River Finnan

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Finnan, a stream in the Inverness-shire section of Ardnamurchan parish, rising at an altitude of 1586 feet above sea-level, close to the Kilmallie border, and thence running 5¼ miles south-south-westward to the head of Loch Shiel, along a narrow rocky mountain glen, called from it Glenfinnan. The glen, toward the mouth of the stream, opens in four directions, somewhat in the manner of four divergent streets; and, terminating at the head of the loch in a small plain, is crossed there by a road leading 35 miles westward from Banavie, up Loch Eil, to Arasaig. This was the scene of the unfurling of Prince Charles Edward's banner at the commencement of the Rebellion of 1745, an event sung finely by Professor Aytoun in his Lays of the Cavaliers. ' The spot,' says Hill Burton, ' adopted for the gathering was easily accessible to all the garrisons of the Highland forts. It was only 18 Miles distant from Fort William, and almost visible from the ramparts; but when a general gathering in force was intended, the presence of the forts-well adapted as they were to keep down petty attempts-was no impediment to it. The 19th of August was the day fixed for the momentous ceremony; but the Prince's faith in his destiny was again tried, for, when he arrived, the glen was silent and deserted, save by the ragged children of the hamlet, who glared with wondering eyes on the mysterious strangers. After two hours thus spent, the welcome sound of a distant bagpipe was heard, and the Camerons, between seven and eight hundred strong, appeared on the sky-line of the hill. Before the group dispersed in the evening, the number assembled amounted to 1500 men. The post of honour on the occasion was given to the old Marquis of Tullibardine, heir to the dukedom of Athole, who, like his young master, had come to " regain his own." ' Prince Charles's Monument here, a tower with a Gaelic, Latin, and English inscription, was founded in 1815 by Alex. Macdonald of Glenaladale, whose namesake lodged the Prince on the night preceding the Gathering, and whose descendant, John Andrew Macdonald, Esq. of Glenaladale (b. 1837; suc. 1870), has his seat at Glenfinnan, holding 24,000 acres in the shire, valued at £1550 per annum. Glenfinnan has also a post office under Fort William, an inn, a public school, with accommodation for 33 children, and the Roman Catholic church of SS. Mary and Finnan, an Early English edifice of 1873. St Finnan's green is let, at the head of Loch Shiel, has been the burial place of the Macdonalds since their first settlement in these lonely glens; and a square bronze bell-one of three to be found in Scotland, and as old, it may be, as Columba's day-still rests on the altar slab of its ruined chapel. See Shiel, Loch.—Ord. Sur., sh. 62, 1875.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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