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Strathnaver and the Mackay Room

Posted by on 6 October, 2013

Embroidered thistle tissue holder - purchased at Cawdor Castle

Embroidered thistle tissue holder – purchased at Cawdor Castle

And now we come to the conclusion of my travel blog posts and a reminder that I will go back through all the comments on each post and do a random draw for a little souvenir from bonnie Scotland. You though I forgot didn’t you? Well I didn’t and I did in fact bring back a sweet little tissue pouch embroidered with thistles. Sure ’tis right cute.

Right, now back to the travel post.

Not far from Tongue is the small village of Strathnaver. There, a church has been converted into a museum. If you are ever anywhere near it, you should definitely go. I was blown away and highly impressed with the attention to conservation and level of detail in the exhibits. Well done!

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Strathnaver Museum, Scotland

Strathnaver Museum, Scotland

The Strathnaver Museum contains some incredible history on the Highland Clearances. My heart broke while reading about those driven from their homes with nowhere to go. I think the museum has done an incredible job of telling that story and as tragic and heart-wrenching as it is, that’s not what I was doing there.

The entire upstairs of the museum is dedicated to the MacKay clan history. GOLD! Since book two focuses on that clan and my hero, Fergus MacKay, is loosely based on the real life Angus Dubh MacKay. If you click that link and read about him, you’ll note he died in battle in 1433. That’s the year book three is set and the primary back story focuses on the battle between the Mackay and Sutherland clans in that year. Will Fergus die? I don’t know because I haven’t written it yet. My God, my chest constricted a little just typing that. o_O

The MacKay Room is upstairs - wanna go up?

The MacKay Room is upstairs – wanna go up?

Anyway, back to the museum. After reading everything downstairs I took a deep breath and made my way up to the second floor. I get chills now just thinking about it. Much the same way that I felt hiking up to Castle Varrich. Oh my, if only I could pack up that room and take it home. I was gobsmacked and in my element lemme tell ya.

Angus Dubh MacKay was married to Elizabeth MacDonald

Angus Dubh MacKay was married to Elizabeth MacDonald

Though I’d read extensively, there were two things in particular that stood out for me. The first has to do with my hero in book two and that fact that he is widowed. In the MacKay room I learned that Angus MacKay acutally was married to the sister of the Lord of the Isles, Alexander MacDonald. For those of you who have read Bound to the Highlander, you’ll know why this is an interesting little tidbit. I don’t want to spoil anything but I will say if you read this and then read BTTH, you’ll understand why having Fergus’s deceased wife the sister of Alexander MacDonald is a very interesting link between the two clans.

The White Banner of the MacKays

The White Banner of the MacKays

The second really frickin and I do mean REALLY FRICKIN cool thing was something I saw. A replica of the MacKay war banner hangs in a glass case. The original is in Edinburgh Castle and I didn’t get an opportunity to see it when I was there, maybe next trip. I had to do a double take and once I realized what it was me knees nearly buckled out from underneath me.

My visit to the north of Scotland was so productive. I loved every second of my time in Tongue and Strathnaver. I will get back some day. Until then, I have some wonderful pictures and memories to keep with me.

Now to the good stuff. Leave a comment on this post or on any of the others I posted from my recent trip to Scotland and you can win the thistle tissue holder in the pic above. I will mail it wherever you are no worries.

I’ll post a winner on Monday.

Keep an eye on this space on Wednesday as I’ll be posting all the details on my blog tour, Bound to the Highlander release information, and how you can get your hands on the lovely brooch pin on the cover of my book!

6 Responses to Strathnaver and the Mackay Room

  1. Valerie Francis

    Tell me, did you know there was Mackay clan history at the Strathnaver Museum, or was it serendipity?

  2. Nancy Jardine

    There are so many little museums that are exceptionally good all over Scotland, but they don’t get the best mention in the travel books, Kate. though I am born and bred Scottish (hubby, too) we do travel around and pop in to as many of those undervalued little spots. So glad you enjoyed you holiday and…I’ve got some Kate Robbins’ novel reading to look forward too…soon. 😉

    • katerobbins

      I have to totally agree with you, Nancy. Every place I’ve visited has been well looked after and I am very impressed with all the historic sites I’ve seen. 🙂

      Hope you like the book!

  3. Tara MacDonald

    What a great find! To read about the clearances and discover the connection… I envy your trip but can’t wait to read your first novel. The first of many! Great Skyping with you at the RWAC meeting today.

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