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Geography of Glen Fruin in relation to the traditional tales of the Conflict

By Neil R McGregor PhD. (Edited by Peter Lawrie), ©2009

This paper examines and compares the traditional tales of the battle of Glen Fruin, based upon the reports found in the Privy council reports, the trial documents of the MacGregors in 1604, the books The Chiefs of Clan Colquhoun up to 1839; Amelia Murray Macgregor’s  History of The Clan Gregor; and Michael Newton’s From the Clyde to Callander. One important factor in this analysis is that these reports are based upon the observations of each side upon a very rapidly occurring event and neither side had exact knowledge of what each other was thinking or doing. Thus one interpretation by one side when viewed from the others may have common factors. Whilst at first the tales told by each side seem to conflict to a great deal, when assessed together they have a considerable number of similarities. Within the tales there are obvious embellishments to make the story more acceptable to the biased listeners so these aspect need to be eliminated from the assessment. Also of importance is the interpretations already given by previous historians who have in most cases taken one side or the other and many of the points have become part of the tale over the years. Thus armed with this knowledge we assess the tales and we use Google Earth to assess the geography of the location to see if we can identify particular locations.

The Conflict occurred on 8th February 1603 after both Clans had gathered members of other clans to support their effort. The Colquhouns have claimed that the MacGregors invaded their land and murdered many of Luss’s subjects as well as many “men of substance”.  The MacGregors claim that they came to a prearranged meeting in which each group had 100 men to prevent the other from taking advantage of the situation. The MacGregors state that they brought along double that number because they suspected Colquhoun treachery but they kept the second part of their force off the lands of Luss. Colquhoun had two letters of Fire and Sword from the King and would not be punished if he killed any MacGregors, particularly if they were on his lands. The second of these letters was granted after the Glen Finlas raid by one of the MacGregor families in early December 1602 and the Bludie sarks incident on 21st December 1602.
The MacGregors claim that both parties had agreed to meet to settle upon suitable compensation for the mother of two MacGregors who had been hung by Colquhoun after his tenants had refused overnight accommodation and food. The two MacGregors, who were just teenagers, had killed and eaten a sheep and stayed overnight in a barn on Luss lands.

The Colquhoun version. The Colquhoun’s claim that the conflict occurred at the head of Glen Fruin and that they approached Strone down Auchengaich burn after passing over from Glen Luss. In the Privy Council document they claimed that the MacGregors had invaded their lands. The Colquhoun’s claimed that Alasdair MacGregor pushed forward one division of his forces and entered at the head of the glen in time to prevent the Colquhoun’s from emerging from the upper end of the glen, whilst his brother, John Dubh MacGregor, with the division of his clansmen lay in ambush at the ravine at Strone and prevented the Colquhoun retreat down the glen. Alasdair MacGregor, at the head of his division, furiously charged the Laird of Luss and his men and for a time the Colquhoun’s bravely maintained the contest. Historically this has been interpreted as around Strone but if we reread it along with the MacGregor evidence we can see they both refer to the head of Strone burn and not the head of the flat lands of Glen Fruin at Strone. The Colquhouns claimed that they were in unfavourable circumstances in which they had to fight, the Colquhoun’s soon became unable to maintain their ground, and falling into a moss at the farm of Auchengaich, they were thrown into disorder, and being now at the mercy of the MacGregors, who, taking advantage of the confusion, killed many of them, they made a hasty and disorderly retreat.

The MacGregor Version. The MacGregors approached the Glen Fruin meeting point along Loch long and at a point called Allt a’ Chleit, John Dubh and his 100 men were left at this point as they were off Luss lands. Alasdair’s 100 men travelled down to Greenfield moor and then over the ridge to the meeting point at the head of Glen Fruin. The MacGregors did not state where the Colquhoun’s entered the Glen but said that they had a meeting at Strone at the head of the glen. The MacGregors claimed that the two sides spoke for some time and Alasdair returned to his 100 men at Strone and said that there would be no bloodshed this time. The MacGregors claimed that they left Strone after the meeting and proceeded up Strone burn and did not retrace the steps of their entry which was across the ridge entering Glen Fruin from Garelochside. They then claim that the Colquhoun’s pursued them up the burn and they turned and stood their ground to the north eastern side of a stream where John Dubh was on the other side and they had the high ground and the Colquhoun force were in a stream which had many potholes and was not easy to ford. At this position both Alasdair’s and John Dubh’s forces fired down upon the Colquhoun’s. They claimed that many Colquhoun’s were killed. The MacGregors then claim that the Colquhoun’s retreated from the first defence position but gathered at a second location called Toman an Fhòlaich and put up a defence. More Colquhouns are killed by the MacGregors at this point. The MacGregor are reported to have retained the high ground. The MacGregor claim stated that the Colquhoun’s then retreated from Toman an Fhòlaich back to the remaining Colquhoun forces near Auchengaich which were formed up in battle formation with their cavalry. The Colquhoun’s stood for only a few minutes and then retreated in panic down both side of Glen Fruin. A band of men from Dumbarton were confronted and some were killed. Alasdair then collected his forces to return home

