Thursday, July 12, 2012

Legend Post #6 -- The Loch of the Lost Sword

Well, hello, again. I'm back with a 'proper' legend for this week. However, I'm a little under the weather, so my brain is not working on full power. Plus I have a 15-25 installment series to plan out for a job assignment. Due to these two things, I've chosen a smaller legend that will require a little less explaining on my part. I guess it sounds lazy, but I have to work with what I have, and I don't want another Thursday to go by without a legend.

The Loch of the Lost Sword is a minor legend in Scotland. You probably would never hear of it unless you looked up the West Highland Way, which is a 96mi. hiking trail through the Scottish Highlands starting at Milngavie and ending at Fort William. Technically this little spot of water is too small to be called a loch, and is rather referred to as a lochan.

I found it difficult to find a lot of information on the Lochan of the Lost Sword, but with persistance (and no brain power for anything else) I finally found a snippet, and an article. Both have to do with Robert the Bruce, but one says he scored a great victory....

"Legend has it that when Robert the Bruce of Scotland was fleeing the English troops pursuing him, he ordered all his mens heavy weapons be tossed into this small loch to lighten their load. A day later the two armies met in battle only a mile from this spot, and despite being only lightly armed, the Scots routed the English." [source unknown]

.....while the other fills in quite a few missing details that paint a very diferent picture.

"As we already know Bruce had made a few enemies when he stabbed Comyn. By far the biggest of these north of the Border were the MacDougalls a powerful clan who held the lands around Argyll. This clan was descended from Somerled a great Hebridean king and it’s testament to their power that they had inflicted heavy defeats on both the MacDonald and Campbell clans. They had been great Scottish patriots, unfortunately for Bruce though Comyn was related to the MacDougalls and so they had come out in support of Balliol and the English. With Bruce and his surviving army fleeing westward they ran out of the frying pan and smack into the fire where a large force of MacDougalls were sharpening their swords in anticipation.

When Bruce reached Strathfillan, just to the south of Tyndrum around a thousand MacDougalls were there to meet him, led by the son of Alexander the chief John of Lorne (also known as ‘John the Lame). Bruce was trapped! With Valence pursuing him and the MacDougalls blocking his path he was forced to fight. Bruce and his men were not prepared for battle and the result was a foregone conclusion. What few horses Bruce still had were cut down by the MacDougall axemen and many of his most valued allies such as Sir James Douglas and Gilbert Hey were wounded during the engagement. This rather fanciful poem gives account of the battle:

They thereupon withdrew. In this
There was no mark of cowardice.
They kept together; and the king
Was ever busy rescuing
The rearmost of his company.
With skill and valour there wrought he,
And safely all his men withdrew.
He daunted those that would pursue
So none durst leave their cloe array,
For he was never far away.

The fighting was desperate for Bruce, at one point cut off from his allies he was fighting alone against a small lochan. A MacDougall man attempted to pull Bruce from his horse by grabbing his cloak. Bruce killed him but lost his cloak in so doing. The dead MacDougall was found later still grasping the cloak with Bruce’s brooch still attached. This brooch is still in the possession of the clan to his day.

Bruce and a handful of men escaped with their lives. His army was now non-existent and he fled to the caves and into the history books!
He hadn’t finished with the MacDougalls though and in 1308 at the Pass of Brander Bruce took bloody revenge against the MacDougalls. Once again with the Black Douglas by his side he completely destroyed the MacDougall’s and finally put an end to Scottish resistance to his claim to the throne.

 The Lochan of the Lost Sword

The place where Bruce’s darkest moment had come was named ‘Dail Righ’ or ‘The Kings Field’. Bruce had escaped by a hairs breadth (of maybe a brooch pin’s width). As Bruce had escaped he and many of his men threw any unwieldy heavy arms they had into a small lochan. Local legend has it that the king’s sword still lies beneath the surface. Whether its guarded by a ‘lady of the lake’ would be mere speculation." [taken from]

Though a small legend, it still has tingles the imagination a little bit, doesn't it? It's hard to think a sword would remain just sitting at the bottom of a lochan for all these years, but perhaps if it was discovered by a peasant long ago, and is sitting in an attic somewhere, a forgotten family heriloom......

Dia duit,

1 comment:

  1. his sword lies on a wall in a cave in Scotland


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