Home Page John Wilson Related Sites Acknowledgements Send a message Email about the diary Start from January 1st

September 28th 1396

Previous day Next day

Hal o’ the Wynd enjoys some gratuitous violence

There are worse ways of resolving a quarrel. It was at least quick, ‘entertaining’ and certainly effective.

It involved two clans or confederations of clans, the Clan Kay and the Clan Chattan “whom no device of either King or Governor could subdue.”  They did however agree, with the help of Sir David Lindsay and the Earl of Murray it is said, that each clan would bring thirty warriors armed with bows, swords and knives to the North Inch at Perth and there resolve their quarrel.

Before the battle commenced, one of the Clan Chattan, deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, slipped through the spectators to the River Tay and swimming across, escaped. There was consternation and for a while it appeared that the whole affair might be called off. Then, “there rushed forward a common hired countryman of medium stature but of savage mien.”  Older accounts make no mention of his name but he was later immortalised by Sir Walter Scott in The Fair Maid of Perth as Hal o’ the Wynd.

The battle could now take place. ” They fight one another as if they were butchers preparing oxen for the market, as unconcernedly they slaughter each other in turn.”  At length there were but ten of the Clan Chattan alive and one of the Clan Kay, all badly wounded. Miraculously, Hal o’ the Wynd emerged unscathed. “From this time and for a long season the North enjoyed peace.” 

William Soutar wrote of the battle :-

Hal o’ the Wynd he taen the field
Alang be the skinklin Tay:
And he hackit doun the men o’ Chattan;
Or was it the men o’ Kay?
When a’ was owre he dichted his blade
And steppit awa richt douce
To draik his drouth in the Skinners’ Vennel
At clapperin Clemmy’s house.
Hal o’ the Wynd had monie a bairn;
And bairns’ bairns galore
Wha wud speer about the bluidy battle
And what it was fochten for.
‘Guid-faith! My dawties I never kent;
But yon was a dirlin day
When I hackit doun the men o’ Chattan
Or was it the men o’ Kay?

Previous day Next day

Perthshire Diary Home | Author | Perthshire Links | Reference | Contact Us | Tell a friend | Browse