Lochaber has many graveyards to offer, quite a number of them are private burial grounds, belonging to some landlord or other, as is the case with „The Field of the Church“, Dail na Cille. This one and the landlord that once owned it, are particularly interesting.
Kingairloch is a private estate, well kept, with a number of holiday cottages and neat signs pointing the way. The burial ground lies almost at the end of the road, you need to know what you are looking for if you want to find it. This is a very remote part of the Morvern Peninsula.
the field of the church
There is no church left in „The Field of the Church“ but a few old and new graves and former burial enclosures. No wall separates the graves from the field. The sea is only a few yards away.
The Macleans of Kilmalieu and Kingairloch are the oldest family in the area, their names appears on the gravestones, as do the names Blacklock and Buchanan. Their stories will be told in another post.
garvestone inscription superstition
Quite a few of the headstones bear no inscriptions at all. This is not unusual in the Highlands. Few could afford to pay the masons for the expensive task of writing in stone. Furthermore, the Gaels feared a name spelled out might bring misfortune to the family of the same name.
Some gravestones bear just initials. According to Ian Thornber, they all bear the same date: 1764. Thornber assumes death by disease or accident. But it is not just the old gravestones, that are fascinating here. These cairns are well worth a closer look.
the disappearance of Arthur Strutt
Arthur Strutt’s ashes were scattered in this place. A memorial cairn remembers the former English owner of Kingairloch, who „mysteriously disappeared while on holiday at Kingairloch. Despite many intensive searches by the police, the military and the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team and their highly trained search dogs, he was not seen again until his remains were discovered by some foresters five years later in a small plantation less than half a mile from the Kingairloch House.“
What remained of his body leaned against a tree. Why was he never found for five years? Why did he die? How could his body not be found on his own estate? His death remains a mystery.
the killer lady Patricia Strutt
His wife and widow managed the estate till she died in old age in 2001. She was an exceptional lady, an expert huntress who claimed to have killed 2.000 deer. She was appropriately named the “killer lady of Kingairloch” because of her love for shooting with the rifle. Kingairloch House was her hunting lodge.
Why did the “killer lady” never find her missing husband?
She also was an excellent tennis player and went skiing to Davos until she was well in her eighties. Patricia Strutt loved fast cars and life. Maybe that’s why she was not buried here. Her ashes were scattered in the hills.
sources and further reading:
Ian Thornber: Dail Na Cille guide booklet published 2000 by Parchment (Oxford) Ltd.