Battle of Glen Fruin
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|The Battle of Glen Fruin|
|Part of the Scottish clan wars|
Monument marking the site of the Battle of Glen Fruin
|Commanders and leaders|
|Alasdair MacGregor of Glenstrae||Sir Humphrey Colquhoun of Luss|
|300-400 combined force||600-800 combined force, including a large proportion of cavalry|
|Casualties and losses|
|very light||140-200 dead|
The Battle of Glen Fruin was fought on 7 February 1603 between the Clan Gregor and its allies on one side, and the Clan Colquhoun and its allies on the other. Glen Fruin is located in the Loch Lomond area, in the county of Dunbartonshire, Scotland.
Lead up to the Battle
According to the Clan Gregor; two MacGregor clansmen, away from home, were forced to spend a night in Colquhoun lands. After being refused shelter, the two MacGregors found an abandoned outhouse and slaughtered a sheep which they ate. When the two were discovered they were seized and brought forward to Colquhoun, the Laird of Luss. Sir Humphrey Colquhoun of Luss, chief of the Clan Colquhoun, had the men tried by summary trial then sentenced the men to death.
To avenge the two slain clansmen, the chief of Clan Gregor, Alasdair MacGregor of Glenstrae, led 300 to 400 men under his command with the help of MacFarlanes, from the banks of Loch Long, by way of the "Raid na Gael" (Scottish Gaelic), Highlandman's Pass, towards the Colquhoun lands of Luss.
The conflict at Glen Fruin
As the two sides converged in the lands of Glen Fruin, the MacGregor led force was at first discouraged by the superior size of the Colquhoun led contingent. It is said a Seer encouraged the MacGregors, saying he saw the shrouds of the dead wrapt around their opponents.
The main contingent of the MacGregor force attacked their enemies head on, while a force flanked the Colquhouns, led by Iain Dubh MacGregor, brother of the chief. The Colquhoun's advantage of having a large number of cavalry present turned into a disadvantage by boggy ground of the glen, and the MacGregors pressed on to rout the Colqhouns and their allies.
Alleged slaughter of students
A tradition grew that a group of clerical students from the town of Dumbarton, who had assembled to watch the battle, were slaughtered by the MacGregors during the rout of the Colquhouns. It is remarked by historians that this alleged slaughter is curiously not part of the indictment against the chief of the MacGregors.
Though the event seems to have been entwined in lore of the surrounding area and also part of MacGregor lore. The location of the deed is marked by "Leac a' Mhinisteir" (Scottish Gaelic), Minister or Clerk's Flag-stone.
According to MacGregor tradition, the man who committed the deed was Dugald Ciar Mhor, (Dugald the great, mouse coloured), a foster brother of the chief, who was renowned for his great size and strength. It was amidst the battle that the chief entrusted the youths to Dugald's protection, with directions to keep them fleeing. For reasons unknown, possibly for fear of their escape or of some injustice to him or his clan, Dugald slaughtered the defenceless students. When the chief, Alasdair, demanded where the youths were Dugald is said to have drawn his bloody dirk saying in gaelic "Ask that, and God save me!"
- Site Record for Glenfruin, Auchengaich; Glen Fruin; Battle Of Glen Fruin, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland
- MacGregor, A G M, History Of The Clan Gregor, From Public Records And Private Collections; Compiled At The Request Of The Clan Gregor Society, (Vol.1), p.287
- Scott, Sir W, Manners, customs and history of the Highlanders of Scotland ; Historical account of the clan MacGregor, p.121-124
- MacGregor, A G M, History Of The Clan Gregor, From Public Records And Private Collections; Compiled At The Request Of The Clan Gregor Society, (Vol.1), p.206
- MacGregor, Amelia Georgiana Murray. (1898). History Of The Clan Gregor, From Public Records And Private Collections; Compiled At The Request Of The Clan Gregor Society. (Volume.1). W. Brown.
- Scott, Sir Walter. (1893). Manners, customs and history of the Highlanders of Scotland ; Historical account of the clan MacGregor. Glasgow.