Major-General Sir Hector Archibald Macdonald War Memorial

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Reference WMO230546

Address:

Mitchell Hill Cemetery

Dingwall (South East)

Scotland

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Status: On original site
Type: Freestanding
Location: External
Setting: Within a garden/park/churchyard/enclosure/Marketplace
Description: Other structure/building
Materials:
  • Stone Stone (any)
  • Stone Sandstone
Lettering: Unknown
Conflicts:
  • Non-Specific Conflict
About the memorial: This 100 ft tall memorial is very prominent within Dingwall because of not only its physical size, but also its elevated location. It is a tall whinstone tower on a sandstone base, with a minimally projecting top stage under a balustered parapet. The whole is surmounted by an open cap-house. There are several ground-mounted cannons placed near to the tower. This tower was erected in 1907 as a national memorial to Major-General Sir Hector Archibald Macdonald KCB DSO ADC. There is another memorial to him at Mulbuie on the Black Isle, near where he was born. Hector, a gaelic speaking son of a poor crofter, was born on 4 March 1853 at Rootfield, near Dingwall. He went on to become one of the most famous British soldiers of the late 19th century and was one of only a few British Army generals who rose from the ranks on his own merit and professionalism. He rose from the ranks to the officer class, gaining a reputation for great bravery but fell short of expectations in his private life, so that when the threat of public exposure loomed large, he committed suicide. He left school before he was 15, and later when he was 17, enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders as a private. On 7 March 1870 he joined the Inverness-shire Highland Rifle Volunteers and went on in 1871 to enlist in the 92nd Gordon Highlanders at Fort George. He rose rapidly through the non-commissioned ranks, and had already been a Colour Sergeant for some years when his distinguished conduct in the presence of the enemy during the 2nd Afghan War led to his being offered either a Victoria Cross or a commission in his regiment, he chose the commission. At the time, this was an extremely rare honour. Sir Hector, also known as Fighting Mac, also went in later life by the name Eachann nan Cath (Hector of the Battles), was a distinguished Victorian soldier. The success of Macdonald's army career was in direct contrast to his private life. When the 92nd (later the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders) returned to Britain in Jan 1882 after 12 years overseas service Hector faced a break from campaigning of two and a half years. In Edinburgh he was introduced to the Duncan family who had a daughter, Christina, aged 15. They married in secret on 16 June 1884, when Christina was17 and on 16 June 1888 a son, also Hector was born. In 1891, he was awarded The Distinguished Service Order for his part in the battle of Toski and was promoted to Major. In 1898 he was personally thanked by Parliament, presented with a magnificent sword by the City of London, promoted to full colonel, made a Companion of the Order of the Bath and appointed ADC to the Queen. Later for his services in the Boer War he was knighted. In May 1902 with the rank of Major General and newly knighted, he was given command of the army in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). In 1903, questions were raised about his sexuality and allegations made about his behaviour in Ceylon. There were suspicions that the allegations were fabricated by MacDonald's enemies. He was despised by some of the military establishment, who considered themselves of a superior class and looked down on MacDonald's thick Scottish accent, 'uncultured' ways and humble beginnings. Before any trial, the allegations were raised publicly in the International Herald Tribune newspaper and the humiliated MacDonald shot himself in a Paris hotel room. His widow, who until that time nobody even knew existed declined the offer of a full military funeral and had him buried privately at 6am in Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh. But he was a national hero in Scotland so the crowds gathered and over that weekend, 30,000 people filed past his grave to pay their last respects. In the weeks following, thousands more from all over the world came to say farewell. It is widely asserted by his many modern supporters that the crofter's son was the victim of a conspiracy by the English Establishment, motivated by jealousy and snobbery. In 1907 the people of Scotland paid for a memorial tower to Sir Hector Macdonald and it stands there today overlooking his birth-place. It is not clear whether this was the memorial at Dingwall or the one at Mulbuie. His memory is immortalised in James Scott Skinner’s famous composition “Hector the Hero”, even today, this tune is part of most scottish traditional musician’s repetoire. Robert Service also penned the poem 'Fighting Mac” in his memory.
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THIS TOWER/ WAS ERECTED/ AS A NATIONAL/ MEMORIAL TO/ MAJOR-GENERAL/ SIR HECTOR ARCHIBALD/ MACDONALD/ KCB DSO ADC/ AD 1907

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