Both traditions agree (1).  that a force from both sides was at Strone. (2) that the conflict started at the head of Strone burn and the MacGregor force was under control of Alasdair MacGregor. (3) that there was a second conflict down Strone burn near a ravine like structure the Colquhouns called the Crate. (4) that the MacGregors had divided their forces; one under Alasdair and the other under John Dubh. (5) that the Colquhoun stand at Auchengaich was a short event after which the Colquhouns retreated in a disorderly fashion. (6) that John Dubh was killed near Auchengaich. (7) that a second MacGregor was killed near a waterfall which was at the head of Glen Finlas.

The traditions differ: (1) The Colquhoun’s claim that the MacGregors assembled in two divisions one at the head of the glen and the other at Strone, whilst the MacGregors claim that they had two divisions, one at the head of the Glen off Luss lands (John Dubh) and the other (Alasdair) at Strone, and that Alasdair retreated to the top of Strone burn to join forces with John Dubh before turning to fight. (2) The Colquhoun’s claim that John Dubh’s force was hiding in a ravine called the Crate which was near Strone, whilst the MacGregors report that John Dubh was at the head of the Glen at a stream ravine near Allt a’ Chleit.

aerial photograph towards head of Glen Fruin

Google Earth has allowed the assessment of the potential locations. Figure 1 shows Strone Burn viewed from Glen Fruin. Figure 2 shows a close up of the area at the head of the Strone burn and Figure 3 shows a close up of the ravine like-structure about 1/3rd of the way up Strone burn.

Figure 1. An aerial photograph looking up Strone burn from Strone toward the head of Glen Fruin. We see at the head of the burn a darken area which is most likely the place Alasdair MacGregor first fought the Colquhouns. The only ravine like structure is the small curve in the Strone burn stream about 1/3rd of the way up Strone burn.

The Colquhoun’s claimed that Alasdair MacGregor pushed forward one division of his forces and entered at the head of the glen in time to prevent the Colquhoun’s from emerging from the upper end of the glen. Conversely, the MacGregors claimed that they left Strone after the meeting and proceeded up Strone burn and did not retrace the steps of their entry which was across the ridge entering Glen Fruin from Garelochside. They also claim that the Colquhoun’s pursued them up the burn and that they turned and stood their ground on a rise to the north eastern side of a stream where John Dubh was on the other side. They claim they had the high ground and the Colquhoun force were in a stream which had many potholes and was not easy to ford. At this position both Alasdair’s and John Dubh’s forces fired down upon the Colquhoun’s. They claimed that many Colquhoun’s were killed. The structures at the head of Strone burn are very consistent with that described by the MacGregors with both side of the ravine being between 20-30 metres above the stream. The MacGregors had an ideal military position with two forces giving cross fire from the high ground. It is very unlikely that Alasdair would have made a furious charge in this location all he had to do was sit there raining fire down upon the Colquhouns. The Colquhouns, at this point, claim that they were in very unfavourable circumstances. From a military perspective this is an ideal ambush site with two forces firing from high ground on opposite sides upon an enemy in difficult terrain. It is no wonder that many Colquhouns were killed.

topology of site of start of battle of glenfruin Figure 2. This is a close-up view of the potential site where Alasdair turned to defend himself. Using Google earth elevation assessment we find the base of the stream at the mid left of the photo to be at a height of 255-260 metres above sea level, the top of the cliff area where John Dubh MacGregors was claimed to be about 300 metres above sea level. Alasdair is reported to have been on a rise to the north east this potential site is about 280-290 metres above sea level. Thus, the McGregor forces had high ground in the vicinity of 20-30 metres above the Colquhoun force on both sides of the stream. This is consistent with the MacGregor claim and the Colquhoun’s admit being in this location.

