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Note V. The Broach of Lorn.—St. XI. p. 59. It has been generally mentioned in the preceding notes, that Robert Bruce, after his defeat at Methven, being hard pressed by the English, endeavoured, with the dispirited rennant of his followers, to escape from Breadalbane and the mountains of Perthshire into the Argyleshire highlands. But he was encountered and repulsed, after a very severe engagement, by the Lord of Lorn. Bruce's personal strength and courage were never displayed to greater advantage than in this conflict. There is a tradition in the family of the MacDougals of Lorn, that their chieftain engaged in personal battle with Bruce himself, while the latter was employed in protecting the retreat of his men; that Mac-Dougal was struck down by the king, whose strength of body was equal to his vigour of mind, and would have been slain on the spot, had not two of Lorn’s vassals, a father and son, whom tradition terms M-Keoch, rescued him, by seizing the mantle of the monarch, and dragging him from above his adversary. Bruce rid himself of these foes by two blows of his redoubted battleaxe, but was so closely pressed by the other followers of Lorn, that he was forced to abandon the mantle, and broach which fastened it, clasped in the dying grasp of the Mac-Keochs. A studded broach, said to have been that which King Robert lost upon this occasion, was long preserved in the family of Mac-Dougal, and was lost in a fire which consumed their temporary residence
The metrical history of Barbour throws an air of credibility upon the tradition, although it does not entirely coincide either in the names or number of the vassals by whom Bruce was assailed, and makes no mention of the personal danger of Lorn, or of the loss of Bruce's mantle. The last circumstance indeed might be warrantably omitted.
According to Barbour, the king, with his handful of fol. lowers, not amounting probably to three hundred men, encountered Lorn with about a thousand Argyleshire men in Glen-Douchart, at the head of Breadalbane, near Teyndrum. The place of action is still called Dalry, or the King's Field. The field of battle was unfavourable to Bruce's adherents, who were chiefly men at arms. Many of the horses were slain by the long pole-axes, of which the Argyleshire Scottish had learned the use from the Norwegians. At length Bruce commanded a retreat up a narrow and difficult pass, he himself bringing up the rear, and repeatedly turning and driving back the more venturous assailants. Lorn, observing the skill and valour used by his enemy in protecting the retreat of his followers, “ Methinks, Murthokson,” said he, addressing one of his followers," he resembles Gol Mak-morn, protecting his followers from Fingal.”—“ A most unworthy comparison,” observes the arch-deacon of Aberdeen, unsuspicious of the future fame of these names ; "he might with more propriety have compared the king to Sir Gaudefer de Layrs, protecting the foragers of Gadyrs against the attacks of Alexander."! Two
"This is a very curious passage, and has been often quoted in
brothers, the strongest among Lorn's followers, whose names Barbour calls Mackyn-Drosser, (interpreted Durward, or Porterson) resolved to rid their chief of this formidable foe. A third person (perhaps the Mac-Keoch of the family tradition) associated himself with them for this pårpose. They watched their opportunity until Bruce's party had entered a pass between a lake (Loch Dochart probably) and a precipice, where the king, who was the last of the party, had scarce room to manage his steed. Here his three foes sprung upon him at once. One seized his bridle, but received a wound which hewed off his arm ; a second grasped Bruce by the stirrup and leg, and endeavoured to dismount him, but the king, putting spurs to his horse, threw him down, still holding by the stirrup. The third, taking advantage of an acclivity, sprung up behind him upon his horse. Bruce, however, whose personal strength is uniformly mentioned as exceeding that of most men, extricated himself from his grasp, threw him to the ground, and cleft his skull with his sword. By similar exertion he drew the stirrup from his grasp whom he had over
the Ossianic controversy. That it refers to ancient Celtic tradi. tion, there can be no doubt, and as little that it refers to no incident in the poems published by Mr Macpherson as from the Gaelic. The hero of romance, whom Barbour thinks a more proper prototype for the Bruce, occurs in the romance of Alexander, of which there is an unique translation into Scottish verse in the library of the honourable Mr Maule of Parmure --See WEBER'S Romances, vol. I. Appendix to Introduction, p. lxxiii.
thrown, and killed him also with his sword as he lay among the horse's feet. The story seems romantic, but this was the age of romantic exploit; and it must be remembered that Bruce was armed cap-a-pie, and the assailants were half-clad mountaineers. Barbovc adds the following circumstance, highly characteristic of the sentiments of chivalry. Mac-Naughton, a baron of Cowal, pointed out to the Lord of Lorn the deeds of valour which Bruce performed in this memorable retreat, with the highest expressions of admiration. to give thee pleasure," said Lorn,“ that he makes such havoc among our friends.”—“Not so, by my faith,” replied MacNaughton; “ but be he friend or foe who achieves high deeds of chivalry, men should bear faithful witness to his valour; and never have I heard of one, who, by his knightly feats, has extricated himself from such dangers as have this day surrounded Bruce."
« It seems
Wrought and chased with rare device,
Studded fair with gems of price.-St. XI. p. 53. Great art and expence was bestowed upon the fibula, or broach, which secured the plaid, when the wearer was a person of importance. Martin mentions having seen å silver broach of an hundred marks value.
" It was broad as any ordinary pewter plate, the whole curiously engraven with various animals, &c. There was a lesser buckle, which was wore in the middle of the larger, and above two ounces weight; it had in the centre a large piece of crystal, or some finer stone, and this was set all round with several finer stones of a lesser size."-Western Islands.
Pennant has given an engraving of such a broach as Martin describes, and the workmanship of which is very elegant, It is said to have belonged to the family of Lochbuy.See PENNANT'S Tour, vol. III. p. 14.
Vain the Campbell's vaunted hand.-St, XIII, p. 55. The gallant Sir James, called the Good Lord Douglas, the most faithful and valiant of Bruce's adherents, was wounded at the battle of Dalry. Sir Nigel, or Niel Campbell, was also in that unfortunate skirmish. He married Marjorie, sister to Robert Bruce, and was among his most faithful followers. In a manuscript account of the house of Argyle, supplied, it would seem, as materials for Archbishop Spottiswoode's History of the Church of Scotland, I find the following passage concerning Sir Niel Campbell :( Moreover, when all the nobles in Scotland had left King Robert after his hard success, yet this noble knight was most faithful, and shrinked not, as it is to be seen in an indenture bearing these words :-Memorandum quod cum ab incarnatione Domini 1308 conventum fuit et concordatum inter nobiles viros Dominum Alexandrum de Seatoun militem et Dominum Gilbertum de Haye militem et Dominum