Iain Lom’s Walking Stick
West Highland Museum

Content warning. Some visitors may find this story upsetting.  

This blackthorn walking stick belonged to the famous Scottish Gaelic bard, John MacDonald (1624 – 1710). The most outstanding of the Keppoch bards, MacDonald is better known as Iain Lom – ‘lom’ being the Gaelic word for bald. This word may be in reference to his hair, however it’s possible that the epithet could be describing his ‘plain speaking’ nature.   

He carried it after the Battle of Inverlochy in February, 1645, part of the Scottish Civil War, which he also composed a song about. During the battle, Lom lost his sword, but managed to fight his way home to Keppoch, near Roy Bridge.   

A Stuart loyalist all his life, Iain Lom was made poet laureate by King Charles II. When his young clan chief was murdered, he endured great danger and hardship to bring the guilty to justice, cutting off the heads of the murderers.  

Today, there is a monument beside the Inverness Road at Tobar nan Ceann known as ‘The Well of the Heads’. This is the spot where Iain Lom washed his grizzly trophies before presenting them to MacDonnell of Invergarry.  


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Date: 1645
Materials : Blackthorn
Size : 91cm

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