World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Sir Rory Mor's Horn

Article Id: WHEBN0024105801
Reproduction Date:

Title: Sir Rory Mor's Horn  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Clan MacLeod, Fairy Flag, Dunvegan Cup
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Sir Rory Mor's Horn

Sir Rory Mor's Horn is a drinking horn, one of several heirlooms of the MacLeods of Dunvegan, chiefs of Clan MacLeod. Clan custom is that each successive chief is to drink a full measure of the horn in wine to prove his manhood.[1] The artwork on the horn has been dated to the 16th century, and by some as far back as the 10th century. The MacLeod chiefs have several other notable heirlooms kept at Dunvegan Castle—such as the Fairy Flag and the Dunvegan Cup (pictured right).

Description and custom

Patterned medallion
Sir Rory Mor's Horn

Sir Rory Mor's Horn is a drinking horn, made of an ox's horn, tipped in silver.[2] The rim around the mouth of the horn is thick and on this there are imprinted seven medallions. On three of the medallions are beasts, on three others are patterns, and on the seventh and joining medallion is both a pattern and a beast. R.C. MacLeod considered the work to be Norse, and declared the horn to date from the 10th century.[3] The horn holds about 2 imperial pints (1.1 l). Clan MacLeod custom is that each successive chief, on achieving the age of manhood, should drain, in one draught, the horn which is filled to the brim.[2] The horn is named after Sir Ruairidh Mòr MacLeòid (c.1562–1626), the 15th chief of Clan MacLeod.[4]

There have been differing opinions concerning the age of the horn. In 1927, R.C. MacLeod declared his opinion that it dated from the 10th century. Professor Brögge, from Oslo, thought it was of Norse origin, dating from the 10th century. Professor Callander, from Edinburgh, considered it to be not unfamiliar with other objects of Scotland, and dated it to the 16th century.[3]

In 1906, R.C. MacLeod noted that the greater proportion of the horn had been filled in, and that it was "but a moderate drink the present day Chiefs have to quaff. With what contempt, what might scorn would these stern warriors of the past look upon the puny performances of their descendants".[2] In 1956, Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Dunvegan Castle. During this occasion, John, maternal grandson of the clan chief Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod, was challenged to quaff the horn which was filled with claret—which he did in one minute 57 seconds.[5][6]


The Bannatyne manuscript, dates from about 1830 and is thought to have probably been written by Dr. William MacLeod Bannatyne.[7][8] R.C. MacLeod noted that the manuscript contains a tradition concerning the origin of the horn. This tradition runs that one night, Malcolm (1296–1370), the 3rd chief of Clan Macleod,[9] returned from a tryst with the Campbell wife of the chief of the Frasers who possessed the lands of Glenelg. That night Malcolm encountered a bull which lived in the woods of Glenelg and which had terrorised the local inhabitants. Armed with only a dirk, Malcolm slew the bull and broke off one of its horns. Malcolm carried off the horn to Dunvegan, as a trophy of his prowess. For this act of valour, Fraser's wife forsook her husband for Malcolm, thus starting a lengthy clan feud between the Frasers and the MacLeods. The tradition runs that ever since Malcolm's slaying the bull the horn has remained at Dunvegan; and was converted into a drinking horn, which each chief must drain to the bottom in one draught. The manuscript continues that ever since Malcolm defeated the bull, the family of MacLeod of MacLeod have used a bull's head as their heraldic crest, with the motto "hold fast".[10]

R.C. MacLeod noted another tradition concerning a bull and motto of the clan's chiefs (though not the drinking horn). The tradition runs that one day Tormod (c.1509–1584), 12th chief of Clan MacLeod was being entertained by Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell, at Inverary Castle.[note 1] During his visit, the MacLeod chief learned that one of his clansmen was a convicted criminal who had condemned to be gored to death by a bull. The MacLeod chief appealed to Argyll, but the Campbell chief replied that it was too late and that nothing could save the MacLeod clansman. The MacLeod chief then sprang into the ring, armed with only his dirk, and attacked the bull. He grabbed hold of the bull's horns and cried out "hold fast!" and saved the clansman.[12]

The Skeabost Horn, which was the trophy awarded to the champions of the Southern League in the sport of shinty is based on the horn of Rory Mor. The Horn is no longer competed for but is in the possession of Mr. Jack Asher.




This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.