Long Rob

Rob Duncan, so-called 'long' as he is tall, is the miller at Kinraddie. He is unmarried, a kind and thoughtful neighbour to the Guthries. After being a conscientious objector, he eventually goes to war, where he distinguishes himself, although he is killed. Before leaving, he has a brief love affair with Chris.

His character, one of the most appealing in the novel, is said to have been based on the author's father-in-law.


Rob is impervious to what others think of him, and he does not join in any of the malicious gossip himself. He ignores the 'pro-German' jibes of the villagers, and goes to prison as a conscientious objector, where he holds a hunger strike. He joins up later, as he feels the whole world has gone mad, and performs great feats of bravery.

Brave and self-reliant

At the fire at Peesie's Knapp he is a hero, cool as you like. He continues smoking his pipe as he rescues Kirsty Strachan's prized possessions. However, the fact that animals burn to death makes him physically sick. He is a great animal lover, rears the best boar in the village, and particularly loves horses which he talks of constantly.


A characteristic sound in Kinraddie is Rob singing, his favourite is 'Ladies of Spain'. With Chae, he provides the music for Chris's wedding. He is witty, for example, mocking Mrs Gordon's attempts to speak with an English accent, and often laughs.

Atheist and intellectual

Rob is a reader, and has rejected ministers and kirks.

Sexually restrained

Rob is unmarried, but no gossip has ever attached itself to him. He has a brief affair with Chris when she is left alone after Ewan leaves. In some ways, he might have been her ideal partner, although he is older – a man to love her, not such a boy as the Ewan that had been or the poor demented beast he had become.