The Scottish Warrior: Event at the Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen

Looking forward to speaking about Jacobite men as well as Jacobite women as part of a panel at the Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen next Monday, 6th November, on the subject of ‘The Scottish Warrior in Commemorations, Museums and Politics.’ This is a free event but booking is required here. 

Doors open at 5.30, when refreshments will be available and a selection of my books will be available to buy. Panel presentations start at 6.00 and end after an audience Q & A at 7.30.

#ScotWarrior2017 #jacobites #university of aberdeen #gordonhighlandersmuseum



Deep Within Edinburgh’s Underground Vaults

Edinburgh, 1822: Richard is a wealthy young medical student who lives in the opulent New Town. Kate works in a dingy oyster cellar below the South Bridge in Edinburgh’s Old Town, her only joy her young brother Andrew. In this extract from One Sweet Moment, she is reluctantly showing Richard around the gloomy vaults. She’s attracted to him but very wary. Life has made her that way. His interest is in her but he’s appalled at the poverty he’s seeing and has promised to help Alan Gunn, a widower with a young family and a victim of the Highland Clearances. 


‘Aargh!’ He recoiled as something leapt at him from the overhanging beam. It coalesced into a ginger and white cat. The rat swinging from its jaws had to be dead. Using his shoulder as a stepping stone, the cat reached the floor and scampered off, the rat still clamped between its jaws.

‘Jack!’ yelled Andrew. ‘Clever boy!’ He set off in uneven pursuit of the cat, his lantern bobbing about like a fishing boat in a stormy sea.

Richard laughed as he watched them go. ‘Jack being the bridge’s resident mouser, I presume. Andrew’s right to congratulate him. Rats carry all manner of diseases.’

‘I know.’

Once more blue eyes met green. I know better than you do. Because I live with all of this. Because I may have no education but I’m not stupid either. Richard wondered if that was what she really wanted to say. Kate crossed her legs and he caught a glimpse of striped stocking. Red and white, spilling over the top of sturdy, if rather battered, laced ankle books. They looked dainty on her feet.

He wanted to walk over there, hoist himself up beside her and talk to her for hours. He wanted to find out everything about her. What had happened to her and Andrew’s parents? Was she happy to live here? She couldn’t be. He wanted to know what her hopes and fears and dreams were.

He stepped forward, and saw wariness slide across her face. How many times a week did she have to defend herself against unwanted male attention? Small wonder if she was sometimes prickly. He resumed his casual stance.

Kate’s stern expression didn’t waver. ‘You just gave me your word. About Mr Gunn.’

‘You don’t believe I really will do anything to help him though, do you?’

‘No. I dinna.’

‘You think I’m a bored young gentleman who’ll have forgotten all about the South Bridge and everyone in it by this time tomorrow?’

‘That’s about it,’ she agreed.

‘Well, Miss Catriona Dunbar,’ Richard said, ‘I’m clearly going to have to prove you wrong, am I not?’

One Sweet Moment by Maggie Craig is available at High Street and independent bookshops and online as a paperback and ebook from Amazon UK.

It is also available as an ebook from Amazon US.













Remembering The Jacobites of 1715

The Jacobite Rising of 1715 had its formal start on 6th September 1715 when the Earl of Mar raised the standard at Braemar. Prior to the rising of 1745, this was the most significant attempt to win the British throne back from the House of Hanover and restore the House of Stuart.

Three hundred years later, on 6th September 2015, some of us foregathered at the NTS Visitor Centre at Culloden to remember the Jacobites of 1715. It was a bright, breezy and gloriously sunny day.

A temporary exhibition was unveiled by Katey Boal, Learning Manager with the National Trust for Scotland at Culloden.

This is a joint project between NTS Culloden and The Fifteen (The Northumbrian Jacobite Society), initiated with great enthusiasm by NTS Property Manager Andrew McKenzie and John Nicholls, MBE, Chairman of The Fifteen (The Northumbrian Jacobite Society). John is glimpsed here to the left of the handsome display boards.


The Jacobites of 1715 don’t have nearly as high a profile as their counterparts in 1745 but they’re just as interesting and many of their stories are equally poignant.

Take James Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, executed for treason on Tower Hill in London early in 1716 at the age of 26. From his point of view there was no treason. He was loyal both to his Catholic faith and to the man he saw as his rightful king, James VIII and III, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s father.


A beautiful old lament remembers Derwentwater and his commitment to the cause of the House of Stuart. Listen here to The Corries’ version, with the late and sorely missed Roy Williamson accompanying himself on the hauntingly-beautiful Northumbrian smallpipes.


John Nicholls (seen here more clearly with his wife Elizabeth), is passionate about remembering the Jacobites of 1715, especially those who came from the North of England. At Culloden in September 2015, he read out the names of many of the men who took part and the places they came from. It was a very moving moment. One of those men was George Collingwood, who is mentioned in Derwentwater’s Farewell.


John also laid a beautiful wreath and, preceded by a piper, led a group out to the entrance to the visitor centre, where a replica of the Jacobite standard of 1715 was raised.


As John says: “Apart from its being a once-in-a-lifetime anniversary that should not go unnoticed, we felt also that it would add to the visitor experience at Culloden by giving them some indication that there wasn’t only just the ’45 and that this was the culmination of several previous plots and risings, of which the ’15 had the best chance of success.”


Find out more about the Jacobite Rising of 1715 and The Northumbrian Jacobite Society, who also have a Facebook page.




Lord Pitsligo of the 1745 Jacobite Rising

Lord Pitsligo 001

I have to confess that I’m a wee bit in love with Alexander Forbes, 4th Lord Pitsligo. He was a scholar, a gentleman and man of honour. He fought in the ’15 and went out again in 1745, despite being 67 years old and a chronic asthmatic. He was a great asset to Bonnie Prince Charlie and did everything he could to mitigate the suffering of those on the other side. When Charles and the Jacobites occupied a hostile Glasgow over Christmas 1745, it was Cameron of Lochiel who stayed the Prince’s hand when he threatened to sack the city. I suspect Pitsligo backed him up.

He was certainly a tactful guest in the house of the Glasgow University professor on whom he was billeted. A few weeks later, the professor asked Pitsligo to intervene to secure the release of two young ministers and two divinity students who had set out to fight against the Jacobites at the Battle of Falkirk in January 1746. This ended in victory for Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites.

One of those young ministers was John Witherspoon. The Jacobites had imprisoned him in Doune Castle, near Stirling. Whether Pitsligo intervened is not recorded. In any case, the young reverend, just 23 years old at the time, managed to escape from Doune, which was quite a feat. He went on to become a founder of Princeton University and one of the signatories of the American Declaration of Independence.

Doune Castle near Stirling

After Culloden, Lord Pitsligo became a fugitive with a price on his head. For years he had to hide in and around his home of Pitsligo Castle, near Fraserburgh, in Scotland’s north-east corner. Pursued by the Redcoats, he had many close shaves but his family, friends and tenants protected him. He died a free man in bed at his son’s house at the age of 84.

If you’d like to read more about Lord Pitsligo and other unsung Jacobite heroes of the ’45, you’ll find them here:

Bare-Arsed Banditti: The Men of the ’45

Bare-Arsed Banditti: The Men of the ’45

See some great photos of Pitsligo Castle here.