The Macpherson Clan was known as the protectors of the heart of the Scottish Highlands, safeguarding the paths used by soldiers, pilgrims and drovers throughout the wilds of Badenoch, the Cairngorms and Speyside. In Scottish Gaelic, their name is Mac a’ phersein, which means ‘son of the parson’. Legend has it that they were forced to settle in Lochaber by Kenneth MacAlpin, the first king of Scots, in 843. They later migrated east to lands in Badenoch, where battles against the Clan Comyn gave them control over the vital route to the north. Their Coat of Arms was granted by Robert the Bruce, and features a bloody dagger held in a fist couped at the wrist.
Their ancestral home on the upper waters of the Spey was a rugged land full of rocks, mountains and water, forming a natural barrier for travellers. This loyalty carried throughout the centuries, including during the Jacobite Rising of 1745-6 when Ewan McPherson led a regiment of 350 men who joined Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s army for an advance on London. They provided rearguard at Derby and later Killiecrankie before arriving late at the Battle of Culloden, but still managed to save remaining fugitives from slaughter and complete destruction. They even rescued the personal equipage of the Prince himself and eventually gave him refuge at Cluny’s Cage hideout on the shore of Loch Ericht prior to his escape to France. For 9 years, he was in hiding and the clan history in the modern era is marked by the spread of the British Empire to far-off seas, with adventurers, explorers, military personnel, and administrators sent to India, America, and Australia. Many descendants remain overseas to this day.
A plaque at the entrance wall of the Clan Museum in Newtonmore reads: “Here Housed Relics Memorial Rich Historical Interest not only Scotland Clansmen whatever race attracted Story High Resolve Patriotism Loyalty”. An impressive kilted march occurs annually on the 1st Saturday of August during a weeklong event Gathering featuring a Formal Ball, ceilidh evening, picnic, cairn church service, Kingussie guided walks, and conviviality. Meanwhile, sights to visit include the museum telling the stories of famous men and women who changed the face of the world in science, arts, and sport, as well as the role played by the uprisings and Jacobite Ruthven Barracks, a Hanoverian government post-battle gathering place that was set on fire by the clansmen for the final time.
A visit to the Highland Wildlife Park, sponsoring the family wildcat near Kingussie, is also worthwhile. The current chief is Sir William Alan Macpherson of Cluny & Blairgowrie, and Blairgowrie Private Residence is thought to be worth exploring with endless possibilities awaiting visitors to the glorious Scottish Highlands!
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