bitten to death

How in an epic fight the chief of Clan Cameron killed a fully armed redcoat without a weapon at hand.
Craigs archway Fort William @nme Nellie Merthe Erkenbach Graveyards of Scotland
The archway to the Craigs, Fort William, originally belonged to the fort.

The amazing archway to Craigs Cemetery goes back to the days of Culloden, to 1746. Then, Fort William was still an active military stronghold. The elegant entrance became part of the cemetery called Craigs in the late 19th century. There’s not much left of the original fort, but traces can be seen throughout town. Life now is very different from what it was then. What looks elegant now was a means of opression and subjugation then.

entry graveyard Fort William @nme Nellie Merthe Erkenbach Graveyards of Scotland

The Garrison built in 1654, was originally called the Fort of Inverlochy, only later Fort William. The Gaelic place name retains the origin as a garrison – An Gearasdan.

remains of old fort at the water front @nme Nellie Merthe Erkenbach Graveyards of Scotland
Fort William with the remains of the old fort

Cromwell’s soldiers and the local forces, the Clan Cameron, obviously had their differences throughout the generations of “peacemaking” in Lochaber. Chief Ewan Cameron fought the battle with all weapons at his disposal and that was surprisingly not just the famous Lochaber axe but also his teeth.

This was the middle of the 17th century. General Monk brought 2.000 soldiers and a considerable workforce to build a garrison that could control the area. Before the Camerons knew what was happening, Monk had trees cut down and palisade brought up. Supplies were “acquired” locally, the soldiers took what they needed. They were not asking. Considering their sheer number and power, they had no reason to fear retaliation. The Lochaber men saw that differently, first and foremost Ewan Cameron. He would teach them fear!

The chief led a few of his men against the mighty opponent. They were outnumbered by far. Also, they fought with bows and arrows against the sophisticated weapons of war, Cromwell’s troops had at their disposal, but they fought with the indomitable spirit of the Highlander.

At some point during the battle, the chief got separated from his men. Alone, he came upon an English officer. Both men drew their sword. A savage and deadly fight ensued. They were equal in strength and determination. At some point, the redcoat managed to gain advantage over Ewan. He sat on the Highlanders breast, the Cameron chief had dropped his weapon and was as good as dead. The Redcoat raised a knife.

Ewan Cameron saw the fatal stab coming and did the only thing left to do for a man without a weapon: He raise his body upwards and before the English officer could end his life, sank his teeth into the other man’s throat and ripped it apart like a predator going for the most vulnerable bit of its prey. He killed him like a wolf would kill a sheep.

The Redcoat was dead. According to legend the Camerons lost only five of their own.

It is highly unlikely, that Cromwell’s officer lies buried here. There are a few very old marker stones and headstones, their writing lost throughout the centuries. What remains is the impressive archway to the old garrison. The graveyard of the Cameron chiefs lies a few miles North of Fort William.

sources and further reading:

exitgraveyard Fort William @nme Nellie Merthe Erkenbach Graveyards of Scotland

Liked the read? Theres more here …

Scotland for Quiet Moments is available on Amazon!

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

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: