Beneath Craig Dhu, which to the clouds doth rise,
Beside the Spey, a grassy graveyard lies.
The great grey hill its silent watch doth keep
O’er those lying in their last long sleep.
Many men of the pen and of the sword came out of Badenoch, a history of battles fought and lost; great Clan Chiefs and brutal ones and ordinary folk that lived on the lands that once belonged to the Wolf of Badenoch and later the Gordon family. Here lived the Macphersons, the Macintyres and the Clan Chattan. Clearances in the late 18th century saw many Highlanders leave the land between Laggan and Kingussie. Others died at home.
The noble river as it flows along
Low sings a never-ending requiem song.
Some there now lying in unwaking sleep
May oft have scaled thy sides, O mountain steep ;
And on thy banks, O noisy, restless Spey,
Have lingered many a happy summer day.
The Gaelic heritage is still obvious in the place names of the area. Biallidbeg is little Biallid as Biallidmore (Bellamore) is big Biallid. Bialaid means the mouth in Gaelic. The settlement at the mouth (sic!) of Glenbanchor “was once the seat of a family of Macphersons, and was for a long time possessed by Captain Lachlan Macpherson—” Old Biallid “—who died in 1858. Whatever cause Captain Macpherson espoused, he pursued with earnest zeal and indefatigable perseverance. A strong politician, and a staunch adherent of the Conservative cause, his arguments, enforced with native eloquence, seldom failed to convince and convert a wavering politician to his views of the question. With strong opinions and feelings upon particular points and subjects, Captain Macpherson always showed an honest and honourable disposition and spirit. In society he was pleasing and generous; as a magistrate, clear-headed and impartial and as a countryman, liberal and warm-hearted.” (A. Macpherson)
Old Biallid, the Captain of the 52 Regiment died at Biallid at the age of 89 and was interred in the new churchyard in Kingussie, not in the old and private one at Biallidbeg.
Perhaps in this still spot, where they now lie,
They’ve walked or rested ‘neath the sunset sky ;
Upon each moss-grown stone they’ve read the name
Of those, though dear to them, unknown to fame ;
Or mayhap to this place, with falling tear,
They’ve slowly followed some much-loved one’s bier,
And heard the earth upon the coffin fall
Which held their dearest, best-loved friend of all.
The settlement of Biallidbeg was at the mouth of GlenTruim. Little is left but an ancient graveyard, a private burial ground for Macphersons and Macintyres. Two clans that were close.
Thou fair Craig Dhu, and thou, O restless Spey,
Unmoved have seen these people pass away.
Calmly thy watch, O mountain, thou wilt keep
O’er those lying ‘neath thy face so steep.
“It´s worth mentioning that this burial ground, which accommodated Macintyre burials not only from Glen Truim, but from the whole of Badenoch, comprises of graves, almost without exception, from people bearing these two names. … By 1840 the Macintyre population of Laggan had been reduced to a quarter of its pre-1800 level, and three years later there was just one family left in Glen Truim. The last Macintyre to have been laid to rest at St. Patrick´s is Alexander Macintyre, shepherd, from Dalchully, near Laggan, in 1923.” (Electric Scotland)
Slightly forlorn it looks at the foot of Craig Dhu. To this day Craig Dhu is the war cry of the Macphersons.
Still wilt thou sing thy requiem song, O Spey,
On through the ages till the final day,
When those who slumber in this graveyard sweet
Will wake and rise their Judge and Lord to meet.
Unfortunately, Alexander MacPherson does not state the author of the above quoted poem, just the fact that it was composed on the graveyard Biallidbeg.
sources & further reading:
Alexander Macpherson: Glimpses of Church and Social Life in the Highlands in Olden Times. Edinburgh, Blackwood; 1893