The MacRae Monument at the site of the Battle of Sherrifmuir
In 1707 the two kingdoms of Scotland and England had been united, a highly unpopular move across much of Scottish society. The Jacobites sought to exploit this not simply to reverse the union, but to gain the crown of both England and Scotland. An abortive rising took place in 1708. Then, in 1714, when the Elector of Hanover succeeded Queen Anne to the throne he alienated a range of former supporters of Anne. One of these, the Earl of Mar, threw in his lot with the Jacobites. In September he began to raise forces to march south to join with English Jacobites, in an attempt to return a Stuart to the throne.
To counter the uprising the government dispatched a combination of Scottish and English regiments under the command of the Duke of Argyle. During October there were various manoeuvres, including against Edinburgh. Then on the 10th November the Jacobite army marched south from Perth, reaching Kinbuick, just north east of Dunblane, on the 12th. Argyll had marched north and was already at Dunblane, intending to intercept the Jacobite force. The government army may have been outnumbered by about 2:1, but it was made up of regulars fighting under an experienced commander.
The two armies clashed on Sheriffmuir, north east of Dunblane in what was to prove the key battle of the 1715 Jacobite rebellion. Though Mar might claim that he held the field, in reality it was a Jacobite defeat, for he retreated back to Perth and the momentum of the uprising was lost.
“O cam ye here the fight to shun,
Or herd the sheep wi’ me, man?
Or were ye at the Sherra-moor,
Or did the battle see, man?”
I saw the battle, sair and teugh,
And reekin-red ran mony a sheugh ;
My heart, for fear, gaed sough for sough,
To hear the thuds, and see the cluds
O’ clans frae woods, in tartan duds,
Wha glaum’d at kingdoms three, man.
An extract from The Battle of Sherramuir by Robert Burns