Author: Admin

A sobering photograph doing the rounds on social media is serving as a stark reminder of how devastating the Great War was for Scots regiments sent to fight in France and Belgium.

First photo shows the Cameron Highlanders at Edinburgh Castle on August 12, 1914 before leaving for France.


The second photo allegedly shows the same battalion at Edinburgh Castle in 1918 after the war or depending on the source, in 1918 after the armistice, however this photo has been photoshopped, but this photo conveys a telling story.

The first photo is apparently printed in Dugald MacEchern, The Sword of the North: Highland Memories of the Great War (1923) p.150: captioned as taken on 12.8.1914, the day they started for France. Officers are named. There is no corresponding post-war photo of the 1st Battalion in the book.

MacEchern writes that by Christmas 1914 only one officer and 27 men remained “unscathed” – possibly including those wounded as well as killed. In the first photo we can see 27 officers and about 1,000 soldiers.

Apparently the original photo was from the Kildonan Museum on South Uist and was part of an exhibit which states: “The 1st Camerons sustained heavy losses in the early months of the war with the result that by Christmas 1914, all but one officer and 27 men were killed or wounded of the 27 officers and 1,000 men whose tartan had swung down the Lawnmarket from Edinburgh Castle on 12 August.”

The second photoshopped picture is accurate in that it shows 27 soldiers and the one “unscathed” officer. Perhaps it was created as a representation of the devastating losses of the battalion.

We’ve been advised that the following events have been cancelled due to current public health concerns:

  • Bundanoon Highland Gathering, NSW April 4 – cancelled. Next year’s gathering scheduled for Saturday 17 April 2021
  • Declaration of Arbroath (Scottish Australian Heritage Council)- 6 April 2020 – postponed tba.
  • Bonnie Wingham Scottish Festival May 24-31, 2020 – postponed until 26 September 2020
  • Australian Pipe Bands Championships, Maryborough – postponed. 
  • MacLean Highland Gathering, NSW – Cancelled
  • Ringwood Highland Gathering, Victoria – postponed
  • Australian Celtic Festival – Glen Innes April/May 2020 – cancelled. To be held April 30 – May 2 2021.
  • Aberdeen Highland Games, 4 July 2020 – cancelled.

Clan Cameron NSW members visit the Special Collection area

Clan Cameron NSW members visited the State Library of NSW recently to learn how to access the wealth of material held in the library relating to finding information relevant to one’s family history.

The group was fortunate to have 1½ hours session lead by State Library librarians Bruce and Durgesh, who displayed a wonderful knowledge of the comprehensive holdings of the library and guided the group through the process of accessing the numerous family history resources.

Librarian Bruce leading the group

Following the talk a number of the group convened for a casual lunch at Soirée at the Wentworth. Some members then returned to the library and registered and received their library cards, and spent a further hour doing a little research.

NSW President Alistair Cameron and Librarian Bruce

Perusing some of the Scottish material

Examining some of the Scottish resources held in the library collection

About the Library

Much of the library’s material is available to download online, but some material can only be accessed on site.

The State Library is one of the great libraries of the world, beginning as a small subscription library in the 1820s for colonials who were desperate to read books

The State Library of NSW collects and preserves materials and evidence relating to our place in the world and makes them accessible to everyone in New South Wales and beyond.

Joining the Library

Joining the library is free. You can sign up for a Library card online or when you’re at the Library.

With a Library card you can:

  • request books and other collection material to use in the Library.
  • borrow some of the Library’s books and other collection material through other libraries. Speak to your public, academic or work library about requesting an inter-library loan.

You can collect your card from the Governor Marie Bashir Reading Room or the Special Collections area. You will need to show identification that has your current address.

If you live in NSW the card can be posted to you. You should receive it within 10 working days.

Below is a link to the comprehensive handout provided by Bruce and Durgesh about how to access the State Library catalogue together with an outline of the range of resources held by the library.

By Joanne Cameron (Co-Administrator)

The tree of mankind is possibly quite good to illustrate the position of where Group A Cameron men sit, all the numbers i.e. R-A6138 represent actual men in history! We know that the progenitor of Clan Cameron was most likely R-A6138. This tree only came to be because of those who take their testing further i.e. The Big Y-700. It will only get better!