Toman an Fholaich. eng: Place of concealment) Figure 3. This is the ravine-like structure about 1/3rd of the way up Strone burn. This appears consistent with what the Colquhouns describe the Crate and the MacGregors call Toman an Fhòlaich. (eng: Place of concealment)
The MacGregors claim was that the Colquhoun’s made a retreat from the first defence position but gathered at a second location called “Toman an Fhòlaich” and put up a defence. This appears to be the section of the stream shown in figure 3. This is a logical place to attempt to make a defensive position as it was the first place they had any form of cover behind which they could hide. Many Colquhouns were also killed at this site. Alasdair was reported to have retained the high ground to the north east. The Colquhouns claim that this was the point where John Dubh ambushed them. To them, in the heat of battle, they would have been unaware that there was a division of the MacGregor forces on either side of the head of Strone burn but they would have become acutely aware of a second force under John Dubh at this position. It may have been that orders were shouted across the burn which allowed the Colquhouns to identify the existence of the second force and that it was headed by John Dubh. The likely scenario is that Alasdair’s force kept the high ground to the north easterly side of the burn whilst John Dubh’s force kept the high ground on the south westerly side of the burn as they followed the Colquhouns down the burn. This kept the Colquhoun force under high ground crossfire, once again an ideal military attacking position. The Google Earth analysis of heights from the bottom of the Crate to where the MacGregor forces were on either side of the burn indicates a height difference of about 15-20 metres. Once again the MacGregors simply rained fire down on the Colquhouns with little effect of the Colquhoun fire upon them.

Toman an Fhòlaich” or the Crate as referred to by the Colquhouns was not a good defensive position. It would appear to be only an effective defence against a force which was down in the stream bed. The MacGregors were reported to have stayed on the high ground and as with the first conflict site and MacGregors again were able to rain fire down from the high ground. This would also not have been a defendable position as the Colquhoun’s seem to admit – “they were in unfavourable circumstances”. John Dubh’s force could not have been lying in waiting at this point as suggested by the Colquhoun claim as the entire Colquhoun force in the burn passed this site earlier and there was clearly not sufficient hiding spaces to hide over 100 men. Also of importance, Alasdair MacGregor is very unlikely to have left part of his force in such a vulnerable position when they had such a good defensive position further up the burn. Whilst the claims differ in the circumstances both clan traditions have this second point in common, just as they both refer to the end of Strone burn as the first conflict point where Alasdair MacGregor first put up a defence.

One very important admission within the Colquhoun claim is that they knew Alasdair headed the division of the MacGregor forces that they fought with at the top of Strone burn. They state that John Dubh headed a second division that lay in ambush. How did they know this? The only way they could have drawn this conclusion is that they met with Alasdair at Strone and John Dubh was not present. If the MacGregors had attacked from the head of Strone burn and placed half of their force on either side of the burn there is no reason why the Colquhouns would have identified separate forces led by Alasdair and John Dubh and no reason to state that there was an ambush. They also would not have known who was in the attacking party apart from Alasdair, if he attacked them at the head of the burn as they claim. These data strongly support the MacGregor claim that there was a meeting as there really is no other explanation for the Colquhouns to identify the divisions in the MacGregor forces unless they knew Alasdair was at the meeting and John Dubh was not.

From this point on the Colquhoun traditional claim is very hazy. They claimed that they were in unfavourable circumstances in which they had to fight, the Colquhoun’s soon became unable to maintain their ground, and falling into a moss at the farm of Auchengaich, they were thrown into disorder, and being now at the mercy of the MacGregors, who, taking advantage of the confusion, killed many of them, they made a hasty and disorderly retreat.

When assessing the reported site of the 3rd Colquhoun stand (Figure 4 position 5) where they had their foot and horse force, one can see that it was potentially very poorly positioned. It gave no sight of Strone burn as the ridge which the MacGregors claimed hid the additional Colquhoun forces also prevented Colquhoun from seeing Strone burn. This was clearly not a position where one might place one’s force if they were awaiting an attack from an enemy coming down Strone burn.

It can also be seen from these locations why the MacGregors were able to inflict much heavier losses upon the Colquhoun forces compared with the McGregor losses, they maintained the high ground with crossfire over the entire conflict field until they got back to Strone. It was only once they came to equal terms on the flat parts of Glen Fruin that they suffered any deaths.

