The Battle of the Spoiling Dyke

by Ellen Castelow

Seeking revenge for the massacre of several members of their clan on the Isle of Eigg some years earlier, the MacDonalds of Uist quietly slipped into the bay of Ardmore under the cover of mist early one Sunday morning in May 1578.

Finding members of the Clan MacLeod at worship in Trumpan (aka Kinlonan) Church, the MacDonalds first barred the doors before setting fire to the thatched roof. All inside were said to have perished except for one girl who managed to escape to raise the alarm.

On hearing the news, the chief of the clan immediately set sail, returning to the scene of the atrocity armed with the clan talisman, the Fairy Flag of the MacLeods.

In the battle that followed the MacDonalds were slaughtered to a man. Their bodies were then dragged and buried in a turf dyke, earning the encounter its name the Battle of the Spoiling Dyke, Blar Milleadh a’ Ghàraidh, Millegearaidh. 

Key Facts:

Date: 1578

War: Scottish Clan Warfare

Location: Ardmore Bay, Highlands

Belligerents: Clan MacLeod, Clan MacDonald of Uist

Victors: Clan MacLeod

Numbers: Unknown

Casualties: Unknown

Commanders: Unknown


The Battle of the Spoiling Dyke

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