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Updated 09/20/2019


Lament for Sir Rory Mor

Sir Roderick Macleod of Macleod (1573–1626), also known as Rory Mor, was the 15th chief of Clan MacLeod. His seat as Clan Chief was Dunvegan Castle.

In 1595 he went to Ireland with 500 of his clan to assist Hugh Roe O'Donnell with his war against the English. Upon his return he became involved in a feud with his Brother-in-law Donald Gorm Og MacDonald, who was Chief of the powerful Clan MacDonald of Sleat. The two clans had fought together in Ireland and had now become enemies when for some reason MacDonald rejected his wife, Sir Roderick's sister, and became very hostile towards his old allies. After a year of feuding the two Clans finally met in the Battle of Coire Na Creiche and the MacLeods were defeated. This was the last Clan battle on the Isle of Skye.

In December 1597, an act of the Estates was passed that required that all the Chieftains and Landlords of the Highlands and the Western Isles to produce their title-deeds under pain of forfeiture. Roderick ignored the act and a gift of his estates were given to a number of Fife gentlemen for the purpose of colonization. After these attempts were dealt with, he was ultimately successful getting a remission from King James VI of Scotland dated 4 May 1610 for his lands of Harris, Dunvegan and Glenelg.

Sir Rory Mor's Horn is a drinking horn, one of several heirlooms of the MacLeods of Dunvegan, chiefs of Clan MacLeod. Tradition runs that one night, Malcolm (1296–1370), the 3rd chief of Clan Macleod, returned from a tryst with the Campbell wife of the chief of the Frasers who possessed the lands of Glenelg. That night Malcolm encountered a bull which lived in the woods of Glenelg and which had terrorized the local inhabitants. Armed with only a dirk, Malcolm slew the bull and broke off one of its horns. Malcolm carried off the horn to Dunvegan, as a trophy of his prowess. For this act of valor, Fraser's wife forsook her husband for Malcolm, thus starting a lengthy clan feud between the Frasers and the MacLeods. The tradition runs that ever since Malcolm's slaying the bull the horn has remained at Dunvegan; and was converted into a drinking horn, which each chief must drain to the bottom in one draught.

The artwork on the horn has been dated to the 16th century, and by some as far back as the 10th century. The MacLeod chiefs have several other notable heirlooms kept at Dunvegan Castle—such as the Fairy Flag and the Dunvegan Cup (pictured above).