R-M269Here is the descent (shown as SNP’s) descending from R-M269 which has 10,761 downstream branches to date! R-M269 is the most common YDNA Haplogroup in Western Europe and is thought to have originated about 9,500

R-L580 follows on from R-DF21

Here is the descent (shown as SNP’s) descending from R-M269 which has 10,761 downstream branches to date! R-M269 is the most common YDNA Haplogroup in Western Europe and is thought to have originated about 9,500 years ago in the region of the Black Sea, and then spread to Europe very soon thereafter.

**The Celtic people i.e. Cornish, Welsh, Irish, Scot (Royal Stewart) branch out from R-DF13 of which there are 4,485 current branches found to date. From R-DF13>R-Z39589>R-DF41 which dating as of May 2019 has as a male who lived in the mid Bronze Age (1700-1750 BC). This SNP is sometimes known as a Scot SNP but new testing is proving this to be not always the case**

R-A7298 is the progenitor of Clan Cameron, MacPhee and MacNab. R-A7300 is the progenitor of Cameron and MacPhee. The 10 branches underneath R-A6138 are a mixture of now named cadets (McMartin, MacGillonie and Clunes) and unnamed cadets still to be named.

It is pretty easy to categorise the Celts and Vikings as being one particular stock and therefore haplogroup. In reality, we have Norse Vikings and Danish Vikings both of which appear to be either R1A or of the I1 Haplogroup. It is pretty rare in England to see the R1A Haplogroup appear in areas that weren’t occupied by the Vikings but in the same breath Haplogroup I1 is found in high frequencies in Scandinavia so the reality is that both can be named “Viking”.

The same can be said for the “Celts”. The true Celts are the native people who most likely populated parts of the British Isles after the last ice age and whose populations appear in Cornwall, Wales and Ireland. The Royal Stewart Line in Scotland are “Celts” but they share the same Y Haplogroup (and paternal ancestor) as those who have the earliest roots in Cornwall. The so-called Celts of the British Isles.

This Haplogroup is part of R1B so if we go back even further in history all R1B men share the same ancestor, Camerons included (the lineage branched out many thousands of years ago from the “Celts”). Remember surnames are relatively recent in the history of mankind.

However, Group A Camerons certainly don’t appear to be of Norse origin. We have to also at this stage be careful with the known history of Clan Cameron, our aim of the Project is to sort fact from fiction so we treat all we know of the Clan with kid gloves. There are many layers of history to uncover. Loraine and I are very fortunate that we have a number of family historians that help us, including former Australian Commissioner Dr Bob Cameron.

However with each Group A BigY-700 test that does come in we increase our knowledge of the Clan. We are seeing real definition with the new testing that wasn’t there before. We are incredibly excited about it actually, the new SNP’s that are being found are also giving us better dating.

The only reason we can now align both Bob and Fraser (Fraser was our NZ Commissioner before Nick took over a couple of years ago) is because they took up the Big Y-700 test.

We know that with our Group A Camerons YSTR testing is unable to tell someone which cadet they belong to because a phenomenon called convergence or back mutation occurs in these men.

This is when a YSTR moves, mutates, either forward or backward over time. So with other surname projects YSTR testing is very heavily used and relied on for placement in their Project, but it is virtually useless for our Group A Cameron men. The only use we have for it is within the first 37-67 YSTRS there is a reliable signature that tells us whether or not the tester belongs to Group A or not.

This is the reason why we recommend our Group A testers to upgrade, we are aware of the expense, however, and totally understand those who cannot do so. Family Tree DNA hold your sample for 25 years in case you do want to future upgrade so don’t worry too much about that. However, if they do need a fresh sample they email you and send out a new test kit to use and send back.

Australian Clan Cameron Commissioner James Cameron , Victorian President Elizabeth Cameron and Australian Clan MacLennan Commissioner Carol Davis

Australian Clan Cameron Commissioner James Cameron recently attended the Clan Cameron and Clan MacLennan Hogmanay ceilidh in Melbourne with Victorian President Elizabeth Cameron and Australian Clan MacLennan Commissioner, Carol Davis.  It was a wonderful night of dancing, singing, delicious shared food and great conversation!

Lilias AdieA victim of Scotland’s witch hunt

After reading an article in the Scottish Banner (December 2019) I was motivated to find out more about Lilias Adie and share her story and this aspect of Scottish history with members of the Clan. Admin.

