Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Sunday, 15 November 2009

Glencoe Massacre orders displayed

The document ordered all those under the age of 70 to be killed at Glencoe
The document ordered all those under the age of 70 to be killed at Glencoe

A 300-year-old document which led to one of the most infamous episodes in Scottish history is to go on display.

The signed order for the Massacre of Glencoe will form the centrepiece of an exhibition to mark the end of the Year of Homecoming.

It will be among nine cultural treasures which will be displayed in the National Library of Scotland from this week.

Thirty eight members of the MacDonald clan were killed in the massacre.

They were slaughtered in February 1692 after the document ordered Captain Robert Campbell of Glen Lyon to attack his hosts and "putt all to the sword under seventy".

The massacre followed a proclamation issued in August 1691, requiring the chiefs of the Scottish clans to take an oath of allegiance to William II (William III of England) before the end of the year.

Alasdair MacDonald of Glencoe missed the deadline, providing the authorities with an opportunity to crush his clan.

The orders were given to Captain Campbell by his superior officer, Major Duncanson.

The massacre gained particular notoriety because the perpetrators had enjoyed the traditional Highland hospitality from their hosts for a fortnight beforehand.

'Wide appeal'

Among the other exhibits will be a hand-written poem by Robert Burns, The Battle of Sherramuir, which will be on display for the first time since it was bought for £30,000 earlier this year at an auction in the US.

And visitors are promised a "rare glimpse" of a Sherlock Holmes tale in the handwriting of his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Other highlights of the collection are the Forlani Map, which is thought to be the first printed map of Scotland on its own, and a map from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, produced for the 1895 memorial Edinburgh edition of the writer's complete works.

Martyn Wade, chief executive of the National Library of Scotland, said: "We are very excited to be celebrating the year of Homecoming by offering members of the public the opportunity to see this collection of priceless Scottish treasures.

"The collection has a wide appeal, with pieces from iconic Scottish literary figures in Burns, Conan Doyle, Scott and Stevenson, and from key moments and movements in the history of Scotland, including the Covenanters, the Jacobites, the Union of the Parliaments and, of course, the massacre at Glencoe.

"I would encourage anyone interested in catching a glimpse of Scotland's history to visit the library this winter."

The items will be on show at the library from 19 November until 8 January.



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