Originally published in the Scotsman on 16 July 2016
Altimarlach Farm is a place in Caithness situated by a small watercourse now called in English the Burn of Altimarlach. Under the name Old Namerluch, the banks of this burn were the site of a battle occurring in July 1680 between the Clan Campbell of Glenorchy and the Sinclairs of Caithness, and where the former were victorious. It is considered to be the last feudal battle in Scotland.
Although Gaelic tradition about this event has not survived in Caithness, the battle was remembered in Highland Perthshire and the correct Gaelic form of the place has been preserved: Allt nam Mèirleach ‘the burn of the thieves’. The name possibly relates to the plunder taken away from Caithness by Clan Campbell, which gave rise to the phrase Òr Ghallaibh air bòrd Bhealaich ‘Caithness gold on the Taymouth table’. In likelihood, though, the name was in existence before the battle took place.