If we think what Colquhoun himself may have seen, it may go as follows. He ordered his superior numbered forces to attack Alasdair MacGregors 100 men. He most likely saw them disappear into the distance and when he saw his forces near the top of Strone burn he may of heard the sound of battle. His position at Strone is approximately 3½ kilometres from the head of the burn so he would not have seen what was actually happening on the ground. It is likely he returned to his other forces at the head of Auchengaich burn and was waiting for them to return with “Good News”. From Auchengaich he had no observation of the field of conflict, could not see the ebb and flow of that conflict, had no idea of the opponents numbers and he is very unlikely to have planned a defence against the changed position. It appears that he would have been completely surprised when he saw the rapid retreat of his depleted forces over the top of the Strone with more than twice the numbers of MacGregors, he had seen leave the Strone meeting point, in pursuit. He would also have no idea whether there were even more MacGregors approaching from behind the ridge. This would appear to be the reason for the panicked retreat by the Colquhoun forces. If they had known there was only 200 then they may have stood their ground.

If Colquhoun was expecting to defend the position he would have been better to be further out in Glen Fruin, or on the top of the ridge (The Strone), where he could witness the retreat, assess the number of his opponents and also make preparations for his defence. This suggests that he was overconfident in his force gaining a victory over the MacGregors.
In summary both traditions appear to describe the same conflict and it was their positions on the field, their interpretation of those within the limitation of their observations and their political motives that led to the differences in the traditions.

Schematic of the Force movements at the Conflict.
From these data we can put together the most likely movements of the various parties on the field of conflict. This is outlined in figure 4.

movement of forces prior to battle of Glen Fruin Figure 4. The proposed movements of the forces at Glen Fruin. 1) the Colquhoun entry via Auchengaich burn with position 1 as the likely position of the Colquhoun extra forces; 2) the meeting point at Strone; A)Allt a’ Chleit where John Dubh MacGregor’s force was located off Luss lands; B) Greenfield Moor on the MacGregors route to the meeting point It is here that a group of 40 people were placed ina barn; C) Route taken by Alasdair MacGregor’s force entering Glen Fruin; 3)  Allt a’ Chleit or the Crate where Alasdair’s force retreated to before they turned and fought; 4) Toman an Fhòlaich where the Colquhoun force made its first retreat to and stood their ground, with Alasdair and John Dubh coming down both sides of the burn on high ground; 5) Auchengaich where the Colquhoun’s stood in battle formation; 6) the retreat down Glen Fruin.
 Tactic Assessment.
Now we examine the positions of both forces to see why they may have been positioned where they were and why they may have done what they did. These assessments may allow us to understand the potential thinking of the leaders of both sides in the conflict and gain further evidence of the truthful situation.

The Colquhouns had two ways to approach the head of Glen Fruin; 1) via the glen itself from Loch Lomond; or 2) via Auchengaich burn. The entry via Glen Fruin from Loch Lomond would not have allowed the Colquhoun’s to conceal their numbers as any opposing force could see the extent of the forces if they had a sentry placed on any high ground. If one wanted to prevent or scare the opposition by the use of numbers on the battlefield then this is the way one would approach. If they were rushing to defend themselves, as they have claimed, it is likely that they would have approached up Glen Fruin, as a significant part of the force comprised people from Dumbarton and its associated areas to the south. The logical Muster point would have been on the shores of Loch Lomond near where Fruin Water enters Loch Lomond. If Colquhoun had such a superior force and wanted to simply defend his lands against a MacGregor invasion, as claimed, tactically all he had to do was wait in battle formation with a much larger force with cavalry out on the flat sections of Glen Fruin in full view, and simply wait for the MacGregor’s to attack. If he had done this it would have been very unlikely that a conflict would have occurred. The Colquhoun’s did not do any of these.

The alternative was to get one’s force to the head of the glen via a method which did not expose their force size and the only way was via Auchengaich burn. To approach from Auchengaich burn strongly suggests that the Colquhouns had a plan as to how to confront the MacGregors or they were having a meeting and concealing their forces as suggested by the MacGregors. The MacGregor account states that they had a meeting at Strone with a 100 men from each side being present. For Colquhoun to attend such a meeting and not to show the extent of his forces there is only one way he could achieve this and that was via Auchengaich burn. The MacGregor report states that the Colquhoun’s had several hundred on foot and horse hidden behind a ridge where they could not be seen from the meeting point, would have become apparent when Colquhoun order his forces to pursue the MacGregors after they left the meeting point. The only place this could be is in Auchengaich burn as the ridge extending from “the Strone” would have hidden them.

