of the events concerning the Battle of Achnashellach as there is little contemporary evidence to support it. However the Clan Munro records that "Sir William Munro of Foulis was sent to Lochaber on the King's business and was killed in an engagement between the Camerons and MacKays at a place called Achnashellach in 1505". Aside from this there is little evidence of the battle, however it is Clan Cameron tradition that they defeated a joint force of Munros and Mackays.
Donald Gregory's background account
Donald Gregory's book History of the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland from AD 1493 to AD 1625, with quoted source, gives an insight into the circumstances in Scotland, in the years prior to the battle:
A.D.1502: A commission was afterwards given to the Earl of Huntly, the Lord Lovat, and William Munro of Fowlis to proceed to Lochaber and let the King's lands of Lochaber and Mamore, for the space of five years, to true men. At the same time, the commissioners had strict instructions to expel all broken men from these districts, which,in the state of affairs at that time, was equivalent to an order to expel the whole population. Similar directions were given relative to the lands forfeited by MacLeod of Lewis. (The MacLeods of Lewis supported the rebellion of Domhnall Dubh but the Clan MacLeod of Harris and Dunvegan opposed the MacDonalds and laid siege to several of their castles).
Mackenzie's account of the battle
Alexander Mackenzie wrote an account of the Battle of Achnashellach in his book History of the Munros of Fowlis in 1898. Mackenzie quote's Gregory's book for the events of 1502, already mentioned above.
Sir William is said to have been killed in the prime of his life, in 1505, at a place called Achnashellach or Achnaskellach, in Lochaber, by Ewen "MacAlein Mhic Dhom'huill Duibh", XIII. of Lochiel, in a raid which is thus described in Lochiels Memoirs. Besides the other wars wherein Lochiel was engaged, he had also a ruffle with Baron of Reay, Chief of the MacKays, a people living many miles north of Lochaber. What the quarrel was I know not, but it drew on an invasion from the Camerons, and that an engagement wherein the MacKays were defeated and the Laird of Fowlis, Chief of the Munros, who assisted them, was killed upon the spot.
In 1502 a Royal Commission had been given to the Earl of Huntly, Thomas fourth Lord Lovat, and Sir William Munro of Fowlis, to proceed to Lochaber and let the King's lands of Lochaber and Mamore for the space of five years to true men, and this is what probably led to the raid and the collision with the Camerons in which Sir William was slain.
John Stewart's account of the battle
John Stewart of Ardvorlich wrote a brief account of the events surrounding the Battle of Achnashellach in his book The Camerons, A History of Clan Cameron, without quoting a source:
There is tradition that the Clan Cameron took part in an expedition to the country of the Mackays in Sutherlandshire and that they defeated a joint force of Munros and Mackays but the object of this enterprise is not clear. Sir William Munro of Foulis was Justiciary and Lieutenant of Inverness and the Earldom of Ross. In 1505 he was killed by "Ewen McAllan Vicoldui" at Achnashellach. As Ewen MacAllan (Cameron) had supported the rebellion of Donald Dubh in 1503 and as Achnashellach is only 12 miles from the Castle of Strome in Lochalsh, which he was constable, it seems likely that Ewen was acting in support of Donald Dubh when Munro was killed.
One 17th-century account states that William Munro was killed by treachery: William Munro of Foulis, a knight most valiant for leading an army at the command of the King against certain factious northern men, he perished by treachery.
Another historian from the early 18th century states that Munro was killed by Cameron, adding that: the house was surrounded and refused to surrender.
William Munro left two sons Hector and William. The eldest, Hector Munro took over as chief and had extensive lands confirmed to him by King James V of Scotland at Stirling and was made the Royal Lieutenant of Western Ross-shire as his father was before him. Hector Munro was also made constable of Strome Castle on behalf of the MacDonnells of Glengarry by King James V. Previously Ewen Cameron had been constable of Strome Castle for the MacDonalds of Lochalsh. Ewen Cameron was executed in 1547, aged 60.
- Fraser, C.I of Reeling. (1954). The Clan Munro. Published by Johnston & Bacon, Stirling. p.21.
- Battle of Achnashellach clan-cameron.org. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- Gregory, Donald. (1835). History of the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland, from A.D. 1493 to A.D. 1625. p. 97. Quoting: Reg. of Privy Seal, II. fo. 108.
- Mackenzie, Alexander. (1898). History of the Munros of Fowlis. p.34.
- Mackenzie, Alexander. (1898). History of the Munros of Fowlis. p.34. Quoting: Gregory, Donald. (1835). History of the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland. p. 97.
- Stewart, John. (1974). The Camerons, A History of Clan Cameron. Published by the Clan Cameron Association. Printed by Jamieson & Munro Ltd. Stirling.
- Mackenzie, Alexander. (1898). History of the Munros of Fowlis. p.171 - 174. Quoting: A letter from Alexander Munro, cadet of the Munros of Obsdale to Charles I of England.
- Young, John. (1805). Chronological and Genealogical Account of the Ancient and Honorable Family of the Fowlis. Printed in Inverness. (Based on an MS History written in 1717).