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May 8, 2017

Clans at Edinburgh Castle for first time since Jacobite uprising


Scotland’s clan chiefs have returned to Edinburgh Castle for the first time since the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. More than 30 clansmen and women marched to the Great Hall at Edinburgh for the first time since the attempted siege of the castle by Bonnie Prince Charlie’s forces. It is believed to be the only occasion that clans have been openly welcomed to the fortress.

Today, the visitors gathered in the Great Hall which their ancestors once attempted to storm. The visit was organised by The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo ahead of this summer’s event which will invite Clan Chiefs to lead their members onto the esplanade for the first time.

A total of 57 clans are due to be represented with members from around the world to take part. (NOTE: The Currie Family will be honored at the 10:30 PM performance on Saturday, August 19.)

Brigadier David Allfrey, Chief Executive and Producer of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, said: “Edinburgh Castle has been at the centre of so many extraordinary events over the years and it is tremendous that we will see another story playing out this summer. “I wonder what the forebears of the Clan Chiefs and the leaders of the Families would be thinking if they could witness so many of their descendants being entertained in the Great Hall?”

Sir Malcolm MacGregor, convener of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, said it was a “great honour” to take part in the Royal Military Tattoo this year. He said: “There will be clan representatives from around the world, in keeping with the high international profile of the Tattoo, and the global nature of today’s clan network.

“For the participating clans, it will be a dream come true to march onto the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, a location that has, over the centuries, been central to the clan story. “Tartan will be to the fore with the clans kitted out in the ‘Garb of Old Gaul’.

The great cloth, that has been worn by the Clans and Scottish Regiments since the Jacobite period of the 1700s, will be on full display and worn with great pride.”

Organizers said today’s gathering was an indication of the strength of clan loyalty which still survives in Scotland, with more than 350 clans in existence. In September 1745, more than 900 Highland clansmen marched to the City of Edinburgh to lay siege to the Castle. Although they managed to capture Edinburgh and Holyrood, they were never successful in capturing the Castle as General Guest, Governor at the time, would not surrender the Castle to Bonnie Prince Charlie and his men.

Major General Mike Riddell-Webster, Governor of Edinburgh Castle, added: “I believe the Castle has been besieged 23 times in its long history and claims to be ‘the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world’.

He said nearly 200 clansmen and women will be welcomed into the castle on every night of the Tattoo this summer. “This time though I hope everything will be peaceful,” he added.

Fiona Hyslop, Minister for Culture and External Affairs, said: “Scotland’s history and heritage is a key draw for visitors to Scotland, no more so than in 2017, the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. “The clans are an integral part of our rich heritage, their histories shaping Scotland. The clans generate significant interest from the international diaspora and I welcome their involvement in this year’s Tattoo.”