Accession Number 2017.11
A bundle of 6 pairs of men’s trousers tied together with twine. They are various sizes and peat stained, from being in the ground for many years. Found on the 1st April 1976 in Strathmore just past a graveyard and waterfall, behind a now ruined circular tower with a triangular shaped stone door lintel. They were donated to Strathnaver Museum on the 5th July that same year.
"Rob Donn attended the wedding of Isabel MacKay and John Sutherland as an uninvited guest where he recited ‘Briogais MhicRuaridh’. The poem poked fun and made accusations about as many of the guests as possible as he puzzled over the whereabouts of some missing trousers.
One possible reason for stealing the trousers he gave was to make pouches for missing Jacobean gold thrown into Lochan Hakel. In March 1746, the French ship Hazard took refuge in the Kyle of Tongue in an effort to evade Royal Navy frigate HMS Sheerness. The crew attempted to take the gold overland but were chased down by the Mackays who were loyal to the government.
In the poem Rob Donn also referred to the Dress Act 1746 which was part of the Act of Proscription which came into force on 1 August 1746. This made the wearing of Highland Dress, such as tartan or the kilt illegal in Scotland. At the time trousers made from local tweed were itchy.
Dr Ian Grimble, one of the founders of the Strathnaver Museum, writes in ‘The World of Rob Donn’, about Donn’s apparent frequent behaviour of removing people’s trousers, both metaphorically and literally."
Joanne says “This is ‘art as artefact’, as the trousers although modern, will have once been worn by men who live in the area. I hope the artwork will inspire people to find out more about Rob Donn, other objects in the Strathnaver Museum and the history of the area.”
ROB DONN MACKAY: FINDING THE MUSIC IN THE SONGS
Ellen L. Beard Degree of Doctor of Philosophy University of Edinburgh 2015