A digital reconstruction of Lilias Adie’s face (University of Dundee)

In the early 1700s, a Scottish woman named Lilias Adie was accused of witchcraft and sentenced to burn at the stake. But before the brutal execution could be carried out, she died in prison, possibly of a suicide. Adie’s body was hastily buried along the shores of the country of Fife, in an ignominious spot. To ensure that the devil did not reanimate his purported collaborator, the grave was covered with a hulking, half-ton slab.

In the following centuries, morbid curio hunters were nevertheless able to access the humble wooden box that served as Adie’s coffin and pilfer her bones. Now, as Nan Spowart reports for the National, officials have put out an appeal for the return of Adie’s remains, in the hopes of finally giving her a respectful memorial.

Starting in the mid-1400s, Europe was gripped by an anti-witch hysteria, leading to the executions of some 80,000 people between 1500 and 1660. Most victims were women, a phenomenon that historian Steven Katz has attributed to “the enduring grotesque fears [women] generate in respect of their putative abilities to control men and thereby coerce, for their own ends, male-dominated Christian society.”

Adie’s story, which is preserved in the minutes from her 1704 trial, reveals the frenzied, tragic pattern of false accusations and false confessions that defined many other witchcraft cases. A woman named Jean Bizet, who “seemed drunk,” according to witnesses, began making accusations against Adie, warning neighbours to “beware lest Lilias Adie come upon you and your child.” Bizet continued to appear “strangely distempered” the next day, crying out, “by God he is going to take me! by Christ he is going to take me! O Lilly with her blew doublet!”

According to Meagan Flynn of the Washington Post, Adie subsequently spent more than a month in prison, where she was interrogated and possibly tortured. Ultimately, she confessed, proffering a wild tale about meeting with the devil “in the harvest, before sunset” and renouncing her baptism. During this “tryst,” she claimed, “the devil lay with her carnally … [H]is skin was cold, and his color black and pale, he had a hat on his head, and his feet was cloven …”

It was widely believed at the time that Satan would resurrect his followers from the dead so they could stalk the pious living. Burning suspected witches at the stake was thought to solve that problem, but in Adie’s case, officials had to find something else to do with her remains—hence the unceremonious grave, topped with a hulking stone. Because most other accused witches were burned, the site of Adie’s burial, identified in 2014, is the only known “witch” grave in Scotland,

Her remains were dug up by antique-collecting grave robbers in 1852. At the time, it was reported that the coffin was 6 feet 6 inches (about 1.98 m) long. Her thighbones were found to be of comparable length with those of a man who was 6 feet (about 1.8 m) tall. She still had most of her teeth, which were “white and fresh”.

Adie’s grave slab uncovered in 2014

Adie’s coffin was also a source of souvenirs: a walking stick, believed to be made from the wood of her coffin and with a silver band near the handle engraved with “Lilias Addie, 1704”. The skull was in the private museum of Dunfermline  antiquarian Sir Joseph Noel Paton in 1875. It was exhibited to the Fifeshire Medical Association in 1884 by a medical doctor from Dunfermline named Dow. It was eventually held at the Museum of the University of St Andrews, but has since disappeared. The skull was exhibited in 1938 at the Empire Exhibition at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, its last known location. Fortunately, pictures were taken of the cranium before it vanished, which, in 2017, allowed experts to produce a reconstruction of Adie’s face.

Fife Council has put out an appeal for the return of Adie’s remains, in the hopes of finally giving her a respectful memorial.

“There was nothing in Lilias’ story that suggested to me that nowadays she would be considered as anything other than a victim of horrible circumstances,” forensic artist Christopher Rynn told the BBC at the time. “So I saw no reason to pull the face into an unpleasant or mean expression and she ended up having quite a kind face, quite naturally.”

On 31 August 2019, 315 years after Adie died in custody, a memorial service was held in Torryburn and a wreath laid at the site of her grave to raise awareness of the persecution these women and men endured in Fife during the witchcraft panics.

The new campaign may be centred on finding Adie’s lost bones, but Fife officials also hope to use it to raise a broader awareness of the terrible injustices perpetrated against some 3,800 men and women who were accused of witchcraft in Scotland between 1563 and 1736, when the country’s Witchcraft Act was enforced.

An illustration of Scotland’s North Berwick witches, which are shown meeting Satan in the local churchyard. Witchcraft paranoia led to thousands of executions across a 200-year period. From the contemporary pamphlet ‘Newes From Scotland.’ 1590.


