The Legend of Corrag and MacIain's Sword

There are many stories relating to Corrag, the famous witch of Glencoe, but my favourite is one which links the Massacre of Glencoe to an event nearly 250 years later - the First World War.

Corrag foretold of the Massacre, but her warnings to the clan fell on deaf ears. She awoke on the morning of the 13th February 1692 to discover the devastation that had been wrought by Robert Campbell and his soldiers: houses burnt to the ground, families fled to the hills, and MacIain himself – the Chief of the MacDonalds - murdered in his own home. Corrag took up MacIain's broadsword and cast it into the waters of Loch Leven, saying:


“So long as this sword lays undisturbed by man, no man from this Glen will die by the sword again.”


And so the sword lay, providing protection to the men of the valley throughout the centuries. Though the MacDonalds took part in the Battle of Culloden and locals have fought at Waterloo, Balaclava etc, there are no records of any men from Glencoe having died in battle.  


Then, in June 1916, a dredger was brought from Glasgow to clear the bed of the loch in order to allow the passage of bigger ships as part of the war effort. On the night of 30th June, the man went into a local bar to show off the old sword handle that he had discovered in the loch. Horrified, the locals who knew of the legend of Corrag immediately cast the sword back into the loch, hoping that they had done enough. The following day, the 1st July 1916, was the first day of the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest and most brutal of the First World War. Casualties were enormous, and included seven men from the village of Glencoe – the first to die in battle since the Massacre of Glencoe.

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