Murlagan or Murlaggan, both spellings exist, home of the Chief of the Clan MacMillan, by tradition tacksman to the Cameron of Lochiel, the Clan Cameron Chieftain. A tacksman in the old days managed the estate for its owner. The Gaelic name Murlaggan means “rounded sea inlet” according to Ian Taylor’s Place-Names of Scotland.
There’s not much left of the ancient graveyard, a few stones possibly marker stones in the past, an overgrown stone wall that could have been an enclosure for graves or for sheep, a giant ash tree bearing the sign: And of course, there is the cairn, erected by Canadian descendants of the MacMillans that once live here and emigrated to Canada after the disastrous defeat at Culloden in 1802.
As with so many places in Scotland, the past plays an important role in Murlaggan. The story goes back to the Jacobite Rising. The MacMillans were strong supporters of the cause and Charles Edward Stuart, as were the Camerons. Two MacMillan brothers fought alongside their Chief Archibald Cameron of Lochiel for the prince. One of them died. The other survived and probably played an important role in the legend of the gold.
gold in the graveyard
Legend has it, the surviving MacMillan brother rescued the prince, and his sons hid the chest of French gold in their graveyard under the loose soil of a newly dug grave. Whatever happened to the gold then, nobody knows. It was never found. It had come to Scotland from Fance, financial support for the man that never arrived in time.
Hanovarian forces were hard on the heels of the MacMillans and a skirmish, probably the last fought for the cause, happened in this very spot on Loch Arkaig. Was the gold taken somewhere else? And where? Some sources say near a burn on the south side of Loch Arkaig, some believe to Arisaig, others are convinced it is still buried in Murlaggan.
Where is the Jacobite gold?
Dr. Archibald Cameron of Lochiel, a close ally of Chales Edward Stewart, was executed for treason and hung, drawn and quartered, the last Jacobite supporter to suffer that horrible death in 1753. Apparently, Bonnie Prince Charlie had sent him to recover the gold. But Lochiel was captured and killed. He had looked for the treasure near Stirling. But was it there? Or was it still here in Murlaggan? Wouldn’t a Cameron know it it was?
It seems there are good reasons to mark this place as a graveyard requiring respect. Just in case some treasure hunter might answer the summins of the gold after all these years. This is a place steeped in history. It may not look like much, but it is certainly one of the most fascinating graveyards Scotland has to offer, considering the treasure. Today, it would be worth about 10 million Pounds Sterling.
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The stories of this book have been discovered and gathered for my blog, Graveyards of Scotland, over many years. Find treasure all over Scotland with my latest book. I am Nellie Merthe Erkenbach, journalist and author.
My 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 my 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.