Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Anyone up for a Cattle Raid?
This week I have been trying to do posts about Rob Roy MacGregor seeing as February is his birthday month. What better way to celebrate the man then to talk about one of his favorite past times? Cattle Raiding!
Cattle raiding was not exactly like cattle rustling in the American Southwest, though cattle rustling may have come from the Scots. It was more of a sport then stealing. It had rules and a code of conduct! It was usually done in the Highlands between rival clans. What would happen, is that one clan would go out and steal another clan's cows and get out of there as fast as they could. The clan who was stolen from were actually expected to go after their cows and steal them back. If they were able to catch up with the raiders before they left the other clan's property and take their cows back, then they could have them back. If not, then the chief of the clan who was stolen from would have to replace all the cows that were lost. Sometimes it came to blows between the two clans, but it was always in good fun and no one was ever really hurt. They used the flats of their blades and the worst injuries sustained were only black eyes, minor cuts and perhaps a few missing teeth. The people who were lucky enough to steal more cows either kept them or more commonly, they would go down to the Lowlands to sell or trade them for money and other things they might need. This came in handy in the winter when food was often short in the Highlands.
The Gaelic word for a cattle raid was spreidh (spree). I wonder if this is where we get the term "shopping spree" from?
Rob was so good at raiding cattle, that once, he raided a man named John Menzies in the dead of night and the next morning, Menzies came out and saw all his cows gone without a trace. There was no real proof that Rob took them, but because no one had the skill he did at cattle raiding it was assumed to be him. Menzies had insulted him before the happening, so that just backs the fact up.
Sometime this week, I will post something on some of Rob's escapades so be sure to check back, you won't want to miss it!