One major reason Colquhoun chose to enter via Auchengaich burn may have been that he wanted to engage the McGregors. He was armed with two letters of fire and sword (September and December, 1602) and he would be immune from any legal consequences if he killed any MacGregors. He would have realized if he showed his whole force on the field that the MacGregors would not have attended the meeting.

The real question that needs to be answered about the Colquhoun account is; Why did they go up Strone burn? They gave no reason in their account, they simply stated that they were at the head of the burn when Alasdair attacked them. Also, if the whole Colquhoun force of 300-500 plus men marched up the burn, it is very unlikely that the MacGregors would have attacked them. The only logical conclusion one can draw is that the Colquhoun version of events is not correct and that the Colquhouns pursued Alasdairs force up the burn after the meeting.

If we now look at the MacGregor approach we see that they positioned John Dubh at the head of Strone Burn off Colquhoun’s lands. Why would they do this? From this point John Dubh could clearly see the whole of the conflict field apart from Auchengaich burn and the lower parts of Glen Fruin. He could also see the meeting position and he could see the entire path of Alasdair’s retreat. This could only be described as a defensive position, which allowed the MacGregors to protect Alasdair if Colquhoun attacked him after the meeting. It is not one from which one would launch an invasion, as claimed by the Colquhouns, as they were too far from the advance unit to give any major support. If they were invading it would be more likely that they would position their second force behind the ridge at Garelochside where they were only a kilometre or less from the conflict site but hidden from observation.

The site at the end of the burn also offered a very good place to make a stand if the Colquhoun forces continued to pursue the MacGregors all the way up the burn, as it gave a crossfire position from high ground on both sides. Why Colquhoun would commit his men to the pursuit of the MacGregors up this burn would appear to be based upon several factors: His superior numbers and his letters of fire and sword. Why did Colquhouns men pursue the MacGregors all the way up the burn? If they only wanted to scare them off they would not have gone all the way. It is obvious from this that Colquhoun wanted to do more than just scare the MacGregor off his lands.

The MacGregors would not have observed the cavalry if Colquhoun had kept them out of site of the ridge as he appears to have done due to the position of those on horse at Auchengaich. This may also have been the reason why the MacGregors chose to pursue the Colquhoun’s after they started to retreat as they may have felt that they had superior numbers, the high ground and suffered few if any casualties at the first and possibly the second conflict points. If Colquhoun had moved his large force from its hidden site at the head of Auchengaich burn out into a viewable position it would also have been unlikely that the MacGregors would have continued the attack out onto the flat sections of Glen Fruin. The positioning of the Colquhoun force at the head of Auchengaich burn whilst it was a poor defence position may have been the mistaken tactic which caused the conflict to continue past the two conflict points in Strone burn.
The students in the barn.
The Colquhouns claim that the MacGregor killed 40 innocent students in a barn at Greenfield moor after the conflict was over. Several documents claim that Colquhoun placed the students in the barn for safe keeping whilst others claim Alasdair placed 40 people in the barn who had been stripped naked, suggesting that they may of had weapons when captured. The Privy Council documents refer to several burnt barns in the area and do not refer to the captives as students. Alasdair MacGregor’s trial charges include the murder of captives who made up most of the deaths, suggesting that these were included in the deaths attributed to the MacGregors at the time. One report states that Alasdair became aware of the deaths after the conflict and made a statement about what this may do to the clan. Several reports state that the people were there to watch the potential battle.

Clearly Colquhoun was not present on Greenfield moor at any stage of the conflict but the MacGregors were there on their route just before they crossed over to the meeting place at Glen Fruin. The fact that these people may have been caught before the conflict and had knowledge of an impending battle clearly does not support the Colquhoun claims of a rush to prevent an invasion and strongly supports that a meeting was to take place. If Alasdair had captured these people he would have been acutely aware that potential treachery was about to occur as these people could have been either part of the Colquhoun force that could have provided a flanking attack or they may have told him that they were there to see the battle.

Alasdair appears to have placed them in the barn under guard and to have stripped them naked. This suggests that these people may have had weapons and may have been a potential flanking force sent by Colquhoun. The people guarding these captives would most likely have had a lookout at the ridge to observe the meeting. When Alasdair was pursued up Strone Burn, one wonders what they may have done as they were being left in a situation where they may have been isolated and potentially killed. It is likely they may have burnt the barn and retraced their steps back toward the head of Strone burn where they knew the MacGregor force would most likely be.

