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Lament For The Slain

Lament For The Slain is also known as Lament for the Dead, is thought to have been inspired by the loss of life during and immediately following the Battle of Culloden Moor, 1746. It is of Jacobite origin. There is a written record of the tune having been played in 1815 by Archibald MacArthur in the Great Cave of Staffa with the thundering roar of the Atlantic in the background, creating a sublime effect. In referring to this occasion, Alexander Campbell wrote that “The performer (Staffa's piper) played with pathos The Lament for the Slain on the fatal field of Culloden.”


There is a Gaelic poem that laments the slain at Culloden. In the poem the MacGillivrays are spoken of as:


The warlike race,
The gentle, vigorous, flourishing,
Active, of great fame, beloved,
The race that will not wither, and has descended
Long from every side,
Excellent MacGillivrays of the Doune.


Lady MacKintosh had appointed a young Chieftain of a confederate clan, the MacGillvray, to lead Clan Chattan's regiment at Culloden. That young man, Alexander MacGillvray, died heroically along with all of his officers but three. Ironically, the Chieftain of Clan Chattan was an officer in the opposing Hanoverian army.


A connection between the poetic lament and the piobaireachd is implied rather than certain. As was the custom of the time, the poem would have been chanted to the accompaniment of a harp, possibly creating a theme for a piobaireachd.


Exit Lament For The Slain and return to the Lament Piobaireachd Stories



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