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Title: Gairloch In North-West Ross-Shire - Its Records, Traditions, Inhabitants, and Natural History - With A Guide to Gairloch and Loch Maree And a Map and - Illustrations
Author: Scot, F.S.A., Dixon, John H.
Language: English
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    WITH A



    By JOHN H. DIXON, F.S.A. Scot.




    [_Entered at Stationers' Hall._]







    Is Dedicated





The preparation of the following account of Gairloch has been prompted
by regard--almost affection--for this beautiful and interesting Highland
parish. It is published in the hope that it may not only assist the
tourist, but also be found to constitute a volume worthy of a nook in
the great library of local history. Here and there some few general
remarks on the subjects dealt with have necessarily been introduced by
way of explanation or illustration, but in the main this book relates
solely to Gairloch. I have tried to make short chapters, and to dispense
with footnotes.

Without much assistance the work could not have been satisfactorily
completed. The necessary help has been given with the greatest freedom
and kindness. Sir Kenneth S. Mackenzie, Bart. of Gairloch, has himself
furnished much valuable and accurate information, and Lady Mackenzie of
Gairloch has kindly assisted. From Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie of Inverewe,
youngest son of the late Sir Francis Mackenzie, Bart. of Gairloch, I
have received a large amount of personal aid. Much of the information
about the Mackenzies has been culled from the works of Mr Alexander
Mackenzie (a native of Gairloch) with his consent. He is the able author
of a copious history of the Mackenzies and other important books, and
the editor of the _Celtic Magazine_, from which last the memoir of John
Mackenzie of the "Beauties" and several of the traditions have been
mainly taken. From the MS. "Odd and End Stories" of Dr Mackenzie,
Eileanach, only surviving son of Sir Hector Mackenzie, Bart., eleventh
laird of Gairloch, numerous quotations will be found. These extracts are
published with the consent of Dr Mackenzie, as well as of Mr O. H.
Mackenzie to whom he has given his MS. volumes. With one exception,
wherever Dr Mackenzie is quoted the extract is taken from his "Odd and
End Stories." The Dowager Lady Mackenzie of Gairloch has been so good as
to prepare a short statement, from which extracts are made. Dr Arthur
Mitchell, C.B., Senior Commissioner in Lunacy for Scotland, has
permitted the use of his paper on the Isle Maree superstitions. Mr Jolly
has contributed three valuable chapters, and the Rev. J. M'Murtrie and
Professor W. Ivison Macadam have each given a chapter. To Mr William
Mackay of Craigmonie, Inverness, I am indebted for full notes on
ecclesiastical matters, and for extracts from the old records of the
Presbytery of Dingwall. The Rev. Alexander Matheson, minister of
Glenshiel, has supplied extracts from the records of the Presbytery of
Lochcarron. I have to thank Messrs Maclachlan & Stewart, of Edinburgh,
who in 1882 brought out a sumptuous edition of the "Beauties of Gaelic
Poetry," by the late John Mackenzie, a Gairloch man, for permission to
use the accounts of John Mackay (the blind piper), William Ross, William
Mackenzie, and Malcolm Maclean, contained in the "Beauties." James
Mackenzie, of Kirkton (brother of John Mackenzie of the "Beauties"), has
furnished a large chapter of Gairloch stories, besides a number of
facts, traditions, and anecdotes; wherever the name of James Mackenzie
occurs in these pages, it is this worthy Highlander who is referred to.
Other Gairloch traditions, stories, and information have been furnished
by Kenneth Fraser, Leac nan Saighead (through the medium of the _Celtic
Magazine_); Alexander Maclennan, Mossbank; Roderick Mackenzie (Ruaridh
an Torra), Lonmor; George and Kenneth Maclennan, Tollie Croft; John
Maclean (Iain Buidhe Taillear), Strath; Simon Chisholm, Flowerdale;
Roderick Campbell, Tollie; Donald Ross, Kenlochewe; Alexander Mackenzie
(Ali' Iain Ghlass), piper, Poolewe; George Maclennan, Londubh; and
Alexander Maclennan (Alie Uistean), Inveran, who especially has given me
considerable assistance. The legend of Ewan Mac Gabhar is mainly in the
form given in the works of James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, supported
to some extent by several of the old people now living in Gairloch. That
enthusiastic friend of the Highlander, Professor Blackie, has kindly
contributed two English versions of Gaelic songs; and Mr William
Clements Good, of Aberdeen, has given similar aid. Professor W. Ivison
Macadam has communicated the results of his analyses of ores and slags,
and has assisted in examining the remains of the old ironworks. Mr D.
William Kemp, of Trinity, Edinburgh, has generously done a very great
deal to unravel the history of the ironworks, and in other ways.
Lieutenant Lamont, of Achtercairn, has procured the traditions given on
the authority of Ruaridh an Torra. Mr Mackintosh, postmaster, Poolewe,
has supplied some anecdotes and facts. The Glossary has been prepared
with the aid of Mr O. H. Mackenzie; the Rev. Ronald Dingwall, Free
Church minister, Aultbea; Mr Alexander Cameron, the Tournaig bard; and
Mr Alexander Maclennan, Inveran. The names of some others who have
rendered valuable help are stated where their information is utilised.
To all these ungrudging helpers, and to many others not mentioned by
name, I beg to offer my sincere thanks.

To render the natural history of Gairloch complete, lists are still
needed of the insects, sea-anemones, grasses, mosses, lichens, fungi,
sea-weeds, and fresh-water weeds. Any information on these and other
branches of natural history will be heartily welcomed, with a view to
insertion in a possible future edition.

The process of zincography, by which nearly all the illustrations have
been reproduced, has not in many cases realised my expectations, but it
has been thought best to issue the book at once rather than wait until
the illustrations could be rendered in a superior manner.

The profits, if any, from the sale of this book will be applied in aid
of the Poolewe Public Hall.


Inveran, Gairloch, _1st September 1886_.



    Flowerdale House, West Coast Residence of
    the Baronets of Gairloch                              _Frontispiece_

    Loch Maree, from Inveran                                           9

    Crosses on the Graves of the Prince and Princess on Isle Maree    10

    At Ardlair                                                        15

    On Craig Tollie                                                   22

    Island or Crannog on Loch Tollie                                  25

    Gairloch, from Strath                                             35

    Glen Grudidh, from Loch Maree                                     42

    Beinn Lair, from Fionn Loch                                       54

    Chapel of Sand of Udrigil                                         70

    Sir George Hay, of Megginish, Knight, the Ironfounder of Loch
    Maree                                                    _Facing_ 75

    The Minister's Stone, Ardlair                                     81

    Sir George Hay, First Earl of Kinnoull, High Chancellor of
    Scotland, the Ironfounder of Loch Maree                  _Facing_ 82

    On the Ewe                                                        96

    A Mutch                                                          130

    Cabar Lar, or Turf Parer                                         131

    Tor-sgian, or Peat Knife                                         133

    Cliabh Moine, or Peat Creel                                      134

    Highland Hand-Plough called Cas-Chrom, or "crooked foot"         135

    A Gairloch Man                                                   216

    Umbrella Fir, Glas Leitire                                       305

    Above Grudidh Bridge                                             306

    Leth Chreag, Tollie                                              314

    Dunan, on Loch Tournaig                                          319

    Near Grudidh                                                     322

    Slioch, from Rudha Aird an Anail                                 326

    Natural Arch, Cove                                               334

    Curious Rocks, Sand of Udrigil                                   338

    Loch Maree, from Ardlair                                         340

    Clach a Mhail, Ardlair                                           342

    Uamh a Mhail, Ardlair                                            343


    _From Drawings by Finlay Mackinnon. The numbers correspond with
    those given on pp. 103, 104._


     1. Bronze Ring, found at Londubh                                103

     2. Hollow Bronze Ring, found at Londubh                         104

     3. Bronze Spear Head, found, along with a Stag's Horn, near
        Inverewe House                                               104

     4. Bronze Spear Head, found at Londubh                          110

     5. Bronze Celt, found at Slatadale                              110

     6. Stone Celt, found at Cove                                    113

     7. Bronze Spear, found at Croft                                 117

     8. Bronze Celt, found at Londubh                                121

     9. Stone Implement, found in Peat-Cutting between Inveran and
        Kernsary                                                     124

    10. Quern or Trough, found in a Broch or Pictish Round House at
        Tournaig                                                     142

    11. Fragment of Trough, found in a Broch or Pictish Round House
        at Tournaig                                                  146

    12. Bronze Penannular Ring, found at Londubh                     150

    13. Cast Iron Appliance, probably part of Machinery, from the
        Fasagh Ironworks                                             158

    14. Tuyere, from the Fasagh Ironworks                            163

      NOTES.--The portraits of Sir George Hay, the Ironfounder of
      Loch Maree, are lithographed reproductions from photographs
      of pictures in Dupplin Castle, taken by permission of the
      present Earl of Kinnoull.

      All the illustrations are original, except No. 12 of the
      Antiquities, which is reduced from that in Mr Jolly's paper
      on "Bronze Weapons and other Remains found near Poolewe."

      The sketches for the illustrations of Flowerdale House and
      the Natural Arch at Cove are after photographs by Mr Fraser
      of Reilig. In no case have published photographs been used
      in the preparation of illustrations.

        Map                                                 _At the end_


    LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS                                             xi

    GLOSSARY OF GAELIC NAMES AND WORDS                             xxvii


      Extent of Gairloch parish--Name--Curious muddle about "the
      Gairloch"--Name used in four senses--Attractions of
      Gairloch--Loch Maree--Superficial observation of
      tourists--A party declare they have "seen Loch
      Maree"--Inducements to longer visits--Credibility of old
      traditions--Gaelic names--Pronunciation--Interference with
      sportsmen and deer forests deprecated--Mountain
      ascents--Drawbacks to them--Shorter climbs
      recommended--Mania for exterminating plants--Instances       xliii



      Absence of ancient records--Giants in those days--Fingalian
      legends--Condition of Pictish aborigines--Their houses and
      implements--Druids--Roman invasion--Pictish
      monarchy--Introduction of Christianity--St
      Maelrubha--Hermits of Isle Maree--Norse vikings--Norwegians
      and Danes--End of Norwegian rule in 1263--The earls of
      Ross--Donald of the Isles--The Mackenzies                        3


      Scene laid in Isle Maree--The hermit saint--Prince Olaf--His
      fiery temper--Falls in love--Brings his bride to Isle
      Maree--Is compelled to leave her on an expedition--The white
      and black flags--Return of the prince--Jealousy of the
      princess--Her scheme to test Olaf's affection--His madness
      on seeing the black flag--Thinking her dead he kills
      himself--The princess stabs herself and dies--Their graves
      on Isle Maree                                                    7


      Two origins of the family of Mackenzie--The Cabar
      Feidh--Angus Mac Mhathain--Kenneth, first lord of
      Kintail--John, second lord, shelters Robert Bruce--Kenneth
      of the Nose--Kenlochewe ravaged--Leod Mac
      Gilleandreis--Black Murdo of the Cave--Joined by Gille
      Riabhach--Comes to Kenlochewe--Slays Leod Mac Gilleandreis
      and his followers--Ath nan Ceann--Fe Leoid--Black Murdo of
      the Cave recovers Kintail--Murdo of the Bridge, fifth lord
      of Kintail--Alexander the Upright, father of Hector Roy,
      first laird of Gairloch--Skirmish of Beallach nam
      Brog--Residences of lords of Kintail                            11


      Ardlair--The cave of the king's son--Old Oighrig and her son
      Kenneth--The goat Earba nourishes Ewan in the cave--Flora and
      Ewan come to Letterewe--Ewan's sword and mantle of
      state--The lord of Kintail comes to hunt--Flora and Ewan
      suspected--Kenneth and Flora carried off to
      Eileandonain--Oighrig and Ewan conveyed to Colin Mor
      Gillespie--Colin Mor brings up Ewan--Great war against the
      queen widow of Olamh Mor--Ewan gets a command--His slender
      page--Mull plundered--The invaders surprised at night and
      captured--The queen condemns the chiefs to death--Ewan led
      forth to die--The execution arrested--Ewan identified and
      proclaimed king--Prophecy fulfilled                             14


      The Macraes settle in Kintail--Become Mackenzie's "shirt of
      mail"--The sons of Fortune--Assist in conquest of
      Gairloch--List of Macraes who fought for Gairloch--Effigy
      of Donald Odhair--Macraes renowned archers--Compared with
      Turkish archers--The Macraes bore the dead bodies of their
      chiefs to burial--The last occasion of this--Curious
      statement                                                       19


      MacBeaths from Assynt--Some still in Gairloch--Had several
      strongholds--Lochan nan Airm--Kintail men come to Loch
      Tollie--Shoot MacBeath's servant on the island--MacBeath
      flies--Is struck by an arrow--Kintail men stay a night on
      the island--Come through Gairloch--Report to their chief        21


      The Siol Torquil--Claim to Gairloch--Legal title commenced
      1430--MacBeaths expelled--The Tigh Dige--Strongholds of the
      M'Leods--Eilean Ruaridh--Allan M'Leod, laird of
      Gairloch--Murdered by his brothers at the "Hill of evil
      counsel"--They also murder his two boys--The widow takes
      their bloody shirts to her father--Hector Roy takes the
      shirts to the king--Who gives Hector commission of fire and
      sword against the M'Leods--The M'Leods confined to one-third
      of Gairloch                                                     24


      Macdonalds, clansmen of Donald of the Isles--Probably some
      settled in Gairloch--Still in Gairloch and Alligin--Mac
      Gille Riabhaich--His cave--Story of his oak cudgel--The
      soubriquet Darach--His descendant, Darroch of
      Torridon--Donald Dubh Mac Gillechriosd Mhic Gille Riabhaich
      --Threatens Hector Roy--Slays Buchanan after Flodden Field      27


      Vision of the great chief and his bodyguard--His appearance
      and valour--Obtains charter to Gairloch--Slays three
      M'Leods at "the Gairloch"--The battle of Park--Hector Roy
      and Big Duncan of the Axe--Hector Roy at Sauchieburn--He
      claims Kintail--Battle of Drum a Chait--Big Duncan again
      assists--Hector Roy outlawed--Assists Mac Cailean--Kneels
      before the king--Grasps his hand--Is pardoned--Abandons his
      claim to Kintail--Fight with M'Leods at Beallach
      Glasleathaid--Big Duncan and his son Dugal--Hector Roy
      conquers part of Gairloch--Battle of Flodden--Clan Eachainn     29


      John Glassich brought up in Strathglass--Claims
      Kintail--Refuses to join the royal standard--Apprehended by
      Kenneth of Kintail--Iain Gearr's pluck--Death of John
      Glassich--Donald Gorme invades Kenlochewe--Hector and
      Alexander, sons of John Glassich, both slain                    36


      John Roy resembled his grandfather Hector--His youth--Visits
      his mother, wife of Mackay--Goes with a bodyguard to Iain
      Liath at Glas Leitire--Lord Kintail abandons his hunt on the
      Glas Leitire hills--John Roy and Iain Liath go to
      Gairloch--Iain Dubh Mac Ruaridh M'Leod abandons the Gairloch
      dun--Struggles with the M'Leods--John Roy's family--His
      bodyguard composed of his twelve sons--Dealings with the
      tithes of Gairloch--The Talladale ironworks--John Roy's
      residence--Visits Mackay--Mackay's piper becomes John Roy's
      piper--Lord Mackenzie summons John Roy to Torridon--He stays
      the night with his lordship--Proposed assassination
      deferred--John Roy's sons arrive and take him away--Allies
      of Glengarry Macdonalds make an incursion to
      Kenlochewe--Lord Mackenzie visits John Roy--John Roy granted
      a remission by the crown                                        38


      Murchadh Riabhach na Cuirce--Slays Mac Iain Dhuibh
      M'Leod--Ruaridh Mac Allan M'Leod assassinates Iain Mac
      Ghille Challum M'Leod and his sons by Janet Mackenzie--John
      Roy revenges the murder--Expels the M'Leods from
      Gairloch--The Cnoc a Chrochadair--The affair at Leac nan
      Saighead--Mor Ban persuades the M'Leods to invade
      Gairloch--They come to Fraoch Eilean--Donald Odhar and his
      brother shoot them from Leac nan Saighead--Only two M'Leods
      escape in the birlinn--Donald Odhar's long shot from Craig a
      Chait--Young M'Leod of Assynt asks John Roy's daughter for
      his wife--Is refused--Fionnla Dubh na Saighead insults
      him--The M'Leods return to take vengeance on Finlay--He and
      Chisholm shoot many of them--Finlay pursues Neil M'Leod to
      the Bac an Leth-choin and shoots him at the Druim Carn
      Neill--Fight at Lochan an Fheidh--Affair at Raasay--Murdo
      Mackenzie in his ship driven into Kirkton--Young M'Leod of
      Raasay and his companions visit him--All the party get drunk
      except four Gairloch men--A fight ensues--Murdo drowned--All
      on board slain except three of the abstainers--They escape      43


      Alastair Breac, a renowned warrior--Raids of cattle
      lifters--Iain Geal Donn proposes a raid on
      Gairloch--Alastair Buidhe Mackay intercepts him at
      Scardroy--Slays him and all his men except one--Alastair
      Breac sends the news to Lord Mackenzie--Cameron of Lochiel
      plans a raid on Gairloch in revenge--Alastair Breac sends
      eighty men to oppose him, but he has retired--Song composed
      to the Guard of the Black Corrie--Colla Ban--In default of
      blackmail threatens raid on Gairloch--His spies are
      frightened by four Gairloch men at Luibmhor--Kenneth, sixth
      laird of Gairloch, fined as a "malignant"--Alexander,
      seventh laird of Gairloch                                       49


      Sir Kenneth, eighth laird of Gairloch--M.P. for
      Ross-shire--Sir Alexander, ninth laird of Gairloch--Builds
      Flowerdale--The "Forty-five"--Murder of the Gille Buidhe,
      valet to Prince Charlie--Duncan Macrae conveys a keg of gold
      for Prince Charlie's use--The "sian"--English man-of-war
      fires at Flowerdale--Sir Alexander, tenth laird of
      Gairloch--Builds Conan House--His son called "Fighting
      Jack," the father of the British army--Sir Hector
      Mackenzie--Lives at home--Lord-Lieutenant of Ross-shire--His
      beloved lady--Sir Francis Mackenzie--Publishes his "Hints"
      in 1838--Sir Kenneth, present baronet--Mackenzies of
      Letterewe--Mackenzies of Lochend--Mackenzies of
      Gruinard--Large family--Mackenzies of Kernsary--Summary of
      Mackenzie History--Crest, Badge, Slogan, and Pipe tunes         53


      Kenlochewe--Gairloch--Description in protocol of
      1494--Description in retour of 1566--Description in
      1638--Names in Dutch map of 1662--Second half of the water
      of Ewe bought in 1671--Strip on north of River Ewe acquired
      in 1844--Letterewe originally Kintail property--Acquired by
      Charles Mackenzie in 1696--Sold to Mr Bankes in
      1835--Northern parts of Gairloch belonging to Gruinard
      Mackenzies before 1655--Sold to Davidson of Tulloch in
      1795--Afterwards acquired by Mr Bankes--Mr O. H. Mackenzie's
      estate of Inverewe                                              60


      First church in Gairloch--Other early ecclesiastical
      buildings--Rector of Gairloch at date of
      Reformation--Presbyterianism--Tulchan bishops--Changes from
      Episcopalianism to Presbyterianism--Rev. Alexander
      Mackenzie--Rev. Farquhar Macrae--Rev. Roderick
      Mackenzie--Rev. Kenneth Mackenzie of Kernsary--Rev. John
      Morrison--Persecuted by Episcopalians--Anecdotes--His
      turf-built church in Tollie Bay--Christmas story--Rev. James
      Smith--First school in Gairloch--Anecdote of Rev. Mr
      Sage--Rev. Æneas McAulay--Rev. John Dounie--Rev. James
      Russell--His imperfect Gaelic--Poolewe made a separate
      parish--The Disruption--Presbyteries of Dingwall,
      Kenlochewe, Chanonry, Gairloch, and Loch Carron--Churches in
      Gairloch--Manse and glebe at Achdistall, Cliff and
      Strath--Free churches and their ministers                       63


      Two classes of remains of ironworks--Rev. Donald M'Nicol's
      statement--Coin found near old Yorkshire ironworks--Iron
      implements used by ancient inhabitants--Disappearance of
      them accounted for--Other ancient remains in
      Sutherlandshire, Ross-shire, and Inverness-shire--Bog iron
      was the ore used of old in Gairloch--Processes of the
      ancient ironworkers--Wasteful richness of their slags
      accounted for--Charcoal was their fuel--The ancient forests
      of timber--Their disappearance--Water power anciently
      employed for working hammers                                    72


      The present series of Scottish ironworks commenced on Loch
      Maree--The licence to Archibald Primrose for making iron
      ratified in 1612--Spread of the iron industry in the
      eighteenth century--Iron furnaces in Glengarry--Abernethy
      furnaces of the York Buildings Company--The Bonawe
      furnace--The Argyle Furnace Company--The Lorn Company--The
      Carron ironworks--The Wilsonton works--Furnace at
      Goatfield--Pennant's notice of the furnace near Poolewe--The
      Fife Adventurers and the Lews--The Rev. Farquhar Macrae,
      vicar of Gairloch--The Letterewe furnace established in 1607
      by Sir George Hay--Previous history of Sir George--His
      residence at Letterewe--His ironworks--The timber
      consumed--The goods produced--The improvements he
      effected--Act prohibiting the making of iron with
      wood--Monopoly of iron manufacture granted to Sir
      George--Ratified by Parliament--Proclamation restraining the
      export of iron ore--Licence to Sir George to sell iron in
      royal burghs--Sir George's probable acquaintance with John
      Roy Mackenzie, laird of Gairloch--Sir George's friendship
      with the Rev. Farquhar Macrae--The minister's stone--Sir
      George leaves Letterewe--His distinguished
      after-career--Created first Earl of Kinnoull--Continuance of
      the ironworks--Tombstone of John Hay--His probable
      relationship to Sir George--Discontinuance of the
      ironworks--The artisans employed--Whence they came--The
      Kemps--The Cladh nan Sasunnach--Condition of the ironworkers
      in the then state of the Highlands--The Big Englishman          75


      References to local iron ore--Local bog iron used at ancient
      bloomeries--Ferruginous rocks and shales--Traditional
      quarries--Richness of bog iron--Places where it is still
      found in Gairloch--Bog iron originally used by Sir George
      Hay--He afterwards imported red hematite and clayband
      ironstone--Mr Marr's description of these ores--They were
      landed at Poolewe--Remains of them there--Mr Macadam's
      analyses--Mixture with local ore--Classification of the ores    86


      Mr Macadam's description of two classes of slag--List of six
      localities of ironworks--Glen
      Dochartie--Fasagh--Analyses--Lochan Cul na
      Cathrach--Furnace, Letterewe--Talladale--Garavaig, on
      Slatadale farm--Red Smiddy, near Poolewe--Iron articles
      found--The borings at Cuil an Scardain--Chronological order
      of the ironworks--Other supposed furnaces--Notices of
      ironworks or mines in old Dutch map, and in "Present State
      of Great Britain and Ireland"--Conclusion                       90


      Want of interesting remains of ancient buildings--Supposed
      Druidical remains in Tollie wood--Druidical enclosure on
      Isle Maree--The Island of Justice--Pictish round
      houses--Vitrified fort--Ancient duns, strongholds, or
      crannogs--Remains of churches--Gairloch church--Culinellan
      church--Turf-built church in Tollie Bay--Church at Tollie
      Croft, or Cruive End--Chapel of Inverewe--Chapel of Sand of
      Udrigil--Old burial-grounds--Remains of other old
      buildings--Remains on Isle Maree--On Eilean Ruaridh Beag--On
      Eilean Suainne--The Tigh Dige--The Sabhal-Geal--The Temple
      house--Old houses--Ancient weapons and implements--The Feill
      Iudha--Caves                                                    97



      Highlanders different to Scotch--Gairloch people originally
      Celtic--Admixture of blood--Mackenzies
      predominant--Surnames little used--Mode of constructing
      Gaelic names--Examples--Bynames--Curious names of girls        109


      Gairloch a bone of contention--Broadsword and targe--Bows
      and arrows--Battle-axe--Dirk--Guns--Clan fights no
      more--Seaforth Highlanders--A Gairloch company--The
      press-gang--Donald M'Lean returns "from hell"--Volunteer
      corps--Story of Finlay Fraser and his guns                     112


      Improvement after the "Forty-five"--Increase of
      schools--Report on educational position of the people by
      Rev. James Russell--Education under the School
      Boards--Relief of the poor--Beggars almost
      unknown--Tramps--Tinkers--Old man seeking America--Her
      Majesty's note about him--Old marriage customs--Funeral
      customs--Whisky at funerals--Heaps of stones at
      halting-places--New Year's day, old style--Administration of
      justice at the Island of Justice--Mode of procedure--The
      Cnoc a Chroich, or Gallows Hill--Some old Gairloch men
      acquainted with folk-lore                                      114


      No records of Episcopal times--Sunday services--Baptism--The
      Lord's supper dispensed in the Leabaidh na Ba Bàine--Dr
      Mackenzie's account of churchgoing and the
      communions--Johnnie at church for the first time--Five days'
      services--Large crowd; few communicants--Preparation for
      Gairloch communion--The scene in the Leabaidh--Aunt
      Sally--Characteristics of Free Church services and religion    117


      Criticism invidious--Gairloch people have a good
      character--Fidelity, courtesy, and hospitality--Sir G. S.
      Mackenzie's opinion--Sir Francis Mackenzie's tribute to his
      Gairloch people--Attachment to home--Caution and keenness
      in money matters--Anecdote--Captain Burt's charge of want of
      cleanliness not generally applicable
      now--Morality--Indolence--Always behind time--Clinging to
      old ways--Old Highland _esprit_ dying out--Annual
      competition recommended                                        121


      Gaelic called Irish--Gairloch dialect--Not dying
      out--Knowledge of English increasing--Old people still
      unable to speak English--Gaelic phrases in English--Gaelic
      literature in Gairloch--Should Gaelic be
      discouraged?--Ancient dress in Gairloch--Belted plaid or
      truis--Separate form of the kilt--Antiquity of the
      kilt--Highland dress proscribed--Subterfuges--Discouraged
      homespun fabrics--Kilt common in Gairloch in early part of
      nineteenth century--Sir Francis Mackenzie on the kilt--Now
      fallen into disuse--Present dress of men--Gairloch
      hose--Dress of women--The mutch--Maiden's headdress--Dr
      Mackenzie on maiden's hair and on mutches                      125


      Sources of livelihood--Industry of women--Dwellings--Byres
      adjoining--No chimneys--Gradual improvement--Gardens
      rare--Fevers and consumption--Food--Absence of
      pigs--Whisky--Illicit distillation--Fuel--Torasgian--Cabar
      lar--Peat creel--Carts--Sledges before roads were made         132


      Little agriculture in ancient days--Black cattle--Blood
      taken from living cattle--The bowmen--Hill shielings
      miserable places--Introduction of sheep farming--Sheep
      farms forested--Sheep deteriorate pasture--Ancient breed of
      sheep--Present farms--Run-rig--Crofts established in
      Gairloch--Crofters' crops--The cas-chrom--Sir G. S.
      Mackenzie on imperfect agriculture--On indolence--The
      Highland husbandman--His negligence--Sir Francis Mackenzie
      on imperfect cultivation--On manures--On the cas-chrom--On
      lack of industry--On absence of gardens--Introduction of the
      potato                                                         136


      Gairloch fishermen and fish--Herring fisheries--Lobsters and
      crabs--Oysters--Gairloch cod fishery--Under Sir Alexander
      Mackenzie, 1721 to 1766--In 1792--Sir G. S. Mackenzie's
      account of it under Sir Hector--Lines and hooks formerly
      home-made--First foreign hooks in 1823--Cod fishery in 1884
      and 1885--Salmon fishery--Bag-nets--Diminution in stock of
      salmon                                                         143


      Post-runners to Gairloch--Dr Mackenzie's account--Donald
      Charles--Roderick M'Lennan--William Cross--M'Leay--Iain Mor
      am Post--General Wade's road--Bridges in Gairloch--Road from
      Gairloch to Poolewe--The Dowager Lady Mackenzie's account of
      road-making--Destitution Committee contribute to
      road-making--Road to Fionn loch                                147


      Isle Maree conspicuous--The wishing-tree--Her Majesty's
      offering--St Maelrubha permitted sacrifices of
      bulls--Continued to 1678--Latterly associated with cure of
      insanity--Treatment of lunatics--Still continued--Dr
      Mitchell's description--Circular enclosure supposed to be
      Druidical--Graves of the prince and princess--The
      well--Description of the wishing-tree--Trees of Isle
      Maree--Probability of the legend of Isle Maree--Name of
      island derived from St Maelrubha--St Maelrubha worshipped      150


      Druidical sacrifices engrafted on Christianity--Resort to
      Isle Maree for cure of lunacy probably ancient--Parallel
      superstitions--Bull sacrifice at Kirkcudbright--Sacrifices
      of bulls not confined to the saint's day--Descriptions of
      proceedings for cure of lunatics--MacCulloch's
      description--No form of words--Recent cases--St Maelrubha
      and St Ruffus identical--Mad dog dipped in the well--Sad
      consequences--Quotations as to Pagan practices engrafted on
      Christianity                                                   153


      Highlanders' surroundings suggest superstition--Gradual
      diminution of it--Older superstitions--Loch Maree water
      cure--The Fox Point--Coins found--The Cathair mor and
      Sitheanan Dubha--Gairloch fairy tale--The Shiant Isles'
      fairy--Eilean Suainne--Fairies seen on Isle Ewe in
      1883--Lights and music of fairies noticed at Mellon
      Charles--William M'Lean gets a bagpipe chanter from the
      fairies--The Gille Dubh of Loch a Druing--Superstitious
      fancies--The Loch of the Beast--Evidence of the appearance
      of the beast--Proceedings for its suppression--Rorie and the
      mermaid                                                        158


      Rudha Chailleach--Witchcraft and magic still believed
      in--Jessie the cripple, a witch--Depriving milk of its
      fruit--Kenlochewe case in presbytery records--Kenneth
      Mackenzie, the maighstair sgoil, punishes the witch at
      Strath--His cows recover--Recent cases--The
      sian--Description of it--Duncan M'Rae--His song--Entrusted
      with a keg of gold for Prince Charlie--Hides the keg in the
      Fedan Mor--Renders it invisible by the sian--The wife of the
      Cibear Mor sees the keg--The cave at Meallan a Ghamhna--The
      cave and weapons concealed by the sian--Seen by several
      women recently--Another similar case on Loch Maree--Alastair
      Mor an t' Sealgair--Runs the blockade by means of the
      sian--His variations of the sian--Other examples of
      Alastair's and his father's powers--The wind made favourable
      by magic                                                       163


      Distinction between visions and second-sight--Old Alastair's
      vision of Hector Roy and his bodyguard--A young man sees a
      ghost--Two men see a woman in a house--Spectre seen before a
      shoot--Two kinds of second-sight--Jessie the cripple--Ducked
      as a witch--Her vision of a shepherd, his dog and sheep,
      fulfilled--The smith's son sees a crowd on Poolewe
      bridge--His vision fulfilled--The great storm on Loch
      Ewe--Great sight at Mellon Udrigil--Fleet of ships and boats
      filled with red coats--Visions of soldiers in red uniforms
      near Inveran--These visions compared with similar sights
      elsewhere                                                      169


      Ancient bards an illustrious class--Ossian's poems--Office
      of bard or seannachie--Bards of recent
      date--Ceilidh--Antiquity of bagpipes--Office of piper in old
      days--In the present day--Love of pipe music in
      Gairloch--Some old Gairloch bards--Ruaridh Breac--The
      English bard--Duncan M'Rae--Roderick Campbell, piper and
      fiddler--The Piobaire Ban--List of living Gairloch pipers      173


      The Mackays--Rorie Mackay, piper to John Roy
      Mackenzie--Alastair Breac, and his son and grandson--His
      brother Donald--John Mackay, the blind piper--Taught by the
      M'Crimmons--Piper to the two first baronets of Gairloch--His
      compositions--Anecdotes of his life with the M'Crimmons--His
      songs and poems--Angus Mackay--Piper to Sir Alexander, third
      baronet--Moladh Mairi--John Mackay, piper to Sir
      Hector--Emigrates to America--A splendid piper--His
      offspring                                                      177


      William Mackenzie a catechist--His song to Balone's
      sister--His song lampooning a wedding party--His consequent
      dismissal--Malcolm Maclean a notorious bacchanalian--His
      beautiful daughter--His wife's resignation illustrated by an
      anecdote--Translation by Professor Blackie of his song to
      his daughter                                                   180


      William Ross, a grandson of the "Blind piper"--His
      youth--His travels--Appointed schoolmaster of Gairloch--Dies
      young--Monument over his grave--Estimate of his poetry         183


      Alastair Buidhe's ancestry and youth--Appointed
      ground-officer and bard to Sir Hector--Instructed to remove
      the roof from a defaulting tenant's house--His prudent
      artifice approved by Sir Hector--Dr Mackenzie's
      recollections of Alastair as bard--His bad health, and
      death--His character--His friendship with William Ross--His
      descendants--His poetry highly appreciated                     185


      Sandy Grant's ancestry--His enormous stature and
      strength--His appearance, portrait, and poetry--Reputed to
      have second-sight--Anecdote--Sandy Grant discovers cheeses
      stolen in Loch Carron--His descendants                         187


      John's ancestry and youth--His mechanical skill--An accident
      disables him--Collects Gaelic poems--Devotes himself to
      literary work--List of books he translated--Known as a poet
      and piper--Anecdote of his humour--Buys a ship and her
      cargo--Gives up the bargain--Monument to his memory            189


      Alexander Mackenzie, of Oban--Duncan Mackenzie, the
      Kenlochewe bard--Short memoir--His poetry--His epithalamium
      on the marriage of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie--Translation of it
      by Professor Blackie--Alexander Cameron, the Tournaig
      bard--His song in praise of Tournaig--English translation by
      Mr W. C. Good--Alexander Bain--His elegy on the late Dr
      Kennedy--English translation                                   192


      Paucity of art in Gairloch--Finlay Mackinnon--His
      characteristics--His yearning for art as a young
      boy--Assisted by Mr Davis, R.A., and others--His watercolour
      sketches                                                       200


      Short Account of James Mackenzie--William Roy Mackenzie and
      the exciseman--Kenneth and John Mackenzie of Rona and the
      press-gang--John M'Gregor of Londubh escapes from the
      press-gang, but is killed by a fall over a rock--Murdo
      Mackenzie, or Murdo's son, marries Lord Breadalbane's
      daughter and takes possession of a lugger full of smuggled
      spirit--Anecdote of Sir Hector Mackenzie and M'Leod of
      Raasay's boat--Mackenzie of Kernsary and James Mackenzie's
      grandfather--The whale in Loch Ewe drowns three men--A story
      of Rob Donn--The Loch Broom herring fishery--The other Rob
      Roy Macgregor and the Dundonnell estates--Cases of drowning
      in Loch Maree--Hector Mackenzie, William Urquhart and his
      son, and Kenneth Mackenzie--A Kenlochewe man rolls
      overboard--Kenneth Mackenzie and Gregor Macgregor carried
      down by the Talladale river--John M'Ryrie--Kenneth
      Urquhart--Sandy Mackenzie--The Stornoway packet and the
      whale--Wreck of M'Callum's schooner at Melvaig--A sea
      captain buried in Isle Ewe--The loss of the "Glenelg"--Wreck
      of the "Helen Marianne" of Campbeltown--Wreck of the "Lord
      Molyneux" of Liverpool--John Macdonald, the drover of Loch
      Maree--The murder of Grant, the peddler, by M'Leod, who is
      at length hung--Death of the Shieldaig shoemaker and his
      companions at Lochinver                                        201



      Area and boundaries of Gairloch--Sea-board--Long valley
      bisecting the parish--Ranges and groups of
      mountains--Islands in the sea--Fresh-water
      lochs--Rivers--Woods--Caves--Waterfalls--The Steall a
      Mhuinidh--Victoria Falls--Letterewe waterfall--Kerry
      falls--Flowerdale waterfalls--Scenic beauties                  219


      Healthy climate of north-west Highlands--Changeable
      weather--Sir G. S. Mackenzie on the climate--Dr Mackenzie on
      the old-fashioned summers--Former abundance of
      nuts--Strawberries on 4th June, also cherries--Short summer
      nights--Aurora borealis--Rarity of intense frosts--Spring
      mist presages snow--A hard winter--Sunsets from the Gairloch
      Hotel--Cloudscapes--Colouring of landscapes                    222


      Birds, formerly rare in Gairloch, now plentiful, and _vice
      versâ_--Dr Mackenzie's remarks on this point--Eagles in
      Gairloch--Anecdote of Craig-Tollie eagle and roe
      deer--Confirmation from Martin's book--Also from story of
      Kirghiz eagles, &c.--Anecdote of Kenlochewe eagle and the
      cat--Subject of a well-known Gaelic riddle--Eagle at
      Talladale--Two-and-a-half brace of eagles killed in Gairloch
      before breakfast--Sea-gulls--How they were driven from
      Eilean Ruaridh--Sounds of various birds at
      Inveran--Insects--Midges and wasps--Her Majesty's remarks on
      them--Rhyme on midges--Preventive measures--Other
      insects--Animals in general--Vermin--Marten's fur--Wild
      cats--Wild cat in Loch Tollie island--Highland
      cattle--Goats--Ponies                                          227


      Diffusion of life--Luminosity of footprints on boggy
      ground--Reptiles--Fresh-water fish--Shells--Molluscs--The
      spout fish--How to take it--Sea anemones--Love of
      flowers--Localities recommended to
      botanists--Grasses--Mosses--Lichens--List of a
      few--Seaweeds--Fungi--Conclusion                               233


      List of Gairloch mammals, with notes--Notes on Arctic fox in
      Gairloch and elsewhere                                         236


      List of Gairloch birds, with notes                             241


      List imperfect--A word to visitors--Destruction of plants by
      sheep--Bouquets of wildflowers--Seasons for them--Rarer
      plants--List of flowering plants                               256


      Paper by Rev. John M'Murtrie, M.A., on "Springtide at
      Gairloch, a Study of small Shells"--Appendix, with list of
      shells                                                         265


      Long controversy--Attack by eminent geologists--Others enter
      the lists--Prospect of early peace--Conditions of the
      problem well exhibited round Loch Maree--Succession of
      rocks--Hebridean gneiss--Torridon red
      sandstone--Quartzite--Its annelid borings--Its fucoid
      remains--Limestone--The "Logan" rock--The eastern
      gneiss--The controversy--Other noteworthy geological
      junctions--The valley of the hundred hills--Curious
      impressions on Torridon sandstone near Talladale--The Fionn
      and Dubh loch--The Trias at Loch Gruinard                      271

    MACADAM, F.C.S., F.I.C., M.M.S., &c., Edinburgh.

      List of minerals and localities                                289



      No town in Gairloch--List of townships or hamlets--Ministers
      and services--Free churches and ministers--Schools--School
      Board--Table of Schools, with average attendance--List of
      school teachers--Side schools--School rate--Obstacles to
      regular attendance--Annual inspections--Registrar of Births,
      Deaths, and Marriages--Pauperism--Poor-rates--Pauper
      lunatics--Medical officer--The county road--Private
      roads--Policemen--Justices of the Peace--Licensed
      service--Steamers--Rifle corps--Its three
      sections--Principal houses in Gairloch--Poolewe Public Hall    293


      Approach from Achnasheen--From Loch Carron--From Loch
      Torridon--From Gruinard--By steamer--By boat from
      Ullapool--On foot--Main road maintained by the
      county--Private roads--Loch Maree a highway                    299


      Dingwall and Skye railway--The Gairloch mail-car--Natural
      terraces like railway embankments--Loch Rosque--Remains of
      ancient ironworks--The Clach an t' Shagart at Bad a
      Mhanaich--Luibmhor in Gairloch--View of Scuir
      Mhullin--Persistent inquirer--Hill resembling a
      profile--Glen Dochartie--View of Loch
      Maree--Trysting-place--More old ironworks--View of Beinn
      Eay--Kenlochewe--Hugh Miller on this name--Kenlochewe
      village and hotel--Culinellan churchyard--The Cnoc a
      Chrochadair--Ath nan ceann--Two routes to Gairloch             301


      Tagan farm--Glas Leitire woods--Ru Nohar--Umbrella-like
      firs--Her Majesty's description of the road--Glen
      Grudidh--Old fir trees--Eilean Grudidh--Wild stretch of road
      described by Her Majesty--Hamlet of Talladale--The Loch
      Maree Hotel--Accommodation--Angling--Visit of Her
      Majesty--Commemorative Gaelic inscription on a
      boulder--English translation                                   305


      Road through woods--The Victoria Falls--Garavaig
      ironworks--Slatadale farm--Old road to west of Craig
      Tollie--View of the islands of Loch Maree--Feur loch--Loch
      Bad na Sgalaig--Kerry falls--Kerry bridge--Her Majesty's
      interview with Lews' people here--Kerrysdale House--Resort
      of fairies--Charleston--Flowerdale House--Port na heile--The
      Gairloch--Established church--The Leabaidh na Ba
      Bàine--Gairloch churchyard--Old ironworks--Monument to John
      Mackenzie of the "Beauties"--The Crasg--The Cnoc a
      Croiche--The Gairloch Hotel--Accommodation and
      arrangement--Sea-bathing--Boating--Angling--Fine view          308


      Achtercairn--Views of Strath and the hills of Skye--Deep
      gorge--Geikie on geology of a curious hill--The
      Shoe-stone--Funeral heaps--Lochan nan Airm--The Glen--Craig
      Bhadain an Aisc--Blar na Fala--Loch Tollie--Its
      crannog--Surrounding hills--Distant views--Old road--View of
      Loch Maree--Beinn Aridh Charr--Spidean Moirich--Croft
      Brae--Hamlet of Croft--Ceann a Chro, or Cruive End--The
      Still--The Hill of evil counsel--The Trossachs of Loch
      Maree--Poolewe village--The church--The inn--Pool
      House--Other houses--Londubh--The Inverewe burial-ground       312


      The pool--Srondubh--Inverewe House and gardens--Description
      from the _Times_--Loch nan Dailthean--Tournaig--The Dowager
      Lady Mackenzie's residence--Description of the garden from
      the _Times_--Coile Aigeascaig--Mac Gille Riabhaich's
      cave--Bleeding living cattle--Tournaig farm--Loch
      Tournaig--Dunan--The road ascends--Views--Drumchork--Aultbea--
      Townships--Houses--Anchorage--Aultbea inn                      318


      Drives--Expedition to Loch Torridon--Cromasaig--Fe
      Leoid--Loch Clair--Maelrubha's seat--Carn Anthony--Coire
      Cheud Cnoc--Precipices of Liathgach--Her Majesty's
      remarks--Sguir Dubh--Lochan an Fheidh--Loch
      Torridon--Village--Mr Darroch and Torridon House--Ploc of
      Torridon--The heights of Kenlochewe--Glen Cruaidh
      Choillie--Glen na Muic--Excursions on foot by the path on
      the east side of Loch Maree--Excursions on Loch Maree          321


      Drives and walks--Expeditions on Loch Maree--The
      steamer--Boats                                                 326


      The south side of Gairloch--Shieldaig--Leac nan
      Saighead--Badachro--Loch Bad na h' Achlais--Port
      Henderson--Opinan--Cave--South Erradale--Ancient
      ironworks--Point--Views--North side of
      Gairloch--Achtercairn--Strath--Carn Dearg--Little Sand
      farm--Big Sand--Iron furnace--North Erradale--Wonderful
      cave--Peterburn--Altgreshan--Melvaig--The Leac--Rudha
      Reidh--Stac Buidhe--Other drives--Tour of Loch
      Maree--Boating expeditions--Walks--Geikie on geological
      features                                                       327


      West side of Loch Ewe--Cliff House--Cuil an Scardain--Boor--
      school--Firemore--Telegraph to Stornoway--Meallan na
      Ghamhna--Caves--Loch a Druing woods--Cove--The village--The
      cave--Natural arch--Fionn Loch excursion--Craig an
      Fhithich--Inveran wood and farm--Inveran river--Loch
      Kernsary--Innis a Bhaird--Kernsary farm--Fionn Loch--Fine
      view--Other excursions by road--Walks--Craig Bhan              332


      To Mellon Charles--Cuilchonich--Bual na luib--Mellon
      Charles--Mellon Udrigil--Laide--The Loch of the
      Beast--Second Coast--Old church of Sand--Sandy
      beach--Curious rocks--First Coast and Second Coast--Mill
      Bay--Cadha Beag--Little Gruinard--Fisherfield--Meikle
      Gruinard river--Excursions by water                            337


      Road to north end of Loch Maree--Opinions of the
      scenery--Leading characteristics--Tollie pier--Fox
      Point--Clearness of water--Sweetheart's
      stepping-stones--Fhridh Dhorch--Ardlair--Cave of the king's
      son--The minister's stone--Clach a Mhail--Uamh a
      Mhail--Rudha Chailleach--The white horse--The Bull rock--The
      cave of gold--Gold mining in
      Ghlas--Coppachy--Regoilachy--Slioch--Cladh nan
      Sasunnach--Fasagh--Tagan--Ru Nohar--Undercliffs of Meall a
      Ghiubhais--Woods of Glas Leitire--View of Glen Grudidh--Aid
      na h' Eigheamh--Isle Maree--Whittier's verses--Eilean
      Suainne--Eilean Dubh na Sroine--Garbh Eilean--Eilean
      Ruaridh--The planted island--Wild
      fowl--Talladale--Slatadale--Doire--Craig Tollie--Bay of
      Corree--Rudha Aird an Anail--Cave--Heather burning             340


      Name--Approaches--Loch Kernsary--View of Fionn
      Loch--Mountains described--Visits to the loch--Lochanan
      Beannoch--Beinn Aridh Charr--Black-throated divers--Beinn
      Lair--Narrow glen--Old hill fort--Craig an Dubh
      Loch--Pegmatite--Dubh Loch--Thunder
      shower--Islands--Birds--Marten cats                            349


      Loch Ewe--Mountain view--Aultbea--Moraines--Summer
      Isles--Distant views--Old Chapel--Caves--Modern
      Cave-dweller--Gruinard House--Gruinard river--Mountains of
      Loch na Sheallag                                               355


      Several classes of anglers--Outfit recommended--Two usual
      modes of sea fishing--Trolling for lythe--Artificial
      sand-eels--Handline fishing--Scalps--Fishes captured--Conger
      eels--Large halibut--Large skate                               359


      Excessive fishing--Reserved water--Species of
      in salmon and sea-trout--Large brown trout--Ferox not a
      separate species--Variations in trout--So-called ferox not
      worth eating--Gizzard trout                                    361


      Permission required--Trout scarcer than formerly--Dr
      Mackenzie accounts for this--The tarry sheep--Fionn
      Loch--Angling deteriorated--Good day's angling--The Dubh
      loch--Three trout at a cast--Bait fishing for trout--Loch
      Kernsary--Char--Char and trout, and pink and white-fleshed
      trout, indistinguishable to the taste--Burn fishing--Best
      time for trout fishing--Eels--Pike--Their introduction
      described by Dr Mackenzie--Re-introduced in Sir Kenneth's
      time                                                           363


      Salmon rivers--The Ewe--Cruives--The old cruive used for
      crossing the river--Roderick Campbell and an American
      merchant drowned--The new cruive--Gradual diminution of
      stock of salmon--Length of the Ewe--Pools on the east
      side--Pools on the other side--Runs of salmon and
      grilse--Kelts--Bull-trout--Sea-trout--Large salmon--Best
      flies--Dr Mackenzie's anecdote of Sir Humphrey Davy--John
      Bright--Odd incidents--Damaged fly--Successful fishing after
      a friend--Hooking a fish after losing another--Was it a
      rise?--Fish taking when line slack--Kelt caught
      twice--Holding on for five hours--Angler compared to the
      evil one--Water-bailiffs--John Glas--Sandy Urquhart--His
      loquacity--Fishing on the Ewe--Tailing salmon--Spiked
      gloves--Bags of salmon now and formerly--Singular mode of
      fishing by Sir Hector--Charms of the Ewe--Other salmon
      rivers in Gairloch                                             366


      The red deer--Free to roam--Antiquity of--Formerly
      scarce--Meaning of "forested"--List of deer
      forests--Estimated yield and stock--Stag season--A
      "royal"--Best heads--Hinds--Deer-stalking--Great caution
      required--Staghounds not much used now--Quotation from John
      Taylor, the "Water-Poet"--Present system of letting deer
      forests--Colonel Inge in Gairloch--Misconceptions with
      regard to deer forests--Opinions of the Crofters
      Commission--Depopulation not due to deer forests--Deer
      forests not suitable for occupation by crofters--Loss of
      mutton and wool insignificant--Depredations by deer on
      crofters' crops easily remedied--Deterioration of pasture by
      deer not proved--Demoralization of gillies not due to
      forests--Summary of opinions--Substantial benefits conferred
      by deer forests--Afford employment to a greater extent than
      sheep farms--Recommendation by Commissioners--Grouse
      shooting--Grouse not abundant--Disease infrequent--Late
      birds--Mixed bags--Separate grouse shootings                   372

    LIST OF BOOKS AND MSS. QUOTED OR REFERRED TO                     381

    THIS BOOK                                                        383


      I. Mountains of Gairloch                                       387

     II. Distances                                                   387

    III. Population of Gairloch                                      390

     IV. Ministers of the parish of Gairloch                         390

      V. Lairds of Gairloch                                          391


    A. Genealogical Account of the MacRas, by Rev. John Macrae,
       who died 1704                                                 395

    B. Tour in Scotland by Thomas Pennant in 1772                    396

    C. Old Statistical Account of Scotland, 1792                     399

    D. Dr MacCulloch's Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland,
       1811 to 1821                                                  400

    E. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1836                     403

    F. Records of the Presbytery of Dingwall                         408

    G. Records and Extracts relating to Sir George Hay and the
       Manufacture of Iron                                           412

    H. Addenda on St Maelrubha, and Ecclesiastical History           415

Glossary of Gaelic Names and Words.

The pronunciation is given approximately in parentheses. In many cases
no combination of letters pronounced in English fashion can accurately
represent the Gaelic pronunciation.

The pronunciation of _ch_ is almost the same in Gaelic as in German.
Sometimes the _ch_ is best rendered as an aspirate only, the _c_ being
treated as if silent.

The letter _c_, unless followed by _h_, is always pronounced in Gaelic
like the English _k_, a letter not found in Gaelic.

The Gaelic pronunciation of the letters _b_, _d_, and _g_ is soft, and
they are often sounded more as if they were _p_, _t_, and _k_.

In Ross-shire Gaelic _sr_ is pronounced as if it were _str_, and _rt_ as
if it were _rst_.

The consonant _d_ before the vowels _e_ and _i_, whether followed by
another vowel or not, is pronounced as if it were _j_.

The consonant _s_ before the vowels _i_ or _e_ is sounded as _sh_.

The consonant _l_ has a liquid double sound, unlike anything in English;
it may be approximated by lisping the vowel _u_ before and the letter
_y_ after the ordinary sound of the letter _l_.

The letter _h_ after the consonants _d_, _f_, _g_, _t_, and _s_, in
Ross-shire Gaelic, renders those consonants silent; _bh_ and _mh_ are
usually pronounced like _v_, a letter not found in the Gaelic alphabet.
Sometimes _adh_ seems to be pronounced very like _ag_.

The possessive case is frequently formed in Gaelic by the insertion of
the letter _h_ after the initial consonant, and of the letter _i_ after
the vowel in the first or second syllable.

The aspirate _h_ is often inserted between the definite article and a
noun beginning with a vowel. Sometimes the letter _t_ is similarly
inserted before a noun commencing with a consonant. These, and some
other changes, are made for the sake of euphony.

The vowel sounds can only be defined with difficulty. The attempts made
in this glossary are but imperfect. It may be stated that _ach_ is
generally pronounced _och_; _ao_ and _u_, as _oo_; _ea_, as _a_ in
"bake"; _a_, _e_, and _i_, usually as in French; _ei_, sometimes as _a_
in "bake," and sometimes as _i_ in "bin"; and _ai_ is sometimes almost
like _u_ in "dull," and sometimes like _a_ in "tan."

Anyone desiring to pronounce a Gaelic name or word correctly, should ask
a native to render it, and try to imitate him; even then, in some cases,
it will be impossible to be exactly right.

      _A cheardach ruadh_ (ar charstock rooer), The red smithy.
      _Ceardach_, a smithy; _ruadh_, red.

      _A Mhaighdean_ (ar veytchen), The maiden. See _Maighdean_.

      _Achagarbh_, properly spelt _Achadhgarbh_ (ach a garrav),
      Rough field. _Ach_, a field; _garbh_, rough.

      _Achagarve._ See _Achagarbh_.

      _Achdistall_, or _Achdiestal_ (achjestel), Field of Diestal.
      _Ach_, a field; _Diestal_, a Norse word, probably the name
      of a rock.

      _Achnasheen_ (achnasheen), Field of storms. _Ach_, or
      _achadh_, a field; _sian_ (shee-on), means wind and rain
      combined, _i.e._, a rainstorm. _Sian dubh_ (black storm) is
      so-called in contradistinction to a snowstorm, which is
      designated _cur is cathadh_. An old Kintail priest long ago
      prophesied that this country would be brought to nought by
      _Sian dubh_, and that the people would have to go away to
      islands at the other side of the world.

      _Achtercairn_, properly _Achadhacharn_ (achterkairn), Field
      of the cairn. _Ach_, or achadh, a field; _carn_, a heap of

      _Aigeascaig_ (aigaskaik). Name of place, meaning unknown.
      Colonel Robertson says _Aigeas_ is a corruption of
      _aiguisg_, by reason of the water. The termination _aig_
      signifies a small bay; it was originally Danish.

      _Aird_ (aird), a height, a promontory or headland.

      _Aird na h' eigheamh_ (art na heyhugh), eight of calling.
      _Aird_, a height; _eigh_, to call.

      _Airdheslaig_ (artishlak). Supposed to be a Norse name.
      _Aird_, a height; _heslaig_ may be for _h'aslaich_,
      _aslaich_, to entreat; _aslachadh_, entreaty.

      _Alastair Breac_ (allaster brake), Alexander the spotted.
      _Alastair_, Alexander; _breac_, spotted, or more correctly
      pock-marked. See _Breac_.

      _Alastair Buidhe Mackay_, properly MacAoidh (allaster boo-ie
      mackai), Yellow Alexander Mackay. _MacAoidh_ is pronounced

      _Alastair Buidhe MacIamhair_ (allaster boo-ie makeemver),
      Yellow-haired Alexander MacIver; pronounced MakEever.

      _Alastair Liath_ (allaster leear), Grey-headed Alexander.
      _Liath_, grey, grey-headed. It means light blue when not
      applied to a human being.

      _Alastair MacIain Mhic Earchair_ (allaster makeeanvic
      erraquhar), Alexander, son of John, son of Farquhar.
      _Earchair_ is incorrectly written for _Fhearchair_, the
      possessive of _Farquhar_; _Fhearchair_ is pronounced
      Erraquhar or Earchair.

      _Alastair Mor an t' Sealgair_ (allaster more ant shollager),
      Big Alexander the hunter. _Sealgair_, a hunter, a stalker,
      literally a sneaker.

      _Ali' Iain Ghlais_ (alian loss), Alexander [son] of Pale
      John. From _Alie_ (short for _Alastair_), Alexander; _Iain_,
      John; and _glas_, pale or sallow. _Glas_ means grey when not
      applied to human beings.

      _Alie Uistean_ (ally ooshtan), Alick Hugh. _Alie_, short for
      Alexander. See _Uistean_.

      _Allt a Choire Dhuibh Mhoir_ (arlta corrie oo-ie vore), The
      burn of the great black corrie. _Allt_, a burn; _choire_,
      possessive of _coire_, a corry; _dhuibh_, possessive of
      _dubh_, black; _mhoir_, possessive of _mor_, great.

      _Altgreshan_, properly _Alltgrisean_ (alt-grishan), Roan or
      grizzly burn. _Allt_, a burn; _grisfhionn_ (grishan),

      _Am port Leathach_ (am porsht layoch), The port at half
      [tide]. _Leath_ is half.

      _An Amilt_, or _An Amhuilt_ (ann amvilt). Name of a place;
      means the stratagem.

      _An Fhridh dhorch_ (an ree dorroch), the dark forest.
      _Fridh_, forest; _dorch_, dark.

      _An Groban._ See _Groban._

      _An t' Eirthire Donn_. See _Eirthire Donn._

      _Angus._ See _Aonghas._

      _Aonghas_ (unnus), Angus, or Æneas, which last is nearer in
      sound to the Gaelic.

      _Applecross._ English name as now used. Colonel Robertson
      says it is for the Gaelic _Abercroisean_, or
      _Abhircroisean_, from _aber_, mouth, or confluence of;
      _croisean_, of troubles; or perhaps _croisean_ was the name
      of the little river.

      _Ardlair_ (ardlair), The mare's height or headland. _Aird_,
      a height; _lair_, a mare.

      _Ath nan ceann_ (arnankown), Ford of the heads. _Ath_, a
      ford; _ceann_, heads. Often written _Anagown_.

      _Aultbea_, should be spelt _Alltbeithe_ (arltbay), Burn of
      birches. _Allt_, a burn; _beath_, or _beith_, a birch.

      _Bac an Leth-choin_ (bark an lechun), Shelf of the crossbred
      dog. _Leth-choin_, a crossbred dog, a lurcher. _Bac_ is a
      shelf or flat on the side or top of a hill; in this case the
      name is popularly applied to the whole hill.

      _Bac Dubh_ (bark dhoo), Black shelf. _Bac_, a shelf or flat
      place among rocks or on a hill; _dubh_, black.

      _Bad_ (bat), a clump, a grove.

      _Bad a Chrotha_ (badachro). Full Gaelic spelling of
      Badachro, which see.

      _Bad a mhanaich_ (bat er vannich), Grove of the monk. See
      _Bad_. _Mhanaich_, possessive of _manach_, a monk.

      _Bad an t' Sluig_ (bat ant slook), Grove of the miry puddle.
      _Bad_, a grove; _sluig_, possessive of _slug_, a miry

      _Badachro_ (badachro), Grove of the cruive. _Bad_, a grove;
      _chro_, possessive of _cro_, a cruive, a fank.

      _Badfearn_, should be _Badfearna_ (batfern), Alder grove.
      _Fearn_, the alder tree. See _Bad_. The place has still a
      clump of alders.

      _Badluachrach_ (bat loocharar), Rushy clump. _Luachair_,

      _Baile na h' eaglais_ (bally-na-herkless), Town of the
      church, or Kirkton. _Baile_, a town; _eaglais_, a church.
      Compare _Ecclesia_.

      _Ballymeon_ (bally-mey-on), properly spelt _Baile-meadhon_,
      pronounced exactly the same. _Baile_, a town; _meadhon_,
      middle. _Anglicè_, Middleton.

      _Bard Mor an t' Slaggan_ (bart more ant slaggan), The great
      or big bard of Slaggan, which see.

      _Bard Sasunnach_ (bart Sassenach), English bard.
      _Sasunnach_, English, i.e. not a Gaelic speaker.

      _Bathais Bheinn_ (boorsh ven), Forehead mountain (very
      descriptive). From _Beinn_, mountain, and _bathais_,
      forehead; or perhaps it should be called _Baoisg Bheinn_
      (boiskivin), the mountain of gleaming, because it catches
      the first rays of the rising sun. This is also true of this

      _Beag_ (bek), little. It seems to appear as _bach_ in some
      English names.

      _Beallach Glasleathaid_ (baaloch glass laid), Pass of the
      gray slope. _Beallach_, a pass; _glas_, pale; _leathaid_,
      possessive of _leathad_, a slope.

      _Beallach nan Brog_ (baaloch nam progue), Pass of the shoes.
      _Brog_, a shoe.

      _Beallach a Chomhla_ (baaloch a korvla), Pass of the door.
      _Comhladh_, a door.

      _Beinn Alligin_ (bin allikin), Jewel mountain. Properly
      _Ailleagan_, a jewel, or darling, anything precious.

      _Beinn a Chaisgean_ (bin a harshkin), Mountain of casgean;
      which may be a corruption of _caisg_, Easter.

      _Beinn Aridh Charr_ (bin arry har), The mountain of the
      rough shieling. _Beinn_, a mountain; _aridh_, a shieling;
      _charr_, a corruption of _garbh_, rough.

      _Beinn a Chearcaill_ (bin a herkill). Mountain of the hoop.
      _Cearcall_, a hoop. Descriptive of bands or lines of
      stratification encircling this hill.

      _Beinn a Mhuinidh_ (bin ar voonie), Mountain of the

      _Beinn an Eoin_ (bin-in-eeōn), The mountain of the bird.
      _Beinn_, a mountain; _eoin_, possessive of _eun_, a bird.
      The bird in this case is the ptarmigan.

      _Beinn Bheag_ (bin vek), Little mountain. _Beag_, little.

      _Beinn Bhreac_ (bin y vraick), Spotted mountain. _Breac_,

      _Beinn Damph_, properly _Beinn Damh_ (bin damff), Mountain
      of the stag. _Damh_, a stag.

      _Beinn Dearg_ (bin jarrak), Red mountain. _Beinn_; and
      _Dearg_, red.

      _Beinn Eighe_ (bin ay), File mountain. _Eighe_, a file. The
      topmost ridge is jagged or serrated like a file.

      _Beinn Lair_ (bin lar), Mountain of the mare. _Lair_, a

      _Beinn Liathgach_ (bin learoch). This mountain should not be
      called _Beinn Liathgach_, but _Liathgach_, which see.

      _Beinn na h' Eaglais_ (binnaherkless), Mountain of the
      church. _Beinn_, mountain; _eaglais_, church.

      _Beinn nan Ramh_ (bin an rahv), Mountain of the oar. _Ramh_,
      an oar.

      _Beinn Slioch_ or _Sleugach_ (bin sleoch). Should be
      _Slioch_ without _Beinn_. See _Slioch_.

      _Beinn Tarsuinn_ (bin tarsing), Mountain across.

      _Beinn Tarsuinn Chaol_ (bin tarsing chool), Narrow Beinn
      Tarsuinn. _Caol_, narrow or slender.

      _Bhantighearna Ruadh_ (vancherna rooar), Red lady.
      _Bhantighearna_, literally she-lord.

      _Bho Iutharn_, or _Bho Iuthrna_ (vo ewern), From hell.
      _Bho_, from; _Iuthrna_, hell.

      _Bidean clann Raonaild_ (peetyan clan ruynuld), Clan
      Ranald's peak. _Bidean_, a peak.

      _Blar na Fala_ (blar ner falla), Plain of the blood. _Blar_,
      a plain or bog, or flat place; _fala_, possessive of _fuil_,

      _Blar na Pairc_ (blar ner park), Battle of the park.
      _Pairc_, possessive of _parc_, a park or field.

      _Bonaid donn_ (boanat down), Brown bonnet. _Bonaid_, a
      bonnet, a cap; _donn_, brown.

      _Boor_ (bore). Either from _buradh_, a bursting forth of
      blood; or from a word containing the root _boor_, meaning
      "roaring," because stags used to roar here.

      _Bothie_ (bothy, _othie_ pronounced as in frothy), a little
      hut or hovel. _Both_, a hut. Compare English _booth_. The
      _ie_ is an old Gaelic diminutive, often written _idh_.

      _Braemore_, properly _Braighmor_ (bray more), Great summit
      or hill. _Mor_, great; _braigh_, summit.

      _Breac_ (brake), spotted, marked with smallpox (when applied
      to human beings), a trout.

      _Breacan an Fheilidh_ (brayken an aylie), the belted or
      kilted plaid. _Breacan_, a tartan plaid; _fheilidh_,
      possessive of _feileadh_, a kilt.

      _Bruachaig_ (brooachak). Perhaps from _Bruach_, and
      _achadh_, a field; _bruach_, a bank, border, edge, steep;
      _aig_, means a small bay in old Danish.

      _Buaile na luib_ (pool na loop), Fold of the bend. From
      _buaile_, a fold; and _luib_, a bend or loop.

      _Buidhe_ (boo-ie), yellow-haired, yellow.

      _Cabar Feidh_ (kapper fay), deer's antler. _Cabar_, antler,
      or a stick; _feiah_, possessive of _fiagh_, deer.

      _Cabar Lar_ (kapper law), Turf parer. _Cabar_, a stick;
      _lar_, a floor, the ground.

      _Cadha Beag_ (kaar pek), Little pass in the rock. _Beag_,
      little; _cadha_, a pass in a rock.

      _Cailleach a Mhuillear_ (kaillyoch a vuillyear), The
      miller's wife. _Cailleach_, an old woman; _muillear_,

      _Cailleach Liath Rasaidh_ (kaillyoch leear raasa), Grey old
      woman of Raasay. _Cailleach_, an old woman; _liath_, grey
      (light blue when not applied to a human being).

      _Callum a Ghlinne_ (kallum a glinnie), Malcolm of the glen.
      _Callum_, Malcolm.

      _Carn a Ghlinne_ (karn a glinnie), Cairn of the glen.
      _Carn_, a cairn or heap of stones; _ghlinne_, possessive of
      _gleann_, a glen.

      _Carn Anthony_ (karn anthony), Cairn of Anthony. _Carn_, a
      heap of stones.

      _Carn Dearg_ (karn jarrak). Red cairn. _Carn_, a heap of
      stones. See _Dearg_.

      _Carn Liath_ (karn leear), Light blue cairn. _Carn_, a heap
      of stones; _liath_, light blue.

      _Cas chrom_ (kas-rhoum), foot plough; literally crooked
      foot, from _cas_, a foot; and _crom_, crooked.

      _Cathair mhor_ (kaar more). Big seat, _i.e._ Fairies' seat.
      See _Kerrysdale_.

      _Ceann a Chro_ (kayoun-a-chroe), End or head of the cruive.
      _Ceann_, end or head; _cro_, a cruive, or fank.

      _Ceann a chruinn_ (kayoun a chreinie), mast head, or tree
      head or end. _Ceann_, a head, end; _cruinn_, possessive of
      _crann_, a tree or mast.

      _Ceann an t' sail_ (kayoun an tarl), end or head of the salt
      water. _Ceann_, end or head; _sail_, salt water. Corrupted
      further south into Kintail.

      _Ceann loch iu_ (kayoun loch ew), head of Loch Ewe. _Ceann_,
      a head.

      _Ceardach ruadh_ (karstoch roo-er), Red smiddy. See _A
      cheardach ruadh_.

      _Ceilidh_ (kayley), social meetings. From _ceilidh_, to

      _Ceistear crubach_ (kaister crupboch), lame catechist.
      _Ceistear_, a catechist; _crubach_, lame.

      _Cibear Mor_ (keeipber more), big shepherd. _Cibear_, a
      shepherd; _mor_, great or big.

      _Clach_ (klarch), a stone. Possessive, _Cloiche_. Compare
      _clough_, found in some English names.

      _Clach a Mhail_ (klarch ar varl), Stone of rent. _Clach_, a
      stone; _Mal_, rent, tribute.

      _Clach an t' Shagart_ (klarch an taggart), Stone of the
      priest. _Clach_, a stone; _shagart_, possessive of _sagart_,
      a priest.

      _Clach nam Brog_ (klarch nam progue), Shoe stone. _Clach_, a
      stone; _brog_, a shoe.

      _Clachan garbh_ (klachan garrav), Rough village. _Clachan_,
      a village; literally stones; supposed to have originally
      been a Druidical term. See _Garbh_.

      _Cladh nan Sasunnach_ (klug nan sarsenach), Burial-place of
      the English. _Cladh_, a burial-place; _Sasunnach_, English,
      Saxon, not a Gaelic speaker.

      _Claidheamh mor_ (klymore), a broadsword, a claymore.
      _Claidheamh_, a sword; _mor_, great, here broad.

      _Clais na leac_ (klarsh na lyck), Hollow of the flat stones
      or flags. _Clais_, a furrow, a hollow between ridges or
      hills; _leac_, a flag.

      _Claonadh_ (kluanar), slopes. Compare _inclining_.

      _Clann Eachainn_ (klan erchen), offspring of Hector.
      _Clann_, offspring or descendants. See _Eachainn_.

      _Claymore._ See _Claidheamh mor_.

      _Cleireach_ (klearoch), literally clerk. Priests often
      called so from their scholarship. The Priest island off the
      Greenstone Point is called _Cleireach_ in Gaelic. Compare

      _Cliabh moine_ (kleea moanyer), peat creel. _Cliabh_, creel;
      _moine_, peats.

      _Cliff_, or _Clive_ (Gaelic Clu). See _Meall na Cluibha_.

      _Clu_ (kloo), a local name; now treated as synonymous with
      English _cliff_. See _Meall na Cluibha_.

      _Cnoc a chrochadair_ (kroka chrochater), Hangman's hill.
      _Cnoc_, a hill, a hillock; _chrochadair_, possessive of
      _crochadair_, a hangman.

      _Cnoc a croiche_ (krok a chroich), Gallows hill. _Croich_, a

      _Cnoc na mi-chomhairle_ (krok na mee ho-airlie), Hillock of
      evil counsel. _Cnoc_, a hillock; _mi_ (like _mis-_), evil,
      _comhairle_, counsel. _Mi_ is also a negative prefix like

      _Coigeach_ (ko-yoch), probably the "fifth portion" [of a
      davach]. _Coig_, five.

      _Coille Aigeascaig_ (kul yaikaskaik); Wood of Aigeascaig.
      _Coille_, a wood; see _Aigeascaig_.

      _Coinneach_ (kuinyoch), Kenneth. The progenitor of the

      _Coinneach Mac Sheumais_ (kuinyoch mak eearmis), Kenneth the
      son of James. _Coinneach_, Kenneth; _Seumas_, James.

      _Coinneachadh Beag_ (koonyochor bek), Little meeting-place.
      _Coinneachadh_, meeting-place; _beag_, little.

      _Coire an Easain_ (corrie an easan), Corrie of the little
      waterfall. _Easan_, a little waterfall.

      _Coire Cheud Cnoc_ (corrie hehud crok), Corrie of a hundred
      hillocks. _Coire_, a corrie; _ceud_, hundred; _cnoc_, a

      _Coire Cheud Creagh_ (corrie hehud krayar), Corrie of a
      hundred spoils. _Coire_, corrie; _ceud_, a hundred;
      _creagh_, spoils. Name erroneously given by some to the
      Corrie of a hundred hillocks. See last name.

      _Coire Dubh Mor_ (corrie dhoo more), Great black corrie (or

      _Coire Mhic Cromail_ (corrie vic krommle), The corrie of the
      son of Cromail. _Mhic_, of the son of; _Cromail_, an old
      name, meaning unknown.

      _Coire nan Cuilean_ (corrie nan coollin), Corrie of the
      cubs. _Cuilean_, a cub, a pup.

      _Coppachy_, properly _Copachaidh_ (koppachie), Foam field.
      _Cop_, foam; _achadh_, a field.

      _Corcur_ (korker), red, crimson.

      _Cota gearr_ (koita gaerr), short coat. _Cota_, a coat;
      _gearr_, short.

      _Co-thional_ (ko-yearnal), gathering together. _Comh_, or
      _co_, fellowship (compare _company_); _tional_, gathering.

      _Cove._ English name altered from cave. The Gaelic name of
      the place is really _An Uamhaidh_ (nouahvie), or the place
      of caves, from _uamh_, a cave. But it is more properly
      called _An Uamh Mhor_, or the great cave, a name descriptive
      of the cave still used as a place of worship.

      _Cradh Gheadh_ (crargeear), Shieldrake. _Geag_, a goose.

      _Craig_ (kraik), a crag or rock; properly spelt _creig_, or

      _Craig a Chait_ (kraig a hart), Rock of the cat. _Chait_,
      possessive of _cat_, which is the same in Gaelic as in
      English, but was originally applied only to the wild cat.

      _Craig an Dubh Loch_ (kraigan dhoo-loch), Rock of the black

      _Craig an Fhithich_ (kraig an eech), Crag of the raven.
      _Fhithich_, possessive of _fitheach_, a raven.

      _Craig an Fhithich Mhor_ (kraig an eech vore), Big crag of
      the raven.

      _Craig an t' Shabhail_ (kraig an towl), Rock of the barn.
      _Sabhal_, a barn.

      _Craig Bhadain an Aisc_ (kraik vatn an ashk), Rock of the
      clumps or groves of burial. _Badan_, clumps or groves;
      _aisc_, obsolete word, meaning burial or interment, or
      preparation for burial.

      _Craig Bhan_ (kraig varn), White crag. _Ban_, white; and see

      _Craig Roy._ Properly _Craig Ruadh_, which see.

      _Craig Ruadh_ (kraik roo-er), Red crag. See _Craig_ and

      _Craig Thairbh_ (kraik-harve), Bull rock. _Tarbh_, a bull.

      _Craig Tollie_ (kraig tollie), properly _Creag Thollie_
      (kraig holly), Rock of Tollie. See _Tollie_.

      _Crannag_ (crannog). A crannog, or insulated fortress,
      usually constructed on piles in a loch; the same word as
      _crannag_, a pulpit.

      _Crasg_ (krask). Meaning uncertain, possibly something that
      lies across. _Crasg_ is the top of a spade, or cross piece
      of a crutch. _Crasgach_ is something that goes contrary.

      _Creagan an Inver_ (kraigan an innyr), Little rock of the
      mouth of the river. _Inver_, mouth of a river.

      _Cromasaig_, properly spelt _Crom Fhasadh_ (krommasak),
      Crooked hollow. _Crom_, crooked; _fhasadh_, possessive of
      _fasadh_, a hollow.

      _Crubach_ (kruboch), lame of a leg. Compare _cripple_.

      _Cruitear_, or _Cruitire_ (kroo-iter), a musician, a harper.

      _Cuairtear nan Gleann_ (kooairter nan gleyoun), Pilgrim of
      the glens. _Cuairtear_, a pilgrim; _gleann_, glens.

      _Cu-dubh_ (koo dhoo), black dog. _Cu_, a dog.

      _Cuil an Scardain_ (kool an scarten), Corner of the screes.
      _Cuil_, a corner, a nook; _sgardan_, screes. The name is
      very descriptive.

      _Cuilchonich_ (kulhoanie), Mossy corner. _Coinneach_, green
      moss; _cuil_, a corner.

      _Culinellan_, properly _Cul an eilean_ (koolineylen), Back
      of the island. _Cul_, back of; _eilean_, an island.

      _Cumha Thighearna Ghearrloch_ (koovtcheerna yairloch),
      Lament of or for the laird of Gairloch. _Cumha_, lament. See

      _Dal Cruaidh_ (dal crewie), hard field or flat. _Dal_, a
      flat field; _cruaidh_, hard.

      _Darach_ (darroch), an oak.

      _Dearg_ (jarrak), red, like a rose.

      _Diabaig_ (teapik). Norse name, meaning unknown; possibly
      connected with _Dia_, God; _aig_, a small bay, so that it
      may mean the small bay of God. Perhaps this has reference to
      religious rites imported from the neighbouring monastery of
      Applecross. _Diabaig_ is spelt _Typack_ on the map of 1662.

      _Doire_ (derry), a grove.

      _Domhnull Dubh_ (donnullul dhoo), Black Donald. _Domhnull_,
      Donald; _dubh_, black.

      _Domhnull Gorm_ (donnullul gorrum), Blue Donald. _Gorm_,

      _Domhnull Greannach_ (donnullul gruonnoch), Sour or
      savage-looking Donald. _Greannach_ also means irascible.

      _Domhnull M'Eaine Roy Vic Choinnich_, should be _Domhnull
      Mac Iain Ruadh Mhic Choinnich_ (donald mak eean ruar vick
      kuinyoch), Donald son of John Roy (red John) son of Kenneth.
      _Mac_, son of; _Mhic_ (or _Vic_), possessive of _Mac_.

      _Domhnull Mor_ (donnullul more), Big Donald. _Domhnull_,
      Donald; _mor_, big.

      _Domhnull Odhar MacIain Leith_ (donnullul our mak yan lay),
      Sallow or dun Donald son of Iain Liath or grey-haired John.
      _Odhar_ also means drab. _Leith_, possessive of _Liath_,

      _Donald._ See _Domhnull Dubh, &c._ Donald is often written
      in these pages instead of its Gaelic spelling.

      _Donn_ (down), brown, bay, or sable. Compare _dun_.

      _Donnachadh Mor na Tuaighe_ (donnochar mor na tew-ay), Big
      Duncan of the axe. _Donnachadh_, Duncan; _mor_, big;
      _tuagh_, an axe.

      _Donnachadh na Fadach_ (dunochar na fardoch), Duncan Fadach.
      _Donnachadh_, Duncan; _Fadach_, name of the farm he had in
      Kintail before he came to Inveran.

      _Druim a Chait_ (dream a-hart), Ridge of the cat. _Druim_, a
      ridge; _chait_, possessive of cat.

      _Druim Carn Neill_ (dream karneyal), Ridge of the cairn of
      Neil. _Druim_, or _droim_, a ridge or keel.

      _Drumchork_, properly _Druim a choirc_ (drum-a-hawk), Ridge
      of corn, or oats. _Druim_, a ridge; _coirce_, oats, corn.

      _Dubh_ (dhoo), black.

      _Dubh Loch_ (dhoo-loch), Black loch.

      _Dun_ (doon), a castle; _Dunan_ (doonan), a small castle.

      _Dun Naast_ (doonarst), Castle of Naast. See _Naast_.

      _Eachainn_ (erchen), Hector. Hector is considered the
      English equivalent, though it is not a translation of this
      Gaelic name.

      _Eachainn Geal_ (erchen gayal), White Hector. See _Eachainn_
      and _Geal_.

      _Eachainn Ruadh_ (erchen roo-er), Hector Roy. Hector is
      considered the English equivalent for _Eachainn_; and see

      _Eilean_ (eylan), an island, isle.

      _Eileanach_ (eylanoch), Island of the field. _Eilean_, isle;
      _ach_, or _achadh_, or _achaidh_, a field. Perhaps it would
      be more accurately translated The place of islands.

      _Eileandonain_ (eylan donnan), Island Donain. _Donain_, name
      of a saint, probably short for _Donnachadh_, or Duncan.

      _Eilean a Mhor Righ_ (eylan a vor ree), Island of the great
      king. An erroneous suggestion of the origin of the name

      _Eilean Dubh na Sroine_ (eylan dhoo na stronyer), Black
      island of the nose or promontory. _Dubh_, black; _sron_
      (stron), a nose or promontory.

      _Eilean Grudidh_ (eylan gruydgie), Island Grudie. See
      _Eilean_ and _Grudidh_.

      _Eilean Horisdale_ (eylan horrisdel), properly _Eilean
      Thorisdal_, the island of Thorsdale, a Norse name, which

      _Eilean Maree_ (eylan maree), Isle Maree. See _St

      _Eilean na h' Iolaire_ (eylan nar hewlar-yer), Island of the
      eagle. _Iolaire_, an eagle.

      _Eilean Ruaridh Beag_ (eylan rooarie vek), Little island of
      Rorie or Roderick. _Beag_, little.

      _Eilean Ruaridh Mor_ (eylan ruorie mor), Big island of
      Rorie. _Mor_, big.

      _Eilean Suainne_ (eylan soo-in), Everlasting isle.
      _Suainne_, everlasting.

      _Eirthire Donn_ (erriyer down), Brown shore. _Eirthira_,
      shore; _donn_, brown.

      _Erradale_ (erradale). Norse; probably from _earr_, a
      boundary, the edge of.

      _Ewan McGabhar_, properly _Eoghan Mac Gabhar_ (ewen mak
      gower), Ewan son of the goat. _Gabhar_, a she-goat.

      _Ewe_ (ew). May be a corruption from _uisge_ (usque), water.
      Compare similar Welsh root _gwy_, water, as in Wye.

      _Faidhir Mor_ (fire more), Great market. _Faidhir_, a fair
      or market; _mor_, great or big.

      _Failte Uilleam Dhuibh_ (falt yllyam oo-ey), Black William's
      salute. _Failte_, a salute; _Uilleam_, William; _dhuibh_,
      possessive of _dubh_, black.

      _Fannich_, properly _Fanaich_ (fannich). Meaning unknown.

      _Faoileag_ (fewlak), a sea-gull, name for a dog.

      _Farquhar_ (properly _Fearchar_) _Buidhe_ (farkar boo-ie),
      Yellow-haired Farquhar. See _Buidhe_.

      _Fasagh_ (fassoch). From _Fasadh_ (pronounced fassoch),
      meaning a hollow.

      _Fe Leoid_, properly _Feith Leoid_ (fay lee-oade), The bog
      of Leod (Loud). _Feith_, a bog; _Leoid_, possessive of
      _Leod_, a Norse Christian name.

      _Feachaisgean_, properly _Feith Chaisgean_ (fay harshkin),
      Bog of Casgean. See _Beinn a Chaisgean_.

      _Feadag-chuirn_ (fettak hee-oorn), Cairn plover. Gaelic name
      of the dotteril. _Feadag_, a plover; _chuirn_, possessive of
      _carn_, a cairn.

      _Fear_, _Feur_, _Feir_, or _Fiar loch_ (fear loch), sedgy
      loch. _Feur_, possessive _feoir_ (feyoar), sedge, reedy

      _Fear Shieldaig_ (fear shieldak), The goodman of Shieldaig.
      _Fear_ means a man, a goodman.

      _Fedan Mor_ (fettan more), Big gullie. _Fead_ (fet), a
      whistle; _feadan_, a little whistle or whistling thing
      (applied to a gully because the wind whistles through it).
      _Feadag_, the feminine diminutive of _fead_, is the name
      given to the golden plover on account of its piping.

      _Feileadh-beag_ (faylabek), philabeg, or kilt; literally
      little kilt, _i.e._ the kilt made up separately as
      distinguished from the _Breacan an Fheilidh_, the belted or
      kilted plaid.

      _Feill Iudha_ (fail you-her), Ewe market. _Feill_, a market;
      _Iudha_, possessive of _Iu_, Ewe.

      _Feir loch._ See _Fear loch_.

      _Feith an Leothaid._ Same as _Fe-Leoid_, which see. This is
      the more correct spelling.

      _Feith Mhic Iain Dhuibh_ (fay vik an ooie), The bog of Black
      John's son. _Feith_, a bog. See _Mac Iain Dhuibh_.

      _Feithean Mor_, properly _Na feithean mor_ (fain more), The
      great morasses. _Feith_ (pl. _feithean_), a morass, a bog.

      _Feur loch._ See _Fear loch_.

      _Fiaclachan_ (feearclochon), little toothed things.
      Diminutive of _fiaclach_, toothed or jagged, _i.e._ the
      little jagged rock; very descriptive.

      _Fiar loch._ See _Fear loch_.

      _Fionn Loch_ (fee-un-loch), Fingal's loch, or The white
      loch. It is called Loch Finn on the map of 1662. _Fionn_
      means white, pale, or wan. It is said the Fingalians were
      called the white men in contradistinction to the Dugals or
      black men.

      _Fionnla Dubh MacGillechriosd_ (feeounla dhoo mak gillie
      chree-est), Black Finlay, son of the servant of Christ. See

      _Fionnla Dubh na Saighead_ (feeounla dhoo na side), Black
      Finlay of the arrow. _Saighead_, an arrow.

      _Fionnla Liath_ (feeounla leear), Grey Finlay. _Liath_,

      _Firemore._ See _Faidhir mor_.

      _Foura_ (foora), an island at the mouth of Loch Ewe. The
      name includes the Norwegian suffix "a," meaning an island.
      _Fuar_ (four) is Gaelic for cold.

      _Fraoch-eilean_ (frooch-eylan), Heather isle. _Fraoch_,

      _Fuirneis_ (furniss), Furnace. This name was most likely
      originated here by iron-workers from Furness in Lancashire.
      Furness, according to Rev. Isaac Taylor, may be Fireness,
      the "fire isle," or "Fore-ness." Ness is Norse for a nose or

      _Gael_ (gale), properly _Gaidheal_ (gai-al), a Highlander, a

      _Gaelic_ (gallik), properly _Gaidhealach_ (gai-alloch),

      _Gairloch_ (garloch), Short loch. Originally, and more
      correctly, spelt _Gearrloch_ or _Gerloch_. _Gearr_, short.
      It is always spelt _Gearrloch_ in Gaelic.

      _Garadh Iaruinn_ (gaarogh eerun), Iron dyke. _Garradh_, a
      dyke, a fence wall; _iaruinn_, iron.

      _Garavaig_, properly _Garbhaig_ (garavaik), name of a small
      river or burn. The termination "aig" is said to be old
      Danish, and means a small bay, but the prefix is probably
      from _garbh_, rough.

      _Garbh_ (garav, or garve), rough.

      _Garbh Choire_ (garav chorrie), Rough corrie.

      _Garbh eilean_ (garaveylan), Rough island. _Garbh_, rough.

      _Geal_ (gayal), white, bright.

      _Gille_ (gillie), a lad, a young man, a gillie, a servant.

      _Gille Buidhe_ (gillie boo-ie), Yellow, or yellow-haired
      gillie. See _Gille_.

      _Gille Cailean Mor_ (gilly callain more), The lad big Colin.
      See separate words.

      _Gille Dubh_ (gillie dhoo), Black, or black-haired lad.

      _Gille Riabhach_ (gillie ree-oach), Brindled lad.
      _Riabhach_, brindled.

      _Gillean_ (gillyon), lads. Plural of _Gille_, which see.

      _Gillean an t' Sealgair_ (gillyon ant shallager), the
      hunter's lads. _Gillean_, lads, or young men; _sealgair_, a

      _Gillespic_ (gill-yespik), servant of the bishop. _Gille_,
      servant; _easbuig_ (espik), bishop. Compare _Episcopus_.

      _Glac Mhic Iain Dhuibh_ (glark vik an oo-ie), Hollow or dell
      of the son of Black John. _Glac_, a hollow or dell; _Mhic_,
      possessive of _Mac_, the son of; _dhuibh_, possessive of
      _dubh_, black.

      _Glac na Sguithar_ (glark nar skither), Hollow of Sguithar.
      An old name; meaning now lost.

      _Glas_ (glosh), grey. When applied to a man it means that he
      is pale or sallow, never grey-haired.

      _Glas eilean_ (glosh-eylan), Grey island. _Glas_, grey;
      _eilean_, an island.

      _Glas Leitire_ (glosh laytcher), Grey slope. See _Glas_ and

      _Glen_, properly _Gleann_ (glen or gloun), a valley, a dale.

      _Glen a Bianasdail_ (gloun ar beeanarstle), Glen of skin
      field or dale, or _thal_. _Bian_, a wild animal's skin.

      _Glen Cruaidh Choillie_ (glen or gloun cruchollie). May
      perhaps be the hardwood glen. _Cruid_, hard; _coille_, wood.

      _Glen Dochartie_, properly _Gleann Dochartidh_ (gloun
      dochartie). _Dochart_, or _Dochartie_, is believed to have
      been the name of a man.

      _Glen na Muic_ (gloun na mook). _Muic_, possessive of _muc_,
      a pig.

      _Gobha dubh an uisge_ (gow dhoo an uisk), Blacksmith of the
      water. _Gobha_, a smith; _dubh_, black; _uisge_, water.

      _Gorm_ (gorrum), blue.

      _Groban_ (groben). Probably a grooved rock, from _grobadh_,
      to groove.

      _Grudidh_, more correctly _Gruididh_ (gruydyie). Possibly
      from _gruid_, dregs; because the dregs and sediment of
      several burns drain into the Grudidh river.

      _Gruinard_, in Gaelic _Gruinaird_ (grinyard). Meaning
      unknown; may be from _grian_, the sun, and _aird_, a height.
      It used to be sometimes spelt _Greinord_; may be Norse.

      _Hector Roy._ English rendering of _Eachainn Ruadh_, which
      see. No Gaelic word begins with _H_.

      _Heglis Gherloch_, for _Eaglais Ghearrloch_ (erkless
      yairloch), Church of Gairloch. _Eaglais_, a church.

      _Heglis Loch Ew_, for _Eaglais Loch Iu_ (erkless loch ew),
      Church of Loch Ewe.

      _Horisdale._ See _Eilean Horisdale_.

      _Iain Buidhe_ (eean boo-ie), Yellow, or yellow-haired John.
      _Iain_, John. See _Buidhe_.

      _Iain Buidhe Taillear_ (eean boo-ie tyler), Yellow-haired
      John the tailor. _Taillear_, a tailor.

      _Iain Caol_ (eean cool), Slender John. _Caol_, slender.

      _Iain Dall_ (eean toul), Blind John. _Dall_, blind.

      _Iain Dubh Mac Ruaridh_ (eean dhoo mak rooarie), Black John,
      son of Rorie or Roderick. See separate words.

      _Iain Geal Donn_ (eean gel town), Whitey-brown John. _Geal_,
      white; _Donn_, brown.

      _Iain Gearr_ (eean garr), Short John. _Gearr_, short.

      _Iain Gearr Mac Mhurchaidh Mhic Iain_ (eean garr mak
      muroochie vic yan), Short John, son of Murdo, son of John.

      _Iain Glassich_ (eean glassoch), John of [Strath] Glass.

      _Iain Liath_ (eean leear), Grey John. _Liath_, grey.

      _Iain MacAllan Mhic Ruaridh_ (eean mak allan vik rooarie),
      John, son of Allan, son of Rorie. See separate words.

      _Iain Mac Coinnich Mhic Eachainn_ (eean mak kunyich vik
      erchen), John, son of Kenneth, son of Hector.

      _Iain Mac Eachainn Chaoil_ (eean mak erchen chooil), John,
      son of slender Hector. _Chaoil_, possessive of _caol_,

      _Iain Mac Ghille Challum_ (eean mak illie challum), John,
      son of the lad Malcolm. See _Mac Ghille Challum_.

      _Iain Mac Iain Uidhir_ (eean mak an eer), John, the son of
      dun John. _Uidhir_ is the possessive of _odhar_, dun.

      _Iain Mor am Post_ (eean more am post, pronounced like
      cost), Big John the post.

      _Iain Odhar Mac Iain Leith_ (eean our mak an lay), Dun John,
      son of Grey John. _Odhar_, dun; _liath_, grey.

      _Iain Ruadh_ (eean ruor, or ruag), John Roy, or Red John.

      _Innis a Bhaird_ (ish y vard), Oasis (or "clearing") of the
      bard. _Innis_, an island, or green oasis in a brown heathery
      region; _bhaird_, possessive of _bard_.

      _Innis Ghlas_ (inch gloss), The grey oasis. See _Innis a
      Bhaird_. _Glas_, grey.

      _Inveran_, in Gaelic _Inbhiran_ (in youren). _Inbhiran_ is
      the diminutive of _Inbhir_ (inver), an estuary, or mouth of.
      Inveran therefore means the little estuary. It takes this
      name from the small estuary formed where the little river
      from Kernsary enters Loch Maree.

      _Inverasdale_, should be spelt _Inbhirasdal_ (in-ur-astle),
      Mouth of the river Asdaile. Called _Ashfidill_, _Aspedell_,
      or _Absdill_ in old documents.

      _Inverewe_, Anglicé for _Inbhiriu_ (in yer ew), The mouth of
      the Ewe. _Inver_ (Gallice _Inbhir_), mouth of a river.

      _Judha._ See _Feill Iudha_. There is no word beginning with
      _J_ in Gaelic.

      _Kenlochewe_ (kinloch ew). See _Ceann loch iu_. The letter
      _k_ does not occur in true Gaelic.

      _Kenneth._ English form of _Coinneach_, which see.

      _Kernsary_, spelt in Gaelic _Cearnsair_. A corruption,
      probably from _carn_, a cairn; _aridh_, a shieling.

      _Kerry_, properly spelt _Cearridh_. Meaning unknown; may be
      connected with _cearr_, left, or wrong.

      _Kerrysdale._ A modern English name; in Gaelic it is called
      _Cathair Bheag_, or the little seat or green knoll on which
      the fairies used to sit. Compare similar word in Welsh, as
      in _Cader Idris_. _Bheag_ is possessive of _beag_, little.

      _Kintail._ See _Ceann an t' sail_.

      _Laide_ (laide), a slope. From _leathad_ (pronounced
      _laid_), a slope. The place is called in Gaelic _Leathad
      Udrigil_, or The slope of Udrigil.

      _Lasan_ (larsan), a slight passion, wrath, anger.

      _Leabaidh na Ba Bàine_ (lyeppy na papann), Bed of the white
      cow. _Leabaidh_, a bed; _ba_, possessive of _bo_, a cow;
      _bàine_, possessive of _ban_, white.

      _Leabhar na Feinne_ (leeoar na fainyie), Book of the

      _Leac nan Saighead_ (lake nen side), Flag or flat rock of
      the arrow. _Leac_, a flat rock, a flag; _saighead_, an

      _Leacaidh_ (lyechy), Place of flags, or flat rocks.

      _Leitir_ (laychter, letter), slope on a hill side,

      _Leth chreag_ (laychrig), Half rock. _Leth_, half; _chreag_,
      possessive of _creag_, a rock. This name is applied to
      several rocky hills in Gairloch; it seems to imply that
      one-half of the rock has fallen away.

      _Letterewe_ (letter ew), Slope of Ewe. See _Leitir_. This
      name is properly _Leitir Iu_.

      _Leum an Doill_ (layum an toul), Blind man's leap.

      _Lews_ (looze). From _Leogheas_ (leoas), _i.e._, the lands
      of Leod, the progenitor of the MacLeods of the Lews.

      _Liathgach_ (leeroch), The light-blue mountain. _Liath_,
      light blue. This name should not have _Beinn_ before it.

      _Loch_ (loch), a lake, an arm of the sea. _Lochan_, a small
      lake, a tarn.

      _Loch a Bhaid Luachraich_ (loch a vat loocharar), Loch of
      the clump of rushes. _Bad_, a clump; _luachair_, rushes.

      _Loch a Bheallaich_ (loch a veealoch), Loch of the pass.
      _Beallach_, a pass.

      _Loch a Chroisg_ (loch ach roshk). Anglicé _Loch Rosque_.
      _Chroisg_, possessive of _Crosg_, name of a place. Meaning
      unknown; possibly connected with _Crasg_, which see. Another
      suggestion is that _Crosg_ may mean the Cross, and that the
      name was given by ecclesiastics who unquestionably lived

      _Loch a Druing_ (loch a tring), Loch of Druing. _Druing_ is
      probably a Norse word. It occurs as _Druingag_ in _Tobar
      Druingag_, The well of Druingag, which is at the south end
      of Loch a Druing.

      _Loch an Iasgair_ (loch an ee-esker), Loch of the fisherman.
      _Iasgair_, a fisherman; but in this case it refers to the
      nesting here of the osprey or fishing eagle.

      _Loch Bad na Sgalaig_ (loch bat na skallak), Loch of the
      servant's grove. _Bad_, a grove (or clump); _sgalag_, a

      _Loch Bad na h' Achlais_ (loch pat 'n achlass), Loch of the
      grove of the hollow. _Achlais_, a hollow, the armpit.

      _Loch Bharanaichd_ (loch varranocht), Loch of the barony.
      _Baranachd_, a barony.

      _Loch Broom_ (loch broom). An English imitation of the
      Gaelic name, which is _Loch Bhraoin_ (loch vruin). _Braon_
      means a light shower, drops of rain, drizzle.

      _Loch Clair_, properly _Clar_ (loch clar). Means anything
      flat, as the head of a barrel, leaf of a table, the front or
      plain piece of a kilt. The stone tables of the law are
      called _clar_ in the Gaelic bible.

      _Loch Coulin_ (loch koalin). Coulin (or Connlin) is from
      _Connlach_, a Fingalian hero, who was buried on a promontory
      in the loch. The site of his grave is still pointed out.

      _Loch Fada_ (loch fatter), Long loch. _Fada_, long.

      _Loch Fear_, _Feur_, _Feir_, or _Fiar_. See _Fear loch_.

      _Loch Gharbhaig_ (loch garravaik), Loch of the Garavaig,
      which see.

      _Loch Maree._ See _St Maelrubha_.

      _Loch Mhic 'ille Rhiabhaich_ (loch vik illie reeoach), Loch
      of MacGille Riabhach, whom see.