The Privy Council documents records the people charged with these killings and a MacFarlane tradition reports them to be two people who they later killed after they cause injury to other MacFarlanes. This part of the conflict is a tragedy but may have been a response to Colquhoun’s treachery.
The trial of Alasdair.
The Privy Council and other official documents clearly give only the Colquhoun view of the conflict and this most likely resulted from the MacGregor account not being presented or recorded by the officials. In the historical review documents, the Colquhouns have made statements that none of the MacGregor presented this defence at their trials, however there appear to be a number of reasons for this. Importantly, Alasdair arrived in Edinburgh on the 18th Jan 1604, wrote his confession on the 19th Jan 1604 (it appears without knowing the actual charges as none of them were defended in the document), was put on trial on the morning of the 20th Jan 1604 and executed on that very afternoon. This in any terms would appear to be an extremely poor judicial process, without any appeal process. A travesty of justice in modern times.

The members of the jury at the Assize were Sir Thomas Stewart of Garnetullie, Moyses Wallace burges of Edinburgh. Colene Campbell younger of Glenorchie, Sir Robert Creychtoune of Clwny Knicht, Alexander Menzies of Weyme, Robert Robertsoun of Faskeil, Robert Robertsoun of Strowane, Thomas Fallasdaill burges of Dumbartene, Johne Naper fiear of Merchinstoune, Johne Herring of Lethendie, Johne Blair younger of that Ilk, William Stewart, Capitane of Dumbartene, Johne Grahame of Knockdoliane, Harie Drummond of Blair, Johne Blair elder of that Ilk. Of these people two (highlighted in bold) were from Dumbarton and the very people that wrote to the letter to Colquhoun, that initiated the Bludie sarks incident, one of whom also had a cousin killed at Glen Fruin and were clearly biased. One was the son of Colin Campbell (we need say no more), and another a John Napier, some of whose clan were on the Colquhoun side at Glen Fruin. Others had problems with the MacGregors in the past and may have also have been biased. Also of importance was the vehemence of the King’s dislike toward the MacGregors, which may have influenced their decisions. Today the makeup of this jury and the judicial process would not have occurred.

This trial process, as stated in the review of the trials in the Pitcairn review, was more of an act of revenge than an act of authority performing its democratic and lawful duty.

Archaeological Evidence.
Archaeological evidence from the site is scarce as no one has really known the battlefield layout and conflict points. The Royal Society of Scotland published several reports of iron armour found at the bottom of Strone burn in the mid 1800’s. The armour seems to relate to the Toman an Fhòlaich or Crate site. Excavation of the suggested conflict sites near Auchengaich was undertaken but did not confirm a battle site but did find Iron Age bones in the cairn at that site, dated at several thousand years of age. No excavations or investigations appear to have occurred in Strone burn. A 1580 map of the Luss lands around Loch Lomond has a cross placed on the map which indicates the sites suggested in this analysis (see figure 5). These findings provide further evidence to support the MacGregor tradition claim that the conflict was predominately fought in Strone burn. What is now required is for a well conducted archaeological assessment of the various positions in Strone burn to confirm or deny their existence.

From these data we can only conclude that the MacGregor traditional account, as published in Michael Newton’s book, provides the most accurate account of the Conflict at Glen Fruin. This account describes the structures very well and these can be identified using Google Earth. The position chosen by the MacGregor forces to defend themselves against an attack after conclusion of the meeting between the two Clan chiefs was a well chosen defensive position and not one to launch an invasion. These data strongly suggest that Colquhoun was the instigator of the violence on the day and that he appeared to have been overconfident in his expectation of the outcome as evidenced by the positioning of his forces on the battle field and the panicked retreat on the arrival of the MacGregors in force at his Auchengaich position in Glen Fruin.

1580 map of Glen Fruin Figure 5. 1580 map of the lower parts of Loch Lomond and the Luss lands. A cross is evident on the map on the lower of two branches of the stream in Glen Fruin. This cross is located over the middle of Strone burn and is a very good indication of the conflict site. This map may have originated from the Colquhouns but is now available online from the Scottish National archive.


Further reading:
1.      Amelia Murray MacGregor. History of The Clan Gregor. volume 1.
2.      William Frazer. The Chiefs of the Colquhouns up until 1869. Volume 1.
3.      Michael Newtown. From the Clyde to Callander, Stornoway, 1999

By Neil R McGregor PhD. (email: