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Old 21st September 2021, 06:50 PM   #46
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
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I have been trying to find a photo of Rob Roy's sword, but images online are pretty dismal. I do know that Master of Arms Paul MacDonald of Edinburgh restored it in 2007, and I communicated with him a number of times a few years later. I cannot yet find those records.

Most of what can be found online is the huge volume of images, discussion on the 2003 movie with Leem Neeson, which though quite good, is wanting in historical detail.
The legend of Rob Roy, was created of course by Sir Walter Scott, whose novels were wonderful, but like much of the 'written word' became held as fact. This of course then became part of the lexicon of 'Scottish lore'.

The actual duel between Rob Roy MacGregor and Charles Stuart was in 1734 at Invernahyle, Inverlochlarig near Balquiddar. Supposedly the dispute was over actions of both men at Sheriffmuir (1715) however it was actually concerning land matters. It was agreed that single combat would settle this and Charles, much younger than Rob Roy, would represent MacLaren land owners. MacGregor though older was a formidable swordsman.

In Highland fashion, the duel was settled by first good cut, which caught MacGregor below chin, and the matter ended. Unfortunately the wound became septic, and MacGregor died later (doubtful it took years as many accounts suggest, his death date was 1734).

This photo of the two swords involved, restored by Paul MacDonald in 2007, show MacGregors on the left, Stuarts on the right.
Rob Roys was a broadsword, and of course earlier with the favored Andrea Ferara blade, while the Stuart sword is a backsword, so likely later perhaps 1720s.

Interestly both seem to have Andrea Ferara blades, which of course became the pinnacle of blades on Scottish swords. This phenomenon has become its own legend and lore with this mythical swordsmith and his blades which not only were held to have the highest quality, but almost magical in strength.
Many have believed that this bladesmith from Belluno, Italy in 16th century, went to Spain, was Spanish, went to Scotland and for years trained Scottish bladesmiths etc.

There is no evidence of any of this, in fact Andrea and his older brother (both born c. 1530's) did work in the regions of Belluno and several other towns with forges, but for a well known Italian family of armorers.
Apparently the work of Andrea became legendary through a 1567 treatise on military matters including armament by Cigogna.
This led to mrerchants from London going to Belluno to establish a contract with the Ferara brothers in 1583 for set numbers of blades for 10 years.
The disposition of this agreement is unclear, but obviously, the volume of Andrea Ferara blades is significant, but
the problem is that virtually all of these blades have been Solingen products.
Andrea died in 1612, his brother Zandona several years later.
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Last edited by Jim McDougall; 21st September 2021 at 10:29 PM.
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