      _Loch na Beiste_ (loch na peyest), Loch of the beast.
      _Beist_, a beast, a brute.

      _Loch na h' Oidhche_ (loch na hayich), Loch of night.
      _Oidhche_, night.

      _Loch nan Dailthean_ (loch nan dullann), Loch of the
      meadows. _Dail_, a field, a meadow.

      _Loch Rosque._ See _Loch a Chroisg_.

      _Loch Torr na h' Eiginn_ (loch torr na haykin), Loch of the
      mound of violence. _Torr_, a mound; _eiginn_, violence.

      _Lochan a' Neigh._ Should be _Lochan an Fheidh_, which see.

      _Lochan an Fheidh_ (lochan a neay), Loch of the deer.
      _Fheidh_, possessive of _fiadh_, deer.

      _Lochan Cul na Cathrach_ (lochan cool na karroch), Tarn of
      [or at] the back of the fairies' seat. _Cul_, back of;
      _cathrach_, possessive of _cathair_, a seat, a word usually
      applied to the fairies' seats.

      _Lochan nan Airm_ (lochan nan arram), Loch of the arms.
      _Airm_, possessive of _aram_ (or _armachd_), arms.

      _Lochan nan Breac_, or _Lochan nan Breac Adhair_ (lochanan
      brake aar), Lochan of the trout from the sky. _Adhar_, the
      sky. When trout are found in a loch without inlet or outlet,
      they are supposed to have fallen from the sky.

      _Lochend_ (Dog Gaelic), End of the loch.

      _Londubh_ (lonedhoo), Black bog. _Lon_, a bog; _dubh_,

      _Longa_ (longer). Norse name; the termination _a_ is an old
      Norse suffix meaning an isle. _Long_ may be Norse equivalent
      to the English _long_, or it may possibly be the Gaelic
      _long_, a ship. In old maps it is called _Lunga_.

      _Lonmor_ (lone more), Big bog. _Lon_ (lone), a bog; _mor_,

      _Luibmhor_ (loopmore), Great bend [or loop]. _Luib_, a bend.

      _Lungard_ (lungard). An old name; meaning unknown.

      _Mac_ (mak), Son of. Possessive _mhic_ (vik), of the son of.

      _Mac a Ghille Riabhaich_ (mak illie ree-oach), Son of Gille
      Riabhach. See _Gille Riabhach_.

      _Mac Callum_ (makallum), Son of Malcolm.

      _Mac Coinnich_ (mak kunnich), Son of Kenneth. _Mac_, son of;
      _Coinnich_, possessive of _Coinneach_, which see.

      _Mac Ghille Challum_ (mak illie Challum), The son of the lad
      Malcolm. _Ghille_, possessive of _Gille_; _Challum_,
      possessive of _Callum_, Malcolm.

      _Mac Gilleandreis_ (mak gilloundris), Son of the servant of
      [St] Andrew. _Gille_, a servant; _Aindrea_, or _Andreis_,

      _Mac Gillechriosd_ (mak gillie chree-est), Son of the
      servant of Christ. _Chriosd_, Christ. See _Gille_.

      _Mac Iain Dhuibh_ (mak an ooie), Son of Black John. _Mac_,
      son of; _dhuibh_, possessive of _dubh_, black.

      _MacLean_ (mak laine). In Gaelic this name is _Mac'ill'ean_,
      possibly for _Mac Ghille Iain_, meaning the son of the
      servant of John, or St John.

      _MacLennan_ (maklennan). In Gaelic the name is _Mac a
      Leinnan_, from _leine_, a shirt, referring to the first
      MacLennan having been the armour bearer who carried his
      "shirt" of mail for Mackenzie, lord of Kintail.

      _Mac Leod_ (makloud), the Son of Leod, progenitor of all the

      _Mac Mhic Cordaigh_ (mak vik orday), Son of the son of

      _Mac Olamh Mhor_ (mak olar vor), Son of Olaf the Great.
      _Olaf_, a Norse name.

      _Macdonald_, The son of Donald. It is not used in this form
      in Gaelic. The proper Gaelic equivalent is _Domhnullach_
      (donnulloch); it also means, the son of Donald. _Mac
      Dhomhnuill_ is, however, frequently used.

      _MacRae_ (mak ray), Son of fortune. _Mac_, son of; _rath_,

      _Maighdean_ (maidchen), Maiden.

      _Maighstir Sgoil_ (maishter skol), Schoolmaster.
      _Maighstir_, a master; _sgoil_, a school.

      _Mali chruinn donn_ (mallie cruntown), Round brown Molly.
      _Mali_, Molly; _cruinn_, round; _donn_, brown.

      _Maolmuire_ (melmur), Tonsured one of Mary. _Maol_, a
      cropped head; _muire_, the virgin [Mary].

      _Marbhrann_ (marvran), an elegy. _Marbh_, dead; _rann_,

      _McKenzie_ or _Mackenzie_. Corrupted from _Mac Coinnich_,
      which see.

      _Meall_ (meoul), a hill; literally a lump, usually applied
      to a lump of a hill. _Meallan_, a little hill.

      _Meall a Deas_, (mella teyess), Hill of the south. _Deas_,

      _Meall a Ghuibhais_ (meyoul a huish), Hill of the fir.
      _Guibhas_, a fir.

      _Meall an Doire_ (meyoul an derry), Hill of the grove.

      _Meall Aridh Mhic Craidh_ (meyoul arry vik creear), Hill of
      the shieling of Criadh. _Aridh_, a shieling; _Criadh_, name
      of a man, meaning unknown.

      _Meall Aundrairidh_ (meyoul aurndrarey). Possibly meant for
      hill of Andrew, or of Andrew's shieling; if the latter, the
      termination would be from _aridh_, a shieling.

      _Meall Lochan a Chleirich_ (meyoul lochan a chlearich), Hill
      of the loch of the priest. _Cleireach_, a clerk. The priests
      were sometimes called _cleireach_, from their scholarship.

      _Meall na Cluibha_ (meyoul na clua), Hill of Clu (_Anglicè_
      Cliff hill). _Clu_ may be connected with _cluain_, good

      _Meall na Glaice Daraich_ (meyoul na glarker darroch), Hill
      of the oak dell. _Glac_, a dell; _darach_, oak.

      _Meall nam Meallan_ (meyoul namellan), Hill of the hills.
      _Meallan_, plural of _Meall_, hills.

      _Meall Mheannidh_, or _Meadhonach_, more correctly the
      latter (meyoul vahanny, or meyharnoch), The middle hill.
      _Meall_, hill; _meadhonach_, intermediate.

      _Meallan Chuaich_ (mellan chuaich), Little hill of the cup,
      or quaich. Compare _quaff_.

      _Meallan na Ghamhna_ (mellan a gowna), Stirk hill.
      _Meallan_, a little hill, _gamhainn_, a stirk.

      _Meallan Thearlaich_ (mellan harelich), Little hill of
      Charles. _Tearlach_, Charles; _meallan_, diminutive of
      _meall_. _Anglicè_, Mellon Charles.

      _Mellon Charles._ See _Meallan Thearlaich_.

      _Mellon Udrigil_ (mellon oodrigil), Hill of Udrigil, which

      _Melvaig_ (melvik). Probably Norse; or may be from _meal_
      and _beag_, making _Mealbheag_ (meyoul vek), the little
      hill. In Gaelic it is spelt _Mealabhaig_, which favours the
      Norse origin. _Aig_, old Danish for a little bay. _Melvaig_
      used to be spelt _Malefage_, _Mailfog_, _Melvag_.

      _Midton_, for Middletown. An English word. See _Ballymeon_.

      _Mioll._ Corruption of _Meall_.

      _Moladh Mairi_ (molloch marrie), Praise of Mary. _Moladh_,
      praise; _Mairi_, Mary.

      _Mor_ (more, or mohr), great, or big.

      _Mor Ban_ (moore barn), Fair Sarah. _Mor_, Sarah; _ban_,
      white, fair.

      _Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair_ (mulloch corrie vik
      erraquhar), Summit of the corrie of Farquhar's son.
      _Mulloch_, summit; _coire_, corrie; _Mhic_, of the son of;
      _Fhearchair_, possessive of Farquhar.

      _Murchadh Mac Mhurchaidh_ (muroochuch mak muroochie), Murdo,
      son of Murdo. _Murchadh_, Murdo; possessive _Murchaidh_.

      _Murchadh Riabhach na cuirce_ (muroochuch reeoach na kurke),
      Brindled Murdo of the bowieknife. _Murchadh_, Murdo;
      _riabhach_, brindled; _cuirce_, possessive of _corc_, a
      knife like a bowieknife (a knife that does not shut).

      _Murdo Mc Conill varchue vic Conill vic Allister._ Old
      (almost phonetic) way of writing the Gaelic for "Murdo the
      son of Donald Murdo, the son of Donald, the son of
      Alastair." _Conill_ seems to represent _Dhomhnuill_ (the
      initial "c" belongs to the preceding word), and _varchue_ is
      for _Mhurchaidh_, the possessive cases respectively of
      _Domhnuill_ and _Murchadh_. _Vic_, of course, is for _Mhic_,
      of the son of.

      _Naast_, or _Naust_ (narst). A Norse word. Fäste is Norse
      for a fortress; its Gaelic form with the article would be
      Näste. There is here a knowe by the sea called _Dun Naast_,
      apparently including the Gaelic _Dun_, a castle.

      _Ob Choir' I_ (ope corree), Bay of the island of the corrie,
      or Island Corrie Bay. _Ob_, a bay; _choire_, possessive of
      _coire_, a corrie; _i_, old Gaelic for an island. Iona is
      still called "_I_" in Gaelic.

      _Oban_ (open, or oben), a little bay.

      _Og_ (ogue, pronounced as in rogue), young.

      _Oighrig_ (eyrig). Woman's name; Euphemia is considered to
      be the English equivalent.

      _Openham._ Corrupted from _Opinan_, which see.

      _Opinan_ (opinen), Little bays. Corrupted from _Obanan_,
      plural of _Oban_, which see.

      _Oran na Feannaige_ (oran na feounak), Song of the hoodie
      crow. _Oran_, song; _feannag_, a hoodie crow, _i.e._ the
      Royston or grey crow.

      _Ormiscaig_ (ormscaik). A Norse name; its termination means
      a small bay. The word may include _Ormr_, Norse for a
      serpent. (See Rev. Isaac Taylor on Orme's Head.)

      _Padruig Caogach_ (partrik kuogoch), Skew-eyed Peter.
      _Caogach_, skew-eyed; _Padruig_, Peter, or Patrick.

      _Philabeg._ See _Feileadh Beag_. _Philabeg_ is a lowland
      form of the name of the kilt.

      _Piobaire Ban_ (peepier ban), The fair piper. _Piobaire_, a
      piper; _ban_, fair, white.

      _Piobaire Dall_ (peepi-er toul), Blind piper. _Piobaire_, a
      piper; _dall_, blind.

      _Piobaireachd_ (peebyrocht), Pipe music. Usually applied to
      a set piece in the form now commonly called a pibroch.

      _Ploc_ (plok), a round mass.

      _Ploc_ (plok) of Torridon. See _Ploc_.

      _Ploc-ard_ (plokart), Height of the round mass. See _Ploc_
      and _Aird_.

      _Poll a Chuillin_ (poll a choolin), Pool of the hollies.
      _Poll_, a pool; _cuilionn_, hollies.

      _Poolewe_ (pool-ew). This name means the pool of the Ewe; in
      Gaelic it is _Poll-iu_. _Poll_, a pool; _iu_, ewe.

      _Port Henderson._ A modern name. The colloquial Gaelic name
      of the place is _Portigill_ (porstigil). May be from _Port a
      geal_, the white port.

      _Port na h' Eille_ (port na hail), Port of the thong.
      _Iall_, a thong, a leather strap; possessive _eille_.

      _Port na Heile_ (port na hail). See _Port na h' Eille_.

      _Pronadh na Mial_ (prone-a na meoul), Crushing the louse.
      _Pronadh_, crushing; _mial_, louse.

      _Raasay_, properly _Rasaidh_ (raaser). Norse name. May
      perhaps include _rath_, an obsolete word for a round fort.

      _Rathad Mor_ (rart more), High (great) road. _Rathad_, road;
      _mor_, great.

      _Regoilachy_ (regoalachie). From _fhrith_ (_ree_), a forest,
      and _gobhlach_, forked. The termination is probably for
      euphony, but may represent _achadh_, a field.

      _Rob Donn_ (rob doun), Brown or dun Robert; the soubriquet
      of the great Reay bard. _Rob_, Robert; _donn_, brown, or

      _Rob Roy_, for _Rob Ruadh_ (rob rooer), Red Robert.

      _Rona_ (rowna). Norse; probably seal island. _Ron_ is Gaelic
      for a seal; _a_ is a Norse suffix meaning an island.

      _Roy._ See _Ruadh_.

      _Ru_, or _Rudha_ (roo, or rooah), a point, a promontory.

      _Ru Nohar._ Should be _Rudha 'n Fhomhair_, which see.

      _Ruadh_ (ru-er, or rooag), red, or auburn. Anglicé, _roy_.

      _Ruadh Stac_ (rooer stak), Red stack, or steep rock. _Stac_,
      a steep rock.

      _Ruaridh an Torra_ (roo-arie-an-tor), Rorie of the tor, or
      round smooth hill.

      _Ruaridh Breac_ (roo-arie brake), Spotted (or pock-pitted)
      Rorie, or Roderick. See _Breac_.

      _Ruaridh Ceard_ (roo-arie kard), Rorie the tinker. _Ceard_,
      a tinker.

      _Ruaridh Donn_ (roo-arie doun), Brown or dun Rorie.

      _Ruaridh Mac Allan M'Leod_ (roo-arie mak allan mak loud),
      Rorie, son of Allan M'Leod.

      _Rudha aird an anail_ (roo-arten annall), High point of
      breathing. _Anail_, breathing; _aird_, high.

      _Rudha Chailleach_ (roo chyleoch), Point of the old woman.
      _Rudha_, a point; _cailleach_, an old woman.

      _Rudha Mac Gille Aindreas_ (roo mak ill andres), Point of
      the servant of [St] Andrew. See _Mac Gilleandreis_.

      _Rudha mhadaidh ruaidh_ (roo vatter roo-ie), Fox point, or
      point of the red dog. _Rudha_, a point; _madadh_, a dog;
      _ruadh_, red.

      _Rudha 'n Fhomhair_, or _Fhamhair_ (roo noher), The point of
      the giant. _Fomhair_, a giant.

      _Rudha na Cloiche uaine_ (roo na clor-choo-ownyer),
      Greenstone point. _Cloiche_, possessive of _clach_, a stone;
      _uaine_, green.

      _Rudha Reidh_ (roo ray), Smooth point or headland. _Rudha_,
      a point; _reidh_, level. The name is very descriptive of the
      appearance of the headland as seen from the sea.

      _Runrig._ A south Scotch or English word. In Gaelic it is
      called _Mag maseach_ (mark mer sharch). _Mag_, a rig;
      _maseach_, alternate.

      _Ruymakilvandrich._ See _Rudha Mac Ghille Aindreas_.

      _Sabhal Geal_ (sowl gayal), White barn. See separate words.

      _Sail Mor_ (sal more, or sowl more), The great heel. _Sail_,
      a heel. Descriptive of the shape of this spur of _Beinn

      _Saint Maelrubha_ (saint malruie). Maree is a corruption
      from this saint's name.

      _Sand_ (sand, or saunda). Name of a place by a sandy beach;
      evidently Norse. The full name of the place called Big Sand
      is _Sanda a chorran_, meaning "the sand of the shingly

      _Sasunnach_ (sarsenach), Saxon, English, not a Gaelic
      speaker. _Sasunnach mor_, the big Englishman.

      _Scardroy._ See _Sgaird ruadh_.

      _Scuir_, or _Sgorr_ (skoor), a peak or cliff.

      _Scuir a Laocainn_ (scoor a lyooakin), Peak of the calf's
      skin. _Laodh_, a calf; _gin_, abbreviation for _craiceann_
      (crakin), a skin.

      _Scuir a Mhuilin_ (skoor a voollin), Peak of the mill.
      _Mhuilin_, possessive of _muileann_, a mill.

      _Scuir na Feart_ (scoor na hairsht). Name of a peak; meaning

      _Seann Rudha_ (shoun roo), Old promontory. _Seann_, old;
      _rudha_, promontory.

      _Seann Seoc_ (shoun shok), Old Jock. _Seann_, old; _seoc_,
      Jock or Jack.

      _Seann Tighearna_ (shoun tcheerna), Old laird. _Seann_, old;
      _tighearna_, laird, proprietor.

      _Seannachaidh_ (shennachie), Reciter of old tales, recorder,

      _Seonaid Chrubach_ (shounat chruboch), Lame Jessie.
      _Seonaid_, Jessie; _crubach_, lame.

      _Sgaird ruadh_ (scart rooer), Red scree. _Sgaird_, a scree,
      shingly slope.

      _Sgalag_ (skallak), a servant, farm servant.

      _Sgeir_, or _Skeir_ (skeer), a rock surrounded by the sea.

      _Sgeir a Bhuic_ (skeir a vook), Island rock of the buck.
      From _sgeir_, a rock surrounded by the sea, and _bhuic_,
      possessive of _boc_, a buck.

      _Sgeir an Fharaig_ (skeir an harrik), Island rock of the
      surf. From _fairge_, surf, sea.

      _Sgeir Bhoora_ (skeir voora), Island rock of Boor. From
      _sgeir_, a rock surrounded by the sea, and _Bhoora_,
      possessive of _Boor_.

      _Sgorr_, or _Sgurr_ (skor, or skoor), a peak. It is often
      written here as elsewhere _Scuir_, but the former words are
      more correct.

      _Sgorr Dubh_ (scorr dhoo), Black peak.

      _Sgurr Ban_ (skoor barn), White peak. _Sgurr_, a peak;
      _ban_, white.

      _Shieldaig_ (shieldak). Probably a Norse name; meaning
      unknown. _Aig_ is an old Danish suffix meaning a small bay.
      _Shieldaig_ was formerly spelt _Syldage_, _Sildag_, and

      _Sian_, or _Seun_ (shee-un), a spell, charm, incantation.

      _Siol Mhic Ghille Challum_ (sheeol vik illie challum), Seed
      of Mac Gille Challum, whom see.

      _Siol Tormod_ (sheeol tormot), Seed of Tormod.

      _Siol Torquil_ (sheeol torquil), Seed of Torquil.

      _Sitheanan Dubha_ (sheean-an dhooar), Black knowes, fairies'
      hills. _Sithean_, a knowe; _dubh_, black.

      _Skar_ (scar), a screen. Obsolete.

      _Slaggan_, properly _Slagan_ (slagan). Diminutive of slag,
      or lag, a hollow. This place is for identification called in
      Gaelic _An slagan odhar_ (an slagan our), or The little dun

      _Slatadale_ (slay ter dle). Norse; or it might possibly be
      connected with _slaitan_, fishing rods. In the old map of
      1662 it is spelt _Slotadull_.

      _Slioch_, or _Sleugach_ (slee-och), resembling a spear.
      _Sleagh_, a spear. The mountain from some points of view is
      like a broad spear head. The name should not have _Beinn_
      before it.

      _Slogan_ (sloggan), a war cry. Obsolete now.

      _Smiorsair_ (smearesar). Name of a hamlet; probably from
      _smior_, the marrow, the best; _aridh_, a shieling.

      _Spidean Moirich_ (speetan moi-or-ich), Peak of Martha.
      _Spidean_, a peak; _Moirich_, possessive of _Moireach_,

      _Sporan_ (sporran), a purse.

      _Srondubh_ (strondhoo), Black nose or promontory. _Sron_
      (stron), a nose or promontory.

      _Sron a Choite_ (strunyer hote), Nose (or promontory) of the
      coble. _Sron_ (stron), a nose or promontory; _choite_,
      possessive of _coite_, a coble.

      _Stac Buidhe_ (stack boo-ie), Yellow stack, _i.e._ steep
      rock. _Stac_, a stack, _buidhe_, yellow.

      _Stank house._ An English name; but _stank_ is from the
      Gaelic _staing_, a ditch.

      _Steall a Mhunidh_ (shteyole a vonie), Splash of the
      Pisvache. A fine waterfall, resembling the _Pisvache_ of
      European celebrity.

      _Strath_, properly _Srath_ (strah), a broad valley.

      _Strath Chromple_ (strath roumpil), Valley of the curved
      opening. _Crom_, curved; _beul_, mouth or opening.

      _Suarachan_ (shore-achen). Soubriquet of Big Duncan of the
      Axe, being the diminutive of _Suarach_, insignificant;
      referring to his not having been thought worthy of being
      armed for the battle of Park.

      _Suidheachan Fhinn_ (seeachan een), Fingal's seat.
      _Suidheachan_, a turf seat; _Fhinn_, possessive of _Fionn_,

      _Tagan_ (tahkan). Possibly Norse; may be from _tathaich_, a

      _Talladale_ (tallardle). Probably Norse; may be from
      _talla_, a hall, and the Norse _dahl_ or _dal_. In old
      documents it is spelt _Alydyll_, _Allawdill_, and
      _Telledill_. The two former spellings suggest that the name
      was formerly spelt with "th," pronounced as a soft aspirate.

      _Thorisdal_, Dale of the Norse god Thor. See _Eilean

      _Tigh Dige_ (ty dgeegie), House of the ditch. _Tigh_, a
      house; _dig_, a ditch.

      _Tigh mo Sheanair_ (ty mer henner), House of my grandfather.
      _Tigh_, a house; _mo_, my; _sheanair_, possessive of
      _seanair_, grandfather.

      _Tighearna Crubach_ (tcheerna krupboch), Lame laird.

      _Tighearna Ruadh_ (tcheerna roer), Red or auburn-haired
      laird or proprietor. _Tighearna_, laird; _ruadh_, red.

      _Tighearna Storach_ (tcheerna storroch), Buck-toothed laird.

      _Tighnafaolinn_ (ty na fualin). The sea-mews' home. _Tigh_,
      a house, home; _faoileann_, a sea-gull.

      _Tobar Mhoire_ (toppervorie) Well of the Virgin Mary, or of
      Mourie. _Tobar_, a well; _Mhoire_, possessive of _Moire_,

      _Tobar nan ceann_ (topper nan keyoun), Fountain or well of
      the heads. _Tobar_, a fountain, a well; _ceann_, a head.

      _Tollie_, properly _Tollidh_ (tolly), diminutive of _Toll_,
      a hole. All the _Tollies_ are in hollows. _Idh_ is a rare
      diminutive, but is sometimes used even in the present day.

      _Torasgian._ See _Tor-sgian_.

      _Torr_ (torr), a mound or lump; generally applied to a round
      hill. The name is common in Gairloch and the neighbourhood,
      and seems specially applicable to the hummocks or domes of
      gneiss, noted as so frequent in this locality by Professor
      Geikie. The name _Cnoc_ (krock), a knoll, has a somewhat
      similar meaning.

      _Torran nan Eun_ (torranan eeon), Mounds of the birds.
      _Torran_, mounds; _eun_, a bird.

      _Torran nan tighearnan_ (torran nan tchee-ernan), Mounds of
      the chieftains. _Torr_, a mound; _tighearn_, a chief,
      literally superior of land.

      _Torridon_ (torriden). Old name; perhaps Norse. Can it
      possibly be connected with _torran_, mounds, or lumps, which
      would be very descriptive? It is spelt _Torvedene_ in the
      Sheriff's protocol of 1494.

      _Tor-sgian_ (toroshkin), peat cutter. _Tor_, a lump;
      _sgian_, a knife.

      _Tournaig_, Gallice _Turnaig_ (toornak). A Norse name. The
      suffix _aig_ means a small bay in old Danish.

      _Truibhais_ (trewish), trews, a sort of trousers.

      _Tulachan_ (toolachen), a sham calf. Compare Gaelic _tulg_,
      to rock, or toss. The sham calf was moved to and fro to make
      the cow think it was sucking.

      _Tulchan._ See _Tulachan_.

      _Tulloch Ard_ (tullochart), High knoll. _Tulloch_ from
      _tulach_, a knoll; _ard_, high.

      _Uamh_ (oo-av), a cave.

      _Uamh a' Mhail_ (oo-av a varl), Cave of rent or tribute.
      _Mhail_, possessive of _Mal_, rent or tribute.

      _Uamh nam Freiceadain_ (ooie nam rekatan), Cave of the
      guard. _Freiceadan_, a guard, watching.

      _Uamh an Oir_ (ooav an or), Cave of gold. _Oir_, possessive
      of _or_, gold.

      _Uamh gu do roghiann_ (ooie gat der ooun), Cave for your
      choice. _Gu_, to, or for; _do_, your; _roghiann_, choice.

      _Uamh Mhic 'ille Rhiabhaich_ (ooie vick illie reeoach), The
      cave of the son of the brindled gillie or lad. _Mhic_ (vik),
      possessive of _Mac_, son of; _'ille_, for _ghille_,
      possessive of _gille_. See _Mac Gille Riabhaich_.

      _Udrigil_ (oodrigil). Probably a Norse name; meaning

      _Ullapool_ (oo-la-pull). An old name; probably from _uile_,
      all, and _poll_, a pool; signifying that it is a pool large
      enough for all.

      _Uistean_ (ooshtan). A Gaelic Christian name; Hugh is
      considered the English equivalent.

      _Vic._ Popular spelling of _Mhic_, the possessive of _Mac_,
      son of. There is no _v_ or _w_ in Gaelic.


        Rathad mor a Ceann-loch-iu,
          Rathad ur a Ghearloch;
        Gabhaidh sinn an rathad mor
          Olc na math le cach e.--_Gaelic Song._

        The high road to Kenlochewe,
          The new road to Gairloch;
        Storm or sunshine, take with me
          The high road to Gairloch.--_Free rendering._

Gairloch is a typical Highland parish on the west coast of Ross-shire.
Its length, from Loch Rosque to Rudha Reidh, is thirty miles, and its
width is fifteen miles, so that it is one of the most extensive parishes
in Great Britain.

The name "Gairloch" is composed of two Gaelic words, _gearr_ and _loch_.
_Gearr_ means "short"; and the sea-loch which gives its name to the
parish is appropriately called short, as compared with Loch Broom, Loch
Ewe, and other more deeply indented arms of the sea. The native spelling
and pronunciation of the name prove the derivation beyond all question.

There is a curious muddle in the old and new Statistical Accounts about
the origin of the name Gairloch. In the former (Appendix C) it is said
to have been taken from "a very small loch near the church and the house
of Flowerdale, and so close by the shore that the sea at high tides
covers it." In the New Statistical Account (Appendix E) "a hollow spot
of ground" is spoken of as "the Gairloch," and the writer states that
the natives allege that the parish takes its name from it. The
explanation is supplied by the story of Hector Roy and the three M'Leods
given in Part I., chap. ix. The place referred to as "a very small loch"
and "a hollow spot of ground," is now represented by a well, still
called "the Gairloch" from the reason given in that story, but it did
not originate the name of the parish.

       *       *       *       *       *

The name Gairloch is used in four different senses both in the following
pages and among the inhabitants. It means,--

    1. The sea-loch or bay of Gairloch.

    2. The whole parish.

    3. The place at the head of the sea-loch where the hotel,
       &c., stand, more properly called Achdistall.

    4. The original estate of the Mackenzie lairds of Gairloch.

These various meanings are a little confusing, but the context generally
makes clear what is intended.

       *       *       *       *       *

Considerations of health, followed by growing appreciation of the charms
of Gairloch, have caused me to make my Highland home in this
out-of-the-world parish. Its romantic scenery and health-giving climate
are its most obvious attractions; but add to these its wonderful legends
and traditions, the eventful history of its dominant family, the story
of its old ironworks, the interesting peculiarities of its Highland
inhabitants, the distinction conferred upon it by the visit of Her
Majesty Queen Victoria, the great geological controversy about its
rocks, the sport its waters afford to the angler, the varied subjects it
displays to the artist, and the pregnant fields of research it yields to
the scientist, and you have a list of allurements it would be difficult
to beat elsewhere. Though its boundary line extends to within five miles
of the railway, Gairloch still preserves many of the characteristics of
old days, and these not only possess a peculiar fascination for most
people, but are also well fitted to arouse and nourish a spirit of

       *       *       *       *       *

The famous Loch Maree (with the small but romantic islet known as Isle
Maree) is surrounded by the finest scenery in the parish. Their
attractions bring annually some three thousand visitors to Gairloch. One
might have fancied that such an influx of people would have led to the
accumulation of a large and increasing stock of knowledge of this
Highland parish, but as a rule the visitors are here to-day and gone
to-morrow, and take no thorough interest in the country or its

Some years ago I happened to travel by the railway from Inverness to
Achnasheen in the company of a pleasant party, comprising a gentleman
and three ladies, who were making a tour in the Highlands. They boasted
that, though their time had been limited to a very few days, they would
have seen the greater part of the Highlands before they returned home.
On the day I fell in with them their object was to see Loch Maree. To
accomplish this they had arranged by telegraph for a carriage and pair
to await the arrival of the train at Achnasheen. The day proved wet and
misty, and I saw them leave the railway station in a close carriage. I
followed soon after on the mail-car. A short delay took place at
Kenlochewe whilst the horses were changed. There I found my
fellow-travellers enjoying their lunch in the hotel. They told me that
although the day was too wet for them to drive down to the shore of the
loch, and too misty to admit of its being fully seen from a distance,
yet they were quite able to say that they had seen Loch Maree, for at
one point they had put their heads out of the windows of their carriage
during a brief cessation of the rain and had distinctly seen the water
of the loch! They were returning to Achnasheen as soon as they had
swallowed their lunch, to catch the train back to Inverness the same

These tourists, who thus professed to have "seen Loch Maree," were a
fair type of too many of those who rush through Gairloch, as if their
sole object were to cover the most ground in the shortest possible time,
and who thus fail to obtain any true perception of the belongings of the
country, even of the scenery.

There are first-rate hotels within the parish, and lodgings may
frequently be hired, or a furnished house taken. The hotels offer the
inducement of lower terms to those whose visits exceed the usually brief

Impressions of scenery are fixed by repetition; insight into nature is
deepened by observation; and knowledge of a country is vastly more
valuable if it include some acquaintance with the population, their
characters, condition, and means of livelihood. Too many visitors
overlook their opportunities in these directions.

Some remarks are necessary with regard to the traditions of Gairloch,
contained mostly in Part I. In recent times there has been a tendency to
discredit all such traditions, and to treat them as symbolic or didactic
legends, or as localisations (with extra colouring) of myths common to
the heroic period of every country. The principal features of one or two
of the Gairloch traditions are certainly to be found in stories of other
parts of the Highlands, and occasionally, but rarely, a resemblance may
even be traced to the plot of some ancient European myth. On the other
hand, it is to be noted that the Highland bards, down to the present
time, have regularly transmitted their stories in precisely the same
language from one trained memory to another, so that even the very words
put into the mouths of the _dramatis personæ_ have been insisted upon in
every transmission. Another point to be noticed is, that except in two
instances the Gairloch traditions do not date further back than four
centuries. In the older legends referred to, visible evidences, such as
the tombstones in Isle Maree and the cave at Ardlair, may perhaps be
considered confirmatory. For my own part, I am disposed to accept all
the traditions as generally worthy of credence. Much interest in the
locality is gained by doing this, and certainly nothing is lost!

A difficulty the visitor to Gairloch always experiences is due to the
Gaelic names. The Glossary should help to overcome this obstacle. Not
only does it include the meanings of the Gaelic words, but it attempts
to indicate their pronunciations. I am bound to warn the reader that the
pronunciations stated are only approximate. There are sounds in the
Gaelic language which cannot be expressed by English tongues or to
English ears by any combinations of letters. Yet most of the
pronunciations stated are sufficiently near the truth to answer ordinary
purposes. I recommend the reader to refer to the Glossary at the
occurrence of each Gaelic name in the book, and those names and their
import will soon become familiar. The Gaelic sound of _ch_ is about the
same as that of the German _ch_; it does not occur in the English
language, but unless you can master it there is no use in your trying to
speak even the two leading names in this parish,--viz., Gairloch, and
Loch Maree. Whatever you do, pray avoid pronouncing _loch_ as if it were
_lock_. This is the most egregious error made by many southerners in
trying to speak the commonest Highland names.

In communicating to the public the information about Gairloch contained
in the following pages, I claim the right to offer a word or two of
counsel and entreaty.

I would submit that it is unfair, as well as discourteous, to interfere
with the rights of those who take deer forests or rent sheep farms.
Rambles on upland moors and mountain ascents are almost certain to
injure the sport or privileges of others. I am aware there is a strong
feeling that every one ought to have access to mountains. Whether this
be legalised by Parliament or not, I would appeal to the visitor here to
refrain from the illiberality and discourtesy of spoiling other people's
hardly-earned and well-paid-for privileges. There is plenty of room for
all. Why should unpleasant feelings be stirred up, and tourists as a
class be blamed for the intolerance of a few? All the mountains and
hills of Gairloch are haunts of the red deer or feeding-grounds of
sheep, and no ascents ought to be undertaken unless by due arrangement,
which cannot be expected in the deer-stalking season, and which, when
obtainable, should be made with the head-keeper of the ground.

There are some drawbacks to mountain ascents that may help the visitor
more willingly to forego them. How often the view from a summit is
entirely blotted out by clouds or mist, or marred by the distance being
lost in haze! How often the fine morning that induced the expedition is
followed by a stormy afternoon! To these must be added the frequent
injury to health caused by the unusual strain on the systems of persons
unaccustomed to mountaineering, and the possible risk of being lost in
mist. It is hoped that tourists will be content with the shorter climbs
recommended in Part IV. Artists tell us that landscapes seen from lower
elevations are more thoroughly picturesque than the bird's-eye views
from mountain tops.

Again, I entreat botanists and others looking for wild flowers and
plants to abstain from rooting up the rare or beautiful things they may
find, and from trespassing in places where their presence is obviously
not required. The mania for removing every fragment of an uncommon plant
has grown much of late years,--witness the extermination of the
edelweiss from some of its best known habitats on the Swiss Alps. Who
does not remember places whence our own rare holly-fern has within the
past few years been eradicated? A few years ago that comparatively
scarce fern the sea-spleenwort (_asplenium marinum_) was abundant within
three hundred yards of the Gairloch Hotel; now it is unknown there. A
gentleman fond of botany planted some uncommon ferns not natives of
Ross-shire in a wood in Gairloch parish; they were soon discovered by
tourists staying at a neighbouring hotel, who ruthlessly removed the
whole. Instances of this kind have brought the British tourist into
disrepute in many parts of the world.

It is in the spirit of these remarks that I beg to introduce the reader
to the charms of Gairloch and Loch Maree.



    CHAPTER                                                         PAGE

        I. Early History                                               3

       II. The Tragedy of Isle Maree                                   7

      III. The Mackenzies of Kintail                                  11

       IV. Ewan Mac Gabhar, the Son of the Goat                       14

        V. The MacRaes of Kintail and Gairloch                        19

       VI. The MacBeaths                                              21

      VII. The M'Leods of Gairloch                                    24

     VIII. The Macdonalds in Gairloch                                 27

       IX. Hector Roy Mackenzie, First Laird of Gairloch              29

        X. John Glassich Mackenzie and his Sons                       36

       XI. John Roy Mackenzie                                         38

      XII. Expulsion of the M'Leods from Gairloch                     43

     XIII. Alastair Breac, and his Son and Grandson                   49

      XIV. The Baronets of Gairloch, and some other Gairloch
           Mackenzies                                                 53

       XV. Gairloch Estates, and Old Names of Places                  60

      XVI. Ecclesiastical History of Gairloch                         63

     XVII. Ancient Gairloch Ironworks                                 72

    XVIII. The Historic Ironworks of Loch Maree                       75

      XIX. The Iron Ores used in Gairloch                             86

       XX. Remains of Ironworks in the Parish of Gairloch             90

      XXI. Antiquities                                                97


Chapter I.


The blessedness attributed to the nation without a history cannot be
assigned to the parish of Gairloch. Although her ancient history has
never been written, it is to be feared her inhabitants were far from
wholly blessed in the far off days of yore. The earlier annals of
Gairloch are indeed veiled in mists, almost as impenetrable as those
that often shroud her mountains. Amid the gloom there are faint glimpses
to be had of the wild natives of the district, of fierce warriors from
other lands, and of saintly Christian pioneers; but complete pictures of
the doings of those old times can be found only in the galleries of the
imagination. The same everlasting hills still tower over the same
straths, glens, and lochs; but the actors are changed, the play has
another plot, with incidents of a very different kind. In a region so
innocent of letters, so inaccessible to the scholar, it is easy to
account for the total absence of ancient records. The narratives of the
seannachies, or bards, handed down by oral tradition from generation to
generation, might have been expected to fill in the blank, yet it is
only in the stories of some few salient adventures that these traditions
have been preserved beyond the past four centuries.

Even imagination fails to carry us further back than the Picts or Celts
or Gaels, who are supposed to have been the aborigines of all the
British Isles. They were a wild warlike race,--wild from their rough
struggling state of existence, warlike in their constant attitude of
self-defence. Some have supposed that there were giants among them in
those days, and that these were the originals of the colossal heroes of
the Fingalian legends. The name of the Giant's Point (Ru Nohar) on Loch
Maree, and the discoveries in the neighbourhood of what are alleged to
be enormous graves, give some colour to the supposition. There are
slight traces of Fingalian legends still current in the parish. Thus the
hollow near the Gairloch Established Church, in which the Free Church
communion services are held, is said to have been scooped out by Fingal
for a bed where his white cow might calve. It is still called Leabaidh
na Ba Bàine, or the bed of the white cow. Then the large stones in Loch
Maree, in a line between the base of the Fox Point and the nearest part
of the opposite shore, are said to have been placed there by Fingal for
stepping-stones, to keep his feet dry when going this way to court
Malvina, who lived in the direction of Torridon. Only an enormous giant
could have stepped from stone to stone; they are to this day called the
sweetheart's stepping-stones. Again, there is a mound in a depression
near the summit of Beinn Tarsuinn, called Suidheachan Fhinn, or Fingal's
seat, where they say he used to sit and spy when hunting on the
mountains. These fragments are all we are told of Fingal's doings in

Though we know nothing of their history, we can infer much regarding the
condition of the original Pictish inhabitants of Gairloch. That they
were numerous, we may judge from the several remains of Pictish brochs
or round houses to be seen in the parish. These are doubtless but
samples of numbers of others, still buried beneath moss and heather, or
long since obliterated by agricultural operations. Each broch was the
abode of several families, huddled together beneath its roof of skins.
Most of the primitive weapons or implements to be enumerated in the
chapter on the antiquities of Gairloch belonged to the Pictish natives
of the parish. Our eyes may see, our hands may grasp, the very
implements these Gairloch men formed and used possibly before the
Christian era; and as we look upon them we may readily conceive how
straitened were their owners' circumstances. Amongst the antiquities
some alleged Druidical remains will be mentioned. Whether these were
really Druidical or no, it is certain that the religion of this district
before Christianity took root was that of the Druids. The sacrifices of
bulls on Isle Maree, practised, as we shall see, so lately as 1678, were
unquestionably relics of the rites celebrated by the Druidical priests,
though they themselves had vanished a thousand years before.

When Agricola invaded Scotland in A.D. 81, the tribe of Picts who
inhabited Ross-shire was called the Cantæ. A punster might be excused
for remarking (and that truly), that in Gairloch at least the race is
still "canty," _i.e._ knowing. It is not probable that the Romans ever
reached this part of Ross-shire; the nearest evidence of their invasion
is some trace of their roads in Strathspey, a hundred miles from
Gairloch. It is very likely that Gairloch men helped their fellow Celts
in the battles with the Romans. Tacitus relates how the Highlanders at
that period made sacrifices before going to battle, and fought with
broadsword and targe. The country was then almost destitute of
agriculture, being mostly vast forests and morasses, teeming with wolves
and other wild beasts; the possessions of the people were herds of

When the Romans abandoned Britain, about A.D. 446, the Picts were under
the sway of a king called Drust, the son of Erp, who is said to have
lived a hundred years, and to have fought a hundred battles. The Pictish
monarchy continued until A.D. 843, when Kenneth II. took Camelon, the
capital of the Picts; on this the kings of Scotland, and subsequently of
Great Britain, became at least the nominal rulers of the Highlands.

The introduction of Christianity brought a refining and civilising
element to the rough people of the North, but it was many centuries
before its influence became general. St Columba began his mission in
A.D. 563, and the ecclesiastical establishment at Iona was the result.
Local tradition says the little chapel at Sand of Udrigil, in Gairloch
parish, was built by St Columba, or one of his immediate followers. But
it was St Maelrubha who was the apostle of Gairloch and of the adjoining
parish of Applecross; he founded the church of Applecross A.D. 673, and
died there on 21st April A.D. 722. He appears to have made his Gairloch
home on Isle Maree, a site that suggests the necessity, at least at
first, of the Christian missionary having recourse to the protection
afforded by an insular position. The new teaching soon displaced the
Paganism of the Druids, though, in accordance with the policy of the
early Christian church, the sacrifices of bulls were permitted, as we
have seen, for a thousand years afterwards. The first church of Gairloch
was dedicated to St Maelrubha; it was probably not erected until many
years after his death. Tradition says that his cell on Isle Maree was
occupied for some generations by the successors of this holy man; one of
them is mentioned in the legend of the island given in the next chapter.

During the rule of the Pictish kings the Norwegian Vikings made
continual raids upon the Highlands, at first as independent pirates, but
later on as vassals of Harold Harfager, the first king of all Norway.
About the end of the ninth century the Norwegians became so powerful as
to be able to establish a separate and independent kingdom in Orkney and
the Western Isles. Parts of Ross-shire were frequently ravaged, and
often held, by them. In Gairloch they have left a number of footprints
in the names of places. Thus the Islands Longa and Foura exhibit the
Norwegian suffix _a_, meaning an island. The Vikings used to retire
during the winter months to small islands off the coast, where they laid
up their vessels. The names of these two Gairloch islands, according to
the Rev. Isaac Taylor, bear curious evidence to their having been the
winter quarters of Vikings. The tragic legend of Isle Maree, given in
the next chapter, is an episode in the career of one of these piratical
princes. A large Gairloch island is named Thorisdale, after the Norse
god Thor. Among other Norwegian names in Gairloch is "Sgeir," _i.e._ a
detached rock; it occurs in Sgeir Bhoora, Sgeir an Fharaig, &c. So also
the suffix _dale_ or _dal_ is Norwegian; it occurs in Thorisdale,
Talladale, Slatadale, Erradale, Inverasdale, &c. Naast is believed to be
a Norwegian name. Other Norse names are given in the Glossary.

It has been supposed that the Danes did not invade the west coast, but
an examination of Gairloch names shews that they were most likely here.
Some of the Vikings were Danes. Mr Taylor says that the termination
_aig_ signifies a small bay, and is Danish; it occurs in a number of
Gairloch names (_see the Glossary_). The Danes were driven out of
Scotland in 1040.

There can be no doubt that both Norwegians and Danes intermarried with
the people of Gairloch, and thus the native Pictish breed became a mixed
race. One can almost identify Norwegian and Danish types of face in
Gairloch to this day.

The dominion of the Norwegian monarchs over the Hebrides and some parts
of the mainland was broken by the defeat of Haco the aged king of
Norway, at the battle of Largs, on 3d October 1263. His successor
Magnus, in 1266, ceded the whole of the Scottish territory held by
Norway (except Orkney and Shetland) to the king of Scotland. An
Icelandic saga states that Ross-shire was part of the dominion of the
earls of Orkney under Norway, whilst another authority regards it as
part of Scotland. In all probability the wild Highlanders of Ross had
never entirely submitted to either king. Though the king of Norway at
this time abandoned all claim to Ross-shire, yet some tribes of
Norwegian descent long afterwards held Gairloch; they were the MacBeaths
and M'Leods, of whom more shortly.

The earls of Ross followed the Norwegians in the rule of the Northern
Highlands. They were of the ancient Celtic family of the O'Beolans, and
had been the Pictish maormors of Ross before the title of earl (_comes_)
took the place of the older Pictish designation. Gairloch, as a part of
North Argyle, was included by name in the Sheriffdom of Skye, erected in
1292 by King John Balliol. This is believed to be the first mention of
Gairloch in existing records. King Robert Bruce confirmed the possession
of Gairloch to the earls of Ross between 1306 and 1329. In 1366 Earl
William granted "to Paul M'Tyre and to his heirs by Mary of Grahame,
with remainder to the lawful heirs of Paul, the lands of Gerloch within
the parts of Argyle, for yearly payment of a penny of silver in name of
blench ferme in lieu of every other service except the forinse service
of the king when required." In 1372 King Robert II. confirmed the grant.
Paul M'Tyre is stated to have been a cousin of Earl William; we hear no
more of him.

Earl William left only a daughter, who married Walter Leslie. They had a
son, Alexander, who became Earl of Ross, and also a daughter, who
married Donald, Lord of the Isles. Earl Alexander married a daughter of
the Regent, Robert Duke of Albany. Their only child Euphemia died young
in 1406, after she had resigned her title to the son of the regent.
Donald, Lord of the Isles, by virtue of his marriage with the daughter
of Walter Leslie, laid claim to the earldom of Ross, in opposition to
the regent's son. After a prolonged strife the earldom of Ross was
forfeited, and annexed to the crown in 1476. During the unsettled period
which began with Donald's ambitious claim, Gairloch seems to have been
in a state of anarchy. Not only the MacBeaths and M'Leods struggled for
its possession, but the Macdonalds, as clansmen of the Lord of the
Isles, appear to have overrun the district.

Meanwhile the Mackenzies of Kintail had grown to be a great power in
Ross-shire, and being of the same original stock as the O'Beolan earls
of Ross, they had a better right to Gairloch than the other claimants,
all of whom in turn gave way to the victorious Mackenzies.

The legends and narratives which follow are placed as nearly as may be
in chronological order. They all belong to the period of the Mackenzies,
except that of the tragedy of Isle Maree, which forms our next chapter;
it occurred long before.

Chapter II.


Isle Maree was as sweet a spot at the end of the ninth century as it is
now. A thick grove of tall trees crowded round its circular Druidical
enclosure. There were noble specimens of the indigenous oak, so
mysteriously connected with the Druidical worship; there was a dense
thicket of the smooth-leaved holly, the sacred tree brought here by St
Maelrubha himself, who, it would seem, intended it to become (as it did)
a Christian rival to the Pagan oak. Then, as now, the undergrowth of
ferns and flowers, and a large kind of grass, attained almost tropical
proportions beneath the benign influence of the warm shade.

The scene of our story is laid in this beautiful and hallowed island. St
Maelrubha had been long gathered to his fathers, and the sacred college
of Iona had appointed a successor to his hermitage on Isle Maree, who in
turn had made room for another. The occupant of the cell at the date of
our story is an aged saint of peculiar sagacity and piety. Long known to
the wild people of Gairloch for his bold denunciations and shrewd
penetration, he had acquired by his stern eloquence and ascetic life an
extraordinary influence over them. The Christian festivals brought
successive offerings to the sainted hermit, and the island oft resounded
with the psalms of David chaunted by the throng of faithful pilgrims.

But not only the common people resorted to the cell of the holy man; the
Norse Vikings, who held the district in partial subjugation, frequently
came to him for the ministrations of religion and for the benefit of his
sage counsel. To one and all, to young and old, to Celt and Norwegian,
he was alike accessible.

A young Norwegian prince was chief among the Vikings who then dominated
this part of the west coast. Prince Olaf was of the blood royal of
Norway, and on this account alone would have been willingly adopted by
his fellows as their leader, had not his personal bravery and reckless
daring secured to him the post of honour. He had a grievous failing,--a
restless and ungovernable temper. Naturally high-spirited, he had been
as a boy the spoilt darling of his fellows, and had grown up a creature
of impulse, subject to paroxysms of fearful passion. Whenever he was
thwarted in his plans, or roused to anger by foe or friend, the evil
spirit came upon him, and he lost all command of himself.

The prince lived with his fighting men in his great war galley, except
during the winter, when they encamped on one or other of the islands of
Loch Ewe. Often would Olaf repair to the hermitage of Isle Maree, and
receive from the saint kindly advice and priestly absolution.

It was natural that one so impulsive should early fall under the
influence of the tender passion. We need not try to imagine the story of
Olaf's love; it was no common attachment; the flame burned in his breast
with an intensity becoming his fiery spirit.

But a difficulty arose. He was unwilling, at least at first, to ask his
bride to exchange the comparative quietude of her father's home for the
restless life of a ship of war. In dire perplexity he sought the advice
of his friend the saint of Isle Maree. The wise old man proposed that
another and a larger dwelling should be erected in the form of a tower
to the west of the enclosure in the centre of which stood his own humble
cell. To this tower Olaf might bring his bride and there they might take
up their abode, within easy reach of the prince's galley on Loch Ewe.

To hasten on. The prince eagerly adopted this plan, and in a short time
the tower was built, and Olaf brought his bonny bride to the island.
Here they were married by the aged hermit, amid the rejoicings of their
followers. The princess and her maidens were delighted with the romantic
and secure retreat. Olaf's attendants pitched their tents around, and
the leafy grove grew gay with joyful laughter and with genial song.

For a while all went smoothly. The life of the young lovers was a
continual delight; their passion for one another only increased as
months rolled on. In vain his comrades sent message after message
entreating the presence of the prince on board his ship. He could not
tear himself away from his darling, and she in turn was more than
unwilling that he should leave her. At length there came word that a
long-planned expedition, in which other leaders were to take part, was
ready to start, and Olaf was expected to assume the command. He dared no
longer remain in retirement. With aching heart he told the princess of
his approaching departure. Her tears were unavailing; on the morrow he
must leave. Meanwhile strange forebodings of evil filled the minds of
both. What if he should be slain in battle! What if some unknown danger
should cause her death in his absence! A scheme was concocted for
shortening the final moments of suspense. It was agreed that when the
prince should return, a white flag would be displayed from his barge on
Loch Maree if all were well; if otherwise, a black flag would be shewn.
The maidens prepared these flags, and the prince took them with him. The
princess was to leave the island in her barge whenever her lord's boat
should come in sight, and she in like manner was to display a white or
black flag to denote her safety or the reverse.

The morning came, and they parted. The prince arrived at Poolewe, was
received by his men with wild enthusiasm, and set sail at once. It is
not necessary that we should follow him through the perilous campaign.
Enough that all ended well, and the victorious prince returned safely to
Poolewe. In hot haste, and half crazy with excitement, he sought his
boat on Loch Maree, raised with his own hand the snow-white banner of
success, and mustered the faithful attendants who were to row him to
Isle Maree.

During his absence the princess had passed through several phases of
anxiety. At first despair took possession of her heart, and it was long
ere the good old saint and her own maidens were able to soothe her with
words of hope. As she became calmer, a new misgiving occurred to her.
Did Olaf prefer the excitement of warfare to the peaceful society of his
bride? Had she lost the devotion of his heart? Did he really love her?
Then horrible jealousy became her absorbing feeling. Was the faithless
prince to treat her as an insignificant plaything, to be caressed one
day and deserted the next? It was all in vain that her companions strove
to check this new folly; she declared continually that her husband had
never truly loved her. Under the influence of this crushing doubt, she
devised a scheme whereby she resolved to test the reality of his vaunted
affection, if indeed he should ever return.


At last the lookout announced that he saw the prince's barge, bearing
the white flag, emerge from the river Ewe into the open loch. And now
what emotions filled the breast of the lovely princess! What conflicting
sentiments, love and doubt, joy and fear! All had been arranged to carry
out her strange scheme. The large barge was ready; from its stern the
black flag was raised aloft; a bier was placed in the centre of the
barge on which the princess herself--now pallid with anxiety--reclined
as if sleeping the sleep of death; a white shroud covered her recumbent
form; around were grouped her maidens, gloomy with well-simulated grief;
and the sad and silent rowers moved the barge slowly onwards toward the
lower end of Loch Maree.

Meanwhile Olaf gazed earnestly in the direction of the island (which was
kept in sight all the way), urging anon his willing crew to put forth
their utmost speed. Soon, in the distance, he discovered the barge of
the princess. Could he be mistaken? Was that the black flag of death
which waved above it? He made all his men in turn scrutinize the
approaching barge, and each reluctantly confirmed what Olaf's own eyes
had testified. Gradually the prince grew frantic with awful despair. Was
he to be thus foiled by evil fate in the very hour of his triumph? Had
death snatched his darling from his fond embrace? Were they never to
meet again? Yes, he would follow her to that heavenly home the holy
father had often told them of! His agony increased each moment; he
cursed; he raved; his manly face became like a maniac's; his words and
gestures were those of a man possessed. The crew were horror-struck;
none dared speak; they pulled the oars with what seemed superhuman
strength, but the wind was against them, and some time elapsed before
the barges were alongside. The dreadful interval served only to increase
the prince's frenzy; his wild ravings became unintelligible.

Before the vessels touched, the madman leapt into the other barge. He
saw the shroud; he raised it; he gazed a moment on the still, pale face
of his bride; he gave one agonized cry; then he plunged his dirk in his
own breast, and in a moment that storm-tossed heart ceased to beat!

And now the miserable princess sprang from the bier, convinced too late
of her husband's passionate love; there he lay dead, she alone the
cause; with a wild shriek of remorse, she drew the dirk from Olaf's
heart and plunged it in her own. Her death was not so instantaneous as
his, and life had not quite fled when the barge, with its terrible
freight, arrived at Isle Maree. The holy father raised the crucifix
before the lady's closing eyes, and uttered words of earnest prayer;
then her spirit passed away, and all was over.

The bodies of the unhappy pair were buried within the enclosure on the
island, beneath the shade of the sacred hollies; they were laid with
their feet towards each other, and smooth stones with outlines of
mediæval crosses (_see illustration_) were placed over the graves, and
there remain to this day. A few stones still indicate the site of the
hermit's cell, and a considerable mound marks where the tower stood.

Such, with some little filling-in of detail, is the story as commonly
told in Gairloch of the sad tragedy which casts a halo of romance around
the beautiful Isle Maree. There are, as might be expected, some slightly
different versions of the legend, but this is the most usual one. Its
variations in form only go to prove its general truthfulness, and there
is no reason to doubt that the tragedy really occurred substantially as
here related; the tombstones, with their ancient crosses, are still to
be seen, and there is no other account of them proposed.


Chapter III.


Two origins of the great house of Mackenzie, lords of Kintail, and
afterwards earls of Seaforth, of whom the Gairloch family are a branch,
have been propounded, and have given rise to considerable discussion.

By one pedigree they have been made to spring from Colin Fitzgerald,
descendant of Otho who came to England with William the Conqueror,
fought with him at the battle of Hastings in 1066, and was created
Castellan and Baron of Windsor. Otho married a Welsh princess; their
grandson Maurice distinguished himself in the subjugation of Ireland,
was appointed to the joint government of that country, and was created
Baron of Wicklow and Naas Offelim in 1172. Others say this Maurice was
of the ancient Tuscan family of Gherardini, who date as far back as A.D.
800. Gerald, a son of Maurice, was created Lord Offally. A grandson of
Gerald married the grand-daughter and representative of the last of the
ancient line of the kings of Desmond. Colin Fitzgerald was their eldest
son. He came to Scotland, and assisted Alexander III. at the battle of
Largs. It is said that Colin was afterwards settled by Alexander III. in
Eileandonain Castle, in Kintail; that he received a grant of the lands
of Kintail from that king; that he married the daughter of MacMhathain,
heritor of the half of Kintail; and that their only son Kenneth became
the progenitor of the clan MacKenneth, or Mackenzie.

The use of the Cabar Feidh, or deers' horns, as the crest of the
Mackenzies, is supposed to have originated in a brave deed done by Colin
Fitzgerald. He was hunting with Alexander III. in the forest of Mar in
1265 when an infuriated stag, closely pursued by the hounds, charged the
king. Colin interposed, and shot the stag in the head with an arrow. The
grateful monarch granted to Colin a stag's head puissant as his armorial

The other genealogy of the Mackenzies asserts that the first Kenneth
from whom the family sprang was of a native Gaelic stock, almost as
ancient as the ancestry of Fitzgerald. This descent is argued by Mr
Alexander Mackenzie, in his History of the Mackenzies. Relying on an old
MS. dated 1450, he shows that Kenneth was of the seed of Gilleon Og, or
Colin the younger, son of Gilleon na h' Airde, who lived in the tenth
century, and was also the ancestor of the O'Beolan earls of Ross. It
seems that Angus MacMhathain, constable of Eileandonain, was descended
from Gilleon Og, and was a near relative of the O'Beolan earls of Ross,
who were the superior lords of Kintail. Kenneth, the only son of Angus,
was a nephew of William, third Earl of Ross, and succeeded his father in
the government of Kintail. This Kenneth, we may assume, was the founder
of the Mackenzie family.

The question really seems to be whether Kenneth was a MacMhathain on his
father's side or on his mother's side. In either case he had the blood
of the earls of Ross flowing in his veins.

Kenneth, who died about 1304, set his relative, the Earl of Ross, at
defiance, and established himself in an independent position as lord of
Kintail, but his descendants were harassed by the earls of Ross, who
endeavoured to regain their power in the district.

John Mackenzie, the second lord of Kintail, and only son of Kenneth,
sheltered Robert Bruce when he was in hiding, and afterwards assisted
him to gain the throne of Scotland. John Mackenzie led five hundred of
his clansmen--some of them possibly Gairloch men--to the victorious
field of Bannockburn on 24th June 1314, and by his loyalty and valour
rendered more secure his possessions in Kintail.

Kenneth Mackenzie, called Kenneth of the Nose, only son of John, became
third chief of Kintail; he was a weak man, and in his time the Earl of
Ross regained a considerable hold over the district.

Kenlochewe, which is part of Gairloch in the present day, was attached
to the lordship of Kintail and shared its troubles. It was about 1350
that some of the followers of the Earl of Ross made a raid into
Kenlochewe, and carried off a great spoil. Kenneth Mackenzie, third lord
of Kintail, pursued them, slew many of the invaders, and recovered much
of the spoil. The Earl of Ross after this succeeded in apprehending
Mackenzie, and had him executed at Inverness. The Earl then granted the
lands of Kenlochewe to his follower Leod Mac Gilleandreis.

The fourth lord of Kintail was Black Murdo of the Cave, only lawful son
of Kenneth of the Nose. Murdo received this _soubriquet_ because, being
a wild youth, he preferred, rather than attend the ward school where the
heirs of those who held their lands from the king were sent, to take up
his abode in some one or other of the caves about Torridon and
Kenlochewe, hoping to get a chance of slaying Leod Mac Gilleandreis. The
latter hearing of Murdo's resort, and fearing mischief, endeavoured to
apprehend him, so that Murdo had to flee the country. He went to his
uncle, M'Leod of the Lews, and there met one Gille Riabhach, who had
come to Stornoway with twelve men about the same time as himself. After
so long a time had elapsed that Mac Gilleandreis supposed Murdo was
dead, his uncle gave to Murdo one of his great galleys or birlinns, with
as many men as he desired. Murdo embarked at Stornoway, accompanied also
by Gille Riabhach and his twelve men, and with a favourable wind they
soon arrived at Sanachan in Kishorn. Thence they marched straight to
Kenlochewe, and concealed themselves in a thick wood near the house of
Mac Gilleandreis. Mackenzie left his followers there, whilst he went to
look for his old nurse, who lived thereabouts. He found her engaged in
making up a bundle of sticks to carry to Leod's house. Murdo inquired
her name, for he did not remember her face at first. She gave her name,
and inquired in return who he was. He told her, on which she replied,
"Let me see your back, and I will know if you are that man." She
remembered that he had a black spot on his back. He took off his
clothes, and she saw the black spot, and so she knew him. She was
overjoyed at his return, having long grieved for his supposed death. He
asked her to procure him information of Leod's doings, and to let him
know that night. He made up the bundle of sticks for her, and she went
to Leod's house, and duly returned with the news that Leod had fixed a
hunt for the next day, and was to meet the people at Kenlochewe in the
morning. She said Leod might be known by the red jacket he wore. Murdo
determined to take advantage of this occasion, and was early on the
ground, accompanied by his followers. As the people arrived he slew all
he did not recognise; the natives he knew were dismissed to their homes.
When Leod, in his red jacket, came on the ground with his sons and
attendants, Murdo and his band attacked them with their swords, and
after a slight resistance Mac Gilleandreis and his followers fled, but
were soon overtaken at a place ever since called Fe Leoid, where they
were all slain except one of Leod's sons, named Paul, who was taken
prisoner, but afterwards released on his promising never again to molest
Mackenzie. Murdo gave the widow of Leod Mac Gilleandreis to Gille
Riabhach to wife, and their posterity were long known at Kenlochewe. The
heads of the people who were slain in Kenlochewe were cut off and thrown
into the river there; the stream carried the heads down to a ford, where
they massed together, and this place has ever since been called
Ath-nan-ceann, or the "ford of the heads." The name is now corrupted
into Athnagown or Anagown. It is shewn on the maps. The place where Leod
Mac Gilleandreis and his followers were slain is about three miles from
Kenlochewe, on the hill to the east of the Torridon road. The name Fe
Leoid, more correctly written Feith Leoid, means the bog of Leod; it is
also shewn on all the maps.

Black Murdo of the Cave, after dispossessing Leod Mac Gilleandreis, went
to Kintail, where he was received with open arms by all the people of
the country. He married the only daughter of his friend Macaulay, who
had defended Eileandonain Castle during his long absence, and through
her Mackenzie succeeded to the lands of Loch Broom (including probably
the parts of Gairloch lying to the north of Loch Maree and Loch Ewe),
granted to Macaulay's predecessor by Alexander II. In 1357, when David
II., king of Scotland, returned from England, Murdo laid before his
majesty a complaint against the Earl of Ross for the murder of his
father, but could obtain no redress; however the king confirmed him in
his possession of Kintail by charter dated 1362. Murdo died in 1375.

Murdo of the Bridge, only son of Black Murdo of the Cave, became the
fifth lord of Kintail. He was one of the Highland chiefs who accompanied
the Earl of Douglas to England and defeated the renowned Hotspur at the
battle of Otterburn, or Chevy Chase, on 10th August 1388. Murdo refused
to join Donald, the great Lord of the Isles, in his insurrection which
culminated in the battle of Harlaw. The history of the Highlands shows
that this was a period of extreme disorder and violence, and Gairloch
itself was not exempt from the terrors of anarchy. Murdo does not appear
to have troubled his head about his rights in Gairloch, and, as other
parts of our history will shew, it was overrun by several tribes.
Possibly neither this Murdo nor his father pressed their claim to
Gairloch, being sufficiently occupied in keeping possession of Kintail.
Ten years after King Robert II. had confirmed Kintail to Black Murdo of
the Cave, the same king confirmed the grant of Gairloch made by the Earl
of Ross to Paul M'Tyre (Part I., chap. i.). But we hear no more of Paul
M'Tyre; and, as an old writer has well said of this time, "during this
turbulent age securities and writs, as well as laws, were little
regarded; each man's protection lay in his own strength."

Murdo of the Bridge, who died about 1416, married Finguala, daughter of
Malcolm M'Leod of Harris by his wife Martha, daughter of Donald Earl of
Mar, a nephew of King Robert Bruce. Their only son, Alexander the
Upright, so called "for his righteousness," became the sixth laird of
Kintail. He died in 1488, about ninety years of age. By his first wife,
Anna Macdougall of Dunolly, he had two sons, Kenneth and Duncan. By his
second marriage he had one son, known among Highlanders as Eachainn
Ruadh, or Hector Roy, destined to become the famous founder of the
Gairloch family. There was also a daughter by the second marriage, who
became the wife of Allan M'Leod, laird of Gairloch.

In the year 1452, during the rule of Alexander the Upright, the
desperate skirmish of Beallach nan Brog occurred, in which the Earl of
Ross, to punish the western tribes for seizing his son, attacked and
slaughtered his foes, including Mackenzie's Kenlochewe men, who are said
to have been almost exterminated.

It is not within the scope of this narrative to pursue further the
history of the great house of Kintail. The next chapter will relate a
Gairloch legend treating of events which occurred during the time of one
of the earlier Kintail Mackenzies.

It may be convenient to explain, that long before 1609, when Kenneth,
twelfth laird of Kintail, was created Lord Mackenzie of Kintail, these
great lairds were commonly called Lords of Kintail. Colin, son of this
Kenneth, was created Earl of Seaforth and Viscount Fortrose in 1623.
Some time prior to this date the possessions of the Kintail family had
increased to the dimensions of a province, and Eileandonain Castle had
ceased to be their headquarters, the castle of Chanonry in the Black
Isle, formerly the bishop's palace, being preferred. The first Lord
Seaforth added to Chanonry Castle, and built Brahan Castle, which
continued the residence of the Seaforth family to a recent date. The
family became extinct in the male line on the death of the last Lord
Seaforth in 1815. Long before the erection of Brahan Castle the lairds
of Kintail frequently resided at a mains or farm they possessed at

Chapter IV.


On the north-eastern shore of Loch Maree, about three miles above the
place where the river Ewe leaves the loch, is situated Ardlair, than
which no lovelier spot can be found in all the range of Highland
scenery. There are groves of different kinds of trees, and a belt of
them skirts the shingly shore of the loch; smooth grassy glades are
interspersed among the woods, behind which rise a series of marvellous
precipices, unclimbable, except in two or three places, save by
sure-footed deer or goats. Below the steep background lie here and there
great masses of rock, which ages ago have fallen from the cliffs above.
About a quarter of a mile to the south-east of the present Ardlair
House, and rather nearer to the house than a small tarn nestling there
beneath the cliffs, is a large cairn or assemblage of enormous rocks,
heaped and piled upon each other in fantastic confusion. Ash trees and
wild roses, heather and ferns, grow in tangled medley among the
_débris_, and, concealing the interstices, render access extremely
difficult. But the persevering searcher will discover a roomy cave,
formed by a mighty block of rock lying slantways over other fallen
blocks. The entrance to the cave is well concealed, and can only be got
at by climbing on to a ledge that forms a narrow platform in front of
it. After groping two or three yards along a low narrow passage a dark
chamber is reached in which one can stand upright. The floor is level,
and perfectly dry. The cairn is about a hundred and fifty yards from the
shore of Loch Maree. This cave is called by old Gairloch people now
living "The cave of the king's son," a name that it owes to the
following story, the opening scene of which is laid here. No date can be
assigned to the events narrated, but they cannot have occurred later
than in the thirteenth or fourteenth century.

[Illustration: AT ARDLAIR.]

A worthy old woman named Oighrig (Euphemia) lived near Letterewe with
her only son Kenneth. They had a pet goat called Earba (_i.e._ a roe).
The goat failing to yield the usual supply of milk was watched by
Kenneth, who with much trouble and difficulty traced her at length to
"the cave of the king's son," about three miles distant from their home.
Here the goat held possession of the small platform in front of the
entrance, and would not allow Kenneth to climb to it. He went for a
rope, and throwing it over the goat's horns secured the animal. A
beautiful little boy now appeared on the scene, and uttering sympathetic
cries hugged the struggling goat. At first Kenneth thought that the
child was a fairy, but he soon discovered his mistake. A young lady of
great beauty came forth from the cave on hearing the cries of the little
boy. It now appeared that the couple had taken refuge in this cave,
where they would have perished from hunger had they not enticed the
friendly Earba to supply them with her milk. Kenneth reported all the
circumstances to his mother, who seeing that the helpless couple in the
cave must ultimately die of want and cold if they remained there, went
and persuaded them to come and live at the humble cottage near
Letterewe. The young lady's name was Flora, and she told them that the
boy's Christian name was Eoghan, or Ewan, but she would not reveal
either of their surnames, so the boy was called Eoghan Mac Gabhar,
_i.e._ Ewan the son of the goat, to his dying day. They all lived
happily together. Earba brought them kids of her own, which the little
Ewan herded and fed. Flora grew more lovely than ever, and Kenneth
astonished even his own mother by his success in hunting and fishing for
the maintenance of the increased family. Kenneth naturally fell in love
with the beautiful Flora, though his mother strongly dissuaded him from
his suit, pointing out that Flora was doubtless of royal lineage, being
probably, though much older, the sister of Ewan, who from the sword and
mantle that Flora with much care preserved for him, was probably the son
of a king. The mantle was a robe of state of scarlet velvet bound and
fringed with pure gold, and the sword had a hilt of gold and ivory, and
some mystic characters engraved upon it. As young Ewan grew, his lordly
disposition and commanding presence confirmed the belief that he was of
royal birth.

Matters continued thus until one day the great lord of Kintail came from
Eileandonain Castle to hunt the mountains of Letterewe. He came
unexpectedly to Oighrig's cottage, and entering without ceremony
jocosely blamed Kenneth, who was one of his foresters, for not being at
the hunt. Then seeing Flora and Ewan he began to inquire who they were.
Evasive answers were returned, and Kenneth and Flora pretended they were
man and wife. The lord of Kintail on hearing the name Ewan Mac Gabhar
exhibited surprise and even alarm, for he recalled a well-known prophecy
about "the son of the goat," which had been erroneously interpreted as
unfavourable to the destinies of the house of Kintail. Failing in
persuading Flora to go away with him, his lordship left his kinsman
Hector Dubh to watch the family. Flora and Ewan growing anxious under
such circumstances soon afterwards resumed their concealment in the
cave. On this Hector, suspecting that he was duped, hastened home with
the news to Kintail. Fearing Lord Mackenzie's sleuth-hounds, the whole
family decamped and went down to Poolewe, and Earba followed with her
two kids. Next evening a vessel came to Poolewe and sent a boat ashore.
Kenneth and Flora went down hand in hand to ask for a passage to the
islands. As the boat approached they saw by their tartan that the crew
were from Eileandonain Castle. They fled like deer, but the ground was
rough for Flora, and they were soon overtaken, captured, and carried off
in the vessel.

Oighrig and Ewan remained disconsolate, protected by friends near
Poolewe; their store comprised the three goats, three baskets, and a
small locked chest containing Ewan's sword and mantle and a few jewels.
The captain of a vessel, which shortly came in to Poolewe, promised to
take them to Eileandonain, where Oighrig wished to go in search of her
son; but, whether by chance or design, the hapless pair were conveyed
instead to the country of a great chief named Colin Mor Gillespie.

Oighrig and Ewan were there taken ashore. The captain searched their
baggage, and found the mantle of state and the royal sword. Oighrig told
him all the tale, and he repeated it to Colin Mor, who placed Oighrig in
a hut beside his castle, provided well for her goats, and gave her a
cow. He took Ewan to his castle, and brought him up with his own sons as
a warrior and a gentleman. Meanwhile Kenneth, after gaining the favour
of the lord of Kintail by his prowess in warfare, had found means to
escape from Eileandonain with Flora; they married, and ultimately
discovered Oighrig, who lived with them to a good old age.

As for Ewan Mac Gabhar, he grew up a strong brave man, and none could
match him in warlike exercises. Orders came from the Scottish king for
the prosecution of a great war against a realm which included the island
of Mull, and was then under the rule of the queen widow of Olamh Mor,
who had been the renowned monarch of that land. Colin Mor was joined by
the lord of Kintail in this great enterprise, and with their allies they
mustered an army of twenty thousand men. Ewan Mac Gabhar was all fire
and eagerness for the glorious war, and was entrusted with the command
of a thousand men. During the bustle of preparation a Highlander came
and proffered his services to Ewan as page. Ewan at first rejected the
offer, on the ground of the slender form and small stature of the man;
but every day the page was in waiting, and proved so handy, that Ewan at
last engaged him and entrusted him with his baggage.

The invading army succeeded in taking possession of the whole of the
large island of Mull, which they plundered and burned. They then
proceeded to the mainland in a vast fleet of vessels, and anchored in a
long arm of the sea that extended twenty miles into the country,
apparently Loch Sunart. Here they anchored, and the soldiery immediately
began to burn and plunder without opposition.

At night the chiefs and some of their followers returned to the fleet as
a safe and comfortable retreat. The main body of the army encamped at a
considerable distance, having seen no appearance of a foe. But before
daybreak the forces of the queen, who had quietly entered the loch in
the night, surrounded the fleet of the invaders, and boarding the
vessels, made prisoners of all the chiefs and of such of their followers
as were with them, except a small number who were slain in a fruitless
attempt at resistance. Colin Mor was taken, with two of his sons and
Ewan Mac Gabhar. The lord of Kintail and three of his brothers, with
sixty other gentlemen, were also made prisoners. The army on shore was
surprised at the same time, and routed with great slaughter.

The nobles and chiefs were taken before the gallant and ruthless queen,
who made a vehement speech charging them with being the slaves of a
tyrant and with having persecuted and destroyed her royal race. She
declared for vengeance, and in accordance with the savage usages of the
times, ordered that next morning at nine o'clock the whole of the
prisoners should be brought into her presence and hanged by sevens at a
time, beginning with the youngest, so that the fathers might behold the
dying throes of their sons.

The hour arrived, and the seven youngest prisoners were led forth to
make their obeisance to the queen before their execution. When the queen
saw them she began to shew signs of emotion, her colour went and came,
her lips quivered, and she shrieked out, "O God! what do I see? Stop the
execution! stop!" and then she fell down in a swoon. Her maids came to
her assistance, and now a hundred shouts rent the air, "Mac Olamh Mhor!
Mac Olamh Mhor!" (the son of Olaf the Great); and instantly all the
queen's chiefs and kinsmen were kneeling round one of the condemned
prisoners. He was a tall and goodly youth, clothed in his father's royal
robe and with his father's ancient sword of state girded by his side.
The reader will have guessed the name of the young king; he was none
other than Ewan Mac Gabhar! Soon the enthusiastic shouts of the people
seemed to rend the rocks, and Ewan was borne aloft on the shoulders of
his kinsmen and seated on his father's throne. When the queen recovered,
she began to doubt the sentiments of her own heart, and required proof
that Ewan was indeed her beloved child who had long ago, as she
believed, been foully murdered in his bed, along with her own sister, by
the conspirators who had planned the destruction of her royal seed. The
evidence was soon forthcoming. Ewan's page was none other than Flora,
who was herself the youngest sister of the queen. She had, unrecognised,
accompanied Ewan to the war, and, having charge of the mantle and the
sword, had that morning arrayed him as his father was wont to be,
certain of the effect. She explained how at the time of the conspiracy
she had given up her bed to the wife and child of one of the
conspirators who had intended to slay her and the infant Ewan, but who
in the darkness had murdered the others instead; and how she had then
escaped with her precious charge to "the cave of the king's son" at
Ardlair on Loch Maree.

Thus Ewan Mac Gabhar was established in his kingdom. His first act of
authority was to release all his condemned associates, whose joy and
astonishment may well be conceived. He entertained them gallantly at his
castle for many days, and a friendly league was formed that long
preserved the peace and tranquillity of those realms. Ewan was greatly
assisted in his kingdom by Kenneth, who had become a renowned warrior,
and who with his beloved Flora came and resided at Ewan's castle. Ewan
married Mary, youngest daughter of Mackenzie lord of Kintail, and by his
friendship helped to increase the dominions of that great house, so that
the old prophecy about the son of the goat (already referred to) was
literally fulfilled:--

        "The son of the goat shall triumphantly bear
        The mountain on flame and the horns of the deer,--
        From forest of Loyne to the hill of Ben Croshen,
        From mountain to vale, and from ocean to ocean."

Chapter V.


It is a singular fact that the first six lairds of Kintail (counting
with them Angus Mac Mhathain) had each but one lawful son, so that the
family of Mackenzie, now so numerous, increased at first but slowly.
Murdo of the Bridge, fifth laird of Kintail, being thus without kindred
of his own blood, invited one MacRae to join him in Kintail. This MacRae
was from the same original stock as the Mackenzies. His father had come
from Clunes, and settled at Brahan. MacRae, the son, accepted the
invitation of Murdo, and went with him to Kintail, where his descendants
became a numerous tribe, always owning the Mackenzies as their chiefs.
Murdo hoped for faithful service from MacRae, and it was willingly given
from generation to generation. The MacRaes were ever foremost in battle
for their lairds, and became known as "Mackenzie's shirt of mail." This
term "shirt of mail" was generally applied to the chosen bodyguard who
attended a chief in war and fought around him. Hence it would appear
that the bodyguard of the Mackenzie chiefs was composed of MacRaes.

The name MacRae was originally MacRath, signifying "the son of fortune."
If it be true that "fortune favours the brave," these valiant warriors
were rightly named, for bravery was ever their bright distinction, as
our narrative will sufficiently shew. Not only were the MacRaes devoted
to the Kintail family, but after Hector Roy Mackenzie went to Gairloch
they assisted him and his descendants in conquering their possessions.
Some of them settled in Gairloch, where their offspring are to this day.

In the following pages Iain MacIain Uidhir, Donald Mor, and Alastair
Liath, who took part in the attack on MacBeath in the island of Loch
Tollie; Donnachadh Mor na Tuaighe, or Big Duncan of the Axe, commonly
called Suarachan, and Dugal his son; Iain Liath, who accompanied John
Roy Mackenzie to Gairloch; and Donald Odhar, Iain Odhar, and Fionnla
dubh na Saighead, who all three took leading parts in ousting the
M'Leods from Gairloch,--were MacRaes from Kintail, and were all warriors
of renown.

The Rev. Farquhar MacRae (Appendix A), ordained vicar of Gairloch in
1608 and afterwards constable of Eileandonain, was of the same tribe,
but his fighting was confined to the church militant.

The effigy of the renowned Donald Odhar is one of the supporters in the
coat-of-arms of the Gairloch Mackenzies sculptured on the old barn of
Flowerdale, called the Sabhal Geal, erected by Sir Alexander Mackenzie,
Bart. of Gairloch, in 1730.

Several of these MacRaes were wonderful archers. The arrow fired at the
serving-man on the Loch Tollie island by Alastair Liath, must have
killed its victim at a distance of fully five hundred yards. Donald
Odhar and Iain Odhar, the heroes of Leac na Saighead, slew many M'Leods
with their arrows nearly four hundred yards away. Fionnladh dubh na
Saighead is said to have shot Neil M'Leod at a still greater distance.
Lest any reader should doubt the authenticity of these performances, on
account of the marvellous ranges attained, some instances of wonderful
shots made by Turks may here be mentioned. In 1794 Mahmood Effendi, the
Turkish Ambassador's secretary, in a field adjoining Bedford House, shot
an arrow with a Turkish bow four hundred and fifteen yards against the
wind, and four hundred and eighty-two yards with the wind. The secretary
said the then Sultan of Turkey had shot five hundred yards, which was
the greatest performance of the modern Turks up to that time; but he
said that pillars stood on a plain near Constantinople marking distances
anciently attained by bow-shot up to eight hundred yards. In 1798 the
Sultan of Turkey surpassed all these achievements, by shooting an arrow
nine hundred and seventy-two yards, in the presence of Sir Robert
Ainslie, British Ambassador to the Sublime Porte.

It was always the privilege of the MacRaes of Kintail to bear the dead
bodies of their chiefs to burial. At the funeral in 1862 of the Hon. Mrs
Stewart Mackenzie, daughter and representative of the last Lord
Seaforth, the coffin was borne by MacRaes of Kintail only. It was the
last time! At the funeral of her son Colonel Keith Stewart Mackenzie, on
25th June 1881, there was not a sufficient number of MacRaes to bear the
coffin from Brahan Castle. The few who were present claimed their
privilege, and essayed to carry the dead. Some slight disputation
occurred, but the vacant places had to be supplied from the Brahan
tenantry. The following curious statement, referring to this incident,
appeared in an Inverness newspaper soon afterwards:--"This seems to have
had a most depressing effect upon the few handsome MacRaes, who hitherto
were the most picturesque frequenters of the Inverness wool market, for
on the last occasion not a single MacRae was seen dressed in the garb of
the race. They have now nearly all been driven from the lands of their
ancestors, and they have apparently thrown aside the kilt and donned the
lowlanders' garb in disgust."

Chapter VI.


Before the M'Leods got possession of Gairloch a tribe of MacBeaths were
the most powerful sept in the district. They originally came (presumably
in the thirteenth century) from Assynt, in the country of the Mackays in
Sutherlandshire, and were of Norwegian descent. There are still some
families of MacBeaths in Melvaig in Gairloch who are of the old breed.
The chiefs of the MacBeaths had at least three strongholds in Gairloch,
viz., Eilean Grudidh on Loch Maree, the island on Loch Tollie, and the
Dun or Castle of Gairloch, all to be described in our chapter on the
antiquities. Seven generations of MacBeaths occupied Eilean Grudidh,
which seems to have been the last they held of these fortalices. The
M'Leods, after a long struggle, subdued the MacBeaths, and expelled most
of them from Gairloch. Those who were driven out fled to Applecross,
where their descendants are to this day.

The earls of Ross must have had many a conflict with the MacBeaths, but
no traditions on the subject are extant, nor have any accounts been
preserved telling how the M'Leods ousted the MacBeaths. It is possible,
however, that a fight which is said to have taken place near a very
small loch or pond called Lochan nan Airm, to the right of the road as
you go from Gairloch to Poolewe, may have been an engagement in which
the MacBeaths were concerned. Lochan nan Airm, or "the tarn of the
arms," is about two hundred yards from the road, and half a mile beyond
the top of Achtercairn Brae. Those who were vanquished in this fight
threw their arms into the loch (whence its name), partly to lighten
themselves for flight, and partly to prevent the weapons from falling
into the hands of the victors. It is said that the formation of a drain,
intended to empty the loch so as to discover the arms, was once
commenced, but was stopped by the then laird of Gairloch, whose
permission had not been asked. The beginning of the drain is still
apparent; it would be interesting to complete it.

The following story relates an attempt on the part of some of the lord
of Kintail's men to slay one of the leaders of the MacBeaths, possibly
the chief of the tribe. It evidently took place in the latter part of
the career of the MacBeaths in Gairloch.

Once upon a time there lived a powerful man--Iain Mac Iain Uidhir--in
the Carr of Kintail, and when he heard such aliens (the MacBeaths)
resided in the island of Loch Tollie, he thought within himself, on New
Years' night, that it was a pity that such mischievous strangers should
be in the place, raising rents on the land which did not of right belong
to them, while some of the offspring of gentlemen of the clan Mackenzie,
although a few of them possessed lands, were without possessions.

Some little time after this, when the snow was melting off the
mountains, he lifted his arrow bladder on his back, sent word for Big
Donald, son of the son of Ranald MacRae from Inverinate, and they walked
as one together across Kilaolainn. Old Alastair Liath of Carr
accompanied them. They walked through the mountains of Loch-carron. They
came in by the mountains of Kenlochewe. They came at a late hour in
sight of Loch Tollie, and they took notice of MacBeath's castle in the
island, and of a place whence it would be easy for them to send their
arrows to the castle. There was a rowan-tree alongside the castle, which
was in their way, but when the darkening of night came they moved down
to the shore in such a way that the heroes got near the bank of the
loch, so that they might in the breaking of the sky be opposite MacBeath
when he came out.

[Illustration: ON CRAIG TOLLIE.]

When MacBeath came out in the morning, the other man said to Donald Mor,
"Try how true your hand is now, if it is not tremulous after the night;
try if you can hit the seed of the beast, the hare, so that you make a
carcase of him where he is, inasmuch as he has no right to be there."
Donald shot his arrow by chance, but it only became flattened against
one of the kind of windows in the kind of castle that was in it.

When the man from Carr saw what happened to the arrow of the man from
Inverinate, he thought that his companion's arrow was only a useless
one. The man from Carr got a glimpse of one of the servants of MacBeath,
carrying with him a stoup of water to boil a goat buck, which he had
taken from Craig Tollie the night before; but, poor fellow! it was not
he who consumed the goat buck. Old Alastair Liath of Carr threw the
arrow, and it went through the kidneys of him of the water-stoup.

MacBeath suspected that a kind of something was behind him which he did
not know about. He thought within himself not to wait to eat the goat
buck; that it would be as well for him to go ashore--life or death to
him--as long as he had the chance to cross. He lifted every arrangement
he had, and he made the shore of it. Those who would not follow him he
left behind him; he walked as fast as was in his joints, but fast as
MacBeath was, the arrow of the son of Big Donald fixed in him in the
thickest of his flesh. He ran with the arrow fixed, and his left hand
fixed in the arrow, hoping always that he would pull it out. He ran down
the brae to a place which is called Boora to this day; and the reason of
that name is, that when MacBeath pulled the arrow out, a buradh, or
bursting forth of blood, came after it.

When the Kintail men saw that the superior of the kind of fortress had
flown, they walked round the head of Loch Tollie sprawling, tired as
they were; and the very ferry-boat which took MacBeath ashore took the
MacRaes to the island. They used part of the goat buck which MacBeath
was to have had to his meal. They looked at the man of whom they had
made a corpse, while the cook went to the preparation for the morning
meal. Difficulty nor distress were not apparent on the Kintail men. The
fearless heroes put past the night in the castle. They feared not
MacBeath; but MacBeath was frightened enough that what he did not get he
would soon get.

Although the pursuit of the aliens from Mackay's country was in the
minds of the Kintail men, they thought they would go and see how the
lands of Gairloch lay. They went away in the morning of the next day,
after making cuaranan (untanned shoes) of the skin of the goat buck by
putting thongs through it, as they had worn out their own on the way
coming from Kintail. They came through Gairloch; they took notice of
everything as they desired. They walked step by step, as they could do,
without fear or bodily dismay. They reached Brahan; they saluted
Mackenzie. They said boldly, if he had more sons that they would find
more land for him. Mackenzie invited them in, and took their news. They
told him about the land of Gairloch, the way in which they saw MacBeath,
and the way in which they made him flee, and the time which they lived
on the flesh of the goat buck. "And Kenneth," says Donald (addressing
the chief), "I shall remember the day of the foot of the goat buck as
long as Donald is [my name] on me."

Chapter VII.


It is difficult to tell how the M'Leods came to Gairloch. It is not
impossible that their claim to it may have dated back to the times of
the Norse Vikings, from one of whom, tradition says, the M'Leods were
descended. There were two clans of M'Leod,--the Siol Torquil, and the
Siol Tormod,--perfectly distinct and independent of each other, though
said to have sprung from one common progenitor named Leod. It was a
branch of the Siol Torquil who took possession of Gairloch.

Donald, Lord of the Isles, who about 1410 laid claim to the earldom of
Ross in right of his wife (Part I., chap. i.), was the son of John
Macdonald of Islay, first lord of the Isles. John claimed the islands of
Skye and the Lews under a grant by Edward Balliol. When John made his
peace with King David in 1344 he retained the Lews. From this time the
Siol Torquil held the Lews as vassals of the house of Islay. It seems
highly probable that Gairloch, Loch Broom, Coigeach, and Assynt, being
the adjacent parts of the mainland, were at first similarly held by the
Siol Torquil, a branch of whom called the Siol Mhic Ghille Challum also
acquired the island of Raasay. In this case their original claim to
Gairloch would be derived either from the first lord of the Isles, or
his son Donald, Lord of the Isles and Earl of Ross. On no other theory
can the sway of the M'Leods in Gairloch be accounted for consistently
with the history of the times, unless indeed it was purely the result of
"vaulting ambition."

However this may have been, a branch of the Siol Mhic Ghille Challum
soon made good an independent claim to Gairloch. Oddly enough a family
feud was the commencement, as another was the ending fifty years later,
of their legal title to Gairloch. In 1430 King James I. granted "to Nele
Nelesoun, for his homage and service in the capture of his deceased
brother Thomas Nelesoun, a rebel, the lands of Gerloch and others in the
earldoms of Ross and Sutherland and sheriffdom of Innernys."

On this grant Neil, the son of Neil M'Leod, no doubt took steps to
enforce his claim to Gairloch, and to subdue the MacBeaths, most of whom
he drove from the country. He is said to have captured their three
strongholds,--Eilean Grudidh, the Loch Tollie island, and the Gairloch
Dun. It is in the time of the M'Leods that we first hear of the Tigh
Dige (ditch house), situated in a field below where Flowerdale House now
stands. It was a "black house," built of turf, roofed with divots (large
thin turfs), and surrounded by a moat or ditch.

The M'Leods also had another stronghold in Gairloch, between Port
Henderson and Opinan, the site of which is still called Uamh nam
Freiceadain, and which was the last fortress they held in Gairloch.

Eilean Ruaridh Beag, in Loch Maree, was held by one Roderick (Ruaridh)
M'Leod, after whom it was named. A fierce struggle, the details of which
are now lost, took place before the M'Leods were ejected from this
island, which afterwards became the residence of John Roy Mackenzie, the
fourth laird of Gairloch.

About 1480 Allan M'Leod, son of Roderick M'Leod, was laird of Gairloch.
His wife was daughter of Alexander the Upright, sixth laird of Kintail,
and sister of Hector Roy Mackenzie. They had two sons, who were then
little boys. The family lived on the island in Loch Tollie,--the same
fortalice formerly occupied by the MacBeaths. It was considered a safe
retreat in those unsettled times. Allan M'Leod was a peaceful man, and
occupied himself to a great extent with the sport the country afforded.
But an evil day was coming. His two brothers, who resided with their
people in the Lews, were unwilling that Mackenzie blood should run in
the veins of the heir of Gairloch. They determined to slay their brother
and his two boys, so that the inheritance might fall to themselves. With
this evil purpose they came over to Gairloch, and took up their abode at
the Tigh Dige, where they made every preparation for the carrying out of
their wicked scheme.


On the morning of the fatal day Allan M'Leod left the Loch Tollie Island
in his boat, and having landed at the east end of the loch, went down
Croftbrae to fish the river Ewe. At midday, as it was hot, and the fish
were not taking, he lay down on the green hill at Croft, where the house
of Kenneth Urquhart (called Kennie Rob) now stands. The hill is named to
this day Cnoc na mi-Chomhairle, or the "Hill of evil counsel." There
Allan fell fast asleep. His two brothers came over from Gairloch to
carry out their murderous intention. When they came to Loch Tollie they
saw the boat ashore at the east end of the loch, and therefore rightly
concluded that their brother had gone down to fish the river. They
followed, and finding him asleep, killed him where he lay. They cut off
his head, and threw it into the mill-lead or race, between the green
hill and the spot where the Widows' house, originally built for a
distillery, and therefore known as "The still," now stands, and the head
was washed down into the river. The brothers then returned to Loch
Tollie, and taking the boat reached the island. There they told their
brother's widow how they had slain him, and then they tore her little
boys from her trembling grasp. They carried them away with them, and
when they came to a spot above and to the north of the place now called
"The glen" the ruffians killed the boys, and buried them there at a rock
still called Craig Bhadan an Aisc, or the "rock of the place of
interment." It is shewn on the six-inch ordnance map. They stripped the
blood-stained shirts from the bodies as proofs that the boys were dead,
and took them with them to the Tigh Dige. At that time the dress of a
boy consisted only of a stout shirt or tunic, with a belt round the
waist, until such time as he was old enough for the belted plaid. The
bereaved mother came ashore as soon as she could, and followed the
murderers. She came in the evening to a place called Clachan garbh, on
the little burn half way between Achtercairn and the present Gairloch
Hotel. There were houses there at that time. She went to an old man
there, who had been a faithful retainer of her husband; she told him her
terrible story. He bade her wait until he went to the Tigh Dige to see
if her brothers-in-law had really killed the two boys. When it became
dark he went to the Tigh Dige, and through an opening he saw by the
firelight the boys' little shirts hanging up. He managed unperceived to
get possession of the shirts, and brought them to the mother; they were
covered with blood. The mother took the shirts, and went off straight
with them to Brahan to her father, Alexander the Upright, who did not
credit his daughter's terrible tale until she shewed him the
blood-stained shirts. Alexander, who was then an infirm old man, sent
his son Hector Roy Mackenzie to Edinburgh to the king, and he produced
the shirts to satisfy the king that the triple murder had really been
committed. The king gave Hector Roy a commission of fire and sword for
the destruction of the M'Leods, and in 1494 he received a grant of
Gairloch by charter from the crown.

The proceedings which ensued, and the circumstances attending the
expulsion of the M'Leods long afterwards from Gairloch, will be narrated
later on. Meanwhile the reader will be glad to learn that the two
murderers were afterwards routed in a skirmish on the south side of
Gairloch by one of the MacRae heroes, who pursued them to a spot between
South Erradale and Point, where he slew them both, and they were buried
in a hollow there, which is pointed out to this day.

Although the crown charter of 1494 granted the whole of Gairloch to
Hector Roy Mackenzie, the M'Leods, as we shall see, retained for another
century one-third part of Gairloch. The terrible murder committed about
1569 by Ruaridh Mac Allan M'Leod of Gairloch (Part I., chap. xii.) is
curiously analogous to that recorded above. The murder of 1569 was the
immediate cause of the warfare which resulted in the final expulsion of
the M'Leods from Gairloch, just as that of 1480 had led to their being
ousted from a great part of their territory there.

Family feuds and jealousies were the causes of the ultimate
dismemberment of the Siol Torquil, and of the alienation of the whole of
their vast possessions. Anyone who cares to trace their history, as
given in Donald Gregory's and other works, will learn how all this
happened; it does not concern us further here.

Chapter VIII.


It will be remembered that Donald, Lord of the Isles, laid claim to and
took possession of the earldom of Ross. This was about the beginning of
the fifteenth century. It was probably from him, or from his father John
Macdonald of Islay, first lord of the Isles, that the MacLeods of the
Lews (the Siol Torquil) first obtained a title to Gairloch, as pointed
out in the last chapter. To some extent Donald succeeded in subjugating
Ross-shire, though several chiefs, including Mackenzie of Kintail,
maintained their independence. It is easy to understand that Gairloch
and other places adjacent to Skye would be overrun by the Macdonalds of
Skye, the clansmen of the lord of the Isles. Some of them settled in
Gairloch, and their offspring are still there. A charter of 1584 shews
that Torridon, on the southern border of Gairloch, then belonged to
Macdonald of Glengarry, a descendant of the lord of the Isles, and
nineteen families of Macdonalds still dwell in Alligin on Loch Torridon.

One of the Macdonalds who came to Gairloch was named Mac Gille
Riabhaich. Possibly he was a descendant of Gille Riabhach, who assisted
Murdo Mackenzie, fourth lord of Kintail, to overcome Leod Mac
Gilleandreis (Part I., chap. iii.). He took up his abode in a cave
called Uamh Mhic 'ille Rhiabhaich, or the "cave of Mac Gille Riabhaich."
It is close to a picturesque loch bearing the same name, on which are
two small islands, one of which seems to have been a crannog or island
fortalice, probably a refuge of Mac Gille Riabhaich in times of danger.
The cave and loch are among the hills, two miles due east from Tournaig,
in the parish of Gairloch.

Mac Gille Riabhaich was a notorious freebooter, as well as a warrior of
renown. He was at the battle of Flodden Field in 1513. He became a
well-known "lifter" of other people's cattle, and is said to have been
outlawed. A story is related of him, which is given here not only
because it illustrates the reckless lawlessness of the old Highlanders,
but because its hero was an inhabitant of Gairloch.

A party of Macdonalds invaded one of the Outer Hebrides, and Mac Gille
Riabhaich accompanied them. At that time he was a powerful youth, and
always carried a stout oak cudgel. The invaders having exhausted their
provisions, landed on an island in a state of hunger. Proceeding to
reconnoitre, they soon came unperceived upon a party of the natives
gathered round a fire in the open air, over which hung, from three
sticks joined at the top, a large pot, in which meat was being stewed.
Mac Gille Riabhaich, longing for something to allay the appetites of
himself and his hungry comrades, suddenly rushed on the natives, and
plied his oak staff with such effect that they fled in all directions.
He then seized the pot, and by placing the oak stick through the
suspender, swung it over his shoulder, and carried it away with its
reeking contents to his companions, regardless of the risk of its
burning him. For this daring exploit Mac Gille Riabhaich received the
_soubriquet_ of Darach or Darroch, which is Gaelic for an oak.

From him are descended the numerous families of the Darrochs in Jura and
Kintyre, of whom is Mr Duncan Darroch, the present proprietor of
Torridon. They still wear the Macdonald tartan. An ancestor of the laird
of Torridon, also named Duncan Darroch, was the son of a tacksman whose
grandfather had come from the north and settled in Jura. The story of
Mac Gille Riabhaich is confirmed by the fact, that when this last-named
Duncan Darroch, having made a fortune in Jamaica, went to the Heralds
Office to matriculate family arms and to prove his right to assume those
of Macdonald, the Lyon King at Arms remarked, "We must not lose the
memory of the old oak stick and its exploit;" whereupon the arms, still
borne by the family, in which the oak is prominent, were granted to
"Duncan Darroch, Esquire of Gourock, chief of that ancient name, the
patronymic of which is M'Iliriach."

Donald Dubh Mac Gillechriosd Mhic Gille Riabhaich is said to have been a
relative of our hero of the oak stick, if indeed he were not the same
individual. He lived at Kenlochewe about the same period. When Hector
Roy Mackenzie was attacked and brought to terms by his nephew John of
Killin, ninth lord of Kintail, the latter surrounded and set fire to
Hector Roy's house at Fairburn. John of Killin called on his uncle to
surrender and come forth, assuring him of his life. Hector was about to
comply, when Donald Dubh, who was one of John of Killin's followers,
made for the door with his two-edged sword drawn. Hector Roy, seeing
Donald Dubh, called out to his nephew that he would rather be burned in
the house than slaughtered by Donald Dubh. John called Donald away and
Hector rushed out of the burning pile, whereupon he and his nephew
became reconciled. It was agreed that Hector Roy should manage the
Kintail estates as tutor to his nephew until the latter came of age.
Next day Hector set about arranging the lands of Kenlochewe, which, it
will be remembered, had long been part of the Kintail estates. Donald
Dubh applied for a set of land. Hector Roy said, "I wonder, Donald, how
you can ask land this day that was so forward to kill me yesterday."
Donald, in reply, justified his hostility by a reference to the murder
of Kenneth Og, eighth laird of Kintail (elder brother of John of
Killin), to which Donald Dubh incorrectly supposed Hector Roy had been
accessory. Donald had been foster brother of Kenneth Og, and bitterly
resented the murder, for which in reality the laird of Buchanan was
solely to blame. Hector Roy answered, "Well, Donald, I doubt not, if you
had such fosterage to me as you had to that man, you would act the like
for me, so you shall have your choice of all the land;" and Donald got
it. From this time he was at peace with Hector Roy, and was among the
clansmen who accompanied him and John of Killin to the fatal field of
Flodden in 1513. Here it was that Donald Dubh at length avenged the
death of his foster brother Kenneth Og, the late chief of Kintail. In
the retreat of the Scottish army he heard some one near him exclaiming,
"Alas, laird! thou hast fallen!" On inquiry he was told it was the laird
of Buchanan, who had sunk from loss of blood. The faithful Highlander
drew his sword, and saying, "If he has not fallen, he shall fall," made
straight to Buchanan, whom he killed on the spot.

Chapter IX.


Many years ago there lived at Craig of Gairloch an old man named
Alastair Mac Iain Mhic Earchair. He was a man of great piety and
respectability, and was one of those who devote much of their time to
religious exercises, and are called "the men." He is remembered by old
people now living. It was in the first quarter of the nineteenth century
that early one morning Alastair went out for a load of bog fir for
firewood. When he came to the peat moss where the wood was to be found,
there suddenly appeared before him a tall fair-haired man attired in the
Breacan an fheilidh, or belted plaid; with him were twelve other men
similarly dressed; their plaids were all of Mackenzie tartan, and their
kilts were formed of part of the plaid pleated and belted round the
waist as was the manner in the old days. The fair-haired one, who from
his noble bearing was manifestly a chief, inquired, "How fare the
Gairloch family?" Alastair replied, "They are well." Then they departed.
When they were leaving him, Alastair heard not the sound of their tread
nor saw them make a step, but they passed away as if a gust of wind were
bending down the tall grass on the hillside. Alastair, to his dying day,
declared and believed that he had had a vision of the great chief Hector
Roy with his bodyguard of twelve chosen heroes.

This account not only illustrates the reverential pride and affection
with which the memory of the famous Hector Roy is regarded by the elder
natives of Gairloch, but it also supplies a slight yet graphic sketch of
the traditional appearance of the great chief.

We have already learnt (Part I., chap. iii.) that Hector was the son of
Alexander Mackenzie (known as "the Upright"), sixth lord of Kintail by
his second wife. She was the daughter of Macdonald of Clanranald, and
Hector Roy himself married a daughter of Ronald MacRanald, the laird of
Moidart. Hector was born about 1440, but the date cannot be positively
fixed. He was called Ruadh or Roy, from the auburn colour of his hair;
he was a tall powerful man, of marvellous physique, a fearless hero, and
a redoubtable warrior,--in a word, a typical Highland chieftain.

Many of the old traditions of the Gairloch seannachies have centred in
Hector Roy and the deeds of his followers, but in the present generation
they are passing out of mind, so that our account of the famous warrior
cannot be so complete as it might have been made fifty years ago.

In Part I., chap. vii., we have seen the circumstances under which the
king gave Hector Roy a commission of fire and sword for the destruction
of the M'Leods who were in Gairloch. Hector Roy soon set about the work
of extermination, but he was so much occupied in other warfare that it
was long before he made much way in Gairloch. Ultimately he received a
charter from the crown in 1494, and later a new charter under the great
seal dated 8th April 1513, of Gairloch, together with Glasleitire and
Coire nan Cuilean in Kintail, in feu and heritage for ever.
Notwithstanding these charters, he never himself succeeded in completely
ousting the M'Leods from Gairloch.

Hector Roy resided with his father at Kinnellan or Brahan, and
afterwards at Fairburn. When in Gairloch he seems to have fortified
himself in the Tigh Dige mentioned in Part I., chap. vii., but the
M'Leods still held the Dun or Castle of Gairloch not far away.

At that time a rock stood at the edge of the shore near the head of the
bay of Ceann an t' Sail, or bay of Charlestown as it is now often
called; it is the bay where Flowerdale House and the present Gairloch
post-office and pier are situated. This rock then projected so far on
the shore that the road round it was covered by the sea at high water.
When the present road was made, a great part of the rock was removed and
the road banked up above the reach of the tide. Before this the
projecting rock contained several large recesses. Hector Roy went out
one day unattended to reconnoitre the Dun, still occupied by his enemies
the M'Leods, possibly thinking to devise a scheme for its capture. The
M'Leods observed him, and three of them slipped out of the castle hoping
to seize him. Hector, unwilling alone to face three of his foes, ran
quickly towards the Tigh Dige. When he came to the rock with its
recesses, he threw himself into one of them, with his dirk drawn. As the
first pursuer rushed round the rock, Hector slew him with one slash of
his dirk, and in an instant threw him into another recess just before
the second pursuer came round the rock to meet the same fate, as did the
third also, leaving Hector free from a rather awkward position. There is
now at this place a small well by the roadside; it was formerly within
one of the recesses. This recess was always called "the Gairloch,"
because it was the means of saving the life of the great chief of
Gairloch, and since it has been removed the little well has borne the
same title. Many persons in the neighbourhood can point out "the
Gairloch," but few are now-a-days acquainted with the story. It was a
favourite pastime of the sons of the late Sir Hector Mackenzie, Bart. of
Gairloch, when they were boys, about 1815, to re-enact this episode, an
iris or "flag" being used to represent the destroying dirk of their
renowned ancestor.

During the later years of Alexander the Upright, his eldest son Kenneth
Mackenzie, who was known as "Kenneth of the Battle," led the clan in the
many contests in which it was engaged. Hector Roy usually assisted his
brother Kenneth in warfare. He took a leading part in the celebrated
battle of Park, which gave Kenneth his appellation.

It seems that Kenneth of the Battle had married Margaret, daughter of
John Macdonald of Islay, who laid claim not only to the lordship of the
Isles, but also to the earldom of Ross. One Christmas eve Kenneth
imagined himself, with some reason, to have been insulted by Alexander
Macdonald, nephew and heir of John of Islay. In revenge for the insult
Kenneth sent his wife (whom he did not love) back to Alexander, who was
her cousin. The lady was blind of an eye, and she was sent away mounted
on a one-eyed pony, accompanied by a one-eyed servant and followed by a
one-eyed dog. The result was that John Macdonald of Islay determined on
a great expedition to punish the Mackenzies. He mustered his followers
in the Isles, and his relatives of Moidart and Ardnamurchan, to the
number of three thousand warriors. Kenneth called out the clan
Mackenzie, and strongly garrisoned Eileandonain Castle. Macdonald and
his nephew Alexander marched to Inverness, reduced the castle there,
left a garrison in it, and then plundered the lands of the sheriff of
Cromarty. They next marched to Strathconan, ravaged the lands of the
Mackenzies, put some of the inhabitants to the sword, and burned Contin
church one Sunday morning, together with the aged people, women and
children, and the old priest, who were worshipping in the church at the
time. Kenneth Mackenzie sent his aged father, Alexander the Upright,
from Kinellan, where he was residing, to the Raven's Rock above
Strathpeffer, and himself led his men, numbering only six hundred, to
the moor still known as Blar na Pairc. The Macdonalds came to the moor
to meet him. Between the two forces lay a peat moss, full of deep pits
and deceitful bogs. Kenneth had his own brother Duncan, and his
half-brother Hector Roy, with him. By the nature of the ground Kenneth
perceived that Macdonald could not bring all his forces to the attack at
once. He directed his brother Duncan with a body of archers to lie in
ambush, whilst he himself advanced across the moss, being able from his
knowledge of the place to avoid its dangers. The van of the enemy's army
charged furiously, and Kenneth, according to his pre-arranged plan, at
once retreated, so that the assailants following him became entangled in
the moss. Duncan Mackenzie then opened fire from his ambush on the foe
both in flank and rear, slaughtering most of those who had entered the
bog. Kenneth now charged with his main body, and Macdonald's forces,
thrown into confusion by the stratagem, were after a desperate battle
completely routed. Kenneth was attacked by Gillespie, one of Macdonald's
lieutenants, and slew him in single combat. Hector Roy, who commanded a
division, fought like a lion, and most of the Macdonalds were slain.
Those who fled before the victorious Mackenzies rallied on the following
morning, to the number of three hundred, but Kenneth pursued them, and
they were all killed or taken prisoners. Both Macdonald himself and his
heir Alexander were taken prisoners, but Mackenzie released them within
six months, on their promising that they would not molest him again, and
that they would abandon all claim to the earldom of Ross.

During the battle a great raw ploughboy from Kintail was noticed by
Hector Roy going about in an aimless stupid manner. The youth was
Donnachadh Mor na Tuaighe, or Big Duncan of the Axe, commonly called
Suarachan. He was one of the MacRaes of Kintail; you would have called
him in English Duncan MacRae. He received the name of Big Duncan of the
Axe because, not having been thought worthy--much to his annoyance--of
being properly armed that morning for the battle, his only weapon was a
rusty old battleaxe he had picked up. Hector Roy called upon Duncan to
take part in the fight. In his chagrin at the contempt with which he had
been treated, he replied, "Unless I get a man's esteem, I shall not do a
man's work." Hector answered, "Do a man's work, and you will get a man's
share." Big Duncan rushed into the battle, quickly killed a man, drew
the body aside, and coolly sat upon it. Hector Roy noticed this
extraordinary proceeding, and asked him why he was not engaged with his
comrades. Big Duncan answered, "If I only get one man's due, I shall
only do one man's work; I have killed my man." Hector told him to do two
men's work and he would get two men's reward. Big Duncan went again into
the fight, killed another man, pulled the body away, placed it on the
top of the first, and sat upon the two. Hector Roy saw him again, and
said, "Duncan, how is this; you idle, and I in sore distress?" Big
Duncan replied, "You promised me two men's share, and I killed two men."
Hector quickly answered, "I would not be reckoning with you." On this
Big Duncan instantly arose with his great battleaxe, and shouted, "The
man that would not be reckoning with me, I would not be reckoning with
him." He rushed into the thickest of the battle, where he mowed down the
enemy like grass, so that that mighty chief Maclean of Lochbuy
determined to check his murderous career. The heroes met in deadly
strife; for some time Maclean, being a very powerful man clad in mail,
escaped the terrible axe, but at last Duncan, with one fell swoop,
severed his enemy's head from his body. Big Duncan accompanied his chief
in the pursuit of the fugitives next day. That night when the triumphant
chief, Kenneth of the Battle, sat at supper he missed Big Duncan, and
said to the company, "I am more vexed for want of my great sgalag
(ploughman) this night than any satisfaction I had of the day." One of
the others said, "I thought I saw him following some men [of the enemy]
that ran up a burn." He had scarcely finished speaking when Big Duncan
entered, with four heads bound in a woodie (a sort of rope made of
twisted twigs and bark of birch trees), and threw them before the chief;
"Tell me now," says he, "if I have not earned my supper."

In 1488, as his father Alexander the Upright lay on his deathbed, Hector
Roy led five hundred of his clan in the battle of Sauchieburn, near
Stirling, in support of King James III. Later on Hector submitted to
King James IV., who is said to have granted Gairloch to him, and to have
given him Glasleitire in Kintail and other estates. This may have been
prior to the crown charter of Gairloch already mentioned as dated 1494.

Alexander the Upright died in 1488, and Kenneth of the Battle only
survived his father three years. On his death Kenneth Og, his eldest and
only son by his first wife, became entitled to the lordship of Kintail,
but was murdered in 1497 through the treachery of the laird of Buchanan,
avenged long after by Donald Dubh, as related in the last chapter. The
next heir was John Mackenzie, commonly called John of Killin, who was
the eldest son of Kenneth of the Battle, by his second wife, a daughter
of Lord Lovat. It was a question whether this marriage was regular; but
in 1491 the pope legitimised the marriage. On the death of Kenneth Og,
Hector Roy, notwithstanding the pope's decree, declared his nephew John
of Killin to be illegitimate, and took possession of the Kintail estates
for himself, the whole clan, with whom he was a great favourite,
willingly submitting to his rule. During this period occurred the battle
of Druim a chait, in which Hector Roy, with only one hundred and forty
men, completely routed seven hundred of the Munros, Dingwalls, and
Maccullochs, under Sir William Munro of Fowlis, at a place on the south
side of the hill called Knock-farrel, between Dingwall and Strathpeffer.
Sir William was lieutenant of James Stewart, second son of King James
III., who had been created Duke of Ross. Munro, instigated by Lord
Lovat, grandfather of John of Killin, determined to punish Hector Roy
for his contumacy in holding Kintail. Hector having only time to gather
seven score men, resolved to make up for his numerical inferiority by a
stratagem. He lay in ambush on Knock-farrel, and as Munro returned in
the gloaming from plundering Hector's house at Kinellan, Hector Roy and
his men suddenly attacked the triumphant foe. Munro's seven hundred men
were not expecting any danger, as they believed Hector Roy had fled the
country, hence they were marching carelessly and out of order. Hector's
sudden onslaught in the dusk threw them into confusion, and the rout
became so general that the Mackenzies slew all the Dingwalls and
Maccullochs, and most of the Munros. Hector Roy's men were armed with
axes and two edged-swords. The slaughter, on the first charge, was
terrific; no fewer than nineteen heads rolled into the well, still
called Tobar nan Ceann, or "the fountain of the heads." Our old friend
Big Duncan of the Axe was there, and, by the side of his fierce chief
Hector Roy, performed prodigies of valour. Duncan pursued one of the
enemy to the church of Dingwall; as he was entering the door Big Duncan
caught him by the arm, when the man exclaimed, "My sanctuary saves me!"
"Aye," replied Duncan, "but what a man puts in the sanctuary against his
will he can take out again." So he pushed him back from the door and
slew him. It would seem as if Big Duncan had joined Hector Roy that day
unexpectedly, for tradition says that when, after the fight, Hector and
his men sat down to take food, they only had one bannock for each man,
and there was none for Big Duncan; but every man gave him a mouthful,
and in that way he got the largest share,--seven score mouthfuls, from
which circumstance we gather that Hector Roy lost not a single man in
this sanguinary affray, though hundreds of the foe were slain.

In 1499 a royal warrant was issued to the Mackintosh to put down and
punish Hector Roy, who had become obnoxious to the government, as a
disturber of the public peace. He was outlawed; a reward was offered for
his capture, and MacCailean, Earl of Argyle, was appointed to receive
his rents and account for them to the crown. A period of anarchy and
disorder ensued. Hector, with his faithful bodyguard, took refuge in the
hills, and MacCailean came down to gather the rents. The Caithness men,
who at that time made frequent raids on Ross-shire, determined to
destroy MacCailean and his force. When MacCailean looked out one morning
the Caithness men were gathering above him, but he said to his
followers, "I am seeing a big man above the Caithness men, and twelve
men with him, and he makes me more afraid than the Caithness men all
together." MacCailean and his men determined to cut through the
Caithness men. When the combat began, Hector Roy and his twelve warriors
came down and also attacked the Caithness men; few of them escaped.
After the battle, Hector Roy and MacCailean went to speak to each other.
MacCailean asked what he could do for Hector, who replied, "It's
yourself that knows best." On this MacCailean bade him go to Edinburgh
at such a time, and said he would meet him there. Hector Roy went to
Edinburgh and saw MacCailean, who told him to be in a certain place on
such a day, and, when he should see MacCailean and the king walking
together, to approach them and kneel before the king. MacCailean said
the king would then lay hold of him by the hand to take him up, and
Hector was to make the king remember that he had laid hold of him.
Before this MacCailean and the king were talking together about Hector
Roy; the king said Hector was a wild brave man, and it was impossible to
lay hold of him. MacCailean replied, "If you will grant my request, I
will give you hold of his hand." To this the king agreed. On the day
fixed Hector Roy came to where the king and MacCailean were walking
together, and kneeled before the king. The king took his hand to raise
him up, when Hector Roy gave him such a grasp that the blood came out at
the points of the king's fingers. "Why did you not keep him?" said
MacCailean, as Hector Roy turned away. "There is no man in the kingdom
would hold that man," replied the king. Said MacCailean, "That is Hector
Roy, and I must now get my request." "What is it?" asked the king. "That
Hector Roy should be pardoned." The king granted the pardon, and took a
great liking to Hector Roy for his strength and bravery.

In our last chapter is a reference to the attack made on Hector Roy by
his nephew John of Killin, ninth lord of Kintail, and to Hector's
surrender to the latter. John of Killin, who had now grown up a fine
strong young man, had determined to compel his uncle to recognise his
rights as the legitimate heir of Kintail. By a stratagem he put Hector
Roy off his guard, and then surrounded and set fire to the house at
Fairburn where he was stopping. Hector was compelled to capitulate. He
was allowed to continue the management of the Kintail possessions during
the remainder of his nephew's minority, and he himself retained Gairloch
and Glasleitire in Kintail, besides other estates, as his own property.
This was about 1507.


Hector Roy now again set about the work of driving the M'Leods from
Gairloch, and a long struggle ensued. He was greatly assisted by Big
Duncan of the Axe, who had become the father of a son of like valour
named Dugal. They, with ten other MacRaes of Kintail, were ready to
attend upon Hector whenever he desired their aid; these twelve MacRaes
seem to have acted as Hector Roy's bodyguard; most likely they all
settled in Gairloch. The greatest defeat Hector ever gave to the M'Leods
was at Beallach Glasleathaid, near Kintail, where most of them were
taken or killed. Big Duncan of course took part in this victory, and on
being told that four men were at once attacking his son Dugal, he
answered, "If he be my son, there is no risk in that." Dugal MacRae
killed those four M'Leods, and came off himself without serious wounds.

After the fight at Beallach Glasleathaid, and several other skirmishes,
the M'Leods were content to allow Hector Roy two-thirds of Gairloch,
retaining the other third, which included the parts to the east and
south-east of the Crasg, a hill to the west of the old churchyard of
Gairloch, and between the present Free and Established churches. Thus
the only strongholds left to the M'Leods in Gairloch were the Dun or
Castle of Gairloch, and the Uamh nam Freiceadain, mentioned in Part I.,
chap. vii.

In 1513 Hector Roy, in response to a summons from King James IV.,
gathered his Gairloch warriors, and with them joined his nephew John of
Killin, and the main body of the clan Mackenzie, in the war with
England. They fought on the disastrous field of Flodden, and many of the
clan perished with their king. The two chiefs of the Mackenzies were not
among the slain; John of Killin was made prisoner, but escaped; Hector
also made his way home in safety.

In 1517 John Duke of Albany, Regent, appointed "Colin, Earl of Ergile,"
lieutenant of the Isles and other lands, including Gairloch, for three
years or more at the Regent's pleasure, for the purpose of establishing
peace among the inhabitants. From this commission it may be inferred how
troublous the Highlands then were.

Hector Roy had four sons and three daughters by his marriage with Anne
Macdonald. He had also a son called Iain Beg, who, according to some
authorities, was illegitimate.

The great warrior chief of Gairloch died in 1528, and some say was
buried in the churchyard of Gairloch. If he was born as seems likely
about 1440, he must have attained nearly ninety years of age. A large
number of families trace their ancestry to him; they are known as Clan
Eachainn, a name that signifies that they are the seed of Hector Roy.

Chapter X.


There is little but trouble and misfortune to be recorded as regards the
immediate successors of the great Hector Roy. His eldest son, Iain
Glassich, was a minor at the time of his father's death, having been
born about 1513. As a boy he was brought up in the house of Chisholm of
Strathglass, whence his name of Glassich. On coming of age, he was
served heir to his father of the lands of Gairloch, and the grazings of
Glasleitire and Coire nan Cuilean in Kintail. We know nothing of his
personal appearance.

Soon after John Glassich Mackenzie came of age, he endeavoured to upset
the arrangement his father Hector Roy had made with John of Killin,
ninth lord of Kintail, and a desperate feud ensued. In 1544 he was
compelled to enter into a bond undertaking to keep the peace, and
promising obedience to his cousin Kenneth, the tenth lord of Kintail.
Notwithstanding this bond, he seems to have still persevered in his
claims, which, as some say, extended to the whole of the Kintail

In 1547 John Glassich refused to join the royal standard, and upon this
his estates were forfeited to the crown; but though this forfeiture was
never reversed, it does not appear to have affected the succession. The
escheat was granted to the earl of Sutherland, but it is not likely that
he was able to act upon the grant in such a wild inaccessible country as
Gairloch then was.

In 1550 Kenneth, lord of Kintail, still suspicious of the intentions of
John Glassich, sent for him to Brahan, where he came with only one
attendant, Iain Gearr, probably one of the MacRaes who had settled in
Gairloch. Kenneth, after charging John Glassich with designs against
him, caused him to be apprehended. Seeing this, Iain Gearr drew his
two-handed sword and made a fierce stroke at the lord of Kintail, who
sat at the head of the table, and whose skull would have been cloven
asunder had he not ducked his head under the table. Iain Gearr was
instantly seized by Mackenzie's men, who threatened to slay him on the
spot, but the chief, admiring his fidelity, strictly charged them not to
touch him. When Iain Gearr was asked why he had struck at the lord
himself, instead of at those who had seized his master, he boldly
replied, "I see no one else whose life is worth that of my own chief."
The sword made a deep gash in the table, and the mark remained until
Colin, first earl of Seaforth, had the piece cut out, saying that he
"loved no such remembrance of the quarrels of his relations."

John Glassich was removed to Eileandonain Castle, where they say his
death was occasioned by poison administered to him in a mess of milk
soup, prepared by the wife of MacCalman, a clergyman, and
deputy-constable of the fort. His body was sent to the people of
Strathglass, who buried him in Beauly priory, where the Gairloch
baronets are interred in the present day.

It was in the days of John Glassich that Donald Gorm of Sleat, in Skye,
made an expedition against Kintail, taking advantage of the absence of
Mackenzie of Kintail. The latter had opposed the pretensions of Donald
Gorm to the earldom of Ross. In the month of May 1539 Donald Gorm
crossed over to the mainland. He first came to Kenlochewe, which, though
part of Gairloch in the present day, still belonged at that time to the
lord of Kintail. Here the Macdonalds destroyed all before them, and
killed Miles, or Maolmuire, son of Fionnla Dubh MacGillechriosd MacRae,
at that time governor of Eileandonain Castle. The remains of a monument
erected on the spot where Maolmuire MacRae was killed were to be seen in
1704. Donald Gorm was himself killed soon afterwards, when attacking
Eileandonain Castle, by a barbed arrow fired at him by a nephew of
Maolmuire MacRae.

During the feeble rule of John Glassich the M'Leods strove to regain
Gairloch, but were kept in check by the clansmen, including some of the
valiant MacRaes.

John Glassich married Agnes, daughter of James Fraser of Foyness, and
had three sons, viz., Hector, Alexander, and John, known as John Roy

Hector, the eldest son of John Glassich, succeeded his father. During
his minority the estates were given in ward to John, fourth of the
Stewart earls of Athole. Hector came of age in 1563. His death occurred,
probably by violence, in September 1566.

His brother Alexander, called Alastair Roy, second son of John Glassich,
then succeeded to Gairloch, but as he did not make up his title he is
not reckoned as one of the lairds of Gairloch. He and his brother Hector
are said to have lived in Eilean Suainne, on Loch Maree. His death
(without issue) took place within a few weeks of his brother's decease,
and probably from the same cause. Some say that these two young men were
slain at the instigation of their relatives of Kintail; but it seems
quite as probable that their deaths were due to the M'Leods, who still
held one-third of Gairloch. Alastair Roy married a daughter of John
MacGillechallum M'Leod, laird of Raasay, by his marriage with Janet,
daughter of Mackenzie of Kintail.

The Gairloch family have thus been under a cloud since the death of the
great Hector Roy; but John Roy, the youngest son of John Glassich, saw
brighter days. The story of his long and prosperous life will form the
subject of our next chapter.

Chapter XI.


Iain Ruadh Macchoinnich, or John Roy Mackenzie, third son of John
Glassich, and grandson of the great Hector Roy, was a minor when his
brothers died in 1566, and his lands were in 1567 given in ward by Queen
Mary to John Banerman of Cardenye.

John Roy became one of the most renowned of the old chiefs of Gairloch;
he was in fact second only in fame to his celebrated grandfather, whom
he closely resembled in appearance and physique. He is one of the most
prominent figures in the old traditions of Gairloch, though there are no
stories extant of his personal prowess in warfare.

He was born in 1548, but two years before his father was poisoned at
Eileandonain. On this event his mother, Agnes Fraser, fled with John Roy
to her own relatives, and she concealed him as best she could, putting
him, it is said, every night under a brewing kettle. His mother
afterwards became the wife of the laird of Mackay in Sutherlandshire,
and John Roy then spent some time in hiding on his patrimonial estate of
Glasleitire in Kintail, under the faithful guardianship of Iain Liath,
one of the MacRae heroes. It is said he was afterwards concealed by the
lairds of Moidart and of Farr.

John Roy grew up a tall, brave, and handsome young Highlander. When he
could carry arms and wear the belted plaid, he went to the Mackay
country to visit his mother. None but his mother knew him, and neither
she nor he made known who he was. In those days any stranger who came to
a house was not asked who he was until he had been there a year and a
day. John Roy lived in the servants' end of the house, and slept and fed
with them. Mackay had two rare dogs, called Cu-dubh and Faoileag, and
they became greatly attached to John Roy, so that they would follow no
one else. Near the end of the year Mackay told his wife that he
suspected the stranger was a gentleman's son. Her tears revealed the
truth. John Roy was then kindly received at the table of the laird, who
asked him what he could do for him. John Roy begged that Mackay would
give him a bodyguard consisting of the twelve of his men whom he might
choose, and the two dogs Cu-dubh and Faoileag. He got these, and they
went away to Glas Leitire in Kintail, taking with them an anker of
whisky. Arriving there John Roy placed his twelve men in concealment,
and went himself to the house of Iain Liath Macrae. It was the early
morning, and the old wife was spinning on the distaff. She looked out,
and saw a man there. She called to Iain Liath, who was still lying down,
"There is a man out yonder sitting on a creel, and I never saw two knees
in my life more like John Roy's two knees." Iain Liath got up, went to
the door, and called out "Is that you John?" John Roy answered that it
was. "Have you any with you?" "Yes, I have twelve men." "Fetch them,"
said Iain Liath. He killed the second bull, and feasted them all. Then
he told John Roy that Mackenzie of Kintail was coming that very day to
hunt on the Glas Leitire hills of his (John Roy's) fathers. John Roy,
with his twelve men and Iain Liath, went to the hill, taking the whisky
with them. Mackenzie arrived to hunt the deer, and when he saw John Roy
and his men, he sent a fair-haired lad to inquire who they were. John
Roy bade the boy sit down, and gave him whisky. Whenever he rose to go,
more whisky was offered, and he was nothing loath to take it. Mackenzie,
thinking the lad was long in returning, sent another boy, who was
treated in the same way. Mackenzie then saw that John Roy had returned,
so he went back with his followers to Brahan, and John Roy was not
further molested by the lords of Kintail.

John Roy came back with Iain Liath to his house, when the latter told
him that he had Hector Roy's chest with the title-deeds of Gairloch, and
that John Roy must claim the estate. Iain Liath took all his belongings,
and accompanied John Roy and his twelve men to Gairloch. They came to
Beallach a Chomhla, at the side of Bathais [_Bus_] Bheinn. Coming down
the mountain they found a good well, and there they rested and left the
women and the cattle. The well is called to this day "Iain Liath's
well." They met people who informed them that Iain Dubh Mac Ruaridh
M'Leod, or Black John the son of Rorie M'Leod, who was governor of the
old castle of the Dun, was accustomed to walk every day across the big
sand and to lie on the top of the Crasg to spy the country. The party
went to the Crasg, and Iain Liath told Iain Dubh Mac Ruaridh M'Leod,
whom they met there, that unless he left the castle before that night he
would lose his head. M'Leod took the hint, and sailed away in his
birlinn with all his valuables, except one chest containing old
title-deeds, which came into John Roy's possession along with the

It is said that after this John Roy had the resolution to wait on Colin
Cam Mackenzie, lord of Kintail, who established him in all his lands.
John Roy came of age about 1569, but it was not until 1606 that he
received a charter erecting Gairloch into a free barony.

How John Roy came to revenge the assassination at the hands of Ruaridh
MacAllan M'Leod of Gairloch, of the sons of Mac Ghille Challum of
Raasay, and how this led to John Roy obtaining possession of the third
part of Gairloch, which had been retained by the M'Leods since Hector
Roy's time, will be related in our next chapter. John Roy had a long
feud with the M'Leods, and it seems to have been nearly the end of the
sixteenth century before they were finally expelled from Gairloch. In
the latter part of this struggle John Roy was much assisted by his
twelve valiant sons, several of whom, as will be seen, also figured in
struggles with the M'Leods after they had abandoned Gairloch.

John Roy was twice married. By his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of
Angus Macdonald of Glengarry, he had eleven children. By his second
wife, Isabel, daughter of Murdo Mackenzie of Fairburn, he had five
children. Besides these he had several illegitimate children. The
recorded pedigrees give the names of only eleven sons; but tradition
says that, as John Roy's family grew up, his bodyguard of twelve chosen
warriors was composed solely of his own sons.

The northern lairds, like the nobility further south, profited by the
alienation of church property which followed the Reformation. The
rectory and vicarage of Gairloch was vacant for some years, and in 1584
we find John Roy dealing with the tiends or tithes. Disputes ensued, and
ultimately John Roy seems to have abandoned his claim.

The ironworks at Letterewe were commenced about 1607 by Sir George Hay;
they were on the property of Lord Mackenzie of Kintail. The
iron-smelting furnace at Talladale was most likely established by Sir
George Hay about the same time. No doubt woods on John Roy's Gairloch
estate were cut down to provide charcoal for smelting, and if so John
Roy must have derived pecuniary benefit from the Talladale ironworks,
but there is no record to confirm this conjecture.

John Roy resided in Eilean Ruaridh, on Loch Maree. There are two islands
of the name, distinguished as big and little; they almost adjoin. It was
in the little island that John Roy dwelt, in the house where formerly
Ruaridh M'Leod had lived. John Roy enlarged and improved the house, and
made it his Gairloch home. Some remains of the house and adjoining
garden are still to be seen.

It was early in 1609 that John Roy paid a visit to the laird of Mackay
in Sutherlandshire. On his return journey the laird of Mackay escorted
him as far as the Meikle Ferry, on the Kyle of Sutherland. When the
party arrived at the ferry, the groom of a gentleman, who was also about
to cross, endeavoured to keep possession of the boat. Amongst the
attendants of the laird of Mackay was his youthful piper, named Roderick
Mackay, a fine lad of seventeen summers. The groom placed his hand on
the boat to hold it until his master should come up. The hot-headed
young piper drew his dirk and cut off the groom's hand. The laird of
Mackay said, "Rorie, I cannot keep you longer; you must leave the
country." John Roy Mackenzie said to the piper, "Will you come with me,
Rorie?" The piper lad was only too glad to accept this invitation, and
his master, who had a great liking for the handsome and talented boy,
was quite willing that he should go with John Roy, who sent Hugh
Mackenzie of Gairloch, his gamekeeper, to the laird of Mackay in
exchange for the piper. The descendants of Hugh Mackenzie still dwell in
Sutherlandshire, where it is remembered how their ancestor came from
Gairloch. Donald Mor Mackay, an elder brother of Rorie the piper, spent
a number of years in Gairloch, and assisted his brother in the office of

In the following winter--probably early in 1610--Kenneth, Lord Mackenzie
of Kintail (son of Colin Cam), who had lately obtained a charter to the
Lews, and had been raised to the peerage, returning from his new
possessions, landed at Torridon on his way home to Brahan. His lordship
sent a messenger to John Roy Mackenzie, desiring him to meet him at
Torridon. John Roy's growing power had revived the old jealousy of the
Kintail family, and Lord Mackenzie had determined to slay him. John
Roy's sons strongly dissuaded their father from going to Torridon,
fearing that he might share the fate of his father, but he determined to
go, and to go alone. He requested his sons to follow him, and to keep
watch, but to do nothing until the morning of the following day. Towards
evening John Roy arrived at Torridon, and was hospitably received by
Lord Mackenzie. He and his men were drinking and making merry far into
the long winter night. At last they resolved to retire to sleep. It was
in a barn where their couches of heather were prepared. John Roy would
not lie down except on the same bed as Lord Mackenzie. He lay quite
still as if asleep. After a while a man came in, with his dirk drawn,
and asked Lord Mackenzie if he should stab John Roy. Lord Mackenzie
replied, "No, you shall not befoul my bed; let be until daylight." At
daybreak a man came hurriedly into the barn, and told his lordship that
there were twelve big men and a piper on the Ploc of Torridon, putting
the stone and playing other Highland games, and that one who seemed to
be the chief of them was so tall that he had the head above the whole of
them. Lord Mackenzie got up and went out in some alarm. No one knew who
the men were, until Lord Mackenzie asked John Roy. John Roy said, "They
are only my boys come to see if I got safe over the hill." It was a hard
winter, and the snow was deep on the mountains. Lord Mackenzie then told
John Roy that he had been thinking to do him harm. John Roy said, "If
you had had the supper you intended, you would have had a dirty
breakfast." When the young men saw their father they told the piper to
play; they came up to where their father was and took him away with
them. They went over the shoulder of Liathgach, and the piper played all
the way to the top of the hill without a halt. Then they made their way
homewards, and reached their house in Eilean Ruaridh without mishap. The
man who was a head taller than any of the others was Alastair Breac,
second son of John Roy, and his successor in Gairloch. The piper was
Donald Mor Mackay, brother of John Roy's piper Rorie.


The terrible feud between the Glengarry Macdonalds and the Mackenzies of
Kintail came to a head during John Roy's life. He was not involved in
the warfare, and it is unnecessary to give any account of it in these
pages. During its blood-stained progress Alexander MacGorrie and Ranald
MacRory, allies of Glengarry, made an incursion to the district of
Kenlochewe, and there meeting some women and children who had fled from
Lochcarron with their cattle, attacked them unexpectedly, killed many of
the defenceless women and all the male children, and killed and took
away many of the cattle, houghing all they were unable to carry along
with them. At this time Kenlochewe seems to have still formed part of
the Kintail possessions.

Later on we find that the lord of Kintail was staying on a visit with
John Roy at his house in Eilean Ruaridh in Loch Maree. There is some
confusion or obscurity in the dates, but it seems certain that this
visit was after the incident at Torridon; it shows that the enmity
between the Kintail and Gairloch Mackenzies was now at an end, and we
hear no more of it.

When the M'Leods were finally expelled from Gairloch, and all the fights
to be recorded in our next chapter were over, John Roy applied to the
crown for a "remission" for himself and his sons for their lawless
conduct during the struggle, and this was granted by King James VI. on
2d April 1614, in a document now in the Gairloch charter-chest, which
gives John Roy and his sons credit for "much and good benefit to His
Majesty's distressed subjects."

John Roy acquired some properties in the part of Ross-shire, towards the
east coast, partly in right of his mother and partly by purchase. He
built the first three storeys of the tower of Kinkell, and no doubt
himself resided there at times. He was a shrewd and prudent chief, frank
and hospitable, and (notwithstanding his necessarily imperfect
education) a good man of business. He greatly furthered the interests of
his people and of his own large family.

He died at Talladale in 1628, in his eightieth year, and was buried in
the chapel his son Alastair Breac had erected in the old churchyard of

Chapter XII.


The stories of the various contests, extending over more than a century,
during which the M'Leods were gradually expelled from Gairloch, fill a
large page in the traditional history of the parish.

We have seen how Allan M'Leod, laird of Gairloch, was assassinated
(along with his two little boys) by his jealous brothers, and how this
led to the commission of fire and sword being granted by the king about
the year 1480, directing Hector Roy Mackenzie to exterminate the
Gairloch M'Leods. It must have been in Hector Roy's time that Ruaridh
M'Leod was driven from the island in Loch Maree which bears his name,
for we find that before Hector Roy's death, and after the fight at
Beallach Glasleathaid and other skirmishes, the M'Leods were restricted
to one-third of Gairloch, being the parts to the east and south-east of
the hill called the Crasg, so that they must from that time have only
retained the two strongholds known as the Dun of Gairloch and the Uamh
nam Freiceadain (Part I., chaps. vii. and ix.).

The following incident seems to have occurred during the struggles in
which Hector Roy took part, and before the M'Leods had been ousted from
the islands of Loch Maree.

At this time a Mackenzie, known as Murchadh Riabhach na Chuirce, or
Brindled Murdo of the Bowie-knife, lived at Letterewe. The M'Leods still
held the fortalice or crannog called Eilean Grudidh, in Loch Maree,
about a mile distant from Letterewe. One of these M'Leods, named MacIain
Dhuibh, or Black John's son, crossed over one day in his boat to the
house of Brindled Murdo at Letterewe, when the latter was away on an
expedition among the hills. Only the women had stayed at home, and
M'Leod is charged with a foul deed. He remained at Letterewe over night.
Next day Brindled Murdo returned home, and finding what had happened,
attacked M'Leod, who, becoming disabled, fled up the hills behind
Letterewe. Seeing that Murdo was outrunning him, and knowing that his
end had come, M'Leod stopped, and, as his pursuer approached, entreated
that he might die in sight of his beloved Loch Maree. Brindled Murdo of
the Bowie-knife refused his petition, and slew him where he stood, and
there they buried him. The place is called to this day Feith Mhic Iain
Dhuibh, _i.e._ "the bog of Black John's son." On the six-inch ordnance
map it is called Glac Mhic Iain Dhuibh, or "the dell of Black John's

During the time of John Glassich Mackenzie and his two elder sons, there
are no records of the warfare with the M'Leods. It seems possible that
both Hector and Alastair Roy, sons of John Glassich, were slain by
M'Leods of Gairloch, though some suppose that their deaths were the
result of the continued hostility of their relatives of Kintail.

About the time that John Roy Mackenzie, youngest son of John Glassich,
came to Gairloch, Ruaridh MacAllan M'Leod, head of the M'Leods of
Gairloch, who had the _soubriquet_ of Nimhneach, or "venomous,"
committed a fearful crime. It will be remembered that John Roy's
deceased brother, Alastair Roy, had married the daughter of Iain
MacGhille Challum M'Leod, laird of Raasay (called Iain na Tuaighe, or
John of the Axe), by his marriage with Janet, daughter of John
Mackenzie, lord of Kintail. Iain MacGhille Challum had given great
offence to his clan, the Siol Mhic Ghille Challum, by marrying his
daughter to a Gairloch Mackenzie. After the death of Janet Mackenzie,
his first wife, Iain MacGhille Challum had married a sister of his
relative, the before-named Ruaridh MacAllan M'Leod. There were sons by
both marriages. Ruaridh MacAllan, taking advantage of the discontent of
the Siol Mhic Ghille Challum, plotted the destruction of MacGhille
Challum and his sons by his first marriage, hoping that his own nephew,
the eldest son of MacGhille Challum's second marriage, would then
inherit Raasay. Ruaridh MacAllan induced MacGhille Challum, and his sons
by the first marriage, to meet him at the island of Isay, in Waternish,
on the pretence that he desired to consult them on matters of
importance. After entertaining them at a feast he retired to another
room, and then caused them to be summoned singly to his presence. As
each came forward he was assassinated. The eldest son of the second
marriage, then a young boy, who was in an inner apartment, hearing the
dying screams of one of his half-brothers, called out in an agony,
"That's my brother's cry!" "Never mind," said the ruthless Ruaridh
MacAllan, "his screams will make you laird of Raasay." Donald Gregory,
in his history, says that the Mackenzies of Gairloch pursued Ruaridh Mac
Allan, in revenge for the murder of Iain Mac Ghille Challum's sons,
whose mother had been Janet Mackenzie, and whose sister had been the
wife of John Roy's brother. At this time there was a great feud between
Ruaridh M'Leod of the Lews, assisted by Neil Angusson M'Leod of Assynt
and by the blood-stained Ruaridh Mac Allan of Gairloch on the one hand,
and Colin Mackenzie, lord of Kintail (assisted by other chiefs),
fighting on behalf of his cousin Torquil Connanach M'Leod, on the other
hand. It is unnecessary in these pages to state the origin and course of
this dispute. Donald Gregory tells us that John Roy Mackenzie, impelled
no doubt by the motive of revenge already mentioned, was most active on
the side of his relative of Kintail. In June 1569 the Regent Murray and
his council sat at Inverness, and put a stop for the time being to the
feud so far as the leaders were concerned, but their intervention did
not make an end of John Roy's vengeful proceedings against Ruaridh Mac
Allan M'Leod of Gairloch. The warfare between these chieftains is said
to have been long and fierce. Ultimately Ruaridh Mac Allan was
slain--probably shot--by the great MacRae archer, Domhnull Odhar Mac
Iain Leith, of whom more anon. It seems to have been nearly the end of
the sixteenth century before John Roy finally expelled the M'Leods from
Gairloch. They had long since abandoned the Dun of Gairloch, and were
now driven from the Uamh nam Freiceadain, their last stronghold in the

The savage nature of this prolonged struggle is illustrated by the
tradition, that a number of M'Leods were hung on gallows erected on a
hillock a little to the north of the Free Church at Kenlochewe. The
hillock is called to this day Cnoc a Chrochadair, or "the hangman's
hillock." They say that Domhnull Odhar took part in the capture of the
M'Leods who were executed here.

It was after the expulsion of the M'Leods that the affair of Leac nan
Saighead occurred. Many of the M'Leods who had been driven from Gairloch
had settled in Skye. A number of young men of the clan were invited by
their chief to pass Hogmanay night in his castle at Dunvegan. There was
a large gathering. In the kitchen there was an old woman, who was always
occupied in carding wool. She was known as Mor Ban, or Fair Sarah, and
was supposed to be a witch. After dinner was over at night the men began
to drink, and when they had passed some time thus they sent into the
kitchen for the Mor Ban. She came, and sat down in the hall with the
men. She drank one or two glasses, and then she said it was a poor thing
for the M'Leods to be deprived of their own lands in Gairloch and to
live in comparative poverty in Skye. "But," says she, addressing the
whole party, "prepare yourselves and start to-morrow for Gairloch, sail
in the black birlinn, and you shall regain Gairloch. I shall be a
witness of your success when you return." The men being young, and not
over-burdened with wisdom, believed her, because they thought she had
the power of divination. They set sail in the morning for Gairloch, and
the black galley was full of the M'Leods. It was evening when they came
into the loch, and they dare not risk landing on the mainland, for they
remembered that the descendants of Domhnull Greannach (a great Macrae)
were still there, and they knew their prowess only too well. They
therefore turned to the south side of the loch, and fastened their
birlinn to Fraoch Eilean, in the shelter opposite Leac-nan-Saighead,
between Shieldaig and Badachro. They decided to wait there till morning,
then disembark and walk round the head of the loch. But all the
movements of the M'Leods had been well watched. Domhnull Odhar MacIain
Leith and his brother Iain Odhar MacIain Leith, the celebrated Macrae
archers (sons of Iain Liath, mentioned in Part I., chap. xi.) knew the
birlinn of the M'Leods, and they determined to oppose their landing.
They walked round by Shieldaig and posted themselves before daylight at
the back of the Leac, a protecting rock overlooking Fraoch Eilean. The
steps on which they stood at the back of the rock are still pointed out.
Donald Odhar, being a short man, took the higher of the two steps, and
Iain the other. Standing on these steps they crouched down in the
shelter of the rock, whence they commanded a full view of the island on
which the M'Leods were lying here and there, while the Macrae heroes
were invisible from the island. They were both celebrated shots, and had
their bows and arrows with them. As soon as the day dawned they opened
fire on the M'Leods; a number of them were killed before their comrades
were even aware of the direction whence the fatal arrows came. The
M'Leods endeavoured to answer the fire, but not being able to see their
foes, their arrows took no effect. In the heat of the fight one of the
M'Leods climbed the mast of the birlinn, for a better sight of the
position of the foe. Iain Odhar took his deadly aim at him when near the
top of the mast. The shaft pierced his body and pinned him to the mast.
"Oh," says Donald, "you have sent a pin through his broth." So the
slaughter continued, and the remnant of the M'Leods hurried into the
birlinn. They cut the rope and turned her head seawards, and by this
time only two of them were left alive. So great was their hurry to
escape that they left all the bodies of their slain companions on the
island. The rumour of the arrival of the M'Leods had spread during the
night, and other warriors, such as Fionnla Dubh na Saighead and Fear
Shieldaig, were soon at the scene of action, but all they had to do was
to assist in the burial of the dead M'Leods. Pits were dug, into each of
which a number of the dead bodies were thrown, and mounds were raised
over them, which remain to this day as any one may see. The name
Leac-nan-Saighead means "the flat stone of the arrows."

Donald Odhar is credited with a similar feat to that performed by his
brother Iain at Leac-nan-Saighead. It was probably before the affair at
that place that a birlinn, manned by M'Leods, came in to the bay, now
called the Bay of Charlestown, to reconnoitre Gairloch. Donald Odhar was
on the hill behind Flowerdale, called Craig a Chait, and as usual
carried his bow and arrows. He saw the Macleods enter the bay; one of
them climbed the mast of the vessel for a better view, when Donald
Odhar, taking advantage of the comparatively distinct mark thus
presented, let fly an arrow with unerring aim, and pinned the
unfortunate M'Leod to the mast. The distance traversed by the arrow
cannot have been less than half a mile.

Fionnla Dubh na Saighead was a relative of Donald Odhar and Iain Odhar,
and was also of the Macraes of Kintail. Finlay usually lived at Melvaig.
As a marksman he was on a par with Donald Odhar. In his day young
M'Leod, laird of Assynt, came to Gairloch in his birlinn to ask for a
daughter of John Roy in marriage. He was refused, and set off northwards
on his return voyage in his birlinn, which was manned with sixteen oars.
They rowed quite close to the land round Rudha Reidh, the furthest out
headland of the North point; Rudha Reidh was then known as Seann Rudha,
a name which is still sometimes given to it. Fionnla Dubh na Saighead
sat on a rock as the birlinn passed. He called out, "Whence came the
heroes?" They replied, "We came from Gairloch." "What were you doing
there?" said Finlay. "We were asking in marriage the daughter of
Mackenzie of Gairloch for this young gentleman." "Did you get her?" said
Finlay. They replied, "Oh, no." Finlay dismissed them with a
contemptuous gesture and an insulting expression. They passed on their
way without molesting him, because they had no arms with them. Young
M'Leod brooded over the insult he had received from Finlay Macrae, who
was well known to him by repute. He soon returned with his sixteen-oared
birlinn, manned by the choicest warriors of Assynt, to take vengeance on
Finlay, who noticed the galley and guessed who were its occupants. He
called for one Chisholm, his brother-in-arms, and the two of them
proceeded to a leac, or flat stone, close to the edge of the low cliff
about a mile north of Melvaig; the leac is still pointed out. They
reached this place before the Macleods could effect a landing. On the
way the Chisholm said to Finlay, "You must leave all the speaking to
me." As the birlinn drew near Chisholm called out, "What do you want?"
"We want Fionnla Dubh na Saighead." "You won't get him, or thanks," said
Chisholm; "go away in peace." The M'Leods began to threaten them. "If
that is the way," said Chisholm, "let every man look out for himself."
The contest (_cath_) began. Finlay and Chisholm were well sheltered at
the back of the leac. A number of the M'Leods were killed by the arrows
of the two heroes on shore, whilst they themselves remained uninjured.
The M'Leods, finding their losses so severe, soon thought that
discretion was the better part of valour, and, turning their birlinn
northwards, departed for their own country. They never again molested

There is an elevated place on the north point of Gairloch, called Bac an
Leth-choin, or "the hillock of the cross-bred dog." About mile to the
east, and much lower, is a ridge called Druim Carn Neill, or the "ridge
of the cairn of Neil." Fionnla Dubh na Saighead one day spied a man
named Neil M'Leod near his own house at Melvaig, at the south-west
corner of the North Point. Finlay fired an arrow at the man and wounded
him. Neil, who was a swift runner, fled eastwards over the high ground.
Finlay gave chase, accompanied by a cross-bred dog, a sort of lurcher,
which followed on the track of Neil. When Finlay reached the Bac an
Leth-choin he caught sight of Neil, and shot him dead at the Druim Carn
Neill. Neil was buried where he fell, and a cairn was raised over his
grave. Both the Bac an Leth-choin and the Druim Carn Neill are shown to
the north of Inverasdale on the six-inch ordnance map. Some remains of
Neil's cairn are still pointed out.

It would seem that the Gairloch M'Leods did not soon give up all hope of
regaining their former territory, for we find that in 1610 a severe
engagement took place between Mackenzies and M'Leods at Lochan an Fheidh
(sometimes wrongly spelt Lochan a' Neigh), on the west side of Scoor
Dubh, above Glen Torridon, just past the southern corner of Gairloch.
The Mackenzies, under the leadership of Alastair Breac, John Roy's
second son, and assisted by Donald Odhar and other MacRaes, completely
routed the M'Leods, who were commanded by Iain MacAllan Mhic Ruaridh
(now the representative of Allan M'Leod, formerly laird of Gairloch),
accompanied by his uncle John Tolmach M'Leod. Iain MacAllan was taken
prisoner; many of his followers were killed, seventeen or eighteen taken
prisoners, and the few who escaped with John Tolmach were pursued out of
the district. The slain M'Leods were buried on the field of battle,
where their graves are still pointed out; nettles are growing about them

In August 1611 Murdo Mackenzie, third son of John Roy, with a party of
Gairloch men, set sail for the Isle of Skye in a vessel well stocked
with wine and provisions, with the object of carrying off the daughter
of Donald Dubh MacRuaridh, a cousin of Iain MacAllan. A marriage between
John Roy's son and Donald Dubh's daughter would have vested the ancient
rights of the Gairloch M'Leods in the Mackenzies. Some say that Murdo's
intention was also to seize John Tolmach M'Leod, who had escaped from
Lochan an Fheidh. The ship was driven by a storm into a sheltered bay
off Kirkton of Raasay, where young M'Leod, the laird of Raasay, at that
time resided. Here Murdo Mackenzie cast anchor. Young Raasay hearing
that Murdo was on board, resolved to attempt to secure him by stratagem,
in order to get him exchanged for his relative Iain MacAllan Mhic
Ruaridh, still a prisoner in Gairloch. Raasay, with Gille-challum Mor
and twelve men, started for the ship, leaving orders for all the men in
Raasay to be in readiness to go out to their assistance in small boats
as soon as the alarm should be given. Murdo Mackenzie received his
visitors in the most unsuspecting manner, and hospitably entertained
them with as much wine and other viands as they could consume, sitting
down with them himself. All his men joined in the revelry, except four
heroes, who, feeling a little suspicious, abstained from drinking.
Ultimately most of the party became so drunk that they retired to sleep
below deck. Murdo Mackenzie remained sitting between Raasay and
Gillie-challum Mor, when Raasay suddenly started up and told him he must
become his prisoner. Murdo in a violent passion threw Raasay down,
exclaiming, "I would scorn to be your prisoner." In the struggle which
ensued one of Raasay's men drew his dirk and stabbed Murdo Mackenzie
through the body, and he fell overboard. Being a good swimmer, he was
making for Sconser on the opposite shore of Skye, when the Raasay men,
who had heard the row, coming out in their small boats, pelted Murdo
with stones and drowned him. The four heroes who had abstained from
drink now fought nobly for their lives. The other members of Mackenzie's
party were all slain, but not a soul of the Raasay men ultimately
escaped alive from the dirks of the four abstaining Mackenzies. The
small boats surrounded the vessel, and the Raasay men attempted to board
her, but were thrown back, and slain without mercy by her four gallant
defenders, one of whom, Hector MacKenneth, was however killed by a
chance shot or arrow from one of the boats. The other three managed to
cut their anchor cable, hoist their canvas, and sail away before a fresh
breeze, with their horrible cargo of dead bodies lying about the deck.
As soon as they were out of danger they threw the bodies of Raasay and
his men overboard. It is said that none of the bodies were ever found
except that of Gille-challum Mor, which came ashore on Raasay. The
bodies of the dead Mackenzies, and of Bayne of Tulloch who had
accompanied them, were taken to Lochcarron and buried there. The three
heroes who survived were Iain MacEachainn Chaoil, Iain MacCoinnich Mhic
Eachainn, and Coinneach MacSheumais; the first named lived for thirty
years after, dying in 1641, the second died in 1662, and the third in
1663--all very old men. This seems to have been the last conflict
between Mackenzies and M'Leods, and the Mackenzies have ever since held
undisputed possession of Gairloch.

Chapter XIII.


Alexander, second son of John Roy Mackenzie, succeeded his father in
1628 as chief of Gairloch, his elder brother having died without male
issue during the father's lifetime. Alexander was known as Alastair
Breac; the _soubriquet_ "breac" means "pock-pitted," and had reference
to traces of smallpox, then a terrible scourge in the Highlands. He was
fifty years of age when he succeeded his father. He was a very tall man,
being as we saw in Part I., chap. xi., a head above all his brothers,
who were themselves fine men. Not only was he mighty in stature, but he
was also a renowned warrior. It was he who led the Mackenzies in the
battle at Lochan an Fheidh in Glen Torridon, described in our last
chapter, when the M'Leods were completely routed; and he is said to have
been his father's principal assistant and agent in finally expelling the
M'Leods from Gairloch. He is described as having been "a valiant worthy

He was twice married, and had twelve children. He added by purchase or
arrangement to the family estates. He seems to have mostly resided on
Eilean Suainne in Loch Maree, where he died; his father's house and
garden on Eilean Ruaridh were still in existence in his days, and he
certainly used at times the old Temple house at Flowerdale.

In the days of Alastair Breac, Gairloch was still subject to raids,
especially by cattle-lifters from Lochaber. The Loch Broom men used
often to assist the people of Gairloch in repelling invaders. The
trysting-place of the Gairloch and Lochaber men was at the spring or
well just below the present road at the head of Glen Dochartie. The
present road has buried the well, but the water is still there.

There lived a man in Lochaber in those days called Donald, the son of
Black Donald. He was a cross man, and a choice thief. He had a brother
known as Iain Geal Donn, or White-brown John, and there was only one
other man in all Scotland who was a better "lifter" of cattle than these
two. Donald sent word to Alastair Breac, laird of Gairloch, that he
would "take spoil of him, and no thanks to him." On a previous occasion
Donald had been foiled in an attempt to rob Gairloch. Alastair Breac
sent for Alastair Buidhe Mackay, from Strath Oykell in Sutherlandshire,
who was the strongest and most valiant man he could hear of in the three
counties, and him he appointed captain of his guard. Iain Geal Donn came
with his men to An Amilt, in Easter Ross, and there they "lifted" eleven
cows and a bull. They came with their spoil through Strath Vaich and
Strath Conan to a place called Sgaird-ruadh, or Scardroy, where they
stayed the night. It was they who gave this name to the place, because
they had pushed the beasts so hard that blood came from them there in
the night. Alastair Buidhe Mackay had a Lochaber lad for his servant,
and it was this lad who told him for certain that the thieves were
stopping that night at a shieling bothie at Scardroy. Mackay and his
servant hurried away to Scardroy. There he put the muzzle of his gun to
the lad's body, and made him swear to be faithful to him. They moved on
to the bothie, and there Mackay again made the lad swear to be true to
him, and not to let any of the thieves come out alive. The Lochaber
thieves were in the bothie quite unsuspicious, roasting a portion of the
bull. Mackay posted his servant at the door, whilst he himself climbed
on the other end of the bothie. He quietly lifted the lower edge of a
divot on the roof, and peeped in to see what was going on. He saw Iain
Geal Donn looking very jolly, and warming the backs of the calves of his
legs at the fire. Iain suddenly turned round, and said to his men who
were about the fire roasting the meat, "Look out! I am getting the smell
of powder." Before he could say another word, the charge from Mackay's
gun was lodged in the small of his back. The instant he had fired the
shot, Mackay rushed to the door to assist his servant, and the two of
them slew all the Lochaber men as they came to the door, except one who
got off by a fluke, and he had the heel cut off one foot! They followed
him a little way, but were too tired to catch him. They returned to the
dead bodies at the bothie, and ate their fill of the meat that was
roasting. They sewed up the body of Iain Geal Donn in the bull's hide,
and put the roasting spit across his mouth. Then they went away, leaving
the dead in the bothie. Alastair Buidhe Mackay returned west to
Gairloch, and told the laird what he had done. Alastair Breac was so
pleased with the account, that he sent a running gillie at once to
Brahan with a letter to tell Lord Mackenzie of Kintail what had
occurred. Who should happen to be dining with Lord Mackenzie but Cameron
of Lochiel! When his lordship had read the letter, he threw it over to
Lochiel, saying, "There is blood on you over there, you thieves."
Lochiel was so stung that he left the dinner untouched, and went
straight home to Lochaber. He sent gillies to Scardroy, and they brought
away the body of Iain Geal Donn. They buried him in Corpach in Lochaber,
where his memorial cairn stands to this day. Soon after this, Lochiel
meditated a raid on Gairloch; he thought he would make it hard for
Alastair Breac, in revenge for the slaughter of the Lochaber men. When
Alastair Breac heard of this, he collected four score men to keep back
the Lochaber invaders. They were with the laird all night in the old
house called the Temple, now the head-gardener's house at Flowerdale.
They were a ragged crew, but they were strong and they were brave. In
the morning they went away, and soon reached the Great Black Corrie of
Liathgach. There were shieling bothies at the foot of the glen, and the
Gairloch men thought their Lochaber foes might be lying in ambush in the
bothies. Alastair Ross from Lonmor volunteered to go and see if the
Lochaber men were in the bothies, which were not in use at that time of
the year; he was not much in his clothing, but he did not lack pluck. He
went to the bothies, and in a loud voice challenged the Lochaber men to
come out. But he got no answer. The Lochaber men, fortunately for
themselves, had not come forward, having heard of Alastair Breac's
preparations to resist them. The Gairloch men got the news of the
retreat of the Lochaber men from the people of Coire Mhic Cromail in
Torridon, who at the same time assured them they would have assisted
them against the invader had they come. Our ragged rabble, without pride
or fear, returned to Gairloch, and spent the night with Alastair Breac
in the Temple house, with music, drinking, and revelry. It was on their
tramp homewards that they met at Kenlochewe Ruaridh Breac, son of Fair
Duncan, the old bard who lived at Cromasaig, and he composed the
celebrated song to the "Guard of the Black Corrie."

The story of the watch at Glac na Sguithar belongs to the same period.
The dell bearing that name is to the east of the head of Glen Dochartie.
Then almost all the proprietors in the Highlands paid blackmail to Colla
Ban; consequently he made no raids upon their territories; and if others
made raids upon them, Colla made good the loss. The laird of Gairloch
refused to pay blackmail to Colla, and he sent him word that he had many
brave men in Gairloch, therefore he would give blackmail to no one.
Colla replied, "He would soon make a raid upon Gairloch, and before
driving away the spoil he would sleep a night in the laird of Gairloch's
bed." Upon hearing this Mackenzie called out the bravest and strongest
of the Gairloch men, and he sent them to keep guard in the passes
through which the Lochaber men were most likely to advance northward.
There were thirty picked men in the Coire Dubh, and an equal member in
Glac na Sguithar. In each guard Mackenzie had his own near relations and
kinsmen. At this time there was an inn at Luib, at the Gairloch end of
Loch Rosque; it was on the green at the head of the loch, below where
the present Luibmhor inn stands; the innkeeper was called Iain Caol.
While the guard of Glac na Sguithar were on duty, late on a Saturday
night, four of the Lochaber men, who had been sent on in advance to spy
the land, took up their quarters in Iain Caol's hostelry. On Sabbath
morning they sat round the fire in the one public room in the house, and
Iain himself went out for a walk. He was not long away, but soon
returned to the Cameron spies from Lochaber. Addressing them he said, "I
see four of the Gairloch men from the watch at Glac na Sguithar coming
this way. I am sure they will call in for their 'morning.' Go to the
other end, where you slept last night, and remain there quietly for a
little. They will soon be off again." This request displeased the
Camerons, for they answered rather tartly, "Where did we ever see four
from whose face we would turn away?" "Be that as it may," said Iain,
"take my advice just now. You can see and hear all that may go on; and,
when you do so, if you think it prudent to go among them, you can join
them before they leave the house." They took his advice and retired. The
four came in, each of them a scion of the Gairloch family, except one
who was a Chisholm. Big Murdo, son of the good man of Shieldaig, sat at
the far end of the bench next the partition; beside him Iain Gearr Mac
Mhurchaidh Mhic Iain took up his position. The third was Murdo Roy; and
Chisholm occupied the other end of the bench. Big Murdo of Shieldaig
called for a bottle of whisky; they drank it. Iain Gearr called for
another bottle, and they drank it. Murdo Roy called for a third bottle;
they got it also, and drank it. Then Chisholm called for a bottle. "You
have enough," said Iain Caol. "Is it because I am not one of the gentry
that you refuse me?" said Chisholm, with rising ire: "Give me my bottle
of your own good will, or I will have it against your will." They got
the fourth bottle, and while they were discussing it Murdo of Shieldaig
said to Iain Caol, "Do you ever see any of those braggarts from Lochaber
who are troubling us, keeping us on guard away from home? I wish a few
of them came, till we would have some sport with them." "Not a man of
them ventures this way," said Iain Caol. The Gairloch men went away, and
Iain accompanied them over the hill. Here they sat and drank Iain's
bottle, which he had concealed under his arm. Then Iain returned, and
found the Lochaber men sitting again at the fire. "Have I here the
heroes who never saw men from whom they would retreat?" said Iain Caol
to them. One of them replied, "We saw only two of them, but we never saw
such men before. If one of them caught any of us, he could easily crush
every bone of the body in his hand." So the Lochaber spies quietly
returned home. The Camerons never again attempted to make a raid upon
Gairloch, and Alastair Breac heard no more of their menaces.

Alastair Breac died 4th January 1638, aged sixty, and was buried in the
chapel he had erected in the Gairloch churchyard.

He was succeeded by his eldest son Kenneth, sixth laird of Gairloch, who
was a strong royalist during the wars of Montrose and the Covenanters,
and commanded a body of Highlanders at Balvenny, under Thomas Mackenzie
of Pluscardine, and his own brother-in-law the Earl of Huntly, but when
the royalist army was surprised and disarmed he managed to escape. As a
malignant he was fined by the Committee of Estates for his adherence to
the king (see Appendix F).

Kenneth added to the family property. He was three times married, and
had eleven children. He built the Stankhouse, or "moat-house," on the
site of the old Tigh Dige, and made his Gairloch home there. He died in
1669, and was buried in Beauly Priory, where his great-grandfather, John
Glassich Mackenzie, had been interred.

Alexander, eldest son of Kenneth, became the seventh laird of Gairloch.
He also added to the family estates. He was thrice married, and had six
children. He seems to have lived a quiet life; he died in 1694, aged
forty-two, and was buried in the burial-place in the Gairloch

Chapter XIV.


Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, eldest son of Alexander, seventh laird of
Gairloch, was created a baronet of Nova Scotia by Queen Anne on 2d
February 1703. These baronetcies were frequently conferred upon
proprietors who assisted in peopling Nova Scotia, then an object of
great solicitude with the crown, so that it is possible the first
baronet of Gairloch, or his father, may have promoted emigration among
the Gairloch people. He was educated at Oxford, and represented
Ross-shire in the Scottish Parliament, where he strongly opposed the
Union. When in Gairloch he lived at the Stankhouse. He had six children.
He died in December 1703, aged only thirty-two, and was buried in
Gairloch in the old chapel within the churchyard, which was the
burial-place of the family. This old chapel was roofed in 1704. The sum
of thirty merks was then expended in "harling, pinning, and thatching
Gairloch's burial place." At his death Sir Kenneth was deeply involved
in debt.

Sir Alexander, eldest son of the first baronet, became the ninth laird
of Gairloch when only three years of age. For want of means he and his
sister Anne had to be brought up in tenants' houses. During his long
minority some of the debts were paid off. In 1712 he was sent to the
school at Chanonry, and after six years there he went to Edinburgh to
complete his education. He afterwards made a foreign tour, and on his
return in 1730 married his cousin Janet of Scatwell, by whom he had nine
children. He was called by his people Seann Tighearna, and seems to have
resided mostly in Gairloch, for latterly his lady lived alone at
Kinkell. In 1738 he pulled down the Stankhouse, which stood in a low
marshy situation on the site of the old Tigh Dige, and built the present
Flowerdale House on a raised plateau surrounded by charming woods and
rugged hills, and with a southern aspect. The glen here was a perfect
jungle of wild flowers before the introduction, long after this time, of
sheep farming, and so Sir Alexander appropriately gave the name of
Flowerdale to his new chateau.

The attempt of the unfortunate Prince Charlie to regain the throne of
his ancestors occurred in the time of Sir Alexander. This prudent
cautious baronet kept out of the "Forty-five," though some of his people
fought with their fellow Highlanders at the fatal battle of Culloden.

It was shortly after that battle, when Prince Charlie was hiding on the
west coast, that two vessels came to Sgeir Bhoora, the small island rock
near Poolewe at the head of Loch Ewe, and remained there a short time
waiting for a messenger, who was expected to bring gold sent by the
court of France for Prince Charlie's use. Whether afraid of being caught
in a corner by an English man-of-war, or impatient of the delay in the
arrival of the messenger, the two vessels sailed away a few days before
the occurrence of the incident about to be related.


There were at this time three brothers of the name of Cross, who were
sons of one of the last of the Loch Maree ironworkers. One of them was a
bard, who built a house at Kernsary, still called Innis a bhaird, or
"the oasis of the bard." One of the bard's brothers, named Hector, who
had become a crofter at Letterewe, was at a shieling at the Claonadh (or
Slopes), at the back of Beinn Lair, above Letterewe, where he and other
crofters grazed their cattle in summer. One day after the battle of
Culloden a stranger, a young Highlander, with yellow hair and clad in
tartan, came to Hector's bothie and asked for shelter and refreshment.
When the girl gave him a bowl of cream, he drank it off, and returned it
to her with a gold piece in it. The news quickly spread among the
shieling bothies that the stranger had gold about him. Soon after his
departure from Hector's hospitable roof next morning, a shot was heard,
and on a search being made the dead body of the young man was found,
robbed of all valuables. The murder and robbery were ascribed to a
crofter, whose name is well remembered, and whose descendants are still
at Letterewe, for from that time the family had money. It is almost
superfluous to add that no steps were taken to bring the murderer to
justice; the unsettled state of the Highlands at the time would alone
account for the immunity of the offender. It afterwards transpired that
the murdered stranger had been a valet or personal servant to Prince
Charlie, and that he had gone by the name of the "Gille Buidhe," or
"yellow-haired lad." He was conveying the gold to his master, which had
been sent from France, and it was to meet him that the two vessels had
come to Sgeir Bhoora, near Poolewe. It seems he carried the gold in one
end of his plaid, which had been formed into a temporary bag, an
expedient still often resorted to in the Highlands. A portion of the
Gille Buidhe's plaid formed the lining of a coat belonging to an old man
at Letterewe in the nineteenth century. Kenneth Mackenzie, an old man
living at Cliff (now dead), told me he had seen it.

The Gille Buidhe was not the only one to whom gold sent from France was
entrusted in order that it might be taken to Prince Charlie. Duncan
M'Rae, of Isle Ewe, who had been with the prince in his victorious days
in Edinburgh, and had there composed a song entitled "Oran na
Feannaige," received a small keg or cask of gold pieces for the use of
the prince. It was soon after the date of the murder of the Gille
Buidhe, that Duncan M'Rae and two other men brought the keg of gold
across Loch Ewe from Mellon Charles to Cove, and then hid it in the
Fedan Mor above Loch a Druing, where Duncan M'Rae, by means of the
"sian," caused the cask to become invisible. In Part II., chap, xiv.,
the superstition illustrated by this incident will be described. They
say the cask of gold still remains hidden in the Fedan Mor. Duncan M'Rae
was one of the faithful Highlanders who did all that could be done to
secure the prince's safety and serve his interests. It seems the
incident must have occurred after the prince had fled to Skye.

About the same time as the murder of the Gille Buidhe, one of the
men-of-war cruising in search of the prince came into the bay at
Flowerdale, and the captain sent word to Sir Alexander Mackenzie to come
on board. The latter thought he was quite as well ashore among his
people, so he sent his compliments to the captain, regretting he could
not accept his invitation, as he had friends to dine with him on the top
of Craig a chait (the high rocky hill behind Flowerdale House), where he
hoped the captain would join them. The reply was a broadside against the
house as the ship sailed off. One of the cannon balls, "apparently about
an 18 lb. shot," was sticking half out of the house gable next to the
sea in the youth of Dr Mackenzie (a great-grandson, still living, of Sir
Alexander's), who adds, that "had the cannon ball hit but a few feet
lower, it might have broken into a recess in the thickness of the gable,
the admittance to which was by raising the floor at a wall press in the
room above, although this had been forgotten, till masons, cutting an
opening for a gable door to the kitchen, broke into the recess, where
were many swords and guns. Then it was recollected that Fraser of Foyers
was long concealed by our ancestor, and, of course, in this black hole."

Sir Alexander consolidated the family estates, and was a shrewd man of
business. He was a kind landlord, and very popular with his people,
though the conditions in the leases he granted would probably be
considered oppressive in the present day. John Mackay, the celebrated
"blind piper" (son of Rorie, who had been piper to John Roy Mackenzie
and to his successors to the third generation), was piper and bard to
Sir Alexander, who seems to have loved a quiet home life. He died in
1766, aged sixty-five, and was buried with his ancestors in the little
chapel in the Gairloch churchyard.

He was succeeded by his eldest son Sir Alexander, tenth laird, who was
called in Gairloch "An Tighearna Ruadh," or Alastair Roy, from the
colour of his hair. He had also another _soubriquet_, viz., "An
Tighearna Crubach," which had reference to a physical defect. Like his
father, he travelled on the continent as a young man. Angus Mackay (son
of the "blind piper") was his piper, and Sir Alexander left Angus in
Edinburgh for tuition whilst he himself went abroad. This Sir Alexander
built Conan House, about 1758, during his father's lifetime, and it
still continues the principal residence of the baronets of Gairloch. He
was twice married, and had six children.

His second son John raised a company, almost entirely in Gairloch, of
the 78th regiment of Ross-shire Highlanders, when first embodied. He
obtained the captaincy, and was rapidly promoted, becoming colonel of
the regiment in 1795. He attained the rank of major-general in the army
in 1813, and full general in 1837. He served with distinction, and
without cessation, for thirty-five years, viz., from 1779 to 1814. From
his personal daring and valour he became known as "Fighting Jack," and
was adored by his men. He often said that it gave him greater pleasure
to see a dog from Gairloch than a gentleman from anywhere else. He died,
the father of the British army, on 14th June 1860, at the advanced age
of ninety-six.

Sir Alexander (tenth laird) left his estates burdened with debt. He died
on 15th April 1770 from the effects of a fall from his horse, and was
buried with his forefathers at Gairloch.

Sir Hector Mackenzie, eldest son of the tenth laird, became the fourth
baronet and eleventh laird of Gairloch. He was known among his people as
"An Tighearna Storach," or the buck-toothed laird. He succeeded to the
estates when a minor only twelve years of age. During the minority some
of the debts were paid off, and in 1789 Sir Hector sold several
properties (not in Gairloch) to pay off the balance of the debts. He
lived at home, and managed his estates himself; and though he kept open
house throughout the year at Conan and Gairloch, he was able to leave or
pay a considerable fortune to each of his sons. In 1815 he was appointed
lord-lieutenant of Ross-shire. He only visited London once in his life,
and appears to have divided his time nearly equally between Flowerdale
House and Conan, which he enlarged. He was adored by his people, to whom
he acted as father and friend. His character was distinguished by
kindness, urbanity, and frankness, and he was considered the most
sagacious and intelligent man in the county.

Though not tall, he was very strong, almost rivalling in this respect
his famous ancestor Hector Roy. (See the reference to his powerful grasp
in the account of Alexander Grant, the big bard of Slaggan.) Sir Hector
was a great angler. (See Appendix E.) A curious anecdote, shewing how
Sir Hector befriended his hereditary foe, Macleod of Raasay, will be
given in Part II., chap. xxv.

John Mackay (son of Angus), the last of the hereditary pipers of the
Gairloch family, was piper to Sir Hector, and Alexander Campbell was his
bard, in whose life (Part II., chap xx.) will be found an anecdote
illustrating Sir Hector's kindly disposition.

Sir Hector gave a great impetus to the Gairloch cod-fishing, which he
continued to encourage as long as he lived. Christian Lady Mackenzie
(Sir Hector's wife), who was called in Gairloch "A Bhantighearna Ruadh,"
seems to have been as much beloved as her husband. Sir Hector's fourth
son, Dr John Mackenzie of Eileanach, still survives, and is well known
as a thorough Highlander. A number of extracts from his MS. "Odd and End
Stories" are included in these pages. Sir Hector died on 26th April
1826, aged sixty-nine, and was buried in Beauly Priory.

Sir Francis Alexander was the fifth baronet and twelfth laird of
Gairloch. He followed the example of his father Sir Hector in his kindly
treatment of his tenantry, for whose benefit he published in 1838 the
book quoted further on, entitled "Hints for the Use of Highland Tenants
and Cottagers, by a Proprietor." Sir Alexander was a great sportsman and
practical farmer, and spent a considerable part of each year at
Flowerdale House.

By his first wife Sir Francis had two sons, viz., Kenneth Smith, the
present baronet; and Mr Francis Harford Mackenzie. By his second wife he
had one son, Mr Osgood Hanbury Mackenzie of Inverewe, who has largely
assisted in the preparation of this book. Sir Francis died on 2d June
1843, aged forty-four. His widow, the Dowager Lady Mackenzie of
Gairloch, now resides at Tournaig, in the parish of Gairloch.

Sir Kenneth S. Mackenzie, the sixth baronet and thirteenth laird of
Gairloch, succeeded to the estates when a minor. Following the example
of his immediate ancestors, he takes the lead in all local and county
matters. Like his grandfather he is lord-lieutenant of his native
county. He deals personally with his tenantry. His principal residence
is Conan House, but he spends a portion of every year at Flowerdale in
Gairloch. He was a member of the Royal Commission appointed 22d March
1883 to inquire into the condition of the crofters and cottars in the
Highlands and Islands of Scotland. This is not the place to offer any
encomium on the present baronet of Gairloch, but it may be mentioned
that the historian of the Mackenzies, himself a native of the parish,
states that Sir Kenneth is "universally admitted to be one of the best
landlords in the Highlands." Sir Kenneth married, in 1860, Eila
Frederica, daughter of the late Walter Frederick Campbell of Islay.

There have been several collateral families of Mackenzies in Gairloch,
to whom some reference must be made.

The Mackenzies of Letterewe were descended from Charles, the eldest son
of Kenneth Mackenzie, sixth laird of Gairloch, by his third wife. By his
father's marriage-contract Charles Mackenzie got Logie Wester, which in
1696 he exchanged with his half-brother Alexander, the seventh laird of
Gairloch, for the lands of Letterewe. Letterewe continued in this family
until Hector Mackenzie, in 1835, sold the estate to the late Mr Meyrick
Bankes of Winstanley Hall, Lancashire. The present representative of the
Letterewe family is Mr Charles Mackenzie, a lawyer in the United States
of America; their representative in this country is Mr John Munro
Mackenzie, of Morinish and Calgary. The present Letterewe House is an
enlargement of the older residence of this family.

The Mackenzies of Lochend, or Kinloch (now Inverewe), sprang from John
Mackenzie of Lochend, third son of Alexander, the seventh laird of
Gairloch, by his second wife. They were tacksmen of Lochend, which
belonged to the Coul Mackenzies, by whom it was ultimately sold to Mr
Osgood H. Mackenzie in 1863. The old Lochend House stood where the
walled garden of the present Inverewe House is.

The Mackenzies of Gruinard sprang from John Mackenzie, a natural son of
George, second earl of Seaforth and fourteenth laird of Kintail, who,
with Captain Hector Mackenzie, conveyed the news of the defeat of the
Royalists by Oliver Cromwell at the battle of Worcester, in 1651, to his
father in Holland, where the latter was at that time living in exile.
This family produced several distinguished soldiers, especially
Alexander, a colonel in the army, who served with the 36th Regiment
throughout the Peninsular War. John Mackenzie, the fifth laird of
Gruinard, who was a captain in the 73d Regiment, sold the property,
which included Little Gruinard, Udrigil, and Sand, all in the parish of
Gairloch, to the late Henry Davidson of Tulloch, who resold it to Mr
Meyrick Bankes. William Mackenzie, the sixth head of this family, was a
captain in the 72d Regiment, and is said to have been the handsomest man
in his day in the Highlands. The Gruinard family increased rapidly. The
first laird had eight sons and eight daughters, who all married. George,
the second laird of Gruinard, was twice married; by his first wife he
had fourteen sons and nine daughters, and by his second wife four sons
and six daughters,--making the extraordinary total of thirty-three
children, nineteen of whom at least are known to have married, and most
of them into the best families of the north. The Gruinard family resided
at Udrigil House, and subsequently at Aird House, both of which they

There was a family of Mackenzies settled at Kernsary who were descended
from Murdo Mackenzie, fifth son of Colin Cam, the eleventh lord of
Kintail. Murdo had a son and daughter. The son was killed in 1645 at the
battle of Auldearn, where he commanded the Lews Mackenzie regiment.

In the seventeenth century the Rev. Kenneth Mackenzie, from Bute,
purchased the Kernsary estate from the Mackenzies of Coul, to whom it
then belonged. He was an Episcopalian clergyman, and held services in
the little Inverewe church at the place now called Londubh, on the
Kernsary estate, close to which he lived in the house now occupied by
James Mackenzie. He married a daughter of Mackenzie of Letterewe. They
had a son Roderick, who succeeded to the Kernsary property; so did his
son Roderick. This second Roderick married Mary, sister of Mackenzie of
Ballone; she was a beauty, and was known as Mali Chruinn Donn. Their son
Alexander sold Kernsary to the Seaforth family some fifty years ago; his
son, the Rev. Hector Mackenzie, was minister of Moy, and died a few
years back.

In bringing to a close this account of the Mackenzies of Gairloch, their
history and present position may be summarised thus:--A strong offshoot
of the family of the earls of Ross separated from the parent stock, and
having taken root in Kintail, developed into the illustrious family of
the Kintail or Seaforth Mackenzies. Again, a vigorous branch of the
Kintail Mackenzies took root in Gairloch, and culminated in the present
series of the baronets of Gairloch. The earls of Ross disappeared
centuries ago, and the family of Seaforth has become extinct in the
direct male line, whilst their estates have melted away. The Gairloch
family remain, and their fine property has increased in value. Although
the present baronet does not claim the chieftainship of the whole clan,
which is believed to belong to a more remote offshoot of the Kintail
family, that dignity is now but a name, and Sir Kenneth Mackenzie of
Gairloch is to-day the most influential and distinguished of the great
Mackenzie race.

The crest of the Gairloch Mackenzies is the figure of Donald Odhar,
though some lairds of Gairloch have used the general crest of the
Mackenzies, viz., the Cabar Feidh, or stag's head and horns. The badge
of the Mackenzies is the deer grass, or stag's horn moss. Their war-cry
or slogan is "Tulloch-ard," the name of a mountain in Kintail. This
mountain has sometimes been used as a crest with the "warning flame" on
its summit, representing the beacon whence the clan was apprised of

Of pipe music the following tunes have been stated to be specially
appropriated to the Mackenzies:--

Marches: Cabar Feidh and Gabhaidh sinn an rathad mor, usually called,
"The high road to Gairloch."

Salute: Failte Uilleam Dhuibh (Black William's salute).

Gathering: Co-thional (Mackenzie's gathering).

Lament: Cumha Thighearna Ghearrloch (Laird of Gairloch's lament).

A list of the Mackenzie lairds of Gairloch is given in Table V.

Chapter XV.


An account must be given here of the ways in which the different parts
of the parish of Gairloch came into the hands of the present
proprietors. It shall be brief. Some notes on old names of places are

Hector Roy Mackenzie is said, in an old MS., to have possessed, among
other properties, "Kenlochewe, a district adjoining to Gairloch on the
east." But after his time it belonged to the lords of Kintail, and
subsequently to the Mackenzies of Coul, from whom Sir Alexander
Mackenzie, ninth laird of Gairloch, purchased it in 1743, with the
proceeds of the sale of Glas Leitire, in Kintail. Kenlochewe has
belonged to the Gairloch baronets since that date. It extends from the
west end of Loch Rosque to the water flowing from Glen Torridon past the
village of Kenlochewe into the head of Loch Maree, and to a burn running
down Slioch on the north-east side of that loch; it also extends six
miles on the road from Kenlochewe village to Torridon.

Gairloch itself became the property of Hector Roy under charters from
the crown, and has ever since remained the possession of the Gairloch
Mackenzies. In the earliest document of title extant, a protocol from
John de Vaux, sheriff of Inverness, dated 10th December 1494, "the
landis of Gerloch," granted to Hector, and of which the sheriff gave him
possession by that protocol, are described as "lyande betwix the
watteris callyde Innerew and Torvedene, within the Shireffdome of
Innerness." The boundaries thus stated for Gairloch are the waters of
Ewe, _i.e._ Loch Maree, the river Ewe, and Loch Ewe on the north, and
Torridon on the south. The sheriff's protocol was sealed at
"Alydyll"--no doubt Talladale--"in Garloch," and that place has always
formed part of Gairloch, as have also the islands of Loch Maree.

The retour, in 1566, of Alexander, second son of John Glassich
Mackenzie, specifies "the lands of Garloch" as including "Garloch,
Kirktoun, Syldage, Hamgildail, Malefage, Innerasfidill, Sandecorran,
Cryf, Baddichro, Bein-Sanderis, Meall, Allawdill." Kirktoun seems to
have been the designation of the place now called Charlestown, near
Flowerdale, being near the old Gairloch church; Syldage represents
Shieldaig; Malefage, Melvaig; Innerasfidill, Inverasdale; Sandecorran,
Big Sand (of Gairloch); Cryf, Cliff (Poolewe); Baddichro, Badachro;
Meall, Miole or Strath; and Allawdill must be Talladale. Hamgildail no
longer exists.

In 1638 "Kenneth McKeinzie of Garloch was served heir male to his
father, Alexander McKeinzie of Garloche, in the lands and barony of
Garloche, including Kirktoun, with the manor place and gardens of the
same, Sildag [Shieldaig], the two Oyngadellis [same as Hamgildail, in
the retour of 1566], Mailfog [Melvaig], Debak [Diabaig], Inneraspedell
[Inverasdale], Sandacarrane [Sandacarran, or Big Sand], Badichro
[Badachro], the two Sandis [north side of Loch Gairloch], Erredell
[Erradale], Telledill [Talladale], Clive [Cliff, Poolewe], Tollie [same
as now], and the two Nastis [Naast]; the lands of Ellenow [Isle of Ewe],
Auldgressan [Altgreshan], with the waters and salmon fishings of Kerrie
and Badechro, the half of the water of Ew, and the salmon fishings of
the same, Achetcairne [Achtercairn], Meoll [Miole, or Strath], with the
mill, Udroll, the loch of Loch Maroy [Loch Maree], with the islands of
the same, and the manor place and gardens in the island of Ilinroy
[Eilean Ruaridh], the loch of Garloch with the fishings of the same,
with other lands in Ross, all united into the barony of Garloche and the
town of Clive [Poolewe], with the harbour and shore of the same being
part of the same barony of Garloch erected into a burgh of barony." This
must have been a list of the inhabited places on the Gairloch estate two
hundred and fifty years ago.

In a Dutch map of Ross-shire, by the famous geographer Blaeu, engraved
by Pont, and dated 1662, kindly lent me by Mr D. William Kemp, some of
the old Gairloch names are given with curious spellings. This map of
Ross-shire purports to have been made by "R. Gordonius a Strath-loch."
The map shows Telladull, Slotadull, Tawy, Yl Ew, Ruymakilvandrich,
Dunast, Inner-Absdill, Melvag, Sanda, Erdull, Viroill, Meall,
Achagacharn, Heglis Gherloch, Knokintoull, Ingadill, Shilkag, Padechry,
Erradill, Typack (Diabaig), Ardetisag. Rudha Reidh is called Rowna Ra;
the island of Longa is called Yl Lunga; the sea-loch of Gairloch is
called Gher Loch; Loch Maree is called Loch Ew, which name is also given
to the present Loch Ew, and the Garavaig river is called Alt Finnag.
This last name seems to be for Allt Feannaige, or "the burn of the
hoodie crow," a bird which still frequents the locality. These are all
the names given on what was the original Gairloch estate. Of other names
within the parish of Gairloch there are Inner Ew, Turnag, Drumnachoirk,
Badfern, Oudergill, Sanda, Inoran, Ardlarich, Achabuy, Letyr Ew, Fowlis,
Smirsary, Pinesdale, Achanaloisk, Glenmuik, Lecachy, Glen-dochart,
Glas-Letyr, Heglis-loch-ew (apparently where Culinellan now is), and
Groudy. The only mountain named is Bin Cherkyr. A large island on Loch
Maree has the name Sow, probably intended for Suainne, which island had
then previously been a residence of Alastair Breac, laird of Gairloch.
Lochs Finn [Fionn loch], Dow [Dubh loch], Garavad [east of Letterewe],
Fadd, and Clair, are the only lochs with names. It is curious that such
places as Kenlochewe and Clive [Poolewe] are not named on this old map.
The names that are given are very instructive when compared with the
names in the old records just quoted. Ruymakilvandrich is not found
elsewhere; it seems to be intended for Rudha Mac Gille Aindreas, or "the
point of the son of Gillanders," _i.e._ of the servant of Andrew, and is
applied to a small headland near Boor; it doubtless had reference to
some incident long ago forgotten. Dunast [Dun Naast] is still the name
of a rock close to Naast; from this name being given instead of Naast,
it may be inferred that in the seventeenth century there was some part
of the dun that stood there still remaining The names Heglis Gherloch,
Heglis-loch-ew, Knokintoull, and Achanaloisk, do not occur elsewhere,
either in old descriptions or modern nomenclature. Viroill seems to be
the same as Udroll in the description of 1638. The map shows it where
Lonmor now is. The other names are easily identified. The place called
Ingadill on this old map, Hamgildail in the retour of 1566, and
Oyngadellis in 1638, has now entirely disappeared; it seems to have been
at the mouth of the river Kerry. The map gives only two churches in
Gairloch parish, viz., Heglis Gherloch, near where the present Gairloch
church now stands, and Heglis-loch-ew, at the head of Loch Maree. The
names of places given on the map most likely indicate the most populous
localities at that date. Some of the names are spelt phonetically; thus
Bin is the Gaelic pronunciation of Beinn, and Finn is still the
pronunciation by the natives of the name of Fionn loch.

Alexander Mackenzie, seventh laird of Gairloch, bought the second half
of the water of Ewe and Mellon Charles in 1671. The precise extent of
this purchase does not appear. Mellon Charles still belongs to the
Gairloch Mackenzies, as well as Isle Ewe, and the whole right to the
salmon fishings of Loch Ewe, the River Ewe, and Loch Maree. To finish
with the Gairloch estate of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, the present baronet,
it may be mentioned that the Kernsary estate was purchased from the
Seaforth family in 1844, very early in Sir Kenneth's minority, and was
resold by his trustees to his half-brother Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie, in
1862, with the exception of the strip of territory extending from
Inveran to Londubh on the north-east bank of the river Ewe, which, with
Gairloch proper, Kenlochewe, Mellon Charles, and the Isle of Ewe,
completes Sir Kenneth's possessions in the parish of Gairloch. They form
a noble estate, which comprises more than three-fourths of the whole

Letterewe unquestionably belonged to the Kintail or Seaforth family up
to and including the early part of the seventeenth century. It was
either acquired by Kenneth, sixth laird of Gairloch, at the time (about
1648) when he became cautioner for the Earl of Seaforth in a bond for
five thousand merks, or else later on (in 1671) by his son Alexander as
part of his acquisition of the second half of the water of Ewe. In 1696
this Alexander gave up Letterewe to his brother Charles in exchange for
Wester Logie. Charles became the progenitor of the family of Mackenzie
of Letterewe, who possessed the property until 1835, when it was sold to
the late Mr Meyrick Bankes, whose daughter Mrs Liot Bankes is the
present liferenter of it. It extends from Slioch, along the shore of
Loch Maree, to a burn between Ardlair and Inveran, and back to Fionn
loch. With Letterewe is held the old Gruinard estate; it includes all
the lands on the promontory called the Greenstone Point, except Mellon
Charles. The older annals of this property are complex, and need not be
fully narrated here. It came into the possession of the Gruinard
Mackenzies before 1655, and continued in the same family until 1795,
when it was sold to Henry Davidson of Tulloch, who again sold it to the
late Mr Bankes, about 1835, along with the other parts of the Gruinard
estate to the south of the Meikle Gruinard river. Mrs Liot Bankes is
also liferenter of this property: it forms, with Letterewe, a fine
estate, which covers just one-sixth of the parish of Gairloch.

The remaining property in Gairloch parish is that of Mr Osgood H.
Mackenzie. It includes Kernsary (except the strip on the north-east side
of the Ewe, which, as before stated, is Sir Kenneth's), Lochend or
Inverewe, and Tournaig. Kernsary, as we have seen, was, after belonging
to more than one family, purchased by Sir Kenneth's trustees in 1844,
and sold by them to Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie in 1862. It was bought from
the Seaforth family, who had acquired it as providing a port at Londubh,
from which the island of the Lews, then their estate, was accessible.
The Lochend and Tournaig properties were in 1863 purchased by Mr Osgood
H. Mackenzie from Sir William Mackenzie of Coul, to whom they had come
after having had a succession of proprietors. These and Kernsary now
constitute Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie's charming estate of Inverewe, about
one-sixteenth of the whole parish of Gairloch.

Chapter XVI.


The chronological order of events, otherwise pretty closely adhered to
in Part I., will be necessarily broken in this and the following

When we first hear of a church in Gairloch it was dedicated, as we
should naturally expect, to St Maelrubha. It was a common kirk of the
canons of Ross, and stood in what is still called the churchyard of
Gairloch. The priests probably lived in the Temple house, as it was long
called, which is now the dwelling of the head-gardener at Flowerdale.
Possibly the little churches of Inverewe (now Londubh) and of Sand of
Udrigil existed in pre-Reformation times, but they are not named in the
Dutch map of 1662. There is a church shewn on that map called "Heglis
Loch Ew," _i.e._ the church of Lochewe; it is at the head of Loch Maree,
and was probably at Culinellan, near Kenlochewe. The map does not of
course prove that this church existed before the Reformation, but it
adds to the probability that it did so. It would be convenient of access
for the monastics of Applecross. Little is known of the church history
of Gairloch before the Reformation, which was consummated in Scotland
about 1560.

Sir John Broik was rector of Gairloch at the time of the Reformation,
and continued so until his death in 1583.

In 1560 Presbyterianism was established in Scotland, but it does not
appear to have materially differed from the Episcopalianism it
displaced, or rather absorbed, for it had superintendents whose office
closely resembled that of bishops.

In 1572 the titles of archbishop and bishop were introduced, and a form
of Episcopacy established. The bishops, however, enjoyed but a small
portion of the benefices, and were known as "Tulchan bishops." The
origin of this epithet "tulchan," is curious:--When a calf died and the
cow thereupon refused to give her milk, the skin of the calf was
stretched on a wickerwork frame and moved about to make the cow believe
it was sucking, whilst the maid was really taking the milk; the sham
calf was called "Tulachan."

In 1592 Presbyterianism was restored by Parliament; and in 1598
Episcopacy was reintroduced.

In 1641 King Charles I. sanctioned Presbyterianism; and in 1643 the
Westminster Assembly met, and the Solemn League and Covenant was signed.

In 1649 King Charles I. was beheaded, and James Grahame, Lord Montrose,
began his struggle in behalf of the king and the cause of Episcopacy.

In 1651 Charles II. was crowned at Scone, and signed the Covenant. On
the Restoration in 1660 Episcopacy was re-established.

In 1689, immediately after the Revolution, Presbyterianism was finally

These changes from Episcopacy to Presbyterianism, and _vice versâ_, had
very little effect in the Highlands, where the clergy and people long
clung to Episcopacy; only one or two keen Covenanters on the east coast
maintained Presbyterianism. The change in the government of the church
was so slight, that in the days of Episcopacy the bishop, when present,
presided as moderator over the Presbytery, which then consisted, as now,
of the ministers and elders within the bounds. It was not until well
into the eighteenth century that Presbyterianism became popular in
Gairloch, and even then it does not appear to have introduced any great
changes in the church, or in the form of worship. The principal
Christian festivals were observed in Gairloch until the nineteenth

A list of all the ministers of Gairloch, with the dates of their
presentation, will be found in Table IV. There are a few facts and
anecdotes about several of them, which are worth recording here.

The Rev. Alexander Mackenzie was in 1583 presented to the parsonage and
vicarage of Gairloch, vacant by the decease of Sir John Broik. Mr
Mackenzie was vicar of Gairloch in 1590. He was the first vicar of
Gairloch appointed after the Reformation.

In 1608 the Rev. Farquhar MacRae was appointed vicar of Gairloch by
Bishop Leslie of Ross. He is referred to in our account of the old
ironworks of Loch Maree, and some passages of his life are given in
Appendix A. He was one of the Macraes of Kintail. In 1610 he was sent by
Lord Mackenzie of Kintail on a mission to the Lews, with the most
beneficial results. Though he continued his ministerial work in Gairloch
until 1618, and though in his biography he is said to have been minister
of Gairloch for ten years, yet his official position as such seems to
have terminated sooner, for we find that some time before 1614 the Rev.
Farquhar Mackenzie, who had "laureated" at the University of Edinburgh
on 31st July 1606, was admitted minister of Gairloch. Probably Mr MacRae
restricted his ministrations to those parts of Gairloch to the north of
Loch Maree and Loch Ewe, which were then generally considered as in Loch
Broom parish.

In 1649 the Rev. Roderick Mackenzie, third son of Roderick Mackenzie of
Knock-backster, was admitted minister of Gairloch, and continued so
until his death in March 1710, after an incumbency of sixty-one years.
He seems to have been a man of quiet easy-going temperament. When he
came to Gairloch Presbyterianism ruled; when Episcopacy was established
in 1660, he conformed; and when the Revolution put an end to Episcopacy,
he became a Presbyterian again. "Whatsoever king may reign, still I'll
be vicar of Bray, sir!" The extracts from the presbytery records of the
period, given in the first section of Appendix F, shew how careless this
worthy minister was to obey the mandates of the presbytery. He married a
sister of the laird of Knockbain, and had a son, Kenneth, born about

Some time during the seventeenth century the Rev. Kenneth Mackenzie, an
Episcopalian clergyman, came from Bute, and bought the Kernsary estate.
He resided in the proprietor's house at Kirkton, still standing close to
the present Inverewe churchyard in Londubh, and officiated in the old
church there, some remains of which are still to be seen. His
great-great-grandson, the late Rev. Hector Mackenzie, minister of Moy,
stated, some few years ago, that he remembered his grandmother Mrs
Mackenzie of Kernsary (called Mali Chruinn Donn) shewing him an old
prayer-book in an oak chest at the house at Kirkton, and that she said
the chest and prayer-book had belonged to his ancestor who bought
Kernsary. A loose stone may be seen in the part of the ruined church
which was used as the burial-place of the Kernsary family; it is
inscribed "K M K 1678," and is believed to have recorded the date when
the Rev. Kenneth Mackenzie built or restored the little church. Possibly
this clergyman chose Gairloch as a comparatively safe refuge for an
Episcopalian in the covenanting times, and his services were most likely
purely voluntary, and not intended to compete with those of the minister
of the parish; or he may have voluntarily taken the place of Mr Farquhar
MacRae as minister for those parts of Gairloch which were considered to
be in Loch Broom parish.

The Rev. John Morrison became minister of Gairloch 1st March 1711.
Although Presbyterianism had now been established for more than twenty
years, it appears that some of Mr Morrison's parishioners still clung to
Episcopacy, and in consequence the poor man had a bad time of it.

At the first meeting of the presbytery after his admission, Mr Morrison
presented a petition, stating "that after two days sojourn, in going to
preach, he was interrupted at Kenlochewe by the tenants of Sir John
Mackenzie of Coul, who had laid violent hands on him and his servant,
rent his clothes, made prisoners of them, and kept them three days under
guard in a cottage full of cattle and dung, without meat or bedding the
first two days, the tenants relieving one another in turn by a fresh
supply every day. On the third day a short supply was allowed, but they
were yet kept prisoners in the same place without other accommodation.
When the fifth day came Mr John was carried to Sir John's house, who
declared no Presbyterian should be settled in any place where his
influence extended, unless Her Majesty's forces did it by the strong

Another example of the persecution of Mr Morrison is traditional in
Gairloch. He was travelling on the east side of Loch Maree, and when at
Letterewe was attacked by the inhabitants, who seized him, and having
stripped him naked, bound him to a tree, where they left him. This would
be about September 1711, and the midges were in full force. The
sufferings of poor Mr Morrison are said to have been dreadful. Towards
evening a woman of the place took pity on him and released him from his
miserable position. Thus set free he escaped, and it was some time
before he again visited his parish. It is a saying in Gairloch, that
there has never been a really pious holy man in Letterewe since this
outrage on a minister of the gospel was committed there!

Having thus no access to his parish, Mr Morrison, and a neighbouring
clergyman who was in a similar plight, fled to Sutherland on 7th
November 1711. On the petition of George Mackenzie of Gruinard, who "had
built a little church at Udrigil at his own expense," Mr Morrison agreed
(8th April 1713) to preach there once a year at least.

On 23d October 1716 Mr Morrison represented his grievances to the
presbytery, and solicited an "act of transportation," or, in other
words, prayed to be transferred to some other parish. On 12th November
1716 he stated that, "having no glebe, manse, or legal maintenance, he
was obliged to take a tack of land, and that for three or four years
successively his crops were destroyed by cattle. In the time of the
rebellion the best of his cattle were taken away by the rebels, and very
lately his house plundered of all provision to the value of four hundred
merks." His solicitation was granted 14th November 1716, and he was
transferred to Urray. It is said that the "tack of land" Mr Morrison
took was in Tollie bay, and that he built a humble dwelling for himself
close to the shore of Loch Maree. This was in the latter days of his
short incumbency, after his return from Sutherlandshire. He conducted
services in a turf-built church which stood by the shingly beach in
Tollie bay. Old people now living say that they remember seeing the
remains of the turf walls of Mr Morrison's church. Here is a curious
story of this period:--It was nearly Christmas, probably in 1715, and
whisky was required for the hospitality of the season. No whisky was
made in Gairloch until long after this, but in Ferintosh, on the other
side of Ross-shire, there was plenty of whisky distilled. Mr Morrison
had a brother Rorie, who was also a minister. Rorie is said to have been
the minister of Urray. If so, he must either have died about 1716, or
have resigned to make room for his brother on the sudden transfer of the
latter from Gairloch to Urray in that year. Early one morning the Rev.
John Morrison sent off a man from Tollie with a horse to his brother at
Urray for two casks of whisky. The man reached the brother's house the
same night. Rorie determined to play a trick on his brother, so when his
brother's man was out of the way he made his own servants fill the two
casks with water-gruel instead of whisky. Next day the man returned to
Tollie, believing the casks to be full of whisky. It was Christmas eve
when he reached Tollie, and a party was assembled to celebrate the
festivities of the season. But when the casks were opened there was no
whisky,--only water-gruel!

The Rev. James Smith, after an interregnum of five years caused by the
difficulty of finding a clergyman willing to undertake the charge of
this wild parish, succeeded Mr Morrison in 1721. In his day the
Presbytery of Gairloch was erected. A sum of £1000 was allowed him by
the Assembly, and the heritors or proprietors of the parish provided a
manse with garden and glebe, and erected churchyard dykes. Mr Smith was
a man of energy, and effected much in the way of reforming the morals of
his people and spreading religion among them. In 1725 he had a
missionary catechist at work, and he established a presbyterial library.
In 1724 a school was established in Gairloch by the Society for
Propagating Christian Knowledge, but was removed to Strathglass in 1728
for want of encouragement by the people. However, the first parochial
school in Gairloch was in operation before Mr Smith's removal.

Though under Mr Smith Presbyterianism appears to have made way in
Gairloch, it was otherwise in the contiguous parish of Lochcarron. The
hero of the following incident is said to have been the Rev. Mr Sage,
first Presbyterian minister of Lochcarron. He was settled in Lochcarron
in 1727, and in 1731 prayed the presbytery for "an act of
transportability." Mr Sage, who was a very powerful man, was travelling
on foot to Gairloch _viâ_ Glen Torridon, accompanied by his servant, a
mere boy, who carried the "bonnet" which held the provisions for the
way. Two of Mr Sage's parishioners had conspired to put an end to his
life. They followed him, and after a time joined company, beguiling the
way with conversation, until a fit place should be reached for the
carrying out of the projected murder. When they came to the burn of the
Black Corrie the minister announced that the luncheon hour had arrived,
and asked his parishioners to join him. He took the "bonnet" from the
boy, and began to dispense the viands. The would-be assassins seated
themselves quite close to the minister, one on either side, and the
leader now at last mustered pluck enough to inform Mr Sage that he had
been condemned to die, and that his hour had come. The powerful minister
instantly threw an arm round the neck of each of the villains, and
squeezed their heads downwards against each other and upon his own
thighs with paralysing force, holding them thus until they were on the
verge of suffocation, when, in response to their abject screams for
mercy and promises of safety for himself, he released them from his
strong pressure, and they went away both better and wiser, let us hope,
for this display of the good minister's muscular Christianity.

The Rev. Æneas M'Aulay was minister of Gairloch from 1732 to 1758. He
had bad health, and was often absent from his parish. He employed a

The Rev. John Dounie was minister of Gairloch from 1758 to 1773. In his
time Mr Thomas Pennant visited Poolewe (Appendix B). He heard Mr Dounie
preach in the church at Tollie Croft, or Cruive End, and stayed the
night with him in the manse at Cliff, Poolewe. Pennant, in the preface
to his "Tour," speaks in high terms of Mr Dounie.

The Rev. Daniel Mackintosh, who succeeded Mr Dounie, seems to have been
in smooth waters, and religion flourished in his time. His incumbency
extended from 1773 to his death in 1802. He wrote the paper on Gairloch
in the Old Statistical Account (Appendix C), from which we learn that
there was no division or dissent in the parish. He was greatly assisted
in his labours by the support of the generous and enlightened baronet of
Gairloch, Sir Hector Mackenzie, and his wife the beloved lady of

The Rev. James Russell was minister of Gairloch from 1802 to 1844. Some
objection was made to his appointment on account of his imperfect
Gaelic; but he was found to be advancing in his knowledge of the
language. Notwithstanding his progress, some amusing stories are still
told in Gairloch of the ludicrous mistakes he used to make in his Gaelic
sermons. For instance, intending to mention the two she-bears that came
out of the wood and tare the children who mocked Elisha, he used Gaelic
words which made the animals to be she roebucks! Up to and during Mr.
Russell's time the education of children in Gairloch, and the correction
of adults for offences against morals, were in the hands of the
presbytery. In 1825 the presbytery, having instructed Mr. Russell to
deal with one of his parishioners charged with immorality, found that he
was too remiss in so dealing, and suspended him from the office of the
ministry. He appealed to the General Assembly, who reinstated him, and
warned the presbytery to act with greater caution in future towards its
members in such cases. The separate ecclesiastical (or "quoad sacra")
parish of Poolewe was formed during Mr Russell's incumbency. The Rev.
Donald MacRae was presented to the new church of Poolewe in 1830, though
the separate parish was not declared to be such until an Act of Assembly
on 25th May 1833, and was not erected by the Court of Teinds until 3d
December 1851.

The Rev. Donald MacRae wrote the paper on Gairloch in the New
Statistical Account (Appendix E).

In 1843 the secession from the Established Church of Scotland, usually
termed the "Disruption," occurred, and the Free Church was formed. Mr
MacRae seceded to the Free Church.

Mr Russell died in 1844, having been forty-two years minister of
Gairloch. On the departure of his successor from Gairloch, the Rev. D.
S. Mackenzie, the present minister of Gairloch, was appointed in 1850.

On the establishment of Presbyterianism, Gairloch was in the Presbytery
of Dingwall. Several minutes show the difficulties in the way of the
ministers of Gairloch attending the meetings of presbytery, and of
members of presbytery visiting Gairloch. Minutes of the presbyteries
relating to these and other matters in Gairloch are extracted in
Appendix F.

Sometime between July 1668 and June 1672 there seems to have been
nominally a Presbytery of Kenlochewe, but it does not appear that this
presbytery ever met, and there are no records of it extant. In 1672
Gairloch was reannexed to the Presbytery of Dingwall by the bishop and

On 4th September 1683 the "Highland churches," including Gairloch, were
annexed to the Presbytery of Chanonry. This step appears to have been
intended as a punishment to the ministers of the Highland parishes for
their non-attendance at meetings of the Presbytery of Dingwall. Thus for
a time Gairloch was no doubt in the Presbytery of Chanonry, but there is
no other reference to the fact in the ecclesiastical history of the
period. This was during the long incumbency of the Rev. Roderick
Mackenzie, whose isolated position in Gairloch seems to have rendered
him indifferent to the action of the presbytery.

On 19th May 1724 the Presbytery of Gairloch was erected by the General
Assembly. This presbytery was composed of the same parishes as now
constitute the Presbytery of Lochcarron. The meetings of presbytery were
held at different places,--Kenlochewe, Gairloch, and Poolewe are

In 1773 an Act of the General Assembly ordained that the Presbytery of
Gairloch should be called in all time coming the Presbytery of
Lochcarron, and Gairloch and Poolewe remain to this day in that

The old parish church of Gairloch, dedicated to St Maelrubha, stood, as
we have seen, in the churchyard of Gairloch, which is now used as the
parish burial-ground. There was a church in existence here before 1628,
for we find from an old document that Alastair Breac, fifth laird of
Gairloch, had caused a chapel to be built "near the church" of Gairloch,
during his father's lifetime, where he and his wife, and no doubt also
his father John Roy Mackenzie, were buried. According to the Rev. Daniel
Mackintosh, in the Old Statistical Account, the Gairloch church of his
day had existed for "more than a century," so that it must have been
erected in the middle or latter part of the seventeenth
century,--possibly by John Roy or Alastair Breac; it stood most likely
on the same site as the original church. In 1727 Mr Smith, minister of
Gairloch, got the heritors of the parish to erect churchyard dykes. In
1751 the Rev. Æneas M'Aulay is said to have got a new church built. It
must have been a frail structure, for in 1791 it had fallen into a
ruinous condition; it was a thatched building. James Mackenzie says,
that about 1788, when his mother was attending the parish school at
Strath of Gairloch, under the tuition of William Ross, the Gairloch
bard, she and other girls went one day during the dinner hour to the old
church. The children opened the church door, when, from some cause or
other--very likely only a puff of wind--the door closed in their faces
with a bang, and they got a great fright!

The present Gairloch church was erected in 1791, and repaired in 1834.

The little church at Sand of Udrigil, which we may call the chapel of
Sand, is commonly believed to have been originally erected by St Columba
himself. In 1713 George Mackenzie of Gruinard, who is said to have built
a little church at Udrigil, prayed Mr Morrison, the refugee minister of
Gairloch, to preach there. Whether this was the same church we cannot be
sure; tradition says George Mackenzie only thatched and repaired the
ancient church. After this time the ministers of Gairloch periodically
preached at this little church until at least the end of the eighteenth

There was an old church at Culinellan near Kenlochewe; the date of its
erection is uncertain. The Rev. Daniel Mackintosh, in his paper in the
Old Statistical Account, refers to this place of worship as existing in


The church at Tollie Croft, now called Cruive End, is not likely to have
been of any antiquity. In 1733 the kirk-session of Gairloch petitioned
the presbytery to enlarge the "chapel at Pollew," and the presbytery
agreed to do so. This was probably the place of worship at Tollie Croft
close to Poolewe. It was no doubt the church where Mr Thomas Pennant
heard the Rev. John Dounie preach in 1772, for it was close to the place
where he would land from his boat on Loch Maree (see Appendix B); the
Rev. D. Mackintosh mentioned it in 1792. Old people now living remember
the Rev. James Russell preaching in this little church as lately as
1826. At that time Duncan Mackenzie, the innkeeper at Poolewe,
previously butler to Sir Hector Mackenzie at Flowerdale House, used to
read the Scriptures to the people in the Cruive End church pending Mr
Russell's arrival from Gairloch. This church would be very convenient
for the minister of Gairloch when he had his manse only a mile away at
Cliff, Poolewe, as was the case between 1759 and 1803.

The turf-built church in Tollie bay, where the Rev. J. Morrison used to
hold his humble services, was only a temporary expedient during his
short and troublous incumbency.

The old chapel of Inverewe, on the east side of the river Ewe, close to
the former mansion-house of the Kernsary estate, seems to belong to the
seventeenth century, judging from the appearance its ruins now present,
but there is no record whatever of its history. The Rev. Kenneth
Mackenzie, proprietor of Kernsary, preached there, as we have seen,
during some part of the seventeenth century.

The present church of Poolewe was completed in 1828.

If there was a rectory, parsonage, or manse in Gairloch before the
Reformation, it must have then ceased to be church property. The Rev.
Farquhar MacRae, who became vicar of Gairloch about 1608, lived at
Ardlair, on the north-eastern shore of Loch Maree. Ardlair is near
Letterewe, where dwelt the ironworkers for whose special behoof Mr
MacRae was sent to Gairloch by Lord Mackenzie of Kintail; and it may
have been part of the arrangement under which Sir George Hay acquired
the woods of Letterewe from Lord Mackenzie for the ironworks, that his
lordship should allow Mr MacRae the use of a house at Ardlair, which was
also on his property.

Poor Mr Morrison, in 1711-16, had no glebe, manse, or legal maintenance,
and his hut in Tollie bay was on land leased by himself.

In 1728 a manse and glebe were provided by the heritors for the minister
of Gairloch at Achdistall, near where the Gairloch hotel now stands.

In 1759 the presbytery exchanged the glebe at Achdistall for other land
at Clive, or Cliff, close to Poolewe, and a manse was shortly after
erected on the new glebe.

In 1803 the old glebe of Clive was exchanged by the presbytery for a
portion of the lands of Miole at Strath of Gairloch, and a new manse was
erected at once. This is the present manse of Gairloch; it was added to
in 1823, when Hugh Miller, then a mason, took part in the work. His
experience in Gairloch at that time is recorded in "My Schools and

The present manse of Poolewe was built in 1828.

The old Free church at Gairloch, and the Free manse there, were erected
shortly after the Disruption in 1843. The church having become unsafe
was pulled down in 1880, and the present handsome building erected on
the same site.

The Free church and manse at Aultbea were also erected soon after the
Disruption. The Free Church has also mission churches or meeting-houses
at Poolewe, Opinan, and Kenlochewe in Gairloch parish. The first
minister of the Gairloch Free church was the Rev. Duncan Matheson, who
was succeeded by the Rev. John Baillie, the present minister. The first
minister of the Aultbea Free church was the Rev. James Noble; to him
succeeded the Rev. William Rose; after whose death the Rev. Ronald
Dingwall, the present minister, was appointed.

Chapter XVII.


Many visitors to Gairloch, and not a few of the inhabitants, will learn
with astonishment that the manufacture of iron was carried on in the
parish from remote times, and that there are still abundant remains to
testify to the magnitude and importance of the industry. There are many
places in this wild and picturesque Highland district where are to be
seen to this day large heaps of slag and dross, and remains of
blast-furnaces or bloomeries; whilst many acres of arable ground, as
well as of uncultivated moorland, are still thickly strewn with
fragments of charcoal and of several kinds of iron ore.

The remains of ironworks examined in Gairloch may be roughly divided
into two classes, viz:--(1) The ancient ironworks, of which there are no
historical records extant; and (2) The historic ironworks of Loch Maree.

The ancient ironworks or bloomeries are the subject of our present
chapter. Some of them appear, as we should expect, to belong to a later
period than others, but nothing can be said with precision about the
date of any of them. They will be described in Part I., chap. xx.

There are some interesting notes on the subject of ancient Highland
ironworks in the curious book entitled "Remarks on Dr Samuel Johnson's
Journey to the Hebrides, by the Rev. Donald M'Nicol, A.M.," published in
1779, and extracted in Appendix G. Mr M'Nicol does not give his
authorities, but there is ample ocular demonstration of the truth of his
statement, that "the smelting and working of iron was well understood
and constantly practised over all the Highlands and Islands for time
immemorial." Other writers have expressed the opinion, that iron was
made throughout Great Britain long before the Roman invasion.

Perhaps a coin now in my possession, which was found some years ago in a
field on the bank of the river Went in Yorkshire, near large quantities
of ancient heavy iron slag, may be taken as giving some clue to the date
of the older ironworks. It is an ancient British coin of the type of the
quarter stater of Philip II. of Macedon. The British coinage is supposed
to have been in existence at least as far back as 150 B.C., and this is
one of the early types.

The querns frequently found in all parts of the Highlands shew that the
ancient inhabitants grew some corn,--that they had some acquaintance
with "the staff of life." It seems a reasonable inference, that they
used iron implements for tilling their lands and securing their crops.
It is certain that some iron weapons, tools, and implements, besides
those employed in agriculture, were in use in the Highlands in those old
days. An iron axe-head, of the shape of the bronze celt figured among
our illustrations, and with the aperture for the handle similarly in a
line with its axis instead of at right angles to it, was found in 1885
in the garden at Inveran; its remains are much eaten by rust, but there
is enough to shew that this iron axe is of an old type. It may be
objected, that if iron implements for peace or war were extensively used
in ancient days there would be more relics of them. The obvious reply to
such an objection is, that iron is so liable to oxidation that most of
the smaller iron articles of ancient times must have perished from that
cause. Many of the small masses of rust-cemented gravel and earth, found
everywhere, may have originally had for their nucleus an ancient iron
implement, or a fragment of one. If it be allowed that the Picts or
other early inhabitants of the north used iron tools and weapons, the
question at once arises,--Where and how did they procure them? The
remains of the ancient class of ironworks supply the answer. Those
so-called savages well knew where to procure iron, and how to fabricate
from it the articles they required,--another proof that the Picts were
by no means the uncivilised barbarians that some people suppose.

The ancient ironworks of Gairloch were probably not more numerous than
those of some other parts of the Highlands and Islands. There is little
doubt but that many of the remains, both in Gairloch and elsewhere, have
been obliterated by the husbandman, or concealed by overgrowth of
heather and other plants. In many places throughout Sutherlandshire,
Ross-shire, and Inverness-shire, as well as in other Scottish counties,
there are large quantities of iron slag. The Inverness Scientific
Society have examined remains of ancient iron-smelting near Alness in
Easter Ross. The Rev. Dr Joass, of Golspie, and Mr D. William Kemp, of
Trinity, have to a certain extent investigated some Sutherlandshire
remains. There are also quantities of slag on the Braemore estate, on
the shores of Loch Rosque between Achnasheen and the eastern boundary of
Gairloch parish (Part IV., chap, iii.), and in many other parts of
Wester Ross, as well as in the island of Soa off the west coast of Skye,
and many other places.

At the iron-smelting works near Alness a native hematite iron ore was
used, as well as what is termed bog iron. Bog iron is also believed to
have been used at a bloomery near Golspie, Sutherlandshire. This bog
iron appears to have been commonly employed by the ancient ironworkers;
it was extracted by the action of water from ferruginous rocks and
strata, and was accumulated at the bases of peat bogs. In process of
time granular masses of oxides of iron were thus formed, sometimes
covering a considerable area. Within the parish of Gairloch there are
still quantities of bog iron to be seen, apparently formed exactly in
the manner described. The localities will be stated in Part I., chap.
xix. No bog iron has been found in proximity to any of the remains of
ironworks; probably the iron-smelters consumed all that was conveniently
near the scenes of their operations. In the neighbourhood of all the
remains of ironworks in Gairloch are found ferruginous rocks and shales,
or rust-coloured earths. The best samples of these rocks have on
analysis yielded but eight per cent. of metallic iron, and the
rust-coloured earths are by no means rich in the metal. But there can be
no doubt that bog iron was formerly present in the vicinity of these
rocks, shales, and earths; and the analyses of the ancient iron slags
prove to demonstration that such bog iron was the ore used at the
ancient bloomeries.

Mr W. Ivison Macadam, analytical chemist of Edinburgh, is hopeful that
the analyses he has undertaken may in course of time throw more light on
the methods and productions of the ancient ironworkers. It is not
probable that we shall ever know much of their history. According to the
Rev. Donald M'Nicol they made iron "in the blomary way, that is by
laying it under the hammers in order to make it malleable, with the same
heat that melted it in the furnace." In the present day the processes of
smelting iron and of producing malleable iron are separate and distinct;
these ancient artisans probably combined the two. The slags produced at
their furnaces contained a large proportion of metallic iron. Mr Macadam
has found fully fifty per cent. of iron in most of the samples of
ancient Gairloch slags he has analysed, and at some modern ironworks
quantities of ancient slag have actually been found worth resmelting.
The wasteful richness of the old slags can be easily accounted for; the
ancient methods of smelting were comparatively imperfect, labour was
cheap, the iron used cost nothing, and the forests whence was derived
the charcoal for smelting it were apparently inexhaustible, whilst the
business was no doubt carried on more for the supply of local and
immediate wants than as a branch of commerce. If the ironworkers could
obtain by their primitive processes enough iron to supply their own
requirements, they would naturally be careless of the amount of metal

The fuel universally used for iron-smelting, until far into the
eighteenth century, was wood-charcoal, and even to the middle of the
nineteenth century it was still employed at two blast-furnaces in
Scotland. Every part of the Highlands, not excepting the parish of
Gairloch, was clothed with dense forests of fine timber. Far up the
mountain slopes, and down to the rocky shores of the sea, the fir, oak,
and birch flourished in wonderful and beautiful profusion. There is no
poetic license, no picturesque exaggeration in this statement.
Everywhere the relics of trees are to be seen to this day, and much of
the timber used by Gairloch crofters in roofing their dwellings and for
other purposes consists of branches found underground. The disappearance
of the great Caledonian forest has been accounted for in several ways;
some have conjectured that a vast conflagration or series of
conflagrations destroyed it; others think that its destruction was more
gradual, and resulted from the labours of the charcoal burners and
similar doings. In Gairloch there are charred stumps still to be seen
preserved in peat bogs, that support the conflagration theory; but there
is also widespread evidence of extensive charcoal burnings, so that
there must be some truth in both these modes of accounting for the
destruction of the woods. Some localities of charcoal burnings will be
mentioned in Part I., chap. xx.



All the ancient Gairloch ironworks are in the vicinity of burns. This
fact raises a strong inference that the older ironworkers, like their
historic successors, utilised the water-power afforded by adjoining
streams for the purpose of working machinery. The Rev. D. M'Nicol's
statement, already quoted, that hammers were used to produce malleable
iron confirms the inference; and the remains of dams or weirs, and other
expedients for augmenting the water-power, convert the conjecture into
an established fact. It appears certain, then, that heavy hammers worked
by machinery, with water for the motive power, were used in remote
times,--another testimony to the ingenuity and mechanical skill of the
ancient inhabitants of the Highlands. The tuyere for a furnace-blast
found at Fasagh (_see illustration_) is another evidence of that skill.

The reader must please remember that the ancient ironworks referred to
in this chapter are quite distinct from the historic series to which our
next is devoted.

Chapter XVIII.


To the lonely and romantic shores of the queen of Highland lochs belongs
the curiously incongruous distinction of having been the scene where the
new departure in iron-smelting processes, which commenced the present
series of Scottish ironworks, was inaugurated. How wonderful it seems,
that the great iron industry of Scotland, which to this day enriches so
many families and employs so many thousands of workmen, should have
sprung from this sequestered region! The claim to the distinction is
based on the facts, that up to the present time no records of any
earlier manufacture of iron have been discovered, and that the iron
industry established here early in the seventeenth century became, as we
shall shew, of such national importance as to call for special
legislation. It appears to have been in 1607 that Sir George Hay
commenced ironworks at Letterewe, on Loch Maree, which were continued
for at least sixty years. It is true that in 1612 a license previously
granted by the king to "Archibald Prymroise, clerk of his maiesties
mynis, his airis and assignais quhatsomeuir ffor making of yrne within
the boundis of the schirefdome of perth," was ratified by Parliament,
but the date of the license is not given, and we hear no more of these
Perthshire ironworks.

It was not until the eighteenth century that the seed sown by Sir George
germinated, and the iron industry began to spread in Scotland.

The iron furnaces in Glengarry, referred to by Captain Burt, are said to
have been established by a Liverpool company, who bought the Glengarry
woods about 1730.

The iron-smelting works at Abernethy, Strathspey, were commenced in 1732
by the York Buildings Company. This company was formed in 1675 to erect
waterworks on the grounds of York House in the Strand, London, and was
incorporated in 1691 as "The Governor and Company of Undertakers for
raising the Thames water in York Buildings." The operations of the
company have been described by Mr David Murray, M.A., F.S.A. Scot., in
an able pamphlet entitled "The York Buildings Company: A Chapter in
Scotch History." The company raised at the time of its incorporation the
then immense capital of £1,259,575, and conducted not only the original
waterworks, but also enormous speculations in forfeited estates in
Scotland; the company also carried on coal, lead, and iron mines, the
manufacture of iron and glass, and extensive dealings in timber from the
Strathspey forests. Their agents and workmen in Strathspey are described
in the Old Statistical Account as "the most profuse and profligate set
that were ever heard of in this country. Their extravagances of every
kind ruined themselves and corrupted others." Their ironworks were
abandoned at the end of two years, _i.e._ in 1734, or, according to the
Old Statistical Account, in 1737. They made "Glengarry" and "Strathdoun"
pigs, and had four furnaces for making bar iron. The corporation of the
York Buildings Company was dissolved in 1829.

The Loch Etive side, or Bonawe, ironworks, were commenced by an Irish
company about 1730. They rented the woods of Glenkinglass, and made
charcoal, with which they smelted imported iron ore. That company
existed till about 1750. In 1753 an English company, consisting of three
Lancashire men and one Westmoreland man, took leases, which ran for one
hundred and ten years, and these were renewed in 1863 to the then
manager of the company for twenty-one years, expiring as lately as 1884.
By the courtesy of Mr Hosack, of Oban, I have seen duplicates of the
leases under which the undertaking was carried on. The works comprised
extensive charcoal burnings and the blast-furnace at Bonawe; they were
discontinued before 1884.

Other important works of a similar character were afterwards established
by the Argyle Furnace Company, and by the Lorn Company, at Inverary.

In a work on "The Manufacture of Iron in Great Britain," by Mr George
Wilkie, Assoc. Inst. C.E., published in 1857, it is stated that the
Carron works were established in 1760 by Dr Roebuck of Sheffield and
other gentlemen; that in 1779 two brothers of the name of Wilson,
merchants in London, established the Wilsonton ironworks in Lanarkshire;
that in 1788 the Clyde ironworks were established in the neighbourhood
of Glasgow, and that in that year there were only eight pig-iron
furnaces in Scotland, of which four were at Carron, two at Wilsonton,
one at "Bunawe in Lorn," and one at "Goatfield in Arran," the two latter
being worked with wood charcoal for fuel. The furnace at Bunawe is that
already noticed as on Loch Etive side. Of the alleged furnace at
"Goatfield in Arran" there are no records or remains to be found in
Arran to-day. Probably Goatfield was in Argyleshire.

But we need not here further trace the wonderful growth of the still
existing series of Scottish ironworks. To establish our claim to
precedence, it will suffice to shew that the furnaces on Loch Maree were
commenced by Sir George Hay more than a century earlier than any of
those just named.

Pennant, in his tour of 1772 (Appendix B), mentions the time of the
Queen Regent as the period when Sir George Hay was head of a company who
carried on an iron furnace near Poolewe; this statement is given on the
authority of the Rev. John Dounie, minister of Gairloch. The regency of
Mary of Guise extended from 1542 to 1560; so that the historical
commencement of the ironworks on Loch Maree might date as far back as
the middle of the sixteenth century. But Sir George Hay lived at a later
date, and Mr Dounie must have been inaccurate in this respect.

From Donald Gregory's history of the Western Highlands, Alexander
Mackenzie's history of the Mackenzies, and several old MSS., including
the genealogy of the MacRaes (Appendix A), we glean the following

In 1598 a party of gentlemen, known as the "Fife Adventurers," obtained
a grant from the crown of the island of the Lews, and took steps to
plant a colony there. Mackenzie of Kintail and the M'Leods of the Lews,
ceasing for the time their own feuds, combined to oust the Fife
Adventurers. In 1607 the king granted the Lews to Lord Balmerino
(Secretary of Scotland and Lord-President of the Session), Sir George
Hay, and Sir James Spens of Wormistoun (one of the original "Fife
Adventurers"), who in 1608 renewed the attempt to colonize the Lews, but
without success. In 1609 Lord Balmerino was convicted of high treason
and executed, thus forfeiting his share. Sir George Hay and Sir James
Spens about that time sent an expedition to the Lews, but Neil M'Leod,
secretly backed by Mackenzie of Kintail, opposed the intending
colonists, who were driven from the island. Mackenzie was raised to the
peerage in the same year with the title of Lord Mackenzie of Kintail,
after he had induced Sir George Hay and Sir James Spens to give up their
scheme and transfer their rights in the Lews to himself. Lord Mackenzie,
in part payment, gave them the woods of Letterewe for iron-smelting; the
arrangement was concluded in 1610, and Lord Mackenzie then obtained a
fresh grant to himself from the crown.

But we can carry back the history of the Letterewe ironworks to a
slightly earlier date still.

The Rev. Farquhar MacRae was appointed vicar or minister of Gairloch by
Bishop Leslie of Ross in 1608, in order that he might "serve the colony
of English which Sir George Hay kept at Letterewe." Mr MacRae continued
his work in Gairloch parish till 1618, and his son informs us, in the
"Genealogical Account" (Appendix A), that on his death in 1662 Mr MacRae
"had lived fifty-four years in the ministry, ten of which at Gairloch."
Thus it is evident that he was ordained vicar of Gairloch in 1608. This
was two years before Sir George Hay acquired the woods of Letterewe from
Lord Mackenzie, but the later date of his acquisition of those woods
does not preclude the possibility of Sir George having already commenced
the manufacture of iron there, perhaps in a tentative manner. It will be
noticed that the Genealogical Account of the MacRaes speaks of Sir
George Hay's undertaking at Letterewe as a going concern when Mr MacRae
was sent in 1608 to minister to the ironworkers. It seems almost
certain, therefore, that it had begun in 1607, for we cannot but assume
that the appointment of Mr MacRae to Gairloch was made to supply a want
that must have taken at least a year to develop. The conclusion that Sir
George Hay began the Letterewe ironworks in 1607, receives some
confirmation from the fact that the grant of the Lews to him and his
colleagues took place in the same year. The two matters were very
probably connected. Either Sir George was led to enter into the Lews
adventure from his being located at Letterewe, so near to Poolewe, the
port for the Lews, or--which is more probable--the advantages of
Letterewe attracted his attention when at Poolewe planning the
subjugation of the Lews. The date (27th January 1609) of the act
forbidding the making of iron with wood (Appendix G) is not inconsistent
with the commencement of the ironworks in 1607. Assuming that the
prohibition was (as seems likely) aimed at the Letterewe ironworks, it
is reasonable enough to suppose that they must have been begun in 1607,
so as to have attained sufficient importance to excite the alarm of the
legislature in January 1609. News from the Highlands took a long time to
travel so far as Edinburgh in those days.

We hear nothing more of Sir James Spens in connection with the

Sir George Hay's history is remarkable. He was the second son of Peter
Hay of Melginche, and was born in 1572. He completed his education at
the Scots College at Douay in France. He was introduced at court about
1596, and seems at once to have attracted the attention of James VI.,
who appointed him one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber, and in 1598
gave him the Carthusian priory or charter-house at Perth and the
ecclesiastical lands of Errol, with a seat in Parliament as a peer. But
he declined the peerage, was knighted instead, and subsequently adopted
the profession of the law, in which he attained to great distinction. He
seems to have been a favourite with the king, whom he defended when in
1600 the Earl of Gowrie was killed in his treasonable attempt on his
majesty's life. Assisted by the favour of the crown, Sir George acquired
large territories both in the Highlands and Lowlands. (See extract from
"Douglas's Peerage," Appendix G.) But some think that at the time he
settled at Letterewe he was under a cloud. Political troubles had
arisen; one of his partners, Lord Balmerino, had been convicted of high
treason and executed; so that the statement that Sir George had chosen
the remote Letterewe "for the sake of quiet in those turbulent times"
appears reasonable enough. The fact that he occupied the leisure of his
enforced retirement in establishing and improving iron-smelting, is a
standing testimony to the energy of this remarkable man. He is said to
have resided some years at Letterewe, or at least to have made his
headquarters there. No doubt Lord Mackenzie would provide the best
habitation he could for the learned and enterprising lessee of his
woods. Probably Sir George lived in an old house on the site of the
present Letterewe House.

The only Gairloch iron-furnaces which we can be sure were carried on by
Sir George Hay were those at Letterewe, Talladale, and the Red Smiddy
near Poolewe. (They will be described in Part I., chap. xx.). The vast
woods of Letterewe were undoubtedly the prime motive that led Sir George
to start the ironworks there. They must have been very extensive, for it
is the opinion of those who should know, that each furnace would
annually use as carbonised fuel the product of one hundred and twenty
acres of wood. The works Sir George conducted seem to have combined two
classes of industry,--(1) The manufacture of wrought-iron, the ore being
smelted with charcoal into a mass of metal called a bloom, which was
hammered whilst yet hot into bars of wrought iron, or into various
articles used in the arts of peace or war; (2) The manufacture of
pig-iron and articles of cast-iron, the metal being poured into moulds.

The Letterfearn MS. says, that at Letterewe "Sir George Hay kept a
colony and manufactory of Englishmen making iron and casting great guns,
untill the wood of it was spent and the lease of it expired."

The Genealogical Account of the MacRaes tells of "the colony of English
which Sir George Hay of Airdry kept at Letterewe, making iron and
casting cannon."

The Bennetsfield MS. mentions the grant of the "lease of the woods of
Letterewe, where there was an iron mine, which they wrought by English
miners, casting guns and other implements, till the fuel was exhausted
and their lease expired."

Pennant notes in his Tour (Appendix B), that the Rev. John Dounie had
seen the back of a grate marked "S. G. Hay," or Sir George Hay. Those
acquainted with old inscriptions tell us that the initial S was a usual
abbreviation for the title "Sir."

It appears, then, that Sir George not only produced articles used in
warfare, but also such goods as we are accustomed to procure at the

It is certain that improved processes of iron-smelting were introduced
at Furnace, Letterewe, and perfected at the Red Smiddy, Poolewe, so that
the results obtained at the latter place were almost on a par with those
of the newest methods of the present day. The credit of these
improvements must be given to Sir George Hay. In resuscitating the
ancient manufacture of iron, he brought the intelligence of his
cultivated mind to bear on the subject in a practical and successful

The "new industry" thus commenced on the shores of Loch Maree soon
attracted the attention of the government. Reference has already been
made to the act of 27th January 1609, prohibiting the making of iron
with the natural woods of the Highlands. The act is printed verbatim in
Appendix G. There seems little doubt, as previously remarked, that it
was intended to injure Sir George Hay. It was probably passed on the
instigation of a political foe.

But Sir George must have still possessed considerable influence at
court, and the importance of his new industry must have produced a
strong impression, for on the 24th of December 1610, at Whitehall, the
king gave him what appears to have been a monopoly of the manufacture of
iron and glass throughout the whole of Scotland, for thirty-one years
from that date, and this gift was ratified by Act of Parliament, dated
23d October 1612. The delay of two years in its ratification seems a
little strange, and perhaps indicates that whilst Sir George continued
such a favourite with his king as to receive from him so valuable a
"Christmas box," he still had enemies in the Privy Council or the
Parliament of Scotland. The ratification will be found in Appendix G; it
recites the license. It would appear from a Scots Act passed 16th
November 1641, that several noblemen and gentlemen had obtained
monopolies of other manufactures,--probably about the same time. That
act brought these monopolies to an end in the same year (1641) that Sir
George Hay's monopoly of the manufacture of iron expired. Whether Sir
George carried on ironworks elsewhere than on Loch Maree we know not,
but it is most likely that they were his principal, if not his only,
undertakings of the kind.

In 1613 a proclamation was made by the Privy Council restraining the
export of iron ore out of the country, so that the enterprise of the new
industry should not be hindered or disappointed (Appendix G). If the act
of 1609 prohibiting the making of iron with wood had been obtained by an
enemy of Sir George Hay's, the adverse influence of the foe was now at
an end. Possibly Sir George had by this time returned from the
Highlands, for we find that in 1616 he was appointed Clerk-Register. If
so, his personal influence may have over-ridden that of his former
political enemies. Under this proclamation Sir George became able to
procure the clayband ironstone almost at his own price. He used it
extensively both at Furnace (Letterewe) and at the Red Smiddy, as well
as at Talladale.

There is another record relating to Sir George Hay's iron manufacture;
it is the curious license anent selling of his iron, granted to him by a
Scots Act, dated 4th August 1621, and printed in Appendix G. It purports
to be a license to Sir George to carry his iron to any port or harbour
of the free burghs royal, and to dispose of the same to any person
notwithstanding the privileges and liberties of the burghs. This
license, granted fourteen years after the commencement of the Letterewe
ironworks, testifies to the vigour with which the enterprise had been
pushed. It would seem that the quantity of iron produced now only
required a free market. The monopoly granted to Sir George, the
proclamation restraining the export of iron ore, and the special license
he now obtained for selling his iron in royal burghs, were exceptional
provisions, which would now-a-days be considered antagonistic to
cherished political principles. To what extent Sir George profited from
the advantages granted to him we cannot tell. That he became a rich man
there seems no doubt, and the ironworks on Loch Maree may have added to
his wealth.


John Roy Mackenzie was the prudent, business-like, and hospitable laird
of Gairloch during the residence at Letterewe of Sir George Hay, who
appears to have had a furnace at Talladale on John Roy's Gairloch
estate. Doubtless some intercourse took place between them, but as John
Roy had been previously engaged in warfare, and could not, so far as we
can judge from the story of his youth, have been a man of much culture,
it is unlikely that he and Sir George became very intimate. But Sir
George, the learned lawyer and man of science, had a thoroughly
congenial friend in the great Latin scholar the Rev. Farquhar MacRae,
vicar of Gairloch, whose house at Ardlair was but a three miles' walk or
row from Letterewe House. The account given in Appendix A proves that
the friendship of this accomplished and genial clergyman was much
appreciated by Sir George, who endeavoured to induce Mr MacRae to
accompany him when he himself returned to the south. A remarkable rock
or stone at Ardlair, called "The minister's stone" (_see illustration_),
is still pointed out as the place where Mr MacRae used to preach in
English and Gaelic. No doubt he also preached at Letterewe; and we are
told that he "did not only please the country people, but also the
strangers, especially George Hay." The interesting memoir of Mr MacRae,
in Appendix A, is well worth perusal; he married in 1611, and brought
his bride to the parsonage at Ardlair, where several of his children
were born. Unquestionably the refined life of the vicar and his family
at their beautiful and retired home, would be more enjoyable to Sir
George than the rougher habits of the natives of the country, nay, even
than the society of the fighting laird of Gairloch himself.

The date when Sir George left Letterewe is not certain; the reason of
his departure is plain,--he had superior calls on his presence in the
south. After he left his Highland retreat his career was one of unbroken
success and distinction. In 1616 he was appointed Clerk-Register, and on
16th July 1622 he was constituted High Chancellor of Scotland. He was
raised to the Peerage by the title of Viscount Duplin and Lord Hay of
Kinfauns in 1627, and was created Earl of Kinnoull by patent dated at
York 25th May 1633. As chancellor he won "the approbation of the whole
kingdom, and the applause of all good men, for his justice, integrity,
sound judgment, and eminent sufficiency." He died in London in 1634,
aged sixty-two. Some account of the statue of his lordship, of the
epitaph on his monument, and of the portraits of him still extant (_see
illustrations_), will be found in Appendix G. If we may trust the
expressions contained in the epitaph, it would almost appear that the
iron-founder of Loch Maree became, under his king, the ruler of fair
Scotland, for he is termed "the great and grave dictator of our clime."

But the departure of Sir George from Letterewe did not stop the progress
of his ironworks on Loch Maree. The concession or monopoly granted by
the crown had still many years to run, and the works were unquestionably
continued for a long further period under a manager or factor. The last
manager is said to have been called John Hay, a name which obviously
suggests that he was a relative of Sir George.

In the Gairloch churchyard is a picturesque tombstone, evidently of
considerable age. It has a well carved skull and cross bones, and
underneath them a shield (originally faced with a brass), with a design
below it resembling an inverted fleur-de-lis. At either side of the
shield are the letters I and H, of large size. The inscription round the
border of the stone is only partly legible. It runs as follows:--

    * * R ‧ LYIS ‧ IOHNE ‧ HAY ‧ SON * * HAY ‧ OF ‧ KIRKLAND ‧ WHO ‧
    DIED ‧ AT ‧ LOCH * * * * * *

It is said that this stone was sent to the port or wharf at Port na
Heile, in Gairloch (the present Gairloch pier), some years after the
death of John Hay, to be placed over his grave; that he was the last
manager of the Letterewe ironworks; that he died, and was probably
buried, at or near Letterewe; that the stone lay at the port for many
years; and that, ultimately, when the situation of John Hay's grave had
been forgotten, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, the second baronet and ninth
laird of Gairloch (who succeeded 1703, came of age 1721, and died 1766),
authorised one William Fraser to place the stone in the burial-place of
his (Fraser's) family, where it now lies. It is added that "Sir
Alexander received a stone from William Fraser for it."



These statements about the Hay tombstone are from the mouth of James
Mackenzie, who says that William Fraser and his own grandfather were
first cousins, and that the facts about the gravestone were told him on
their authority when he was young. He is corroborated by other old
Gairloch men.

Although this John Hay, whose father appears from the tombstone to have
been Mr Hay of Kirkland, was probably a relation of Sir George Hay, it
is impossible to fix the degree of relationship. Sir George Hay's father
had three sons, Patrick, George, and Peter. This Peter was designated as
of Kirkland of Megginch. He had a son called Francis, whose
great-grandson Thomas succeeded to the earldom of Kinnoull, on the
direct line of Sir George Hay, the first earl, becoming extinct in the
person of William, the fifth earl, in 1709. Possibly Peter Hay had a son
known as James Hay of Kirkland, or else some collateral relation of the
family bore that designation, for we gather from a short account of the
parish of St Martins, Perthshire, contained in a footnote to the account
of that parish in the Old Statistical Account, that a James Hay acquired
Kirkland by an exchange with Mr John Strachan, minister of St Martins.
The son, Thomas, of this minister, "after his return from his travels,
when he had waited on the earl of Kinnowel his son as his governour for
the space of three years, became conjunct with his father, and died
minister there in the year 1671." Kirkland was a "good manor house;" it
was built of old by the abbot of Halyrood-house, and was afterwards the
minister's manse. It is possible that this Kirkland may not have been
the same as Kirkland of Megginch. In all probability, however, John Hay,
the last manager of the Loch Maree ironworks, was a son of James Hay,
and the latter was a relative of the great Sir George. It was indeed
natural that Sir George should prefer to entrust his ironworks to a
relative rather than to a stranger.

After the death of the Earl of Kinnoull, his ironworks appear to have
fallen into a languishing condition, possibly from the timber being
exhausted. In Knox's Tour it is stated that Mr Alexander Mackenzie of
Lochend, in 1786, told the author (Mr Knox) that cannon were still made
at Poolewe in 1668. Mr Mackenzie said his grandfather had "lent ten
thousand marks to the person or persons who carried on the works, for
which he got in return the back of an old grate and some hammers." It is
curious that these relics are the only remains known to have existed
(except the breech of a cannon and some small pigs of iron) of the
productions of the Loch Maree ironworks. The "back of an old grate" was
no doubt the same as that which Mr Dounie told Pennant of, and the
hammers, or at least one of them, must have been the same as existed in
living memory. (See Part I., chap. xx.)

So far as we can judge, the ironworks were discontinued soon after the
date of the loan mentioned by Mr Mackenzie of Lochend. Thus the
undertaking was carried on for a period of at least sixty years. Local
tradition affirms that the industry was prolonged into the eighteenth
century, but there is nothing to confirm the tradition except the story
of the Gille Buidhe (Part I., chap. xiv.); it speaks of men living in
1746 as being sons of one of the last of the Letterewe ironworkers.

The artisans employed by Sir George Hay are said by some to have been
from Fife, by others to have been Welsh, and by all to have been
"English." But this last term only means that the ironworkers spoke
English, for as truly remarked by the Rev. Donald MacRae, minister of
Poolewe (Appendix E), "Highlanders look upon all who do not speak the
Gaelic language as Sasganaich [_Sasunnach_] or Englishmen."

The names Cross, Bethune or Beaton, and Kemp, are still known in
Gairloch parish as belonging to descendants of the ironworkers. Cross is
a common Lancashire name. Mr D. William Kemp, of Trinity, who has read a
valuable paper on old ironworks in Sutherlandshire to the Scottish
Society of Arts, says that the name Kemp is very uncommon in Wales, but
is a north of England name, and was common in Cumberland after the
fourteenth century, artisans of that surname having settled in that
county in the reign of Edward III.

It is probable that Sir George Hay's artisans were mostly from Fife;
they were very likely some of the men who had been taken by the "Fife
Adventurers" to the Lews, with the object (frustrated as we have seen)
of establishing a colony there. To these Fifeshire men were no doubt
added a few (including a Cross and a Kemp) who had come with iron ore
from Lancashire or Cumberland. Of course all of them were ignorant of

These ironworkers remained in Gairloch for several generations; some of
them became permanently settled in the parish. It is said that at one
time an epidemic of smallpox carried off a number of them. Narrators of
Gairloch traditions differ as to where the ironworkers buried their
dead. Some believe it was at the burial-place on flat ground near the
head of Loch Maree, which is accordingly called to this day Cladh nan
Sasunnach, or "the Englishman's churchyard," but others say, with more
probability, that the beautiful burial-ground on Isle Maree was their
place of sepulture. This last view is in accord with the information
obtained by Dr Arthur Mitchell (Part II., chap. xi.), and appears to be
the better opinion.

I do not think the Cladh nan Sasunnach was used for interment so
recently as the time of Sir George Hay's undertaking. I examined this
strange place on 12th May 1884. There are indications of twenty-four
graves, all with the feet pointed towards the east, and all covered more
or less with large unwrought stones. There are head and foot stones more
or less distinct to all the graves, which, from their dimensions, might
well be called the graves of giants. I opened two of the graves in
different parts of the group to the depth of four or five feet, in fact
as far as the ground was workable with ordinary pick and spade. In the
first grave opened, a cavity, filled with water, eighteen inches deep
and much wider than the grave, was reached at a depth of between two and
three feet, and below that the stratum was nearly as hard as concrete.
There were no indications whatever of organic remains. In the case of
the second grave opened, which was the largest and most marked of the
group, no water was reached and no remains were found. To the depth of
about four feet the gravel was comparatively loose, as if it had been
wrought at some time. Below that it was so hard that evidently it had
never been moved by man. Now, had there been interments here in the
seventeenth century, there must surely have been some traces of them. My
own opinion is, that these graves date back some centuries earlier than
the ironworks, in fact to the period when tradition says it was usual to
bury the dead in shallow graves scraped out of hard gravel, and then to
cover the graves with large stones, the hardness of the gravel and the
weight of the superincumbent stones being intended to hinder wolves from
exhuming the bodies.

We should like to know more about the ironworks, and particularly about
the men who were employed at the furnaces, and their families and
circumstances. The struggles that had engaged the MacBeaths, Macdonalds,
M'Leods, and Mackenzies for two centuries, and had rendered Gairloch a
veritable battlefield, were at an end in Sir George Hay's time. With the
exception of occasional raids on Gairloch by Lochaber and other
cattle-lifters, there was now peace throughout the parish. The Scots Act
of 27th January 1609 (Appendix G) speaks of the "present generall
obedience" of the Highlands, as contrasted with the previous "savagness
of the inhabitantis." Letterewe was then, as now, a peculiarly retired
spot; there is still no access to it for wheeled vehicles; Sir George
Hay's choice of it as a retreat from political troubles confirms the
view that it was safe and secluded; the mountains behind Letterewe had
long been a favourite hunting-ground of the lords of Kintail (Part I.,
chap. iv.); and we may well believe that Sir George and his men were
able not only to carry on their business without interruption, but also
to enjoy in peace the sport afforded by the district. At the same time,
it must be remembered that the natives were still in a half savage
condition, miserably fed, clothed, and housed, and entirely destitute of
education. Very loose notions of morality were prevalent; and to a great
extent the old principle that "might is right" still ruled the daily
life of the people. They say that some of the ironworkers, severed from
home ties, and finding themselves far away from the executive of the
law, became reprobates. One of the latest of the ironworkers, or a son
of one of them, was known as the Sasunnach Mor, or "Big Englishman"; he
is said to have been a wild character. A crofter and carter now living
at Londubh is a great-grandson of the Sasunnach Mor; the last Mackenzie
of Kernsary testified, in the presence of persons now living, to the
descent of this Londubh crofter from the Sasunnach Mor. But whatever
were the idiosyncrasies, either of the early or of the latest
ironworkers, there can be no doubt that they all led rough and almost
lawless lives in their wild Highland homes.

Chapter XIX.


The first question that most people ask, when they hear of the ironworks
in the parish of Gairloch, is,--Where did the iron that was smelted come
from? The answer can only be supplied by an examination of the remains
of the ironworks now to be met with, and of their neighbourhood. Of
records bearing on the subject there are none. There are but two
incidental notices that help to throw light on the question; both are
comparatively modern.

The Bennetsfield MS. speaks of "the woods of Letterewe, where there was
an iron mine which they wrought by English miners."

The New Statistical Account (Appendix E), in the account of Gairloch
written by the Rev. Donald MacRae in 1836, says, "Sir James Kay [Sir
George Hay] sent several people to work at veins of iron ore on the
estate of Letterewe."

Let us discuss the questions of the ores used at the ancient bloomeries
and at the historic ironworks under separate heads.


It has been already stated (Part I., chap. xvii.) that bog iron was the
source whence the ancient ironworkers of Gairloch obtained their metal,
so that the terms "iron mine" and "veins of iron ore" quoted above must
be considered as referring--unwittingly perhaps--to it. The ingredients
of ancient Gairloch iron slags, as ascertained by Professor Ivison
Macadam, shew that they have unquestionably resulted from the smelting
of bog iron. His analyses and conclusions will in due time be made
public; they will prove that the iron ore used at the ancient ironworks
in the parish of Gairloch was undoubtedly bog iron.

Mention has been made of ferruginous rocks, shales, and earths existing
in the vicinity of the old ironworks. Local tradition affirms that these
were the sources of the iron used in the old days. It appears certain
that bog iron was found in the vicinity of these ferruginous
strata,--probably derived from them,--but they cannot have been the
subjects of the ancient iron-smelting. Mr Macadam finds that the richest
samples of them do not yield more than 8 per cent. of metallic iron, and
that the sulphur they contain does not occur in the slags produced at
the furnaces, as would have been the case had they been used.

The most abundant and apparent of these rocks is the large band of
ferruginous stone that runs from Letterewe, in a south-easterly
direction, along the shores of Loch Maree to the further end of the base
of Slioch. It is so extensive, and so rusty in colour, that it can be
easily discerned from the county road on the opposite side of the loch.
Similar ferruginous rock appears in several other places, as far at
least as to the head of Glen Dochartie, but not so abundantly, and
therefore not so conspicuously. It also occurs in other parts of
Gairloch parish. Gairloch people point out several places where they say
this ferruginous rock was quarried, viz.: (1) on the south side of the
Furnace burn at Letterewe, nearly a quarter of a mile above the site of
the iron furnace; (2) on the face of the ridge immediately behind and
above the cultivated land at Innis Ghlas; (3) at Coppachy; and (4) in a
gully, called Clais na Leac, at the north-west end of the cultivated
land at Smiorsair. At each of these places there are exposed scaurs or
escarpments of the ferruginous rock, which are said to have been the
results of quarrying, but which are much more like natural fractures. We
may therefore dismiss the tradition that iron ore was obtained directly
from these supposed quarries as not only unreliable but impossible.

The absence of bog iron in the neighbourhoods of the Gairloch iron
furnaces or bloomeries is quite intelligible; it was no doubt all
consumed by the ironworkers. Considerable quantities of bog iron are
still to be seen in other parts of Gairloch, and their frequent
occurrence throughout the parish confirms the contention that this
description of ore formerly existed near the bloomeries, and was used at
them. Most bog iron is rich in the useful metal. Mr Macadam has analysed
a sample from Golspie, submitted by Dr Joass, and has found it to
contain 54½ per cent. of metallic iron. Some Gairloch samples are nearly
as rich, as will be seen from the results of Mr Macadam's analyses
stated below.

The deposits of bog iron are locally called by the descriptive name of
"pans." The following is a list of places where these deposits occur
within the parish of Gairloch, as so far noticed by Mr Macadam and

    1. In the churchyard at Sand of Udrigil.

    2. At the highest point on the road between Aultbea and Laide.

    3. In the village of Cove; masses of bog iron are built into fence

    4. Near Meallan na Ghamhna.

    5. Near the Inverasdale Board School, where there are three "pans."

    6. In the township of Strath of Gairloch; the "pans" have been
       broken up; they say there were several of them.

    7. At the north-west end of the township of Lonmor; here too the
       "pans" have been broken up, and lumps of bog iron are to be seen
       in walls or dykes. Mr Macadam has found 51¼ per cent. of metallic
       iron in a heavy sample from this place.

    8. Among the sand hills at the easternmost corner of the farm of
       Little Sand; one "pan" is entire; another is partly broken up. Mr
       Macadam's analysis shews 51½ per cent. of metallic iron in a
       sample from this place.

    9. At North Erradale; "pans" broken up. Mr Macadam states that a
       heavy sample of bog iron from this place yields 49 per cent., and
       a sandy portion 38¾ per cent. of metallic iron.

    10. At South Erradale. There is a fence wall, locally called Garadh
       Iaruinn, or the "iron dyke," entirely composed (for fifty yards of
       its length) of masses of bog iron, varying from 3 to 13 inches in
       thickness, and some of them nearly a yard in length. The dyke was
       erected in 1845, when the present system of crofts was being
       established in Gairloch. Quantities of bog iron are also to be
       seen in other dykes, and the soil of probably about two acres of
       the adjacent cultivated land mainly consists of comminuted bog
       iron. There must have been large deposits of it at this place;
       one or two unbroken masses still remain _in situ_. Mr Macadam
       finds that the heavier kind yields, on analysis, 50 per cent. of
       metallic iron, whilst a sandy portion contains 46½ per cent.

    11. On the farm of Point, Gairloch, near the house of Mr MacClymont,
       farmer. The heavy bog iron analysed by Mr Macadam yields 50 per
       cent. of metallic iron, and some red sand from the same place
       contains 15 per cent.


Mr Macadam is of opinion that bog iron was not only used at the ancient
bloomeries, but also at some of the historic furnaces in Gairloch
parish, particularly at Letterewe and Talladale. He gathers this from
the general character and composition of some of the slags found at
these places. It was in the early stage of Sir George Hay's career as a
manufacturer of iron that he used the native bog iron ore; later on he
began to import iron ores of a different kind from other parts of the
kingdom,--at first in order to mix them with the local bog iron, and
afterwards, perhaps, for separate use. The introduction of these
imported ores may have been primarily due to the failure of the supply
of the bog iron; it undoubtedly led to a vast improvement in the results
obtained at Sir George Hay's furnaces.

The evidence that Sir George imported what we may term foreign ores is
not far to seek.

At the Letterewe ironworks there are to be seen fragments of two kinds
of imported iron ore, scattered in the soil of the field adjoining the
furnace, or built into fence walls; they are red hematite ore, and
clayband ironstone.

Mr J. E. Marr, F.G.S., has described these foreign ores as
follows:--"Red hematite exactly the same as that in the Furness and
Whitehaven districts in England. Large masses of a brown clay ironstone;
one of these masses being a septarian nodule, with radiating crystals
along the cracks; the other being bedded, and containing numerous plant
and fish remains, but no shells; these fossils shew them to belong to
the carboniferous system."

Some small fragments of similar clay ironstone have been found on the
traditional site of the Talladale iron furnace.

On the bank above the ironworks on the river Ewe, called the Red Smiddy,
are fragments of clayband ironstone, which Mr Marr has described as
follows:--"Clay ironstone nodules, mostly blue inside, and weathering
red and yellow on the outside. Many of these were septarian; and when
fossils occurred they were of shells, and there were no traces of plants
or of fish remains. This ore, in fact, is entirely different from either
of the two kinds found at the Letterewe furnace. At the same time, the
fossils shew that it also belongs to the carboniferous system."

On the west bank of the pool at Poolewe, the landing-place both for
Letterewe and the Red Smiddy, is a considerable heap of red hematite
exactly similar to that found at Furnace, Letterewe. At the same place
are many masses of clay ironstone, which include all the varieties found
at Letterewe and the Red Smiddy. In the soil in the bank below Poolewe
church, where a jetty and storehouse were erected in 1885, there are
also large quantities of clayband ironstone, which were not seen by Mr

Mr Macadam has examined and analysed samples of all these foreign ores.
He is unable to draw the same distinction as Mr Marr between the
apparent varieties of clayband ironstone, and thinks that they were in
all probability from the same place, and that most likely the south of
Scotland. He finds that the samples of hematite ore contain metallic
iron varying in quantity from 30 to 60 per cent. The samples of clayband
ironstone he finds to yield from 6 to 38 per cent. of metallic iron;
they also contain a considerable quantity of lime.

Mr Marr thinks that these foreign or imported ores were mixed with local
ore. The lime in the clayband ironstone would render it a useful
ingredient from its quality of acting as a flux. Mr Marr adds, "The
theory of intermixture of local and imported ores receives support from
a similar case in Wales which has come under my observation, where
somewhat impure ore containing quantities of phosphorus, occurring among
the old slaty rocks of North Wales, is carried to South Wales to mix
with the carboniferous ores."

For convenience of reference in our next chapter, the several sources
from whence iron was obtained for the smelting-furnaces on Loch Maree,
and in other parts of Gairloch, may be classed as follows:--

    1. Bog iron obtained locally.

    2. Red hematite. Same as found in Lancashire and Cumberland, and
       unquestionably imported thence.

    3. Clayband ironstone, possibly in two varieties. This was also
       imported either from the south of Scotland or elsewhere.

Chapter XX.


The following descriptions will include all the remains of ironworks so
far noticed within the parish of Gairloch, whether belonging to what we
have called the ancient class, or to the more modern historic set.

The slags found in and about the various remains are broadly divided by
Mr Macadam into two classes, which he describes as follows:--

(1.) A dark black slag, compact and heavy, in some cases slightly
porous; the percentage of iron in this slag is high; in many samples
more than half is iron.

(2.) A gray light porous mass, resembling the slags formed in blast
furnaces at the present day; this slag contains a large proportion of
lime, and a comparatively small proportion of iron.

The descriptions of iron ores found at the different places are
indicated by numbers referring to the list of ores at the end of the
last chapter.

It appears certain that there were ironworks in the following different
places in Gairloch parish,--

    1. Glen Dochartie; three places.
    2. Fasagh.
    3. Furnace, Letterewe.
    4. Talladale.
    5. Garavaig, on Slatadale farm.
    6. Red Smiddy, near Poolewe.


The traveller proceeding from Loch Maree to Achnasheen may notice, to
the right of the road, about four hundred yards before the head of Glen
Dochartie is gained, and on the seven hundred feet contour line of the
ordnance survey, a scattered heap of small pieces of the slag No. 1. The
burn runs past not many yards below. No site of a furnace can be
identified. On the other side of the road, about three hundred yards up
the hill, on the thousand feet contour, are more extensive similar
remains, with the same kind of slag. Mr Macadam finds that this slag
contains 66 per cent. of metallic iron, and no lime as silicate. There
is red earth in the neighbourhood resembling what is found with "pans"
of bog iron. The burn runs past, but is now in a deep gully. At the foot
of the glen, more than a mile nearer Kenlochewe, and a little to the
west of the bridge over the burn, are fragments of similar slag, and
traces of charcoal burnings. The place is on the ancient beach, about
twenty feet above the level of the road. No doubt all these remains are
of considerable antiquity; they may perhaps have been parts of the same


The most extensive remains of ironworks on Loch Maree are on the south
side of the Fasagh burn, close to where it runs into the loch. This burn
comes from Loch Fada, a considerable sheet of water to the north of
Slioch. There are remains of a sluice or dam where the burn leaves Loch
Fada, evidently used long ago to regulate the water supply. The burn
flows into Loch Maree at its south-east corner, close to the head of the
loch. There are indications of a large artificial bank, probably the
remains of a dam, formed at right angles to the burn, near the site of
the ironworks; but the burn has of late years been subject to great
floods, that have to some extent varied its course, and altered the
surrounding features.

There are two places which seem to have been the sites of furnaces or
bloomeries; at each of these spots, which are near each other, and have
a small watercourse (now dry) running alongside, there is a mass of
slaggy material surrounding a root or stump of a tree. In the same part
is a quantity of blackish material, weathering red and splitting on
exposure like quicklime, and on all sides are heaps and scattered masses
of dark heavy slag No. 1. The tuyere (_see illustration_) of a furnace
was in 1882 removed from a cottage close by, where it had been for a
long time; it is now in the possession of Mr Macadam, and is to be
placed in the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. I have
obtained from an old man at Kenlochewe, an ancestor of whose brought it
from the Fasagh ironworks, a curious article (_see illustration_); it is
of cast-iron, and seems to have formed part of the apparatus for working
a large forge-hammer. In examining the furnaces with Mr Macadam in April
1886, we found a portion of a thin bar, which appeared to be of iron.
They say that a massive hammer head brought from Fasagh was long at
Culinellan, and that an anvil at the Kenlochewe smithy was formed from
part of it. Not far from the sites of the furnaces is a mound of
rust-coloured earth like that found with bog iron (ore No. 1). There are
evidences of extensive charcoal burnings on the other side of the burn,
to the west of the ironworks.

Mr Macadam has supplied the following results of his analyses of samples
of substances obtained at Fasagh:--The slaggy material from tree roots
contains 66 per cent., the blackish material 73 per cent., and the dark
slag 68 per cent. of metallic iron; the slag also contains 11 per cent.
of silica; the bar of iron contains 63 per cent. of metallic iron, and a
large quantity of carbon.

About half a mile to the east of the Fasagh works, at the foot of the
crag called Bonaid Donn, is a small circular pond, or rather a large
hole in the middle of a circular marsh. It is called Lochan Cul na
Cathrach. There is a perpetual flow of spring water from this hole, and
the surrounding marsh prevents close approach to it. It is the common
tradition, accepted with the fullest credence, that into this hole the
last ironworkers at Fasagh threw all their implements when the furnaces
were discontinued. Possibly a drag might bring something to light, or
the hole might be drained. The tradition is so firmly believed, that it
produces on one's mind a strong impulse to search the hole, and try to
find something bearing on the nature and history of the Fasagh

From the character of the slags, the comparatively complete state of the
remains, and from the tuyere and other things having been discovered, it
seems probable that the Fasagh works, whilst belonging to the ancient
class of ironworks, were amongst the most recent of that class; and Mr
Macadam thinks it possible that Sir George Hay may have commenced his
operations at this place in continuation, no doubt, of older ironworks.


The remains of the ironworks at the hamlet of Furnace, a mile south-east
of Letterewe, are perhaps the most generally interesting in Gairloch, as
being especially identified with Sir George Hay. The furnace which gives
its name to the hamlet is on the north-west bank of the "Furnace burn,"
about one hundred yards from its confluence with Loch Maree. The remains
of the furnace are tolerably complete, and a hole in its lower part
looks as if it had been the aperture for the blast. On the banks of the
burn are masses of sandstone, which formed part of the furnace. Some
fragments of vitrified bricks are also to be seen. In the soil of the
adjoining field, and in its fence walls, are quantities of the ores 2
and 3. In places the soil is quite red with fragments of hematite. In
other places it is stained black with charcoal burnings, and many
fragments of charcoal are to be found. No doubt the water-power of the
burn was utilised, and Loch Maree afforded an easy means of transport of
imported ores from Poolewe, where they were landed.

The slags found about this furnace are of both classes. May we not
conclude from this fact, that Sir George Hay commenced the manufacture
of iron on the old methods anciently in vogue, and that it was at
Letterewe that he began the improved processes which were afterwards
carried to still greater perfection at the Red Smiddy? This furnace
belongs of course to the historic class.


A strong local tradition places the Talladale furnace on the bank of a
small burn about one hundred and fifty yards south-east of the Talladale
river; it stood in the corner of the field nearest to, and to the west
of, the road. They say that when this field was reclaimed and trenched,
large quantities of slag were turned up, and were buried in the land and
in drains. The few specimens of slag found on the surface in 1883 are of
both kinds. Some small fragments of ore discovered are No. 3. It seems
pretty certain, therefore, that the Talladale furnace was carried on by
Sir George Hay, and that it belongs to the historic class of ironworks.


The Garavaig furnace stood in a slight hollow in the east corner of what
is now the easternmost field of the Slatadale farm, close to where the
Garavaig burn (on which are the Victoria Falls) runs into Loch Maree.
They say the water-power of the burn was anciently increased by
artificial means. When I first examined the field where the furnace
stood it was newly ploughed, and part of it was stained black with
fragments of charcoal, indicating extensive burnings. The farmer stated
that he had buried immense quantities of slag in the drains and soil of
this recently reclaimed field. There are still numerous fragments of No.
1 slag on the surface, so that the furnace belonged to the ancient
class. The farmer said that he had noticed indications of there having
been a furnace in the slight hollow already mentioned, and the fragments
of slag are thickest there. The agricultural operations have reduced the
place almost to a dead level. No kind of iron ore is found, but the
locality is just the place where one would have expected "pans" of bog
iron might have occurred.


The remains of the iron furnace on the river Ewe are still called A
Cheardach Ruadh, or "the Red Smiddy." They are more perfect, and
therefore to some extent more attractive to one studying the subject,
than any of the others. Unquestionably they are also more recent. That
the Red Smiddy was part of Sir George Hay's undertaking appears certain;
but it was very likely under his manager or factor that it was
established, and probably a number of years later than the Letterewe
furnace. The slags are exclusively of class No. 2, and closely resemble
those formed in blast-furnaces at the present day, thus demonstrating
the progress Sir George made in the art of the manufacture of iron after
his commencement at Letterewe. Mr Macadam finds that this light slag is
completely soluble in acids, and that it contains 16 per cent. of oxide
of calcium, and only 23 per cent. of metallic iron. The ore found on the
bank above the Red Smiddy and elsewhere near its remains are of the No.
3 class. Many of the fragments of ore have been roasted. This process
does not seem to have been adopted at any of the other furnaces. It is
another indication of the more recent date of the Red Smiddy, and of the
improvements in the methods pursued there. The Letterewe and Talladale
furnaces appear to have been originally established solely for the
smelting of bog iron (No. 1). Gradually the paucity of that ore, the
advantage of mixing imported ores with it, and their superior quality,
led to the introduction of the latter; and then the convenience of
having a furnace near the place where these imported ores were landed,
led to the establishment of the Red Smiddy. No doubt timber for charcoal
burning was at first obtainable in every direction, and afterwards, if
there were not a sufficient quantity standing near the Red Smiddy, it
could easily be floated down to it from Letterewe or other places on
Loch Maree.

The Red Smiddy is on the north-east bank of the river Ewe, immediately
below the termination of its navigable part, which also bears the name
of the "Narrows of Loch Maree," so that this furnace may properly be
said to stand at the foot, as the Fasagh works stand at the head, of the
loch. The furnace is about half a mile from Poolewe, and is said to have
been approached from the other side of the river by means of a weir or
dam, which was long afterwards converted into a cruive dyke. This weir
served also to maintain the water-power used for working the hammers. It
spanned the river in a transverse direction from east to west, and the
line of the old road is still visible leading down to its west end.
Leaving the navigable part of the Ewe at the east end of the weir was a
race or cut, more or less artificial, the channel of which still runs
past the furnace which it formerly insulated. It was not till some time
prior to 1830 that the old weir was restored, and used for salmon
cruives. They were removed about 1852 in order to lower the level of the
water above, and so drain land at the head of Loch Maree.

The furnace is still tolerably complete. It is about six feet square,
and stands on a mound red with its remains. It is built of sandstone.
The chimney stalk was standing to the height of eight or ten feet at the
time the cruives were removed. Several men in the neighbourhood speak to
this fact, and identify numerous pieces of sandstone lying about as
having formed portions of it. They are all vitrified along the cracks.
Some bricks or pieces of brick are also found; they are formed of rough
clay. Mr Marr thought they contained rushes, that had been mixed with
the clay to bind it. There is a large heap of the slag No. 2 near the
furnace. A flat space to the north of the furnace appears to have been
artificially formed for the purpose of moulding the iron; here I have
found two small masses or pigs of cast iron. Mr Macadam has found that
one of these masses contains 98‧8 per cent. of metallic iron, very
little carbon, and only ‧8 per cent. of silicon. A pig of iron which Dr
Arthur Mitchell found here in 1859, and deposited in the museum of
Scottish Antiquities at Edinburgh, is of cast iron. Besides these pigs
of iron several other iron articles have at different times been taken
from the Red Smiddy. Pennant was told by the Rev. Mr Dounie in 1772,
that he (Mr Dounie) had seen the back of a grate marked S. G. Hay. Mr
Alexander Mackenzie of Lochend informed Mr Knox in 1786, that his
grandfather had got from these works "an old grate and some hammers."
Sir G. S. Mackenzie of Coul mentions in his "General Survey," in 1810,
"the breech of a cannon he had found among the rubbish, which appeared
to have been spoiled in casting." Old men state that they remember to
have seen, about 1840, in front of the inn at Aultbea, a large iron
hammer head which had been brought from the Red Smiddy; it required two
men to lift it, and to raise it from the ground was a common test of
strength; it was removed from Aultbea by Donald Macdonald, fishcurer at
Lochinver. It may have been one of the hammers mentioned by Mackenzie of

There are evidences of extensive charcoal burnings on several flat
places along the east bank of the Narrows of Loch Maree for a space of
nearly half a mile above the Red Smiddy, and much of the bank
immediately above it is black with charcoal and the remains of fires
where ore was roasted.

There is a tradition that Sir George Hay or his manager projected a
canal, to connect the navigable part of the Ewe with the sea at a place
called Cuil an Scardain, at the south-west corner of Loch Ewe. Two large
circular holes at this place, now nearly filled up with stones cleared
from the adjoining arable land, are said to have been borings made to
test the feasibility of the project. They give some probability to the

       *       *       *       *       *

In chronological order the Glen Dochartie and Garavaig bloomeries were
probably the earliest of the Gairloch ironworks. The Fasagh works seem
to have been intermediate between those and the historic series, which
includes Furnace (Letterewe), Talladale, and the Red Smiddy. These last
belong, as we have seen, to the seventeenth century.

Old inhabitants have a tradition that there was a bloomery in Tollie bay
on Loch Maree. They say that after it was discontinued the business of
tar boiling was carried on at the same place. If this were so, it must
have been long ago, for no vestiges of old fir trees are now to be seen
in the neighbourhood. Some small fragments of slag are found among the
shingle in Tollie bay. Mr Macadam has analysed a sample of this slag,
and is of opinion that it is lime-kiln slag; it contains 33 per cent. of
carbonate of lime, and 64 per cent. of insoluble silicates, which
include only 13 per cent. of metallic iron.

There are a few masses of slag near the entrance to the Gairloch
churchyard. Owing to the crowded state of the graves within, some
interments have recently taken place outside the churchyard, and this
slag has been dug up. Mr Macadam finds that it contains 29½ per cent. of
metallic iron, and 8¼ per cent. of insoluble silicates. He does not
think this slag has been the result of iron-smelting.

       *       *       *       *       *

Two notices not already quoted referring to iron mines or the
manufacture of iron in the neighbourhood of Loch Maree or Loch Ewe ought
to be mentioned before concluding this part of our subject.

The following is an extract from the letterpress (written in 1660) on
the back of Blaeu's map of the north of Scotland--the old Dutch map
previously referred to in these pages. It seems to speak of an outer and
inner Loch Ewe, the latter (Loch Maree) surrounded by thick woods where
in past years there had been iron mines (_ysermijnen_).

After describing Kintail, and then Lochcarron, it goes on to say
(proceeding northwards):--"Dus voort-tredende komt men aen eenige
onbekende zeeboesems, en den volght de zeeboesem Ew, en duysent schreden
daer boven de binnenzee Ew, van alle zijden met dichte bosschen
beslotten, daer in de voorgaende jaren ysermijnen gevonden zijn, en ick
weet niet of men noch heden daer aen arbeyt."

The other notice occurs in the "Present State of Great Britain and
Ireland," printed by J. Brotherton, London, 1742, where we read that
"further on the same coast lies Loch Ewe with thick woods on all sides,
where a great deal of iron was formerly made."

This brings to a close my remarks on the old ironworks of Gairloch. The
dense forests of timber that yielded the charcoal used by the
iron-smelters of old have disappeared, and coal, which is not found in
Gairloch, is now the usual fuel for smelting. The local bog iron does
not occur in such quantities as would be required for profitable working
in the present day. It is therefore unlikely that the iron industry will
again find a footing in Gairloch; but it must ever be interesting to
recall what we know of the ironworks, both those commenced by the
illustrious Earl of Kinnoull, and the others of more ancient date.

[Illustration: ON THE EWE.]

The existing remains almost go to prove that the parish of Gairloch has
been in bygone days the "Black Country" of the west coast. Whilst
admiring the energy and skill of the former ironworkers, may we not be
allowed to express the hope that charcoal burnings and iron furnaces may
never again--at least in our time--be set agoing to mar with their smoke
and refuse the beautiful shores of Loch Maree and the river Ewe?

Chapter XXI.


In this chapter I shall attempt little more than to catalogue the
objects of archæological interest in Gairloch parish, and to suggest
some subjects for the investigation of archæologists.

Gairloch is very deficient in remains of old buildings. In ancient times
the mason's art was unknown in the district, and the erections of those
days were formed of uncemented and unchiselled stones, so that no
architectural features are to be found among the slight remains of
ancient buildings.

Of Druidical, or supposed Druidical, remains there are very few in
Gairloch, and even these are of doubtful origin. The only place
connected by local tradition with the Druids is a circular enclosure in
Tollie wood. It is formed of a rough wall enclosing a regular circle.
The stones composing the wall are of comparatively small size, and are
much scattered. There are several heaps of stones and remains of
detached pieces of wall near the circle. This part of Tollie wood
consists mostly of indigenous oaks, which are said to be descended from
the oaks of the Druids. By some the traditional Druidical origin of
these remains is discredited, and the circle and other buildings are
supposed to have been fanks or folds for cattle or sheep. The tradition
is however generally current in Gairloch, and at least deserves

The circular enclosure on Isle Maree, which has for many centuries been
used as a burial-ground, was supposed by Thomas Pennant (Appendix B) to
be Druidical, and Dr Arthur Mitchell inclines to the same opinion. The
sacrifices of bulls, and other pagan practices, connected with this
island, render this view highly probable.

The circular island in the paddock below Flowerdale House, which was
until recent times the place where justice was administered in Gairloch,
is probably Druidical. It is to-day scarcely an island, the moat or
ditch which formerly insulated it being now filled up, or nearly so. It
formed no part of the Tigh Dige, or its garden or outbuildings, which
were all in the field on the seaward side of the paddock. A full account
of the manner in which the administration of justice was conducted at
this island will be given in Part II., chap. iii. The curious way in
which the laird and his assessors or jurymen were stationed at trees
favours the Druidical origin; the criminal and his accusers were also
stationed at ancient trees.

Of other prehistoric remains the Pictish brochs or round houses are
perhaps the most notable. One occurs on Craig Bhan, on the north-east
side of the river Ewe, half-way between Poolewe and Inveran, within two
hundred yards of the road. Another round house, with unusually high and
perfect walls, stands on a grassy eminence to the east of the road
between Poolewe and Tournaig. Three others were exposed to view in
trenching new land on the shores of Loch nan Dailthean at Tournaig
several years ago. Some steatite whorls, stone troughs (_see
illustrations_), ashes, and other remains, were found in them. Other
round houses occur near Kernsary, and in other places. No doubt the
remains of many are now concealed by an overgrowth of heather and other
plants, and many more have been destroyed by agricultural operations.

The only vitrified fort in Gairloch stood on the rocky eminence near the
volunteer targets at the south-west end of the largest sandy beach at
Gairloch. Slight traces of the vitrification are said to be still found.

There are remains of a number of ancient strongholds or fortalices in
Gairloch. Some were duns or castles, others were crannags or crannogs,
_i.e._ fortified islands, more or less artificial.

The one most frequently mentioned in the traditions of the country is
the Dun or Castle of Gairloch. It occupied the same site as the
vitrified fort just referred to. Probably it was more of a fortification
than a castle. Some of the low banks or lines of stones on the rocky
eminence are said to be the ruins of the castle walls. This dun is said
to have been a stronghold of the MacBeaths, and subsequently of the

The remains on Eilean Grudidh are more perfect. The natural rocky bank
of the island appears to have been completed and heightened into a
fortification by rude masonry cemented with clay. This fortification
surrounded the island; the interior formed a tolerably level plateau,
now much overgrown; on this plateau are slight remains of buildings,
which in the present day are little more than mounds. At one place there
is a deep hole with a circular wall round it; tradition says this was a
dungeon. The area of Eilean Grudidh is barely half an acre. Like the Dun
of Gairloch, it is said to have been held by the MacBeaths and
afterwards by the M'Leods.

Of the stronghold, or rather crannog, on Loch Tollie, there only remain
the loose stones scattered on the little island (now overgrown by
bushes) and in the water around it. This small island (_see
illustration_) is to-day the nesting-place of two or three pairs of the
common gull, and no one would suppose that it was once a fortalice of
the MacBeaths, and subsequently of the M'Leods.

Another stronghold, or dun, said to have been the last held in Gairloch
by the M'Leods, is now only known by a large mound, apparently natural,
with traces of a long straight bank on its top, and by the name Uamh nam
Freiceadain. It is situated on the headland between Port Henderson and
Opinan; its position is marked on the six-inch ordnance map. The name
Uamh is said to be derived from a recess on the face of the hill towards
the sea.

There were also duns at Tournaig and Naast. The site of the former is
still called Dunan, or the "little dun"; it is only evidenced to-day by
the large stepping-stones that give dry access to it at the highest
spring-tides. There are no remains of the castle of Naast, said to have
been a fortalice of Vikings. The rock on which it was situated still
bears the name of Dun Naast.

There are crannogs, or artificial islands, on Lochs Kernsary and Mhic
'ille Rhiabhaich; nothing is known of their history. It is interesting
to recall that, in the instructions given by the Privy Council of
Scotland to the commissioners appointed in 1608 to treat with the
Highland chiefs, "crannaks" were specially referred to. They must have
caused much difficulty in dealing with the Highlanders, who found in
them secure refuges against attacks by government agents.

There were six churches, or places of worship, in old days in Gairloch,
mentioned in the traditions still current among the people, and referred
to in chapter xvi. of this Part:--

1. The church of Gairloch was originally dedicated to St Maelrubha, and
perhaps erected by him in the seventh century; it stood near the centre
of the burial-ground at Gairloch. There are no remains whatever of it.
In the Dutch map of 1662 the place is called Heglis Ghearrloch, _i.e._
the church of Gairloch.

2. The church at Culinellan, near Kenlochewe, was mentioned in the Old
Statistical Account (Appendix C) as a place of worship at Kenlochewe; no
traces of it remain. It is probably the church referred to in the map of
1662 as Heglis Loch Ew.

3. The turf-built place of worship near the beach in Tollie bay was but
a temporary expedient; some remains of it (since obliterated by farming
operations) existed in the memory of old men now living.

4. A little church or meeting-house stood at Cruive End or Tollie Croft.
Here Pennant heard the Rev. John Dounie preach in 1772, and here some
old people still living attended public worship up to 1826, when it fell
into disuse upon the erection of the present church at Poolewe. It was a
thatched house, and agricultural works have destroyed all traces of it.

5. The church or chapel of Inverewe stood in what is still called the
Inverewe churchyard. This place is perhaps more generally known as the
Londubh burial-ground. The old name of Londubh is Baile na h' Eaglais,
which means the town of the church. The burial-ground is a hundred yards
to the east of the road leading from Poolewe towards Aultbea, a short
distance beyond Pool House. The house where James Mackenzie lives is
close to the churchyard; this house used to be the residence of the
proprietors of Kernsary; the place is now called Kirkton, a literal
translation of Baile na h' Eaglais. What is left of this old church of
Inverewe is supposed by some to be the remains of the oldest church in
Gairloch parish. It seems to have been forty feet long and eighteen feet
wide; it was not placed due east and west. The original wall forming the
north-east side of the church is still standing, overgrown with a large
mass of ivy. The Rev. Kenneth Mackenzie, from Bute, founder of the
Kernsary family (Part I., chap, xiv.), purchased the Kernsary estate,
including this churchyard, some time during the seventeenth century. He
was an Episcopalian clergyman, and held services in the church of
Inverewe, probably with much acceptance among his neighbours, who clung
to the old form of worship long after Presbyterianism had been
established by law. It seems likely he built this little church; some
say he only restored an older church; in either case this may have been
the site of an ancient pre-Reformation church, and even of a monastic
institution, for there are many traces of buildings in the
neighbourhood. On the death of Mr Mackenzie there was no one to conduct
services here; and on the final establishment of Presbyterianism in
Scotland in 1689, or within a few years thereafter, the church was
partly pulled down, and the two present roofless apartments or chapels
were constructed out of its remains for family burial-places; they have
since been used as such. The Inverewe church does not seem to have
possessed any architectural features; a moulding round the door of one
of the burial-places is Jacobean. A loose stone in one of the
burial-places is inscribed "K M K 1678," and very likely records the
date when the Rev. Kenneth Mackenzie built or restored the church. On
the lintel of the door of the principal burial-place are initials and a
date, now nearly eradicated by decay; the date looks as if it had been
the same as that on the loose stone. The stone basin of the font lies
loose in the burial-ground near; a stone now placed over a grave is
moulded along one edge, and may possibly have formed part of the altar.

6. The chapel of Sand of Udrigil (_see illustration_), situated in a
churchyard crowded with graves, close to the village of Laide, is stated
in Dr Scott's Fasti Ecclesiæ Scoticanæ, Part V., to have been built
(about 1713) by George Mackenzie of Gruinard, at his own expense, as a
Presbyterian place of worship; but the universal tradition in Gairloch
is, that the little church was erected by St Columba, the apostle of
Scotland, or one of his followers, in the seventh century, and that the
chapel was only thatched by George Mackenzie of Gruinard, if indeed his
place of worship were not an altogether different edifice. I incline to
the opinion that the chapel dates further back than the eighteenth
century. It seems to have been an Episcopal church, for (1) it is placed
nearly east and west; and (2) when I first knew the little ruin, its
single window showed what appeared to be the remains of a mullion and
tracery, which I would not have expected in a Presbyterian church of the
eighteenth century. If then the church be older than the time of George
Mackenzie of Gruinard, who can say that the local tradition may not be
authentic? The walls of the church are cemented with lime made by
burning shells, or possibly shell sand from the island of Tanera, some
twelve miles away. I am bound to say that several houses in the
locality, known not to date further back than the eighteenth century,
were cemented with similar lime, notably the old house of Ardlair,
demolished about 1883. The strength of such lime was shown at Ardlair,
where blasting-powder had to be resorted to for the destruction of the
old house. The little church of Sand is very picturesquely placed near
the seashore.

Of old burial-places worth examination there are several in Gairloch:--

1. The Cladh nan Sasunnach, or English burial-ground, near the head of
Loch Maree. It contains twenty-four graves. Some have supposed that it
was the cemetery of the ironworkers, but I incline to the opinion that
the graves are far older than the period of the historic ironworks (Part
I., chap. xviii.). I recommend this burial-ground to the investigation
of antiquaries.

2. The burial-place in Isle Maree so thoroughly described by Dr Arthur
Mitchell (Part II., chap. xi.). Its most interesting gravestones are
those beneath which the unfortunate Norwegian prince and his bride are

3. The mounds to be seen on Fraoch Eilean, in Gairloch, mark the graves
of the M'Leods slain by the heroes of Leac nan Saighead (Part I., chap.

4. The Gairloch churchyard is now overcrowded with graves. In it are the
chapel or burial-place where lie some of the older lairds of Gairloch,
and the tombstone of John Hay, described in Part I., chap. xviii. There
are two unroofed chapels or burial-places. The northern one is that of
the lairds of Gairloch; it contains two flat tombstones, one not
inscribed, the other bearing an illegible inscription. Outside this
chapel is a raised tomb covered with a flat bevelled stone, on which are
the Cabar feidh, the initials K M K and I M K, and the date 1730. In the
other burial-place are several graves, but no monuments or inscriptions;
outside it, on the east wall, are monuments to the Chisholm family. Into
the wall facing south is built a handsomely sculptured stone, with the
text "Timor domini est initium sapientiæ" carved upon it in relief;
below is what looks like a representation of the Cabar feidh, with the
letter A on one side and M K on the other side. The date 1633 is cut
into the stone, in a different character and evidently by a different
hand to that of the original sculptor. If the date were 1638 the stone
would unquestionably be a monument to Alexander (Alastair Breac), fifth
laird of Gairloch; perhaps it may have been in memory of one of his
family. Many of the leading celebrities among the natives of Gairloch in
the days that are gone repose in the churchyard. None of the older
gravestones bear inscriptions. Of modern ones, the monument to William
Ross, the Gairloch bard, is most noticeable.

5. The Inverewe churchyard, where stands the ruined old chapel already
described. A few shapeless stones are the only antiquities beyond those
connected with the little church.

6. The churchyard or burial-place at Culinellan, near Kenlochewe, to
which the same remark applies.

7. The churchyard at Sand of Udrigil already referred to. It contains
nothing except the ruins of the old chapel which can interest the

I am told an ancient burial-place was discovered some years ago at
Bruachaig, near Kenlochewe, where the bodies had been buried in a
doubled-up position, the well-known custom in remote times. I have
visited another spot, in a glen among the mountains, traditionally
described as a burial-place of giants; it may have been so, but the
stones (which indeed are mostly flat) look more as if they had been
deposited naturally than by human agency.

Of remains of old buildings, besides those already described, there are
few of any antiquarian interest in Gairloch:--

1. Perhaps the oldest remains of these other buildings are the few
stones and the mound on Isle Maree, supposed to represent the cell of St
Maelrubha and the tower to which the Norwegian prince brought his bride
(Part I., chap. ii.).

2. On Eilean Ruaridh Beag are the remains of the residence of John Roy
Mackenzie, fourth laird of Gairloch, who lived here in the latter part
of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth. It is
said that long before that time Ruaridh M'Leod, who gave his name to the
island, resided here, possibly in the same house, or in one on the same
site. This small island almost adjoins Eilean Ruaridh Mhor on its south
side. The buildings present no architectural features, and only ruinous
dry-stone walls remain; there are also some half-wild garden fruit-trees
on the island. I remember about the year 1868 seeing a small cannon ball
sticking in one of the walls, and I am told that bullets have often been
found in the moss on this island. Perhaps the cannon ball and the
bullets had been there since the fight when Ruaridh M'Leod was driven
from the island. The remains of John Roy's house confirm Captain Burt's
accounts of the "huts" in which the Highland lairds of his day (early in
the eighteenth century) resided; the chiefs seem to have been generally
little better lodged than their clansmen.

3. On Eilean Suainne were the houses or huts where the sons of John
Glassich Mackenzie, the second laird of Gairloch, dwelt in the sixteenth
century, and where Alastair Breac, the fifth laird of Gairloch, resided
from about 1628 to 1638. There are very slight, if any, remains of these

4. The old Tigh Dige and its gardens and outbuildings stood in the field
below Flowerdale House. The Tigh Dige itself was, as its name implies, a
house in a ditch or moat. Its remains still existed up to the time of
the late Sir Francis Mackenzie, Bart. of Gairloch, in the centre of this
field, but agricultural operations have now entirely obliterated them.
Simon Chisholm, at Flowerdale, remembers them well. The lines of the
garden walls can still be traced in the part of the field lying to the
east. This was the Gairloch home of Hector Roy Mackenzie, the founder of
the family in the latter part of the fifteenth century. The Tigh Dige is
said to have been originally a turf hut, with a roof made of sticks and
divots. Kenneth Mackenzie, the sixth laird of Gairloch, erected on the
same site, within the same moat, about the middle of the seventeenth
century, a more substantial building, which was called the Stank House
or Moat House, and continued to be the west coast home of the Gairloch
family until 1738, when Sir Alexander Mackenzie, Bart., the ninth laird
of Gairloch, erected the present west coast residence of the family,
which he named Flowerdale House. Sir Alexander also built there the old
barn called Sabhal Geal (still in use) in 1730. On the south side of the
barn the arms of the Gairloch Mackenzies are carved in stone, with the
date 1730 below. The figure of Donald Odhar, in tartan trews, appears as
one of the supporters of the shield. There are two Latin mottoes, viz.,
"Fidelitatis præmium" and "Non sine periculo;" the former (above the
coat-of-arms) refers to the faithfulness of Donald Odhar; the latter is
the usual motto of the Mackenzies. The old Temple House at Flowerdale,
where Alastair Breac seems to have sometimes lived, is now occupied by
Simon Chisholm above named, who is Sir Kenneth's present forester and
head-gardener. It is a modernised dwelling. No doubt a great part of the
wall is ancient. Simon Chisholm says the style of the windows and
entrance when he first remembers the house, gave probability to the
tradition that it was originally, as its name implies, a church or
temple of worship. It may have been the residence of the priest or
priests of Gairloch church before the Reformation.

5. The old house of Kirkton, close to the Inverewe or Londubh
churchyard, is probably the house erected as his residence by the Rev.
Kenneth Mackenzie, in the seventeenth century. It is a good example of a
laird's dwelling of that period. It is said that Mr. Mackenzie, who came
from Bute, had a smack load of Bute earth brought to Kirkton. Part of it
was put into the Inverewe church, so that when he was buried there he
might lie beneath Bute soil; the overplus was deposited in the garden of
Kirkton house, where the heap is still preserved.

6. The houses of Udrigil and Aird were old residences of the Mackenzies
of Gruinard, but possess no architectural features, and are not of great
antiquity. The same remark applies to Letterewe House, which was the
residence of the Letterewe Mackenzies. Cliff House, Poolewe, was
formerly the manse of Gairloch, and was erected about 1760. In the old
house of Udrigil are curious large cupboards or closets in the very
thick walls; they are said to have been used for the purpose of
detaining recruits captured by the pressgangs.



Most of the bronze weapons and other remains found near Poolewe have
been described by Mr William Jolly, F.G.S., F.R.S.E., in a paper he
wrote on the subject. Representations of the most perfect of the bronze
and stone weapons or implements so far discovered are included in our
illustrations. The following is a list of them:--

    No. 1. Bronze ring, T-shaped section.
        2. Hollow bronze ring.
        3. Bronze spearhead, small.
        4. Bronze spearhead.
        5. Bronze celt.
        6. Stone celt.
        7. Bronze spear.
        8. Bronze celt.
        9. Stone implement.
       10. Quern or trough.
       11. Fragment of trough.
       12. Penanular ring.

All these except Nos. 3 and 9 to 12 are in the possession of Sir Kenneth
Mackenzie; Nos. 3, 9, 10, and 11 are in the possession of Mr O. H.
Mackenzie. Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 8 were found by Hector Maciver whilst
cutting peats at Londubh. No. 3 was found near Inverewe House, about
three feet below the surface in a peat cutting; a stag's horn was found
at the same place in the following year. No. 5 was found at Slatadale;
it is considerably worn. No. 6 was found at Cove; it is of some variety
of trap well polished. No. 7 was found by two sons of Kenneth Urquhart
(Kennie Rob) in a peat cutting near Croft, not far from the place where
the Feill Iudha was formerly held. No. 9 was found in 1844 in a peat
cutting between Inveran and Kernsary; it is of a sandstone uncommon in
this country; it may have been used in flaying cattle and deer. Nos. 10
and 11 were found in brochs or Pictish round houses on the shores of
Loch nan Dailthean, when land was newly trenched there in 1879. No. 12
is a penanular ring of bronze with expanded ends; being of a type rare
in Scotland, Sir Kenneth Mackenzie deposited it in the museum of
antiquities at Edinburgh. Hector Maciver found another bronze ring at
Londubh, similar to Nos. 1 and 2, at the same spot where he discovered
the above-named. There is a stone quern, resembling No. 10, lying near
Drumchork House.





On the flat peat moss behind Poolewe, and to the west, a large market
was held for generations, known as the Feill Iudha, or "ewe market." It
was frequented by the Lews men, as well as by the people of the
district. The last of these markets was held about 1720, when many of
the Lews men who had attended the market were lost in a violent storm in
the Minch, while returning home in their open boats. Traces of this old
market have frequently turned up while cutting peats, in the form of
bundles of cabars or sticks tied up with withes, as brought from the
woods ready for exportation; moulds of some fatty substance, either
butter or tallow; and a rounded block of wood, fourteen inches in
diameter, found ten or twelve years ago, probably prepared for being
converted into the wooden bickers or plates formerly common in the

The remains of the ironworks described in the last chapter are of
considerable archæological interest. Two of the iron articles found near
the Fasagh furnaces are represented among our illustrations; they are
Nos. 13 and 14 in the list of antiquities illustrated; they are to be
deposited in the museum at Edinburgh.

Among our illustrations are outlines of the crosses on the tombstones of
the prince and princess who were buried on Isle Maree. The tragic story
connected with them is told in Part I., chap. ii.

The caves at Cove and Sand of Udrigil are said to be meeting-places of
great antiquity; they are still used for public worship. I have explored
for some little distance the cave on the seashore at North Erradale, but
have discovered nothing of interest beyond some apparently recent
evidences of distillation of whisky.



    CHAPTER                                                         PAGE

        I. Ancestry and Names                                        109

       II. Warfare and Weapons                                       112

      III. Polity and Customs                                        114

       IV. Religion and Religious Observances                        117

        V. Character and Characteristics                             121

       VI. Language and Dress                                        125

      VII. Ways and Means                                            132

     VIII. Agriculture and Stock                                     136

       IX. Fisheries                                                 143

        X. Posts and Roadmaking                                      147

       XI. Superstitions of Isle Maree                               150

      XII. Superstitions of Isle Maree--continued                    153

     XIII. Superstitions generally                                   158

      XIV. Witchcraft and Magic                                      163

       XV. Visions and Second Sight                                  169

      XVI. Bards and Pipers                                          173

     XVII. Hereditary Pipers of the Gairloch Family                  177

    XVIII. William Mackenzie and Malcolm Maclean                     180

      XIX. William Ross, the Gairloch Bard                           183

       XX. Alexander Campbell, Bard to Sir Hector                    185

      XXI. Alexander Grant, the great Bard of Slaggan                187

     XXII. John Mackenzie of "The Beauties"                          189

    XXIII. Living Gairloch Bards                                     192

     XXIV. The Poolewe Artist                                        200

      XXV. James Mackenzie's Gairloch Stories                        201

Chapter I.


No traveller can claim even a moderate acquaintance with the parish of
Gairloch unless he has acquired some knowledge of her Highland
population. This part of our book is designed to help the reader in
obtaining that knowledge; nevertheless it is not intended to supersede
personal inquiry and observation.

To the casual observer the people here differ very little from the
inhabitants of other parts of Great Britain; a closer examination
reveals peculiarities in their race, language, manners and customs,
superstitions, religious observances, and other characteristics, well
worthy the examination of all who resort to this romantic country.

There is a common misconception on the part of English tourists who pay
flying visits to the Highlands. Many of them suppose that the natives
are of the same blood, and speak the same dialect, as the lowland Scot.
Nothing could be further from the fact. To speak of a Highlander "as a
Scotsman only," is, as Captain Burt says, "as indefinite as barely to
call a Frenchman an European." The Highlander, though inhabiting a part
of Scotland, is essentially different from the typical Scotchman. The
apprehension of this truth, which will be illustrated in the following
pages, is the first step towards the knowledge of the Gairloch

In Part I., chap. i., we have seen how the original Pictish tribe of the
Caledonians called the Cantæ, who inhabited Ross-shire, became
intermixed with two foreign, yet probably cognate breeds, the Norwegians
and the Danes. Further admixture of blood took place by the settlement
in Gairloch of Highlanders of other septs, particularly the MacBeaths,
M'Leods, MacRaes, and Macdonalds. The ironworkers left their mark on the
breed, in such names as Cross, Kemp, and Bethune or Beaton. In more
recent times sheep-farming brought lowland blood, identified by the
names of Watson, Reid, Stewart, MacClymont, Lawrie, Boa, &c. Again, it
is said, no doubt with truth, that some few English or even foreign
sailors have at different times settled in Gairloch, owing to shipwrecks
or other causes. A Spanish ship, possibly connected with the Armada, is
said to have been wrecked on the Greenstone Point, and one or two
persons used to be pointed out who, though bearing native names, were
believed from their dark wavy hair to have Spanish blood in their veins.
So the Taylors of Badachro are descended from a lowland sailor lad.
Lastly, the minor admixtures of blood from the immigration of attendants
who came with brides of the Gairloch lairds (of whom are the Campbells
or M'Ivers, Grants, Chisholms, &c.), and of some other individuals
mentioned in these pages, such as Rorie Mackay, the piper, have, in a
less degree, leavened the Gairloch breed. On the whole, however, it must
be considered as mainly sprung from the original Pictish stock, herein
differing _ab initio_ from the lowland race.





The surname Mackenzie greatly predominates in Gairloch, and there are a
number of distinct families of that name; many of them have an unbroken
lineage from one or other of the lords of Kintail, or of the lairds of
Gairloch, whose ancient origin has already been given. In the present
day pedigrees are less thought of than in the time of the old
seannachies, who were the genealogists of their clans, but many people
now living in humble circumstances could, if they pleased, trace their
ancestry a thousand years in an unbroken line through the original
Kenneth, the progenitor of the family. The blood of kings and nobles
flows in their veins, and accounts no doubt for the innate courtesy and
gentle manner often noticeable among the humblest of the Gairloch

Surnames were little used in Gairloch in old times, and it is supposed
that many persons of different races who settled in the Mackenzie
country were after a time reckoned to be Mackenzies. Possibly the clan
name was originally adopted only as a means of connecting the follower
with his chief, whose tartan of course he wore for identification.

To the present day surnames are little used in Gairloch when Gaelic is
being spoken, and even in English a number of men are often called by
the equivalents of their Gaelic names. These Gaelic names are formed by
the addition to the Christian name of a _soubriquet_ or byname, often
hereditary, or else of the father's, grandfather's, and even the
great-grandfather's Christian names or some or one of them. Thus in the
minutes of the Presbytery of Dingwall, referring to sacrifices of bulls
(Appendix F), we find the names of Donald M'Eaine Roy vic Choinnich and
Murdo M'Conill varchu vic Conill vic Allister, which in English are
respectively "Donald the son of John Roy the son of Kenneth" and "Murdo
the son of Donald Murdo the son of Donald the son of Alexander." "Roy,"
properly "Ruadh," happens to be the only _soubriquet_ in these two
compound names. Take some examples from names of men now
living:--Alexander Mackenzie, the senior piper of the Gairloch
volunteers, is the son of John Mackenzie of Moss Bank; the father is
known as Iain Glas, _i.e._ Pale John; the son is always called in Gaelic
Ali' Iain Ghlais, _i.e._ Alexander [son] of Pale John. This name also
illustrates the custom of continuing a _soubriquet_, whether appropriate
or not, from one generation to another; Iain Glas is so called, not
because he has a pale face, but because the byname had belonged to an
uncle of his. So we find John M'Lean, the industrious crofter on the
east side of the Ewe, called Iain Buidhe, or Yellow-haired John, not
because he has yellow hair, but because an ancestor of his was dubbed
with that byname.

Among very numerous instances of the application of bynames to men now
living, the following may be given:--Donald Og, Alie Ruadh, Uilleam
Ruadh, Alie Beag, Iain Dubh, Eachainn Geal, Seann Seoc, and Alie
Uistean, meaning respectively Young Donald, Red-haired Alexander,
Red-haired William, Little Alexander, Black John, White Hector, Old
Jock, and Alexander Hugh. Young Donald is an elderly man; Little
Alexander a tall man; Old Jock acquired the name as a boy because he had
then an old head on young shoulders; and Alexander Hugh is so called
because he had an ancestor named Hugh, though he himself was baptized
Alexander only. In each of these cases the individual is either a
Mackenzie, Urquhart, or Maclennan, but is never so called by his
neighbours. The same system of nomenclature is similarly applied to the
other sex.

It is worth notice that several Gaelic names are not translatable into
English; thus Eachainn is not really Gaelic for Hector, any more than
Uistean is for Hugh, but these English names have long been adopted as
reasonably good equivalents for the Gaelic.

Some female names in Gairloch sound strange to lowland ears, _i.e._
those formed by adding _ina_ to a man's name not usually associated with
that termination in the south,--for example, Simonina, Donaldina,
Murdina, Seumasina (or Jamesina), Angusina, Hectorina, &c.

Chapter II.


Up to the middle of the seventeenth century Gairloch seems to have been
a continual battlefield. As to Kenlochewe, it was so often ravaged, and
its population so frequently decimated, that one is surprised to find
anything left of it!

Among the MacBeaths, M'Leods, Macdonalds, and Mackenzies (assisted by
MacRaes), Gairloch was a veritable bone of contention; and for some time
after the fierce struggles among the warriors of these clans or tribes
had ceased it was still a prey to the raids of the Lochaber

What wonder that the Highlander had actually to sleep in his war-paint!

Several weapons of warfare have been mentioned incidentally in Part I.,
viz., the dirk of Hector Roy, the battle-axe of Big Duncan, the bows and
arrows of several of the MacRae archers, and the shotgun of Alastair
Buidhe Mackay. The broadsword and targe of the Highlanders were
mentioned by Tacitus, and continued to be their arms when in battle
array until the eighteenth century. The broadsword is often called the
claymore or big sword; it was two-edged. The targe was a round shield of
wood covered with leather. Bows and arrows were used against enemies at
a distance, and the battle-axe was a favourite and deadly weapon at
close quarters. The dirk was mostly used in personal encounters, or when
heavier weapons were not at hand. All these weapons were common among
Gairloch warriors, except the gun, which was rare here, and in most
parts of the Highlands. Bows were made, it is said, of ash; and the
present ash trees at Ardlair, and other places hereabouts, are supposed
to have sprung from old trees grown long ago on purpose to supply bows.

After the "Forty-five" the clan system faded away, and it is not likely,
indeed not possible, that we shall ever again see the able-bodied men of
a clan gathered under their chief in battle array.

The immediate substitute for the old system was the raising by several
Highland chiefs of regiments of their clansmen as part of the regular
army of Great Britain. Lord Seaforth raised the regiment known as the
78th Highlanders in 1793; and, as we have seen, John, second son of Sir
Alexander Mackenzie, tenth laird of Gairloch, gathered from Gairloch a
company for that regiment, of which he became captain.

All the same, enlisting in the army was never popular in Gairloch; and,
as a rule, recruits could be procured only by the detestable means of
the pressgang, which was also used for obtaining sailors for the navy.

Dr Mackenzie, writing of the days of his father, Sir Hector Mackenzie,
says:--"One of my father's amphibious crofters disappeared, leaving his
wife and family to the care of Providence, without a clue to his being
dead or alive, for some five years. One day my father, superintending
some job near the bay, noticed a man coming towards him with a true
sailor-like roll. Intimate with the cut of every man on the estate, says
he, 'Surely that is dead Donald M'Lean's walk;' and, on coming near, it
certainly was Donald himself, in naval attire. 'Halloa, Donald!' says
he, 'where on earth are you from?' speaking, as he always did to his
people, in Gaelic. Donald pulled up, and saluting, replied in two words,
also in Gaelic, 'Bho Iutharn,' the English of which is simply 'From
hell.' The service on board a man-of-war was then really infernal,
though Donald, who had been grabbed by a press-gang, had survived five
years of it, and found his widow and children glad to see him again."

For other stories connected with the press-gang system see Part II.,
chap. xxv. Very few recruits are in the present day forthcoming from
Gairloch for the army, navy, or militia.

The Volunteer corps, which is the "I" Company of the Ross Highland Rifle
Volunteers, is well supported, and is generally over its authorised
strength. It has three pipers, and the rank and file comprise a number
of fine men.

Though perhaps not exactly within the subject of this chapter, the
following account given by James Mackenzie of almost the first guns
brought to Gairloch may be added:--

It was about 1823 that a large ship was destroyed by fire at Ullapool.
Part of her cargo was saved. Besides some casks of fish-hooks, a number
of guns were taken out of the burning ship. There was a man then living
at Mellon Udrigil in Gairloch named Finlay Fraser; he had come as a
foxhunter from Beauly; he got seven of the guns out of the ship. It is
said that one of these guns of more than sixty years ago was recently to
be seen preserved as a curiosity in the farmhouse of Tollie. Finlay
carried on illicit distillation of whisky in a large cave on the
Greenstone point. He used to steep barley in whisky, and spread it on
the ground in front of a sort of screen, called in Gaelic "skar," behind
which he lay in wait with one of his guns until wild geese and other
birds came to eat the barley, which soon rendered them "drunk and
incapable," when Finlay got easy pot-shots at them. Though the guns
obtained from this ship were the first in general use in Gairloch, it is
certain that guns had occasionally been brought into the parish long



Chapter III.


Notwithstanding the introduction of Christianity in the seventh century,
the revival of religion at the time of the Reformation, and later on the
militant piety of the stern Covenanters, the people of Gairloch did not
make much progress until their previously continuous state of warfare
came to an end after the "Forty-five." The abandonment of the clan
system, the disarming of the Highlanders, and the proscription of their
distinctive dress, entirely changed the condition of the people, and
nearly assimilated them to their lowland neighbours as regarded many of
the outer circumstances of daily life. The lover of romance may
pardonably raise sentimental objections to the change, but it
unquestionably heralded a vast improvement in the general condition of
the Highland population.

The report in the Old Statistical Account (Appendix C) on the state of
Gairloch in 1792 contrasts very favourably with what is known of its
condition prior to the "Forty-five." The first parochial school appears
to have been established in Gairloch about 1730, and in 1792 there was
still only the one school; it was well into the nineteenth century
before the number of schools was increased. During the minority of the
present baronet the number grew, mostly at his expense, to sixteen. As
elsewhere education was formerly in the hands of the ecclesiastics, but
it was as a rule only to the higher classes that they imparted
instruction in the old days. Even the parochial school was up to the
passing of the present Education Act (1872) visited and examined by the

Few of the people could read or write until quite recently. On 6th March
1811 the Rev. James Russell, minister of Gairloch, reported "the number
of persons capable of reading English in the parish to be three hundred
and twenty-four; capable of reading Gaelic alone, seventy-two; and
unable to read either English or Gaelic, two thousand five hundred and
forty-nine." In the present day, under the School Board system,
established in 1873, education has reached a high pitch. The teachers in
the ten and a half schools of the parish pass at the annual examinations
by Her Majesty's inspectors about eighty per cent. of their scholars,
and it would surprise a stranger to witness the general intelligence and
acquirements of the school children. There are still a number of elderly
people in the parish who can neither read nor write, but the rising
generation are well educated.

Under the old clan system there was no organized method of relieving the
poor; indeed it is certain that the mass of the population was then in
miserable plight. With the progress of the church a system of relieving
paupers sprang up. Under the ministry of the Rev. D. Mackintosh, the
poor, to the number of eighty-four, had the annual collections made in
the church, with the interest of £20, distributed among them. The
collections averaged £6, 7s. This mode of assisting the poor continued
until the introduction of the present poor-law system, which is very
thoroughly applied to the parish. Only one remark need here be made
about it. It is, that though begging is almost unknown, and though the
people have a large measure of Highland pride, they are as a rule
callous to the humiliation of receiving relief from the poor-rates; nay
rather, some few even appear to think that they have a positive right to
draw parish pay, irrespective of the state of their purses.

The very few beggars seen in Gairloch are generally lowland tramps of
the drinking class. The travelling tinkers rarely beg; they pitch their
rude tents in sheltered places, and repair the tin pans of the
neighbourhood. Some few tinkers are well known, and are considered
respectable; others are not to be trusted. Gipsies are scarcely ever
seen so far north. There is a strange old man often to be noticed
wandering about Gairloch. He is a native of the parish, but is now
homeless and in his dotage. He goes about seeking, as he says, the road
to America. It seems that many a year ago he emigrated with his wife and
family to the United States. They all became more or less insane, and
all died except the father, this poor old man. He returned to Scotland,
and now divides his time among those who are kind to him,--and they are
not a few. Barring his absorbing anxiety he does not appear to be
unhappy. He always wears a tall hat, and is respectably dressed. Her
Majesty Queen Victoria mentions this old man in "More leaves from the
Journal of a Life in the Highlands." Describing the excursion to
Torridon, Her Majesty writes, "An old man, very tottery, passed where I
was sketching, and I asked the Duchess of Roxburghe to speak to him; he
seemed strange, said he had come from America, and was going to England,
and thought Torridon very ugly."

Among old customs still remaining in Gairloch are those connected with
marriages and funerals, and the New Year, which is the only festival
observed in the parish.

The marriage customs are a relic of the remote past. They consist of the
washing of the feet of the bride and bridegroom at their respective
homes on the evening before the wedding, and the putting to bed of the
married couple on the night of the ceremony. Captain Burt notices these
customs in 1730. Some of the younger people shirk these proceedings,
especially in the more accessible parts of the parish, but as a rule
they are strictly observed to the present day.

Funerals are not now accompanied by such striking peculiarities. Until
the last few years, when a death occurred all the people of the township
ceased working until after the funeral, which was attended by every
adult male. Of course drinking was much in vogue, and the well known
Irish wakes were closely imitated. Now, only those invited to a funeral
are expected to attend, and the whisky is confined to the serving of a
dram all round (preceded by a prayer) before the funeral procession
starts, with additional "nips" whenever a halt is made for rest on the
way to the place of burial, and these halts are not infrequent. Until
quite lately it was customary for each man accompanying the funeral to
throw a stone on the spot where the coffin was placed when a halt was
made, thus forming a considerable heap; sometimes the number of stones
thrown was the same as the years of age of the deceased. This custom has
been generally discontinued in Gairloch since the roads were made,
though it is still in vogue in the wilder parts of the adjoining
parishes of Applecross and Lochbroom. The use of whisky at funerals is
not now universal in the parish of Gairloch; some ministers wisely
discourage it, partly on account of its generally evil tendency, and
partly because the providing of it is a serious burden on the family of
the deceased, already weighted by other expenses in connection with the
death or previous sickness.

New Year's eve and New Year's day are kept according to the old style,
on the 12th and 13th of January, and both days are general holidays.
There is always a keen contest for the "first-footing" at midnight on
New Year's eve; the one who succeeds in first entering a neighbour's
house claims the inevitable dram. Occasionally a shinty or "clubbing"
match takes place on New Year's day.

Some old weights and measures are still adhered to; milk is sold by the
pint, which is half a gallon.

The administration of justice in Gairloch is in the present day
conducted as in other parts of the country, by the sheriff and justices
of the peace; but until the time of Sir Hector Mackenzie, the eleventh
laird of Gairloch, they say justice was administered by the chief in a
rough and ready fashion. In the paddock below Flowerdale House,
immediately adjoining on the east the field in which the Tigh Dige
formerly stood, is a small round plantation on a circular plot of land,
which deserves its title--the island--as it is surrounded by a wet
ditch; it is shown on the six-inch ordnance map. It was formerly quite
an island, and was approached by a plank or small foot-bridge. Simon
Chisholm, the present forester and head-gardener at Flowerdale,
remembers when there were the large stumps of five forest trees on this
little island, one in the centre and the other four around it. In the
line of the hedge which divides this paddock from the field to the west
were several other large trees, some of the stumps of which remain to
this day. When a trial was to take place the laird of Gairloch stood at
the large tree in the centre of the "Island of justice," and one of the
principal clansmen at each of the other four trees. These four men acted
as jurymen or assessors, whilst the laird himself performed the
functions of judge. The accused person was placed at a large tree
immediately facing the island, and within forty yards of it, whilst the
accuser or pursuer and the witnesses stood at other trees. When the
accused was found guilty of a capital crime, the sentence of death was
executed at the place still called Cnoc a croiche, or "Gallows hill,"
about half a mile distant from the island of justice. The Gallows hill
is a small knowe close below the high road, on the south side of the
ridge called the Crasg, between the present Gairloch Free church and the
old Gairloch churchyard, and it overlooks the latter. A few stones still
shew that there used to be a wall which formed a small platform on which
the gallows stood; they say this wall was more complete within living
memory than it now is. The ravine or fissure immediately below the
platform provided an effectual "drop." When the body was cut down it
would fall to the sea-shore below, and perhaps at high tide into the sea
itself. The face of the sloping rock, immediately below the platform
where the gallows stood, looks almost as if it had been worn smooth by
the number of bodies of executed criminals dashed against it in their
fall. This old manner of trial is said to have continued until the
eighteenth century. But it must not be supposed that Sir Hector
Mackenzie, who regularly dispensed justice among his Gairloch people
from 1770 to 1826, adhered to the primitive form.

Folk-lore is little thought of now-a-days in Gairloch. Among the old men
who still love it, and from whom many of the traditions and stories
given in this book have been derived, are James Mackenzie of Kirkton,
Kenneth Fraser of Leac-nan-Saighead, Roderick Mackenzie of Lonmor
(Ruaridh-an-Torra), George Maclennan of Londubh, Alexander Maclennan of
Poolewe, John M'Lean of Strath, Kenneth and George Maclennan of Tollie
Croft, Donald Ross of Kenlochewe, and Simon Chisholm of Flowerdale. Some
of them can speak English fluently.



Chapter IV.


The progress of religion among the people of Gairloch cannot readily be
traced beyond the incumbency of the Rev. Daniel Mackintosh, minister of
the parish from 1773 to 1802. Superstition of the grossest kind usurped
the place of religion in ancient days. The Rev. James Smith, minister of
Gairloch from 1721 to 1732, appears to have been the first Presbyterian
clergyman who made a general impression on the people; in the time of Mr
Mackintosh they had become, as he tells us in the Old Statistical
Account (1792), sober, regular, industrious, and pious.

We have no records of the comparatively elaborate observances and ritual
which undoubtedly attended the ministrations of the Church in Gairloch,
with its fasts, festivals, and saints' days, before the Reformation.
Some of the natives long clung to Episcopalianism, but the bald
simplicity of Presbyterian worship was gradually adopted by the parish,
and is the only form now known, except indeed an occasional Episcopal
service for visitors at the Gairloch Hotel.

The present observances of the Presbyterian churches in the parish
appear to have undergone little or no modification since the
commencement of the nineteenth century, except by the secession of the
Free Church in 1843, and that did not alter the articles of faith or the
manner of worship.

As a rule the Sunday services are held at twelve o'clock, and are mostly
in Gaelic. A short English service follows at two, and in some cases
there is also a meeting at six.

Both the Established and Free churches hold to the doctrines laid down
in the Confession of Faith and the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster

The sacrament of baptism is generally administered at the close of a
Sunday service; the father is required to declare his adherence to the
doctrines of the Christian faith before the congregation; there are of
course no other sponsors.

The sacrament of the Lord's supper is "dispensed" at the Gairloch and
Aultbea Free churches twice a year, and these are great occasions in the
parish. There are three days of preparation before the Sacrament Sunday,
and one day of thanksgiving after it. The first day is called the
"Fast-day," and is observed as a Sunday.

Dr Mackenzie, who is an earnest Free Churchman, gives the following
graphic and interesting account of the church attendance and religious
observances in Gairloch prior to the "Disruption," in fact about 1820.
The mode he describes of holding the communion services in the Leabaidh
na Ba Bàine, or "Bed of the white cow," is nearly the same now as it was
in the days he writes of sixty or seventy years ago, with one exception
of importance, viz., that the sort of "Aunt Sally" game he mentions is
now quite unknown. He says:--

"Our people then thought nothing of a ten mile walk to and from church.
Many came by boat from the coast townships, and in fine weather the well
dressed and mutched people filling the boats scattered over the bay _en
route_ to the different townships gave things quite a regatta-like look,
that we shall never see again owing to the roads now everywhere. One of
our largest tenants took his son to church for the first time, a mite of
a man, who on being asked in the hand-shaking crowd after church, 'Well,
Johnnie, what saw you in church?' replied, 'I saw a man bawling bawling
in a box, and no man would let him oot.' Mr Russell made up for want of
matter in his sermons by needless vigour in his manner. The said Johnnie
is now risen to be a large wise landed proprietor in his old age in the
Western Islands.

"Between difficult access for helpers to our pastor at communion times,
and other causes, that ordinance used when I was young to be celebrated
only about every third year in our Elysium of the west. Perhaps
consequently the whole western world seemed to us to congregate to the
occasion, from all parts of the country, over roadless 'muirs and mosses
many O.' I doubt if the reasons [why they came] of the vast majority
would sound well at the confessional, or look well in religious print;
and it seems singular that only in the Scotch Presbyterian Church are
Christians ever invited to devote five days to the communion services,
while in every other church the Sabbath day alone is considered
sufficient for the ordinance. Many earnest Christians think, that while
on some particular and unlooked for occasion it may be right to hold
religious services on week days, as a rule Christians are expected to
work six days weekly, which they cannot do if they belong to the Scotch
Presbyterian Church. It would appear as if an idea prevailed, that it
required many clergymen to assemble at communion seasons, or else that
there could be no anxious inquirers about eternity, so many accept
invitations to attend; and probably on this account, instead of there
being only one communion table at which there can be no difficulty in
all meeting and partaking together, there are always (except in one
church where I helped to improve matters) many tables, each one
generally having its own clergyman in charge; the services being thus
greatly protracted, probably in hopes of this causing a 'revival,' as it
is termed.

"So in our west parish (Gairloch), with the communion only every third
year, the crowd that attended was probably nearer four than three
thousand, of whom perhaps two hundred might be communicants. Of the rest
who seemed so devoted to religion (though of course very many did not
pretend to such anxiety), the reply, when asked why they were not
communicants, would in almost every case be, 'They were not yet worthy.'
So they generally remain--refusing to obey their Saviour's dying
request--unworthy, till they die,--not yet sinless! I once received as a
reason for an excellent man's shrinking from the communion table, that
'his father and mother also shrank from it;' and this given by a man of
good education, the secretary to a bank! But till the Presbyterian
_clergy_ grow wiser, the same sad disobeying our Redeemer's dying
command will remain.

"But anent our western communion, every hole and corner within reach of
our church was cleared out where straw or heather or ferns could offer a
night's quarters to the crowd of communion visitors, for about a week;
and such a bad time as every living eatable animal had then preparing
for the visitors, who took 'neither scrip nor purse' with them on such
occasions, was wonderful; and such baking, boiling, roasting, and stores
of cold food, as made our kitchen a mere meat manufactory for the
sacrament week; and on the Sabbath there was such a spread of cold food
in the house, to which the clergymen, at a lull in their duty, and all
the upper crust of the parish, were invited to attend, as was quite a
marvel, involving such labour to every servant all day long as quite
rendered their attending church at this holy fair absurd to be thought

"Close beside our parish church was a most wonderful hollow (the
Leabaidh na Ba Bàine) in the sandy-soiled prairie. It was naturally
formed, beyond memory of man, and, as we knew well, by Fingal, for a bed
where his white cow was to calve. It had a complete coat of beautiful
inch-long benty grass, and a thousand spades could not have formed a
more perfectly egg-shaped cup, in the bottom of which was placed the
wooden preaching box, and in front of it long narrow tables and benches
for the communion. A few 'shuparior pershons' sent before them stools,
&c., on which to sit, see, and listen, but ninety-nine of the hundred of
us sat on the nicely sloping banks all around the 'bed,' till they
overflowed on to the level of the equally grassed ground outside. The
'bed' was estimated to hold two thousand persons seated, and perhaps
three thousand were often gathered in all to the services, packed tight
to one another, as was the popular fashion at these times. A more
orderly and seriously conducted congregation than that in Fingal's white
cow's bed I am sure has never been seen anywhere, or more polite young
men towards the women, who, often thirsty from the shadeless situation
and the crush, &c., I have often seen kindly supplied with a _shoefull_
of water from the well close to the burial ground! We often hear of
grand public rooms of bad quality for hearing the speaker, but the
faintest word from the bottom of Fingal's bed was heard as clearly as if
in a closet. And I should be very much surprised if any one who once
heard an old Gaelic psalm floating in the air, from the thousands of
worshippers in the 'bed,' could forget it in a hundred years. The finest
organ ever made was trash to that solemn sound.

"On the plea that so many people far from home might starve, a sort of
commissariat regiment used to attend on the shore of the bay with booths
for bread, cheese, and gingerbread, goodies, &c.; and I fear the report
that the feeders, rather than carry away uneaten stock at nights, used
to have, say, a loaf set on a stick for a shy at it with another from a
set distance for a small sum, hit or lose, that same is owre true a
tale, though of course it must have been the ungodly of the crowd who
attended that holy fair!

"Ah! dear, dear! Who could approve of such wild arrangements at a
communion season, compared with every clergyman having the communion in
his own church for his own people, monthly or quarterly or so, quietly
and solemnly, without a crowd of ministers and people from neighbouring
parishes to injure and confuse every solemn thought with the fuss and
bustle of a crowd. May God send us more wisdom than Scotland can at
present shew on these occasions!"

Every visitor to Gairloch should see and hear one of the out-door
communion services in the Leabaidh na Ba Bàine, if he have the

The Gairloch people are still a church-going race, though not so regular
to-day as even ten years ago. Nearly the whole population adheres to the
Free Church. Some characteristics of the Free Church services may be
noted. Children are generally conspicuous by their absence. The people
take no part whatever, except in the very primitive singing; and some
few appear to compose themselves deliberately to sleep. The Christian
festivals are entirely ignored; and the sermons, usually extempore, are
on some occasions bare statements of doctrine. The Free Church
organisation watches closely the religious conduct of the people. It is
said there is not a crofter's house in the parish of Gairloch where
family worship is not conducted every day; and the Sabbath is very
strictly observed.

There is an air of settled gloom on the faces of many of the
people,--intensified on the Sabbath day. It seems to partake of a
religious character. The ministers, catechists, and elders nearly all
oppose dancing, and every kind of music. Surely they are short-sighted!
A sort of fatalism is the most apparent result of the religion of the
natives of Gairloch. It has a depressing effect when illness comes.

If anything here stated is calculated to convey the idea that the
religious thought and religious observances of the Gairloch Highlanders
are unreal or perverted, let me correct it by adding, that as a rule
their piety is genuine and practical.



Chapter V.


It is an invidious task to criticise the general characters of one's
neighbours. "Charity thinketh no evil," but it cannot be blind to
obvious faults. Sentimental predilections ought not to be allowed to
warp the judgment, any more than prejudices based on first impressions
or partial knowledge should be permitted to mature into dogged dislike.
What a Scylla and Charybdis to steer through!

Highlanders have been over-praised by some, and unreasonably condemned
by others: the truth is, they are like other races; there is of course
an admixture of good and bad among them. But are the black sheep more
numerous than the white ones? So far as the parish of Gairloch is
concerned, I am of opinion, speaking from personal experience, that the
black sheep are in a decided minority. Taking the people as a whole,
they are unquestionably more disposed to honesty and morality than are
the bulk of our urban populations.

In the old clan days all Highlanders were remarkable for fidelity to
their chief and to their fellow-clansmen. Circumstances have abolished
these ties to a great extent, though some remnants of the clan feeling
still linger among the older people.

Courtesy and hospitality continue to be leading good qualities among all
ranks of Highlanders, and the Gairloch folk are no exception to the

That shrewd writer Sir George Steuart Mackenzie, after pointing out the
faults of indolence and carelessness, adds, "With all their defects the
people have numerous good qualities, which, under proper management and
judicious direction, might become the source of comfort and wealth to
themselves and to their superiors. In honesty and sobriety the people of
the west coast are far superior to their inland neighbours."

Sir Francis Mackenzie, in his "Hints," pays the following tribute to the
character of his Gairloch Highlanders:--"I can produce, I rejoice to
say, from my own people individuals, totally unlettered, who shall in
every amiable quality of which humanity can boast far outshine some of
the common specimens of our students, either at Oxford or at Edinburgh;
and this arises more from early training, and the good example of
attentive parents, than from the natural goodness or depravity of
dispositions. Long then may you retain your native honesty, your spirit
of generosity, and noble courtesy. Long may you remember that true
politeness is not servility; and may you never forget that rudeness is
not only degrading, but unchristian; and may you ever prove to
surrounding countries, that a spirit of courtesy naturally springs from
the freedom and independence which, as Highlanders, have ever been your

Love of country, or perhaps more accurately attachment to home, is a
salient feature in the character of the Highlander; it has always been
so, and there is no sign of any diminution of the sentiment. I have
received letters from absent Gairloch men speaking in the fondest terms
of affection of their homes, and avowing constant and loving
recollection of the wild surroundings amid which they were brought up.
Is this to be wondered at? To the dweller in Gairloch the hill pasture,
the rocky shore, the rough peat moss, the mountain path, the expanse of
the sea loch, with the background of lordly summits, are all his own;
others may have proprietary rights, the real enjoyment is his. Pining
home-sickness is the immediate result of emigration, and it is often
long before the practical business of life overcomes it. No blame
attaches to this natural and irresistible passion for home; on the other
hand, it is evidence of a valuable depth of character and an ennobling
simplicity of heart; it is in fact the sentiment which is the basis of
all true patriotism.

A less admirable characteristic of the Gairloch people is their
cautious, "canny" disposition; it is, however, by no means confined to
them. Modern curtailment of their privileges, the advent of tourists and
other strangers, and a constant need for strict economy, have tended to
the growth of this trait. It is evinced in a strong disinclination to
reveal their views and intentions, and a grasping keenness in driving
bargains. Here is an example from my personal experience:--A crofter had
made known his desire to sell a heifer; a gentleman, wanting to purchase
one, came some distance to see the animal; the crofter at first denied
flatly that he had anything to sell; on the gentleman turning to leave,
he said he would shew him a heifer; at length he named an exorbitant
price; then finding the possible customer was a judge of cattle, he
reduced the figure but still held out for too high a sum; no bargain was
concluded that day.

Captain Burt, in his racy "Letters" (about 1730), charges Highlanders
with a want of cleanliness. A similar charge, supported by evidence of
the same nasty kind, is even in the present day made against some
Highlanders. Here in Gairloch the charge is not generally applicable;
nay, it may truly be said that the people are in their persons even more
cleanly than their neighbours in our large centres of population. True
the odour of stale peat "reek," and the stains it leaves on articles of
dress, sometimes convey an impression of dirtiness, but there is no real
filth in this, and the presence of parasites is now-a-days very rare.
Let the visitor enter one of the public schools of the parish and see
the clean neatly-dressed children, and the charge will at once be
disposed of.

In former days, and even to the beginning of the nineteenth century, the
morals of the people were far from perfect; this is shown by the minutes
of the presbytery. Happily, whether from fear of the kirk-session, or
from the general improvement of recent times, offences against morals
are to-day less common in Gairloch than in some parts of the lowlands.

It is singular that among Highlanders, at least in Gairloch, there is a
total absence of anything like jealousy between married people; this
fact by itself speaks volumes.

The principal fault of the Gairloch and other Highlanders has been
variously designated indolence, lethargy, carelessness, sloth, idleness,
and laziness,--all meaning much the same thing. It is often said "time
is no object on the west coast," and so it would appear; nearly all
meetings (except Sunday services) are from half-an-hour to an hour later
in commencing than the time named; an eternal current of talk, talk,
talk, accompanies every transaction, and not seldom interrupts or delays
the most pressing work. It is only the male sex who are chargeable with
this indolence, and amongst them it is fast giving way to greater
activity; sometimes it is due to a love of dram-drinking, for which it
forms an excuse; indeed it is often rightly laid at the door of whisky.
All writers on the Highlands have remarked upon it, and some quotations
will be given in connection with agriculture which will illustrate it.
More continuous occupation is the remedy required. It is remarkable that
the Highlander never displays indolence when he emigrates, and it is
principally in his agricultural attempts that it is manifested. There is
every reason to believe that it is gradually disappearing.

The Gairloch population cling with marvellous tenacity to old ways of
doing things, and thus general improvement is slow. On the whole they
are a worthy religious people. "Man made the town: God made the
country," is a saying that means more than the literal meaning of the
words conveys. In the pure air and unpolluted water of the Highlands,
there is less that is akin to sin and moral impurity than in the filthy
crowded manufacturing town. The general sobriety, honesty, and piety of
these Gairloch people, seem to me to outweigh their shortcomings.

It is a pity that some of the younger people affect a certain contempt
for the old Highland characteristics, and seem determined to resemble
their lowland neighbours as closely as possible. The Highland dress has
for several generations been laid aside, and other distinctive ways and
peculiarities, some of them ennobling and good, have fallen into disuse.
Surely the people would best support their demand for a national
recognition of the peculiar position they claim, by maintaining the old
Highland _esprit_, rather than by disowning the nobler characteristics
that have so long distinguished the inhabitants of the "land of the
hills and the glens and the heroes."

In concluding this chapter I beg leave to propose what must prove a
beneficial stimulus to the people of Gairloch, if it were efficiently
carried out. It is the establishment of an annual prize meeting for
competitions in--

      Home-spun cloth, plaids, and carpets produced within the
      parish; Gairloch hose; Vegetables, fruit, and flowers grown
      by Gairloch people; Highland games and athletic sports; Pipe
      music by local pipers; Gaelic songs by Gairloch bards.

Perhaps boat races might be added to the list. Substantial prizes for
merit in these competitions would unquestionably tend to encourage
industry and develop excellence. If sufficient funds were forthcoming, a
competent committee could readily be got together to work out the
details. I earnestly invite the assistance of all who visit this
romantic country towards a proposal designed to promote the advancement
of its Highland inhabitants.



Chapter VI.


Distinctions between different races, which depend on varieties of
character, customs, or means of livelihood, require discriminating study
for their apprehension. But a different language and an unusual dress
are marks which present themselves to all observers--the one to the ear
and the other to the eye--even on the briefest scrutiny. The inhabitants
of Gairloch have still a language entirely different to that of the
lowland Scotch, and they used not long ago to wear a dress only known in
the Highlands.

To this day the Gaelic language is universal among the people of
Gairloch, and they cling to it with the utmost affection. In it are
embalmed all the traditions and stories of the days that are gone, and
the songs and poems of the bards both past and present.

Gaelic, which in the old books is called "Erse" or "Irish," has many
dialects. The language of the natives of the west coast of Ireland is
not materially different from that of the Scottish Highlanders. The
Gaelic of Gairloch is considered tolerably pure, though William Ross,
the Gairloch bard, who studied the subject closely, thought the Gaelic
of the Lews _par excellence_ the purest form of the language.

In the Old Statistical Account the Rev. Daniel Mackintosh stated that
Gaelic was in his time the prevailing language in Gairloch.

Sir George Steuart Mackenzie, in his "General Survey," expressed the
opinion that Gaelic was dying out; but the Rev. Donald M'Rae, minister
of Poolewe, in his paper on the parish of Gairloch in the New
Statistical Account, stated that the language then (1836) generally
spoken was the Gaelic, and added, "I am not aware that it has lost
ground within the last forty years." Mr M'Rae's remarks on the admixture
by young men of English or Scotch words with their Gaelic, and on the
purity in other respects of the language as spoken in Gairloch, will be
found in Appendix E.

The Gaelic language is as prevalent in Gairloch to-day as it was when Mr
M'Rae wrote his paper nearly fifty years ago, notwithstanding the near
approach of the railway (within five miles of the parish boundary), and
the greatly increased communication by steamers, which has taken place
during the interval. The religious services of the people are conducted
in Gaelic (though short English services are often added); there are
scarcely any houses where English is spoken round the table or by the
fire-side, though comparatively few are able to read Gaelic. At the same
time the knowledge of the English language is undoubtedly on the
increase, and the schools are taught in that language. Nevertheless even
children fresh from school seldom speak English when playing together.

Some ten years ago there was a great agitation for the restoration of
Gaelic teaching in the Highland schools, and the movement has recently
been revived, with the result that the Government are about to sanction
instruction in Gaelic as part of the curriculum, or at least as an
"extra subject." It was stated during the early stage of this agitation
that in many places Highland children learnt English only as a parrot
would, and did not understand its meaning. I took the trouble to see how
this was in Gairloch schools, and I can only say that the imputation did
not apply to the children I examined, for not only did many of them read
English remarkably well, but searching cross-examination proved that
they thoroughly understood the meaning of what they read.

There are still many of the older people who are unable to speak English
fluently, and some who do not understand it at all. The English spoken
by the young people as well as by most of the older natives who speak it
is a particularly pure form, untarnished by provincialism or Scottish
brogue. The smattering of Scotch occasionally to be met with is confined
to those who come in contact with persons from the Lowlands.
Occasionally a curious phrase occurs, the result of a literal
translation of some Gaelic expression. For instance, wondering whether a
grouse which flew behind a hill was the worse of a shot that had been
fired at it, I asked a stout young gillie, whose position enabled him to
see further round the hill, whether the bird had come down. He replied,
"When she went out of my sight she had no word of settling."

Gaelic literature has been well represented in Gairloch. John Mackenzie,
the author of the "Beauties of Gaelic Poetry," and many other works in
Gaelic (Part II., chap. xxii.), was a native of Gairloch; and Mr
Alexander Mackenzie, the editor of the _Celtic Magazine_, and the author
of many valuable works (some containing Gaelic pieces), is also a
Gairloch man. The Gaelic books especially pertaining to Gairloch are the
poems of William Ross, the Gairloch bard, edited by the late John
Mackenzie, and the poems of Duncan Mackenzie, the Kenlochewe bard,
edited by Mr Alexander Mackenzie.

There has been much diversity of opinion upon the question whether it
would not be better that the Gaelic language should be discouraged and
be assisted to die out. I believe some few of the Highlanders themselves
have adopted this unpatriotic view, but the contrary opinion, so ably
advocated by Professor Blackie, now appears to be gaining ground. It
seems quite possible that the Highlander may not only have a thorough
command of English, but may also retain his own expressive language with
its ennobling traditions. No doubt a knowledge of the language which is
the medium through which most of the business of the kingdom is
conducted has its importance; but surely the retention of their own
tongue by Highlanders must tend in great measure to foster a patriotic
feeling, which should lead them to do credit in their lives and conduct
to their native glens.

There is no separate record of the dress anciently worn by the natives
of Gairloch, but it was unquestionably the same as that of all the other
inhabitants of the Highlands of Scotland, viz., the Breacan an Fheilidh,
or belted or kilted plaid. In the _Celtic Magazine_, Vol. VIII., is a
treatise on the "Antiquity of the Kilt," by Mr J. G. Mackay. One curious
fact he mentions is, that the Norwegian king Magnus, in his expedition
to the Western Isles of Scotland in 1093, adopted the costume then in
use in the western lands, which no doubt included the parish of
Gairloch; so that we may if we please picture our prince of the Isle
Maree tragedy as wearing the Highland dress. From this notice of King
Magnus, and more particularly from the account given by John Taylor
(Part IV., chap. xx.) of the deer hunting at Braemar, we learn that the
Highlanders in old days expected all who came among them to adopt their
peculiar garb.

Sometimes the belted plaid was worn along with the "triubhais," or
"truis," or trews, a prolongation upwards of the tartan hose, fitting
tightly to the skin and fastened below the knees with buckles. These
trews were very different in appearance and make from the tartan
trousers worn by some Highland regiments in the present day. Oddly
enough the only representation extant of a Gairloch man of the old days,
viz., Donald Odhar, exhibits him in the tartan trews. This
representation is in the Mackenzie coat-of-arms on the Sabhal Geal at
Flowerdale. It was doubtless executed by a southern sculptor, long after
Donald Odhar lived and fought. But unquestionably the most usual--almost
universal--form of the Highland dress was the tartan plaid gathered into
pleats round the waist, where a belt kept it in position (thus forming
the kilt), the rest of the plaid being brought over the shoulder. The
name of the dress thus formed (Breacan an Fheilidh) means the plaid of
the kilt.

The present form of the Highland dress, in which the kilt--sometimes
called "philabeg"--is made up as a separate garment, has given rise to
much controversy. The strife is said to have originated in a letter in
the _Scots Magazine_ in 1798; it was stated that about 1728 one
Parkinson, an Englishman, who was superintendent of works in Lochaber,
finding his Highland labourers encumbered with their belted plaids,
taught them to separate the plaid from the kilt and sew the kilt in its
present form. Others say that the inventor of the kilt was Thomas
Rawlinson, of the Glengarry ironworks, who about the same date and for
the same reason introduced the supposed new dress.

Mr J. G. Mackay, in the treatise already referred to, proves
incontestably that the separate form of the kilt is very ancient, and
cannot have been the subject of a comparatively modern invention. The
truth seems to be that, whilst the belted plaid was most generally worn,
as requiring no tailoring, the separate kilt is of equal or greater
antiquity, and was at all times occasionally used on account of its
superior convenience, especially in those localities where the tailor's
art was practised. An incidental corroboration of Mr Mackay's view is to
be seen in a plan of Aberdeen, dated 1661, preserved in the municipal
buildings of that city. In a corner of the plan three figures are
represented, two of them in the lowland costume of the seventeenth
century, and the third, a young man, dressed in a kilt and short coat
without plaid, being exactly the form of the Highland dress as now
generally worn. The Highland figure was probably introduced to record
the then semi-Highland character of Aberdeen.

In order to repress the Highland _esprit_, an act (20th George II., cap.
51) was passed after the battle of Culloden, which rendered it illegal
for any man or boy after 1st August 1747 to wear the Highland dress. The
effect of this law was various. In some parts it was rigidly enforced,
and the kilt was generally abandoned, whilst those few who persisted in
wearing it were severely punished. In other places evasions of the act
were winked at by the authorities; men who procured the legal breeches
would hang them over their shoulders during journeys; others used the
artifice of sewing up the centre of the kilt between the legs; whilst
others again substituted for the tartan kilt a piece of blue, green, or
red cloth wrapped round the waist, and hanging down to the knees, but
not pleated.

In the Old Statistical Account (1792) there are many references to the
Highland dress and to the effect of the passing of this act. In the
account of the parish of Petty, Inverness-shire, we read, "The Highland
dress is still retained in a great measure. The plaid is almost totally
laid aside; but the small blue bonnet, the short coat, the tartan kilt
and hose, and the Highland brogue, are still the ordinary dress of the
men. The women in like manner retain the Highland dress of their sex,
but have adopted more of that of their low country neighbours than the

The Old Statistical Account tells us nothing of the dress of the
inhabitants of Gairloch; but in the notice given of the neighbouring
parish of Kincardine, in the same county, is the following:--"The act
1746, discharging the Highland dress, had the worst of consequences.
Prior to that period the Highland women were remarked for their skill
and success in spinning and dying wool, and clothing themselves and
their households, each according to her fancy, in tartans, fine,
beautiful, and durable. Deprived of the pleasure of seeing their
husbands, sons, and favourites in that elegant drapery, emulation died,
and they became contented with manufacturing their wool in the coarsest
and clumsiest manner, perhaps thinking that since they _must_ appear
like the neighbouring lowlanders, the less they shone in the ornaments
of the lowland dress they would be the more in character. Their
favourite employment thus failing them, rather than allow their girls to
be idle they made them take to the spinning of linen yarn, in which few
are yet so improved as to earn threepence per diem, and much, if not the
most of the small earnings of these spinners, is laid out upon flimsy
articles of dress; whilst that conscious pride, which formerly aspired
at distinction from merit and industry, is converted into the most
ridiculous and pernicious vanity."

The act forbidding the kilt was repealed in 1772. It had in many parts
done its work, and though its repeal was in some places hailed with joy
and celebrated by the bards, the Highland garb does not appear to have
generally regained its former position as the ordinary dress of the

In the early part of the nineteenth century, as James Mackenzie and
others inform me, the kilt was still the dress of many men in Gairloch,
who never put on the trews until old age came, and in some cases not
even then. As an instance, he says he remembers seeing Hugh M'Phail, a
Gairloch man then living at the head of Loch Broom, measuring out
herrings from his boat on a cold day in a hard winter, with four inches
of snow on the ground and thick ice. Hugh wore only his shirt and kilt;
he had put off his jacket for the work. He and his two brothers always
wore the kilt; they were all fine men, and two of them were elders of
the church of Loch Broom, under the Rev. Dr Ross. Other incidental
references to the Highland dress of Gairloch men will be found in James
Mackenzie's stories in Part II., chap. xxv.

Up to the present generation the kilt was still occasionally worn in
Gairloch, especially at festive gatherings. That it had become
infrequent, yet was not altogether abandoned, may be inferred from the
following advice given upon dress in his "Hints" by the late Sir Francis
Mackenzie, Bart.:--"The nature of this must depend upon your local
situation, since it is evident that what is fitted for our mountains
would be ill suited to the wants of the fisherman. As an inland labourer
or shepherd, the ancient costume of the country, the kilt, hose, plaid,
and bonnet, with a warm stout cloth short jacket, will be found the most
serviceable, since it admits of a pliancy in the limbs admirably adapted
either for labour or climbing our bare and heathery hills. No danger can
possibly arise from exposing the limbs to the wet and cold, whilst the
loins and back are protected by the thick folds of a kilt and plaid from
severity of weather. I may too, without being liable to the charge of
national vanity, say, that however much the dress of our ancestors has
been lately laid aside, it gives a manly and graceful appearance at all
times to the wearer. I have witnessed its attractions amongst the sons
and daughters of peace in every country of Europe, and it has marked our
bravery in battle wherever a plaid has appeared. It has the sanction of
antiquity in its favour; it is associated with the virtues and triumphs
of Roman citizens; and I should regret its being laid aside, because I
am decidedly of opinion that national dress is everywhere a strong
incentive to the wearer not to disgrace the region which he proudly
claims as the country of his birth."

The Highland dress is now only worn in Gairloch by a few gentlemen,
pipers, keepers, and some of the better-to-do schoolboys. Its
disappearance from among a people who cling so tenaciously to the
Highland tongue is passing strange. By some it has been attributed to
the inferior hardiness of the modern Highlander, a reason which is
perhaps suggested by the following remark in the "General Survey" of Sir
George Steuart Mackenzie (1810):--"The first indications of the
introduction of luxury appeared not many years ago, in the young men
relinquishing the philabeg and bonnet, which are now almost rarities."

The Gairloch company of rifle volunteers originally wore the kilt, but
about the year 1878, in common with the majority of the battalion to
which they are attached, they agreed to substitute Mackenzie tartan
trousers. The change was made partly on the ground of economy. After the
review of the Scottish volunteers at Edinburgh on 25th August 1881,
which was attended by the Ross-shire battalion, including the Gairloch
company, a general wish was expressed that the example of the volunteer
battalions of the adjoining counties should be followed, and the kilt
resumed. The Gairloch company unanimously petitioned their gallant
colonel to restore the kilt.

The ordinary dress of most Gairloch men is now the same as in the
lowlands, except that some of those engaged as shepherds, keepers, and
gillies wear knickerbockers, which display the hose; some men still
carry plaids and don the blue bonnet.

Gairloch is justly celebrated for its hose, which are knitted in immense
variety of pattern and colour, some being in imitation of old forms of
tartan. In the old days the hose worn with the Highland costume were cut
from the same web as the tartan of which other parts of the dress were
made, but now all hose are knitted. The "diced" patterns are relics of
the old tartans.

The Dowager Lady Mackenzie of Gairloch writes as follows regarding the
Gairloch hose:--"At my first visit to Gairloch, in 1837, I employed a
lady from Skye who was staying at Kerrysdale to instruct twelve young
women in knitting nice stockings with dice and other fancy patterns.
When I came to act as trustee, and to live constantly at Flowerdale, I
started the manufacture of the Gairloch stockings in earnest, having
spinners, dyers, and knitters, all taught and superintended during the
ten years I resided there; on my leaving and going abroad, Sir Kenneth
gave the concern into the hands of the head gamekeeper, Mr George Ross.
Now, dozens of pairs are brought by the women to the hotels and
steamers, and large quantities go to Inverness, Edinburgh, and London;
£100 worth has been sold in one shop."

[Illustration: A MUTCH.]

The dress of the women of Gairloch scarcely varies from that of the
country women in any other part of the kingdom. The principal
distinction is to be seen in the retention by some women of the mutch,
or mob-cap (_see illustration_), which they still wear, and make up with
considerable taste.

Maidens until the last few years never wore caps, bonnets, or other
headgear, only a ribbon or snood to keep the hair in place. Any other
headdress was considered a disgrace. Even yet a few girls go to church
without bonnets; and within the last dozen years this was almost
universal. Now, however, the majority of the young women try even to
surpass their sisters in towns in following the fashions of the day;
some girls appear on Sundays with almost a flower-garden on their heads.
The Rev. Donald M'Rae truly remarked, in his statement in the New
Statistical Account fifty years ago (and it is still true), that "when a
girl dresses in her best attire, her very habiliments, in some
instances, would be sufficient to purchase a better dwelling-house than
that from which she has just issued."

Dr Mackenzie writes on this point as follows:--"In my early days about
six or eight bonnets would be the number on Sunday in our west coast
(Gairloch) church in a five or six hundred congregation, and these only
worn by the wives of the upper-crust tenantry. The other wives wore
beautiful white 'mutches,' _i.e._ caps, the insides of which were made
up with broad pretty ribbons, which shewed themselves through the
outside muslin. Oh! what a descent from them to modern bonnets! The
unmarried women always had their hair dressed as if going to court, and
were quite a sight, charming to see, compared with their present
abominable hats and gumflowers. But when a visitor at Tigh Dige
(Flowerdale) expressed wonder how they contrived to have such beautiful
glossy heads of hair, set up as by a hairdresser, every Sunday, my
father would say, 'No thanks, the jades stealing the bark of my young
elms!' It seems a decoction of elm bark cleans and polishes hair
marvellously; which accounted for many a young elm of my father's
planting having a strip of bark, a foot long by say six inches wide,
removed from the least visible side of the tree, as an always welcome
present from a 'jade's' sweetheart on a Saturday. I don't believe they
ever used oil or grease on their shining heads. So universally were
mutches worn by all in the north of the working classes who were
married, that when we settled in Edinburgh in 1827, my widowed nurse was
drawn there by a well-doing son to keep house for him, and my mother
having given her a very quiet bonnet to prevent her being stared at in
Princes Street when wearing her mutch and visiting us, on her first
appearance in a bonnet the dear old soul declared she nearly dropped in
the street, for everybody was just staring at her for her pride in
wearing a bonnet as if she was a lady!"

[Illustration: CABAR LAR, OR TURF PARER.


Chapter VII.


The principal sources of livelihood of the Gairloch people are their
crofts and stock and their fisheries, both treated of in separate
chapters. Of course a number of men have regular engagements, as farm or
other servants and gamekeepers; whilst a few carry on trades, as
tailors, shoemakers, weavers, boatbuilders, thatchers, dykers, sawyers,
carpenters, and masons.

Some young men of the parish go south, and obtain situations either for
the winter season or all the year round, and they often contribute
towards home expenses.

The women of Gairloch, like all other Highland women, are noticeable for
their industry. It is they who carry home heavy creels of peats for the
household fire,--peats in the treatment of which they had taken an
active share the previous summer; they herd the cow, and manage the
house. But, more than all, it is the women who are mainly instrumental
in producing the only manufactures of the parish, and very excellent
manufactures too they are. They card and dye and spin the wool, they
knit the Gairloch hose, and they prepare the various coloured worsteds
which the weaver converts into tweeds of different patterns. Large
numbers of the stockings are sent to Inverness, Edinburgh, and London
(see last chapter). Some of the tweeds are worn in the parish, and some
are sold to strangers.

It will be remembered that the early Pictish inhabitants of Gairloch
dwelt in the brochs or round houses of what may almost be called the
pre-historic period. These were succeeded by turf-built huts, the roofs
of which, rudely framed with boughs, were covered with divots or turfs.
The last turf house in the parish is said to have been at Moss Bank,
Poolewe, and was occupied by an uncle of John Mackenzie (Iain Glas),
whose improved dwelling stands on the same site. There are, however, two
modern turf-built dwellings still to be seen at South Erradale. The turf
house was gradually replaced by the style of dwelling which now prevails
in the parish. The present cottages have their walls of stone, the
better ones cemented with lime; the roofs of timber, thatched with
heather, rushes, or straw; divots are also still frequently used in
roofing. Some few superior crofters' houses have slated roofs, and
modern grates with flues and regular chimneys. But many of the crofters
still have their byres under the same roof; still have no chimney in the
living room, whence the smoke from the peat fire escapes only by a hole
in the roof; and still have the heap of ashes, slops, manure, and refuse
just outside the door. Sir Francis Mackenzie, in his "Hints" (1838), has
some suggestive remarks on the subject of these dwellings. He
writes:--"I must at once protest against human beings and cattle
entering together in your present fashion at the same doorway.... I will
not raise a laugh at your expense by describing your present smoky dens,
and the hole in the roof with sometimes an old creel stuck on it in
imitation of a chimney. The smoke you now live in not only dirties and
destroys your clothes and furniture, but soon reduces the prettiest rosy
faces in the world to premature wrinkles and deformities.... Let there
be no apology for want of time for carrying away ashes, sweepings, or
dirty water, and adding them to your dunghill, instead of sweeping all
into a corner till you have more time, and emptying the dirty water at
your door because you are too lazy to go a few yards farther."

The houses of the crofters are certainly undergoing gradual improvement,
but the majority cling tenaciously to the type of dwelling their fathers
occupied before them. Perhaps the villages of Strath, Poolewe, and
Port-Henderson contain the most improved houses in the parish. Very few
of the crofters have gardens worthy of the name, so that, of course,
they lose the advantage of green vegetables and fresh fruits. Still more
rare is it to see trees planted about their dwellings, though pleasant
shade and shelter might thus be had, and though, it is understood,
saplings might be obtained for the asking from the proprietors.

As a natural consequence of the proximity of middens to dwelling-houses,
and other unhealthy arrangements, cases of fever occasionally occur. In
the Old Statistical Account, 1792 (Appendix C), the writer, speaking of
Gairloch, says that fevers were frequent, and an infectious putrid fever
early in the preceding winter had proved fatal to many. Pennant had
previously noticed how spring fever used to decimate the west coast.
Such outbreaks have happily become rare since the potato famine of 1847
led the people to depend more on imported meal for their sustenance in

Few of the crofters' houses are floored, so that the inmates stand on
the natural ground, or put their feet on a loose plank. In wet weather
the ground often becomes damp. From this and other local causes
pulmonary consumption is common among the crofter class. It is only
right to add that this fatal disease often appears among some of the
young people who go to work in southern towns, and come home to die.

Smallpox is said to have been fatal in Gairloch in the eighteenth
century, at the time when it ravaged the adjoining parish of Applecross.
The _soubriquet_ "breac" (_i.e._ pock-pitted), so often met with in the
history of Gairloch, is an evidence of the former frequency of this
epidemic. Thanks to vaccination, it is now almost unknown.

[Illustration: TOR-SGIAN, OR PEAT KNIFE.


The chief articles of diet of the crofter population are fish, either
fresh or cured, oatmeal, potatoes, and milk, with a little butcher meat
occasionally. Eggs are not much eaten, but are exported to Glasgow in
considerable quantities. None of the crofters keep pigs, which they
consider to be unclean beasts; it is singular they should entirely
neglect a source of food and profit so universal among their Irish
congeners. Captain Burt, in his day, noticed the absence of swine among
the mountains; he said, "those people have no offal wherewith to feed
them; and were they to give them other food, one single sow would devour
all the provisions of a family."

The principal intoxicating beverage in Gairloch is whisky. Very little
beer is consumed by the natives. Whisky became known in the Highlands
during the sixteenth century, and soon found its way to Gairloch; but it
is said that the mania for illicit distillation did not reach the parish
until the year 1800. The first whisky was distilled in Gairloch by the
grandfather of Alexander Cameron, the Tournaig bard, in Bruachaig, on
the way up to the heights of Kenlochewe. The mother of George Maclennan,
of Londubh, was at that time servant at the Kenlochewe inn, and long
afterwards told her son how the innkeeper bought the whisky and the
plant as well.

James Mackenzie says that it was in his father's house at Mellon
Charles, in the same year (1800), that the first Gairloch whisky was
made by a stranger, who had craved and obtained his father's
hospitality. Probably both accounts are correct, but it is impossible at
this distance of time to determine to whom the questionable honour of
having commenced the illicit distillation of whisky ought to be
assigned. The mania for smuggled whisky spread very rapidly throughout
the parish, and is not yet extinct. The larger islands of Loch Maree
were the scenes of illicit distillation in the early part of the
nineteenth century. They say a regular periodical market for the sale of
whisky made on the islands, used to be held at the large square stone on
the shore of Loch Maree between Ardlair and Rudha Cailleach, called
Clach a Mhail (_see illustration_).

Peats are the only fuel used by the crofter population; they are cut
from the peat-mosses by means of an instrument admirably adapted for the
purpose, called the "torasgian," or peat knife (_see illustration_).
Before the cutting is commenced, a spit of turf is removed from the
surface of the ground by another implement called the "cabar lar," or
turf-parer (_see illustration_). Each tenant has a portion of a
convenient peat-moss allotted to him. The peats are cut when the spring
work is over,--in April, May, or June,--if the weather permit. After
being cut the peats are reared on end to dry, and when thoroughly dried
are stacked for use. The stacks are ingeniously constructed, with the
outside peats sloping downwards, so as to throw off rain-water. Some
twenty years ago there was a season of such continuous wet weather that
the peats never dried, and the people were put to great straits to keep
themselves warm during the succeeding winter.



The peat creel (_see illustration_), called in Gaelic "cliabh moine," is
used for bringing home supplies of peat as needed. Creels are made by
the people of willow and birch twigs.

There are very few carts among the crofters, and they have no other

Dr Mackenzie gives the following account of the curious sledges which
were used in Gairloch instead of wheeled carts in the beginning of the
nineteenth century:--"There being no need of wheels in a roadless
country, although we had a six-mile road to the big loch [Loch Maree]
and another six miles to its exit at the sea [at Poolewe], we had only
sledges (in place of wheeled carts), all made by our farm-bailiff or
grieve. He took two birch trees of the most suitable bends, and of them
made the two shafts, with ironwork to suit the harness of back belts and
collar-straps. The ends of the shafts were sliced away with an adze at
the proper angle to slide easily and smoothly on the ground. Two planks,
one behind the horse and the other about a foot from the shaft-ends,
were securely nailed to the shaft, and bored with many augur-holes to
receive many four-feet long hazel rungs to form front and back of the
cart to keep in the goods, a similar plank atop of the rungs, making the
front and rear of the cart surprisingly stiff and upright. The floor was
made of planks, and these sledge-carts did all that was needed in moving
crop of most kinds. I think moveable boxes, planted on the sledge-floor
between the front and rear hazel rod palings, served to carry up fish
from the shore, lime, and manure, &c. And it was long ere my father [Sir
Hector Mackenzie of Gairloch] paid a penny a year to a cartwright."



Chapter VIII.


In the time of the Roman occupation of Great Britain the Highlands were
almost destitute of agriculture. That some corn was grown is manifest,
from the ancient querns or hand-mills found everywhere. The possessions
of the Highlanders then principally consisted of herds of cattle.
Tradition says that cheese and butter supplied the place of bread and
butter, and that a sort of pudding was made of blood taken from living
cattle and mixed with a little meal. These, with meat and milk, formed
the diet of the people. When the Highlands became more settled,
agriculture increased, more corn was grown, and oatmeal, in some form or
other, became a leading article of food.

The cattle of the Highlanders were mostly of the small black kind.
Now-a-days there is a mixture of other breeds amongst the crofters'
stock, and since the introduction of the black-faced sheep the cattle
have become less numerous. The practice of drawing blood from living
cattle was universal in the Highlands, even in 1730, when Captain Burt
wrote his "Letters," and Pennant noticed the same usage in 1772. In
Gairloch the practice continued to the beginning of the nineteenth
century, if we may trust the evidence of the old inhabitants. At the
east end of "the glen" (the narrow pass about half way between Gairloch
and Poolewe), there is a flat moss called to this day Blar na Fala, or
"the bog of the blood," because this was a usual place for the
inhabitants to assemble their cattle and take blood from them. At
Tournaig also a place is still pointed out where the natives used to
bleed the cattle landed here from the Lews. This barbarous mode of
obtaining blood as an article of food, affords striking evidence of the
miserable poverty of the old days.

There was a pernicious practice much in vogue amongst the small farmers
here up to the beginning of the nineteenth century; they let their cows
for the season to a person called a "bowman," who engaged to produce for
every two cows, one calf, two stones of butter weighing 24 lbs. English,
and four stones of cheese. The calf was generally starved, and during
winter the cattle got food sufficient only to keep them alive.

Before the great sheep-farms were established, the Gairloch people
always took their black cattle to the shielings on the hills to feed on
the upland pastures. It was generally the younger people who accompanied
the cattle; they went up to the shielings when the spring work of the
crofts was finished, about the end of May, and remained to the end of
August, when they brought the cattle home again. There is an air of
romance about the life at the shielings. Miss Harriet Martineau, in her
"Feats of the Fiord," draws a charming picture of the similar life in
Norway. But in Gairloch it cannot have been very desirable; the shieling
bothies, of which many remains are left, were indeed miserable
dwellings. Dr Mackenzie says:--"Well do I remember the dreadful shieling
bothies, and I can hardly yet believe that heaps of strong healthy
people actually lived and throve in them."

Sir George Steuart Mackenzie, writing in 1810, tells us that the present
system of sheep-farming was introduced into Ross-shire by Sir John
Lockhart Ross of Balnagown about 1775. Many evictions of smaller tenants
took place, and much resistance was aroused. The first sheep-farm in
Gairloch was started about 1810 at Letterewe, under the management of Mr
John M'Intyre, who was much praised by Sir G. S. Mackenzie for his
activity and good management, as well as his successful cultivation of
the land about his place of residence,--"in every department of
inclosing, draining, and management, he evinced judgment and knowledge
of the best principles of agriculture."

The commencement of sheep-farming in Gairloch does not seem to have been
accompanied by any noticeable friction. If one or two small townships
were abolished to make way for the sheep-farmer, the inhabitants had
other more desirable quarters provided for them. The population of
Gairloch steadily increased from the date when sheep-farming began.

Recently several sheep-farms have been forested for deer, _i.e._ the
sheep have been removed, and to-day the only large sheep-farm is that of
Bruachaig above Kenlochewe; but there is a considerable extent of ground
the pasturage of which is held by the crofters and by some smaller
farmers, all of whom, both crofters and farmers, possess a number of

Sheep, unlike cattle, cause a rapid deterioration in the quality of the
pasturage, so that the number of sheep any particular ground will
maintain in health is said to diminish annually, _i.e._ if it be stocked
to its full extent. In Gairloch it generally requires ten acres of hill
pasture to support one sheep.

It is certain there were sheep in Gairloch centuries before the
black-faced sheep were introduced. The original sheep were of small
size, and had pink noses and brownish faces; their coat varied in
colour; they were kept in houses at night for protection from wolves,
and later on from foxes. This original native breed of sheep is now
unknown in Gairloch; some of them are still to be seen in St Kilda. The
late laird of Dundonell gave me a description of the St Kilda sheep,
which exactly agreed with my own observations. He said they were "of
every size, shape, and colour, from a hare to a jackass." In the present
day the sheep in Gairloch are of the black-faced and cheviot breeds
(with some crosses), probably in almost equal proportions.

There are twenty-seven farms entered in the County Valuation Roll as at
present existing in Gairloch. There are sheep on all of them except one,
viz., that attached to the Kenlochewe Hotel, which is a purely dairy
farm; all of them have some arable land; several are club farms.

Most of the arable land, however, is cultivated by the crofters.
Strictly speaking the present system of crofts in Gairloch dates back
only to 1845. Prior to that time the "run-rig" system of cultivation
prevailed throughout Gairloch. The small tenants, instead of having
crofts as now, held the arable land in common; in many cases an oversman
was responsible to the proprietor for the whole rent. The arable land
was divided into "rigs," and these were cultivated by the tenantry in
rotation, sometimes decided by lot. In Appendix XCIX. to the Report
(1885) of the Royal Commission on the Crofters and Cottars, is an
interesting description of three varieties of "run-rig," communicated by
Mr Alexander Carmichael.

The new system of crofts was established in Gairloch in 1845 and 1846.
The Dowager Lady Mackenzie of Gairloch writes:--"Each tenant had a lot
or croft of about four acres assigned to him; houses (of which there had
before been usually five or six together) were now placed separately on
the new lots; and fevers and epidemics, which formerly had spread so
fast, ceased to do so. Money was borrowed from government, and a great
deal of draining and trenching was done. The surveying, measuring,
planning, and mapping near five hundred crofters' lots was very
expensive to the proprietor, Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, and the trouble of
having this change effected was very great; but it has proved of great
benefit to the crofters themselves." There are still several small
townships where the houses remain in close juxtaposition as under the
old run-rig system. "First Coast" and "Second Coast," on the late Mr
Bankes's estate, are examples.

The crops raised by the crofters are almost exclusively oats and
potatoes; a little barley and some turnips are also grown. Besides their
arable land the crofters have the right of grazing cattle and sheep on
specified areas of moorland, or "hill" as it is called. The average
stock of each crofter in Gairloch is two or three cows, one stirk, and
five to ten sheep; a few horses or ponies are also kept. There are now
four hundred and forty-two crofters on the Gairloch estate of Sir
Kenneth Mackenzie, who pay an average rent, including common pasture, of
£3 15s 5d, and have on an average three and a quarter acres of arable
land. On the estates of the late Mr Bankes there are one hundred and one
crofters, paying an average rent of £5 2s 2d for four and a quarter
acres of arable land and the hill pasture. Of course each crofter has a
dwelling-house, besides byre and barn, mostly very humble structures.
The average number of persons residing on each croft is five. The
crofters live in communities called townships, and the "hill" is
occupied in common by each township; a herd boy is usually employed by
the township to herd the cattle and sheep.

Few of the crofters have ploughs; they work their crofts by means of the
"cas-chrom" (_see illustration_). A southerner might well be pardoned
for disbelieving that such a primitive and ancient instrument should
still exist and be used in Great Britain; nevertheless hundreds of
cas-chroms may be seen in use within the parish of Gairloch every April
and May. The cas-chrom is generally, but not universally, condemned; no
doubt it is a slow process to turn over a plot with this simple and
ungainly-looking implement, but some argue that if properly used it is
effective in getting at the sub-soil.

The following extracts from Sir G. S. Mackenzie's "General Survey," and
Sir Francis Mackenzie's "Hints," bear on our present subject:--

Sir G. S. Mackenzie says:--"There are no sources of information from
which a precise knowledge of the state of agriculture in the northern
counties, previous to the rebellion in 1745, can be derived; but from
what it has been since that time, it may safely be concluded that
agricultural knowledge was neither sought for nor desired. The mode of
management which has been practised in this county (Ross-shire) and in
other parts of the Highlands, and which has been handed down from father
to son for many generations, is still to be found in the midst of the
most improved districts. We still see the arable land divided into small
crofts, and many of the hills occupied as commons. On the west coast
particularly, the ground is seen covered with heaps of stones, and large
quantities are collected on the divisions between the fields, so that a
considerable portion of the land capable of cultivation is thus rendered
useless by the indulgence of the most unpardonable sloth. The management
of the native farmers is most destructive. The soil of one field is dug
away to be laid upon another; and crop succeeds crop until the land
refuses to yield anything. It is then allowed to rest for a season, and
the weeds get time to multiply. Such, we must suppose, was the system of
farming before the rebellion; we cannot imagine it to have been worse."

Coming to the nineteenth century, Sir G. S. Mackenzie writes as follows
of the parish of Gairloch:--"The business of farming is but ill
understood; and it certainly is surprising that proprietors, and the
holders of long leases though of old date, should have their land in
very bad order, and stock of a quality inferior to that which their
ancestors possessed fifty years ago. There are a few exceptions no
doubt; but the attachment to ancient customs is nowhere more strongly
fixed than in this district. The time, however, has at length arrived
when the people must shortly change their habits, or quit the country.
The labour which is required for small farms occupies but a small
portion of the time of the tenants; but they are so perversely indolent
and careless that, while they see people from Inverness and Argyleshire,
who in their own counties pay much higher rents, employed in fishing,
making kelp, &c., and receiving high wages, none of them can be engaged
for such labour. This is the case in general; and although, from my
connection with this part of the country, I may have remarked the habits
of the people more particularly than elsewhere, yet, from the various
testimonies I have received, I can safely assert that the censure of
indolence is not applicable to the inhabitants of this district only."

In another part of his "Survey" Sir George gives the following account
of the Highland husbandman of his day:--"Though a singular one, it is a
fact, that every one of the Highlanders, except those who have some
connection with the soil, is active and enterprising. If he cannot find
employment at home, he travels hundreds of miles to seek it. There are
not more handy labourers in the world than Highlanders at piece-work.
They are not in general neat-handed, but they very soon acquire
expertness in any kind of work they engage in. But look attentively to
the proceedings of a Highland farmer, and a very different description
will be found necessary for his habits. Until he gets his seed sown, he
is as active as a man can be. When that business is over, he goes to
sleep, until roused by the recollection that he must have some means of
keeping himself warm during winter. He then spends a few days in the
peat moss, where the women and children are the chief operators. He cuts
the peats, and leaves them to be dried and piled up by his family.
Whenever the peats have been brought home, another interval presents
itself for repose until the corn is ripe. During the winter, unless a
good opportunity for smuggling occurs, a Highland farmer has nothing to
do but to keep himself warm. He never thinks of labouring his fields
during mild weather, or of collecting manure during frost; nothing
rouses him but the genial warmth of spring. I cannot reckon how often I
have seen Highland farmers basking in the sun on a fine summer day, in
all the comforts of idleness. I have asked them, when I found them in
such a situation, why they were not busy hoeing their potatoes. "O! the
women and bairns do that," was the answer. I would then ask why they did
not remove the heaps of stones which I saw on their fields, or conduct
away the water which rested on them. They would answer, that they did
not know where to put them; or, that they did no harm; or, that they had
been there so long that it was not worth while to stir them; and that
water gave sap to the land; with many other answers equally absurd, and
dictated by nothing but what must be considered constitutional sloth.
During his leisure hours a Highland farmer will do nothing for himself;
but hire him to work, and he will become as brisk as a bee. He will
never go to seek work; it must be brought to him. There are many,
however, who will absolutely refuse to work at all."

The ensuing quotations from the "Hints" of Sir Francis Mackenzie,
published in 1838, shew that the Gairloch people had not progressed much
in the quarter of a century which had elapsed since Sir G. S. Mackenzie
had written. Sir Francis states, "that hardly one field in your parish
has ever had a mattock applied to it for the purpose of giving a little
greater depth of soil, although you are constantly grumbling about its
poverty and thinness; nor, till within the last five years, has any
tenant in Gairloch ever trenched a single rood of land properly; whilst
even at this day there are not half-a-dozen who have performed this
Herculean task, which just occupies a good labourer in any other country
from eight to ten hours, even where this operation is most difficult."

Under the head of manures, Sir Francis writes:--"Though so much depends
both on the quantity and quality of your manure, nothing can be worse
than your present system. Your dung-hill is generally placed immediately
in front of your house door, raised like a mound, so that all the sap
and moisture flows away; while filth of every kind may be seen wasted
around, which, if thrown together, would materially enlarge and enrich
the heap. Instead of little daily attentions to increase the manure by
every means in your power, you delay everything till the spring, when
all is hurry and confusion, contending for sea-ware, and waiting for low
tides, at the very time when your dung should be ready on the spot and
your seed committed to the ground."

Referring to the "cas-chrom," Sir Francis remarks:--"The present mode of
scratching your soil with the cas-chrom ought totally to be abolished;
for though you may shovel over a greater surface with it than with the
spade, it does not go to such a depth in the soil as to loosen it
sufficiently and allow the roots of the various crops to seek for
nourishment. By turning the soil over to one side only, it raises the
ridges unequally; and whilst one half has a greater depth than
necessary, the other is robbed till it becomes almost unproductive. I
repeat, that your antique instrument is totally inadequate for
cultivating your lands properly; its very name, 'crooked foot,' implies
deformity; and it should only be retained as an object of curiosity for
posterity, since it is a relic of that barbarism which, I rejoice to
think, is fast vanishing."

Sir Francis strongly urges the advantage of industry, which he seems to
have considered to be the principal want of the people. Sir Francis
says:--"I had an admirable opportunity of illustrating this lately when
walking with a small tenant, who, with both hands in his pockets,
vehemently complained of the limited extent of his arable land, the
poverty of the unreclaimed part, the barrenness of his cattle; in short,
he found fault with everything. We were at that moment passing some land
which he himself and his forefathers once possessed, but which had
lately been given to a clergyman, who was anxious to set a moral as well
as a spiritual example to his flock, and who was rapidly and
successfully reclaiming the waste and improving the hitherto ill
cultivated lands. 'Donald,' I asked, 'look at the improvement your
parson is making on that land. Why not imitate his exertions?' 'Ah,' was
the reply, 'well may he do all that, since the _fine subject_ is sure to
repay him!' 'And why,' I said, 'did not you or your forefathers discover
this, and do something during the last century it was in their
possession,--all which time it remained a barren moor? Would it not have
repaid your father fifty years ago, or yourself last year, as well as it
promises to remunerate the minister this season?' Donald scratched his
head, but could not reply; he was for once convinced of his indolence,
though I fear it is hardly yet cured. I fear that Donald still prefers a
lounge on the banks of the Ewe, or a saunter in the direction of the inn
in hopes of the friendly offer of a dram, to taking up his spade and
opening a passage between his lazy beds for the water to escape, or
gathering only a few barrowfuls of gravel from his immediate
neighbourhood to throw upon his moss, or doing any little thing to make
his home neat, his house clean, and himself happy and comfortable. His
new farm is now what the glebe was under his reign and that of his
forefathers. Thus it is with those who are naturally indolent."

Sir Francis strongly recommends gardens. He says:--"Half a century ago
no more than two or three gardens, I believe, existed in your whole
parish, one of the most extensive in Britain; and even now, when
civilization has been making rapid strides elsewhere, the number of
spots where fruits are raised and flowers cultivated has not increased
to perhaps a dozen." There are still, as previously remarked, few
gardens attached to the crofters' dwellings in Gairloch, and vegetables,
other than potatoes, are but little grown. The potato is said not to
have become common in Gairloch until the end of the eighteenth century;
there is no account of its introduction into the parish. It is stated by
the old folk, that when first grown the tubers were hung in nets from
the rafters of the roofs to be kept dry, exactly as is often done with
onions. The potato disease was unknown in Gairloch until 1846. Now it
frequently appears, and causes great loss; but in some seasons there is
little of it, and years have been known when potatoes were pretty
largely exported.

[Illustration: ANTIQUITY NO. 10.



Chapter IX.


The majority of the men of Gairloch are fishermen. The two sea-lochs of
the parish, viz., the Gairloch and Loch Ewe, teem with the finny tribe,
which are largely taken by the people, and are either exported or afford
an important and healthful article of diet. The most considerable
fishery of Gairloch is the cod, saythe, and ling fishery, which will be
described further on. Besides the large number of cod, saythe, and ling
taken during the regular annual fishery, under the auspices of the firms
who have their depots at Badachro, a moderate quantity of these fish is
taken in Gairloch and Loch Ewe by other inhabitants. Good takes of
haddock are frequently obtained, but there is no organized haddock
fishery. Whiting, flounders, and sea-bream are also taken in Gairloch
waters. Haddock, whiting, flounders, &c., are captured by means of long
lines as well as hand lines. The haddock are particularly good. I have
known whiting taken up to two and a half pounds weight. Hand-line
fishing is treated of in Part IV., chap. xiv.

Herrings are taken in Gairloch and Loch Ewe; in some years considerable
numbers are cured at and exported from Badachro. Ordinary herring-nets
are employed.

Many of the able-bodied men of Gairloch take part in the herring
fisheries of the Long Island and of the east coast of Scotland. Some
have boats of their own; these are the joint property of several
fishermen, who divide the annual profits among them. Others hire
themselves out to assist east coast fishermen. The Long Island fishing
usually occupies the fishermen from 12th May to 20th June, and the east
coast fishing keeps them from home between the end of June and the
beginning of September. The produce of the fishings is uncertain, and
varies greatly from year to year. I understand that the Gairloch men who
go to the east coast herring fishings bring home on an average £18 to
£20 each; the amount is affected not only by the success or non-success
of the fishery, but by losses of nets and even of boats.

Lobsters and crabs are exported from Gairloch; but this fishery is not
so successful as formerly, owing to the decline in the number of
lobsters. It is prosecuted at several of the villages on the coasts of
Gairloch and Loch Ewe, and the produce is sent in boxes to the English

Oysters were formerly tolerably abundant on the scalps about the heads
of Gairloch and Loch Ewe, and up to 1875 were exported. At that time a
London firm leased some oyster-beds, which have however ceased to be

The cod fishery of Gairloch may almost be said to be historical. We can
at least find some account of it as far back as a century and a half

The historian of the Mackenzies records, that the tenants of Sir
Alexander Mackenzie, ninth laird of Gairloch (who ruled Gairloch from
his coming of age in 1721 to his death in 1766), "were bound to deliver
to him at current prices all the cod and ling caught by them, and in
some cases were bound to keep one or more boats, with a sufficient
number of men as sub-tenants, for the prosecution of the cod and ling
fishings. He kept his own curer, cured the fish, and sold it at 12s. 6d.
per cwt., delivered in June at Gairloch with credit until the following
Martinmas, to a Mr Dunbar, merchant, with whom he made a contract,
binding himself for several years to deliver at the price named all the
cod caught in Gairloch."

In Pennant's "Tour" (Appendix B) we have some interesting particulars
about the Gairloch cod fishery. He states the average annual capture as
varying from five to twenty-seven thousand; the price as 2¼d a piece,
and the minimum size as eighteen inches. The fish in his day (1772) were
sent to Bilboa, but he says the Spaniards rejected the ling.

The Rev. Daniel M'Intosh, in the Old Statistical Account, 1792 (Appendix
C), says, "Gairloch has been for many years famous for the cod fishing.
Sir Hector M'Kenzie of Gairloch, the present proprietor, sends to market
annually, upon an average, betwixt thirty and forty thousand cod,
exclusive of the number with which the country people serve themselves."

Sir George S. Mackenzie, in his "Survey," published in 1810, has the
following interesting account of the Gairloch cod fishery as it was
carried on in the time of Sir Hector M'Kenzie:--

"This fishery has, from time immemorial, been the most constant and
regularly productive of any on the coasts of Scotland. This is probably
owing to there being in this quarter the most considerable extent of
clean sandy ground, in the neighbourhood of the numerous banks in the
Minch, where the fish find the best bottom and shelter for spawning, and
abundance of food, consisting of small crabs, sand eels, star fish,
mussels, cockles, &c., which are always found in their stomachs.

"The fish are in full roe, and best condition, in January, when the
fishing usually begins; and they regularly become poorer till fully
spawned, which happens about the end of April, when the fishing ends.
The size of the fish is small, but they are rich. They weigh on an
average five pounds each, when cleaned for salting. They have usually
been sent pickled, and also dried, to Ireland, Liverpool, and London,
and were formerly sent dried to Spain. The natives of the neighbouring
shores are in general exclusively occupied in this fishing; but from the
difficulty of procuring bait, only about twenty boats, each having about
four hundred hooks, are employed. The average annual produce of this
fishing, for fifteen years, has exceeded twenty thousand cod; but were
the fishermen to take but half the trouble some others do to procure
bait, they might certainly double the produce.

"Messrs J. Nicol & Young are the fishcurers. They are obliged to receive
the fish taken while they continue to be good. The fishermen are a class
of people inhabiting the shores on the bay of Gairloch, paying from £1
sterling to £2, 2s. of rent for land. They receive for each codfish,
measuring eighteen inches from the shoulder fins to the tail, 3¼d.; and
for every ling, measuring thirty inches as above, 5d. Sir Hector
Mackenzie, the proprietor, gives the fishermen a bounty of twenty
guineas, which is divided among the crews of the best-fished boats,
pointed out by a jury of the fishermen themselves. He gives wood for
boats and houses, and receives no other remuneration than ¼d. per fish.
But more than this, Sir Hector takes upon himself to make good to the
fishers the payment due to them from the fishcurers, and takes the risk
of not recovering it upon himself. By this he has lost many hundreds of
pounds. What an example this is. Here we see a proprietor, not only
encouraging industry by every ordinary means, but absolutely risking,
and losing, large sums of money, in the most laudable and noble
exertions to maintain and support a trade most valuable for the country
and the people engaged in it. Such conduct is beyond all praise."

The cod fishing was carried on until quite recently (about 1877) by
means of long lines with baited hooks, the bait being mostly mussels.
Since 1877 nets have to a great extent displaced the baited lines. The
lines were entirely made by the people themselves, of horse-hair and
hemp, until the early part of the present century. The hooks were also
home-made, for Gairloch used to be self-contained. The hooks were made
out of knitting needles, cut into proper lengths and then bent to the
right shape, to effect which one end was fixed in a door key. The point
was then sharpened on a stone, and the barb was raised by means of a
knife. Ruaridh Ceard, the blacksmith at Second Coast (he was a tinker),
used to make fish-hooks from backs of pocket-knives and odd bits of
steel. At that time everybody in Gairloch grew a small plot of hemp. The
women spun the flax with the distaff, and herring-nets and fishing-lines
were made from it. Fish-hooks and lines, as well as herring-nets, were
precious articles in those days.

It was about the year 1823 that a large ship put into Ullapool and was
there destroyed by fire. Among her cargo, which was partially saved,
were casks of hooks, and these were the first manufactured hooks known
in this district.

The Gairloch cod fishery is now carried on by two firms, who have
curing-houses or stations at Badachro, one on the Dry Island and the
other on Eilean (or Isle) Horisdale. The fishery seems to be more
productive now than even in the days of Sir Hector Mackenzie. It yields
an average of about forty thousand cod per annum. The year 1884 was
extraordinarily good. The number of cod cured and sent away fresh was
about eighty thousand, besides about forty-four thousand saythe. These
figures were about double the average. A few ling are also taken, but
they are the same price as cod, and are counted among them. In 1884
about a third part of the fish were dried; the remainder were sent fresh
to Glasgow and the English markets by steamer. The price paid to the
fishermen in 1884 was 11d. for each cod and 4d. for each saythe. The
number of boats employed was forty. Each boat had as a rule four men, so
that there were in all one hundred and sixty fishermen employed besides
about thirty workmen and ten women who worked at the stations. The cod
were larger than in Pennant's day.

The season of 1885 was not so productive, and the prices were lower,
viz., 7d. for each cod and 3d. for each saythe; a few boats had 8d. for
each cod. Some lines with baited hooks are still used instead of nets.
Mr John Mackenzie, the manager of the Dry Island station, who has
furnished much of this information about the fishery, is of opinion that
the lines are far better than nets, and he says this was proved in 1885.
Of course the use of the lines necessitates a certain loss of time in
collecting bait.

The only remaining fishery of Gairloch is the salmon fishery, noticed by
Pennant. This belongs to Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, Bart., under an old
charter from the crown, and is leased by Mr A. P. Hogarth of Aberdeen,
who sends a manager each spring to the principal station at Poolewe. The
fishing is conducted principally by means of bag-nets, and all the fish
are brought to Poolewe. In the early part of the season the salmon are
boiled and packed in vinegar in kegs, each keg containing about
thirty-two pounds weight of fish. In summer, when the salmon are most
plentiful, Mr Hogarth employs fast sailing smacks or cutters, which come
twice a week from Aberdeen to Poolewe and take away the fish packed in
ice. From Aberdeen they are sent to the London market as fresh salmon. A
few bull trout and sea trout are also taken. The station at Poolewe is
usually termed the "Boiler-house," and its obliging manager, Mr
Alexander Mutch, is always proud of displaying his beautiful salmon to
callers. For obvious reasons the number of fish taken each year is kept
secret. Mr Hogarth told me that the year 1883 was the best season he had
ever known except one, and that not only in Gairloch but in other parts
of Scotland, where he rents fishings. On the whole, however, the stock
of salmon is believed to be gradually diminishing.

[Illustration: ANTIQUITY NO. 11.



Chapter X.


It is impossible to fix the exact date when a post was established to
Gairloch; it was probably some time in the latter half of the eighteenth
century. In 1730 letters from Inverness to Edinburgh were carried by a
foot-post, as we learn from Captain Burt, so that it is not to be
wondered at that our remote parish of Gairloch did not have any post
until even a later period. Originally one post-"runner" was employed on
the service. He seems for a long time to have come regularly only when
the laird of Gairloch was in residence at Flowerdale in summer and
autumn. The post-runner came from Dingwall by Strath Braan and Glen
Dochartie to the head of Loch Maree, then along the east side of the
loch _viâ_ Letterewe to Poolewe, and thence, if necessary, forward to
Flowerdale. Sometimes, during the residence of the laird at Flowerdale,
the post-runner seems to have gone by the west side of Loch Maree to
Slatadale, and thence over the pass, by the falls of the Kerry, to
Flowerdale. During the winter months the post was suspended; even in
summer he originally came to Gairloch only once a week. When a second
runner was employed the post bags were brought twice a week. After the
construction of the present roads the mail came by horse and trap three
times a week, and in 1883 the Post Office authorities granted a daily
mail, _i.e._ every day except Sundays.

Dr Mackenzie, writing of the ten years commencing with 1808, describes
the Gairloch post as follows:--"Then the mail north of the Highland
metropolis (Inverness) went on horseback; and when we squatted on the
west coast (Gairloch) our nearest post-office was sixty miles away in
our county town (Dingwall), and our only letter-carrier was one of my
father's (Sir Hector's) attachés, little Duncan, a bit of kilted
india-rubber, who, with a sheepskin knapsack on his back to keep his
despatches dry (for Mackintosh waterproof had not been dreamed of then),
left the west on Monday, got the sixty miles done on Wednesday, and
returning on Thursday delivered up his mail to my father on the
Saturday, and was ready to trip off east next Monday; and so all the
five months of our western stay, doing his one hundred and twenty miles
every week! I never heard of his being a day off work in many a year.
And what a lot of news was extracted from him ere he got away to his
home on Saturday evening! When we retired to the east the natives left
behind us got their postal delivery the best way they could."

James Mackenzie states, that before 1820 there were two Gairloch
post-runners, viz., Donald Mackenzie, always called Donald Charles,
grandfather of the present John Mackenzie (Iain Glas) of Mossbank,
Poolewe, and Roderick M'Lennan of Kirkton, father of George M'Lennan of
Londubh, who is at present foreman to Mr O. H. Mackenzie. James
Mackenzie thinks that Dr Mackenzie is mistaken in giving the name Duncan
to the post-runner he mentions, and that it was Donald Charles (who was
the last single post-runner) that Dr Mackenzie knew in his youth. This
opinion agrees with the fact that Donald Charles always wore the kilt,
then falling into disuse among the common people of Gairloch. The kilt
seems, however, to have been generally in favour with the post-runners,
who doubtless found it suitable for their long walks; both Rorie
(Roderick M'Lennan) and William Cross (a subsequent post-runner,
descended from one of the ironworkers) always wore the kilt. Donald
Charles and Rorie alternately brought the post from Dingwall. They came
to Poolewe on Wednesdays and Saturdays, walking "through the rock,"
_i.e. viâ_ Letterewe, the Bull Rock, and the east side of Loch Maree.
When the laird was staying at Flowerdale the post-runners went there

Another post-runner--one M'Leay, from Poolewe--was found dead about a
mile from the inn at Achnasheen. In his hand were a piece of bread and a
bit of mutton, which his sister, who was a servant at the inn, had given
him just before he left. He was a young man. A brother of his was found
dead at the back of the park at Tournaig. He had been sent by Mr
Mackenzie of Lochend to Aultbea to fetch whisky. His face was "spoilt,"
and his mouth full of earth. His death was thought to be the work of a
spirit! A memorial cairn was thrown up on the spot where the body was
found, and is there to this day.

John Mackenzie, son of Donald Charles, was the last running post to
Gairloch. He was called Iain Mor am Post, and was a remarkably strong
and courageous Highlander. When the mail-car began to run he emigrated
to Australia.

There were no roads in Gairloch until the military road was made, which
took nearly the same course as the present county road; it can still be
traced in most places. It was part of the system of military roads
constructed under the supervision of General Wade in the first half of
the eighteenth century. It is usually called General Wade's road, though
it is possible he never saw it. In the beginning of the nineteenth
century this old road had become impassable by wheeled vehicles.

There was a bridge at Grudidh on General Wade's road; when the new road
was made there it was doubled in width. The bridge at Kenlochewe was
built in 1843; that near Flowerdale (widened about 1880) long before.
The bridge at Poolewe was built about 1844; that at Little Gruinard, on
the northern boundary of the parish, a little later.

The road from Gairloch to Poolewe was made by Sir Hector Mackenzie in
1825. It was set out by Duncan Mackenzie, the innkeeper at Poolewe, who
had been butler to Sir Hector.

The Dowager Lady Mackenzie of Gairloch, widow of the late Sir Francis
Mackenzie, has communicated the following statement with regard to other
roads in Gairloch:--"I came to reside permanently at Flowerdale in June
1844. For ten years from June 1843 I was trustee for the Gairloch
property with Mr Mackenzie of Ord. There was no road then between Rudha
'n Fhomhair, at the upper end of Loch Maree and Slatadale. The potato
disease commenced in August 1846, and this road was begun the following
spring. When the government steamers called in at Gairloch, inquiring as
to the distress and poverty caused by the potato disease, I did not
advocate the sending of supplies of meal, &c., but urged continually, in
speaking and by letters, both to the Destitution Committee and to the
Home Secretary (Sir George Grey), and to Lord John Russell, that money
might be granted to make the road from Rudha 'n Fhomhair to Slatadale,
and thus to open up the country, I, on my part, as trustee, guaranteeing
to support the people who could not work on the road. The Edinburgh
Destitution Committee was not willing to agree to my request without the
sanction of the government; and the government said, however much they
approved of my plan, and however desirous of assisting me they felt,
they could not grant the request of one individual, without incurring
the risk of many more applications; but after some delay and
consideration, they said they would send me Captain Webb of the
Engineers and a corporal and two privates (who had been employed in
Shetland) to line out the road and map it, ready for a contractor's
offer. This was done. Captain Webb was my guest at Flowerdale for six
weeks during the winter; and early in the following spring, the maps and
plans arrived from Woolwich, and the road was begun, my son (Mr O. H.
Mackenzie) cutting the first turf. Though mentioning my own name
throughout this transaction, I could not have done anything without the
indefatigable assistance of Captain (now Admiral) Russell Elliott of
Appleby Castle; he was at the head of the Destitution Committee, a sort
of generalissimo of the whole concern; also I was much indebted to Sir
Charles Trevelyan, at that time Secretary to the Home Secretary. By the
aid of such good and able friends, the Destitution Committee was induced
to advance in all two or three thousand pounds, the district road
trustees undertaking to advance equal to what was advanced on the Loch
Maree road; and money was afterwards received from the Destitution Fund
to carry on the road to Badachro, now the large fishing station, where
curers purchase the herring, cod, ling, &c., from the people. Lord John
Russell sent me £100 out of a fund he had from the receipts of a ball or
concert for the destitute Highlanders, and I had several large sums sent
me by strangers, besides some from my own relations. Money also was
granted from Edinburgh to assist in making the road from Poolewe to
Inverasdale. After I received money from the Destitution Committee
several other proprietors applied for assistance in the same way. Mr
Bankes of Letterewe, and Mr Hugh Mackenzie of Dundonnell, both received
grants on the same terms. The road from Poolewe to Aultbea was thus
made, and also I think the road from Dundonnell, by Feithean, to the
Ullapool road."

Mr Mackenzie, Dundonnell, took a leading part in obtaining Destitution
money for road-making. Nearly £2000 from that and similar sources was
spent on the Loch Maree road; it cost £3403, the balance being raised by
the district road trustees, who also gave £1000 towards the Aultbea
road, the Destitution Committee giving £370. That Committee also
assisted the making of the roads on the north and south sides of
Gairloch, and on the west side of Loch Ewe.

There is no account to be had of the making of the road from Poolewe to
Inveran, but it seems to have been formed some time before the road from
Gairloch to Poolewe was made.

Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie completed the road from Kernsary to Fionn Loch in
1875. The road connecting Kernsary with Inveran was made about 1870.



Chapter XI.


Isle Maree, or Innis, or Inch, or Eilean Maree, is, as it were, the eye
of Loch Maree. From either end of the loch it arrests the gaze of the
spectator, and seems almost to look him in the face. Though one of the
smallest of the islands, it is without doubt the most interesting. Not
only does the story of the unfortunate prince and princess (Part I.,
chap, ii.) centre in it, but so also do the quaint superstitions
connected with the wishing-tree, the little well resorted to for the
cure of insanity, and the now discontinued sacrifices of bulls.

Her most gracious Majesty Queen Victoria visited Isle Maree on the 16th
September 1877. It was the Sabbath day, and Her Majesty graciously read
a short sermon to her Gairloch gillies. She then fixed her offering in
the wishing-tree, a pleasantry which most visitors to the island repeat,
it being common report that a wish silently formed when any metal
article is attached to the tree will certainly be realized. It is said
that if any one removes an offering that has been fixed in the tree,
some misfortune, probably the taking fire of the house of the
desecrator, is sure to follow. The tree is now nearly dead. This modern
fancy of the wishing-tree is very different from its original
superstition, as will appear shortly.

It seems certain that St Maelrubha, who brought Christianity into the
district in the seventh century, permitted the Druidical sacrifices of
bulls to be continued, and endeavoured to give them a Christian aspect.
These sacrifices continued to as late a date as 1678. Latterly the
sacrifices appear to have been connected with the resort to the island
for the cure of insanity. Originally neither the legend of the prince
and princess (Part I., chap. ii.), nor the sacrifices of bulls, had any
connection with the cure of insanity. Later on versions of the
traditional legend were promulgated, in which either the prince or the
princess were made out to have become lunatic, evidently with the idea
of connecting the story in some way, however remote, with the cure of
insanity. The sacrifice of a bull became in the seventeenth century a
preliminary to the proceedings for the cure of a lunatic, although in
older days such a sacrifice had been entirely independent of anything of
the sort.

