the funeral fight

Kirkhill – a peaceful and quiet burial ground East of Beauly. St Mary’s,  the old Wardlaw Parish Church, goes back to 17th century, the belfry dates back to 1722.

Quite some time before that, probably some time in the early 17th  century, an extraordinary event took place here in this very graveyard during a funeral.

The MacPhatricks or Grants who owned various properties in Drumnadrochit and Glenmoriston were at the centre of it all. Or rather their tenants, the MacDougalls.

Also present were tenants of Lady Ogilvy of Urquhart. The two parties never got on well with each other.

On the death of one of the MacDougalls and the subsequent funeral of the deceased in Kirkhill near Beauly, a ferocious fight started. The Big Miller of Wester Milton, Am Muillear Mor, was the most prolific fighter. The mighty miller was one of the victorious men of Lady Olilvy’s.

The MacDougalls did neither forget nor forgive. After the fight they sought out the miller in his home in Wester Milton and killed him. Revenge for the defeat in the funeral fight.

“According’ to tradition, it was in consequence of the feud between the Big Miller and the tenants of Culnakirk that the mill of Easter Milton was built. Easter Milton formed part of the lands of Culnakirk, and the mill is mentioned as early as 1646.” (1)

This again could not go unavenged and retaliation came from Lady Ogilvy’s men. Dugald Mac Euari in Pitkerrald, the leader of the MacDougalls, had to take refuge in the woods to escape their wrath. His wife Mairi on being questioned would not tell the enemy where her husband was hiding. They took her and incarcerated the unfortunate woman. But the conflict was still not at an end.

Her kinsmen demanded she was set free. Lady Ogilvy refused. The MacPatrick took his men and looted enemy property, farm houses and barns and threatened to burn down the houses of all of Lady Ogilvy’s tenants.

That scared them so much that they refused to leave their houses and go after the aggressors of Glenmoriston. Lady Ogilvy was infuriated but there was nothing she could do. In her anger and frustration she left, never to return. On her death her son succeeded as Laird to the Grant estate in Urquhart. (2)


It was here, in the burial ground of Kirkhill, where it all started. Anger, murder and destruction led two parties into turmoil and pain. A funeral fight that set off events even worse.

sources and further reading

(1) William Mackay: Urquhart and Glenmoriston. Olden Times in a Highland Parish. Inverness; The Northern Counties Newspaper and Printing and Publishing Company; 1914

(2) Grant burial ground Drumnadrochit

the headless skeleton of Kirkhill

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