Lochcarron and a bloody feud

Donald MacDonald was the 8th of Glengarry and his reign was turbulent and memorable for many reasons, one was violence.

A feud was raging between his family and the MacKenzies, a feud that had originated over a quarrel about property in Lochcarron. Blood was spilled, cattle was raided, and property destroyed. One of the MacDonalds, Angus Og of Glengarry, for example raided the lands of the Mackenzies numerous times. Murder and revenge dominated the area at the end of the 16th century for over 20 years.

Duncan was one of the Glengarry MacDonalds, he was a stalker and mainly shot deer in the area of Glasletter, the forest belonging to the Mackenzies of Gairloch. On a fine day in the woods, him and another man met two Mackenzies. The Mackenzies suspected them of poaching, both men were armed and had been known to poach before. Tempers flew, anger raged, two men were killed and buried right at the spot so he deed remained unnoticed. But the disappearance of Duncan and the other man obviously didn’t go unnoticed. The two Mackenzies had to face trial but were never proven guilty.

Years later Duncan’s bones were recovered by a friend who had never stoped looking for him. Now the MacDonalds had proof that Duncan had been murdered. The proof had been lying in Glasletter forest and the murder could not remain without unavenged.

Soon the MacDonalds killed one of the murderer’s brothers while ploughing his fields in Glenstrathfarrar. That in turn had to be avenged by Rory Mor, a Mackenzie who owned the land and would not let the MacDonalds get away with murder. He asked Dugall MacKenzie of Applecross for help, the two were friends and came up with a plan. Their target: the MacDonald who at the time was living in Strome Castle in Lochcarron.

So they arranged a meeting in Kishorn between Dugall and the MacDonald, those two were neighbours and had things to discuss. When the MacDonald arrived with his wife and some men in a small boat they went on with business. Once finished, Dugall convinced Glengarry to take the way back by land and send his wife with a few men for protection by boat. And so the MacDonald did, not suspecting that he was about to be ambushed.

Rory Mor and more Mackenzies were waiting for the MacDonalds. They did not take his life but they took the lives of all that were with him. The feud was then still not at an end. Lochcarron would see more violence between the MacDonalds and the Mackenzies in the years to come.

source and further reading: 

Alexander Mackenzie: History of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles. With genealogies of the principal families of the name. Inverness, Mackenzie; 1881

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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. 

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.

3 thoughts on “Lochcarron and a bloody feud

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  1. That’s some feud! Can I say what stunning photos too, makes you want to head out to the really remote sites. Applecross? Is that the one on the EC500 as you head down the West Coast? It seems to be appearing on my radar a lot this week, you may be inspiring a visit!

    1. It is absolutely worth a visit but don’t expect to be the only one there – the lockdown is definitely over. Applecross is an ancient religious site and the road over the Bealach na Bà is the highlight of the NC500. Getting there, you will pass Lochcaron one way or the other.

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