Probably the resort to the island for the miraculous cure of insanity,
although, as has been remarked, unconnected with the legend or the
sacrifices, dates back to the time of St Maelrubha. The practice was for
the party to row several times round the island, the attendants jerking
the lunatic thrice into the water; then they landed on the island, where
the patient knelt before the altar, was brought to the little well,
drank some of the holy water, and finally attached an offering to the
tree. This process was repeated every day for some weeks. In modern
times there is no altar, and the lunatic is brought only on one occasion
to the island.

The resort to Isle Maree for the cure of lunacy was continued until a
very recent date, though no longer prefaced by the sacrifice of a bull.
There was an instance in 1856, when a young woman was brought to the
island from Easter Ross; she was afterwards placed in the Inverness
Asylum. A prior case was reported in the _Inverness Courier_ of 4th
November 1852. I am assured on good authority that lunatics are still
taken to the island to be cured, but these expeditions are now kept
strictly secret.

Our next chapter will be devoted to a discussion of these superstitions,
mostly from the pen of Dr Arthur Mitchell, chairman of the Lunacy
Commission of Scotland. His full description of Isle Maree will give the
reader a good idea of the subject generally.

Her Majesty the Queen has herself written an excellent account of the
island in "More leaves from the Journal of a Life in the Highlands," to
which the reader is referred.

The following is Dr Mitchell's description, extracted from his valuable
paper "On various Superstitions in the north-west Highlands and Islands
of Scotland, especially in relation to Lunacy," printed in Vol. IV. of
the proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Dr Mitchell,
it will be seen, clears up in a most satisfactory manner the question of
the derivation of the name Maree:--

"Eilean Maree, or Innis Maree, is a small low island, with clean
gravelly shores, half-way down the loch, not more than a quarter of a
mile in its greatest diameter.

"On its highest part there is an enclosure, whose outline is an
irregular oval (ninety by one hundred and twenty feet). The wall, which
is not more than two feet high, is now covered with earth and moss.
Pennant, however, describes it as a 'stone dyke, with a regular narrow
entrance.' In the centre of this enclosure there are the remains of a
small chapel; but so complete is the ruin, that it is not possible to
determine the style of architecture. Round about the chapel are fifty or
sixty graves, generally covered by a flat undressed stone, with rude
blocks at the head and feet. Many of these graves are recent. One,
indeed, is quite fresh,--the burial having taken place but a week before
my visit. Several of the older ones are said to contain the bodies of
the Sasunnach artizans who, in the seventeenth century, worked at the
iron furnaces of Poolewe. With two exceptions there are no cuttings,
carvings, or inscriptions of any kind on any of the tombstones. These
two have distinct and well-formed incised crosses on them (_see
illustration_). The stones on which these occur have never been dressed
or even squared. They are flat, and lie beside each other, nearly end to
end, and about east and west.

"The celebrated well, whose waters are of such magic power, is near the
shore. We found it dry, and full of last year's leaves. It is a built
well, and the flat stone which serves for a cover we found lying on the

"Near it stands an oak tree, which is studded with nails. To each of
these was originally attached a piece of the clothing of some patient
who had visited the spot. There are hundreds of nails, and one has still
fastened to it a faded ribbon. Two bone buttons and two buckles we also
found nailed to the tree. Countless pennies and halfpennies are driven
edgeways into the wood,--over many the bark is closing, over many it has
already closed. All the trees about the well are covered with initials.
A rude M, with an anchor below it, tells of the seaman's noted credulity
and superstitious character. Two sets of initials with a date between,
and below a heart pierced by an arrow, probably record the visit of a
love-sick couple, seeking here a cure of their folly. The solitary
interview would probably counteract the working of the waters.

"The sacred holly grows everywhere on the island. We found it loaded
with fruit. The oak, the larch, the alder, the beech, the mountain-ash,
the sycamore, the willow, the prickly holly, the dog-rose, the juniper,
the honeysuckle, and the heather all abound, and form a most charming

After giving a version of the legend of the prince and princess, Dr
Mitchell proceeds to remark:--

"Since the same tale is told with many variations, it is probable that
something of this kind did really happen; but that the virtues of the
well have any connection with the story is improbable, as I shall
shortly show.

"Anderson, Fullarton, the new and old Statistical Accounts, as well as
the people of the place, derive the name from a dedication to St Mary.
This remarkable error is first clearly pointed out in the 'Origines
Parochiales,' though Pennant evidently had the right view when he speaks
of it as the favoured isle of the saint (St Maree), the patron of all
the coast from Applecross to Lochbroom, and tells us that he, the saint,
is held in high esteem, and that the oath of the country is by his name.

"It appears that Maelrubha came from Ireland to Scotland, and founded
the church of Aporcrossan in 673. After his death he became the patron
saint of the district. His name is variously known as Malrubius,
Malrube, Mulray, Murie, Mourie, and as the last corruption, Maree. That
the island and loch bear the name of this saint there can be no doubt.
Even the mode of pronouncing the word by the Gaelic-speaking population
shews that it is not derived from Mary; while Pennant's remark proves
that the mistake is not yet a century old. Names are monuments--pages of
history--inscribed stones; yet thus do we find them broken, blotted, and
defaced. Mourie died at Applecross, on the 21st April 722. There is some
doubt as to where he was buried, and I have nothing to make it probable
that it was in Inch Maree. It is certain, or all but certain, however,
that this _vir dei_ led a hermit's life, and wrought miracles there; and
that, like St Goderick, St Fillan, and a host of others, he continued to
do so after his death.

"Whether the saint, on his arrival in Scotland, found a pagan temple on
this little island, or whether he himself first consecrated the spot, is
a question of interest. Pennant says, 'I suspect the dike to have been
originally Druidical, and that the ancient superstition of paganism was
taken up by the saint as the readiest method of making a conquest over
the minds of the inhabitants.' This opinion I am inclined to adopt. The
people of the place speak often of the god Mourie, instead of St Mourie,
which may have resulted from his having supplanted the old god.
Tradition also points to it as a place of worship before the Christian
epoch; and the curious record I have obtained of the sacrifice of bulls
there, strongly confirms this belief, and furnishes fresh proof of the
liberal engrafting upon Christianity of all forms of paganism in the
early history of the Church."

Chapter XII.


The principal source of the knowledge we possess of the superstitious
sacrifices of bulls and attempted cures of insanity at Isle Maree, are
the minutes extracted from the records of the Presbytery of Dingwall,
which will be found in Appendix F.

Dr Mitchell has the following instructive remarks on these subjects in
his paper written in 1860:--

"Fuller wittily observes that, as careful mothers and nurses on
condition they can get their children to part with knives are contented
to let them play with rattles, so the early Christian teachers permitted
ignorant people to retain some of their former foolish customs, that
they might remove from them the most dangerous. Fuller is here writing
of protesting times; but if we go back to the first introduction of
Christianity into our country, we shall find that many pagan ceremonies
were connived at and engrafted on the new religion, which we now-a-days
should feel inclined rather to class with edged tools than rattles.
Instead of breaking the monuments of idolatry, our early teachers gave
them a Christian baptism, by cutting on them the symbols of their own
religion; and with the rites and ceremonies of paganism they dealt in
like manner.

"The places of Druidical worship, which Maelrubha found on his arrival
in Applecross, in all probability became afterwards places of Christian
worship; and such of them as were believed to possess special virtues
continued to enjoy their special reputation, with this difference,
however, that what the god, or demon, or _genius loci_ did before, the
saint took upon himself, tolerating as much of the old ceremony as the
elastic conscience of the age permitted. 'Une religion chargée de
beaucoup de pratiques,' says Montesquieu, 'attache plus à elle qu'une
autre, qui l'est moins;' and this principle was freely acted on,--the
more freely, perhaps, that the early Christian teachers came among a
people peculiarly given to ceremony, if we may trust the remark of
Pliny, 'The Britons are so stupendly superstitious in their ceremonies,
that they go even beyond the Persians.' I am inclined to think, with
Pennant and the writer in the old Statistical Account, that Inch Maree
was such a locality. The sacrifice of the bull, and the speaking of the
saint as 'the god,' made this probable, while the belief expressed by
some old writers that such was the fact, and existing oral traditions,
render it still more so.

"I have no earlier allusion to the well on this island than 1656. It was
then the resort of the lunatic, and, as I have said, it may possibly
have been so from the date of Mourie's arrival, or even before that
time. One shrine in Belgium is known to have had a special reputation of
this kind for more than twelve hundred years. I refer to that of St
Dympna in Gheel. Our own St Fillan's, too, has been resorted to for the
'blessed purpose of conferring health on the distressed' since the year
700. Further back still, Orpheus, who is said to have written the hymn
to Mercury, speaks of Mercury's grot, where remedy was to be had for
lunatics and lepers.

"The most interesting feature of these [presbytery] extracts, however,
is the finding so complete and formal a sacrificial ceremony commonly
practised in our country at so late a period as within two hundred years
of our own day. The people point to Inverasdale as the last place where
the sacrifice was offered. For the cure of the murrain in cattle, one of
the herd is still sacrificed for the good of the whole. This is done by
burying it alive. I am assured that within the last ten years such a
barbarism occurred in the county of Moray. It is, however, happily, and
beyond all doubt, very rare. The sacrifice of a cock, however, in the
same fashion, for the cure of epilepsy, is still not unfrequently
practised; but in neither of these cases is the sacrifice offered on the
shrine of a saint, or to a named god, though, of course, in both there
is the silent acknowledgment of some power thus to be propitiated.

"I only know one other recorded instance of the formal sacrifice of a
bull in Scotland, to a saint on his feast-day. A writer of the twelfth
century, Reginald of Durham, sometimes also called Reginald of
Coldingham, takes occasion, in his lively 'Book of the Miracles of St
Cuthbert,' to relate certain incidents which befell the famous St Aelred
of Rievaux in the year 1164, during a journey into Pictland,--that is
Galloway it would seem, or perhaps, more generally, the provinces of
Scotland lying to the south of the Forth and Clyde. The saintly abbot
happened to be at 'Cuthbrichtis Kirche,' or Kirkcudbright, as it is now
called, on the feast-day of its great patron. A bull, the marvel of the
parish for its strength and ferocity, was dragged to the church, bound
with cords, to be offered as an alms and oblation to St Cuthbert.

"It is curious to find, in the inaccessible districts both of the north
and south of Scotland, traces of a similar Christianised paganism.
Whether these ceremonies are remains of the vague Druidical, or of the
Helioarkite, or of the Mithraic worship, I am not able to say. As
regards the last, which was set up in opposition to Christianity, and
which used many of its ceremonies, it is known that the sacrifice of a
bull was one of its rites. The study of this form of worship has not yet
received from Scottish antiquaries the attention which it probably

"It would seem that to some saints the sacrifice of a bull was not
confined to the day of honour, but was a thing of frequent occurrence.
This appears from a letter on the superstitions of Caernarvonshire of
the sixteenth century, in which the writer tells us that he visited the
locality where bullocks were said to be offered to St Beyno, and that he
witnessed such an offering in 1589. This Beyno is described as 'the
saint of the parish of Clynnog, and the chiefest of all saints;' but we
are told that the people did not dare to cut down the trees that grew in
the saint's ground, 'lest Beyno should kill them, or do them some one
harm or another.' Though so saintly, therefore, as to be deemed the
chiefest of all saints, he was evidently not worshipped solely as a
beneficent being, and sacrifices were offered to avert his anger as well
as to secure his favour; thus bringing out his successorship as saint of
the place to the _demon loci_ of pure paganism. 'They called Barnabas,
Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius,' and _vice versâ_.

"In our own day, belief in the healing virtues of the well on Inch Maree
is general over all Ross-shire, but more especially over the western
district. The lunatic is taken there without consideration of consent.
As he nears the island, he is suddenly jerked out of the boat into the
loch; a rope having been made fast to him, by this he is drawn into the
boat again, to be a second, third, or fourth time unexpectedly thrown
overboard during the boat's course round the island. He is then landed,
made to drink of the waters, and an offering is attached to the tree.
Sometimes a second and third circumnavigation of the island is thought
necessary, with a repetition of the immersions, and of the visit to the

"The writer of the 'New Statistical Account,' in 1836, says that the
poor victim of this superstitious cruelty was towed round the island
after the boat by his tender-hearted friends. Macculloch, writing in
1824, says: 'Here also there was a sacred well, in which, as in St
Fillan's, lunatics were dipped, with the usual offerings of money; but
the well remains, and the practice has passed away.' He makes two
mistakes here. Lunatics are not, and cannot be, dipped into the well,
which is not larger than a bucket, and both practice and well still
exist. Pennant describes the ceremony in 1772, as having a greater show
of religion in the rites, and less barbarity in the form of immersion.
According to him, the patient was taken to the 'Sacred Island, made to
kneel before the altar, where his attendants left an offering in money;
he was then brought to the well, sipped some of the holy water, and a
second offering was made; that done, he was thrice dipped in the lake,
and the same operation was repeated every day for some weeks.'

"I could not learn that any form of words is at present in use, nor do
any of the writers referred to make mention of such a thing; nor does it
appear that the feast-day of the saint (25th August) is now regarded as
more favourable than any other.

"There is an unwillingness to tell a stranger of the particular cases in
which this superstitious practice had been tried, but several came to my
knowledge. About seven years ago a furious madman was brought to the
island from a neighbouring parish. A rope was passed round his waist,
and, with a couple of men at one end in advance and a couple at the
other behind, like a furious bull to the slaughter-house he was marched
to the loch side, and placed in a boat, which was pulled once round the
island, the patient being jerked into the water at intervals. He was
then landed, drank of the water, attached his offering to the tree, and,
as I was told, in a state of happy tranquillity went home. 'In matters
of superstition among the ignorant, one shadow of success prevails
against a hundred manifest contradictions.'

"The last case of which I heard came from a parish in the east of Ross,
and was less happy in its issue. It was that of a young woman, who is
now in one of our asylums. This happened about three years ago.

"Another case was reported in the _Inverness Courier_ of 4th November
1852, and is quoted at length by Dr Reeves, in his paper on Saint
Maelrubha, already referred to (see Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot., vol. iii., p.

"'Every superstition,' says Archbishop Whately, 'in order to be rightly
understood, should be read backward.' In this manner I have endeavoured
to treat that which is attached to the little-known Inch Maree. We have
seen it as it exists to-day, with its ceremonies of cruelty, barbarism,
and ignorance; we have seen it, differing little from its present form,
a century ago; we have seen it in 1656 and 1678, associated with an
abominable and heathenish sacrifice; we have connected it with the
saintly founder of the monastery of Applecross; and we have adduced some
reasons for believing that its real paternity goes back to strictly
pagan times."

In several notes to his paper Dr Mitchell, besides stating his
authorities, points out that St Ruffus and St Maelrubha appear to have
been regarded as identical, and that Inch Maree itself was in 1678
spoken of as the "Island of St Ruffus." Also, that an old man in the
district told him that the name of the island was originally
Eilean-Mo-Righ (the island of my king), or Eilean-a-Mhor-Righ (the
island of the great king), and that this king was long ago worshipped as
a god in the district. Dr Mitchell also mentions that, some fifteen or
twenty years before, a farmer from Letterewe is said to have brought a
mad dog to the well on the island. It drank of the waters, and was
cured; but the desecrating act is said to have driven virtue for a time
from the well. I have a detailed account of this last incident from
James Mackenzie of Kirkton, which differs from Dr Mitchell's
information. James Mackenzie says he well remembers that it was about
1830 that John Macmillan, who was the first shepherd the late Mr Bankes
had at Letterewe, and who was the son of Donald Macmillan who had been
shepherd at Letterewe when Macintyre was manager there, had a sheep-dog
that went mad. John took the dog to Isle Maree, and put him headlong in
the well; the dog died next day, and John Macmillan died a week after

Dr Mitchell, in a foot-note referring to the account of the sacrifice of
a bull in 1164 witnessed by St Aelred of Rievaux at Cuthbrichtis Kirche,
remarks that, "it is interesting to find that the clerks of the church,
the Scolofthes, who must have been the best informed and most learned,
opposed the ceremony, and attempted to throw it into ridicule by
proposing to bait the bull, probably an indication that opinion was then
beginning to change."

Dr Mitchell also remarks, in another foot-note, that "it would appear
probable, that as Romish paganism after a time began to acknowledge and
worship covertly and openly the divinities of the Druids, so
Christianity did not escape a similar pollution, but, after a time,
tolerated and even adopted not a few of the ceremonies and sacrifices of
that modified Druidism with which it had to deal. And since Druidism
existed in force to a later period in the north of Scotland than
elsewhere, it may be reasonably expected that we shall there find the
strongest and most enduring evidence of the infusion of paganism into

In connection with this interesting point, the following note respecting
the Kirkcudbright bull, which occurs at page 9 to the preface to vol.
ii. of "The Sculptured Stones of Scotland," published by the Spalding
Club, is instructive:--

"The memorable advice given by Pope Gregory to the Abbot Melitus
prescribes a course of action which we cannot doubt was adopted by the
early missionaries in dealing with the superstitions of the
heathens:--'Et quia boves solent in sacrificio dæmonum multos accidere,
debet eis etiam hac de re aliqua sollemnitas immutari; ut die
dedicationis vel natalitii sanctorum martyrum quorum illic reliquiæ
ponuntur, tabernacula sibi circa easdem ecclesias quæ ex fanis commutatæ
sunt de ramis arborum faciant, et religiosis conviviis sollemnitatem
celebrent; nec diabolo jam animalia immolent, sed ad laudem Dei in esu
suo animalia occidant, et donatori omnium de satietate sua gratias
referant; ut dum eis aliqua exterius gaudia reservantur, ad interiora
gaudia consentire facilius valeant. Nam duris mentibus simul omnia
abscidere impossibile esse non dubium est; quia et is qui summum locum
ascendere nititur, gradibus vel passibus non autem saltibus elevatur'
(Bede Hist. Ecc., 1, 30).

"It is probable that the permission to adopt for a time a heathen rite,
with the view of giving it a new character, was taken advantage of, by
acting on it after the cause of the concession was gone.

"Reginald, the monk of Durham, has preserved a notice of the offering of
a bull to St Cuthbert, at his church on the Solway, on the festival kept
on the day of the dedication of the church in the year 1164 (Libellus de
Admir B. Cuthbert virtut, page 185, Surtees Soc.)."

[Illustration: ANTIQUITY NO. 13.



Chapter XIII.


In the hill country of every land superstition and credulity are met
with. Here in Gairloch the supernatural is suggested on all sides. Weird
mountain forms often veiled in murky mists, frantic ocean waves
thundering in gloomy caverns, hoarse rumblings of rushing waters,
startling echoes from terrific precipices, curiously gnarled and twisted
trees, tangled jungles in green islands, black peat mosses, wild
moorlands, bubbling springs, dark caves, deep lochs, moaning winds,
lonely paths, long winter nights,--such are the surroundings of man in
this wild country. Can we wonder that the Gairloch Highlander has always
been superstitious and credulous?

Superstition is still rife here, but with the march of education it is
gradually decaying, and, partly from this cause, and partly from the
disinclination of the superstitious to tell strangers about their doings
and fancies, it is difficult to obtain descriptions of present
instances, so that the notices which follow will often relate to
circumstances of the past, though not indeed of the remote past. They
are all local cases.

Amongst the older superstitions of Gairloch were the sacrifices of bulls
at Isle Maree, the resort to the oracular stone with the hole, and the
rites for the care of insanity mentioned in the presbytery records
(Appendix F, section iv.), and more particularly described in the two
last chapters.

Some other notions of a superstitious kind are hinted at in other parts
of this book. In the old presbytery records there are notices of marches
round "monuments," charmings, libations, and midsummer or Beltane fires
in the neighbouring parishes, and no doubt there were similar practices
in Gairloch but most of these are forgotten now.

There was a superstitious belief, scarcely yet dead, that a draught of
the waters of Loch Maree was a certain cure for any disease,--a notion
akin to that which prompted the friends of the insane to take them to
Isle Maree. The modern advocates of hydropathy might have thought this
belief in Loch Maree water was far from being superstitious, had it not
been for the established fact that the water drinker used always to cast
his offering of small money into the loch at the time he imbibed its
waters. The Fox point was the usual--perhaps the only--place where the
Loch Maree water-cure was practised. They say that when the loch was
very low, coins used often to be found among the pebbles in the water
surrounding this point. I have been told that a man found five coins
here not many years ago, but I have been unable to get a sight of them.
In connection with this superstition it may be mentioned, that within
recent years invalids have had bottles of Loch Maree water sent to them,
with a firm belief in its curative qualities.

Local names are often evidences of superstition. In Gairloch we have
Cathair Mhor and Cathair Bheag,--names applied to several places,--and
the Sitheanan Dubha on Isle Ewe and on the North Point. There is Cathair
Mhor at the head of Loch Maree, and Cathair Beag (the Gaelic name of the
place) at Kerrysdale. These names mean respectively the big and little
seats of the fairies. There are no stories told now-a-days of these
fairy seats, but their names testify to the belief in fairies which was
universal not long ago.

The name Sitheanan Dubha signifies the black knowes or hillocks of the
fairies. It is applied to two places in Gairloch, viz., to the highest
hill tops at the north end of Isle Ewe, and to a low hill and small
round loch a full mile due north of Carn Dearg house; both are shown on
the six-inch ordnance map.

There is a tradition of a Gairloch woman having spent a year with the
fairies; a tale founded on this story is given in the _Celtic Magazine_,
vol. iv., page 15. About midsummer 1878 I went in an open boat from
Poolewe to the Shiant Isles, to observe the birds which breed in such
numbers there. It was after 11 P.M. when I landed on the largest island
of the group. About a mile distant was a shepherd's house, the only
human habitation in these islands. I thought of going to the shepherd's
to beg shelter for the night, but my servant, a Gairloch lad, dissuaded
me. On my pressing him for a reason, he told me there was a fairy in the
house, as he had been informed by a Gairloch fisherman, who had spent a
night there not long before. This fairy was said to be a mischievous
boy, "one of the family," who, when the rest were asleep, appeared in
the rafters of the roof and disturbed the sleepers by bouncing on them.
The night (it was but two hours' twilight) was so fine, and the way to
the shepherd's house looked so rough, that I decided to sleep in a plaid
on the beach, and so I missed the only opportunity that ever presented
itself to me of observing the peculiarities of a fairy imp.

Hugh Miller, in "My Schools and Schoolmasters," mentions that, when he
was voyaging down Loch Maree in 1823, the boatmen told his companion in
Gaelic, "Yon other island (Eilean Suainne) is famous as the place in
which the good people [fairies] meet every year to make submission to
their queen. There is a little loch in the island, and another little
island in the loch; and it is under a tree in that inner island that the
queen sits and gathers kain [tribute] for the evil one." "They tell me,"
said Hugh Miller's companion, "that for certain the fairies have not
left this part of the country yet."

It was as recently as 1883 that several boys got a great fright when
they actually saw (as they narrated) the fairies at the Sitheanan Dubha,
at the north end of Isle Ewe. The people at Mellon Charles, on the
mainland opposite that end of the island, still assert, with all the
earnestness of conviction, that they often see lights and hear music at
the Sitheanan Dubha of Isle Ewe, which they believe can only be
accounted for by the supposition that they proceed from the fairies. I
give these statements on the authority of Mr William Reid, J.P., the
lessee of Isle Ewe.

The township of Ormiscaig lies to the east of Mellon Charles, in the
heart of this fairy-haunted district. It was at Ormiscaig that William
Maclean, a celebrated performer on the bagpipes, was born and brought
up. As a boy he was employed in herding cattle on the hill. One evening
he returned home with a bagpipe chanter, on which (though he had not
previously tried the bagpipes) he could play to perfection. He said he
had received the chanter and the power to play it from the fairies. He
emigrated some years ago to America, and is now living at Chicago. He
has won many prizes for pipe music at competitions in America. His
nephews, the three young Macleans, now at Ormiscaig, are all excellent
pipers, and are included in the list of living pipers given further on.
Similar incidents are related in other parts of the north-west
Highlands, where pipers have attributed their talents to the powers
conferred upon them by fairies, and in every case a chanter was given
along with the faculty of performing on it.

The best known Gairloch fairy of modern times went by the name of the
Gille Dubh of Loch a Druing. His haunts were in the extensive woods that
still cluster round the southern end of that loch and extend far up the
side of the high ridge to the west of it. There are grassy glades, dense
thickets, and rocky fastnesses in these woods, that look just the places
for fairies. Loch a Druing is on the North Point, about two miles from
Rudha Reidh. The Gille Dubh was so named from the black colour of his
hair; his dress, if dress it can be called, was of leaves of trees and
green moss. He was seen by many people on many occasions during a period
of more than forty years in the latter half of the eighteenth century;
he was, in fact, well-known to the people, and was generally regarded as
a beneficent fairy. He never spoke to any one except to a little girl
named Jessie MacRae, whose home was at Loch a Druing. She was lost in
the woods one summer night; the Gille Dubh came to her, treated her with
great kindness, and took her safely home again next morning. When Jessie
grew up she became the wife of John Mackenzie, tenant of the Loch a
Druing farm, and grandfather of James Mackenzie of Kirkton. It was after
this that Sir Hector Mackenzie of Gairloch invited Sir George S.
Mackenzie of Coul, Mr Mackenzie of Dundonnell, Mr Mackenzie of
Letterewe, and Mr Mackenzie of Kernsary, to join him in an expedition to
repress the Gille Dubh. These five chieftains together repaired to Loch
a Druing, armed with guns, with which they hoped to shoot the
unoffending fairy. They wore of course their usual Highland dress, and
each had his dirk at his side. They were hospitably entertained by John
Mackenzie. An ample supper was served in the house; it included both
beef and mutton, and each of the chieftains used the knife and fork from
the sheath of his own dirk. Knives and forks were not common in Gairloch
in those days. They spent the night at Loch a Druing, and slept in John
Mackenzie's barn, where couches of heather were prepared for them. They
went through all the woods, but they saw nothing of the Gille Dubh.

There are a large number of notions or fancies common in Gairloch that
are plainly tinged with a superstitious character, such as that
unaccountable noises and moving lights predict a death; that trees and
shrubs planted when the moon is waning must die, whereas if the moon be
"growing" at the time of the removal they will live and thrive; that
there are several classes of undertakings that will succeed if commenced
when the moon is growing, but will be failures if it be waning; that a
walking-stick cut from the bird-cherry prevents the bearer of it being
lost in the mist; that whales attack new boats or boats newly tarred;
that the bite of a dog is rendered innocuous if the saliva (literally,
"water from the teeth") of the dog be immediately applied; that a pledge
to give something to a soft person or an idiot, will enable any one to
discover a lost article, or will bring good luck; and that if a stocking
be accidentally put on wrong side out it must not be altered, or bad
luck will follow. And surely the idea illustrated in some of the stories
in Part II., chap. xxv., and which is still current in Gairloch, that
Sabbath-breaking brings immediate retribution smacks strongly of

The existence of water-kelpies in Gairloch, if perhaps not universally
credited in the present generation, was accepted as undoubted in the
last. The story of the celebrated water-kelpie of the Greenstone Point
is very well known in Gairloch. The proceedings for the extermination of
this wonderful creature formed a welcome topic for _Punch_ of the
period. The creature is spoken of by the natives as the "Beast." He
lives, or did live, in the depths of a loch called after him Loch na
Beiste, or "the loch of the beast," which is about half way between
Udrigil House and the village of Mellon Udrigil. About 1840 Mr Bankes,
the then proprietor of the estate on which this loch is situated, was
pressed by his tenants to take measures to put an end to the Beast. At
first he was deaf to the entreaties of the people, but at length he was
prevailed upon to take action. Sandy M'Leod, an elder of the Free
Church, was returning to Mellon Udrigil from the Aultbea Church one
Sunday in company with two other persons, one of whom was a sister
(still living at Mellon Udrigil) of James Mackenzie, when they actually
saw the Beast itself. It resembled in appearance a good-sized boat with
the keel turned up. Kenneth Cameron, also an elder of the Free Church,
saw the same sight another day. A niece of Kenneth Cameron's (some time
housemaid at Inveran) told me she had often heard her mother speak of
having seen the Beast. It was the positive testimony of the two elders
that induced Mr Bankes to take measures for the destruction of the
Beast. The proceedings have been much exaggerated; James Mackenzie
states that the following is the correct version of them:--Mr Bankes had
a yacht or vessel named the _Iris_; James Mackenzie was a sailor in the
_Iris_, along with another sailor named Allan Mackenzie. For a long time
they and others worked a large pump with two horses with the object of
emptying the loch. The pump was placed on the burn which runs from the
loch into the not far distant sea; a cut or drain was formed to enable
the pump to be worked, and a number of pipes were provided for the
purpose of conducting the water away. The pipes are now lying in a house
or shed at Laide. James Mackenzie often attended the pump. He and others
were employed parts of two years in the attempt to empty the loch, or as
James Mackenzie puts it, "to ebb it up." It was after this that the
_Iris_ was sent to Broadford in Skye to procure lime. James Mackenzie
went with her. They brought from Broadford fourteen barrels of "raw
lime." They came with the lime to Udrigil, and it was taken up to the
"loch of the beast," and the small boat or dingy of the _Iris_ was also
taken up. The ground-officers would not go in the boat on the loch for
fear of the Beast, so Mr Bankes sent to the _Iris_ for James and Allan
Mackenzie, and they went in the boat over every part of the loch, which
had been reduced only by six or seven inches after all the labour that
had been spent on it. They plumbed the loch with the oars of the boat;
in no part did it exceed a fathom in depth, except in one hole, which at
the deepest was but two and a half fathoms. Into this hole they put the
fourteen barrels of lime. It is needless to state that the Beast was not
discovered, nor has he been further disturbed up to the present time.
The loch contained a few good trout above the average size when I fished
it in 1873. There are rumours that the Beast was seen in 1884 in or near
another loch on the Greenstone Point.

Here is a story of a mermaid; they say it is quite true:--Roderick
Mackenzie, the elderly and much respected boatbuilder at Port Henderson,
when a young man, went one day to a rocky part of the shore there.
Whilst gathering bait he suddenly spied a mermaid asleep among the
rocks. Rorie "went for" that mermaid, and succeeded in seizing her by
the hair. The poor creature, in great embarrassment, cried out that if
Rorie would let go she would grant him whatever boon he might ask. He
requested a pledge that no one should ever be drowned from any boat he
might build. On his releasing her, the mermaid promised that this should
be so. The promise has been kept throughout Rorie's long business
career; his boats still defy the stormy winds and waves. I am the happy
possessor of an admirable example of Rorie's craft. The most ingenious
framers of trade advertisements might well take a hint from this
veracious anecdote.



Chapter XIV.


The name of Rudha Chailleach, the long blue point jutting into Loch
Maree to the south of Ardlair, suggests the ancient belief in
witchcraft, but there are no stories of witches connected with it now
extant. Yet the belief in witchcraft is by no means dead in Gairloch,
and to the stranger the very appearance of some withered old women
almost proves them to be witches.

Jessie the cripple, an example of whose second-sight is given in the
next chapter, was a reputed witch; the story of her being ducked will be
found there.

Witchcraft and magic are still said to be exercised by a number of
people in Gairloch. Cases actually occurred in 1885 where persons were
charged with the practice of these arts in connection with poultry. It
seems better not to give details of them here, especially as it is said
the poor folk are yet under suspicion.

The following are examples of the use of the arts of witchcraft and
magic in Gairloch:--

There is a curious superstition that the substance, or staple or
"fruit," of milk can be taken away by witchcraft, or by the employment
of magical arts. In the records of the Presbytery of Lochcarron are
minutes relating to a case which occurred at Kenlochewe. On 23d November
1791 the presbytery had examined a candidate for the appointment of
catechist for the district of "Ceanlochew," and had been satisfied as to
his knowledge, but "in consequence of stories rather detrimental to his
private character," had arranged for an inquiry whether such stories had
any foundation. On 3d April 1792 a petition on the subject was laid
before the presbytery. One of the petitioners, Mr Murdo M'Kenzie, yr. of
Letterewe, declared, "that he thought he had heard the candidate use
such words as that he wished the devil had the soul of Mr Mackintosh,
the parish minister; that he was in the habit of taking back the
substance of milk by magical arts, for he himself (the declarant) and
his brother were present when the candidate had recourse to certain
herbs and an iron key, which were thrown into the declarant's milk in
order to restore the fruit of it. Roderick M'Lennan, smith at
Ceannlochew, stated that he knew the candidate from his infancy, * * *
that he was much addicted to swearing in common conversation, and that
he had heard him say that he had restored the substance of deponent's
milk by means of certain arts. The candidate being present, and
questioned, admitted that he did actually restore the substance of the
milk as stated by Mr M'Kenzie, yr. of Letterewe; all which being
considered by the presbytery, they deemed him totally disqualified for
the office of catechist, and declined to recommend him for such office
to the Committee of the Royal Bounty."

Our next example of this strange superstition belongs to a more recent
date. In the time of the late Sir Francis Mackenzie the parish
schoolmaster of Gairloch was one Kenneth Mackenzie, who was a notorious
master of witchcraft. He was always called the "maighstair sgoil." In
his youth he had been taught many magical arts, and people who had been
bewitched resorted to him from far and wide to obtain relief and advice.
He lived in the present schoolmaster's house at Achtercairn, and kept
several cows. On one occasion he himself was a sufferer from witchcraft.
The milk of his cows was destroyed; if they gave any at all it was
fruitless and useless. By his own skill in magic he discovered the woman
who had done him this mischief; she lived at or near Strath, and was
reputed to have some knowledge of witchcraft. This is how he punished
her. There is a little burn runs by the side of the road at Achtercairn,
just in front of the present police-station. One Sunday morning as the
people from Strath, including this woman, were going to church, she was
obliged, by the occult power of the maighstair sgoil, to remain behind;
and as soon as the others were out of sight she tucked up her dress
above her knees and fastened it so, then she commenced jumping violently
backwards and forwards across this little burn, unwillingly enough, as
we may well suppose, and she was compelled by the unseen maighstair
sgoil to continue the severe exercise until the people came out of
church. After the woman had suffered her well-merited punishment, the
fruit returned to the milk of the maighstair sgoil's cows. _Moral_:--You
should not meddle with one who possesses magical powers!

Here is a case of injury to milk which occurred within the last ten
years. For obvious reasons I suppress the names of the persons
concerned, who are all known to me and are now living. The erection of a
house was undertaken, and the builders took up their abode in a
temporary hut or barrack. Requiring milk to take with their porridge,
they applied to a neighbouring farmer, but he was unable at the time to
supply them. They fancied that the farmer withheld the milk from some
spite he had to them, and they told him he would suffer for it; one of
the builders is commonly believed to have some knowledge of witchcraft.
What next occurred is kept secret, but the milk of the farmer's cows
immediately afterwards lost its fruit; nothing but a viscous fluid,
mingled with a little blood, came from the teats when the cows were
milked. The farmer called to his aid the services of a woman living in
the northern part of the parish known to be skilled in such matters, and
she soon restored the substance to the milk. A still more recent case
has come under my notice in the spring of 1886. A cow died at a farm
with which I am well acquainted; its death was firmly believed to be the
result of witchcraft, exercised by an adversary. Soon afterwards a cow
at the same farm lost the substance of its milk; as in the case last
described, only blood and water came from the cow; this also was
believed to be the consequence of witchcraft. A man from Aultbea was
sent for, and by his magical arts soon effected a cure. These latter
cases are different from the old Kenlochewe case in one respect, viz.,
in the older case the substance of the milk was influenced after it had
been taken from the cow, whilst in the subsequent cases the "fruit" of
the milk was destroyed in the cows.

There are plenty of people in Gairloch in the present day who believe in
the magical power of the charm or spell called the "sian" or "seun." By
means of an incantation, sometimes coupled with the use of some visible
medium, any object which it was desired to conceal could be rendered
invisible, either for the time being only or for all time, subject in
the latter case to brief periods of visibility recurring either at the
end of each year, or more commonly at the end of each succeeding term of
seven years. The medium, if any, employed along with the incantation,
was usually a piece of vellum or stout skin of some sort, which in
process of time became as hard and tough as wrought iron. James
Mackenzie says he has seen a specimen preserved as a curiosity at Glamis

Duncan M'Rae lived in Isle Ewe and had the gift of the sian. We have
seen, in Part I., chap. xiv., Duncan's fidelity to the unfortunate
Prince Charlie. He accompanied the prince to Edinburgh, and there
composed a well-known Gaelic song called Oran na Feannaige, _i.e._ "the
song of the hoodie-crow;" it related an imaginary dialogue between
himself and the crow, suggested by his seeing one of those birds in the
busy capital. After the fatal field of Culloden, Duncan M'Rae assisted
in covering the prince's escape; he hovered around the prince, and used
every means in his power to baffle the pursuers. Funds were sent from
France to be conveyed by the faithful Highlanders to their beloved
Prince Charlie, as circumstances might admit. A small cask or keg filled
with gold pieces was entrusted to the charge of Duncan M'Rae, to be
concealed until a chance should occur of delivering it to the prince.
Duncan M'Rae and two other men brought the keg of gold in a boat across
Loch Ewe from Mellon Charles to Cove. From Cove they carried the cask up
to the Fedan Mor, the large deep corrie or hollow on the hill above Loch
a Druing; there they put the cask of gold into the ground, and it is the
universal belief in Gairloch that it remains there to this day. Duncan
M'Rae made use of the sian to render the cask invisible; he laid his
amulet upon the head of the cask while he pronounced the magic words he
knew; upon this the cask became invisible for all time, with this
exception, that at the end of each period of seven years the effect of
the spell is suspended during a very brief interval on one day only,
when for a few moments the cask of gold becomes again visible to mortal

It was about 1826, the year that Sir Hector Mackenzie died, that the
wife of Rorie Mackenzie, shepherd at Loch a Druing, called the Cibear
Mor, or "big shepherd," was herding the cows in the Fedan Mor. She was
spinning worsted, when suddenly she saw the head of the cask of gold
close to where she sat. She stuck the distaff into it to mark the spot,
and then ran down to Loch a Druing for help to remove the long-lost
treasure. When the people came to the Fedan Mor to fetch the cask of
gold, neither it nor the distaff could after the most diligent search be

A sian of a similar nature, and with similar effect, is said to have
been used many years ago by some persons who hid a large quantity of
arms and weapons of all kinds in a cave at Meallan na Ghamhna. Both the
cave and the weapons became invisible, but once in every seven years
they may again be seen if any one be lucky enough to be on the spot at
the right moment. It is not many years since the wife of Murdo Cameron
of Inverasdale, and some other women, were gathering lichens from the
rocks at Meallan na Ghamhna, when they suddenly saw the cave and
weapons. They ran to tell others, and soon returned with several
helpers, intending to remove the arms; but it was too late, no trace
could be found of either weapons or cave. They say an exactly similar
case of weapons being hid in a cave, or rather rocky fissure, by means
of the sian, occurred on the shores of Loch Maree. The spot is at the
edge of the loch below the county road on the south-west side of the
loch just opposite to Letterewe. In this case also the weapons are
visible once in every seven years.

There was a man living in Gairloch named Alastair Mor an 't Sealgair, or
"big Alexander of [the race of] the hunter." He had the magic power of
the sian. He died since 1850, and his grandsons were lately living at
Charleston, and were called Gillean an t' Sealgair, or "the hunter's
lads." One of them is still living at Charleston. Alastair was a dealer
in illicit whisky, and was constantly employed in running cargoes of it
from Gairloch to Skye and the Long Island. He is still remembered in
those islands. At that time Captain Oliver was sent by the government to
put down this smuggling. In his schooner he cruised up and down the
Minch, keeping a sharp look-out; he had a tender, a smaller vessel, of
which Robert Clark was master, and which was employed in the sea-lochs,
so that Gairloch might well be said to be blockaded. Alastair
continually ran the blockade by the use of the sian. Whenever a
government vessel hove in sight, he pronounced the magic words and
applied his unfailing amulet, and his boat became at once invisible
under the mysterious spell. One day he had brought several casks of
whisky in a boat down Loch Maree. When in the Narrows near the place
where Tollie burn falls into the river Ewe, he landed and hid the casks
in the wood on the Tollie side of the Narrows. He made some passes over
them with his hands, and the casks became invisible; the next day he
sent over from Gairloch the men who had seen him hide the casks, to
bring them away, but they could not be found, and it was not until
Alastair went himself that the casks became visible. This was a usual
form of the sian, but Alastair had another spell or magical process
which was a variation of its ordinary application. Sometimes when a
revenue vessel appeared upon the scene he would take a thole-pin from
the boat and whittle it with his knife, when each of the chips as it
fell into the water would appear to the crew of the preventive vessel to
be a fully-manned boat. This wonderful magician was well-known to many
people now living, including Mr O. H. Mackenzie. There are many other
stories current in Gairloch, showing that Alastair could render his
boat, or indeed anything else, invisible, even without the use of any
special formula. There were three fishermen, named respectively
Macpherson, Watson, and Fraser, all living on the south side of
Gairloch, who were partners in a large decked fishing-boat. At that time
Glen Dubh, to the north of Stoir Head in Sutherlandshire, was an
important herring fishing-station. The "south side" men were there
fishing. Alastair was also at Glen Dubh, selling whisky amongst the
fishermen. His boat was an open undecked craft, and the Gairloch south
side men had him to spend the Sabbath in their larger vessel. On Sunday
morning Alastair proposed to fill some bottles with whisky out of a
small cask that he carried for offering drams to friends. As he and
Macpherson were beginning to draw the whisky from the cask, Alastair
asked his companion if he saw the revenue cutter. Macpherson said her
boat was just coming round a headland near them. Alastair said, "They
don't see us." He proceeded with the business on hand; they were on
deck. As the cutter's boat approached, Macpherson wished to put the
whisky cask out of sight. Alastair said, "Never fear; they cannot see
us." The revenue boat then passed close to them, and apparently did not
see them. Had the preventive men seen Alastair before he saw them, he
would have been unable to render the boat invisible. At another time,
the same "south side" men had a good take of flounders in the sound
between the Island of Longa and Big Sand. They had occasion to take
their fish ashore at Big Sand, and having piled them in a heap left them
for a short time; on returning they could not see their fish anywhere.
Alastair was there, and they concluded he had played a trick upon them.
After keeping up the joke some time, Alastair admitted that he had
concealed the fish. He drew a ring on the sand with his stick, and said,
"The fish are within this circle." The fishermen could not find them,
until Alastair withdrew the spell and the fish became visible.

His father, Ruaridh an t' Sealgair, also had the magical power of the
sian. Both Rorie and Alastair were--like their ancestor whose
_soubriquet_ they bore--great hunters and poachers. When they wanted
venison they would go to the mountains. As soon as they saw a deer they
would, by the exercise of magic, cause the animal to stand or to go
where they pleased, so that they could easily get within range. If the
deer saw the magician first, the spell failed; it was necessary that the
hunter should spy his quarry before he was himself observed. Instances
of Alastair's exercise of this power are said to have occurred during
the time of the late Sir Francis Mackenzie, Bart. of Gairloch. They say
too that Alastair, when sitting at the roadside, could by the sian
render himself invisible to persons who passed close to him.

Our next and last example is of a different application of magic. Every
detail of the case is firmly believed by many natives of Gairloch now
living to be absolutely true. In the chapter of James Mackenzie's
"Gairloch Stories," given further on, is an account of the death by
drowning at the head of Loch Maree of John M'Ryrie. His grandfather was
the hero of the following adventure. At the time of its occurrence he
had a large open boat, in which he used to carry the mails between
Poolewe and Stornoway. He lived at Poolewe. One Donald M'Lean helped to
work the boat. It was before the smack was put on this service. On one
occasion M'Ryrie was kept several days at Stornoway by a contrary wind.
He was going about the place two or three days grumbling at the delay.
He met a man in the street, who advised him to go to a certain woman and
she would make the wind favourable for him. In the morning he went to
her, and paid her some money. She gave him a piece of string with three
knots on it. She told him to undo the first of the knots, and he would
get the wind in his favour; if the wind were not strong enough for him,
he was to undo the second knot, but not until he would be near the
mainland; the third knot, she said, he must not untie for his life. The
wind changed whilst he was talking to her; and he set sail that same
morning. He undid the first knot on the voyage, and the breeze continued
fair; the second knot he untied when he was near the mouth of Loch Ewe,
and the breeze came fresh and strong. When he got to Ploc-ard, at the
head of Loch Ewe, he said to M'Lean that no great harm could happen to
them if he were to untie the third knot, as they were so near the shore.
So he untied the third knot. Instantly there was such a hurricane that
most of the houses in Poolewe and Londubh were stripped of their thatch.
The boat was cast high and dry on the beach at Dal Cruaidh, just below
the house of Kirkton; her crew escaped uninjured. It is said that at
that time there were several women about Stornoway who had power by
their arts to make the wind favourable.

Chapter XV.


Perhaps the most common class of superstitions in Gairloch comprises
those represented by or connected with "visions" or the gift of
"second-sight." It is often difficult to discriminate between the two;
but as a general rule "visions" maybe considered as recalling the past,
whilst "second-sight" brings the immediate but unseen present or the
near or sometimes the more remote future within the ken of its
possessor. The following stories seem to be examples of one or other of
these superstitions.

The appearance to Alastair Mac Iain Mhic Earchair, early in the
nineteenth century, of the great chief of Gairloch, Hector Roy
Mackenzie, with his bodyguard of twelve chosen heroes all wearing kilted
plaids of Mackenzie tartan, and their noiseless departure, is narrated
in Part I., chap. ix. In addition to the details there given, old
Alastair told Ruaridh an Torra, the present repository of the tale, that
before the spectral heroes disappeared he handed his snuff-mull to them,
and they each in turn helped themselves to its contents. Alastair always
expressed his astonishment that they should have been able to enjoy the
snuff as they apparently did.

In 1884 I heard of a young man having seen a spirit. He was very
reserved on the subject, but when closely questioned he said it was on a
pretty dark night in the previous year that the form of a man passed him
on the road. He spoke to the figure, but there was no reply; and this he
considered proof positive of the ghostly nature of the appearance!

Two men, of the utmost credibility and respectability, declare that they
saw on separate occasions, by daylight, the figure of a woman dressed in
brown sitting or walking within a considerable house in Gairloch parish.
On each occasion the woman mysteriously disappeared, and no trace of her
could be discovered. The appearances were supposed to be prophetic of
some incident that has since occurred, or will shortly occur, at the
house in question.

Seers of visions and possessors of second-sight are always reticent, and
every one has a delicacy in speaking of cases that have occurred among
persons now living. Thus it is difficult to procure accounts of recent
cases, and I have thought it best not to press inquiry in this
direction. Here, however, is an instance which came under my own notice
within the parish of Gairloch. A shooting party was invited, and a
number of beaters engaged for the occasion. Several of those who had
been similarly employed before declined to attend, because it had been
rumoured that the figure of a strange man dressed in dark blue clothes
had been seen walking in the coverts the evening before, and it was
thought that the appearance of the supposed spectre portended the death
of some one at the shoot. Happily the day passed off without casualty.

Second-sight may be (1) a faculty frequently exercised by the individual
possessing it, who becomes known as a seer; or (2) it may be manifested
on one occasion only, under exceptional circumstances, by some one not
otherwise credited with this supernatural power. Our next story tells of
a woman whose second-sight was of the first of these descriptions.

Simon Chisholm, who has long been forester and gardener at Flowerdale to
Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, Bart. of Gairloch, remembers a woman named
Seonaid Chrubach, or Jessie the cripple, who was reputed to be a witch,
and to have the faculty of second-sight. She lived near Flowerdale, and
was a queer bad woman. She wore a short tight-fitting jacket like a man,
and a short petticoat resembling a man's kilt. She used to afford much
amusement to sailors, singing ribald songs to them, and would visit
various ports as far north as Ullapool for the purpose. When Simon
Chisholm was a young boy a number of lads one day caught Jessie, and,
believing in her witchcraft, tied her to the middle of a long piece of
rope. They took her to the moat or ditch then remaining below Flowerdale
House, in the midst of which the old Tigh Dige had formerly stood, and
dragged her many times backwards and forwards through the water of the
moat. Jessie survived this ill-treatment many years. It would be about
1835 that Jessie came one day to the house of Simon Chisholm's father at
Flowerdale. His family have been there for several generations; they say
his ancestor came to Gairloch as attendant to a lady who became the wife
of one of the lairds of Gairloch. Simon was still a boy, and was at home
when Jessie came to the house. Jessie looked very pale and haggard; she
said she felt faint and ill. After resting a while, she told them that
on her way she had met a shepherd with his dog, driving a flock of
sheep; she minutely described the shepherd and the dog and sheep, and
even stated the colour of the dog. At that time there were no sheep at
Flowerdale, only black cattle; Sir Francis Mackenzie, the then baronet
of Gairloch, had a celebrated strain of them, and bred them in
considerable numbers. The following year, at the same time of the year
as that at which Jessie had seen the vision, Sir Francis substituted
sheep for the black cattle, and the shepherd, the dog, and the sheep
exactly corresponded with Jessie's description.

Our next narrative is an illustration of the other class of
manifestations of second-sight. At the date of this story the blacksmith
at Poolewe had his house and smithy where the Pool-house stable now
stands. It was close by the east side of Poolewe bridge, from which the
spectator can look down into the deep gloomy pool in which the River Ewe
joins the brackish waters of Loch Ewe. The smith had a son, a boy,
almost a young man; he was in sickly health at the time, and died
shortly afterwards. The late Rev. William Rose, Free Church minister of
Aultbea and Poolewe, who died in April 1876, told me that one day the
smith's son had walked over to Gairloch, and returning somewhat
exhausted, came into his father's house (the door being open), and
instantly sat down on the nearest chair. No sooner was he seated than he
fell from the chair in a fainting fit. He presently came round, and on
recovering consciousness the first thing he said to his family was,
"What are all these people on the bridge for?" They pointed out to him
that there was no one on the bridge. He then told them, that as he had
approached the bridge he had seen it crowded with people, that he had
had to push his way through them, and that he had felt very much
frightened. Those members of the smith's household who were at home had
seen no one on the bridge; the doors and windows of the house faced the
bridge, and were not thirty yards from it, so that no individuals, much
less a crowd, could have been on the bridge without the family having
noticed them. The following day, the 3d October 1860, was a day that
will never be forgotten by those who witnessed its terrible events. A
number of open boats with their crews were at the head of Loch Ewe near
Boor, Cliff House, and Poolewe, setting nets for herrings, when a storm
suddenly came on, far exceeding in violence any other storm before or
since, so far as those now living remember. A hurricane sprang up from
the west-north-west, of such extraordinary force as actually to lift
boats and their crews from the water, and in one or two cases to
overturn the boats. Happily most of the men clung to their boats, and
were soon washed ashore. One boat was carried rapidly past the point
called Ploc-ard, by Inverewe House. As she was passing close to some big
stones one of her crew jumped out on to a rock, but was washed off and
drowned. In another boat, opposite Cliff House, there were four men; the
boat was capsized and three of the men were drowned; the fourth had tied
himself to the boat, which came ashore by Cliff House; he was taken to
the house, and restoratives being applied soon recovered. About a score
of the boats ran into the pool under Poolewe bridge. And thus the vision
of the smith's son was fulfilled, for at the very hour at which he had
crossed the bridge on the preceding day, a multitude of the fishermen's
friends and relations, breathless with agonising anxiety, crowded the
bridge and its approaches watching the arrival of the boats. The tide on
this awful evening rose one hundred and fifty yards further up the shore
and adjoining lands than on any other occasion remembered in the
district. The bodies of the drowned men were recovered, and were buried
in the Inverewe churchyard, where the date of this memorable storm is
recorded on a gravestone over the remains of two of the men named
William Urquhart and Donald Urquhart.

James Mackenzie narrates, that when he was fourteen years of age (about
1822) he lived with his parents at Mellon Charles, but went to the
school at Mellon Udrigil. This school was attended by about sixty
scholars. He went home to Mellon Charles every Saturday night, and
returned to Mellon Udrigil each Monday morning. At the time of the
following extraordinary occurrence the Rev. Dr Ross was holding
sacramental services at Loch Broom, and many of the people had gone from
Mellon Udrigil to this sacrament; most of the women had remained at
home. It must have been about midsummer; that was always the time of the
Loch Broom sacrament. When James Mackenzie returned to Mellon Udrigil on
the Monday morning he learned that all the people who were at home on
the preceding day had seen a strange sight. The whole sea between the
Black island and Priest island, and the mouth of Little Loch Broom had
appeared to be filled with ships innumerable; to use James Mackenzie's
precise words, "the sea was choke full of great ships, men-of-war. It
was a great sight." Whilst the people were watching, vast numbers of
boats were sent out from the ships filled with soldiers with scarlet
coats. Many of the boats rowed direct for Mellon Udrigil, and the
red-coats landed from them on the rocks on the shore. They seemed so
near that the people could make out the individual soldiers. Mrs
Morrison, the wife of Rorie Morrison of Tanera, who then lived at Mellon
Udrigil House, buried the boxes containing her valuables in the sand
lest the red-coats should carry them off to the ships. The girls at the
shielings on the hills on the Greenstone Point retreated to the highest
tops, so that they might have time to escape if the soldiers should
appear to be coming near. But no soldiers came, and the whole thing was
a vision.

More than fifty years ago Donnachadh na Fadach (Duncan Macrae) was
living at Inveran. He employed Donald Maclean, who was stopping at
Londubh at the time, to work in the garden at Inveran, and Donald walked
to and from Inveran every day. He told James Mackenzie, Duncan Macrae,
and other persons, that he often saw companies of soldiers in red
uniforms marching to and fro along the tops of Craig Ruadh, Craig Bhan,
and the hills behind and beyond Inveran. These visions of Donald
Maclean's are said to have impressed his own mind very deeply at the
time, and his earnest accounts of them are well remembered by the older
people. It is an actual fact that the visions are now generally
understood at Poolewe and Londubh to have been prophetic of the visits
to me at Inveran of the Poolewe section of the Gairloch volunteers, who
wear scarlet Highland doublets, and have several times come to Inveran
in uniform.

The appearance of the great fleet seen from Mellon Udrigil with the
boats filled with red-coats, and the visions of the red-coats near
Inveran, are closely analogous to the strange appearances of troops seen
by numbers of people on Saddleback in Cumberland on the midsummer eves
of 1735, 1743, and 1745, and to the similar appearances elsewhere
referred to in the account given of the Saddleback visions in Miss
Harriet Martineau's "Guide to the English Lakes," such as the spectral
march of troops seen in Leicestershire in 1707, and the tradition of the
tramp of armies over Helvellyn on the eve of the battle of Marston Moor.
Hugh Miller, in his "Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland" (page
485), refers to visions of troops near Inverness at the time of the
commencement of the war with France. There were similar appearances in
England reported in the newspapers when I was a young man, which were
supposed to have been mirage-like reflections of the gatherings of
troops going to take part in the Crimean war. One theory is, that all
the visions of this character have been of the nature of mirages, or
reflections on transparent vapour similar to the "Fata Morgana." This is
certainly a suggestion that ought to be taken into account, but, as Miss
Harriet Martineau says in her book, it "is not much in the way of

Whatever the visions or appearances at Mellon Udrigil and near Inveran
may have been, the evidence is very strong that they really were seen as

Chapter XVI.


The Celtic inhabitants of the north-west Highlands have always been
enthusiastic votaries of poetry and music; indeed in time past they
perhaps paid more attention to these than to the less sentimental arts
of everyday life. Their bards and musicians, encouraged by the sympathy
and appreciation of chiefs and clansmen alike, became an illustrious, as
they ever were a privileged class.

The bards date back to the days of the Druids; among them was Ossian,
the Homer of the Fingalian heroes. There is no specific connection
between the Ossianic poems and the parish of Gairloch, but these poems
are still reverenced in Gairloch, and some traces of poetic Fingalian
legends are still to be met with (Part I., chap. i.).

The great contest which has so long raged over Macpherson's "Ossian"
does not concern us here. The unwritten poems of Ossian have been handed
down by the bards through many generations. Possibly Macpherson's were
partly fictitious; they do not correspond to the actual traditional
forms of the poems, as published by Mr John F. Campbell of Islay
(brother of the present Lady Mackenzie of Gairloch), who has passed to
his rest whilst I write; he took down the poems from the mouths of the
old men who had become the receptacles of them, and collected them in a
book entitled "Leabhar na Feinne," perhaps the most valuable
contribution to the Ossianic controversy.

The bard of old was called the "seannachie," properly
"seannachaidh,"--almost synonymous with "antiquarian" or "historian,"--a
name appropriately signifying that he was the repository and
remembrancer of the history, achievements, and genealogy of his clan or
sept. It was the bard's office to sing or recite the valorous deeds of
the chiefs and heroes, and to cheer on his kinsmen in battle by
inspiring songs or war cries, chaunted, shouted, or sung.

Later on, when clan contests became less frequent, some of the bards
found congenial berths as family retainers of the great chiefs and
proprietors, who generously rewarded their poetic talents. These family
bards recited or sang in the halls of their patrons songs of their own
or others' composition, and frequently repeated some of the poems of
Ossian. They were also the poets-laureate of the great families,
composing poems to celebrate their chief events and personages.

Captain Burt gives a list of the officers who in his day (1730) attended
every chief when he went a journey or paid a formal visit. Among them
are the bard, the piper, and the piper's gillie. The last bard of the
Gairloch family was Alexander Campbell, who died in the first half of
the present century. A short memoir of him is given further on.

Other bards and poets were found in the more private walks of life, and
they are even now to be met with, still the receptacles of the treasured
traditions and legends of their ancestors and country, still the
composers of Gaelic songs and poems, and still the reciters or singers
of their own compositions or of those of other bards, ancient or modern.
Family traditions and genealogies possess more historical value in the
Highlands than in other parts of Britain, from their having been
preserved and handed down by means of the trained memories of the bards.
In most cases, every word put in the mouths of the traditional heroes is
accurately repeated on each occasion of the story being told.

Meetings, called "ceilidh," used to be frequently held during the long
winter nights of this northern region, when the people gathered in each
others' houses to be entertained by songs, poems, traditions, legends,
and tales of all kinds. At the "ceilidh" the bards, in their character
of "seannachaidhean," were in much request, and we can well imagine how
the popular applause fostered the spirit of the bards and helped to
preserve the old traditions of the Highlands. They say these "ceilidh"
are not yet altogether given up in Gairloch parish.

Pipe music dates back at least as far as the fourteenth century, and
probably much farther. Mr Robertson Macdonald of Kinloch-moidart wrote
to the _Scotsman_ a few years ago, stating that he had the chanter and
blowpipe of bagpipes which he believed to be older than a bagpipe
reported at a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland to bear
the date of 1409. Mr Macdonald's relics were given in the end of last
century to his maternal uncle, Donald Macdonald of Kinloch-moidart, by
the Macintyres, who were the hereditary pipers to the Clanranald branch
of the Macdonalds, as they were on the point of emigrating to America;
they said the Macdonalds had followed the inspiring strains of these
bagpipes into the battle of Bannockburn, 24th June 1314.

The vocation of the pipers, who had gradually displaced the more ancient
harpers, corresponded very closely with that of the bards. Like the
bards, they accompanied their clansmen to battle. On all social
occasions they played their stately pibrochs, or thrilling marches, or
lively reels and jigs; weddings and funerals were always attended by
pipers, who moved the assembled companies with their stirring strains.
Most of the chiefs had their family pipers, and the office was often
hereditary. The Mackays were the hereditary pipers of the lairds of
Gairloch (see next chapter) during the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, and were well rewarded by their patrons. The MacCrimmons of
Dunvegan, Skye, were the great teachers of pipe music in the north up to
a recent period; they held their lands from Macleod of Macleod, in
return for their attendance on his person and family.

In these modern days pipers are still numerous in Gairloch, and still
enliven many a wedding party with their music. The Gairloch volunteers
have their efficient pipers, who in tartan array play many a lively air
as their comrades move in column, and who accompany the march-past on
review days to the favourite tune of "Highland Laddie." Highlanders
march with lighter tread, more spirited step, and more accurate time, to
the music of the bagpipes than to any other.

The strains of the great Highland bagpipes, when played indoors, often
sound harsh and shrill to the unaccustomed ear, but they never do to the
Highlander, who to this day prefers the pipes to all other music. Their
effect on the Highland soldier, in the presence of the foe, is too well
known to need description here.

The love of pipe music, and of songs in their native tongue, is as
powerful to-day with the Highlanders of Gairloch as it can ever have
been. At a dinner of the Gairloch volunteers, on 8th May 1884, the
thrilling music of the pipers, and the Gaelic songs exquisitely rendered
by Mr Alexander Macpherson of Opinan, one of the volunteer sergeants,
seemed to arouse the enthusiasm and stir the feelings of all present to
an extent it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to effect by
any other means.

Some of the bards and pipers of Gairloch attained great eminence.
Amongst the memoirs of them which follow is a short account of John
Mackenzie, the author of the "Beauties of Gaelic Poetry," who was
himself somewhat of a poet, and an excellent piper.

There were many less eminent bards and pipers in Gairloch. Three of the
old bards are mentioned in Part I. of this book, viz., Ruaridh Breac,
"the English bard," and Duncan M'Rae.

Ruaridh Breac, son of fair Duncan, lived at Cromasaig, near Kenlochewe,
in the first half of the seventeenth century. He composed a celebrated
song to the "Guard of the Black Corrie."

The English bard called in Gaelic "Am Bard Sasunnach," was a Cross, son
or descendant of one of the Letterewe ironworkers. He was living at the
time of the "Forty-five" at a house he had built at Kernsary, called to
this day Innis a Bhaird, or the "place of the bard."

Duncan M'Rae, of Isle Ewe, mentioned in Part II., chap. xiv., as the
composer of "Oran na Feannaige," was also a bard.

Of past Gairloch pipers, other than the Mackays, I have no account,
except of three who belong to recent times.

Roderick Campbell, a celebrated piper and fiddler, lived at Cuilchonich,
above Aird House, near Aultbea, in the latter part of the eighteenth
century. Ruaridh Mac Iamhair, as he was called in Gaelic, was descended
from the Campbells of Leckmelm, on Lochbroom. His father was Norman
Campbell; he had four sons, viz., Kenneth, Donald, Roderick (the piper),
and John. Donald was also a great fiddler. John Mackenzie (Iain or John
Glas) of Mossbank, Poolewe, is a grandson of Kenneth. John, the youngest
brother of Roderick, emigrated to America. Roderick was a pupil of Angus
Mackay (one of the Gairloch hereditary pipers), and it is said that
Roderick made such progress, that when his term of apprenticeship to
Angus had but half expired he had learned all that his accomplished
master could impart. Roderick attained great fame as a piper, and was
much respected through the country for his talents and agreeable
manners. He lived in a day when the young men laid themselves out to
amuse and interest others. While still young he was drowned in the Old
Cruive Pool, on the River Ewe, when attempting to cross the river by
means of the Cruive dyke, there being no bridge at Poolewe till long
after. The musical reputation of the family is sustained by Alexander
Mackenzie, the present senior piper of the Gairloch volunteers, who is
the son of John Glas above-named.

Iain Mac Coinnich (John Mackenzie), known as Piobaire Bhan, or the "fair
piper," was a first-rate performer during the present century. He lived
at Leac nan Saighead, and was blind. He died about 1870, an old man.

William Maclean, formerly of Ormiscaig, must be reckoned as a past piper
of Gairloch; the excellent music he discoursed is still remembered; the
origin of his talents is related in Part II., chap. xii.

The following is an alphabetical list (probably imperfect) of Gairloch
pipers now living:--

    Murdo Bain,           Charleston.
    William Boa,         {Inveran; one of the pipers to the
                         {volunteer corps.
    Duncan Fraser,        Talladale.
    Kenneth Fraser,       Leac nan Saighead.
    Alexander Gunn,       Isle Ewe.
    Alexander Mackenzie, {Poolewe; senior Piper to the volunteer
    Angus Mackenzie,      Strath.
    Malcolm Mackenzie,    Big Sand.
    Murdo Mackenzie,      Peterburn.
    Kenneth M'Leay,       Londubh.
    Alexander Maclean,    Mellon Udrigil.
    Donald Maclean,   }  {Ormiscaig; brothers, young and excellent
    Alexander Maclean,}  {pipers; nephews of William
    Hector Maclean,   }  {Maclean (Part II., chap. xxiii.).
    Alexander Maclennan,  Inveran.
    Angus Maclennan,      Cove.
    John Maclennan,       Mellon Charles.
    William Maclennan,   {Poolewe; one of the pipers to the volunteer
    John MacRae,          North Erradale.
    John MacRae,          Altgrishan.
    Murdo MacRae,         Melvaig.
    William Morrison,     Ardlair.
    James Watson,         Badachro.

Chapter XVII.


That Hector Roy Mackenzie, the great founder of the Gairloch family, and
his son John Glassich Mackenzie, had pipers among their followers is
certain; but nothing is recorded of them. The famous hereditary pipers
of the Gairloch family were Mackays from Sutherlandshire. There were but
four of them, viz., Rorie, John the blind piper, Angus, and John.

Rorie or Ruaridh Mackay was born in the Reay country about 1592. Having
early manifested an extraordinary talent for pipe music, he was
appointed whilst little more than a boy to be piper to the laird of
Mackay. We have seen (Part I., chap. xi.) how Rorie cut off a groom's
hand with his dirk at the Meikle Ferry on the Kyle of Sutherland, and
then became piper to John Roy Mackenzie, fourth laird of Gairloch, about
1609. From this time Rorie was a Gairloch man, yet the connection with
the Reay country was maintained, as we shall see, by his descendants.
Little is remembered of Rorie beyond the story of how he came to
Gairloch. It was his elder brother Donald Mor Mackay who was in
attendance on the twelve sons of John Roy Mackenzie when the incident at
Torridon, recorded in Part I., chap. xi., took place. Donald was a great
piper, and assisted his brother Rorie during his youth. Donald spent a
number of years in Gairloch, but returned to the Reay country before his
death. Rorie was piper in succession to four of the chiefs of Gairloch,
viz., John Roy, Alastair Breac, Kenneth the sixth laird, and his son
Alexander. Rorie lived at Talladale during the lives of John Roy and
Alastair Breac, who resided on Eilean Ruaridh and Eilean Suainne,
islands in Loch Maree, not far from Talladale. The two last chiefs to
whom he was piper resided at the Stank house at Flowerdale, and
accordingly we find that Rorie lived in his later years near Flowerdale.
Rorie was over sixty years of age when he married; he had but one child,
who became the celebrated "blind piper." Rorie died at his home near
Flowerdale about 1689, in extreme old age, being, like his son, almost a
centenarian; he was buried in the Gairloch churchyard. Rorie is said to
have been a remarkably handsome and powerful Highlander; he literally
_played_ an important part in the many fights which took place in
Gairloch during the earlier part of his career.

John Mackay, the only son of Rorie, was born at Talladale in 1656. He
was not born blind, as has been erroneously stated, but was deprived of
his sight by smallpox when about seven years old. With the exception of
a slight cloudiness on his eyes, it was difficult to the most acute
observer to perceive that he had not his sight. He was known as "Iain
Dall" (blind John), or "Piobaire Dall" (the blind piper). After
mastering the first principles of pipe music under his father's tuition,
he was sent to the celebrated MacCrimmon in Skye to finish his musical
education. He remained seven years with MacCrimmon, and then returned to
his native parish, where he assisted his father in his office of piper
to the laird of Gairloch. After his father's death he became piper to
Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, the first baronet of Gairloch; and after Sir
Kenneth's death to his son Sir Alexander, the second baronet and ninth
laird of Gairloch. He combined the office of bard with that of piper.
Iain Dall retired when in advanced years, and Sir Alexander allowed him
a sufficient pension. Like his father he married late in life; he had
but two children, Angus, who succeeded him, and a daughter. After he was
superannuated he passed his remaining years in visiting gentlemen's
houses, where he was always a welcome guest. Like his father he lived to
a great age; he died in 1754, aged ninety-eight, and was buried in the
same grave as his father in the Gairloch churchyard. He composed
twenty-four pibrochs, besides numberless strathspeys, reels, and jigs,
the most celebrated of which are called "Cailleach a Mhuillear," and
"Cailleach Liath Rasaidh."

When he was with MacCrimmon there were no fewer than eleven other
apprentices studying with the master piper, but Iain Dall outstripped
them all, and thus gained for himself the envy and ill-will of the
others. On one occasion as Iain and another apprentice were playing the
same tune alternately, MacCrimmon asked the other lad why he did not
play like Iain Dall. The lad replied, "By Mary, I'd do so if my fingers
had not been after the skate," alluding to the sticky state of his
fingers after having touched some of that fish at dinner; and this has
become a proverbial taunt which northern pipers to this day hurl at
their inferior brethren from the south.

Iain Dall's first pibroch, called "Pronadh na Mial," had reference to
certain small insects that disturbed his slumbers during the earlier
period of his apprenticeship.

One of the MacCrimmons, known by the byname of "Padruig Caogach,"
composed the first part of a tune called "Am port Leathach," but was
unable to finish it. The imperfect tune became very popular, and being
at the end of two years still unfinished Iain Dall set to work and
completed it. He called it "Lasan Phadruig Chaogaich," or "the wrath of
Padruig Caogach;" thus, whilst disowning any share in the merit of the
composition, anticipating the result which would follow. Patrick was
furiously incensed, and bribed the other apprentices, who were doubtless
themselves also inflamed by jealousy, to put an end to Iain Dall's life.
This they attempted while walking with him at Dun-Bhorraraig, where they
threw the young blind piper over a precipice. Iain Dall fell eight
yards, but alighted on the soles of his feet, and suffered no material
injury. The place is still called "Leum an Doill." The completion of
MacCrimmon's tune brought great fame to Iain Dall, and gave rise to a
well-known Gaelic proverb, which being translated says, "the apprentice
outwits the master."

Iain Dall made a number of celebrated Gaelic songs and poems. One of
them, called "Coire an Easain," was composed on the death of Mackay Lord
Reay. It is said not to be surpassed in the Gaelic language. Another
fine poem of his was in praise of Lady Janet Mackenzie of Scatwell, on
her becoming the wife of Sir Alexander the ninth laird of Gairloch. His
fame as a bard and poet seems to have almost equalled his reputation as
a piper. A number of his songs and poems appear in the "Beauties of
Gaelic Poetry."

Angus, the only son of "Iain Dall," succeeded his illustrious father as
piper to the lairds of Gairloch. He was born about 1725. He was piper to
Sir Alexander Mackenzie, tenth laird of Gairloch. When Sir Alexander
visited France as a young man, he left Angus for tuition in Edinburgh.
We know little of him beyond that he was a handsome man, and that he at
least equalled his ancestors in musical attainments. He married Mary
Fraser, daughter of William Fraser, of Gairloch. He attended a
competition in pipe music whilst in Edinburgh. The other competing
pipers, jealous of his superior talents, made a plot to destroy his
chance. The day before the competition they got possession of his pipes,
and pierced the bag in several places, so that when he began to practise
he could not keep the wind in the pipes. But Angus had a fair friend
named Mary, possibly his wife. To her he went in his trouble; she found
for him a sheepskin from which, undressed as it was, he formed a new bag
for his beloved pipes, and with this crude bag he succeeded next day in
carrying off the coveted prize. He composed the well-known pibroch
called "Moladh Mairi," or "the praise of Mary," in honour of his kind
helper. This anecdote is sometimes connected with one of the other
Mackay pipers. Angus lived to a good old age, and was succeeded by his
son John.

John Mackay, grandson of the "blind piper," was born about 1753, and
became on his father's death family piper to Sir Hector Mackenzie of
Gairloch. As a young man he went to the Reay country, the native land of
his great-grandfather Rorie, and there received tuition on the little
pipes, which are often used for dance music. He lived in the latter part
of his career in Gairloch at Slatadale, where he married and had a
numerous family, for whose advancement he emigrated to America with all
his children except one daughter. She had previously married, but her
father was so anxious that she should emigrate with the rest of the
family, that she had to hide herself the night before the family left
Gairloch in order to avoid being compelled to accompany them. John
Mackay was a splendid piper; when he went to America, Sir Hector said he
would never care to hear pipe music again. John prospered in America; he
died at Picton about 1835, over eighty years of age. One of his sons,
who was a stipendiary magistrate in Nova Scotia, died in the time of
harvest 1884. The daughter who remained in Gairloch was married to a
Maclean; their son, John Maclean of Strath, called in Gaelic "Iain
Buidhe Taillear," has supplied much of the information here given
regarding his ancestors, the hereditary pipers of the Gairloch family.

It is a singular fact that the four long-lived Mackays were pipers to
the lairds of Gairloch during almost exactly two centuries, during which
there were eight lairds of Gairloch in regular succession from father to
son, but only the four pipers.

Chapter XVIII.


Two of the older bards of Gairloch deserve a chapter to themselves.

William Mackenzie, the Gairloch and Loch Broom catechist, was commonly
called "An Ceistear Crubach," or "the lame catechist," owing to his
being lame of a leg. He was a native of the parish of Gairloch, and was
born about 1670. He seems to have been a poet of no mean order. In his
early years he had the reputation of being a serious young man; he
committed to memory the Shorter Catechism in Gaelic, and was afterwards
for seven years employed in the capacity of perambulatory catechist at a
small salary. On one occasion in the dead of winter a tremendous storm
overtook him, and he was driven to seek the shelter of a rock. He was
fortunately discovered, and conveyed on horseback to the house of Mr
Mackenzie of Balone, where he experienced the greatest kindness. Here he
saw a beautiful young lady, his host's sister, who afterwards became Mrs
Mackenzie of Kernsary, and, inspired by her charms, he composed a
celebrated song of great poetic merit.

He happened to be in Strath, Gairloch, at the time of a wedding, to
which however he was not invited. Being joined by some others who had
suffered the same indignity, and who brought a bottle of whisky with
them, he forgot the sacredness of his office, and as the glass went
round composed a satirical song lampooning the newly-married couple and
their relations and guests. The song eked out. The ministers shook their
heads, and condemned the profanity of their catechist from their
pulpits. He was dragged before the kirk-session and severely
cross-examined. One or two of his judges espoused his cause, and
insisted that he should recite the obnoxious song. "I can repeat no
song," said the bard, "unless I accompany the words with an air, and to
sing here would be altogether unbecoming." This obstacle was, however,
got over, and Mackenzie sang the song with great glee, while his judges
could not restrain their laughter. However he was dismissed from being
catechist, and was never restored to the post. He died at a good old
age, and was buried in Creagan an Inver of Meikle Gruinard, on the
northern confines of the parish of Gairloch.

Malcolm M'Lean, called "Callum a Ghlinne," or "Callum of the glen," was
a native of Kenlochewe. His reputation as a bard rests entirely on a
celebrated song he composed in praise of his own daughter. It is the
only example of his genius now extant. He was fond of singing the songs
of other poets, and had an excellent voice. As a young man he enlisted
in the army, and after serving a number of years was allowed a small
pension on his discharge. He became a crofter in his native country, and
married a woman of exemplary patience and resignation. He is described
as a bacchanalian of the first magnitude, and by his intemperance
reduced his wife and daughter to miserable poverty. The daughter, his
only child, was of uncommon beauty, but for want of dowry was for a long
time unwooed and unmarried. In his later years his drinking habits
became more notorious than ever, and when he was seen approaching an inn
the local topers left their work and trooped about him. No wonder the
resignation of his poor wife, under such circumstances, is proverbial in
Gairloch. He died about the year 1764.

Professor Blackie has made a spirited translation of Malcolm Maclean's
song, which with the Professor's kind consent is given below.

The forgiving gentleness of Malcolm's wife is recorded in the following
story:--Malcolm had occasion to go to Dingwall on a summer day for a
boll of oatmeal; he took a grey horse with him. On his way, with just
enough cash in his pocket to pay for the meal, he entered an inn, where
he met a Badenoch drover, who proved to be a boon companion. The two
continued drinking together for some time; the bard at length spent the
last sixpence of his meal money. Thinking, no doubt, of the awkwardness
of returning without the meal, he remarked, "If I had more money, I
would not go home for some time yet." "That's easily got; I'll buy the
grey horse from you," replied the drover. The bargain was speedily
concluded, and the money paid. The well-seasoned poet continued the
"spree," until at length the price of the grey horse was gone too.
"Now," said he, "I must go." "But how," said the drover, "can you face
your wife?" "My wife!" said the poet, "she's the woman that never said,
nor will say worse to me than 'God bless you, Malcolm.'" "I'll bet you
the price of the horse and the meal," replied the drover, "that her
greeting will be very different." "Done!" eagerly shouted Malcolm,
grasping the other's hand. Away they went, with the landlord and two
other men to witness the bard's reception by his wife. He staggered into
his dwelling, where he would have fallen into the open fire, had not his
wife caught him in her arms, exclaiming, "God bless you, Malcolm." "But
I have neither brought meal nor money," said the bard. "We will soon get
more money and meal too," replied the wife. "But I have also drunk the
grey horse," said he. "What matter, my love," she said, "since you are
alive and well." It was enough: the drover had to count down the money;
and it was not long before the patient wife had the satisfaction of
hailing her husband's return with both horse and meal.



        My bonnie dark maid,
          My precious, my pretty,
        I'll sing in your praise
          A light-hearted ditty;
        Fair daughter whom none
          Had the sense yet to marry;
        And I'll tell you the cause
          Why their love did miscarry,
            My bonnie dark maid!


        For sure thou art beautiful,
          Faultless to see;
        No malice can fasten
          A blot upon thee.
        Thy bosom's soft whiteness
          The seagull may shame,
        And for thou art lordless
          'Tis I am to blame.


        And indeed I am sorry,
          My fault I deplore,
        Who won thee no tocher
          By swelling my store;
        With drinking and drinking
          My tin slipped away,
        And so there's small boast
          Of my sporran to-day.


        While I sit at the board,
          Well seasoned with drinking,
        And wish for the thing
          That lies nearest my thinking,
        'Tis the little brown jug
          That my eye will detain,
        And when once I have seen it
          I'd see it again!


        The men of the country
          May jeer and may gibe,
        That I rank with the penniless
          Beggarly tribe;
        But though few are my cattle,
          I'll still find a way
        For a drop in my bottle,
          Till I'm under the clay.


        There's a grumpy old fellow,
          As proud as a king,
        Whose lambs will be dying
          By scores in the spring,
        Drinks three bottles a year,
          Most sober of men,
        But dies a poor sinner
          Like Callum o' Glen.


        When I'm at the market,
          With a dozen like me
        Of proper good fellows
          That love barley-bree,
        I sit round the table,
          And drink without fear,
        For my good-wife says only,
          "God bless you, my dear!"


        Though I'm poor, what of that?
          I can live and not steal,
        Though pinched at a time
          By the high price of meal.
        There's good luck with God,
          And He gives without measure;
        And while He gives health,
          I can pay for my pleasure.


        Very true that my drink
          Makes my money go quicker;
        Yet I'll not take a vow
          To dispense with good liquor:
        In my own liquid way
          I'd be great amongst men,--
        Now you know what to think
          Of good Callum o' Glen.

Chapter XIX.


William Ross, known as "the Gairloch bard," was born at Broadford, Skye,
in 1762. His mother was a native of Gairloch, and daughter of the
celebrated blind piper and poet Iain Dall, or John Mackay, already
noticed. For want of a regular school in Skye he and a little sister
were sent to the Grammar School at Forres to be educated. Here his
aptness in learning attracted the notice of the master, who declared
that of the many pupils he had had under his care he did not remember
one who had excelled young Ross as a general scholar. After he had been
some years at Forres he joined his parents, who had removed to the
parish of Gairloch. His father became a pedlar, and travelled through
the Lews and other western islands. The young bard, who was of a
delicate constitution, accompanied his father in these travels, and
endeavoured to become acquainted with the different dialects of the
Gaelic language. He afterwards travelled through parts of the Highlands
of Perthshire, Breadalbane, and Argyllshire, and finally returned to
Gairloch, where, at the age of twenty-four, he was appointed to the
charge of the parish school, which he conducted until near the time of
his death with much success. In a short time he acquired a great
reputation as a teacher of the young, whom he endeared to himself by his
tact and humour. His company was much sought after, not only for his
excellent songs but also for his intelligence and sense of humour, and
he maintained an intimacy with several respectable families with whom he
had become acquainted during his travels. He played on the violin,
flute, and several other instruments with considerable skill, and was a
good singer; he acted as precentor in the parish church. Never strong he
soon became a prey to asthma and consumption, and his short but
brilliant poetic career was terminated by his death, in 1790, at the
early age of twenty-seven. On the monument on his grave his age is
stated to have been twenty-eight; but John Mackenzie, in the "Beauties,"
says William Ross died in his twenty-eighth year. He was residing at
Badachro at the time of his death. He was buried in the churchyard of
Gairloch, where a simple stone with an English inscription was all that
for many years marked the spot. The funeral was attended by nearly the
whole male population of the surrounding country.

A handsome freestone monument was in 1850 erected on the grave, mainly
through the exertions of his clansman Mr George Ross, who was for many
years head-keeper at Flowerdale, Gairloch, and is now (1886) living in
well-earned retirement with a handsome pension from Sir Kenneth
Mackenzie. The monument bears inscriptions in Gaelic and English. The
English one is as follows:--

"In memory of William Ross, sometime schoolmaster of Gairloch, better
known as the Gairloch bard, who died in 1790, aged 28 years, this
monument is erected over his grave by a few of his countrymen and
others, headed by the amiable and accomplished proprietor of Gairloch,
in testimony of their respect and admiration of his extraordinary genius
and great native talent. 1850.

        His name to future ages shall extend,
        While Gaelic poetry can claim a friend."

In personal appearance William Ross was tall and handsome, with open and
regular features, and brown hair, and was nearly six feet high. As a
student he excelled in Latin and Greek, and it was universally allowed
that he was the best Gaelic scholar of his day. During his excursions to
the Lews he paid his addresses to Marion Ross, of Stornoway, but was
rejected, and he never married. He composed songs to his flame both
before and after his rejection. Some of his best pieces were composed
during his travels, but the majority of his songs were the product of
his later years. John Mackenzie included twenty-one of William Ross's
songs and poems in the "Beauties of Gaelic Poetry," and published a
separate volume of them, comprising in all thirty-three productions.
John Mackenzie says that William Ross's poetry deserves to be styled the
poetry of the heart,--of a heart full to overflowing with noble
sentiments and sublime and tender passions.

Chapter XX.


This famous bard of Gairloch is remembered in his native parish as
Alastair Buidhe Mac Iamhair, or the "yellow-haired Alexander M'Iver."
The surname Campbell is called M'Iver in Gairloch. He was born in 1767,
probably at Melvaig, in Gairloch. On his mother's side he was descended
from the Mackenzies of Shieldaig. His father's ancestor is said to have
come from the Lorne country as attendant to Anna, daughter of Macdougal
of Dunolly, who, about 1440, became the wife of Alexander the Upright,
sixth lord of Kintail, father of Hector Roy Mackenzie. It is said that
from the days of Hector Roy the bard's ancestors had always been
ground-officers under the lairds of Gairloch.

Alastair Buidhe spent his youthful days at Melvaig, and assisted his
father in the usual avocations of a small farmer. One of his best songs
was composed whilst he was herding his father's cattle on the hill at

When he came to man's estate Alastair was appointed by Sir Hector
Mackenzie to be one of his ground-officers, as well as his family bard.
He seems to have displayed considerable tact in performing his duties.
Here is an anecdote of him which illustrates not only his own character
but the footing he was on with Sir Hector. It appears that Sir Hector
had been much annoyed with a tenant at Poolewe, who was in arrear with
his rent, and would not pay up any part of it. So he called Alastair
Buidhe and instructed him to go and demand the rent once more, and in
default of payment to take the roof off the house. On the tenant still
refusing to pay up, Alastair got on the roof and removed one divot from
the ridge at the very top of the roof, and one other from the top of the
wall at the lowest part of the roof. Sir Hector, whose kind heart had by
this time repented of the order he had given, met Alastair on his
return. Sir Hector inquired if he had done the job. Alastair replied
that he had. Sir Hector said he hoped he had not done as bad as he had
been told. Alastair then told him he had put the highest divot from the
roof as far down as the lowest. On this Sir Hector expressed his
vexation, and remarked that Alastair had done very badly. Then Alastair
said it was not so bad but that it could yet be made better, for that he
had only taken off the two divots altogether. Sir Hector said, "Sandy,
you are a wiser man than I am."

As bard to Sir Hector, Alastair regularly attended two or three days a
week at Flowerdale House, as well as at other times when his services
were required. He was much appreciated by every member of the family. Dr
Mackenzie, Sir Hector's only surviving son, writing of him under date of
30th August 1878, said:--"I see honest Alastair Buidhe, with his broad
bonnet and blue greatcoat (summer and winter), clearly before me now,
sitting in the dining-room at Flowerdale, quite 'raised' like, while
reciting Ossian's poems, such as 'The Brown Boar of Diarmid' and others
(though he had never heard of Macpherson's collection), to very
interested visitors, though as unacquainted with Gaelic as Alastair was
with English. This must have been as early as 1812 or so, when I used to
come into the room after dinner about nine years old." Dr Mackenzie says
in his "Odd and End Stories" that it was Alastair who told them the
story of Hector Roy and "The Gairloch" (see Part I., chap. ix.). The
Doctor adds:--"One of our summer evening amusements was getting him
(Alastair) to the dining-room after dinner, where, well dined below
stairs and primed by a bumper of port wine, he would stand up and with
really grand action and eloquence give us poem after poem of Ossian in
Gaelic. Alastair could not read, and only understood Gaelic, and these
poems came down to him through generations numberless, as repeated by
his ancestors around their winter evening fires."

When Alastair became ground-officer and bard to Sir Hector, he took up
his abode at Inverkerry near Flowerdale. In his later years he removed
to Strath, and Sir Hector allowed him to hold his land there rent free
for the rest of his days. He survived his beloved patron seventeen
years; he died in 1843, at the age of seventy-six, and was buried in his
family grave in the Gairloch churchyard.

Alastair was of middle height, and had, as his Gaelic _soubriquet_
implies, yellow hair; he was a slender man, and never strong at his
best. In his later years he suffered from bad health, and was very
weakly long before his death.

His character is described as peculiarly attractive; he was of a gentle
kindly disposition, highly esteemed by all who knew him of whatever
rank, and children loved him as well as their seniors. He had a great
fund of humour, combined with a deep sense of the pathetic, and was
"splendid company."

William Ross, "the Gairloch bard," and he were intimate friends. As
Alastair was wading the Achtercairn river one day, on his way to a
sister's wedding, he met William Ross, and humorous verses were hurled
from one to the other across the stream in reference to Alastair's coat,
which was a "Cota gearr" of homespun cloth slightly dipped in indigo,
the colour being between a pale blue and a dirty white. Alastair was
also on good terms with Alexander Grant, the great bard of Slaggan.

Alastair was married, and left five sons, viz., Roderick (grandfather of
Alexander Mackenzie the historian of the Mackenzies, and editor of the
_Celtic Magazine_), Alastair Buidhe, Iain Buidhe, and Donald Buidhe (who
was a cripple and became a tailor). Roderick, a son of Evander Buidhe,
is now shepherd at Tollie, and has supplied much of the information here
given about his grandfather. Another son of Evander Buidhe was in a shop
at Inverness, where he died; he made a capital song to his grandfather's
old house at Strath, entitled in Gaelic "Tigh mo Sheanair." So the
poetic afflatus of the old bard has not altogether disappeared in his

It is remarkable that two such bright stars should have illuminated the
poetic firmament at the same time in Gairloch as William Ross and
Alexander Campbell. It is difficult for a southerner to appreciate the
fame of these two Gairloch poets, but it may be said almost to
correspond with that of Southey and Wordsworth. The poetry of William
Ross appeals most strongly to the cultured mind, whilst Alastair's is
more in tune with the simpler instincts and impulsive heartiness of a
rural life. As we should expect, the poems of Alastair Buidhe are in the
present day preferred in Gairloch to the compositions of his friend. No
complete collection has been published of the poems of Alastair Buidhe,
though several pieces have appeared in the _Celtic Magazine_. It is
feared that many of the poems, which only live in the memories of the
people, may soon be lost.

Chapter XXI.


Alexander Grant, known as "Bard mor an t' Slaggan," or "the great bard
of Slaggan," was born at Mellon Charles about 1742. His ancestor came to
Gairloch from Strathspey, as attendant to Anne, daughter of Sir John
Grant of Grant, who was married in 1640 to Kenneth Mackenzie, sixth
laird of Gairloch. Most of the bard's life was passed at Slaggan, but
shortly before his death he removed with his son to Tournaig, where he
died in 1820 (or perhaps later), being about eighty years of age. The
title bestowed on Sandy Grant of the "great bard" would perhaps be more
correctly translated as the "big bard," for it was given him on account
of his enormous stature and strength rather than for his merits as a
poet. In height he was a giant, far exceeding in size any man then or
now living in Gairloch; nor had he his equal in point of muscular
strength. He did not fight; but on one occasion there was a row, to
quell which the great bard caught Donald Morrison, of Drumchork, and
held him fast by the hand. Donald, though himself a giant as compared
with most men, was a pigmy by the side of Sandy Grant, and neither he
nor all the bystanders could pull the bard's hand from his. Another
proof of his great strength is remembered. In that day black periwinkles
were plentiful, and were a favourite article of food; only two men in
the country could break or crush a handful of them by the mere force of
their grasp, viz., Sir Hector Mackenzie of Gairloch and the "great
bard." It is doubtful whether any man could be found in Gairloch to
perform this feat in the present day.

Sandy Grant was not so eminent a bard as were his contemporaries William
Ross and Alastair Buidhe. He composed comparatively few songs or poems.
In manner he is described as having been a "blunt" man. In appearance he
was most remarkable for his gigantic form, already alluded to. I can get
no positive information what was his exact height in inches; he far
exceeded the height generally considered that of a tall man, and I am
told he certainly stood more than seven feet in his stockings. The bard
was a fine-looking man in face, features, and expression. A portrait of
him, which they say was an excellent likeness, appeared in the first
edition of John Mackenzie's "Beauties of Gaelic Poetry." John Mackenzie
made a collection of Sandy Grant's poems, intending to publish them in a
new edition of the "Beauties," but death frustrated this design, and the
poems seem to have been lost.

The "bard mor" was a canny man, if we may judge from the following
amusing anecdote, which is quite authentic, and illustrates the
superstitions of the times. It was told me by James Mackenzie:--There
was a man in Loch Carron who had his cheeses stolen from his barn by a
neighbour. Now Sandy Grant, the "bard mor," was reputed to have the
power of discovering things that had been lost, by the faculty of
second-sight. The worthy but simple-minded man who had been robbed of
his cheeses sent a message immediately he discovered his loss to the
bard at Slaggan, and requested that he would find out who had stolen
them. The bard, who thought he saw a chance of earning an "honest
penny," at once started on foot for Loch Carron. The man who had stolen
the cheeses heard that the bard had been sent for, and was terrified;
every day he walked out three miles on the road towards the north,
hoping to intercept Sandy Grant. At last he met Sandy. Says he, "Are you
not a stranger coming to Loch Carron?" "Yes," said Sandy, "I come from
Slaggan." "Well," he says, "I am the man that stole the cheeses, and
I'll give you fifteen shillings if you will not tell that I am the man."
The bard replied, "Of course I know it was you that stole the cheeses,
but where did you put them?" "Oh, dear!" said the man, "I put them in a
peat-stack at the back of the township." "Yes; I know that," said Sandy,
"but which stack did you put them in?" He replied, "The one that's
farthest from the township altogether." "Are you sure that you put all
the cheeses there?" again asked the cautious bard. "Yes," the man said,
"I put them all there, but one cheese is out of count." "Well," said the
bard, "I will not tell your name; when once they get the cheeses they
will be satisfied." The Loch Carron man gave him the fifteen shillings,
and as they passed his house he pressed the bard to come in and have a
dram. "Oh, no, no," said Sandy; "be off, that they may not suspect we
have been together." Then they parted, and the bard went to the house of
the man who had sent for him. After refreshing the inner man, Sandy was
asked to state who had stolen the cheeses, and where they now were.
"Well," he said, "I will not tell you who stole them, but I will tell
you where they are." He then asked what he was to receive for coming all
the way from Slaggan. The man inquired how much he asked. Sandy named
twenty-five shillings, and that sum was paid to him. "When to-morrow
comes," said he "I will tell you where the cheeses are; but I must warn
you that there will be one cheese missing." The next day the cheeses
were duly discovered and restored to their rightful owner, and the "bard
mor" returned to Slaggan with both the fifteen shillings and the
twenty-five shillings in his pocket, making two pounds,--in those days a
more considerable sum than it is now.

The Grants, who formerly lived at Mellon Udrigil but are now at Londubh,
are descendants of the "Bard mor an t' Slaggan."

Chapter XXII.


John Mackenzie, piper, poet, and author, is best remembered as having
been the collector and editor of the work entitled the "Beauties of the
Gaelic Language." He was born 17th July 1806, at Mellon Charles. He was
the eldest son of "Alastair Og," who, like his father before him, was
tacksman of all the lands on the north side of Loch Ewe belonging to the
lairds of Gairloch. John Mackenzie's mother was Margaret, daughter of Mr
Mackenzie of Badachro. On the father's side he was fifth in direct male
descent from Alastair Cam, youngest son of Alastair Breac, fifth laird
of Gairloch. He was educated primarily at home, afterwards at a small
school on Isle Ewe, and finally at the parish school of Gairloch. From
childhood he evinced a peculiar delight in reading, and especially
devoted himself to the study of the songs and music of his native
district. While a mere child he made a fiddle for himself, and later on
a set of bagpipes, using no other instrument or tool than his
pocket-knife. He became an excellent piper, and could also play the
piano, fiddle, flute, and several other instruments. His parents, seeing
his skill with his knife, apprenticed him to a travelling joiner named
William Ross. During his travels with his master, John Mackenzie found
congenial employment in noting down the Gaelic songs and tales floating
among his countrymen. While executing some work at the manse of Gairloch
he received a severe blow on the head, which for a time incapacitated
him. On partially recovering he went to a carpenter at Conan Bridge to
complete his apprenticeship, but he soon found that the injury to his
head was of such a permanent character as to unfit him to pursue his
trade further. Nor was he sorry to give up what was by no means
congenial to his taste. He returned to Gairloch, and employed himself in
collecting the poems of William Ross, most of which he obtained from
Alexander Campbell. He spent twenty-one nights taking down Ross's poems
from the lips of Alastair Buidhe. He seems from this time to have given
himself up to literary work, and strenuously he laboured at it, spending
some twelve years in travelling through the Highlands collecting
materials for his great work the "Beauties of Gaelic Poetry." While thus
travelling he procured a large list of subscribers for this work and
other publications. In 1833 he left his native parish, and in the same
year appeared "The Poems of William Ross, the Gairloch bard," with "The
History of Mac Cruislig; a Highland Tale," in one volume; and several
other works of minor importance. Within the year a second edition of
Ross's poems was called for. In 1836 he obtained a situation as
bookkeeper in the Glasgow University Printing-office. The "Beauties"
appeared in 1841. He disposed of the copyright for a mere trifle to a
publishing firm in Glasgow, he himself engaging to superintend the work
while passing through the press, a labour which undermined his never
very robust constitution. His next work of importance was the "History
of Prince Charles," in Gaelic, which was published by an Edinburgh firm.
This was a translation, but poor John Mackenzie received very small
remuneration for his skill and labour. The publication of these works
brought him considerable fame in literary circles, and he soon after
obtained an engagement with Messrs Maclachlan & Stewart, Edinburgh, at
one pound per week. He produced for them translations into Gaelic of
Baxter's "Call to the Unconverted;" Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," "Come
and Welcome," "World to Come," "Grace Abounding," "Water of Life," and
"Sighs from Hell;" as also, Dyer's "Christ's Famous Titles," and
Guthrie's "Christian's Great Interest." John Mackenzie was also the
author of the English-Gaelic part of the dictionary known as
MacAlpine's. He produced an enlarged edition of the poems of Duncan Ban
Macintyre, and various other works. In all he composed, edited, or
translated above thirty publications. His last completed work was
"MacAlpine's Dictionary." In 1847 he issued a prospectus for an enlarged
edition of the "Beauties." He was also the sub-editor of the _Cuairtear
nan Gleann_; and he wrote some original Gaelic sermons, for Highland
ministers who were too ignorant of the language to compose their own
sermons in it. At the time of his death he was preparing a new edition
of the Gaelic Bible, which he left in an incomplete state. Being in very
weak health he returned in May 1848, after an absence of fourteen years,
to his father's house at Kirkton, or Inverewe, where, after a lingering
illness, he died on 19th August 1848, aged forty-two years. He was
buried in the old chapel in the churchyard at Gairloch. Almost the whole
population of the district attended the funeral.

