Version # 1 -
Conflicts of the Highland Clans
The following is a reprint of a rare little book, issued from the Foulis press in 1764, entitled: "The History of the Feuds and Conflicts Among the Clans in the Northern Parts of Scotland and in the Western Isles: from the year M.XX1 unto M.B.C.XIX, now first published from a manuscript wrote in the reign of King James VI." The only changes made
is the modernising of the orthography to 1890 standards: -- Skye
The Conflict of Clan Chattan and Clan Kay
King Robert III in the year 1306 sent Lindsay, Earl of Crawford, and Dunbar, Earl of Murray, to supress a violent contest between the Clans Chattan and Kay, who being numerous, bold, and barbarous, mutually plundered and murdered each other. They, fearing lest they should not effect the matter without much bloodshed, had recourse to policy, viz:--That thirty on each side should enter themselves as champions for
their respective clans, and decide their differences by the sword, without being allowed any other weapon. This proposal was agreed to on both sides. The King and his nobility were to be spectators of the combat. The conquered clans were to be pardoned for all their former offences, and the conquerors honoured with Royal favour.
The North Inch of Perth, a level spot, so called from being partly surrounded by water, was to be the scene of action; but upon the mustering of the combatants, it was found that one of them, belonging to the Clan Chatten, had absented himself through fear, and could not be found. It was proposed to balance the difference by withdrawing one of the Clan Kay; but none of them could be prevailed upon to resign the honour and danger of the combat. After various other expedients failing, one Henry Wynd, a smith, decided to fight, though no way connected with either clan, upon his receiving a French crown of gold (about the value of seven shillings and sixpence [in 1764]) which was accordingly paid him.
The encounter was maintained on both sides with inconceivable fury; but, at length, by the superior valour, strength, and skill of Henry Wynd, victory declared herself for the clan Chattan. Of them no more than ten, besides Wynd, were left alive, and all dangerously wounded. The combatants of the Clan Kay were all cut off, excepting one, who remained
unhurt, threw himself into the Tay (River), and escaped to the opposite bank.
This occurred in the year 1396.
Originally the battle that precipitated the clan battle at North Inch, near Perth started as a clan feud between the clan Chatten (a large confederation of clans including Macpherson, Davidson, Keith, Farquarson, Macintoshes. MacBeans and MacGillicrays - and a few more) and clan Cameron. When the clan feud commenced, the member clans of this confederation argued over which clan got to take the right flank (the one of highest honour). Chattan members Davidson and Macpherson had a strong disagreement, and clan macpherson, who claimed the hereditary right of right flank, sat out the fight because another clan was placed there - the Davidsons. Because the MacPhersons sat out the feud, the Davidsons took quite a bad beating from the Camerons, and after the feud was
over the clans Davidson and Macpherson (both of Clan Chattan) had a new blood feud of their own.
The feuding betwixt the two became so bad that the King of Scotland at the time, Robert II, decided to hold staged "Clan Battle" to let the two clans settle their differences. It was a bizarre incident. It has been erroneously reported in the rare book called "Conflict of the Clans" that the battle was between clan Chattan and Clan Kay (MacKay), when in fact it was an internal clan Chattan feud between the Davidsons and Macphersons.
In 1396, 30 men from each clan were selected to represent their side and fight it out to the death in a gladiator type environment. The King, Robert II, watched this bizarre spectacle. One the way to the clan battle, one member of clan Macpherson (I believe) disappeared. So the Macphersons were one man shy.
The battle had to wait until a proper replacement could be found...it was found in the person of one Henry Wynd, a hugh blacksmith, who on the payment of an amount of gold, was on the Macpherson side as the replacement.
The battle was joined, both sides swinging hugh swords, axes and maces as they fought man against man whilst the king and his court enjoyed all the bloody action. At first it was an equal match, but then a few Davidsons fell, and then a few more...many at the hands of the hugh smith, Henry Wynd. Within a half hour or less period there were only a few Davidsons left to face about 19 or 20 Macphersons. As the next round of combatants met, there was only one Davidson left.
This mam, the last of the Davidson clansmen on the field, was now facing almost 20 opponents was sure to die. As the hugh Smith and the rest of the healthy Macphersons charged him, Davidson is said to have jumped into the icy waters of the nearby river to make a possible escape. Some records say he did indeed swim to the other side and lived. The Macphersons won the day and claimed their right to take the right flank in future clan Chattan battles back.
Nothing quite so strange, in the history of clan feuds, occured again. There were many feuds and most of them brutal, but none had a Royal audience except this one.
And that is the extent of the information I've been able to gather so far in the "Clan Battle of 1396". I hope this helps you. If you are desended from someone in this battle then you must either be a member of clan Davidson or Macpherson.