  1. Brigit Katz ( – September 3, 2019 )

Only one nation in the world can celebrate the New Year or Hogmanay with such revelry and passion – the Scots!

It is believed that many of the traditional Hogmanay celebrations were originally brought to Scotland by the invading Vikings in the early 8th and 9th centuries. These Norsemen, or men from an even more northerly latitude than Scotland, paid particular attention to the arrival of the Winter Solstice or the shortest day, and fully intended to celebrate its passing with some serious partying.

In Shetland, where the Viking influence remains strongest, New Year is still called Yules, deriving from the Scandinavian word for the midwinter festival of Yule.

It may surprise many people to note that Christmas was not celebrated as a festival and virtually banned in Scotland for around 400 years, from the end of the 17th century to the 1950s. The reason for this dates back to the years of Protestant Reformation, when the straight-laced Kirk proclaimed Christmas as a Popish or Catholic feast, and as such needed banning.

And so it was, right up until the 1950s that many Scots worked over Christmas and celebrated their winter solstice holiday at New Year when family and friends would gather for a party and to exchange presents which came to be known as hogmanays.

There are several traditions and superstitions that should be taken care of before midnight on the 31st December: these include cleaning the house and taking out the ashes from the fire, there is also the requirement to clear all your debts before “the bells” sound midnight, the underlying message being to clear out the remains of the old year, have a clean break and welcome in a young, New Year on a happy note.

Immediately after midnight it is traditional to sing Robert Burns “Auld Lang Syne”. Burns published his version of this popular little ditty in 1788, although the tune was in print over 80 years before this.

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”

An integral part of the Hogmanay party, which is continued with equal enthusiasm today, is to welcome friends and strangers with warm hospitality and of course lots of enforced kissing for all.

“First footing” (or the “first foot” in the house after midnight) is still common across Scotland. To ensure good luck for the house the first foot should be a dark-haired male, and he should bring with him symbolic pieces of coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and a wee dram of whisky. The dark-haired male bit is believed to be a throwback to the Viking days, when a big blonde stranger arriving on your door step with a big axe meant big trouble, and probably not a very happy New Year!

The firework displays and torchlight processions now enjoyed throughout many cities in Scotland are reminders of the ancient pagan parties from those Viking days of long ago.

The traditional New Year ceremony would involve people dressing up in the hides of cattle and running around the village whilst being hit by sticks. The festivities would also include the lighting of bonfires and tossing torches. Animal hide wrapped around sticks and ignited produced a smoke that was believed to be very effective in warding off evil spirits: this smoking stick was also known as a Hogmanay.

Many of these customs continue today, especially in the older communities of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. On the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, the young men and boys form themselves into opposing bands; the leader of each wears a sheep skin, while another member carries a sack. The bands move through the village from house to house reciting a Gaelic rhyme. The boys are given bannocks (fruit buns) for their sack before moving on to the next house.

One of the most spectacular fire ceremonies takes place in Stonehaven, south of Aberdeen on the north east coast. Giant fireballs are swung around on long metal poles each requiring many men to carry them as they are paraded up and down the High Street. Again the origin is believed to be linked to the Winter Solstice with the swinging fireballs signifying the power of the sun, purifying the world by consuming evil spirits.

For visitors to Scotland it is worth remembering that January 2nd is also a national holiday in Scotland, this extra day being barely enough time to recover from a week of intense revelry and merry-making. All of which helps to form part of Scotland’s cultural legacy of ancient customs and traditions that surround the pagan festival of Hogmanay.

by Ben Johnson


I would like to wish all clansfolk a very happy Christmas and I hope that 2020 brings you all health and happiness.

We, the family, are all well although, very sadly, my lovely sister Caroline passed away in October after a massive stroke which was heartbreaking as she was a shining beacon in all our lives.

On a brighter note, my youngest daughter Emily got married to a lovely man, Simon Williams, in September. They had a wonderful wedding in London which everyone much enjoyed.

We are in the middle of planning the clan gathering which will take place at the end of July next year and I hope very much that some of you will be able to attend as it should be an interesting and happy few days.

The Estate is, I think, in good shape with the hydro schemes enabling us to make plans for the future. We are involved in all sorts of activities such as forestry, tourism, holiday apartments, fish farming, stalking and quarrying.