John Mackenzie was slenderly built, fair-haired, and sharp-featured. He
was from his youth upwards considered quite a character in his native
district. He composed several pieces of his own, but not of the highest
order. He made a song in 1830 to Mary Sudge (with whom he had fallen in
love), and published it in his "Cruitear; or Gaelic Melodist." He also
composed an excellent song to a weaver's loom. He became well known as a
good piper; he and John Macrae of Raasay used to be judges of pipe music
at the Edinburgh competitions.

Several anecdotes are related exhibiting his originality and humour. One
is worth recording here. He was travelling through Skye and the Islands
gathering materials for his own works, and collecting accounts for the
_Inverness Courier_. He had collected a considerable sum and paid it
into a bank at Portree, where he was invited by the banker to spend the
night. Next morning he strolled down to the pier, and there saw a ship
with the form of a woman as figurehead. At this he stared so intently
and earnestly, assuming at the same time his usual comic attitudes, that
the captain's son noticing him asked, "Is she not really a very
beautiful woman?" "Oh, yes," answered John, "I wish you would sell her
to me." "You had better buy the ship," said he. "Oh, I cannot; it's not
every man who could buy the ship, and it's her figurehead I want." The
captain's son, still chaffing one whom he took to be a mere simpleton,
and referring to John's long overcoat, answered, "I have seen many a man
with a shorter coat than yours who could buy her." "Well, if she is
cheap, I would like to buy her for the figurehead. Have you any cargo in
her?" "Yes; I have five hundred bolls of meal in her; and you shall have
the whole for three hundred pounds." John jumped on board, handed a
five-pound note to the captain's son, who was part owner and was working
the vessel, and said, "The ship is mine as she stands, cargo and all;
come to the bank at twelve to-morrow, and you shall have the money."
John went to the banker, related what had passed, informed the banker he
had no money to pay for the ship, but that she was a good bargain, and
that they must watch lest the captain's son should get away with her and
the five pounds. Inquiries were made, and the banker agreed to pay for
the ship, which was really worth more than three hundred pounds. They
went at once to the captain's son, and offered him the money. He was in
great distress, and begged to be relieved of the foolish bargain,
finally offering John sixty pounds for himself if he would give up his
right to the ship. This sum he magnanimously declined, and gave up the
ship, strongly advising the captain's son to be more careful in future;
not to chaff any one who had no intention of interfering with him or
his; and, particularly, never to judge a man by his appearance, or by
the length of his coat.

On 26th July 1878 a monument to the memory of John Mackenzie, which had
been erected on a projecting rock outside the Gairloch churchyard, near
the high road, was uncovered by Sir Kenneth Mackenzie of Gairloch, in
presence of a large number of spectators. The monument, which is a
granite column thirteen feet six inches high, was raised by a public
subscription, originated and carried through by Mr Alexander Mackenzie
of the _Celtic Magazine_. There are suitable inscriptions in Gaelic and
English, that in English being as follows:--"In memory of John Mackenzie
(of the family of Alastair Cam of Gairloch), who compiled and edited the
'Beauties of Gaelic Poetry;' and also compiled, wrote, translated, or
edited, under surpassing difficulties, about thirty other works. Born at
Mellon Charles, 1806; Died at Inverewe, 1848. In grateful recognition of
his valuable services to Celtic literature, this monument is erected by
a number of his fellow-countrymen, 1878."

Chapter XXIII.


There are several Gairloch men now living who essay the poetic vein in
their own language.

One of them is Alexander Mackenzie, of Oban, or Opinan, near Mellon
Udrigil. He is called "the bard," and has composed, it is said, some
good songs. He lives the ordinary life of a crofter.

Perhaps the best known of living Gairloch bards is Duncan Mackenzie, the
Kenlochewe bard. He was born in 1831, on the Culinellan farm near
Kenlochewe. His father Hector was a weaver at Kenlochewe, and composed
some poems, but his muse was neither so prolific nor so notable as that
of his son. Duncan's mother was of the Loch Carron Mackenzies, some of
whom were also poets. Duncan Mackenzie was never at school, and only
learned to read Gaelic after attaining manhood. He had a brother named
Malcolm, who was a piper, and died some years ago. The bard displayed
his talents at an early age, for he composed several pieces when only
eleven years old. The first which attracted public attention to his
talents as a bard was a dialogue in verse between himself and Fionnla
Leith, which he composed at the age of fifteen. The bard is a crofter at
Kenlochewe. Like his father he is a good weaver; at times he has also
proved himself an efficient shoemaker, mason, and carpenter. He is not a
great singer, but he sometimes, though rarely, renders his own songs in
a low voice but with expression. He has composed a large number of
songs. A dozen of them have been published by Mr Alexander Mackenzie,
under the auspices of the Gaelic Society of Inverness. Many of his
pieces are forgotten by himself, though remembered by his neighbours. He
has over fifty in manuscript. He excels in satire, and a vein of
sometimes rather strong humour pervades his poems. He is a tall slender
man, with plenty of beard, and still frequently dons the kilt.

The following poem was composed by the Kenlochewe bard on the marriage
of Sir Kenneth S. Mackenzie, Bart. of Gairloch. Appended is an English
version of the song which Professor Blackie has kindly made for this
book. It is a close translation:--


        Chuala mi naigheachd ro thaitneach ri h-eis 'neachd,
        Sgeula chaidh aithris am baile Dhun-eidin,
        Sir Coinneach bhi seachnadh ard bhan-tighearnan Shasuinn,
        Sa posadh ri ainnir, cho maiseach ri te dhiu'.

        Nighean tighearn Ilè tha cinnteach ro uasal,
        Cho fad sa theid firinn a sgriobhadh man cuairt dì',
        Eireachdail, finealta, direach, ro-stuama,
        Ailleagan priseil, bho shin i air gluasad.

        'S ciatach a charaid 's iad Gaidh'lach le cheile,
        Tha uaisle nan nadur thug bar air na ceudan,
        "Ban-tighearn og Ghearrloch" an trath sa dha h-eigheachd,
        'S cupaichean lana dha 'n traghadh le eibhneas.

        Tein-aighir 's gach aite, le gairdeachas inntinn,
        Bho iosal Strath Ghearrloch gu Braighé na tirè
        An tuath-cheatharn laidir dha'm b-abhaist bhi dileas,
        A dearbhadh an cairdeas 's an daimh nach da dhiobair.

        Tha i' slean 'us uaislean san uair so aig feasda,
        Ag innse gach buaidh a bha dualach dha'n teaghlach,
        Nan suidhè gu h-uallach an guaillean a cheile
        Ag guidhe bhi buan doibh, le suaibhneas 'us eibhneas.

        A bhan-tighearn og aluinn tha'n traths air an tir so,
        A dh-fhior fhuil nan Armunn bha tamh ann an Ilè,
        Na Caimbeulaich laidir, bho chrioch Ar-a-Ghaidheil,
        Toir buaidh air an namhaid 's gach ait anns am bi iad.

        Tha cliu air na gaisgich dha'm b-aitreabh an tigh Digè,
        'S priseil an eachdraidh th'air cleachdadh na sinnsear,
        Bu mhoralach, maiseach, an curaidh Sir Eachainn;
        Bha eis'neachd aig fhacal am Bailè na rioghachd.

        Sir _Frank_, an duin' uasal, bu shuaircè ro choir e,
        Meas aig an t-sluagh air, 's bha 'n tuath air an seol leis,
        Sealgair na'm fuar-bheann, ceum uallach air mointich:
        'S minic a bhuail e, na luath's an damh croiceach.

        Buaidh 'us cinneachdainn piseach, 'us ainm dhoibh,
        Slaintè 'us toileachdainn, sonas 'us sealbh dhoibh,
        Saoghal fada, gun ghainnè, gun chearb dhoibh,
        Gearrloch 'us Lagaidh, bhi pailt ann an airgiod.


        I heard a piece of news last night, good news that brings no
        Good news that sped on lightsome wings from castled Edinboro',
        That good Sir Kenneth wisely shuns an English maid to woo,
        But he will marry a bonnie lass of Celtic blood and true.

        A daughter of brave Islay's lord, a perfect lady she
        From top to toe, this all who speak the truth will tell to thee;
        Handsome she is, stately and tall, winsome and chaste and good:
        In all she is, and all she does, a jewel of womanhood.

        A noble couple, and well matched; this thing I dare to tell,--
        Among a thousand ladies she will bravely bear the bell.
        The Lady of Gairloch! I hear them shout with loud acclaim,
        While brimming cups are freely poured to her high honoured name.

        And bonfires blaze on all the heights, and all hearts are ablaze,
        From the green shelter of the strath up to the hoary braes;
        And all the clansmen stout and true attend with loyal pride,
        To prove their fealty to their chief, and greet his noble bride.

        Both high and low are feasting now, and telling man to man
        The virtues that from sire to son flowed on to bless the clan:
        Proudly they sit in friendly groups, and pray that evermore
        On them and theirs a gracious God full horn of joy may pour.

        The lovely lady long the pride of Islay's faithful strand,
        Of old heroic stock, shall now rule o'er this happy land;
        In west Argyll her kinsmen dwell, the clan of mighty name,
        Who never flinched and never failed to conquer where they came.

        In Tigh mor's goodly hall they sit, where deeds of great renown
        The blazoned story of the clan from sire to son come down:
        Sir Hector was a noble man, and when debate was stirred
        At Dingwall or at Inverness they owned his mighty word.

        Sir Francis was a gentleman, right courteous and polite,
        And all his tenants loved the lord who always loved the right;
        A hunter bold was he, and keen to mount from crag to crag,
        With wary foot, and bring to ground the fleet high-antlered stag.

        Good luck and joy be with the pair, favour from God and man;
        Health and goodwill and acres broad well planted with the clan;
        And length of happy days be theirs, and blessings without measure,
        And a fat purse to serve their need and entertain their leisure.

Alexander Cameron, who may be called "the Tournaig bard," is a native of
Inverasdale, on the west side of Loch Ewe. He was born about 1848. He
has been manager of Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie's farm at Tournaig for some
sixteen years, and has been on the Inverewe estate since he was a boy of
fifteen. He is the author of a number of songs and poems of considerable
merit. Perhaps the best of them is a poem in twenty verses in praise of
Tournaig. The song in its original Gaelic appeared in the _Northern
Chronicle_ in 1883. I have had the pleasure of hearing Alexander Cameron
sing several of his own songs, and can testify to their graceful
intonation. He is tall, and rather slenderly built, and has the
courteous manner of a true Gairloch Highlander.

The following are twelve verses of the song in praise of Tournaig, with
an English version by Mr W. Clements Good, of Aberdeen:--


        On's e'n diugh an dara Maigh
        Bho 'na ghabh mi 'n Turnaig tamh,
        Air leam fein nach b'olc an cas
        Air a sgath ged' dheilbhinn rann.
              Hurabh o gun tog mi fonn,
              'S toil leam fein an Coire donn,
              Diridh mi 'mach ris a mhaoil;
              'S fallain gaoth a thaobh na meall.

        'S gloirmhor obair Nadair fein,
        Grian a g'oradh neoil nan speur,
        Cuan na chomhnard boidheach reidh,
        'S torman seimh aig seis nan allt.
              Hurabh o, &c.

        Turnaig aoibhinn, Turnaig aigh,
        Turnaig shaoibhir, Turnaig lan,
        Turnaig bheartach, 's pailte barr,
        Turnaig ghnaiseach, ghranach, throm.
              Hurabh o, &c.

        Tha gach tlachd na d' thaic'air fas,
        Sliabh is srath is cladach sail;
        D'uillt do neamhneidibh cho lan
        Far an snamh an dobhran donn.
              Hurabh o, &c.

        Tha do chladach clachadh, ard,
        Geodhach, stacach, fasgach, blath;
        H-uile sloc is lag is bagh
        Loma-lan do mhaorach trom.
              Hurabh o, &c.

        Bradain mheanmnach na d' loch sail,
        Iteach ballabhreac's earragheal tarr,
        Suibhlach luath, na chuaich mar bharc,
        Tigh'n on 'chuan gu tamh 'm bun d'allt
              Hurabh o, &c.

        Loch-nan-dail le chladach 'seoin,
        Loch-nan-lach is glaise geoidh,
        Iasgach pailt air bhailc nan ob,
        'S gasd 'an spors do sheoid dhol ann.
              Hurabh o, &c.

        Air gach dail tha mart le laogh,
        Anns gach glaic tha pailteas naoisg,
        Air gach stacan, coileach fraoich
        'Mach na d' aonach sgaoth chearc donn.
              Hurabh o, &c.

        Coill Aigeascaig gu ceutach cluth,
        'S am beil legion coileach-dubh,
        Sud an doire 'n goir iad moch,
        Seinn am puirt le'm bus-ghuib chrom,
              Hurabh o, &c.

        Cuag chuldonn anns gach ait'
        Seinn guggug an dluths 'nam barr,
        Breacaidh-beith 'sa ghlas charn,
        Snathadag is dreadhan donn,
              Hurabh o, &c.

        Smudan, smeorach, creothar, dnag,
        Sud an ceol is boidhche sgread;
        'S bru-dearg ruiteach gearradh fead,
        Thuas air creagan os an cionn.
              Hurabh o, &c.

        Leam a b'ait bhi seal le'm ghaol,
        G-eisdeachd cruitearan do chraobh;
        Gabhail beachd air obair shaor
        Nadair aonsgeulaich 's gach ball.
              Hurabh o, &c.

                SONG ON TOURNAIG.

        Twice has the bright returning May
        Inspired me to poetic lay,
        Since Tournaig's hills first knew my tread
        And cast their shadows o'er my head.
              Hurrah, the chorus let me raise!
              The Corrie be my theme of praise,
              On whose brown ridge the heather grows,
              And where the healthful north wind blows.

        Here nature glories in her pride;
        O'er heaven the clouds, all sunlit, glide;
        Like polished shield the ocean glows,
        The babbling burn sings as it flows.
              Hurrah, &c. &c.

        Tournaig! thou home beloved by me!
        With rich green crop and sloping lea,
        With fruitful fields and white-fleeced sheep
        Dotting afar each breezy steep.
              Hurrah, &c. &c.

        I ne'er can cease my praise of thee!
        Here hill and strath and briny sea;
        There streams which from the mountains glide,
        Where pearls abound and otters hide.
              Hurrah, &c. &c.

        High is thy shore against the storm,
        Yet lined with sheltered coves and warm;
        Whilst shell-fish fill each rocky hole
        Where never ocean's waves can roll.
              Hurrah, &c. &c.

        And he who gazes in the deep
        May see the silvery salmon sweep,
        With graceful curve and stately turn,
        To seek his food below the burn.
              Hurrah, &c. &c.

        Or we can haste to Loch-nan-Dail,
        Where the brown trout will never fail;
        Whilst flocks of duck and grey goose soar
        From marshy haunts upon its shore.
              Hurrah, &c. &c.

        The shaggy herd each meadow feeds,
        The snipe lies close within the reeds;
        Each step the heather-cock may rouse,
        Loud warning his less wary spouse.
              Hurrah, &c. &c.

        Coille Aigeascaig,--shade from the heat!
        Here is the blackcock's sure retreat;
        Yonder they crow at early day,
        With bent bills crooning forth their lay.
              Hurrah, &c. &c.

        Wood pigeon, mavis, and night jar,
        Make music sweet both near and far;
        Full joyously the redbreasts call,
        Perched on the rock high o'er them all.
              Hurrah, &c. &c.

        "Coo, coo," the cuckoo cries aloft,
        The chaffinch sings in tones more soft,
        The fieldfare, titlark, and the wren
        All swell the chorus of thy glen.
              Hurrah, &c. &c.

        No symphony can rival thine;
        Nor elsewhere do more clearly shine
        The works of God in nature's face,
        Harmonious in every place.
              Hurrah, &c. &c.

        Would that we two were wandering now
        Where these wild woods could hear our vow!
        Ne'er could we roam midst scenes more grand
        Than in this rugged northern land!
              Hurrah, &c. &c.

Alexander Bain, who is a crofter, thatcher, and dyker at Lonmor, was
born about 1849. He has composed a number of excellent poems and songs
in his native tongue. He is a much-respected and very worthy man, and is
a sergeant in the Gairloch volunteers. He is of middle height and good

Alexander Bain has composed the following elegy on the late well-known
Dr Kennedy of Dingwall, who died in 1884, and who might be termed the
bishop of the Free Church in the north-west Highlands. The doctor's
fervid eloquence was often to be heard during sacramental services in
the Leabaidh na Bàine at Gairloch. Appended is an English rendering of
the elegy, mainly contributed by Mr Good:--


        Thainig sgeul gu crich,
        Tha na bhochdainn do'n tir muthuath;
        Fad's a mhaireas an linn's,
        Bithidh luchd-aidmheil fo sgios le gruaim.
        Thainig smal air an or,
        Ged tha'n Soisgeul air doigh mur bha,
        Bho'n chuir iad fo'n fhoid,
        Doctear Iain bu bhoidhche cail.

        Thainig freasdail mu 'n cuairt,
        'S thug e rionnag nam buadh gu lar;
        Bithidh a Ghaidhealtachd truagh,
        'S cha dean gearan dhoibh suas am bearn.
        Sguir an sruthan bu bhoidhche,
        Bha toir misneach do dhoige nan gras;
        'S bithidh an cridheachan leoint',
        Gus an ruig iad air gloir 's aird'.

        'S ann tha lot anns a Chleir
        As an-d-imich a reult a baild',
        Bha na cobhair do 'n treud,
        G'an tabhair thairis gu freumh na slaint'.
        Bha do bhuaidhean gu leir,
        Air an unga le seula graidh,
        'S cha n-fhaic sinne as do dheigh,
        Fear a sheasas cho treun na d-ait'.

        Thainig dubhar, 'us neul,
        Air an Eaglais, nach clear dhi 'n drasd;
        Thuit a geata fo priomh
        Ged tha a bunnait cho fial 's a bha.
        Am measg a cedair thu dluth,
        'S thusa a meangan bu chubhraidh dhasan;
        Bha thu taitneach fad d'uin'
        Gu bhith labhairt air run fear daimh.

        Bha do phearsa gun ghiomh
        An's gach rathad an iarrte fas;
        Ann an tuigse, 's an ciall,
        Thug thu barrachd air ciad do chach.
        Bha do sholus mur a ghriann
        Cuir gach onair air Criosd amhain,
        'S be sin toiseach do mhiann
        Dol troimh ghleanneanaibh ciar a bhais.

              ELEGY ON DR KENNEDY.

        Sorrow overwhelms the Highlands;
          Saintly Kennedy is dead!
        Christian souls in woe bewail him
          Sleeping in his narrow bed.
        Though the truth shines 'midst the darkness,
          Dimly burns the golden flame
        Since beneath the sod they laid him,
          Lovely in his life and aim.

        Death's dark angel hovers o'er him;
          Low our star of goodness falls;
        Wild laments are unavailing,--
          'Tis the Master gently calls!
        Dried up is that fount of beauty,
          Quenched that welling stream of grace;
        Our sad hearts will bleed with anguish
          Till in heaven we see his face.

        All the elders, broken-hearted,
          Mourn their guiding star; his flock
        Mourn their pastor, him who helped them
          To confide in Christ their Rock.
        Bright above his many virtues
          Shone the seal of love divine;
        None can equal his brave spirit,--
          None such noble powers combine.

        Clouds and gloomy shadows gather
          O'er the church for evermore;
        Yet, though shaken are her bastions,
          Her foundations still are sure.
        In the grove of stately cedars
          Thou the sweetest branch hast stood;
        Eloquent thou wast, when preaching
          Life through Christ's most precious blood.

        Blameless was thy life-long journey,
          With the choicest goodness blest;
        In thy wisdom, sense, and knowledge
          Thou wast high above the rest.
        Like the sun thy light was shining,
          Praising Jesus day by day:
        Truly thou wast ever ready
          Through death's vale to take thy way.

Chapter XXIV.


There are few, if any, traces of the existence of artistic knowledge or
skill to be met with in the history of Gairloch or among her
inhabitants. True some of the ancient weapons display a little artistic
decoration, but these or their patterns may have come from other parts.
One or two silver brooches of old Celtic designs are to be met with in
the parish, and may perhaps be considered evidence of native taste. The
arts of architecture, sculpture, and painting, however, have never been
practised in Gairloch, at least there are no remains that shew it.

In these later years of the nineteenth century an instance has occurred
of an intense love of, and feeling for, the art of drawing and painting
in a native of Gairloch, so remarkable as to call for special mention

The instance referred to is in the person of a young man barely yet "of
age," named Finlay Mackinnon, a crofter at Poolewe. Whilst doing his
duty as a crofter he struggles to progress in art, and has in fact made
painting his profession. Enthusiasm for art is his absorbing passion. He
is a fine well-built and well conducted young man, above middle height.
In manner he is modest and unassuming, and his native Highland courtesy
is conspicuous. He has been educated at the Poolewe Public School, and
lives with his mother at Mossbank, Poolewe.

In the autumn of 1877 I was going out for a sail on Loch Ewe; the
boatmaster, requiring a boy to assist, engaged Finlay Mackinnon (then a
little barelegged lad), who happened to be standing by, and with whom I
was scarcely acquainted at the time. During our trip I got into
conversation with Finlay, and asked him whether he was to become a
fisherman or sailor. He answered, "No." "What have you a fancy for?" I
inquired. The quaint reply in his then rather imperfect English was,
"All my mind is with the drawing." He afterwards shewed me his childish
efforts with his pencil, and some very humble attempts in water-colour
achieved by the aid of a shilling box of paints! I started him in a
course of instruction, and Mrs Mackenzie of Inverewe gave him great
assistance. He progressed rapidly. About 1881 it was his good fortune to
come under the notice of Mr H. B. W. Davis, R.A. (who has so splendidly
rendered some of the scenery and Highland cattle of Loch Maree), and Mr
Davis kindly helped him forward, and in 1883 had him to London where he
gave him a session's teaching at South Kensington. Other gentlemen,
including Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, Bart. of Gairloch, the Marquis of
Bristol, Mr O. H. Mackenzie of Inverewe, Mr John Bateson, lessee of
Shieldaig, Mr A. Hamond, also lessee of Shieldaig, and Mr A. W. Weedon,
the artist, gave Finlay Mackinnon material aid, and he was enabled to
spend the winter session of 1884-5 at South Kensington.

Some of Finlay Mackinnon's sketches in water-colour already display
considerable merit, and there is every prospect of his becoming an able
delineator and interpreter of the beauties of Gairloch and Loch Maree.

Chapter XXV.


The following stories have been related to me by James Mackenzie of
Kirkton, along with many traditions and facts embodied in other parts of
this book. James Mackenzie is an enthusiastic lover of family history
and local folk-lore, and whilst disowning superstitious fancies is quite
alive to the charms of romance. I have endeavoured to preserve the words
and phrases in which he communicated the stories, and where the pronoun
of the first person is used in the following tales, it must be taken as
coming from his lips.

James Mackenzie was born in 1808, and consequently remembers several of
the bards and pipers already mentioned. His elder brother was John
Mackenzie, so celebrated amongst Gaelic speakers as the compiler of the
"Beauties of Gaelic Poetry," and James shared with his brother the fund
of old stories which, in the days of their youth, they loved to listen
to at the "ceilidh," or social meetings, then so generally held during
the long winter nights.

James Mackenzie, who is a direct descendant in the sixth generation from
Alastair Breac, fifth laird of Gairloch, has been a sailor during much
of his life, and still affects the blue neckerchief and dark serge
clothes of the sea-faring man, topped with a Highland bonnet of the
Prince Charlie type. He is short in stature, and has very expressive
features. He has the true Highland _esprit_, combined with refined
courtesy and faithful attachment to his chief,--qualities which many
think are destined soon to become extinct.

Nearly all the following stories are strictly Gairloch tales, relating
incidents about Gairloch people. The anecdote of Rob Donn James
Mackenzie wished to be included, lest it might otherwise be lost.


"William Roy Mackenzie was stopping at Innis a bhaird. This was in the
eighteenth century, before they commenced making whisky in Gairloch.
William used to go to Ferintosh with his two horses with crook saddles,
carrying a cask of whisky on each side. He always went there about
Christmas. At that time Christmas was observed in Gairloch; now its
observance is given up. William had two horses, a white and a black; one
of them was fastened behind the tail of the other, the white horse
foremost. On the other side of Achnasheen there was an exciseman waiting
to catch William on his way home with four casks of whisky. The
exciseman hid himself until William came past. Then he jumped out from
his hiding-place, and caught the white horse by the halter, saying,
'This is mine.' Says William, 'I do not think you will say that
to-morrow; let go my horse.' 'No,' says the exciseman. 'Will you let him
go,' says William, 'if you get a permit with him?' 'Let me see your
permit,' says the exciseman, still dragging at the white horse. 'Stop,'
says William; 'let go the horse, the permit is in his tail.' He would
not let go; so when William saw that, he loosed the black horse from
behind the grey, that he might get at the permit. Then he lifted his
stick and struck the old grey so that he plunged and jumped, and in the
scrimmage one of the casks of whisky struck the exciseman and knocked
him down on the ground. Says William, 'There's the permit for you.' The
exciseman lay helpless on the ground; so William Roy got clean away with
all the whisky, and came home with it to Innis a bhaird."


"One of the Mackenzies of Letterewe had a daughter who was married to a
man in Badfearn in Skye. A daughter of theirs became the wife of William
Mackenzie of Rona, who was one of the Mackenzies of Shieldaig of
Gairloch. He had a son named Kenneth; and Kenneth had two sons, called
Kenneth and John. They were out fishing in a smack of their own, when
they were attacked and taken by the press-gang. They were carried off,
and placed in a hulk lying in the Thames below London. One night they
were together in the same watch, and they then made a plan to escape. A
yacht belonging to a gentleman in London was in the river; she was out
and in every day, and always anchored alongside the hulk. The gentry
from the yacht were going ashore every night, and leaving only a boy in
her. The night the two brothers Kenneth and John were on the watch, the
boy was alone in the yacht. What did they do but decide to carry out
their plan of escape there and then! So they went through the gun-ports,
one on each side of the hulk, and swam to the yacht. Then they got the
yacht under weigh, the boy sleeping all the time. They got safe away
with the yacht, and worked her as far as to Loch Craignish, on this side
of Crinan. There they went ashore in the night, and left the yacht with
the boy. They left the yacht's gig ashore in Loch Craignish, and set off
on their way home. When the laird of Craignish saw the gig, and the
yacht lying in the loch, he went out in the gig to see what kind of
yacht she was. The brothers had left the papers of the yacht on the
cabin table, that it might be found out who she belonged to. So the
laird of Craignish wrote to the owners in London, and advised them to
send orders to him to sell the yacht and send the boy home with the
money. The owners did so, and the yacht was sold. She became the
mail-packet between Coll and Tobermory. I saw her long ago on that

"The two brothers, Kenneth and John Mackenzie, got safe back to Rona,
and soon got another smack. They were going south with a cargo of fish,
through the Crinan Canal; the smack was lying in the basin after you
pass the first lock. There was a plank put to the shore from the gangway
of the vessel; by this they went ashore to the inn at Crinan. A girl in
the house went to the vessel and took the plank out; the two Mackenzies,
on going back to the smack in the dark, for want of the plank fell into
the basin, and were both drowned. They were relations of my mother. I
saw them when I was a boy at Mellon Charles. They were fine men."


"John Mackenzie, son of William Mackenzie, the fourth laird of Gruinard,
by Lilias, daughter of Captain John Mackenzie of Kinloch (or Lochend),
was a captain in the 73rd Regiment in the end of the eighteenth century.
The Gruinard family had holes and presses in their houses at Udrigil and
Aird, where they kept men whom they had caught until they agreed to
enlist in the army. Gruinard got money for catching men for the army.
There was a man in Londubh named Ruaridh Donn or Rorie Macgregor, of the
Macgregors of Kenlochewe; he was an old man, and was still strong. He
had a son, John, who was a very strong bold man. Gruinard gathered a
gang of twelve men to catch John Macgregor. So Mackenzie Lochend sent
him down with a letter to Mackenzie Gruinard. John went with the letter,
and gave it to Mrs Mackenzie, Gruinard's wife. 'Come in, John,' she
said, 'till you get some meat before you go away to Poolewe.' So John
went in, and she made a piece for him; she gave him a slice of bread and
butter, and put a sovereign between the bread and butter so that he
might get it. When John was eating he found the gold in his mouth; he
put it in his pocket. So when he had finished eating, he came out of the
house to go away home, and there he saw the gang of twelve men ready to
catch him. Mrs Mackenzie told him he had got the king's money. 'It's not
much,' said he; 'I wish I would get more of it.' Says she, 'You'll get
that by-and-by.' 'I'm not so sure of that,' says John. Then the gang
took him. 'If you're going to keep me,' says John, 'send word to my old
father, that I may see him as I pass by; he is old and weak, and I will
never see him again.' So Mrs Mackenzie sent on word to his father to
meet him. John was sent away with the gang, and as they passed the
garden at Londubh, Ruaridh Donn came down to the road to meet his son,
leaning on his staff as if he were weak. 'Good bye! are you going away,
John?' says he. 'Oh yes! good-bye to you, I'll never see you again,'
says John. Then the old man got a hold of John, and put him between
himself and the wall. The old man was shaking on his stick. John lifted
his two hands and put them over his father's shoulders, and began
laughing and mocking the gang. So the twelve men dare not go near them,
and they left John to go home with his money.

"Captain John Mackenzie, son of Captain John Mackenzie, Kinloch, and
brother of Mrs Mackenzie, Gruinard, went to Skye to marry a daughter of
the minister of Cambusmore. He went in a boat with a crew of six men,
and Duncan Urquhart, his own valet. John Macgregor was one of the crew.
They went ashore at Port Golaig, near Ru Hunish, the point of Skye
furthest north. The captain and Duncan walked up to Cambusmore, but the
crew stopped with the boat. The captain and Duncan were in the
minister's house all the week. On the Saturday John Macgregor was sent
up to the manse by the rest of the crew to see what was keeping them. It
was late when John got to the manse. The captain came out and scolded
John, asking what business he had there, and saying he might go away any
time he pleased for all he cared. Then the minister came out, and said
John must stop in the house until the Sabbath, for it would not be safe
for him to return to the boat through the night. But John would go away
back, and he fell over the high rock near Duntulm Castle and was killed.
When the minister rose in the morning, he sent Duncan Urquhart to see if
John had arrived at the boat. When Duncan was going he saw part of
John's kilt caught on a point of rock, and found his dead body below. So
Duncan turned to the house and told the bad news. The minister said to
the captain, 'You may go home; you will not get my daughter this trip.'
John Macgregor's body was taken home in a box, and buried in the
churchyard at Inverewe. He left two daughters; one of them was married
to Murdo Crubach Fraser in Inverkerry, and was the mother of Kenneth
Fraser and John Fraser now living at Leac-nan-Saighead. A daughter of
Murdo Crubach's is the wife of Christopher Mackenzie, Brahan, and a son
of theirs is piper with the Mackintosh."


"There was a Mackenzie of an old Gairloch stock living in Ullapool, Loch
Broom. He was called in Gaelic 'Murchadh mac Mhurchaidh,' or, 'Murdo the
son of Murdo;' I will call him 'Murdo's son.' He was a very fine,
good-looking man, and very brave. He had a small smack, and he was
always going with her round the Mull of Kintyre to Greenock with
herrings from Loch Broom. Returning with the vessel empty, he put into a
place called Duncan's Well, in the Island of Luing, on the other side of
Oban. This island belongs to Lord Breadalbane to this day. Murdo's son
went ashore at night. There was a ball going on in a house, and Lord
Breadalbane's daughter was there. She fell in love at once with the
good-looking Murdo's son, and he fell in love with her. He took her away
with him that very night, and before daybreak they set sail for
Ullapool. When they got to Ullapool they were married, and he took her
to his house at the place now called Moorfield, where the banker lives
in the present day.

"There was no name on Murdo's son's smack at that time; there were no
roads nor newspapers then; and no one knew where the smack had gone with
Lord Breadalbane's daughter, only that she had left with Murdo's son.
Lord Breadalbane could find out nothing more. He went to the king and
got a law made that from that time every vessel should have a name on
it; there were no names on vessels before then in Scotland. Lord
Breadalbane offered a reward of three hundred pounds to any one who
would find where his daughter had gone. When Murdo's son got the report
of this reward he started off at once, dressed in his best kilt and
plaid, with his dirk in his belt, and walked all the way to Lord
Breadalbane's castle at Taymouth. He knocked at the door, and a man came
and asked what he was wanting; he told him he wanted to see the lord. So
the man went in, and soon the lord came in his slippers to the door. He
asked Murdo's son what was he wanting there. He told him he came to tell
him where his daughter was, that he might get the reward. Says the lord,
'You will get the money if you tell me where she is;' asked him, 'Where
is she?' 'Well,' says Murdo's son, 'I'll tell that when I get the
money.' 'There's your money for you then.' When he got the money, he
said, 'She's at Ullapool, at Loch Broom, and if you will give me other
three hundred pounds I will put the hand of the man that stole her into
your hand.' The lord gave him other three hundred pounds. Says he, 'Keep
out your hand.' 'There,' says he, putting his hand in the lord's hand,
'is the hand that took your daughter from the Island of Luing;' and Lord
Breadalbane was so pleased with his pluck and appearance, that he
accepted him as his son-in-law, and gave him the full tocher (or dowry)
of his daughter. I remember seeing their son and daughter; the daughter
married John Morrison, who was the farmer at Drumchork, about 1850.

"Murdo's son was going in the same smack with herrings from Loch Broom
to sell them. After coming round the Mull of Kintyre he anchored at
Crinan for the night. There was lying there a lugger full of gin and
brandy; she had been captured near Cape Wrath by a government cutter;
the crew had been put ashore at Cape Wrath. Six men of the cutter's crew
were bringing the lugger to deliver her at Greenock. She came alongside
Murdo's son at Crinan, as she was going south and he coming north.
Murdo's son asked them, 'What craft is that?' They told him it was a
smuggler they had caught at Cape Wrath. 'Surely you have plenty drink on
board,' says he. 'Oh, yes,' they said, 'she is choke full.' Says he,
'You had better all of you come over and see if the stuff I have is
better than what you have got.' So they came over, all hands, to his
smack. He tried the jar he had, and made them all drunk. They could not
leave his cabin. When they were in this state he and his crew went to
the lugger, took possession of her, and set sail, leaving her drunken
crew in his own smack. Murdo's son came to Ullapool with the lugger, and
when he had taken the cargo out of her he set fire to her and destroyed
her. A son of Murdo's son was married to Mrs Mackenzie of Kernsary
before Mr Mackenzie married her, and had two sons, both now dead, and
buried in Cil-lean, in Strath Garve.

"Donald Morrison, of Drumchork, was a grandson of Murdo's son and Lord
Breadalbane's daughter. He went to see the Lord Breadalbane of his day,
a descendant of the lord whose daughter was married to Murdo's son. Lord
Breadalbane gave Donald Morrison three hundred pounds when he went to
the castle. Rorie Morrison also went to see Lord Breadalbane, but he did
not get anything. Donald was a very fine, tall, handsome man, and looked
grand in his kilt and plaid; there was no one like him in the country,
so good-looking and so well shaped for the kilt!"


"The law that a name should be put on every vessel brings to my mind an
anecdote of Sir Hector Mackenzie of Gairloch. Macleod of Raasay had a
boat that had no name on her when the law was made requiring names. So
the boat was taken from him, and he was cited to a court at Inverness,
that he might be fined for not putting a name on the boat. When Sir
Hector heard of this he went to the court. Macleod was there; the judge
told him he was fined so much for not having the boat named. Sir Hector
said, 'Macleod's boat is the coach to his house, and he can never get
home without it, and if you are going to fine him for not having his
boat named, you must put a name on your own coach when you go out.' Said
the judge, 'If that be the case he can go home.' Thus Macleod got


"I can remember Mr and Mrs Mackenzie of Kernsary. They lived in the
house where I now live. Rorie, as Mackenzie Kernsary was called, was a
strange eccentric man; he died a good while before his wife, and was
buried in the chapel in the Inverewe burial-ground close by. They had
only one son, Sandy, and it was he who built the house at Inveran; he
was married to a daughter of the Rev. Roderick Morison, minister of
Kintail, the best-looking woman in the north of Scotland at that time;
her nephew is the present minister of Kintail. Sandy had three sons and
three daughters. One son became Established Church minister at Moy; one
daughter married Mr Mactavish, a lawyer in Inverness; another daughter
married one Cameron, a farmer; and another son was at sea. My
grandfather, John Mackenzie, was a cattle drover; he was always going
through the country buying cattle; an old Hielan'man, with his blue
bonnet and old Hielan' coat. He bought cattle between Poolewe and Little
Loch Broom. At times he bought a large number. One time he went to the
Isle of Gruinard and bought a fat grey cow from one Duncan Macgregor
there. He sent a man on with the drove to Gairloch to go to the market,
and stopped behind himself that day. When the cows were passing Londubh,
Mackenzie Kernsary was out on the brae; he saw the cattle passing, and
he asked the man with them to whom did they belong. The man replied, 'To
John Mackenzie, the drover.' 'Oh!' says he, 'they could not belong to a
better man. You'll turn that grey cow up here till I kill her for Mrs
Mackenzie.' 'No,' says the herd, 'that'll no be the case; we'll know
which is the best man first.' 'That tells you that the cow will be
mine,' says Kernsary. And so it was; Mackenzie took the cow from him,
drove her to the byre, got the axe, and killed her in a minute. He went
in and told Mary his wife to send a man to bleed the cow before it would
get cold. So Mary said, 'What cow is it?' 'Never mind,' says he, 'you'll
know that before Saturday.' And so she did. The old drover himself came
by next day. Mrs Mackenzie saw him passing, and called him up. She took
him into the house and gave him a glass of mountain dew. Then she told
him what her husband did yesterday on a grey cow of his, and that she
was going to pay him. She asked him what was the value of the cow. He
replied, 'Nothing but what I paid for it;' and she paid him."


"In the year 1809 Loch Ewe was the most famous loch known for haddock.
Boats came even from the east coast, from Nairn and Avoch; indeed until
the following occurrence Loch Ewe was unrivalled in the north of
Scotland for its haddock fishing.

"It was a beautiful day, and all the boats were fishing on the
south-west side of Isle Ewe opposite Inverasdale. A new boat was put off
the stocks at Mellon Charles, and was taken out that day for the first
time. Seven men went out in her, viz., Duncan Mackenzie, Ronald
Mackenzie, Rorie Maclean, Murdo Mackenzie, Donald Maclennan, John
Chisholm, and Hector Macrae, all Mellon men. They went to the back of
Sgeir an Fharaig, much further out towards the open than the other
boats. It was so calm the oars were laid across the boat. Suddenly they
saw a whale coming in from the ocean making straight at them. One of the
men suggested they had better put the oars straight and pull out of her
way. And this they did; but as they worked to one side, the whale cut
across straight after them, and soon came up with them. She struck the
boat in the bow, and made a crack about a yard long in the second plank
above the keel. Six oars were then manned, and, with one man keeping his
coat to the crack, they rowed for their lives; but as the crack was in
the bow, the water forced itself in notwithstanding the efforts of the
man with his coat. They were making for the nearest land, when the boat
filled. When Ronald, who had been a soldier, saw this, he stripped and
jumped overboard to swim for it. He swam some distance when the whale
struck him below; so then he turned back to the water-logged boat. When
he reached the boat, three of the men had been drowned, viz., Murdo
Mackenzie, Donald Maclennan, and John Chisholm. After that the whale
disappeared, or at least ceased to molest them. It was a small whale.

"A man at Mellon Charles had noticed the incident; he ran through the
township to procure help; but no boat was to be found, and there were
only women and children at home. He went as far as Drumchork; there an
old boat was found, that had been turned keel up for two years. Seven
men were found to attempt an expedition for the rescue of the wrecked
fishermen. They had only one oar, and on the other side of the boat
worked bits of board, whilst two of the men were employed baling. In
this way they reached the water-logged boat, and rescued the four
survivors of its crew. Ever since this fatal occurrence it has been the
popular belief in the country that whales attack new boats or
newly-tarred boats. When the boat was got ashore a large piece of the
whale's skin was found in the crack in the bow."


"Rob Donn, the great Reay bard, was bard and ground-officer to Mackay
Lord Reay, in the middle of the eighteenth century. He would always be
going out with his gun, and secretly killing deer. Lord Reay found this
out, and sent for Rob. He said, 'I'm hearing, Robert, you are killing my
deer.' 'Oh, no,' says he, 'I am not killing them all, but I am killing
some of them; I cannot deny that.' Lord Reay then said, 'Unless you give
it up, I must put you away out of the place; you must get a security
that you will not kill any more.' 'Oh,' says Rob to him, 'I must go and
see if I can get a surety.' So he left the room. Outside the door he met
Lord Reay's son. 'Will you,' said Rob to the boy, 'become security for
me that I will not kill more deer on your father's property?' 'Yes,'
replied the boy. Rob caught him by the hand and took him to Lord Reay.
'Is that your security, Robert?' said his lordship. 'Yes,' said Robert,
'will you not take him?' 'No, I will not,' answered his lordship. 'It is
very strange,' replied Rob, 'that you will not take your own son as
security for one man, when God took his own Son for all the world's
security.' It need scarcely be added that Rob Donn remained bard and
ground-officer to Lord Reay. This story I believe to be perfectly true."


"About ninety years ago the British Fishery Society built the pier at
Ullapool, and the streets of unfinished and unoccupied houses there
which to this day give it the appearance of a deserted town. There were
great herring fisheries then in Lochbroom, and Woodhouse from Liverpool
started a large curing establishment in Isle Martin; so did Rorie
Morrison at Tanera, and Melville at Ullapool. The Big Pool of Loch Broom
was the best place for herrings in Scotland at that time, and there
would be a hundred and fifty ships from all parts to buy herrings
there,--from Saltcoats, Bute, and Helensburgh, Greenock and Port
Bonachie, East Tarbert and West Tarbert. Melville built two ships in
Guisach, which he named the 'Tweed' and the 'Riand.' That place was full
of natural wood at the time; it was in a rocky spot at Aultnaharril,
opposite to Ullapool, where the ferry is. Melville was bound to take the
herrings from all the fishermen's boats. They were so plentiful that he
could not cure them all, so he made middens of them, and he also boiled
quantities for the oil from them. After that season Lochbroom was
nineteen years without a hundred herrings in it, and the fishery has
never recovered to this day."


"Kenneth Mackenzie, the last laird of Dundonnell of the old family, was
descended from the first Lord Mackenzie of Kintail, and was a connection
of the Gairloch Mackenzies. He was a peculiar man; he had a large flock
of hens, and used to make every tenant pay him so many hens at the
Martinmas term along with their rent. My grandfather's brother, Sandy
M'Rae, who was tenant of the Isle of Gruinard, had to pay four hens
every year to the laird. Kenneth Mackenzie, in 1817, married Bella,
daughter of one Donald Roy Macgregor, belonging to Easter Ross; they had
no family. She had a brother called Rob Roy Macgregor, who was a lawyer
in Edinburgh. When Kenneth was on his deathbed his wife and Rob Roy
wanted him to leave the Dundonnell estate to the latter. The dying laird
was willing to do so, because he did not care for his only brother
Thomas Mackenzie; but he was so weak that he could not sign his name to
the will, and it is said that Rob Roy Macgregor held the laird's hand
with the pen, and that the wife was keeping up the hand while Rob Roy
made the signature. The laird died soon after, and left nothing at all
to his brother Thomas. When the will became known there was a great
feeling of indignation among all the Mackenzies and the gentry of the
low country, as well as among the tenantry on the Dundonnell estates,
against Rob Roy Macgregor, who now took up his residence at the old
house of Dundonnell. The whole of the tenantry were opposed to him,
except one man at Badluachrach named Donald Maclean, commonly called
Donald the son of Farquhar. He was the only man that was on Rob Roy's
side. His neighbours made a fire in the bow of his boat in the night
time and burnt a good part of it. He sent the boat to Malcolm Beaton, a
cousin of his own at Poolewe, to repair it; the night after it was
repaired (whilst still at Poolewe) there was a fire put in the stern,
and the other end of her was burnt. The Dundonnell tenants rose against
Rob Roy Macgregor, and procured firearms; they surrounded the house, and
fired through the shutters by which the windows were defended, hoping to
take his life; one ball or slug struck the post of his bed. The next
night he escaped, and never returned again. His barn and his stacks of
hay and corn were burnt, and the manes and tails of his horses were cut
short. Thomas Mackenzie commenced law against Rob Roy Macgregor for the
recovery of the estate. In the end it was decided that it belonged to
him, but it had become so burdened by the law expenses that it had to be


"It would be before 1810 that Hector Mackenzie of Sand was living in a
house at Cliff, on the west side of the burn at Cliff House. Sir Hector
Mackenzie of Gairloch had given him lands at Inverasdale. He went up
Loch Maree in a boat to fetch wood to build a house close to the shore
at Inverasdale. He took for a crew his son Sandy, a young lad, and also
William M'Rae from Cove, and William Urquhart, called William Og, and
his son, who lived at Bac Dubh. They reached Kenlochewe and loaded the
boat. Just before they started back, Kenneth Mackenzie, a married man,
and Rorie Mackenzie, a young man, who were returning to Gairloch with
hemp for nets, asked for a passage down the loch. Hector said there was
too much in the boat already. He was not for them to go in the boat, so
they went off; but William Og said to Hector, 'You had better call the
men back; you don't know where they will meet you again.' William Og
called for them to come back. Kenneth Mackenzie came back, but Rorie
would not return; he had taken the refusal amiss, and it was good for
him that he had done so. The boat with the six of them started from the
head of Loch Maree. Opposite Letterewe she was swamped, from being so
heavy. All hands were lost except William M'Rae and Sandy the son of
Hector, they were picked up by a boat from Letterewe.

"Two sons of Lewis M'Iver, of Stornoway, came to Kenlochewe on their way
back from college. It was before the road was made from Gairloch to
Poolewe. They took a boat down Loch Maree. Four Kenlochewe men came with
them; they were all ignorant of sailing. Between Ardlair and the islands
there was a breeze, and they put the sail up. One of the Kenlochewe men
stretched himself upon the middle thwart of the boat; a squall came, and
he went overboard head foremost and was drowned.

"Kenneth Mackenzie from Eilean Horrisdale and Grigor M'Gregor from
Achtercairn were employed sawing at Letterewe. They were put across to
Aird na h' eighaimh, the promontory that runs out from the west shore of
Loch Maree to near Isle Maree, by a boat from Letterewe. One of them had
a whip saw on his shoulder. On landing they started to walk to Gairloch.
There was then no bridge over the river at Talladale. The stream was
swollen by rain; they tried to wade it, but were carried off their legs
and taken down to the loch, where they were drowned. Their bodies were
never recovered. This was more than eighty years ago.

"Donald Maclean from Poolewe and John M'Iver, called John M'Ryrie, and
often known as Bonaparte, from his bravery, were in a sailing boat in
Tagan bay at the head of Loch Maree, when a squall upset the boat. John
M'Ryrie went down, and was drowned. Donald Maclean got on the keel of
the boat. Rorie Mackenzie had a boat on the stocks at Athnanceann. She
had only seven strokes in her, but there was no other boat, so they took
her down to the loch, and Donald Maclean was saved by means of her. John
M'Ryrie's body was recovered, and buried in the Inverewe churchyard.

"It would be about 1840 that Duncan and Kenneth Urquhart, two brothers
from Croft, sons of Kenneth Urquhart the miller, were coming down Loch
Maree one Saturday evening after dark. There was smuggling going on in
the islands at that time. It was a very dark night, and there was a
stiff breeze blowing down the loch and helping to propel the boat.
Duncan was rowing the bow oar, and Kenneth the other. Duncan called to
his brother to go to the stern and steer the boat with his oar. Kenneth
jumped on the seat in the stern, and from the way that was on the boat,
and his own spring, he went over the stern. He called to Duncan, but he
had only the one oar left, and with the wind so strong he could do
nothing for his brother, so Kenneth was drowned. His body was found nine
days afterwards in the middle of Loch Maree; the oar came ashore at a
spot called An Fhridhdhorch, or 'the dark forest,' where the scrubby
wood now is near a mile to the north of Ardlair. Duncan came ashore with
the boat on the beach in Tollie bay.

"When Seaforth bought the Kernsary estate some forty years ago Mrs
M'Intyre was living at Inveran. It was after Duncan Fadach had lived
there. Two years after Seaforth made the purchase he sent two lads to
repair the house at Inveran. One of them was Sandy Mackenzie from
Stornoway. The two lads went to bathe at the rock called Craig an t'
Shabhail, or 'the rock of the barn,' where the river Ewe begins; there
was a barn long ago on the top of this rock. Immediately Sandy entered
the water he went down, and was drowned. The other lad hastened to the
house, and a sort of drag was made with a long stick and a crook at the
end of it, and with this the body was lifted. Sandy was of the stock of
George Mackenzie, second laird of Gruinard, who had thirty-three
children. Sandy's brother is the present Free Church minister of


"The smack 'North Britain,' Captain Leslie, was carrying the mails
between Poolewe and Stornoway for eighteen years. Leslie had four of a
crew besides himself. Murdo Macdonald was at the helm when the smack
struck a whale. She was running with a two-reefed mainsail and slack
sheet. She ran on the back of the whale and cut it through to the
backbone; seven feet was put out of the cutwater of the packet; it was a
severe stroke! When the smack ran up on to the back of the whale her
stern went under to the companion. The whale sank down, and so the smack
went over her, but made so much water in the hold that they were obliged
to run her ashore. They got her to Bayhead, inside the pier at
Stornoway. The whale went ashore in Assynt, and they found the cut on
her. I had this account from Leslie and others of the crew."


"About 1805 John M'Callum, a decent man from Bute, had a schooner and
carried on a trade in herrings; he had been to Isle Martin. He had one
pound in cash to purchase every barrel of herrings with. The herrings
were so plenty he got them for five shillings a barrel. He had a smack
called the 'Pomona' as well as the schooner, and he would be sending the
smack to Greenock with cargoes of herrings whilst he stayed at Isle
Martin curing herrings. At the end of the season, as there was a great
demand for small vessels, he sold the 'Pomona' for three hundred pounds
to Applecross men. Then he himself started home in the schooner, with a
crew of seven sailors. He came to Portree from Isle Martin, and left
Portree for home, intending to go through Kyleakin. When he got through
the sound of Scalpay it came on a hurricane from the south. The vessel
would not take the helm, and became unmanageable. She was running down
the coast in that state, and at last the wind shifting to the west put
her on the rocks at Melvaig. The mate went to M'Callum, who was in the
cabin, and told him to come up, that they were going to be lost, and he
should try and get ashore. M'Callum was old and weak, and replied that
he was so frail that he would have no chance, and that his days were
gone at any rate; so he remained below. One of the crew went out on the
jib boom, and as she struck he let himself down by a rope from the jib
boom to a shelf on a rock, and was quite safe. Another of the crew
jumped out, but could not get ashore on account of the surf. The Melvaig
people saw him swimming a mile off; then he turned back; he seemed to be
a good swimmer; when he was in the surf and saw a big sea coming, he
would dive through it; at last he disappeared. The ship went to pieces,
and all hands were lost except the man who had got on the shelf of rock.
All the bodies were washed ashore, and were buried in Melvaig, near the
house of Murdo Mackenzie, called Murdo Melvaig. A Melvaig man, named
John Smith, stripped the sea boots from one of the bodies and took them
home with him. When the man who was saved heard this, he said it would
have been enough for him to take them off when he was alive! The man who
came ashore told the Melvaig people that the three hundred pounds
realised for the sale of the 'Pomona,' as well as the balance of the
money the captain had had to buy herrings, was in a box. The captain had
had one pound to buy each barrel of herring, and as he had only to pay
five shillings a barrel he must have had nearly four hundred pounds
balance. The whole of the money was found in a box, as the man had said.
The man went away home, but he did not get the money with him."


"About twelve years ago some gentlemen in a steam yacht came to Isle
Martin, and inquired there whether any one knew of a place where the
captain of a ship had been buried in one of the Summer Isles. They
thought he had been buried in one of the small islands off Loch Broom.
They offered fifteen pounds to any one who could inform them, but no one
could tell them anything of the place. Here is the true account of this
captain and his death and burial. It was about 1822 that I was living
with my father in Mellon Charles house. A schooner going to Newcastle
with bars of brass put in for shelter to the sound of Isle Ewe. She lay
opposite the dyke on the island; that is still the safest anchorage, the
best holding ground in a storm. Two of the crew came ashore at Aultbea,
and said the captain had got ill, and they were seeking a doctor; there
was no doctor then in the country. My father used to go and see some who
would be sick, and would bleed them if they would require it. So the two
sailors were told to go to him, and they took him out to the schooner.
He found the captain lying dead in his cabin, and there were cuts in
different parts of his head as if he had been killed by his men. He was
buried in the old churchyard in the Isle of Ewe, still enclosed by a
dyke; there is a headstone yet standing at his grave. No other sea
captain has been buried in this district for many years, except John
M'Callum, John M'Taggart, and this captain buried in Isle Ewe."


"It was about 1825 that the mail-packet called the 'Glenelg of Glenelg'
was lost. A year before that the Right Honourable Stewart Mackenzie, who
had in 1817 married Lady Hood, the representative of the Seaforth family
and proprietrix of the Lews, bought the 'Glenelg' to ply with the mails
between Poolewe and Stornoway. Poolewe is the nearest port on the
mainland to Stornoway. There had been packets on the same service
generations before. The 'Glenelg' was a smack of about sixty tons. Her
crew consisted of two brothers, Donald and John Forbes, and a son of
Kenneth M'Eachainn, of Black Moss (Bac Dubh), now called Moss Bank, at
Poolewe. Donald was the master, and John the mate. She was going to
Stornoway about once every week, but she had not a fixed time. It was on
a Saturday, either the end of November or beginning of December, that
the Rev. Mr Fraser, who was minister of Stornoway, returned to Poolewe
from the low country. He had come down Loch Maree in a boat. The master
of the 'Glenelg' was ashore at the inn, which was then at Cliff House.
Mr Fraser came to Donald Forbes, and told him he would require to be at
Stornoway that evening to preach on the morrow. Donald said it was not
weather to go. Mr Fraser said he would prosecute or punish him for not
going; then Donald said he should take care before he would not punish
himself, and that he knew his business as well as Mr Fraser knew his
own. At last Mr Fraser persuaded him to go; and there were two other
passengers, Murdo M'Iver from Tigh na faoilinn, who was going to be a
Gaelic teacher in a parish near Stornoway, and Kirstie Mackenzie from
Croft. They started about nine o'clock in the morning, with two reefs in
the mainsail. Donald M'Rae from Cove was out on the hill for a creel of
peats and saw the 'Glenelg' loosing some of her canvas after going out
of Loch Ewe. Nothing more was seen of her. M'Iver's box was washed
ashore at Scoraig in Little Loch Broom, and two handspikes and the
fo'scuttle. Another packet was afterwards put on the same service."


"John M'Taggart from Campbelton had a smack called the 'Helen Marianne.'
He used to come to Glen Dubh buying herrings, and he had two fishing
boats of his own worked with the smack. I saw him in Glen Dubh when I
was fishing there; it would be about 1850. One Sabbath night he left
Loch Calava at the entrance to Glen Dubh, and set sail for home, thus
breaking the Sabbath. A storm from the north-east came on, and in the
night he struck on the Greenstone Point, at the other side of Oban, or
Opinan, there, and all hands were lost. Donald Mackenzie and Kenneth
Cameron, the elder of the church, both living in Sand, had the grazing
of Priest Island. On the Tuesday they went out to that island to see the
cattle, and there they found the dead body of John McTaggart, along with
an empty barrel. They thought he must have been washed off the deck, as
the vessel had been carried past Priest Island before she was wrecked.
They brought the body to Sand, and buried it in the churchyard with the
rest of the crew, whose bodies were all recovered. There would be six or
seven of them in all, for the crews of the fishing boats were with the
smack, the two boats being on deck, one on each side."


"Farquhar Buidhe, who was one of the Mathesons of Plockton, and brother
of Sandy Matheson the blind fiddler there, was the owner and master of
the trawler 'Lord Molyneux,' a smack he had bought at Liverpool. He used
to come to Glen Dubh for the herring fishery. It was two or three years
before the wreck of the 'Helen Marianne' of Campbelton that Farquhar set
sail for home one Sabbath night. Before daylight he was lost upon a rock
at the end of the island of Oldany. These two ships were both lost from


"It was about 1825 that John Macdonald lived at Talladale. He was a
cattle drover, and was always known as 'The drover of Loch Maree.' He
was a fine tall man; I remember seeing him. He wore a plaid and trousers
of tartan, and a high hat. He used to go to the Muir of Ord market with
the cattle he bought in Gairloch. At that time large quantities of
smuggled whisky were made in Gairloch and Loch Torridon. John Macdonald
got the loan of an open boat at Gairloch. She was a new boat, with a
seventeen foot keel; I remember seeing her. He worked her round to Loch
Torridon, and then he took a cargo of whisky for Skye. Two Torridon men
accompanied him. A storm came on from the south or south-west, and they
could not make Skye. The boat was driven before the wind till she
reached the shore of Assynt, on the south side of Stoir head. There they
came ashore; the boat was found high and dry, and quite sound, above
high-water mark. John Macdonald and his companions were never seen
again, and some Assynt men said that they had been murdered for their
whisky. Assynt was a wild country then, and long before."


"It was about 1829 there lived in a house some three hundred yards above
the present parks at Tournaig a man named Grant. He had three sons,
William and Sandy, and another, who was the youngest, whose Christian
name I forget. He was a peddler, a good-looking lad, about twenty-three
years of age at the time. He used to carry his pack on his back through
the country. He often went to Assynt, and was acquainted with one
M'Leod, who lived near Loch Nidd, to the north of Stoir head. M'Leod was
a kind of teacher; he was a great favourite with the women. Grant, the
peddler, was stopping in a house near M'Leod's, and M'Leod was seeing
him. One morning, after breakfast, Grant left his lodgings to walk
across to Lochinver with his pack on his back. M'Leod joined him, to
convoy him out of the township. When they were out of sight of the
houses M'Leod struck the peddler with a small mason's hammer, which he
had concealed in his breast. He struck him at the back of the ear, and
killed him clean. When M'Leod saw the peddler was dead, he would have
given three worlds to have made him alive again, as he afterwards said;
but it was too late. M'Leod put the body in a small loch, still called
from this circumstance Loch Torr na h' Eiginn, or 'the loch of the mound
of violence,' and he put stones on the body to keep it from floating. A
man in the township had a dream that the peddler had been murdered and
put in this loch, and he went with his neighbours and found the body
there. The neighbours thought this man had killed Grant, because he knew
where the body was. The poor man was apprehended, and taken to the gaol
at Dornoch, where he was kept for a year, and his sufferings caused his
hair to come from his head. He was not set free till M'Leod confessed
the murder. The men of the place were all anxious to find out the
murderer of the peddler, that they might clear their own families.

"M'Leod, soon after the murder, hid the peddler's pack in a stack of
peats. He took part of the goods out of it to give to some of his
sweethearts, of whom he had too many! The girl that was in the house
where Grant had lodged had taken notice of the contents of the pack. She
saw some of the things after the murder with a girl who was a neighbour,
and whom M'Leod was courting. She said to this girl, 'It must have been
you, or some one belonging to you, that killed Grant.' This girl was
taken to Dornoch gaol, and another girl who was seen with a piece of
cloth that had been in Grant's pack was also taken to gaol. The
neighbours were all against each other, trying to discover the murderer.
At last these two girls gave evidence that they had received the things
from M'Leod, and upon their testimony he was found guilty of the murder
before the judge at Inverness. He would not confess to the murder, until
the Rev. Mr Clark, minister of a church in King Street, in Inverness,
who was attending on the condemned man, worked upon him so that he told
the whole truth. It was not until this confession that the man who had
had the dream was released from Dornoch gaol. Poor man, he never got
over it. M'Leod was hung at Inverness, and on the gallows he sang the
fifty-first Psalm in Gaelic. The two brothers of the murdered peddler,
and their sister, who had married a MacPhail, got up a ball at Inverness
on the night M'Leod was hung. It was a foolish thing."


"It was long after the murder of Grant, the peddler, in Assynt, that
three men from Shieldaig of Applecross went in their smack to fish with
long lines for cod at Lochinver. One of them was a shoemaker. It is said
that they came ashore to the inn there. After their return to the smack,
three days passed without any smoke from the vessel, and the people on
shore did not know what was the cause of it. So they went to see what
was wrong, and they found the three men dead, two of them among the
barrels in the hold, and one at the hearth in the fo'castle. They came
ashore, and a letter was sent to M'Phee, the fishing-officer at
Shieldaig of Applecross, reporting the case. Three Shieldaig men went
first to Lochinver and brought the vessel home. I saw them as they
passed Poolewe. Some thought that the three fishermen had had poison
given them in the inn. After the disappearance of John Macdonald, the
Loch Maree drover, and his two companions, and the murder of Grant the
peddler, in Assynt, it was considered dangerous for men from Gairloch
and the neighbourhood to visit that wild country."

[Illustration: A GAIRLOCH MAN.]



    CHAPTER                                                         PAGE

       I. Physical Features                                          219

      II. Climate and Weather                                        222

     III. Anecdotes and Notes                                        227

      IV. Lower Forms of Life                                        233

       V. Mammals of Gairloch                                        236

      VI. Birds of Gairloch                                          241

     VII. Flowering Plants of Gairloch                               256

    VIII. Shells of Gairloch. By Rev. John M'Murtrie, M.A.           265

      IX. Geology of Loch Maree and Neighbourhood. By William
            Jolly, F.G.S., F.R.S.E., &c.                             271

       X. Minerals of Gairloch. By W. Ivison Macadam, F.C.S. Edin.   289

Chapter I.


The accompanying map shews the shape and general features of the parish
of Gairloch.

Its area is stated by the Director of the Ordnance Survey to be 217,849
acres, _i.e._ fully 340 square miles. The three proprietors state the
acreages of their estates (so far as in Gairloch) to be as follows:--

    Sir Kenneth S. Mackenzie, Bart. of Gairloch,   162,680
    Mrs Liot Bankes of Letterewe and Gruinard,      35,000
    Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie of Inverewe,             12,800

These areas make a less total than the Ordnance Survey; the deficiency
may arise from the proprietors having measured their estates on the flat
without reckoning the differences for altitudes.

Fisherfield and Gruinard, in the parish of Loch Broom, adjoin Gairloch
on the north, and Torridon, in the parish of Applecross, on the south.

Both sides of the sea lochs of Gairloch and Loch Ewe, and the south side
of the Bay of Gruinard, often called Loch Gruinard, are in Gairloch.
Between Gairloch and Loch Ewe is the promontory called the North Point,
terminating in Rudha Reidh, or Ru Ré, and between Loch Ewe and Loch
Gruinard the promontory known as the Greenstone Point. The sea-board of
Gairloch parish, indented by these sea lochs and skirting these large
promontories, measures about one hundred miles.

Gairloch is, roughly speaking, bisected by the glen which holds Loch
Maree. This renowned loch has on its north-east side a grand range of
mountains "all in a row," viz., Beinn a Mhuinidh, Slioch, Beinn Lair,
Meall Mheannidh, and Beinn Aridh Charr; the line of these hills is
parallel with Loch Maree.

Further to the north-east is another almost parallel range of mountains,
along which the boundary of the parish of Gairloch runs, in some cases
including the summits. They are Beinn nan Ramh, Meallan Chuaich, Groban,
Beinn Bheag, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair (a spur of Sgurr Ban), Beinn
Tarsuinn, A' Mhaighdean, and Beinn Tarsuinn Chaol, or Craig an Dubh
Loch. There is on the north side of Meallan Chuaich a little knoll
called Torran nan tighearnan, or "the lairds' knoll." Here three
properties--Gairloch, Dundonnell, and an estate of the Mathesons of
Ardross--meet, and the several lairds could lunch together, each sitting
on his own ground.

On the south-west side of the glen of Loch Maree is a cluster of still
finer mountains, viz., Beinn Eighe (or Eay), with its spurs or
shoulders, Sgurr Ban, Ruadh Stac and Sail Mhor, Meall a Ghuibhais, Beinn
a Chearcaill, Beinn an Eoin, Bathais (or Bus) Bheinn, and Beinn Bhreac,
a spur of Beinn Alligin in Torridon. One face of Beinn Dearg is also in
Gairloch, the rest of it being in Torridon. These mountains are grouped
in the form of a crescent, with its convex side facing towards the
centre of Loch Maree. Beinn Eighe is one extremity of the crescent, and
Beinn Bhreac the other, whilst Beinn Dearg lies in the hollow of it.

There are many lochs in Gairloch smaller than Loch Maree, and many
lesser hills, than those I have enumerated. The visitor will best grasp
the geography of Gairloch, by remembering that the long valley beginning
with Glen Dochartie, continued by Loch Maree, and concluded in Loch Ewe,
cuts the parish into two parts by an almost straight line; and that of
the twenty mountains of Gairloch, eight are on its north-eastern
boundary, five on the north-east side of Loch Maree, and seven to the
south-west of the loch. For the heights of the mountains see the table,
which shews Beinn Eighe (Eay) to be the monarch of the mountains of

There are two considerable sea islands pertaining to the parish of
Gairloch, viz., Longa, in the sea loch of Gairloch, which is now
uninhabited but affords pasturage for sheep, and Isle Ewe, in Loch Ewe,
which is inhabited and contains a sheep and dairy farm. There are other
small islands on the sea coast; the only considerable one is Foura, on
the west side of the mouth of Loch Ewe. It is the largest of the smaller
islands in the sea. Other islands are mentioned in their places.

There are eighty-one considerable fresh-water lochs in the parish of
Gairloch, besides a vast number of smaller sheets of water which, though
locally bearing the name of loch, or lochan, are but tarns.

The lochs measuring a mile and upwards in length are:--

                                            LENGTH IN MILES.
    Loch Maree,                                  12½
    Fionn Loch,                                   5½
    Loch Fada,                                    3¾
    Loch a Chroisg (Loch Rosque; one end only),   3¼
    Loch a Bheallaich,                            2
    Loch na h' Oidhche,                           1¾
    Loch a Bhaid Luachraich,                      1½
    Loch Fada,                                    1½
    Loch Gharbhaig,                               1¼
    Loch Kernsary,                                1
    Loch Tollie,                                  1

The principal river is the Ewe, by which Loch Maree empties itself into
the sea. It is barely two miles in length. There is but one bridge
across it, viz., at Poolewe, where the river joins the sea. The stream
which runs past Kenlochewe into Loch Maree is called the Kenlochewe
river, and is the main feeder of Loch Maree, and so of course also of
the River Ewe. Above Kenlochewe it has three divisions, viz., the Garbh
river, coming from Loch Clair, the small stream coming down Glen
Dochartie, and the small river Bruachaig. The streams called the Grudidh
Water and the Talladale Water, or Lungard burn, are also feeders of Loch
Maree, and are sometimes termed rivers, but they are scarcely worthy of
the name.

There are two small rivers that flow into Gairloch (the sea loch), viz.,
the Kerry and the Badachro river. The Little Gruinard river, flowing out
of Fionn Loch, forms part of the boundary of the parish towards the east
or north-east. The Kenlochewe and Garbh rivers, and the Ewe, the Kerry,
the Badachro, and the Little Gruinard river, are all more or less salmon

The most extensive wood in the parish is that of Glas Leitire, near the
head of Loch Maree. Another considerable wood is at Talladale, and there
are woods on most of the islands of Loch Maree. These are all natural
woods, except those on one or two of the islands, one of which is called
"the planted island." At Shieldaig, Kerrisdale, and Flowerdale there are
woods more or less natural, but many of the fine trees about Flowerdale
House have been planted. There are small natural woods about Tollie and
Inveran, at the foot of Loch Maree, and at Kernsary, as well as at Loch
a Druing. There is also a natural wood between Kernsary and Tournaig,
called Coille Aigeascaig. The woods about Inverewe House are entirely
planted. There are some natural woods on the north-east shore of Loch
Maree, especially between Letterewe and Ardlair, at which latter place
there are also plantations. The principal larch plantations are the one
between Slatadale and Talladale, and that in Kerrisdale, both containing
good poles. The old fir trees about Loch Clair and the bridge of
Grudidh, as well as some particularly fine specimens of pine in the
woods at Glas Leitire, are remarkable for their picturesque character,
and testify to the superiority of nature's planting as compared with
man's handiwork.

There are two caves in Gairloch parish, one at Cove and the other at
Sand of Udrigil, used as places of meeting for public worship. There is
a cave or cavern at North Erradale, described in Part IV., chap. x.
There is also a fine cave at Opinan, described in the same chapter. Many
other caves occur on the sea-shore and in other places. Of smaller
caves, the Cave of the King's Son at Ardlair, and the Cave of Gold
between Ardlair and Letterewe, are separately described in these pages.

There are several waterfalls in the parish, but they are not of the
grandest type, and are only really good after a heavy downpour. There is
a fine one on the crag called Bonaid Donn, overlooking the farm of
Tagan, at the head of Loch Maree. This crag is a shoulder of Beinn a'
Mhuinidh, and the fall is called Steall a' Mhuinidh, a name almost
synonymous with that of the celebrated continental Piss-vache. In dry
weather it is little more than a black stain on the face of the cliff,
but in heavy rain it becomes an interesting feature in the landscape. If
a strong wind be blowing, clouds of spray are driven from this fall,
producing a curious effect.

There is a double cascade on the Garavaig burn, a little more than a
mile west from Talladale. It received the name of the Victoria Falls on
the visit of Her Majesty the Queen to Talladale in 1877.

Another good fall is situated a short distance behind Letterewe House,
and forms a beautiful object as seen from the deck of the steamer.

The finest falls in the parish are the falls of the Kerry, situated on
the River Kerry, shortly after it leaves Loch Bad na Sgalaig. If there
be any quantity of water in the little Kerry river, a series of
magnificent cascades tumble down the narrow channel in a deep rocky
gorge. When Sir Kenneth Mackenzie's young plantations on the hill sides
here have grown, they will greatly add to the beauty of the place.

There are two small waterfalls about a mile up the private road leading
east from Flowerdale House.

These are all the waterfalls in Gairloch parish worthy of separate
mention, but it must be added that in heavy rain there are many fine
cascades on steep hill sides, seen from the mail-car or the deck of the

The natural features thus enumerated go to make up the principal scenic
beauties of this lovely country, unsurpassed, as I think, for its
combinations of noble mountains, gleaming lochs, wide moorlands, rugged
crags, rocky torrents, and smiling woods, all diversified from hour to
hour according to the spectator's point of view, and the constant
transmutations of sunshine and shade, of calm and storm. With these must
be included distant peeps of the blue mountains of adjoining districts,
and enchanting views from all parts of the coast over the sea, with its
ever-changing hues and effects.

Chapter II.


In the present day the subjects of climate and weather receive
extraordinary attention from numbers who are in search of health.

One of our most eminent physicians has told me, that the North-West
Highlands, especially those parts where mountain and sea air are
combined, possess more restorative qualities for the jaded constitution
than any other part of the United Kingdom, and that they surpass in this
respect many favourite resorts on the continent of Europe. My own
personal inquiry and experience tend to confirm this opinion. Not only
is the atmosphere charged with ozone, but all nature is pure and
refreshing. To the traveller who comes from busy towns where everything
is defiled by smoke and filth, this region possesses a powerful charm in
its absolute purity. Here thirst may be quenched at almost every burn or
loch, and flowers and ferns may be plucked without the fingers of the
gatherer being soiled.

But changeable weather is a frequent drawback to those who cannot wait
for improvement. The rain-fall is believed to be over seventy inches in
the year. The mountains are often covered with clouds. But there is some
compensation; when the clouds break up and the rain is over, wonderful
wreaths of mist roll about the hills and glens in mysterious beauty.

Sir George Steuart Mackenzie of Coul, in his "General Survey" (1810),
has a chapter on the climate. His remarks are quite applicable to the
climate of Gairloch in the present day. He says:--"Our winters are much
milder than those of the continent, but our summers are colder." "In
this country it cannot be said that we enjoy the season of spring until
the portion of the year so denominated has passed. The heat of the
months of July and August is often equal to, and sometimes more
considerable than, the greatest heat experienced in England, but with
more variation between day and night." "When our springs are late, we
are pretty sure of our gardens containing abundance of fruit, and that
the summer heat will be more uniform than usual." "During three-fourths
of the year the wind blows from between the points south-west and
north-west. The heaviest rains proceed from the southward of west. Snow
storms most frequently come from the north-west, but the most severe
ones are from the north-east. During summer the south and south-west
winds are sometimes accompanied by thunder. On the whole the climate of
Ross and Cromarty shires must be considered as moist, but particularly
so in the western districts. The average annual temperature may be
stated for the whole county at 46°. Snow falls in greatest quantity in
the month of February; but severe storms are sometimes experienced at an
earlier period of the winter. It has been remarked that the climate has
been becoming worse for many years. I can answer for the truth of this
since the year 1796; and I judge from the ripening of certain garden
fruits. About that time I had ripe peaches sent to my shooting quarters
from the open wall in the month of August. I have not had them well
ripened since till the middle of September, sometimes later, and often
not at all."

Dr Mackenzie tells us something in his delightful gossipy way of the
old-fashioned summers. He says:--"What long hot summer days we used to
have then compared with the present short lukewarm ones, that no sooner
begin than they end disgracefully in comparison. Astronomers tell us
their registers shew that the present seasons are just the same as in
say 1812. What stuff and nonsense! In those happier times everybody had
summer as well as winter clothing. Who dreams of such extravagance now
in the north? Not a soul, at least of the male animals. Well do I
remember one fine day before we migrated to the west, having gone down
to the river to bathe with my brothers, and dawdling away our time,
naked, making mill dams or dirt pies, on the sandy shore, when putting
on my shirt finding as it were pins inside. On examination there were
several water blisters on my back, needing a pin to empty them, and many
days passed before they were healed up! And I imagine we were all alike.
Who ever hears now of such blistering sun, unless on an extra
thin-skinned, toddy-filled, irritable nose? Then in our eastern garden
the extensive walls were every year coated with apricot, peach, and
nectarine trees, just crusted with loads of as fine and well ripened
fruit as five most healthy stomach-always-empty urchins, who had the
free run of the garden, could eat up as fast as they ripened, aye,
afford often to pelt each other with a half-eaten peach or apricot,
because a wasp had dug into it on its wall side. And where in that
garden, or in my own still warmer one (Eileanach, Inverness), is a
living, growing peach or nectarine wall tree now to be found? Every one
dead for want of sun to ripen its wood ere winter killed it. In our
garden (Conan House) was a standard filbert tree, perhaps twenty-four
feet high, with a stem as thick as my body, every year bearing bushels
of as fine full filberts as Mr Solomon ever exhibited in Covent Garden,
till old John, ruined in mind by having a vinery put up for him about
sixty feet north of the poor filbert, actually cut it down on the sly,
when we were in the west, in the idea that it might possibly shade the
vinery! I never saw my father (Sir Hector Mackenzie of Gairloch) in a
hurry, or passion, or heard him swear, but sure I am when he came on the
site of the filbert, where it was not, a friend would have avoided
listening to his even _sotto-voce_ thoughts on _that_ day. But old John
perhaps only looked forward to the shocking seasons to come, when money
could not discover a ripe common hazel nut, as has been the case for
years now in our nut wood jungles, that used every year to flood the
country with myriads of sacks of nuts, every one full to the bung, in
cartloads at the Beauly markets, and in every town and village,--the nut
crackers being a regular nuisance, paving every street and road and room
with shells for months. The whole people in the country seemed to live
with pockets full of nuts, their price being fabulously low. Nonsense
talking of our temperature now being what it was seventy years ago!
Moreover we used (I believe as a matter of duty) always to be settled in
the west (Gairloch), for the summer, before the 'King's birthday,' June
4th. Is there an idea of loyalty in Britain now resembling the general
adoration of King George the Third in those early times? I don't believe
we really know now what was meant by the loyalty of those old days. Did
the general feudal feeling of those times promote royal loyalty?
Probably it did. Was it the cause of our never failing to have a huge
china bowl after dinner with a pail of 'cream that wad mak a caunle o'
my finger,' to wash down the first strawberries of the season on the 4th
of June? Don't I remember their delicious smell in Flowerdale House, and
their taste too? 'North Carolinas' the gardener called them. And now, in
the same garden (but I deny the same climate utterly), no strawberry
thinks it is called upon to ripen in less than a month later. 'The same
temperature as seventy years ago!' What fools we must be supposed to be
by the rascal astronomers! And we also always had a few Mayduke cherries
to swear by on the 4th of June. Afterwards, was there ever such a mass
of cherries offered, before or since, to five fruity boys, and as
devoted a tutor, as in the Tigh Dige garden (Flowerdale), sheltered from
every cold wind, and held up to the sun, by all that could be desired in
woods and mountains. No, I'm sure; no one can tell me where it defied
five such fruiterers and their equally busy tutor to make such an
impression on the tall crowd of cherry trees in that garden. Our dear
tutor told me, years after, of one thing that was a weight on his mind,
viz., that having dropped one forenoon nine hundred cherry-stones from
his mouth into his worm-fishing bag, he was called away, and prevented
finishing his thousand in one day!"

From March to September the nights are much shorter than in more
southern latitudes. In June and July night may be said to be of only two
hours' duration, and in clear weather those two hours are but a subdued
twilight. A description of a summer evening on Loch Maree is given by Dr
MacCulloch (see Appendix D). Of course in winter the days are shorter
and the nights longer than in England. In autumn and spring grand
displays of the Aurora Borealis, or northern lights, often relieve the
darkness, frequently prognosticating tempestuous weather. Rainbows of
intensest brilliance are frequently seen in Gairloch, and the weird
lunar rainbow is occasionally to be observed. Strange to say fogs are
almost unknown in this humid region; even with a hoar-frost there is no
fog. With a south-east wind and a cloudless sky, the mountain ranges are
often rendered marvellously imposing by a silvery haze, which apparently
enhances their magnitude and adds mystery to their forms.

The winters are not usually severe. Whether from the action of the Gulf
Stream, or owing to the presence of such large masses of water, the
frosts have not, as a rule, the same intensity as in many parts further
south; so that a variety of shrubs and other plants can be grown in the
open air which elsewhere need protection, and many flowers and fruits
are earlier than in less favoured places. Some winters have been so mild
that even geraniums and calceolarias have survived unprotected in the
open ground.

There is a Gaelic proverb which may be translated thus, "If spring mist
should enter the meal-chest, snow will follow." The meaning is, that
when mist is seen in spring, snow always falls soon after. From long
observation I can vouch for the truth of this curious saying. Snow often
falls during the spring months; but the heavy falls of snow are
now-a-days usually in December, January, and February. They are,
however, of comparatively rare occurrence.

When snow comes it gives wonderful glory to the mountains, and even
frost has its peculiar charms. In the exceptionally severe winter of
1880-1, which had only once been surpassed in the experience of the
oldest inhabitants, the ice displayed some of the peculiar forms
described by those who have visited the Arctic circle. On the margin of
Loch Maree (whose waters never wholly freeze), and especially where
streams debouch into it, great hummocks of ice were formed. At the same
time the brackish waters of Loch Ewe became covered with ice floes, of
such extent as actually to prevent the passage of boats which had
started to cross from the west side of the loch to convey persons who
wished to attend sacramental services then being held at Aultbea. It was
the only time I ever saw the sea frozen, and this circumstance, coupled
with the phenomena witnessed on the ice-bound shores of Loch Maree and
the unnatural silence of nature,--whose murmuring streams were frozen
dumb, and whose benumbed birds could give forth no note or song,--really
seemed to transfer one to another world.

Perhaps the best spot in the parish to observe the sunsets is the
Gairloch Hotel. Looking over the bay of Gairloch, no near mountains
obstruct the view, and the aspect in summer and autumn is exactly right.
Beyond the bay of Gairloch itself lies the Minch, and again beyond and
above the Minch are the distant and seemingly transparent hills of Skye.
The scene is as it were framed by the lines of hills on either side of
Gairloch, and in the immediate foreground are strips of yellow sand and
ridges of dark rock. None can tell, none can paint, the glories of the
setting sun; words as well as pigments are powerless to adequately
record the wondrous changes of the splendid colours that gleam in the
sky and clouds, the subtle tints suffused over the sea and distant
hills, and the marvellous glow pervading the whole of the beauteous

In this mountain land too there are countless varieties of what may be
called cloudscapes; the numerous summits attract and then break up the
cloud masses into rough and fleecy shapes, some thick enough to obstruct
the light, others edged by silvery gleams, and others again brilliant
with the sun shining through them,--the whole exhibiting wonderful
examples of aerial chaos. These broken clouds are most usually seen in
mountain lands; they are quite different from the wreaths of mist
previously spoken of.

Some reference ought to be made here to the colouring of the landscape.
Towards the end of winter, when frosts and snows are done with, much of
the heather assumes an indefinable grey tint, and the bent-grass becomes
a sandy brown. The leafless trees make one thankful for the firs and
hollies with their grateful greens. The larches are the first deciduous
trees to give signs of the coming spring. About the "Day of Our Lady"
they appear tinged with pale green, and in April the birches usually
follow. By the latter part of May all nature has revived, and most of
the trees are in full leaf. The grasses and ferns become brilliant in
June, and the heather is then making a rapid new growth of lovely
velvety shades of colour. From this time until August the hillsides and
moorlands present exquisite phases of green and russet colouring, on
which the eye rests with unwearying pleasure. The artist, who generally
visits the Highlands in the autumn, seldom attempts to depict these
summer effects. He more usually represents the splendid tints of August
and September, when the heather is of every shade of lilac and purple;
when the brackens, broken by winds, are gorgeous with reds, yellows, and
rich browns; and when the bent-grass is magnificent with its radiant
orange hues. The declining year brings fresh glories; all these colours
are now modified and chastened; the rowan trees grow scarlet, the
weeping birches become like fountains of gold, and the oaks a brilliant
brown. Even in winter there are beautiful effects of paler colours;
indeed it is true that there is no season when the landscape does not
delight the eye.

I have long known and loved this country. I have seen it and been
charmed by it in every kind of weather and at every season of the year,
and I have found an ever new delight in its grand yet lovely scenery.
You, my reader, may not have the same opportunity of prolonged
observation, and you may not become possessed of my intense affection
for this region, yet if you linger here awhile, and go about with eyes
and heart open to impressions of beauty and joy, you will soon freely
admit that these descriptions are not mere rhapsody.

Chapter III.


The loneliness and wildness of most parts of Gairloch are of course
highly favourable to the presence and observation of some of the rarer
British birds and animals.

The list of Gairloch birds given further on reveals a curious fact,
viz., that several kinds, such as the house-sparrow, bullfinch,
blackbird, and red-shank, formerly unknown or rare in Gairloch, are now
plentiful; whilst other birds, including the house-martin, skylark, and
whimbrel, formerly abundant, are now scarce. No local causes for these
changes can be suggested. There is no wholesale destruction of the
smaller birds here as in France. What then can be the reason?

Dr Mackenzie has some interesting remarks on this point. Speaking of his
young days (1815-1820) he writes as follows:--

"Now, gentle reader, please explain why, till we were men, no blackbird
was ever heard of in Gairloch,--only heaps of ring-ouzels; not a sparrow
nor a magpie (except one unfortunate who was shot, and report says
cooked as game, at Kerrysdale, and pronounced excellent), no rooks nor
wood-pigeons, tho' plenty blue-rocks, and for many years now these then
strangers have found their way to the west. Indeed blackbirds are now in
crowds there, and have so entirely superseded the ring-ouzel that one of
these is quite a rarity. And please explain also why not only

        'When I was young and was werry little,
        The only steam came from the kettle,'

but why then no bird ever touched _any_ fruit but cherries, while now no
fruit, ripe or unripe, except black currants, is safe unless netted; the
very pears, not full grown, being all pecked full of holes (or their
mere skeletons hanging on the tree) by the blackbird pests, who, one
might suppose, would die on the spot but for fruit that long ago not one
of them would touch. Till three years ago I never dreamed of netting my
morello cherry-trees. No blackbird till then would look at a morello,
had I offered him £5. Now, unless netted, I need to use them before they
are really ripe, or the black villains will eat them all up.

"When I was young house-swallows were legion. Now they are easily
counted in the north. In our western church (Gairloch) then broken
window-panes were too plenty, and the swallows' operations (building,
feeding, and other arrangements), to the discomfort of those in the pews
below the nests, I suppose I should admit interested us a good deal more
than the preacher. Night-jars also then were very plenty, and one could
hardly take an evening walk without seeing them flit in the dusk and
light on the footpath before us, with their singular cat-purring song. I
have often come on their extra-simple exposed nest in the heather."

The golden or black eagle may frequently be seen in Gairloch, soaring
aloft in the sky. There is a general inclination now to preserve this
noble denizen of the air. The eagle does comparatively little injury to
game, but is accused of killing lambs and even sheep. The golden or
black eagle is a size smaller than the erne or white-tailed eagle, which
latter is also sometimes seen in Gairloch.

There are several Gairloch anecdotes of eagles. On the edge of the wood
at the base of Craig Tollie an eagle pounced upon a roe-deer, and deeply
fixed its talons in the poor beast's side. The roe taking to the wood,
was near crushing the eagle against the trees. The eagle clutched at a
branch with the claws of one foot, still keeping its hold of the roe
with the other foot, but the speed of the roe was so great that the bird
was actually torn in two. One portion was found fixed to the deer, which
died from loss of blood, and the other in the tree.

Doubts have been thrown on the credibility of this anecdote; the
following extract from "Martin's Western Islands of Scotland" helps to
confirm it. Writing about 1695, Martin says:--"The eagles are very
destructive to the fawns and lambs, especially the black eagle, which is
of a lesser size than the other. The natives observe that it fixes its
talons between the deer's horns, and beats its wings constantly about
its eyes, which puts the deer to run continually till it fall into a
ditch, or over a precipice, where it dies, and so becomes a prey to the
cunning hunter. There are at the same time several other eagles of this
kind which fly on both sides of the deer, which fright it extremely, and
contribute much to its more sudden destruction. The foresters, and
several of the natives, assured me that they had seen both sorts of the
eagles kill deer in this manner."

In further confirmation the following paragraph is quoted from "Natural
History Notes from Russian Asia," by A. H. M., which appeared in the
_Field_ of 27th October 1883:--

"The Kirghiz train the grey hawks to catch larks and quails, and showed
me an eagle I could not recognise, assuring me they could train it to
fly at wolves. This bird was a long way off, but it looked to me like
the golden eagle. I was told that, after being kept without sleep or
food for nine days, this bird became quite tame, and would feed from the
hand of the man who had trained it during this period. A strap of stout
leather is fastened round each leg, allowing some ten inches play. When
the wolf is sighted the eagle is flown, and, as soon as it seizes him,
it plants one foot firmly in the wolf's loins, and with the other drags
along the ground, catching at anything that gives a little
hold,--stones, weeds, &c. Should the wolf turn, the eagle drives at his
eyes with its powerful beak, and, the heavy drag on his back causing him
to go slowly, the falconer rides up and settles him with blows from a
heavy whip, or with a knife. This is something like hawking. My driver
swore, by all that was holy, that he himself had killed many wolves with
these 'birghuts,' or small eagles."

The method employed by the eagle of the Kirghiz in dealing with wolves,
appears to be exactly on all fours with that of the eagle attacking the
roe on Craig Tollie.

Mr H. E. Dresser, F.L.S., F.Z.S., &c., author of "The Birds of Europe,"
informs me he is sure he has been told that trained eagles are sometimes
breeched, to prevent their being torn asunder. The strap employed by the
Kirghiz seems to be an example of this. Mr Dresser states that Atkinson
("Oriental and Western Siberia," pp. 492-494) gives an account of
trained golden eagles being flown at deer; and M. V. Scully relates
("Stray Feathers," iv., p. 123) that he has seen many such trained
eagles, and he adds that in a wild state they prey on stags, antelopes,
wild-cats, foxes, and wolves. Surely the fate of the unbreeched eagle of
Craig Tollie is not improbable!

The next anecdote is of an eagle near Kenlochewe. This injudicious bird
carried off a cat to feed its two young at its eyrie,--probably on Meall
a' Ghubhais. The cat was alive and well when deposited in the eagle's
nest. Pussy made short work of the two young eagles, and returned home
safe and sound.

The incident is traditional, not only in Gairloch, but also in the
neighbouring districts. I understand that in Assynt and Kintail, as well
as in Gairloch, the following Gaelic riddle is often asked, the answer
being this very anecdote. The riddle is as follows:--"Chaidh biadh do
dithis go ceann Loch Maridhe dhith am biadh dithis thainig am biadh
dhachidh a rhithisd." Here is a literal English translation,--"Some food
went to two at the head of Loch Maree, the food ate the two, and the
food came home again."

Another eagle, not long ago, at Talladale, was seen soaring above a
foal, with the manifest intention of attacking it. The mare watched her
foal with evident anxiety, seemingly prepared to defend her young at all
hazards. The eagle, foiled in his design, took up in his talons a part
of a tree stump, and let it fall, apparently in the hope that it would
strike and kill the foal.

Dr Mackenzie has the following note of a good bag of eagles made in
Gairloch in the early part of the present century. He says:--"Our
game-killer, Watson, had a good day once with eagles, producing three
splendid birds from a day's shooting, besides two young birds also
killed. A pair nested on the west side of Bus Bheinn, and another pair
on its east side, both out of reach, even by rope, although the nests
were visible from tops about eighty to one hundred yards away. Watson,
by daybreak, was on the top of Bus Bheinn, with swan shot in one barrel
and a ball in the other. Peering over the rock, away sailed one of the
eagles, but the swan shot dropped him in the heather below the rock.
Another eagle at the nest at the other side of the hill came to the same
end. Then hiding himself among the rocks, near where a wounded eagle
flapped his wings, a third eagle, coming to see what this meant, was
invited down by a shot, making a brace and a half of old eagles before
breakfast! Then to shorten matters with the two chicken eagles, he
climbed the hill again, and ere his bullets were all used up, both of
them were dead, and their remains were visible on the nests for many a
year after, having got more lead to breakfast than they could digest. I
wait to hear of the gunner in Britain who could shew his two and a half
brace of eagles killed in one day, before breakfast!"

The most numerous and noticeable birds about Loch Maree in the months of
May, June, and July, are the black-backed gulls. They fly with great
speed and apparently little effort. I have often endeavoured, watch in
hand, to estimate the velocity of their flight, and I have come to the
conclusion that in a calm atmosphere, or with a favourable breeze, they
attain the speed of a quick train, viz., nearly fifty miles an hour.
They breed on the islands of Loch Maree, and appear to have almost
displaced the herring gulls, which used to be pretty numerous on the
islands. Very few gulls now breed on Eilean Ruaridh Mor, though it seems
from the following anecdote of Dr Mackenzie's that this island was a
favourite gullery until the incident he relates occurred:--

"Some years ago it was observed that, without any visible reason, the
gulls quite deserted Big Rorie's island for another at a little
distance, till a shepherd, landing with his dog, found a pine-marten-cat
in the island, mere skin and bone, and despatched him. How he had got to
the island, half a mile from the mainland, and the water never frozen,
no one could imagine; but though he may have lived well for a time on
the gulls, there being nothing else to feed him on the island, unless a
chance grouse or a roe, he soon made a desert of it, and would have died
of hunger but for the collie who ended him."

Gairloch is not without examples of very rare birds, but those usually
seen, though rare in many parts of the kingdom, are mostly the common
birds of the Highlands. They are interesting enough to all,--to the
lover of nature they are delightful; let the gunner spare them; let the
bird-nester allow them to rear their young in peace. In the bright
spring-time there is to my mind nothing sweeter than to listen on a calm
evening to the sounds of the various birds that haunt the neighbourhood
of Inveran. You may hear the whirring wings of the wild ducks,
goosanders, and mergansers flitting up and down the Ewe; the
sand-pipers, in great numbers, piping as they hurry along the river
banks; the black-cocks crooning in the adjoining fields; the cock-grouse
crowing on the moors close by; the rooks cawing all around; the
wood-pigeon cooing in the neighbouring woods; the herons screaming on
the margin of the water; the curlews whistling their weird call not far
away; the night-jar humming his prolonged trill below Craig Tollie; the
corncrake uttering its creaking note in the meadows and growing corn;
the owl hooting from his tree or rock; the familiar cuckoo calling on
all sides, near and far; a host of the smaller birds singing, chirping,
and twittering around; whilst above them all the ravens croak, the grey
crows screech, the sea-mews cry, and (sometimes) the wild geese gabble,
high in air.

Observation of this teeming bird life has a wonderful fascination for
many, and I can imagine no purer pleasure. Mr Alexander Cameron in his
song about Tournaig (Part II., chap. xxiii.) notices some of the birds
of Coile Aigeascaig; he must have often enjoyed their exquisite

The insects which frequent the air are not all delightful. Some of the
moths and butterflies, as well as the large dragon-flies (supposed by
many to be the originals of our artificial salmon-flies), are beautiful
enough. These abound more especially on the north-east side of Loch
Maree, where limestone occurs. The flies that sting or bite force
themselves upon our notice, and the tiny midge is the most obnoxious of
them all. Wasps are rather plentiful in some seasons, but the midges are
always in swarms on warm calm evenings from July to October. Even
royalty can claim no immunity from their attacks! Her Majesty the Queen
notes in the diary of her visit to Loch Maree, "the midges are dreadful,
and you cannot stand for a moment without being stung;" and again,
"there is a perfect plague of wasps, and we are obliged to have gauze
nailed down to keep these insects out when the windows are open, which,
as the climate is so hot, they have to be constantly."

A visitor to one of the hotels recorded his opinion of the midges

        "I love Maree's soft rippling waves;
          I love her mountain ridges;
        I love her silver birken trees,--
          But I detest her midges!"

It is a curious fact that prolonged residence in the country seems to
render one slightly less liable to the attacks of these minute pests;
but when they swarm on a calm evening in September, every one must give
in, and cease all stationary occupation out of doors. Many different
washes for the skin, aromatic and otherwise, are recommended, and some
persons wear veils; but preventive measures are never wholly successful,
and it is best to retreat before the little aggravating foe. How
dreadful must have been the sufferings of the Rev. John Morrison,
minister of Gairloch, when stripped naked, tied to a tree, and exposed
to the attacks of the midges, at Letterewe, as related in Part I., chap.
xvi.! With some people each particular midge bite inflames, and produces
a small lump like a pea under the skin. Total abstinence for the time
from alcohol, or at least from whisky, will generally mitigate this
unpleasant result. If it be a midgy evening, choose if possible an
exposed breezy road for your stroll, and you will escape the creatures.
Fishing is out of the question if it be so calm that the midges are bad.

The stone-flies, gad-flies, or horse-flies, are very troublesome at
times, but can easily be dealt with.

The large caterpillar which is the larva of the fox-moth, is very
abundant on the heather in the shooting season.

The beasts of the earth next claim our attention. Except deer, hares,
rabbits, and (on calm evenings) a few bats near woods or houses, few of
these beasts come under the observation of the ordinary visitor to
Gairloch. Some indeed of the beasts which are considered vermin, such as
badgers, otters, marten-cats, and polecats, are now nearly extinct;
great raids were made upon the two former some years ago for the sake of
their heads and skins, which were and still are much used for sporans to
wear with the kilt.

With respect to martens, Dr Mackenzie says:--"Martens have so fine a
fur, that I remember a lady friend going into a London furrier's shop
with a boa made of martens' skins, trapped by our gamekeeper, and which
the furrier would insist was sable fur! I once shot a marten entangled
in a net spread over a magnum bonum tree on the Flowerdale garden wall,
the gardener being provoked by finding many plumstones on the top of the
wall, and blaming jackdaws for the theft, while the marten was evidently
the thief, his caggie on dissection being well packed with magnums!"

