Scorrybreac House on Ben Torvaig

(Taigh Mor Mhic Neacail shuas ud)

The ruins of Scorrybreac House


This is the site of the old house of Scorrybreac on Ben Torvaig, associated with the Nicolsons of Scorrybreac for the whole of their recorded history.  It fell into ruin when the last Chief left the island in about 1825, and was demolished in the 1800s.  At that time, the story is told that workmen found old papers relating to the clan – and burned them to cook their supper!  And so many of the clan’s most important papers have been lost.

In the 1930s, Dr. J.G. Nicholson researched clan history and published his book, The Clan Nicolson, in 1938.  He had a monument raised on the site of the old house, whose walls you can still see. 

J.G. Nicholson, in his book, describes an important tradition in the clan’s history – the visit of Bonnie Prince Charlie:

Scorrybreck figures in the adventures of Prince Charlie, although it was not the house of the Chief but only a byre in which he took shelter.  During his wanderings after Culloden as a fugitive, tracked everywhere by enemies thirsting for the reward offered for his capture, he crossed from Raasay to Skye and landed under the cliffs at Nicolson’s Rock.  From there the wet and weary party struggled up the craggy slopes until they reached what Boswell calls “a cow-house belonging to Mr. Nicolson of Scorbreck.”  Prince Charlie’s Cave, situated to the northwards of where he landed, was for long thought to have been his hiding-place, but it was never tenanted by him.  During all these months of eluding his pursuers his presence was not intimated even to friends, except when necessary, partly to prevent additional risks, and partly to avoid their imprisonment or death if they were afterwards found to have aided or sheltered him.  But an exception was made on this occasion, for the Chief, a trusted adherent of the Jacobite party, either visited him in the byre or provided means of comfort during his concealment there.  The lock of his hair which the Prince cut off for the Scorrybreck ladies, and the glass which he drank from, are two of the few things which were preserved when the family left their old home, and they are still amongst the most treasured relics belonging to the present Chief.