With All the Display Which the Parties Could Make

The Highlanders had no feasts nor rejoicings at a birth, but a funeral was conducted with all the display which the parties could make. All the clan, and numerous neighbors, were invited and entertained with a profusion of every thing. The male part of the procession was regularly arranged according to rank, and, instead of laying aside their weapons, they were all well armed and equipped on such an occasion. The statistical account of the parish of Tongue, in Sutherland, informs us that a funeral procession there was regulated with military exactness by an old soldier, a person easily found in these parts. If the coffin is borne on a bier, he, every five minutes, or at such time as may be thought convenient, draws up the company, rank and file, and gives the word “relief;” when four fresh bearers take place of the others. There are some particular observances in Highland families such as that of the Campbells of Melfort, Duntroon, and Dunstaffnage, who being descended from a Duke of Argyle, took the following method of cementing their friendship; when the head of either family died, the chief mourners were always to be the two other lairds. This was the case on occasion of the death of the late Archibald Campbell of Melfort. The coffin was usually borne in a sort of litter between two horses, called carbad, a term which is now often applied to the coffin itself. Carbad seems to have been originally applied to such vehicles, and, when restricted to those used for funeral purposes, became synonymous with the shell in which the body was deposited. The Gaëlic Cobhain, the origin of coffin in its primary sense, meant a box, or any hollow vessel of wood. The desire to be interred in the sacred Isle of Iona appears to be as old as the era of Druidism. The Druidical cemetery is still seen separate from the others, and has never been used as a Christian burial place. In the poem of Cuthon, as translated by Dr. Smith, it is said that Dargo, who is called Mac Drui Bheil, son of the Druid of Bel, was buried in the Green Isle, an epithet given to Iona, where his fathers rested. In this Isle forty eight kings of Scotland, four of Ireland, and eight of Norway are buried, besides numerous individuals of note. There were certain cairns on the lines of road along which funerals passed, both in Ireland and Scotland, on which the body was rested; and some villages, particularly one at the entrance of Locheil from the muir of Lochaber, are called corpach, from the circumstance of the coffin being laid down there on the halt of the company; corp, in Gaëlic, being a body. Durand says that the Gauls used black in mourning. The Highlanders have, I presume, ever done the same, but, except by the wearing of crape, I know not how they evinced the loss of their relatives.

James Logan, The Scottish Gaël; Or, Celtic Manners, as Preserved Among the Highlanders: Being an Historical and Descriptive Account of the Inhabitants, Antiquities, and National Peculiarities of Scotland: More Particularly of the Northern, Or Gaëlic Parts of the Country, where the Singular Habits of the Aboriginal Celts are Most Tenaciously Retained, London, 1831.

Curator: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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