Thursday, December 1, 2011

Scotland's Nostradamus: The Brahan Seer

The Brahan Seer, Kenneth Mackenzie (or Coinneach Odhar), is Scotland’s most famous prophet. Often referred to as the Scottish Nostradamus, Mackenzie lived in the 17th Century. Most experts believe that he was born on the Isle of Lewis (at Baile-na-Cille in the Parish of Uig), and that he later worked as a laborer on the Earl of Seaforth’s Brahan estate near Fortrose. Mackenzie is reported to have possessed the “Sight.” He could predict futuristic events. Amazingly, many of those predictions have come true and with a high degree of accuracy.


What were some of the Brahan Seer’s predictions?

The seer predicted the joining of the lochs in the Great Glen. The Caledonia Canal was built in the 19th Century.


He reportedly foretold of The Battle of Culloden in 1745. “Oh, Drumossie, thy bleak moor shall, ere many generations have passed away, be stained with the best blood of the Highlands. Glad am I that I will not see the day, for it will be a fearful period: heads will be lopped off by the score, and no mercy shall be shown or quarter given on either side.”


He spoke of “streams of fire and water” running beneath the streets of Inverness and into every home. In the 19th Century, gas and water pipes fulfilled this prediction.


The Seer told of a time when Scotland would once again have its own Parliament. He foretold of this occurring when men could walk dry shod from England to France. In 1994, the Channel Tunnel opened. A few years later, the first Scottish Parliament since 1707 took its seats.


Mackenzie said, “There is a day coming when the jaw-bone of the big sheep will put the plough into the rafters and no man will drive cattle through Kintail. The sheep will become so numerous that the bleating of one shall be heard by another from Lochalsh to Kintail. You will not see it, but your children’s children will see it when they are forced to flee before the march of the great white army.” During what is known as the “Highland Clearances,” families were driven from the land, and it was given over to grazing sheep.


“A village with four churches will get another spire, and a ship will come from the sky and moor at it.” In 1932, this incident proved correct when an airship was lashed to the spire of a new church after an emergency landing.”


The most impressive of the Seer’s predictions was the elimination of the Seaforth clan. Reportedly, the Countess Seaforth had requested Mackenzie’s “visions” in regards to her husband, who was away in Paris. She ordered Mackenzie on threat of death to tell her what he had seen. Unfortunately, Mackenzie had envisioned the Earl with another woman. He also foretold of the eventual end of the Seaforth line, with the last of the present earl’s ancestors to be deaf and dumb. As predicted, having had a case of scarlet fever as a child, Francis Humberston Mackenzie, the last of the family was deaf and dumb. Francis had inherited the title in 1783. All four of Francis’s male children died prematurely, and the line ended with his death in 1815. For his trouble, the Seer was tried for witchcraft, found guilty, and burned in a tar barrel.


To compound the tale, another part of the prediction for the Seaforth line was that “His possessions shall be inherited by the white-coifed woman from the east, and she will kill her own sister.” When the male line of the Mackenzies died away, Mary, the eldest daughter and widow of Admiral Hood, returned from India, where she had been living. She wore the traditional Indian white mourning hood in honor of her husband. One day, Mary and her sister, Lady Caroline, were riding together in a carriage driven by Mary. The ponies bolted, and Mary could not control the coach. Caroline was thrown from the carriage and died from her injuries.


A stone by the lighthouse at Chanonry Point, near Fortrose, supposedly marks the place where the Brahan Seer died. The inscription reads, “This stone commemorates the legend of Coinneach Odhar, better known as the BRAHAN SEER. Many of his prophecies were fulfilled, and tradition holds that his untimely death by burning in tar followed his final prophecy of the doom of the House of Seaforth.”


No one knows the truth for certain. However, the legend of the Brahan Seer remains. A Celtic stone, known as the Eagle Stone, stands in Strathpeffer, Ross-shire. Reportedly, the Seer predicted that if the stone fell down three times, that Loch Ussie would flood the valley below so that ships could sail to Strathpeffer. The stone has tumbled twice. Today, it sets in concrete to prevent a third fall.

Regina Jeffers is the author of several Jane Austen-inspired works, including Darcy's Passions, Darcy's Temptation, Captain Wentworth's Persuasion, Vampire Darcy's Desire, The Phantom of Pemberley, Christmas at Pemberley, and the upcoming The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy. She also writes Regency era romances: The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, A Touch of Velvet, A Touch of Cashémere, and The First Wives' Club.  Her latest release, Christmas at Pemberley, is in stores now. 


  1. What a fascinating read! The poor man- threatened if he didn't speak his prediction and then killed when he did. Too bad, he couldn't have seen that one coming and was able to play least in sight when the countess came looking. What a spiteful woman!

    Thanks for the posting, Regina!

  2. It amazes me that the predictions can come true with such accuracy.

  3. Thanks to Regina Jeffers, author of several Jane Austen-inspired works, for sharing this article on Scotland's Nostradamus: The Brahan Seer.

  4. Fascinating! But the seer's death would be enough to discourage anyone else with similar talents.


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