Hill of blood, Dunfallandy       

Most people will travel to Dunfallandy to see the Pictish stone. But a far more bloody tale tells the burial enclosure right next to the ancient marker of the Picts. The graveyard is not signposted for it is the private burial enclosure of the Fergussons of Dunfallandy.

There has been an early chapel on this site, traces of which have long since disappeared.

Canmore: Dunfallandy Fergusson

Most people will travel to Dunfallandy to see the Pictish stone. But a far more bloody tale tells the burial enclosure right next to it. It is not marked or signposted for it is the private burial enclosure of the Fergussons of Dunfallandy.

The history of family of Dunfallandy is as old as it is interesting. The house is now a guest house.

„The chiefship was in the ancient family of Dunfallandy for long designed as ‘of Derculitch’ whose heads appears as ‘Baron Fergusson’ and as the Land of Ferguson in state documents.”


The Fergussons of Dunfallandy are a family touchéd by traditions, and legends, by the rebellious history of Scotland, by poverty and fortunes and not by emotions, love and romance.


Lieutenant-General Archibald Fergusson ‘the General’ (1755 -1834) Baron Fergusson and Chief of his clan, who seems to have epitomised all these aspects, was probably the family’s most colourful character. The general spent 37 years in India excelling himself on military campaigns in the service of the East India Company.


His military carreer is also praised by the editor of he Royal Military Calendar:

Few corps in the Bengal army were more employed on field service, on frontier duty and in command of different posts than the above, during the periods of this officer’s command.

John Philippart: The East India Military Calendar: Containing the Services of General …, volume 1, Kingsbury, London, 1823, page 180

Seven of his eight children came to Dunfallandy, and the chief returned in 1815. On his death in 1834 Archibald Fergusson was interred within the family burial ground.

Dunfallandy, claims the Dunfallandy House website, means ‘Hill or Fort of Fallandy’, the fort by the place of blood.

And this is, where legend enters the scene, The famous “blood stone” of the Fergussons. The ballad “Dunfallandy” tells the tragic story of a wooing gone wrong and a strange and bloody murder in its aftermath.

The rather crude and unattractive Laird of Tummelside wished to win the heart (and quite likely the estate) of the heiress of Dunfallandy.

If he loved the maiden’s self,

Story hath forgot to tell,

But he loved the maiden’s pelf,

Lands and rental, passing well.

The Laird refrained from speaking for himself and spoke to a young and attractive neighbour called Donald instead. The Laird wanted Donald to do the wooing of Murial in his stead since the said Donald was not only far better looking but also more eloquent. Young Donald obliged but got carried away during the process of wooing and completely forgot he was not acting for himself but on behalf of another man. Donald married the pretty heiress. The Laird of Tummelside was rageing and certainly in no mood to forget. He waited for his revenge, hidden and deadly.

Night and day he watched the mound ..

Crouching by a huge grey stone…

When the bridegroom appeared at last, he killed him. And before the body of her bridegroom was cold, Muriel married his murderer. Quite possibly not altogether out of her own free will.

A race of gentler breath holds the Lairdship of the mound now the ballad claims.

Naught remnaineth but the name,

Spectre-like that clings to thee,

Handing down thy gory fame,

Hill of blood, Dunfallandy.

Extracts of the Ballad “Dunfallandy” are taken from A Book of Highland Minstrelsy by Eliza Ann Harris Dick Ogilvy,  G.W. Nickisson, 1. Januar 1846, page 27




Liked the read? There’s more here...

Scotland is a country full of history, stories and secrets. Often, the three cannot be separated. That is what makes this country so wonderful and unique. The stories of this book have been discovered and gathered for Erkenbach’s blog, Graveyards of Scotland, over many years. 

Scotland for Quiet Moments is available as ebook and paperback on Amazon.

Her main sources were historical travel guides from the 18th and 19th centuries, where the finds were scary, beautiful, funny, and sometimes, cruel.This unusual approach to a country’s history has produced amazing results. You don’t have to share the author’s passion for cemeteries to enjoy this book; only a small number of the stories in this collection take place in graveyards, though they do all end in them, so perhaps it helps.

The fairy hill in Inverness, a nitrate murder on Shetland, a family of left-handers, wolves, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace shown in a new light, the secret bay of the writer Gavin Maxwell, a murdering poet and so many things you didn’t know about Scotland, its clans and its history.

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