Please Sign In | Register
Page of 1

Military & War


The kings of Scotland always had a force of full-time professional soldiers, paid for by their subjects. In times of need, however, all men aged between 16 and 60 could be called up to defend the kingdom for a forty-day period. Highlanders were not exempt and were involved in battles such as Bannockburn (1314) and Flodden (1513).

Clan warfare
The Highlands were long an unruly place and clan warfare was an ever present threat until 1746. Most battles involved territorial claims. The Battle of Harlaw (1411) was over the land that went with the Earldom of Ross. The Lord of the Isles was to challenge the King – and lose.

The Battle of Park (around 1490) was over the same land, but an insult was used as the pretext. Kenneth Mackenzie insulted John Macdonald of Islay, Lord of the Isles, by sending his daughter back – ‘a one-eyed wife, on a one eyed horse, with a one eyed servant and a one eyed dog’.

Weapons of war
Most fighting involved hand-to-hand combat so the use of the broadsword, targe (shield) and dirk (dagger) were common but bow and arrow were also used with great effect, as with Donald Odhar and his brother Iain, who pinned raiding Macleods to their birlinn mast at Leac-na-saighead, Gairloch. By the 17th century musket and pistol had appeared, though Highlanders lacked cannon.

The Highland regiments
The first Highland regiment established in the British army was the Black Watch in 1725; others followed such as the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, the Cameron Highlanders and the Queen’s Own Highlanders. All have served with great distinction in places far and near, perhaps most notably the Argyll and Sutherland’s ‘thin red line’ that stopped a Russian cavalry charge in its tracks at Balaclava.

At sea
The Royal Navy recruited men from the Highlands and Islands during both world wars. Many fought at the Battle of Jutland (May 1916). Indeed, the naval link with the Highlands is very strong. Both Scapa Flow and the Cromarty Firth were used by the Grand Fleet during World War I. In World War II Loch Ewe was the port of departure for the Russian convoys. Today, it is home to a NATO base and Gare Loch to nuclear submarines.

In the air
The RAF has forged strong links with the Highlands in recent years. Kinloss and Lossiemouth are two major bases, while Stornoway and Machrihanish are used for NATO exercises. Bombing ranges are loctaed at Tain and Cape Wrath. The Highlands provide excellent terrain for low flying practice.

21 Results

CollectionsBrowse Subjects > Military & War

Images: 77Air Force
Images: 238Army
Images: 9Buildings
Images: 288Jacobite Risings
Images: 84Navy
Images: 53War Memorials
Images: 14Weapons & Armour
Images: 93World War I
Images: 319World War II

Page of 1
For guidance on the use of images and other content, please see the Terms and Conditions page.
High Life Highland is a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland No. SC407011 and is a registered Scottish charity No. SC042593
Powered by Capture