National Geographic : 1952 Jul
112 Dunvegan Castle's Weathered Walls and Turrets Bear the Stains of Centuries This medieval stronghold has housed many famous visitors, among them Dr. Samuel Johnson and his Boswell (page 96). Dunvegan chiefs struggled long and painfully to make these trees take root on an open moor. Skye calls the flat-topped mountains MacLeod's Tables. one of our ghosts. Just ring the servants' bell, if you need to." I slept soundly enough until shortly before dawn. Then a loud rattle of chains brought me bolt upright. Summoning all my courage, I leaped to my feet and flung open the closet. Nothing. I crossed to the window and stared out. There was my ghost-two minesweepers dropping anchor in the harbor below. They had come, I learned later, to honor the Clan MacLeod in Skye Week. I found their two captains, who shortly joined us in the castle, good company. Clan Gathers from Round the World Together we walked the ramparts, looked to sea, and stared down at the airless dungeon, complete with iron weights and shackles, where earlier MacLeods kept those with whom they had a difference of opinion. It was enough to make a man uneasy-particularly a man like myself with no drop of MacLeod in him. It was a lack I sensed the more on Overseas Day at the Castle. From all over the globe-Austria, Canada, South Africa, England, Bermuda, Poland, Germany-loyal MacLeods gathered in tartan and kilt to celebrate and live again, if only for a day, as members of one clan. From every corner came the skirl of pipes and the martial sound of Highland bands (page 97). In circuslike tents tea was served to all comers. Swords glittered on the lawn, laid out like compass points for the tradi tional dancers who would perform intricate steps over them. And through all the melee wove the stalwart plaid-draped figure of Mrs. MacLeod of MacLeod, clad in what she wryly described as "my uniform." Too soon, the festivities came to an end, and with them Skye Week. The next morning at dawn I boarded the MacBrayne steamer from Portree, bound for the mainland. The raven-haunted cliffs dropped astern, and we headed out through the Narrows of Raasay. From somewhere over the moors I seemed to hear a piper playing softly the Gaelic lament of Donald MacCrimmon: Cha till, cha till, cha till Mac Criomain An cogadh no sith cha till e tuille . .. No more, no more, no more forever, In war or peace, shall return MacCrimmon ... But, by all the hills of Skye, I will.