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Audio guide: Claymore

Audio guide stop: 3104

Crowdsourced transcription of the audio file

A Scottish Claymore sword on a white background
A Scottish Claymore sword on a white background
Creative Commons Licence

This is one of the few surviving examples of the true claymore, a two-handed cutting sword used in the Highlands of Scotland and by Scottish mercenaries in Ireland until the late seventeenth century.

The name comes from a Gaelic word meaning 'great sword', and it was a brutally efficient weapon, as this eyewitness account of the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 testifies.

"The enemy lay in heaps, so disfigured with wounds and so hashed and mangled, that even the victors could not look upon them without surprise and horror. Many had their heads divided into two halves by one blow.

Others had their skulls cut off above their ears. Their thick buff belts were not sufficient to defend their shoulders from such deep gashes, as almost disclosed their entrails.

Several pikes, small swords, and like weapons were cut quite through, and some that had worn skullcaps had them so beat into their brains that they died upon the spot.'

This was one of the last times the two-handed claymore was used in battle. The development of the firearm neutralised even this powerful weapon.

Co-production of this resource

The MicroPasts logo

The transcription of the audio file for this stop was enabled by the AHRC funded crowd-sourcing platform MicroPasts. The below generously gave their time to transcribe the file.

Nina, Terence Gould and Adi Levin

Associated highlight record

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