In 1746 the 18-year old Donald Livingstone (Domnhull Molach) rescued the Stewart of Appin regimental banner at the Battle of Culloden and lived to tell the tale. Even though he was shot various times.
The Livingstones weren’t the traditional standard bearers for the Stewarts of Appin. That honour belonged to Carmichaels and was passed down from generation to generation. The Livingstones were body-guards to the Stewarts of Appin, all three parties supported the Jacobite cause.
On the fatal battlefield where so many Jacobites lost their lives in the slaughter on the moor, eight of the Carmichael standard bearers, all carrying the first name Donald, were either killed or seriously wounded. No one was left, to carry the banner that was lying on the ground in the middle of all the blood, and dying men.
Of the 5400 Jacobites fighting at Culloden more than half either died, were injured or imprisoned.
Donald took action and became the 9th man of that name to carry the banner. But not the standard.
Donald tore the banner off the standard and tried to flee the horror of the battle-field. Watching from a distance he wrapped the banner around his body.
„The Appin Banner has a yellow St. Andrew’s Cross on a back- ground of light blue silk ; the dimensions 5 feet hoist, with a fly of 6 feet 7 inches. It is now in the Military Museum, Edinburgh Castle, hanging beside the banner of the English troops-Barrel’s Regiment (King’s Own Royal)-whom the Appin Regiment charged and broke. Dark stains, said to be the blood of its defenders, are still to be seen, together with the marks of bullet holes.”
The young man was hit by a bullet almost immediately, but he managed to grab a stray horse, kill one dragoon and escape a second. Under normal circumstances, he would have died at Culloden but the Stewart of Appin banner wrapped around his teenage body must have protected him. He managed to make his way home to Lismore. The English soon followed.
“There, on 10 March 1746, soldiers and marines were put ashore from a most appropriately named British warship, The Terror, embarked on an orgy of destruction across a wide area. In a single day, according to one of the officers involved, near 400 houses, amongst which were several barns well filled with corn, horses, cows, meal and other provisions, were destroyed by fire and firearms.”
James Hunter: Culloden And The Last Clansman, Random House, 2011
Donald Livingstone, the man who saved the Stewart colours, lived another 70 years to the old age of 88 and was buried in Lochaline churchyard on the Morvern peninsula. He had six sons and two daughters. On his death various bullet wounds (legend has it it was as many as 9) were discovered on his body. Which is exactly the number of standard bearers during the Battle of Culloden.
Donald Livingstone’s story became legend and the survival of the banner a glimmer of hope in the dark days of defeat and English retaliation. The banner was the emblem of a Scottish fight as proud as it was desperate.
The relic is of the highest importance to the Stewarts of Appin and all those who followed the Jacobite cause.
Do not miss the carved stones of Keil, some date back to the 14th century, others are of a later date but all beautifully carved and preserved in the Old Session House.
The picturesque remains of a medieval church on the graveyard of Cill Choluimchille, Lochaline, Morvern, Scotland.