Achnacarry is still being renovated and we hope to have it finished within the next three months. It is, I think, looking lovely.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who help to keep the spirit of the clan alive and I realise that many of you spend a lot of time and trouble on matters relating to the clan for which I am very, very grateful.

With very best wishes to you all,

Donald Cameron of Lochiel

Ruthven barracks sits upon the site of an earlier medieval castle.

Ruthven Barracks was one of four facilities built to control a key route through the Cairngorms and to provide forward basing of troops near potentially troublesome Highland clans. Its garrison was withdrawn at the start of the 1745 rebellion to augment the main army. After Culloden the shattered Jacobite army mustered at the site before being disbanded.

Perched on a natural mound, the first recorded reference was made in 1229 when it was owned by the Comyn family. Their dispute with Robert the Bruce – culminating in the murder of John Comyn at Dumfries at the start of the 1306 rebellion – led to the confiscation of the castle in the early fourteenth century. By 1451 it was in the hands of Alexander Gordon, Earl of Huntly at which time it was attacked and burnt by the Black Douglases led by John MacDonald, Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles. The castle was rebuilt in 1459 and was still in use in 1689 when the first Jacobite rebellion ignited.


Ruthven Barracks were built between 1719 and 1721 on top of the mound of the original medieval fortification. The structure consisted of two three-storey barrack buildings each capable of accommodating 60 soldiers (each block had two rooms on each floor poses. The two square turrets forming part of this curtain wall doubled as the Officer accommodation and provided space for logistic functions (including bakehouse and brewhouse). The barracks were designed for an infantry garrison but, following the appointment of General George Wade as Commander-in-Chief of North Britain, he favoured the use of dragoons (mounted infantry) in outposts such as Ruthven as they could be used as a rapid response force along the newly built military roads. Accordingly a stable block was added to Ruthven in 1734.

The final Jacobite rebellion, the 1745 uprising led by Prince Charles Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), commenced in July 1745. The bulk of the garrison of Ruthven was withdrawn at this time – marching to Inverness to join the army of General Cope that had been tasked with neutralising the Jacobite threat. With the bulk of Governmental forces gone the Jacobites attempted to gain control of Ruthven in August 1745 but, without artillery, were unable to dislodge the skeleton garrison (led by a Sergeant Molloy and 14 men). By early 1746 the rebels were in a stronger position having defeated Government forces at the Battle of Falkirk (17 January 1746) during which they captured heavy ordnance. This was brought to bear at Ruthven in February 1746 prompting the garrison to surrender after a short siege. Now in Jacobite hands the facility was burnt but was later used as a rally point for the shattered Jacobite forces after their defeat at the battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746. Lord George Murray marshalled the surviving forces ready for the next stage of the campaign but it was to no avail; Prince Charles was broken and on 20 April his forces at Ruthven received his order “Let every man seek his own safety in the best way he can“. So ended the last Jacobite rebellion and Ruthven barracks was never rebuilt.

Ruthven Barracks are visible from the A9 near Kingussie and accessible via a minor road that runs past the railway station. A dedicated car park serves the site.

If travelling the A9 highway between Inverness and Pitlochry, as this writer intends doing after the 2020 Achnacarry Clan Gathering, you’ll come across ruined stone walls on a hill overlooking the River Spey. These stoic stone walls are all that remain of the Ruthven Barracks.



A number of members of Clan Cameron NSW were fortunate to witness the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo held at the Sydney stadium this October.

While not as intimate as that held in Edinburgh Castle it was certainly a spectacular event.

Some 1500 cast members were involved from across Europe and the Asia Pacific region as well as our local Australasian contingent. Over 14 nations were represented.

Set against a full-size replica of Edinburgh Castle, the iconic Scottish spectacular featured 33 musical, cultural and military groups, including:

  • 15 files of traditional Pipers and Drummers,
  • 11 Military Bands,
  • 40 amazingly deft Precision Marchers,
  • 40 Fiddlers,
  • 7 Pacific Nations sharing their culture through performance,
  • 40 Maori Kapa Haka performers,
  • 100 Highland Dancers,
  • 40 of the Australian Defence Forces’ finest musicians making up the House Band,
  • 40 singers representing Gondwana Choirs,
  • Australia’s Federation Guard featuring 100 celebrated serving personnel, and
  • Australian Indigenous Song Men and dancers.

    Massed Pipes and Drums

    Highland Dancers

    Highland Dancers in action