Glen Coe is one of the most beautiful and haunting places in all of Scotland. It is often referred to as the Glen of Weeping. It is aptly named considering the massacre that took place there in 1692, an event that still stirs animosity among the Scots to this day.
All the Highland clans that rose up against King William III were offered a pardon if their lairds swore allegiance to the English king by January 1, 1692. The MacDonald laird arrived in time to swear allegiance, but he arrived at the wrong location. He was directed to the correct location, but he arrived five days late. The English leaders decided to make an example out of him. Troops were sent to Glen Coe later that month.
Despite the trouble between the Campbells and the MacDonalds, the MacDonalds followed Highland custom and gave the 130 troops food and shelter in the harsh Highland winter. It was sort of a temporary truce. On February 12, 1692, written instructions were delivered to the Campbell leader to kill as many MacDonalds as he and his men could the following morning. Following orders, the Campbells attacked. They killed 38 MacDonalds and many more died from exposure in the hills as they tried to escape the troops.
A visitors’ centre shares detailed information of the Glen Coe Massacre. There is also a gift shop and a coffee shop there. A short distance away at the northwest end of the glen is Glencoe Village with many self-catering facilities as well as bed and breakfast establishments. Many tourists choose to experience Glen Coe by the walking paths along the glen. Several bus tours of the Highlands make a quick stop by the visitors’ centre as well.
Whether you have the opportunity to stay in nearby Glencoe Village or to drive through the glen, this is a must see. The mountains surrounding the glen are deep green and whether the sun is shining or rain falls the experience will be like no other. Many tourists claim to feel the presence of the murdered MacDonalds still to this day. Indeed, standing in the glen and imagining people scrambling up the snow-covered mountains, sent shivers down my spine. A visit to Glen Coe is a sobering reminder of just how cruel man can be.