Arisaig, Western Highlands
Bonnie Prince Charlie 1745
Few parts of the western Highlands have a closer association with the Jacobite cause than Borrodale. It was at Borrodale Bay that Charles Edward Stuart, 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' first set foot on the Scottish mainland on 25 July 1745.
Borrodale House, then owned by Clanranald and let to Angus MacDonald of Borrodale, served both as his headquarters and his living accommodation whilst he was canvassing the support of local clansmen. It was from here that he left for Moidart and the Raising of the Standard at Glenfinnan on 19 August 1745.
A year later the Prince, fleeing from the forces of King George, returned briefly to Borrodale. Lady Catriona MacDonald of Borrodale gave him one of her tartans as he escaped the mainland in an eight oared boat. Having being soaked in a storm he left the tartan in Scalpay off Harris when he received a change of clothes. This garment was subsequently divided into pieces as mementos of the Stuart cause; one such piece is now displayed in the Highland Museum in Fort William. Another piece is at Stoneyhurst College and from these fragments the the Borrodale tartan has been reconstructed.
Philip Webb 1864
Borrodale House was remodeled by the architect, Philip Webb. In 1845 Francis Astley commissioned Webb to build nearby Arisaig House. At that time Borrodale was part of the Arisaig Estate.
In addition to remodeling the house, Webb designed and built the substantial farm steading to the rear of the house.
Philip Webb was 'the father of the Arts and Craft movement' and this influence is clear, particularly in the steading.
SOE Training 1940's
During WWII Arisaig House and its surrounding buildings, including Borrodale House were requisitioned by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and became a SOE Special Training School, designated STS21.
It functioned as a finishing school, and specialised in commando skills, providing the final stage of training for agents destined to serve in the field. They were trained to use explosives, silent killing methods and how to sabotage railways. Once their training had been completed, they would be parachuted behind enemy lines to carry out a secret war against Nazi Germany.
A memorial to Czechoslovakians who were trained as SOE agents in the area stands in Arisaig. The memorial was created in the Czech Republic by sculptor Josef Vajce, the foundation stone for the memorial was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI during a visit to the Czech Republic.
Evidence of SOE training is apparent in the area. A visit to the Land Sea and Islands Centre in Arisaig is recommended to anyone who is interested in this history.