There are plenty of wild-cats in Gairloch, but the majority of them are
domestic cats gone wild, and their offspring. Occasionally specimens of
the true wild-cat are trapped. Here is another anecdote of Dr
Mackenzie's; it tells of a wild-cat having its young in a singular

"One morning the fox-hunter's dogs picked up a scent behind the Tigh
Dige (Flowerdale) garden, on charming jungly Craig a chait (rock of the
cat), that carried them away over the hills for about five miles to the
side of Loch Tollie, where they lost scent opposite to a mite of an
island, all covered with bushes, about a hundred yards from the shore.
No more scent being found, the dog-master made up his mind it must be an
old cunning fox, whose bedroom the island was. So he stripped and swam
to the island, followed by his dogs; to his and probably their
amazement, they were faced by a monster wild-cat, hardly yet dry from
her swim, who had brought home to her six kittens a nice grouse for
breakfast. They needed no more grouse after that interview. What a deal
of thought pussy must have had ere she could make up her mind to
constant swimming in Loch Tollie till her kittens could leave the
island, as her only chance of saving them from the detested fox-hunter!
Did she reason out the question, or was it mere instinct? Who can tell?"

The lover of the picturesque must admire the shaggy cattle of the breed
now called "Highland," especially those of Mr O. H. Mackenzie of
Inverewe, and of Dr Robertson of Achtercairn. The black-faced lambs are
particularly bonnie when young, but visitors seldom come to Gairloch
early enough to see them. Goats, mostly in a semi-wild state, are kept
on some of the rocky sheep-farms; the idea is that they, being good
climbers and fond of cropping the herbage in steep places, may safely
consume the tender grass in spots where, if left uneaten by goats, it
might tempt the "silly sheep" to destruction.

Some small horses and ponies are bred in Gairloch. A shaggy pony
sometimes adds to the interest of the landscape, or diversifies the
appearance of a shooting party.

Chapter IV.


The scientist tells us that every drop of water, fresh or salt, and
every portion of the air we breathe, teems with living organisms. The
phosphorescence of the sea is due to infusoria; so also is the
luminosity of footprints on boggy ground. I have often noticed this last
phenomenon when walking behind another man across wet moorland on a dark
night, his footprints being plainly defined by a lambent glow of light.
There can be little doubt but that the notion of the "will o' the wisp"
had its origin in something of this kind.

A few remarks seem to be required with regard to the forms of organic
life in the wide region between the birds and beasts on the one hand,
and those minute organisms on the other hand.

The reptiles of Gairloch are snakes, slow-worms, lizards, frogs, and
toads; the two latter common, the others rarely seen. I have not met
with or heard of any adders in Gairloch. It is said that frogs and toads
were formerly unknown here, as they still are in the Lews.

The only fish that live in fresh water in Gairloch are trout, pike,
eels, and char. Salmon and bull-trout, sea-trout, and finnocks divide
their time between fresh water and salt water. Remarks on these fish
will be found in Part IV., as also some notes on salt-water fish.

There are many shells to be found in both salt and fresh water, all
inhabited or recently inhabited by creatures allied to the fishy
creation. The fresh-water mussel is found in most of the burns and
rivers, and yields a few small pearls to those who undergo the labour of
gathering, opening, and examining a vast number of shells. The
promiscuous gathering of these mussels in Gairloch has almost
exterminated them. Oysters, clams, and cockles have also been nearly
exterminated, and are now protected, though still much poached.

The spout-fish, whose long angular shell--sometimes nine inches in
length--is popularly called the razor-shell, is abundant on all sandy
beaches in Gairloch. It is commonly used for bait at the spring cod
fishing. It is not easily captured. The following is Dr Mackenzie's
account, slightly abridged, of the mode in which the fish can be
taken:--"Go to the sands at the ebb of a spring tide,--always at
Gairloch between twelve and two P.M.,--armed with a small spud and
fishing-basket. Walking backwards close to the edge of the sea, up flies
a spout of water from an inch-wide hole in the wet sand, which instantly
fills it up. Experienced spout-fish catchers in a second have the spud
slanted into the sand a few inches nearer themselves than where the
spout-hole was seen, pushing down till something stops it. Then they
carefully remove the sand above the spud, and uncover the top of the
spout-fish. Do not touch the top of the shell, or you may draw blood.
Scoop the sand away at the side till finger and thumb are able to grip
the shell, and basket it. Take care you do not pull violently, or the
shell may come up without the fish. By repeating this process you may,
if skilled and fortunate, secure a nice basket of spout-fish. The fish,
when properly cleared from sand, make the best of stock for a rich soup
which has peculiarly nutritive qualities."

Sea anemones are abundant on the Gairloch coast. I understand there are
some rare varieties. Will any reader who is knowing about these
beautiful things make us a catalogue of them?

The love of flowers and plants is older than the appreciation of fine
scenery, if we may judge by the poetry of bygone days. Surely the man,
woman, or child who takes no pleasure in the jewels of the vegetable
world is greatly to be pitied. It is sad to find how the introduction of
sheep has diminished the number and variety of Gairloch flowers. Rocky
places, and flat ground near the sea-shore, are commended to the
wandering botanist as localities where good plants may still be found.
Any person who would add to the list given further on of Gairloch plants
would deserve our gratitude. The true lover of flowers will surely
abstain from rooting up anything rare that may be discovered.

Besides what are commonly known as flowering plants, there are numbers
of other forms of vegetable life, including the grasses, mosses,
lichens, seaweeds, fresh-water weeds, and fungi. Complete lists of all
these are wanted.

Of the grasses, the most noticeable is that species of bent-grass which
so abounds on all the moorlands and hill sides, mingling with the
heather, ferns, and flowers. It is this grass which, with its orange
tinge of colour in autumn, gives to hills and moors a rich deep colour
like old gold.

Of the mosses, the deer-grass, or stag's-horn moss, which is the badge
of the Mackenzie clan, is appropriately plentiful in some spots in this
land of the Mackenzies. The club-moss, somewhat similar, is commoner.
The sphagnum-moss is the most noticeable of all; it forms in some places
enormous lumps. I have measured a few lumps four to five feet high, and
with bases six to eight feet in diameter. The sphagnum-moss presents
lovely colouring, varying from deep crimson and rosy red to pale
primrose. The fern-moss is very abundant in and about the margins of all
woods, and is easily distinguished by its beautiful little branches, so
closely resembling the fronds of a fern. There must be hundreds of
different species of moss in Gairloch. A Devonshire botanist told me he
had identified nearly three hundred different mosses in a two days'
ramble in that county. Gairloch cannot be far behind.

Lichens, though so diminutive and slow of growth, give the principal
colouring to most of the rocky parts of Gairloch landscapes. Several
species are still much used in Gairloch in producing red and brown dyes,
into which the wool is dipped before being spun and formed into hose or
tweed. Lichens are a singular class of plant; sometimes they grow on
rocks, sometimes on trees, sometimes on detached pieces of wood,
sometimes on boggy moorland, sometimes on the bare ground, sometimes on
old buildings, sometimes on loose stones, and sometimes on nothing but
themselves. In Dr Lindsay's book on British lichens, it is recorded that
"a curious erratic parmelia was discovered in Dorsetshire by Sir W. C.
Trevelyan, lying loose on the ground, and rolling freely along before
the wind." There may be similar eccentricities of nature in Gairloch.

The following are a few lichens common in Gairloch, mostly named for me
by Dr C. F. Newcombe:--

      _Cladonia vermicularis._--The pale greenish grey, almost
        white, tubular lichen; growing abundantly on peaty grounds.

      _Cladonia pyxidata._--Also grows on the ground; has cups or
        stems half inch high, red inside.

      _Cladonia rangiferina._--Like vermicularis, but much finer;
        almost resembling lace.

      _Cladonia digitalis and extensa._--Both have stems like
        pyxidata; the former finer, the latter coarser, with scarlet

      _Cladonia cervicornis._--Small antler-like pale greenish
        grey or white lichen; growing on the ground.

      _Lecidea geographica._--Bright green and black growth on
        rocks, scarcely perceptible to the touch; named from the
        resemblance to a map.

      _Lecidea ferruginea._--A bright rust-coloured stain on

      _Lecidea sulphurea._--A sulphur-coloured stain on rocks.

      _Stereocaulon paschale._--Pale greenish grey in colour;
        growing one and a half inch high on rocks.

      _Lecanora tartarea subfusca and parella._--Grows on rocks;
        one-eighth of an inch thick; pale green, with dark crimson
        or blackish spots; the "cudbear" lichen, gathered in the
        Highlands and largely exported in the early part of this
        century for producing purple and crimson dyes.

      _Parmelia saxatilis._--Grey and black with brown spots; much
        used in making a brown or brownish-red dye or crottle.

      _Parmelia parietina._--Bright orange; flat growth on old
        trees and on rocks, especially on the sea-shore; very
        noticeable and beautiful.

      _Sticta pulmonaria._--On trees, standing out an inch or two
        in scales; pale green on surface, brown underneath.

      _Parmelia herbacea._--Like the last, but greyer; it grows on
        the ground.

      _Peltidea canina._--Resembles the two last, but coarser.

      _Gyrophora erosa._--On rocks, like a soft black button; up
        to two inches in diameter.

      _Cornicularia prolixa and cana._--Pendent from trees;

Seaweeds grow profusely on Gairloch shores; they are largely used as
manure, and were formerly the source whence kelp was obtained. Some of
the kinds growing in deep water are of brilliant colour; specimens of
these, detached by storms, may often be collected on the beach, and when
pressed are highly decorative. Fresh-water weeds are not so various, but
both classes are well worthy of study.

The fungi of Gairloch include several edible species. Whether edible or
poisonous many of them are very beautiful. There are brilliant scarlet
fungi with orange or white spots; others are purple, yellow,
chestnut-brown, green, pale lilac, cream-coloured, or white. The
following are a few Gairloch species, mostly identified for me by Mr A.
S. Bicknell, a skilled fungologist and daring fungus eater:--

      _Agaricus laccatus._--Purple.
      _Hydnum repandum._--Buff fungus, without gills; edible.
      _Cantharellus cibarius._--Yellow; edible; the "chantarelle."
      _Hygrophorus pumicens._--Red, with orange gills; poisonous.
      _Russula heterophylla._--White; top variable in colour; edible.
      _Amanita muscaria._--Red; poisonous.
      _Agaricus muscarius._--Crimson; spotted; poisonous.
      _Agaricus phalloides._--White, with pale yellow or green top;
      _Boletus edulis._--Umber; white flesh; edible.
      _Agaricus campestris._--The common mushroom; edible; only
        abundant here at rare intervals.
      _Lycoperdon giganteum._--White; the "puff-ball"; edible.
      _Agaricus semiglobatus._--Yellowish; poisonous.
      _Russula fœtens._--Reddish brown; poisonous.

There are many other fungi and toadstools to be met with in Gairloch,
even by the wayside; they need identification.

These are all my notes on these branches of nature. Of course many forms
of life have been scarcely alluded to; it is even difficult, if not
impossible, for the scientist to define where organised life ceases. The
farther research is carried, the more marvels it reveals. Have we not
here plain indications of the work and design of the Divine Being,
either direct or through the medium of some law of evolution? It may be
commonplace, but it is none the less rational, to believe that for our
enjoyment of nature we are indebted to a benign Providence.

    "Thou, Lord, hast made me glad through Thy work."

Chapter V.


The mammals found in the parish of Gairloch are, or have been, as
numerous as in any other part of the kingdom. The following list has
been prepared with the assistance of Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie of Inverewe,
and is believed to be complete. I have added an account of the Arctic
fox trapped on the North Point in January 1878, and of some other
captures of the same animal in the Highlands, but of course this cannot
be called a native species. Tradition says that the mountains of
Gairloch were formerly the haunt of numerous wolves, bears, elk, and
reindeer; and there is no doubt these animals were abundant in the
Highlands in the old days.

RED-DEER (_Cervus ellaphus_).--The wild red-deer is abundant on the
mountains of Gairloch, and is the subject of the sport of deer-stalking,
treated of in Part IV., chap. xx., where some information is given
regarding this animal. Its horns have been found deep in peat bogs,
where they had probably lain many centuries, for in one case an antler
was found close to the bronze spear head described in Part I., chap.
xxi., in a peat bog half-way between Tournaig and Inverewe, and the
spear head could not have been in use since remote times. There are few
finer spectacles than a herd of red-deer. In severe weather, in winter
or early spring, this sight may often fall to the lot of the traveller
on the shores of Loch Maree, without leaving the high-road.

ROE-DEER (_Capreolus capræa_).--This pretty little deer is not so
numerous as it used to be in Gairloch, but I have often seen individuals
not far from the high-road near Slatadale, and there are always a few
about Flowerdale and Shieldaig. They frequent woods and adjoining
moorland. Very few are now shot by sportsmen. They are a delicate little
creature, and sometimes die in a hard winter. I have seen specimens
lying dead by the roadside, passing through the Glas Leitire woods.
Possibly the increase of rabbits has tended to reduce the number of
roe-deer, by diminishing their food supply.

FOX (_Vulpes vulgaris_).--The common fox is very abundant in Gairloch,
but is kept down by the keepers on account of the destruction it wreaks
on all kinds of ground and winged game. The fox also kills many lambs,
and sometimes, though rarely, full-grown sheep. It has even been known
to kill the calves of red-deer when very young. The foxes here have
their earths or dens mostly in cairns of rocks and stones. The keepers
will watch one of these dens all night in order to destroy or capture
the old and young foxes. Any that are taken alive (and these are most
usually the young ones) are sent to England to be turned out by masters
of fox-hounds, who generally pay ten shillings a piece for them.

BADGER (_Meles taxus_).--The badger is now nearly extinct in Gairloch,
but is still occasionally met with. Mr John Munro, gamekeeper on the
North Point, told me that one was trapped in Garbh Coire, near Loch Bad
na Sgalaig, in 1874. The badger lives on worms, honey, eggs, and
carrion, but its staple food is grass. It does little harm to game,
unless it destroys a few eggs of grouse. It frequents cairns of stones
like the fox.

OTTER (_Lutra vulgaris_).--The otter was formerly very plentiful, and is
still frequently met with in cairns on the sea-coast of Gairloch and
Loch Ewe and of the island of Longa, but it is not so abundant as it
used to be. When the people found how valuable the skins were they
captured all they could. The skins, like those of the badger, are much
used in making sporans (purses), to be worn with the kilt. The head is
usually mounted as the over-lap of the sporan. Two young otters were
taken in Fionn Loch in 1881, and were sent to the Zoological Gardens,
Regent's Park, London. The otter lives exclusively on fish.

WILD-CAT (_Felis catus_).--The wild-cat is frequently trapped by the
gamekeepers in cairns of rock. It destroys great quantities of game. The
wild-cat is shorter in the legs than the domestic cat. Mr O. H.
Mackenzie has killed a true wild-cat measuring forty-three inches in
length. The wild-cat is about twice the weight of the domestic cat. Many
domestic cats become wild, and adopt the habits of the wild-cat, and
some persons take them for wild-cats. There are also crosses between the

MARTEN-CAT (_Martes abietum_, or _foina_).--The marten is now scarce in
Gairloch. One was trapped in Gairloch in 1877. An old one and several
young ones were killed about the same date in Torridon, on the southern
confines of Gairloch. One was trapped in 1884 at Kerrysdale. It is
generally found in woods or long heather, and was formerly plentiful
hereabouts. Mr O. H. Mackenzie tells me that he once came upon a dead
sheep at the foot of a steep place, down which it had evidently rolled;
beneath the carcass he found a dead marten-cat. He believed it had
attacked and killed the sheep, and the latter in its struggles had
rolled down the hill, and unwittingly been the cause of its destroyer's

POLECAT (_Putorius fœtidus_).--There are a few polecats still
occasionally to be met with in Gairloch, but the beast is scarce. It
used to abound in the woods. In its habits it resembles the weasel.

WEASEL (_Mustela vulgaris_).--This well known animal is very numerous in
this parish. It destroys many rabbits. I have seen it more than once in
the very act of killing a rabbit.

STOAT, or ERMINE (_Mustela erminea_).--The stoat is very numerous and
has the same habits as the weasel, which it closely resembles in
appearance, except that it is rather larger. The stoat generally becomes
snowy white in winter, except the tip of the tail, which remains black.
Numbers of them are imported into Britain from Russia in their white
state, and make the ermine fur used in the royal robes.

ALPINE HARE (_Lepus variablis_).--The Alpine hare is quite distinct from
the common brown hare and the Irish hare. It is commonly called the
"blue hare," but the epithet grey would be more suitable, for in colour
it resembles a common rabbit. It mostly frequents the higher moorlands
and the mountain sides, but is sometimes found on quite low ground.
Towards the end of November its coat becomes nearly or entirely white,
the change being gradually effected, so that sometimes piebald hares may
be seen. In February or March the coat again assumes the grey colour. Mr
John Munro is of opinion that the change to white is the result of a
loss of colour, and involves no actual change of the coat. But he
believes the change from the white to the original grey colour is due to
a complete change of the coat itself,--that in fact the old white wool
of winter comes off, and is replaced by a new grey coat. In support of
this view he states that he has often found quantities of the white wool
on the ground at the time of the spring change, but he never found grey
wool in November. The grey hare has three or even four young in a
litter, and has several litters in the year. Its average weight is from
four to five pounds. I have seen several which weighed seven pounds, but
this is a very uncommon weight. They feed on grass and heather, and even
on lichens and mosses. Their white colour makes them an easy mark for
the gunner when there is no snow on the ground. Some thirty years ago
this hare was almost unknown in Gairloch. Now it is very abundant,
though perhaps less so than a few years back.

BROWN HARE (_Lepus timidus_).--The common brown hare was very numerous
in Gairloch some years ago, but is now comparatively scarce. It is the
same species as the English hare, and is larger and heavier than the
Alpine hare. Sometimes a variety, or supposed variety, occurs, alleged
to be the result of a cross between this species and the Alpine hare.

RABBIT (_Lepus cuniculus_).--The common rabbit was quite unknown in
Gairloch parish until about the year 1850, when it was introduced at
Letterewe. It did not become general for many years after, but is now
common almost everywhere. Occasionally black or white individuals are
met with, probably descended from tame rabbits let loose.

BROWN RAT (_Mus decumanus_).--This obnoxious creature swarms everywhere.
They arrived in this country about 1860. It is said they had been known
before for a short time, but had disappeared.

BLACK RAT (_Mus rattus_).--The old black rat is very scarce. Mr John
Munro tells me that he has seen it near a bothie on a mountain in
Gairloch. It is not such an objectionable beast as the brown rat.

MOUSE (_Mus musculus_).--The common mouse is very abundant everywhere.

WATER RAT, or WATER VOLE (_Arvicola amphibius_).--Mr O. H. Mackenzie
says this rat is not uncommon, though rarely seen.

LONG-TAILED FIELD-MOUSE (_Mus sylvaticus_).--This creature, which is not
a vole but a veritable mouse, is found about gardens in Gairloch, where
it eats the bulbs of the crocus, tulip, &c. Mr O. H. Mackenzie tells me
that he has actually found this mouse (February 1885) inside the house
at Tournaig eating fruit on the shelves.

SHORT-TAILED FIELD-MOUSE (_Arvicola agrestis_).--It is common enough,
and is found in corn-fields.

SHREW (_Corsira vulgaris_).--The common shrew-mouse is quite common.
Cats will not eat them. The shrew lives on worms.

WATER-SHREW (_Crossopus fodiens_).--The pretty little black water-shrew
is not often seen. Mr O. H. Mackenzie gave me a specimen on 13th October

MOLE (_Talpa Europæa_).--The mole is now very abundant, but was quite
unknown in Gairloch twenty years ago, and no one can tell how it came
here. No doubt the mole does good, but it is very annoying to see a
newly-sown patch of vegetables or flower-seeds destroyed all along the
top of the underground path of the mole.

BAT (_Pleiotus communis_).--The common bat is frequent. Only the common
small kind is found in Gairloch. It is seen near woods and houses on
calm evenings.

SEAL (_Phoca vitulina_).--The common seal is often noticed in Gairloch
and Loch Ewe, especially near the mouths of streams. They do not breed

PORPOISE (_Phocœna communis_).--The porpoise is not uncommon in the sea
lochs of Gairloch. I have known one approach close to Poolewe, at the
head of Loch Ewe, no doubt attracted by shoals of herring which were
then in the loch.

WHALE, SHARK, and GRAMPUS.--Occasionally a whale, shark, or grampus is
observed off the coast of Gairloch.

ARCTIC FOX (_Vulpes lagopus_).--On 30th January 1878 an Arctic fox was
trapped by Mr John Munro, on the edge of a very small sheet of water at
the back of the Bac an Leth-Choin, on the North Point, about two miles
from Rudha Reidh. The remains of several hares had previously been found
with the head and neck eaten off to the shoulders. This fox was a
female, and quite white, and its shape was unmistakeably that of the
true Arctic fox. It was set up by Mr W. A. M'Leay, of Inverness, and is
now in the possession of Mr S. W. Clowes of Norbury, Derbyshire, who has
for many years been a shooting tenant on the Gairloch estate. It is
impossible to determine how this animal, which does not belong to the
British isles, had found its way to the North Point. The following
occurrences of the Arctic fox in the Highlands were narrated to me by Mr
M'Leay, of Inverness:--

An old Gairloch shepherd, who had been a foxhunter in his younger days,
shot an Arctic fox, about 1848, while on a pass before the hounds on the
heights of Monar. There never was a fox known in that district which
made such fearful havoc amongst lambs.

About 1871 an Arctic fox was sent to Mr M'Leay for preservation, for
Lord Abinger. Mr M'Leay inserted a descriptive paragraph in the local
newspapers. In the course of a few days he had a letter from a gentleman
in Peterhead, asking particularly about it, and saying that an Arctic
fox had been given him by the master of a Greenland whaler, which he had
kept chained in his yard for upwards of a year; that six weeks before it
had managed to escape, and though he had advertised offering a good
reward for its recovery, no trace could be got of it. From Mr M'Leay's
description he had no doubt it was his fox. How it had managed to elude
all the keepers, guns, traps, and snares between Peterhead and
Fort-William, a distance of about two hundred miles, was very strange.

Another Arctic fox was shot at Inverness on 14th February 1878, within
three weeks of the capture of the Gairloch specimen. Mr Findlay,
superintendent of Tomnahurich, observed the fox in the cemetery, and
chase being given it was driven down towards the Infirmary. After an
exciting run, the animal was shot in the field at the back of
Tomnahurich Street.

I cannot but suppose that the Arctic foxes of Gairloch and Inverness,
killed so near the same date, had a common origin, but nothing positive
is known of their previous history.

Chapter VI.


In compiling the following list and notes I have had the valuable aid of
Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie of Inverewe, who is a life-long ornithologist and
observer of nature. He has spent more of his life in his native country
than perhaps any other Highland gentleman now alive. He has very rarely
been absent even in winter. He allows me to say that he is mainly
responsible for this list. It includes more than one hundred and fifty
species, or supposed species. Our effort has been to make the notes
absolutely accurate, but nesting-places are generally not stated for
obvious reasons. It is earnestly hoped that the information contained in
this chapter will not be made use of by visitors to enable them to
disturb, destroy, or rob any of the interesting birds of Gairloch.

Mr J. A. Harvie Brown, of Dunipace, has kindly placed at my service a
list of birds observed by him in the spring and early summer of 1884 at
Aultbea in Gairloch, at Priest Island off the north-east corner of
Gairloch parish, and at Gruinard on its northern boundary; and this list
is referred to in several cases.

The order and scientific nomenclature are the same as adopted in the
revised edition of "Yarrell's British Birds," by Newton and Saunders.

GOLDEN EAGLE, or BLACK EAGLE (_Aquila chrysaetus_).--This noble bird,
which is slightly smaller than the erne, is not uncommon in Gairloch. I
have seen a pair hovering near the head of Loch Maree, and I have
frequently noticed single birds soaring high in air. One Sunday
afternoon I saw an eagle mobbed by curlews within half-a-mile of
Inveran. It nests in the parish, always on ledges of precipitous rocks.
There is an eyrie on Meall a Ghuibhais. For anecdotes of the golden
eagle see Part III., chap iii. One was trapped on the Inverewe ground,
in February 1885, by Mr John Matheson, who has been gamekeeper at
Inverewe nearly twenty years.

albicilla_).--Occasionally occurs. A pair formerly nested annually in
Eilean na h' Iolair (Eagle Isle), on Fionn Loch. In 1850 there was a
nest on Beinn Aridh Charr. A fine specimen, trapped on Bathais [Bus]
Bheinn, in 1879, is in the collection at Inveran.

OSPREY, or FISHING EAGLE (_Pandion haliæetus_).--This now rare and very
interesting bird, called by the natives "Allan the fisherman," or "the
fisherman," is occasionally seen. One was observed in Gairloch, about
1880, by Mr John Munro. It is not now known to nest in the parish. There
were formerly three nesting-places in Gairloch,--(1) in Eilean Suainne,
in Loch Maree, on a point nearly opposite Isle Maree; (2) on a fir-tree
on a small island in a loch on Eilean Suainne; and (3) on a stack or
insulated rock in a small loch called Loch an Iasgair (the loch of "the
fisherman"), near the Little Gruinard River. The last nest in any of
these places was about 1852; an osprey was shot from the garden at
Inveran in that year. I have been told of other nesting-places in
Gairloch by old men, who say the osprey used to be abundant in the

PEREGRINE-FALCON (_Falco peregrinus_).--The peregrine is abundant in
Gairloch. During the spring of 1884 Mr John Munro, who has been
gamekeeper on the North Point since 1865, and is a noted trapper of
vermin, trapped no fewer than eight peregrines on the North Point,
besides what were trapped during the same spring by other keepers in the
parish. There are several nesting-places in Gairloch, all on ledges on
the faces of rocky precipices. If one of a pair preparing to nest be
killed, another bird takes its place within a few days, and even where
both birds have been destroyed another pair has been known to occupy
their nest in a very short time. Though mostly keeping out of gunshot,
the peregrine is sometimes very bold. For instance, in 1883, one swooped
at a hen close to a house in Londubh; it missed its mark, and,
unintentionally no doubt, took a header into a wash-tub, whence it was
taken alive. The peregrine destroys more grouse than any other winged
vermin; it is believed that each bird kills at least one grouse for its
own sustenance every day, and when they have their young, a pair of them
have been known to kill five grouse in one day, so that it has been
truly said that the bag made by each peregrine is at the least equal to
that of one gun on a moor.

MERLIN (_Falco æsalon_).--This pretty little hawk is very common, and
its nests are often taken. It usually nests in long heather on a steep

KESTREL (_Falco tinnunculus_).--This universal hawk is as common in
Gairloch as elsewhere. It builds mostly on rocks. It occasionally kills
young grouse, and takes them to its nest. Mr John Munro has actually
shot kestrels whilst carrying young grouse in their claws to their
young. Mr Harvie Brown has observed similar freaks on the part of the
kestrel, but he does not think the defect is generically constitutional.

SPARROW-HAWK (_Accipiter nisus_).--The sparrow-hawk is common. It nests
in trees. I have seen several nests. The female sparrow-hawk resembles
the male peregrine both in size and plumage. In all birds of prey the
female is larger than the male, whilst in other birds the reverse is
usually the case. The sparrow-hawk kills young grouse, and has been seen
by Mr John Munro pecking at an old grouse which was still warm, and had
probably been killed by it.

KITE, or GLEAD (_Milvus ictinus_).--Was formerly common in Gairloch, but
has not been observed for many years. Strychnine was on one occasion put
into the dead body of a horse, and the result was that a large number of
kites were (intentionally) poisoned. This would be about 1825; kites
were then very numerous here, and even destroyed poultry. The Gaelic
name is Clabhan gobhlach nan cearc, or "fork [tailed] buzzard of the

BUZZARD (_Buteo vulgaris_).--This bird, which closely resembles the
golden eagle, but is much smaller, is common, but seldom breeds in
Gairloch. It used to nest in Craig Tollie. It is not so destructive to
game as some of the lesser hawks.

HEN-HARRIER (_Circus cyaneus_).--This hawk is tolerably common, but is
not known to nest in Gairloch. When out grouse shooting one day I saw a
hen-harrier strike and kill a grouse just beyond gunshot. I gathered the
grouse, but the harrier escaped.

TAWNY OWL, or BROWN OWL (_Strix aluco_).--This owl is common, and breeds
in Gairloch. They seem to frequent woods and rocks, and at night their
loud wailing hoot or howl is often heard. I believe they are harmless as
regards game.

LONG-EARED OWL (_Asio otus_).--This bird occurs, but is not common. It
is a migrant, and does not breed here.

SHORT-EARED OWL (_Asio accipitrinus_).--This owl is not uncommon in
Gairloch. It is a migrant, and comes with the woodcock. It is not known
to breed in Gairloch. Mr O. H. Mackenzie once shot five over setters in
the Isle of Ewe in the month of November.

WHITE OWL, or BARN OWL (_Aluco flammeus_).--This owl is also common, and
here generally nests in cracks in rocks.

SPOTTED FLYCATCHER (_Muscicapa grisola_).--Common. It nests near houses.
I have seen its nest at Inveran (1885). Both Mr O. H. Mackenzie and Mr
Harvie Brown have noticed several pairs in Gairloch parish.

GOLDEN ORIOLE (_Oriolus galbula_).--This splendid bird is very rare
here. Mr O. H. Mackenzie, and a friend with him, saw one at Coile
Aigeascaig on 25th May 1884. One was shot in the garden at Mungasdale
(the farm of Gruinard) about 1870. This place is within three miles of
the northern boundary of Gairloch.

DIPPER, or WATER OUZEL (_Cinclus aquaticus_).--Very common on all rivers
and burns, and on the margins of lochs. It is called in Gaelic Gobha
dubh an uisge, or "the water blacksmith." I have seen several of its
remarkable nests behind small waterfalls, or on rocks overhanging
running water. It is one of the first of the small birds to build its
nest. On 31st January 1879, and on several days before and after that
day, I saw an immense number of dippers on the river Ewe. I counted
nearly a hundred within a length of a mile. They were of the ordinary
brown-breasted kind. Two of them are in my collection, and other two (I
believe) in the national collection. I can offer no explanation of this
unusual gathering. It is interesting to watch this active little bird
diving in running water. It is now acquitted of the charge formerly made
against it of eating the ova of fish. It lives on water insects and
their larvæ.

MISTLETOE THRUSH, or STORM-COCK (_Turdus viscivorus_).--This bird occurs
in Gairloch, though not commonly. Mr O. H. Mackenzie saw a nest in a
rock at Inverewe recently. He unmistakably identified the birds and the
eggs. The storm-cock used to be abundant in Gairloch, and built
generally in oak trees.

SONG-THRUSH, or MAVIS (_Turdus musicus_).--Very common. It nests in
trees, bushes, and tall heather. Mr Reid, of Isle Ewe, says that the
mavis builds in walls there for lack of trees. Some years ago Mr O. H.
Mackenzie killed one with a ring round its neck, such as the ring-ouzel
has. This anomalous specimen may be seen at Inverewe.

REDWING (_Turdus iliacus_).--Common. It has been known to remain in
Gairloch all summer, making it probable that it breeds here.

FIELDFARE (_Turdus pilaris_).--Common. A migrant. Not known to nest

BLACKBIRD (_Turdus merula_).--Common enough now, but it is said to have
been formerly unknown in Gairloch.

RING-OUZEL (_Turdus torquatus_).--Common, and, like the mavis and
blackbird, very destructive to fruit. I often see a number about my
cherrytrees in the garden at Inveran.

DUNNOCK, or HEDGE-SPARROW (_Accentor modularis_).--Common, especially
near houses.

REDBREAST, or ROBIN (_Erithacus rubecula_).--Common everywhere, and at
all seasons.

REDSTART (_Ruticilla phœnicurus_).--Rather common. Both Mr O. H.
Mackenzie and I have often seen it, and Mr Harvie Brown noted it as seen
at Gruinard in 1884.

STONECHAT (_Saxicola rubicola)_.--Fairly common. It nests early. Mr
Harvie Brown saw it at Aultbea in 1884, more abundantly than the

WHINCHAT (_Saxicola rubetra_).--Abundant. Mr Harvie Brown noted it as
"common" at Strath na Sealg in 1884, and Mr O. H. Mackenzie and I have
often seen it in Gairloch.

WHEATEAR (_Saxicola œnanthe_).--Very common. It arrives about the end of
March or the beginning of April, and nests mostly amongst stones.

SEDGE WARBLER (_Acrocephalus schœnobænus_).--Occurs. Not common.

BLACKCAP (_Sylvia atricapilla_).--This bird is not common, but occurs.

WILLOW WREN, or WARBLER (_Phylloscopus trochilus_).--Frequent. Mr Harvie
Brown found it common at Gruinard in 1884.

CHIFF CHAFF (_Phylloscopus collybita_).--Common. Seldom seen, but often
heard. It is a migrant.

GOLDCREST, or GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN (_Regulus cristatus_).--Very common. I
found one in the house at Inveran one evening, and have often seen
flocks in the larches close by.

WREN (_Troglodytes parvulus_).--Common everywhere all the year round.

CREEPER, or TREE-CREEPER (_Certhia familiaris_).--The creeper is
tolerably common. I have often seen it creeping or almost running up the
side of the house at Inveran, pressing its tail against the wall after
its manner.

BLUE TITMOUSE, or TOM-TIT (_Parus cæruleus_).--Very common, but not so
much seen as the coal-titmouse.

COAL-TITMOUSE (_Parus ater_).--This spry little bird is very common, and
is seen at all seasons of the year; often in large flocks, frequently in
company with the long-tailed titmouse.

LONG-TAILED TITMOUSE, or BOTTLE-TIT (_Acredula caudata_).--This tiny
bird is abundant.

PIED WAGTAIL, or WATER WAGTAIL (_Motacilla lugubris_).--Very common.
Like the other wagtails, it is a summer visitor; it arrives in the end
of March.

WHITE WAGTAIL (_Motacilla alba_).--This bird visits Gairloch. I have
seen at least two pairs on the River Ewe in most years. An
ornithological friend shot two specimens near Poolewe bridge some years
ago, and identified them as being undoubtedly the white wagtail of

GREY WAGTAIL (_Motacilla sulphurea_).--This beautiful bird is tolerably
common here. On 30th July 1886 I obtained at Inveran a singular variety
of this wagtail; it was a young bird in nestling feathers, but strong on
the wing, of a white and fawn colour intermixed,--not an albino.

MEADOW-PIPIT, or TITLARK (_Anthus pratensis_).--This is one of the
commonest birds in Gairloch.

ROCK-PIPIT (_Anthus obscurus_).--The rock-pipit is frequent here. Mr
Harvie Brown noted it as common at Gruinard in 1884.

SKYLARK, or LAVROCK (_Alauda arvensis_).--The skylark is not common now.
It used to be so, and no reason can be given for the falling off in its
numbers. Mr Harvie Brown observed it at Aultbea in 1884.

SNOW BUNTING, or SNOW FLECK (_Plectrophanes nivalis_).--This pretty bird
is common, and is frequently seen in large flocks in winter. It is
believed to breed on the higher hills, but there is no evidence that its
nests have ever been found in Gairloch. Donald Fraser, the old forester
at Fannich, who had been head tod-hunter to the old Duke of Sutherland,
told Mr O. H. Mackenzie about thirty years ago that he had often seen
the nests of the snow bunting under flags on the top of the Scuir Mor of
Fannich. On the same mountain Mr O. H. Mackenzie saw (about 1858)
several broods of snow buntings flitting about when deerstalking there.
The young birds were in nestling plumage.

BUNTING, or COMMON BUNTING (_Emberiza miliaria_).--The common bunting,
which is rare in some parts of Britain, is abundant in Gairloch, and is
with us all the year round. I shot a cream-coloured bunting at
Inverasdale some years ago; it is in my collection at Inveran.

YELLOW BUNTING, or YELLOW-HAMMER (_Emberiza citrinella_).--This bunting
is very common; it is one of the tamest of wild birds.

BLACK-HEADED BUNTING (_Euspiza melanocephala_).--This peculiar-looking
bird is common here. I have seen their nests.

CHAFFINCH, or SPINK (_Fringilla cœlebs_).--The chaffinch is perhaps the
most commonly seen bird in Gairloch.

MOUNTAIN FINCH, or BRAMBLING (_Fringilla montifringilla_).--The
brambling is rarely seen here. Mr O. H. Mackenzie once shot one out of a
flock of chaffinches in Gairloch. He saw more at the time.

HOUSE-SPARROW (_Passer domesticus_).--The house-sparrow used to be
unknown in Gairloch. It is said to have first come to the Free Manse at
Aultbea or to Isle Ewe in the mail-packet from Stornoway. This was about
1852. Mr Harvie Brown noticed it at Aultbea in 1884. It is now pretty
common where it can find nesting-places about houses. It often builds in
trees close to houses, if it can get no better place.

GREENFINCH, or GREEN LINNET (_Coccothraustes chloris_).--Common, but not
known to breed.

GOLDFINCH (_Carduelis elegans_).--Mr O. H. Mackenzie shot several at
Charleston many years ago. It has not been observed latterly.

SISKIN, or ABERDEVINE (_Carduelis spinus_).--Not common, but sometimes
seen in flocks in late autumn. It is a migrant.

REDPOLL, or LESSER REDPOLL (_Linota rufescens_).--Common. Seen in

LINNET, or GREY LINTIE (_Linota cannabina_).--I am not positive that I
have seen this bird in Gairloch parish, and Mr O. H. Mackenzie has never
observed it. Mr Harvie Brown saw it in the adjoining parish of Loch
Broom in 1884, and I think it only right to include it in the list of
Gairloch birds.

TWITE, or HEATHER LINTIE (_Linota flavirostris_).--Common, especially
near the sea-shore. Mr Harvie Brown noted it as seen at Aultbea in the
summer of 1884.

BULLFINCH (_Pyrrhula Europæa_).--This handsome bird is quite common now,
and destroys the young fruit of plum trees, and the fruit buds of
gooseberry bushes, so that gardeners wage war against it. Mr O. H.
Mackenzie says it was unknown in Gairloch about thirty years ago.

CROSSBILL (_Loxia curvirostra_).--Not common, but occurs. Mr O. H.
Mackenzie shot three out of a large flock, in a larch tree close to the
house at Inveran, about 1851.

STARLING (_Sturnus vulgaris_).--Very common in places. For want of old
trees it builds in heaps of stones and old walls; and in the island of
Foura, at the mouth of Loch Ewe, it uses holes in the ground for its
nest, along with the stormy petrel.

ROSE-COLOURED STARLING, or PASTOR (_Pastor roseus_).--This rare bird
probably occurs here. One was shot at Torridon about 1880, so close to
the southern confines of Gairloch parish as to justify my mentioning it
in this list. It is in Mr Darroch's possession at Torridon; it is a
beautiful specimen in mature plumage.

CHOUGH, or REDLEGGED CROW (_Pyrrhocorax graculus_).--This bird is rare
indeed. Mr O. H. Mackenzie saw one at Tournaig in the summer of 1883,
the only instance he knows.

RAVEN (_Corvus corax_).--The raven is very common here, and has many
favourite nesting-places, all in crags. It is the earliest bird to build
its nest. The raven is very voracious; it lives mostly on carrion, but
destroys the eggs of grouse and other game birds.

HOODED CROW, or GREY CROW (_Corvus cornix_).--The hoodie is very common.
It nests in trees and sometimes in rocks. It destroys many eggs of game
birds. Mr O. H. Mackenzie has not observed the black or carrion crow
(the kindred species) here.

ROOK (_Corvus frugilegus_).--The rook is common, but is not so abundant
as it used to be. After the breeding season all the rooks in the
district gather each evening in one large flock, and roost every night
from the end of October to the end of March in the fir wood on the River
Ewe, a little below Inveran. During the rest of the year not one is to
be seen at this place, for they are engaged elsewhere with their nests
and young. There are now at least three rookeries in the parish, viz.,
at the burial-ground at Culinellan near Kenlochewe, at the Poolewe
manse, and on the crannog or artificial island on Loch Kernsary.
Formerly there was no rookery in Gairloch. The rook destroys eggs. Mr O.
H. Mackenzie has caught rooks in the very act of demolishing hens' and
partridges' eggs.

DAW, or JACKDAW (_Corvus monedula_).--The jackdaw is occasionally seen
in winter, but it does not breed in Gairloch, at least not in the
present day.

PIE, or MAGPIE (_Pica rustica_).--The magpie is now unknown in Gairloch,
but Mr O. H. Mackenzie says that in the early part of the century, as
old people tell him, numbers of magpies lived in the fir wood which then
covered the knoll at the back of Srondubh house.

SWALLOW (_Hirundo rustica_).--Occurs, but is not common. I caught one in
the house at Inveran on a summer evening in full plumage, with the
brilliant red colour about the head.

MARTIN, or HOUSE-MARTIN (_Chelidon urbica_).--Is not common now, though
it used to be. Within a few years I have seen several martins' nests in
the windows of Poolewe church. Mr O. H. Mackenzie remembers when they
nested in hundreds on the face of the "Black rock," at the east end of
the range of Craig Tollie.

SAND-MARTIN (_Cotile riparia_).--Very common. Burrows its nest in almost
every gravel or sand pit which has a high bank.

SWIFT (_Cypselus apus_).--Occurs occasionally, but is not numerous. It
is not known to breed in Gairloch.

NIGHT-JAR (_Caprimulgus Europæus_).--Several pairs of the night-jar
visit the parish of Gairloch annually to breed. I have many a time heard
their singular note or jar, like the hum of a winnowing machine,
resounding under the shade of Craig Tollie on a summer evening. Mr
Harvie Brown heard and saw night-jars at Gruinard in 1884. This curious
bird nests on the ground under heather. I have seen a night-jar in the
garden at Inveran.

CUCKOO (_Cuculus canorus_).--The cuckoo arrives in great numbers near
the end of April, and until the middle of June the whole country
resounds with its calls. I first saw the cuckoo this year (1885) on 23rd
April. I do not think it is more abundant in any other part of the
kingdom. It lays its egg mostly in the nests of the meadow-pipit. In
July the cuckoos take their departure, but I have seen young ones as
late as the middle of August. I have noticed three cuckoos at one time
in my little garden at Inveran. They seem to be fond of gooseberries.

KINGFISHER (_Alcedo ispida_).--This most brilliant of all native birds
is almost unknown in Gairloch. I have never seen it here. Mr O. H.
Mackenzie has seen one on the River Ewe, and one on the River Kerry;
both these occurrences were some years ago.

RING DOVE, WOOD-PIGEON, or CUSHAT (_Columba palumbus_).--A few
wood-pigeons are here all the year round, and breed in the parish. I
have seen their nests in tall trees.

ROCK DOVE (_Columba livia_).--The blue-rock is very abundant, and
inhabits caves and fissures in the rocks all along the coast line of
Gairloch. It is here seldom found far inland. Mr Harvie Brown, however,
says that it is found inland above the head of Little Lochbroom. I have
noticed several variations in its plumage, some birds being mottled, and
others very pale in colour. It is the parent of, and closely resembles,
the common domesticated blue pigeon. It is excellent eating.

TURTLE DOVE (_Turtur communis_).--Very rare. One was shot on the glebe
at Gairloch in 1880 by Mr W. B. Mackenzie, a son of the minister of
Gairloch, who brought it to me for identification. It was consorting
with golden plover in a turnip field. It was a bird of the year.

BLACK GROUSE, or BLACK GAME (_Tetrao tetrix_).--Black game are fairly
abundant about Gairloch, but they wander a good deal, and sometimes the
sportsman is disappointed in his search for them. They are polygamous,
and it is important to keep down the cocks, otherwise the black cocks
may become numerous out of proportion to the grey hens. They say the
best proportion is one black cock to three grey hens.

RED GROUSE (_Lagopus Scoticus_).--The grouse is abundant on all the
moorlands of Gairloch, but its numbers in any season are liable to be
greatly affected by wet or cold weather at the time of hatching. Many
early broods are lost, and consequently there is no lack of "cheepers"
on the "Twelfth." Disease occasionally appears; it is certainly not due
to over-stocking. The grouse is monogamous. The cocks generally exceed
the hens in number. It is very beneficial to a moor to kill off the
unmated cocks. The grouse in the Highlands are slightly smaller than
those on English and Irish moors.

PTARMIGAN (_Lagopus mutus_).--Common on the mountain tops, where it
breeds. It seldom visits lower regions, but one was shot on the North
Point some years ago in tempestuous weather, at an elevation of not more
than seven hundred feet above the sea-level; and another was shot on
Isle Ewe by Mr O. H. Mackenzie, many years ago, on a top not more than a
hundred feet above the sea.

PHEASANT (_Phasianus colchicus_).--Introduced some years ago at
Shieldaig, probably about 1860. It is now pretty common, and sometimes
wanders away from the coverts where it has been bred.

PARTRIDGE (_Perdix cinerea_).--The partridge is fairly common in
Gairloch, but is never very abundant, owing to wet breeding seasons and
the number of rooks and domestic cats.

RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE (_Caccabis rufa_).--Introduced some years ago, but
now believed to be extinct.

QUAIL (_Coturnix communis_).--Very rare. Mr O. H. Mackenzie shot one in
Isle Ewe about 1860. It may be seen at Inverewe.

LAND-RAIL, or CORN-CRAKE (_Crex pratensis_).--Now rather rare. It used
to be very abundant in grass or corn.

WATER-RAIL (_Rallus aquaticus_).--This bird is occasionally found in

MOOR-HEN, or WATER-HEN (_Gallinula chloropus_).--Common. I have
frequently seen it feeding with my ducks at the end of the garden at
Inveran abutting on the River Ewe.

DOTTEREL (_Eudromias morinellus_).--Very rare. Donald Fraser, an old
forester at Fannich, who was a keen and accurate observer of birds, told
Mr O. H. Mackenzie that the dotterel formerly bred on Beinn Bheag, near
Kenlochewe. It is called in Gaelic Feadag chuirn, or "cairn-plover."

RINGED PLOVER, or RING DOTTEREL (_Ægialitis hiaticula_).--Abundant on
all the sandy shores on the coast of Gairloch. I have seen it also on
the shore of Loch Maree, at Slatadale, in the breeding season. It is
called in Gaelic Tarmachan na tainne, or "the ptarmigan of the waves."

GOLDEN PLOVER (_Charadrius pluvialis_).--Abundant, and breeds in
considerable numbers on high moors.

LAPWING, PEEWIT, or GREEN PLOVER (_Vanellus vulgaris_).--Not abundant.
Arrives early in February, and nests in the parish.

TURNSTONE (_Strepsilas interpres_).--A common shore bird in Gairloch.
Seen in summer, but not known to build.

OYSTER-CATCHER, or SEA PIE (_Hæmatopus ostralegus_).--Very common, and
breeds abundantly on island rocks in the sea, and sometimes on the
mainland close to the shore. I have seen many of their nests.

WOODCOCK (_Scolopax rusticula_).--Abundant. Large flocks arrive in
October and November, and a few pairs breed in the country. I have seen
the little woodcocks running about in June, and have shot full-grown
birds in August. I have often observed a woodcock carrying a young one
in its claws. When standing in the garden at Inveran, late on a summer
evening, the woodcock, with its young one borne in this manner, has
frequently flown within six or eight yards of my head. Mr O. H.
Mackenzie has actually seen the woodcock pick up its young one, when
nearly full-grown, at his very feet, and fly off with it.

SNIPE (_Gallinago cælestis_).--The "full snipe" is common throughout
Gairloch. It breeds in the parish. I have seen nests. Numbers of snipe
come in autumn from other countries.

JACK SNIPE (_Gallinago gallinula_).--This bird is an immigrant, and
arrives about the end of October. It was formerly more plentiful than it
is now-a-days.

DUNLIN (_Tringa alpina_).--This is a very abundant shore bird, and
occurs in flocks on all the sandy sea-beaches. It is believed to breed
on moors in Gairloch.

PURPLE SANDPIPER (_Tringa striata_).--This also is common. It is seen
mostly on rocks and shingle, at the very edge of the sea.

KNOT (_Tringa canutus_).--Uncommon. Mr O. H. Mackenzie shot one on Loch
nan Dailthean one autumn,--a solitary bird. It is to be seen at

SANDERLING (_Calidris arenaria_).--Not common. Mr Henry A. Clowes sent me
one he shot at Sand, Gairloch, 11th September 1886.

COMMON SANDPIPER (_Totanus hypoleucus_).--This bird is very common in
the breeding season, along the shores of all waters. Its shrill piping
is almost a nuisance in the month of May. I have often found its nests,
and seen its pretty chicks.

REDSHANK (_Totanus calidris_).--Fairly common, and as it is seen all the
year round it is believed to breed in Gairloch. Mr O. H. Mackenzie says
it was formerly very rare or unknown here.

GREENSHANK (_Totanus canescens_).--Fairly abundant. It arrives in
February, and breeds on moors. I have seen one nest, and heard of
others. It sits very close on the nest. It is a shore bird, except in
the breeding season.

BAR-TAILED GODWIT (_Limosa lapponica_).--A rare winter visitant. I saw
two specimens at Inverasdale in the winter of 1880-81, and a friend with
me shot one. Mr O. H. Mackenzie shot a specimen near Inverewe several
years before.

CURLEW, or WHAUP (_Numenius arquata_).--Common, and breeds in abundance.
It nests on moorlands, and is found on or near the sea-shore all the
rest of the year. Its peculiar whistle is well known, and sounds very
weird, especially when heard inland on a summer evening.

WHIMBREL (_Numenius phæopus_).--This bird, resembling a small curlew,
used to be numerous in Gairloch, but, though still noticed, is becoming
rarer every year. It is a migrant. Mr O. H. Mackenzie saw four or five
whimbrels below the Inverewe garden in the first week of June 1886.

ARCTIC TERN (_Sterna macrura_).--This tern, which closely resembles the
common tern, is abundant in Gairloch in summer. It nests on small
islands in the sea, or in fresh-water lochs near the sea. The common
tern has not been identified in Gairloch.

BLACK-HEADED GULL (_Larus ridibundus_).--This gull is not uncommon in
Gairloch, and has several nesting-places on small islands in fresh-water
lochs. Some specimens have the black on the head of so dull a colour,
and extending so little beyond the forehead, as to closely resemble the
gull figured in the books as the masked gull. The black-headed gull
entirely loses the black colour on the head during winter. Sometimes the
breast of the bird is of a lovely rosy pink colour, which fades after

COMMON, or WINTER GULL (_Larus canus_).--The common gull is not nearly
so common in Gairloch as the black-headed gull. It has several
nesting-places on small islands in fresh-water lochs, and it sometimes
lays its eggs on the neighbouring mainland.

HERRING GULL (_Larus argentatus_).--A few pairs of herring gulls nest
along with the lesser black-backed gulls on the islands of Loch Maree.
It nests also on Foura, and I think in some other places in the parish
of Gairloch. Numbers breed in the Shiant Isles, and a good many visit
the Gairloch shores during autumn and winter.

LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (_Larus fuscus_).--This voracious bird breeds
in thousands on the islands of Loch Maree, and seems to be increasing in
numbers. The nest is beautifully formed of moss. The eggs, which are
generally three in number, but sometimes only two, and occasionally as
many as four in number, are much sought after by the natives and others
as articles of food; but Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, to whom the islands
belong, has endeavoured to check the depredations. This bird, though
called "lesser," is larger than any of the other gulls, except the
herring gull and the great black-backed gull. The young are grey until
they reach maturity, which is not until their second winter. Both the
species of black-backed gulls destroy many eggs of game birds.

GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL (_Larus marinus_).--This noble but predacious
bird is frequently seen in Gairloch. It does not associate with other
birds, or even with other pairs of its own species. A few pairs nest on
islands on Loch Maree and other fresh-water lochs, and I believe it
occasionally nests also on stacks in the sea close to the mainland. It
is commonly charged, as is also its lesser congener, with being guilty,
like the raven, of killing sheep and lambs, beginning the process of
murder by blinding its victims.

GLAUCOUS GULL (_Larus glaucus_).--Mr O. H. Mackenzie has occasionally
observed this gull in the parish of Gairloch.

ICELAND GULL (_Larus leucopterus_).--This pale-coloured gull is
occasionally seen in the parish. I have identified a specimen shot by Mr
John Matheson.

KITTIWAKE (_Rissa tridactyla_).--This graceful gull is common on our
coasts. It breeds in great numbers at the Shiant Isles, on ledges of
high rocks above the sea. On my visit to these islands a shot was fired,
when a vast crowd of birds filled the air, and there were innumerable
cries of "kittiwake, kittiwake," pronounced as distinctly as if spoken
by the human voice.

GREAT SKUA (_Stercorarius catarrhactes_).--The great, or common skua is
rarely seen in Gairloch, but may be occasionally observed attending on
parties of gulls, whom it robs of the fish they catch.

ARCTIC, or RICHARDSON'S SKUA (_Stercorarius crepidatus_).--This skua
occasionally occurs in Gairloch, but is not abundant. One stormy day in
late autumn I observed several about the head of Loch Ewe.

MANX SHEARWATER (_Puffinus anglorum_).--Mr O. H. Mackenzie has
occasionally seen this bird on Gairloch waters.

STORM PETREL (_Procellaria pelagica_).--This tiny sea bird, which makes
its home on the ocean waves, is seldom seen in Gairloch. I have observed
a small party at the mouth of Loch Ewe. They used to breed on the
islands of Longa and Foura, at the extremities of long burrows in grassy
slopes, and probably do so still. A specimen was recently brought to me
which had been found dead on the roadside between Gairloch and Poolewe.
It was in stormy weather.

RAZOR-BILL, or AUK (_Alca torda_).--This bird is seen in Gairloch and
Loch Ewe often along with the guillemots and puffins, and I think it is
more abundant than either. It nests in the Shiant Isles, and, like the
common guillemot, lays its single egg on ledges on the face of cliffs.
Mr Harvie Brown saw a very few pairs in a crevice on the east shore of
Priest Island, on 4th July 1884.

GUILLEMOT (_Uria troile_).--This sea bird frequents the coast of
Gairloch. It has no breeding station within the parish. The nearest is
at the Shiant Isles, twenty miles away, where a large number of
guillemots deposit their single eggs, all of exquisite colouring and
marking, but no two the same, on ledges in the face of a high cliff.

RINGED GUILLEMOT (_Uria lachrymans_).--It is now settled that this is a
dimorphic form of the guillemot, and not a different species. I have
obtained mature specimens with the ring or bridle only partially
developed, and there is no doubt it is a marking which occasionally
occurs in the common guillemot, and is not distinctive.

BLACK GUILLEMOT (_Uria grylle_).--This beautiful bird is common, and has
many nesting-places in Gairloch, on rocky islands in the sea, and
sometimes on rocks on the mainland overhanging the sea. In winter the
plumage of the black guillemot changes to a speckled grey colour. Mr
Harvie Brown says that he has in his collection male specimens in
speckled plumage taken off the eggs in the Badcall islands. Neither Mr
O. H. Mackenzie nor I have noticed the speckled plumage in breeding
birds. The young have the plumage yet more speckled than the mature
winter dress.

ROTCHE, or LITTLE AUK (_Mergulus alle_).--The little auk is rarely seen,
but is occasionally driven to the shores of Gairloch by storms. One was
brought to me which had been found dead near the shore of Loch Ewe.

PUFFIN, or SEA-PARROT (_Fratercula arctica_).--This curious bird is
common on the Gairloch coast at some seasons of the year. Like the
guillemot it breeds abundantly on the Shiant Islands. The puffin lays
its single egg at the extremity of a burrow formed on grassy banks
sloping towards the sea. The egg which, when laid, resembles an ordinary
hen's egg, soon becomes more or less of a dirty brown colour.

GREAT NORTHERN DIVER (_Colymbus glacialis_).--This largest of our divers
is common on these coasts. There are always some on the Gairloch and on
Loch Ewe, except perhaps in July and August. I once saw one near the Fox
Point on Loch Maree, but not in the breeding season. It remains in our
waters until the beginning of June, and then goes north to breed. It has
now no authenticated nesting-place in the British Isles. Mr O. H.
Mackenzie has an egg which he had taken for him in one of the Shetland
Isles many years ago,--probably the last British specimen. Dr Saxby,
author of "Birds of Shetland," obtained the egg for Mr Mackenzie. It is
very much larger than the egg of the black-throated diver. Mr Mackenzie
had often heard of the nesting-place in Shetland from Dr Saxby's

BLACK-THROATED DIVER (_Colymbus arcticus_).--It breeds on a number of
fresh-water lochs in Gairloch. The nests are usually on islands, but I
have seen one on the mainland. This diver is seldom, if ever, observed
in Gairloch, except during the breeding season.

RED-THROATED DIVER (_Colymbus septentrionalis_).--This diver is not so
common here as the black-throated diver. I know two nesting-places in
Gairloch. Mr John Munro has known four pairs nesting in the same
locality. The red-throated diver is more frequently seen on the wing
than the other species, and when flying frequently utters a loud wailing
cry, which is said to prognosticate rain. A specimen was brought to me
which had been caught in a herring-net.

SCLAVONIAN GREBE (_Podiceps auritus_).--This grebe is often seen in
winter. A pair of grebes has for many years nested annually on a
fresh-water loch in Gairloch parish; in some years there have been two
pairs on the same loch; and sometimes another pair has nested on a loch
about two miles away. Mr E. T. Booth saw the grebes on the former loch
in 1868; he was unable to decide the species at the time, but in a
letter he wrote to me on 2nd March 1885, he said that "from the last
description of the bird that he received he came to the conclusion that
it was a Sclavonian." Mr H. E. Dresser saw one old and one young grebe
on the same loch on 30th June 1886. He could not get a distinct view of
the bird, but he was satisfied it was either the Sclavonian or the eared
grebe. Mr John Munro, who has annually seen and scrutinised the birds
during the past twenty-one years, and has compared his impressions of
them with the pictures of the several species of grebe from Mr Dresser's
"Birds of Europe" and other works, believes that these birds nesting in
Gairloch are Sclavonian grebes; indeed there can be no reasonable doubt
that they are so. Mr Booth has called the birds in question Sclavonians
in his "Rough Notes." I believe this is the only recorded instance of
the Sclavonian grebe nesting in the British Isles.

DABCHICK, or LITTLE GREBE (_Podiceps fluviatilis_).--It is common here
as everywhere.

CORMORANT (_Phalacrocorax carbo_).--The great cormorant is not very
common in Gairloch, but I have known one or two pairs nest in the
parish, on rocks overhanging or surrounded by the sea. Mr Harvie Brown
found it abundant on Priest Island on 4th July 1884. He saw there a
colony of about a hundred pairs. It is commonly seen on fresh-water
rivers and lochs, where it engages in fishing. I have often observed it
fishing within a few yards of the garden at Inveran.

GREEN CORMORANT, or SKART, or SHAG (_Phalacrocorax graculus_).--The
common shag is abundant on Gairloch and Loch Ewe. It nests on high rocks
on islands in the sea. It is never seen on fresh-water.

GANNET, or SOLAN GOOSE (_Sula bassana_).--This singular bird is often
observed fishing, after its peculiar manner, in Gairloch and Loch Ewe.
It flies, or rather dashes, rapidly to and fro, and when it sees a fish
in the sea, darts or falls so suddenly down upon it, that one almost
fears the concussion with the water must injure the bird. Its nearest
breeding station is at St Kilda.

HERON (_Ardea cinerea_).--The heron abounds in Gairloch. There are three
heronries, which are strictly preserved. A number of herons frequently
roost in autumn and winter in the fir wood on the River Ewe, along with
the rooks.

GREY-LAG GOOSE (_Anser cinereus_).--This wild goose, which seems to have
been the origin of the domestic goose, resembles it more closely than
any other species of wild goose. It is common in Gairloch, but not so
abundant as formerly. It does not attain maturity until its second
winter. It nests on small islands in fresh-water lochs. Farmers destroy
the eggs whenever they can get to the nests, on account of the injury
the wild geese do to the crops. This is no doubt the cause of the
diminution in their numbers. A smaller species of wild goose has been
occasionally noticed by Mr John Munro consorting with the grey-lag
goose, but it has not been identified. The grey-lag goose becomes very
tame if brought up in captivity.

BRENT GOOSE (_Bernicla brenta_).--Rarely seen here. Mr O. H. Mackenzie
has shot two on a grass field at Tournaig, close to the edge of Loch

WHOOPER, or WILD SWAN (_Cygnus musicus_).--Occasionally visits Gairloch
in winter. It is sometimes on the sea, but appears to be particularly
fond of Loch Maree. On Sunday, 30th January 1881, I saw six of these
splendid birds, all in mature white plumage, pluming themselves on the
beach within a hundred yards of the house at Inveran. That was an
exceptionally severe winter. Mr O. H. Mackenzie broke the tip of the
wing of one on Loch Ewe with a bullet, and sent the bird to the
Zoological Gardens, Regent's Park, where it still (1886) lives.

BEWICK'S SWAN (_Cygnus Bewicki_).--This lesser wild swan also visits
Gairloch occasionally in winter.

SHELD-DUCK, or SHIELDRAKE (_Tadorna cornuta_).--This magnificent duck,
though very abundant in the Hebrides (and there called "Cradh gheadh"),
is rarely seen in Gairloch. I obtained a specimen on the River Ewe, at
the foot of the garden at Inveran, on 25th November 1880, in stormy
weather. Although when first observed this bird had been seen to fly, it
was found on examination to have had the quill feathers of both wings
clipped. It was probably one of the semi-domesticated specimens so
commonly kept along with poultry in North Uist. The bird was a drake in
full plumage, and was in company with my tame ducks. It is in the
collection at Inveran. Mr O. H. Mackenzie saw one for several days
together on the shore at Inverewe some winters ago. It was very wild and

MALLARD, or WILD-DUCK (_Anas boscas_).--The wild-duck is abundant, and
breeds on islands and on moors near water.

PINTAIL (_Dafila acuta_).--This bird is rare. Mr O. H. Mackenzie shot
one at Inveran more than twenty years ago.

TEAL (_Querquedula crecca_).--This beautiful little duck is plentiful,
and breeds in Gairloch.

WIGEON (_Mareca penelope_).--The common wigeon is rather rare here, but
is occasionally seen, especially in winter. It sometimes nests. I
obtained a specimen near Inveran on 19th January 1881.

POCHARD (_Fuligula ferina_).--The dun bird is often seen on Gairloch
waters, and occasionally breeds with us.

SCAUP (_Fuligula marila_).--The scaup is not uncommon. I have a pair in
my collection which were shot on Loch nan Dailthean, in June 1883, by Mr
John Matheson. I saw several on the river Ewe in the winter and spring
of 1885; they were sometimes close to the garden at Inveran. The drake
when swimming appears to be snow-white on its back. I see one of them as
I sit in my study writing these notes. The scaup does not nest in

TUFTED DUCK (_Fuligula cristata_).--It is not often seen, but I observed
a few pairs on the River Ewe, at the end of the Inveran garden, in the
hard weather of January 1881, and shot one for identification on 27th
January 1881.

GOLDEN EYE (_Clangula glaucion_).--Common; its nest has not been found
in Gairloch, but pairs have been seen on fresh-water lochs in the
breeding season, and Mr John Munro has seen the young with the old
birds, so there is no doubt this duck breeds within the parish.

LONG-TAILED DUCK (_Harelda glacialis_).--This sea duck was formerly very
common on this coast, but is now rarely seen. Mr Percy Dixon procured a
young immature one in the summer of 1883 on the River Ewe. It had
evidently been injured.

EIDER-DUCK (_Somateria molissima_).--This large duck is very rarely seen
in Gairloch, although it is so abundant in the Hebrides. A female was
killed at Shieldaig in 1884.

COMMON SCOTER (_Œdemia nigra_).--This sea bird is rare. Mr O. H.
Mackenzie has observed it on the Gairloch coast. Mr E. T. Booth, in his
"Rough Notes," speaks of scoters breeding in North-West Ross-shire. They
certainly do not nest in Gairloch, nor, as far as I can learn, in any of
the adjoining parishes.

GOOSANDER (_Mergus merganser_).--The goosander is tolerably abundant
here. I have seen several of its nests in Gairloch parish, and so has Mr
O. H. Mackenzie. Mr Harvie Brown noted a pair on the Meikle Gruinard
River both in 1883 and 1884.

RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (_Mergus serrator_).--The merganser is very
common on almost all Gairloch waters, and many of them breed in the
parish. I have no doubt it destroys great quantities of the ova and fry
of both salmon and trout. It nests on banks, or in holes, or under
heather or juniper bushes on islands, or on the mainland near water.

SMEW (_Mergus albellus_).--I have not observed the smew duck on Gairloch
or Loch Ewe, but I have seen it in numbers at the mouth of the Meikle
Gruinard River, which is little more than a mile beyond the northern
limit of the parish of Gairloch. I think therefore it is a Gairloch

Chapter VII.


It is matter of regret that no adequate herbarium has been prepared for
Gairloch. With the aid of Lady Mackenzie of Gairloch, Mrs Fowler of
Inverbroom, Mr O. H. Mackenzie, Mr A. Davidson, and other helpers, a
list has been compiled, and is appended to these notes. It is imperfect,
but we hope that it may lead to a more accurate and complete account of
the flora of the parish.

Visitors to Gairloch are invited to add to our list, and any botanical
information they may be willing to impart will be received with thanks.
But they are appealed to to abstain (when searching for plants) from
anything like a trespass or an infringement of the privileges of others.
Thoughtlessness on the part of a few, may bring discredit on botanists

Searchers for wildflowers are further entreated, not to eradicate any
plant that may be found,--nay, not even to greatly reduce its
dimensions; remembering that others ought to be allowed the chance of
observing it, and that it is unfair to rob a country of its charms. Two
instances are given in our "Introduction" of the destruction of ferns by
tourists. Surely a word to the wise is sufficient.

The larger and more showy of our woodland plants, as well as of many
kinds that should flourish on the edges of moors and about cultivated
land, have become rare, and in some cases have altogether disappeared,
since the introduction of sheep-farming into Gairloch. Not only do the
smearing materials applied to sheep poison the ground, and being washed
down into streams check the multiplication of trout, but the close
nibble of sheep deteriorates pasture, and destroys many succulent
plants. In spring, before the grass on the hills has made any growth,
the sheep everywhere attack the primroses, so that no early blooms can
be found except among wet places and rocks. The ewes and lambs are often
kept near home until summer has set in, and one can almost fancy that
they have a special taste for the choicest flowering plants. Dr
Mackenzie attributes the present scarceness of wildflowers to the
appetites of sheep, and all who have considered the question entirely
concur in this opinion. Dr Mackenzie, writing of the first quarter of
the nineteenth century, says, "The braes and wooded hillocks were a
perfect jungle of every kind of loveable shrubs and wildflowers,
especially orchids, some of the epipactis tribe being everywhere a
lovely drug."

Most of the best flowers are now only met with on steep banks, among
rocks, by road sides, on soft boggy ground, by the sea-shore, or in
other localities not much frequented by sheep. The epipactis ensifolia,
formerly abundant, is now almost unknown in Gairloch. In June 1883 I
discovered a specimen on a stony bank by water. In 1885 there were two
plants at the same place. I have not seen it elsewhere, nor had Mr O. H.
Mackenzie seen it until this plant was found.

Most of the gayest wildflowers are over by the time the run of tourists
begins. Many of the loveliest bloom in June or early in July. A bouquet
of wildflowers, well arranged in masses, does not stand long in water,
but is difficult to beat for graceful forms and exquisite tones of
colour. The yellow iris, the rosy sea-thrift, the purple orchis, the
orange St John's wort, the ragged robin, the blue hyacinth, and the
lilac valerian, are eminently fitted to display the taste of the fair

Though many beautiful flowers have disappeared before September, yet in
autumn the country becomes brilliant with a fresh supply. The moors are
purple with heather and ling, and also teem with the orange-coloured bog
asphodel, whilst the patches of corn are ablaze with the brilliant
yellow corn marigold so popular for bouquets. From March to October each
month has its peculiar gems, and this Highland parish yields not only
the rare alpine plants of the mountains, but many equally prized
treasures of the rocks and strands that edge the sea lochs. There are
also several interesting plants that abound in fresh-water lochs, such
as the white water-lily, the water-lobelia, and the bog-bean.

Of the rarer plants found in Gairloch the following are perhaps worthy
of special note, viz., the narrow-leaved helleborine, the long-leaved
sun-dew, the pale butterwort, the purple saxifrage, the stone bramble,
the cloudberry, the cranberry, the water avens, the chickweed
wintergreen, the arrow-grass, the trollius, the water lobelia, and
several uncommon ferns.

The following list includes the indigenous trees and all the ferns I
know; several plants are doubtful natives, such as the corn-poppy and
corn-cockle. The order of arrangement is that adopted in Sowerby's
"British Wildflowers":--


    _Thalictrum alpinum_--Alpine meadow rue.
    _Anemone nemorosa_--Wood anemone.
    _Ranunculus aquatilis_--Water crowfoot.
         "      _hederaceus_--Ivy-leaved crowfoot.
         "      _flammula_--Lesser spearwort.
         "      _ficaria_--Small celandine; pilewort.
         "      _acris_--Buttercup.
         "      _repens_--Creeping buttercup.
         "      _bulbosus_--Bulbous buttercup.
    _Caltha palustris_--Marsh marigold.
    _Trollius europæus_--Globe flower.
    _Berberis vulgaris_--Barberry; doubtful native.
    _Nymphæa_ alba--White water-lily.
    _Papaver dubium_--Long-headed poppy.
        "    _rhœas_--Corn poppy.
    _Chelidonium majus_--Celandine.
    _Fumaria capreolata_--Rampant fumitory.
        "    _officinalis_--Common fumitory.
    _Corydalis claviculata_--Climbing corydalis.
    _Cakile maritima_--Sea rocket.
    _Crambe maritima_--Sea-kale.
    _Coronopus didyma_--Small wart-cress.
    _Capsella bursa-pastoris_--Shepherd's purse.
    _Lepidium Smithii_--Smooth-fruited pepperwort.
    _Cochlearia officinalis_--Scurvy-grass.
         "      _anglica_--English scurvy-grass.
         "      _danica_--Danish scurvy-grass.
    _Draba verna_--Whitlow-grass.
       "   _incana_--Twisted-podded Draba.
    _Cardamine pratensis_--Lady's smock.
         "     _hirsuta_--Hairy bitter-cress.
    _Arabis petræa_--Rock-cress.
        "   _hirsuta_--Hairy wall-cress.
    _Barbarea vulgaris_--Winter cress; yellow rocket.
    _Sisymbrium thalianum_--Thale-cress.
    _Sinapis arvensis_--Charlock; wild mustard.
    _Viola palustris_--Marsh violet.
       "   _canina_--Dog violet.
       "   _tricolor_--Heart's-ease; pansy.
       "   _lutea_--Mountain pansy.
    _Drosera rotundifolia_--Sun-dew.
        "    _longifolia_--Long-leaved sun-dew.
        "    _anglica_--Great sun-dew.
    _Polygala vulgaris_--Milkwort.
    _Silene acaulis_--Moss campion.
        "   _maritima_--Sea campion.
    _Lychnis flos-cuculi_--Ragged Robin.
        "    _diurna, and var. vespertina_--Campion.
    _Agrostemma githago_--Corn-cockle.
    _Sagina procumbens_--Creeping pearlwort.
    _Spergula arvensis_--Spurrey.
         "    _subulata_--Small hairy spurrey.
    _Stellaria media_--Chickweed.
         "     _holostea_--Starwort.
    _Arenaria peploides_--Sea sandwort; sea pimpernel.
    _Cerastium vulgatum_--Broad-leaved mouse-ear.
         "     _viscosum_--Narrow-leaved mouse-ear.
    _Linum catharticum_--Little flax.
    _Radiola millegrana_--All-seed.
    _Malva sylvestris_--Common mallow; doubtful native.
       "   _moschata_--Musk mallow; doubtful native.
    _Hypericum perforatum_--Common St John's wort.
         "     _pulchrum_--Small St John's wort.
    _Parnassia palustris_--Grass of Parnassus.
    _Geranium sanguineum_--Crimson crane's-bill.
         "    _lucidum_--Shining crane's-bill.
         "    _Robertianum_--Herb Robert.
         "    _molle_--Soft crane's-bill.
    _Erodium cicutarium_--Heron's-bill.
    _Oxalis acetosella_--Wood-sorrel.
    _Ulex europæus_--Furze; whin.
    _Anthyllis vulneraria_--Kidney-vetch.
    _Medicago lupulina_--Black medick; doubtful native.
    _Trifolium repens_--White clover.
         "     _pratense_--Red clover.
         "     _procumbens_--Hop trefoil.
         "     _minus_--Lesser yellow trefoil.
    _Lotus corniculatus_--Bird's-foot trefoil.
    _Vicia cracca_--Tufted vetch.
       "   _sativa_--Tare.
       "   _sepium_--Bush vetch.
    _Ervum hirsutum_--Hairy tine-tare.
    _Lathyrus pratensis_--Meadow vetchling.
    _Prunus spinosa_--Blackthorn.
       "    _padus_--Bird-cherry.
       "    _cerasus_--Wild gean.
    _Spiræa ulmaria_--Meadow-sweet.
    _Geum urbanum_--Common avens.
       "  _rivale_--Water avens.
    _Rubus idæus_--Raspberry.
       "   _fruticosus_--Bramble.
       "   _saxatilis_--Stone bramble.
       "   _chamæmorus_--Cloud-berry.
    _Fragaria vesca_--Wild strawberry.
    _Comarum palustre_--Marsh cinque-foil.
    _Potentilla anserina_--Goose-weed.
         "      _reptans_--Creeping cinque-foil.
    _Tormentilla officinalis_--Common tormentil.
    _Alchemilla vulgaris_--Lady's-mantle.
         "      _alpina_--Alpine lady's-mantle.
         "      _arvensis_--Field lady's-mantle.
    _Rosa involuta_--Unexpanded rose.
      "   _mollis_--Soft-leaved rose.
      "   _canina_--Dog rose.
    _Cratægus oxyacantha_--Hawthorn.
    _Pyrus malus_--Wild apple; crab.
       "   _aucuparia_--Mountain ash; rowan.
       "   _aria_--White beam-tree.
    _Epilobium angustifolium_--French willow-herb.
          "    _montanum_--Broad-leaved willow-herb.
          "    _alsinifolium_--Chickweed willow-herb.
          "    _alpinum_--Alpine willow-herb.
    _Circæa alpina_--Alpine enchanter's nightshade.
    _Montia fontana_--Water blinks.
    _Rhodiola rosea_--Rose-root.
    _Sedum anglicum_--Mountain stonecrop.
       "   _acre_--Stonecrop; wallpepper
       "   _reflexum_--Crooked stonecrop.
       "   _glaucum_--Glaucous stonecrop.
    _Saxifraga stellaris_--Starry saxifrage.
        "      _aizoides_--Yellow mountain saxifrage.
        "      _oppositifolia_--Purple saxifrage.
        "      _hypnoides_--Ladies'-cushion.
    _Chrysosplenium alternifolium_--Golden saxifrage.
           "        _oppositifolium_--Opposite-leaved golden saxifrage.
    _Hydrocotyle vulgaris_--Marsh pennywort.
    _Ægopodium podagraria_--Gout weed.
    _Bunium flexuosum_--Earth-nut.
    _Œnanthe crocata_--Hemlock dropwort.
    _Ligusticum scoticum_--Scottish lovage.
    _Meum athamanticum_--Spignel.
    _Crithmum maritimum_--Samphire.
    _Angelica sylvestris_--Wild angelica.
    _Heracleum sphondylium_--Cow-parsnip.
    _Daucus maritima_--Sea-side carrot.
    _Scandix pecten-Veneris_--Venus's comb.
    _Anthriscus sylvestris_--Cow-parsley; wild chervil.
    _Myrrhis odorata_--Sweet cicely.
    _Hedera helix_--Ivy.
    _Cornus suecica_--Dwarf cornel.
    _Sambucus nigra_--Common elder.
    _Viburnum opulus_--Guelder rose.
    _Lonicera periclymenum_--Honeysuckle.
    _Galium verum_--Yellow bed-straw.
        "   _palustre_--White water bed-straw.
        "   _saxatile_--Smooth heath bed-straw.
        "   _uliginosum_--Rough marsh bed-straw.
        "   _aparine_--Goose-grass.
    _Sherardia arvensis_--Field madder.
    _Asperula odorata_--Woodruff.
    _Valeriana dioica_--Marsh valerian.
         "     _officinalis_--Great wild valerian.
    _Scabiosa succisa_--Devil's-bit.
         "    _arvensis_--Field scabious.
         "    _columbaria_--Small scabious.
    _Sonchus oleraceus_--Sow-thistle.
    _Leontodon taraxacum_--Dandelion.
    _Apargia hispida_--Rough hawk-bit.
    _Hieracium alpinum_--Alpine hawkweed.
         "     _sylvaticum_--Wood hawkweed.
    _Crepis tectorum_--Smooth hawk's-beard.
    _Lapsana communis_--Nipplewort.
    _Arctium lappa_--Burdock.
         "   _majus_--Burdock.
    _Saussurea alpina_--Alpine saussurea.
    _Carduus nutans_--Musk thistle.
    _Cnicus lanceolatus_--Spear thistle.
        "   _palustris_--Marsh thistle.
        "   _arvensis_--Common thistle.
        "   _heterophyllus_--Dark plume thistle.
    _Tanacetum vulgare_--Tansy.
    _Artemisia vulgaris_--Mugwort.
    _Antennaria dioica_--Cat's-foot.
    _Gnaphalium sylvaticum_--Highland cudweed.
          "     _supinum_--Dwarf cudweed.
    _Tussilago farfara_--Colt's-foot.
    _Petasites vulgaris_--Butter-bur.
    _Senecio vulgaris_--Groundsel.
        "    _Jacobæa_--Common ragwort.
        "    _aquaticus_--Marsh ragwort.
    _Aster tripolium_--Sea starwort.
    _Solidago virgaurea_--Golden-rod.
    _Bellis perennis_--Daisy.
    _Chrysanthemum leucanthemum_--Ox-eye daisy.
           "       _segetum_--Corn marigold.
    _Pyrethrum inodorum_--Corn feverfew.
    _Matricaria chamomilla_--Wild chamomile.
    _Anthemis maritima_--Sea chamomile.
    _Achillea ptarmica_--Sneezewort.
         "    _millefolium_--Yarrow; milfoil.
    _Centaurea nigra_--Black knapweed.
         "     _cyanus_--Corn-flower; blue-bottle.
    _Campanula rapunculoides_--Creeping bell-flower.
         "     _hederacea_--Ivy-leaved bell-flower; doubtful native.
    _Lobelia dortmanna_--Water lobelia.
    _Vaccinium myrtillus_--Bilberry.
         "     _vitis idæa_--Cow-berry.
    _Oxycoccus palustris_--Cranberry.
    _Erica tetralix_--Cross-leaved heath; bell-heather.
       "   _cinerea_--Common heath.
    _Calluna vulgaris_--Ling; heather.
    _Azalea procumbens_--Creeping azalea.
    _Arctostaphylos uva-ursi_--Red bear-berry.
    _Pyrola minor_--Lesser winter-green.
       "    _secunda_--Serrated winter-green.
    _Ilex aquifolium_--Holly.
    _Fraxinus excelsior_--Ash.
    _Gentiana campestris_--Field gentian.
    _Menyanthes trifoliata_--Bog-bean.
    _Lithospermum maritimum_--Sea gromwell.
    _Myosotis cæspitosa_--Tufted forget-me-not.
        "     _arvensis_--Field forget-me-not.
        "     _collina_--Early forget-me-not.
        "     _versicolor_--Changeable forget-me-not.
    _Lycopsis arvensis_--Bugloss.
    _Atropa belladonna_--Deadly nightshade.
    _Orobanche rubra_--Red broom-rape.
    _Veronica serpyllifolia_--Thyme-leaved speedwell.
        "     _scutellata_--Marsh speedwell.
        "     _beccabunga_--Brooklime.
        "     _officinalis_--Common speedwell.
        "     _chamædrys_--Germander speedwell.
        "     _hederifolia_--Ivy-leaved speedwell.
        "     _agrestis_--Germander chickweed.
    _Bartsia odontites_--Red eye-bright.
    _Euphrasia officinalis_--Eye-bright.
    _Rhinanthus crista-galli_--Yellow-rattle.
    _Melampyrum sylvaticum_--Wood cow-wheat.
    _Pedicularis palustris_--Marsh red-rattle.
          "      _sylvatica_--Dwarf red-rattle.
    _Scrophularia nodosa_--Knotty figwort.
           "      _aquatica_--Water figwort.
    _Digitalis purpurea_--Foxglove.
    _Mimulus luteus_--Yellow mimulus.
    _Mentha sylvestris_--Horse mint.
        "   _piperita_--Peppermint.
        "   _sativa_--Water mint; whorled mint.
        "   _arvensis_--Corn mint.
    _Thymus serpyllum_--Wild thyme.
    _Teucrium scorodonia_--Germander.
    _Ajuga reptans_--Bugle.
       "   _pyramidalis_--Pyramidal bugle.
    _Galeopsis tetrahit_--Hemp-nettle.
         "     _versicolor_--Bee-nettle.
    _Lamium album_--White dead-nettle.
        "   _purpureum_--Red dead-nettle.
    _Stachys sylvatica_--Hedge woundwort.
        "    _palustris_--Marsh woundwort.
    _Nepeta cataria_--Cat-mint.
    _Prunella vulgaris_--Self-heal.
    _Scutellaria galericulata_--Skull-cap.
    _Pinguicula vulgaris_--Butterwort.
         "      _lusitanica_--Pale butterwort.
    _Utricularia minor_--Small bladderwort.
    _Primula vulgaris_--Primrose.
    _Glaux maritima_--Sea milkwort.
    _Trientalis europæa_--Chickweed winter-green.
    _Lysimachia nemorum_--Wood pimpernel.
    _Armeria maritima_--Sea thrift.
    _Plantago major_--Greater plantain.
         "    _lanceolata_--Ribwort.
         "    _maritima_--Sea plantain.
         "    _coronopus_--Buck's-horn plantain.
    _Beta maritima_--Beet.
    _Chenopodium maritimum_--Sea goosefoot.
          "      _urbicum_--Upright goosefoot.
          "      _murale_--Nettle-leaved goosefoot.
          "      _album_--White goosefoot.
          "         "    _var. candicans_.
          "         "    _var. paganum_.
    _Salicornia herbacea_--Glasswort.
    _Salsola kali_--Saltwort.
    _Scleranthus annuus_--Knawel.
    _Atriplex patula_--Spreading orache.
    _Polygonum viviparum_--Alpine bistort.
         "     _aviculare_--Knot-grass.
         "     _persicaria_--Spotted persicaria.
         "     _hydropiper_--Biting persicaria.
         "     _maritimum_--Sea knot-grass.
         "     _convolvolus_--Black bindweed.
         "     _amphibium_--Water persicaria.
    _Rumex crispus_--Curled dock.
       "   _obtusifolius_--Broad-leaved dock.
       "   _acetosa_--Sorrel.
       "   _acetosella_--Sheep's sorrel.
    _Oxyria reniformis_--Mountain sorrel.
    _Empetrum nigrum_--Crow-berry.
    _Mercurialis perennis_--Mercury.
    _Euphorbia helioscopia_--Sun-spurge.
         "     _peplus_--Petty-spurge.
    _Callitriche verna_--Springwater starwort.
    _Urtica dioica_--Common nettle.
    _Ulmus montana_--Wych elm.
    _Myrica gale_--Sweet gale; bog-myrtle.
    _Betula alba_--White birch.
        "   _nana_--Dwarf birch.
    _Alnus glutinosa_--Alder.
    _Salix pentandra_--Sweet willow.
       "   _alba_--White willow.
       "   _angustifolia_--Little tree-willow.
       "   _ambigua_--Ambiguous willow.
       "   _reticulata_--Net-leaved willow.
       "   _viminalis_--Common osier.
       "   _cinerea_--Grey sallow.
       "   _caprea_--Great sallow.
       "   _nigricans_--Dark-leaved willow.
       "   _herbacea_--Dwarf willow.
    _Populus tremula_--Aspen.
    _Quercus robur_, or _pedunculata_--Oak.
    _Corylus avellana_--Hazel.
    _Pinus sylvestris_--Scotch fir.
    _Juniperus communis_--Juniper.
         "     _nana_--Dwarf juniper.
    _Orchis maculata_--Spotted orchis.
    _Gymnadenia conopsea_--Fragrant orchis.
    _Habenaria albida_--Small white orchis.
         "     _chlorantha_--Butterfly orchis.
         "     _bifolia_--Smaller butterfly orchis.
    _Herminium monorchis_--Green musk orchis.
    _Listera ovata_--Tway-blade.
    _Epipactis ensifolia_--Narrow-leaved helleborine.
    _Iris pseud-acorus_--Yellow iris.
    _Hyacinthus non-scriptus_--Wild hyacinth.
    _Allium oleraceum_--Wild garlic.
        "   _ursinum_--Ramsons.
    _Tofieldia palustris_--Scottish asphodel.
    _Narthecium ossifragum_--Bog asphodel.
    _Juncus conglomeratus_--Common rush.
        "   _lamprocarpus_, or _articulatus_--Jointed rush.
        "   _triglumis_--Three-flowered rush.
    _Luzula sylvatica_--Great hairy-rush.
        "   _spicata_--Spiked hairy-rush.
    _Triglochin palustre_--Arrow-grass.
        "       _maritimum_--Sea-side arrow-grass.
    _Potamogeton natans_--Broad-leaved pond-weed.
          "      _lucens_--Shining pond-weed.
          "      _oblongus_--Oblong-leaved pond-weed.
    _Eriophorum vaginatum_--Hare's-tail cotton-grass.
         "      _angustifolium_--Common cotton-grass.
    _Equisetum arvense_--Field horse-tail.
         "     _sylvaticum_--Wood horse-tail.
         "     _limosum_--Smooth horse-tail.
         "     _palustre_--Marsh horse-tail.
    _Polypodium vulgare_--Common polypody.
         "      _phegopteris_--Mountain polypody; beech fern.
         "      _dryopteris_--Tender three-branched polypody; oak fern.
    _Lastrea oreopteris_--Sweet mountain fern; mountain buckler fern.
        "    _filix-mas_--Male fern.
        "    _spinulosa_--Narrow prickly-toothed buckler fern.
        "    _dilatata_--Broad prickly-toothed buckler fern.
    _Polystichum lonchitis_--Holly fern.
          "      _lobatum_--Close-leaved prickly shield-fern.
    _Cystopteris fragilis_--Brittle bladder fern.
    _Athyrium filix-fœmina_--Lady fern.
    _Asplenium adiantum-nigrum_--Black spleenwort.
         "     _trichomanes_--Common wall spleenwort.
         "     _viride_--Green spleenwort.
         "     _marinum_--Sea spleenwort.
         "     _ruta-muraria_--Wall rue.
         "     _septentrionale_--Forked spleenwort.
    _Scolopendrium vulgare_--Common hart's-tongue.
    _Blechnum boreale_--Hard fern.
    _Pteris aquilina_--Common brake.
    _Hymenophyllum Wilsoni_--Scottish filmy fern.
    _Osmunda regalis_--Royal or flowering fern.
    _Botrychium lunaria_--Moonwort.
    _Ophioglossum vulgatum_--Common adder's tongue.
    _Lycopodium clavatum_--Common club-moss.
         "      _annotinum_--Interrupted club-moss.
         "      _alpinum_--Savin-leaved club-moss.
         "      _selago_--Fir club-moss.

Chapter VIII.



The following article appeared in _Good Words_ in August 1883, and is
generously contributed to this work by the author, the Rev. John
M'Murtrie, lately minister of St Bernard's Church, Edinburgh, and now
convener of the Foreign Mission Committee of the General Assembly of the
Church of Scotland. Mr M'Murtrie has kindly added an appendix containing
a list of shells, prepared by him expressly for this book. The article,
which is inserted here with the consent of the Rev. Donald Macleod,
D.D., editor of _Good Words_, is entitled--



"By the way, some people know as little about spring-tides as about
small shells. I lately read, in a thrilling narrative of escape from
drowning, 'It was neap-tide, and the sea was very far out.' Evidently
the writer supposed that neap-tides are the very low tides, just as
spring-tides are the very high ones. Of course, the truth is, that
spring-tides both rise very high and fall very low; while neap-tides are
the tides of least variation,--when, in short, the tides are _nipped_,
and do not fall very low.[1] Once a fortnight there is a series of
spring-tides, but, for reasons astronomical, some are much better than
others. The half-hour of lowest recess of a first-rate spring-tide is
precious to naturalists. You may chance to find them then at the edge of
the sea, working, as if for dear life, under rock ledges and among
seaweeds; and, wading as deep as they can, with bare arms they lift
great stones from the bottom, and examine them for their living
treasures. The sea in calm weather becomes very still during that half
hour. When it is ended there occurs a remarkable thing, which I have
never seen mentioned in books, but I think many shore-naturalists and
bait-gatherers must know it. It is a sort of shudder of the sea, as
though it awoke; there is a sudden strong _susurrus_,--the sound of that
wonderful Latin word tells you its meaning,--the wash-sh of a swift
little wave, breaking all along the shore and rising in every crevice at
your feet, the first impact of a resistless power. At such a time I
found myself at Gairloch, on the shore of Western Ross, beyond that gem
of Scottish lakes, Loch Maree.

"Naturalists divide every shore into its upper, middle, and lower
'littoral zone.' I cannot write this paper without using a few hard
words; _littoral zone_ just means the beach between high and low
tide-marks. Those plants and animals which live in the 'upper littoral'
want no more of the sea than an occasional bath, or even merely its salt
spray. The middle region is inhabited by species which prefer to be half
their time under water, and the lower by those which agree with being
usually submerged. Below the littoral we come upon the great _laminarian
zone_, the region of waving laminaria, or sea-tangle. The best view of
this submarine forest is from a boat, and you may have dipped an oar at
low-water among its olive-brown fronds. These are not uncovered at
ordinary tides, but a low spring-tide reveals them. Changed and weird is
then the aspect of the sea, and the searcher has access to what he calls
the 'upper laminarian.' It is but little harm after all that he ever
does, if we take into account the prodigality with which the shore is
furnished with life. But should a storm rage when the spring-tide is
low, the waves tear up the tangles by hundreds, and pile them, with
their countless freight of living shells and other creatures of God, in
irretrievable ruin on the strand.

"At Gairloch I found that the rocky shore, while not precipitous, was
yet so steep that the various zones and their subdivisions, which on a
level beach may easily occupy a mile, were compressed into a very small
space. Every few steps in a downward scramble brought one to a new
vegetation and new forms of animal life. In particular, it was obvious
that innumerable molluscs of the smaller, and therefore less-known
species, found shelter and food among the seaweeds that densely clothed
the rocks. These molluscs seemed brought to my hand that I might look at
them. It occurred to me that no shell-gatherer, so far as I knew, had
ever made it his study to know with exactness a compact little shore
like this, to determine all the species of those myriads of living
shells, to note their distribution and relative abundance, and to
estimate the number of individuals.

"It was necessary first of all to devise a right method of
investigation. To examine the whole shore was impossible and
unnecessary. Plainly I must take samples. The rocks just below
high-water mark were covered with a thick stubble of _lichina_, a small
plant resembling the lichens of the land. Various species of minute
sea-shells nestled plentifully at its roots. As much of the lichina as
two hands could hold was soon scraped from the rocks, wrapped in paper,
and called Parcel No. 1. Though months passed before I had leisure to
scrutinize my prize, I may here state the result. When all the lichina
and broken plates of barnacles and other _débris_ had been removed,
there remained twelve hundred and twenty perfect shells, which had been
alive when captured; and when they were all put into a pill-box of the
smallest size used by druggists, it was scarcely two-thirds full. The
leading shell was a dwarf form of our smallest winkle, _Littorina
neritoïdes_,--a species which may almost be said to dislike the sea,
though it cannot live far from it. There were six hundred and three of
this tiny winkle. Next came lasaea, a red and white bivalve (_L.
rubra_), with four hundred and thirty-nine, mostly full grown. Small as
it is, you may, with care and a good lens, open its valves and count a
score of young ones within, each having a shell like that of its parent.
Skenea (_S. planorbis_) was third, with a hundred and six shells, each
like a short and not quite flat coil of brown rope. But a large skenea
is less than the head of a small pin, and these were all young. The rest
were a few specimens of the fry of all our other British winkles, and of
the common mussel. Rissoa--so named from a naturalist of Nice, M.
Risso--is a genus of humble spiral-shelled molluscs, which feed upon
decaying seaweeds. Two specks in the parcel shewed themselves under the
lens, by the bands which encircled their whorls, to be the young of
_Rissoa cingillus_,--the rissoa, with the little belts around it.

"It would weary the ordinary reader to go through such details in the
rest of this paper. I only seek to give him a glimpse into a world of
life, of whose existence he was perhaps scarcely aware.

"Parcel No. 2 was an equal quantity of a small seaweed, with a long
name, _Polysiphonia fastigiata_, which fringes common wrack between
tides with its thick and branching tufts. Nothing can be simpler than
the process of separating thousands of shells from such a handful. You
put your seaweeds in a basin of cold fresh water, and all the molluscs
instantly let go and fall to the bottom. When those of this parcel were
dried, the little pill-box was again in requisition; they exactly filled
it. If anybody wants precision, there were forty-two minims of shells.
It may give a new thought to some one to read that there were in that
box about twelve thousand five hundred shells, each of them a marvel of
beauty, and each of them only the external skeleton of a highly
organised creature, which secreted and built up that shell bit by bit as
its soft body grew larger, and which mixed in the colours and lined it
with mother-of-pearl. The little skenea, which began to appear in our
first parcel, reached here the extraordinary development of about eleven
thousand eight hundred specimens, of which one hundred and thirty-eight
were grown up, while all the rest, to the unassisted eye, were like
dust, and weighed only eleven and a half grains. The remainder of the
parcel consisted of twelve species, ranging in number of examples from
one to three hundred and fifty. The shell of which there was but a
single specimen was _Cyamium minutum_, a glittering bivalve, somewhat
smaller than lasaea.

"Parcel No. 3 was made up by scraping from the rock a small
strong-smelling seaweed called _Laurencia_, which grows near low-water.
It yielded about twenty thousand shells, belonging to fourteen species,
and they more than filled two of the little boxes. The most remarkable
circumstance was, that the shining little bivalve cyamium, which was
represented by a solitary specimen in the second parcel, formed here at
least three-fifths of the whole. In other words, twelve thousand
individuals, old, young, and middle-aged, of this cyamium--each of them
a good walker, a good swimmer, a good spinner when it wished to moor
itself by a rope, and each the maker of its own polished shell--were
clustered upon a handful of one of their favourite plants. I could not
get them till now, because I was not near enough to the edge of the ebb
tide. It may be worth noting that there are other shell-gatherers who
know where to look for cyamium, for it is told in books upon shells that
thirty-five thousand cyamiums were once taken from the stomach of a

"No. 4 was a parcel of the same size as all the rest, and consisted of
various small seaweeds growing at ordinary low water. It proved to
contain about eight thousand five hundred shells, of ten species. There
was scarcely a bivalve among them. Two _lacunæ_ (cousins to the
winkles), and a pearly top-shell (_Trochus helicinus_), shewed by their
abundance that the verge of the accessible shore was nearly reached.

"No. 5 was a parcel of the same kind, from the lowest point of the
spring-tide, and produced about thirteen thousand shells. The
between-tides species--such as skenea--now visibly began to fail, and a
few shells from deeper water, including a youthful scallop, made their

"The tide was about to turn. Could one more 'parcel' be achieved? From
the rock there was visible, far down in the quiet depth, a giant frond
of laminaria, apparently detached, but likely still to have its shelly
inhabitants upon it. The day was warm, the spot retired, the water
inviting; to swim downwards with the eyes open is easy, if you learned
as a boy. Soon the laminaria was gently laid on dry rock. It was quite
ten feet long, and bore one hundred and fifty-seven little shells of
nine species, one of them a prize--_Rissoa violacea_.

"This record is not written for conchologists, but for others to whom
its facts are unfamiliar or unknown. Two dozen species, most of them
common, and three or four varieties, were all that were found. But, of
individual shells there were fifty-five thousand. A calculation,
necessarily rough, but as likely to be under the truth as over it, led
to the conclusion that, if it were possible to examine all the seaweeds
which the lowest tide leaves bare for a stretch of only twenty-five or
thirty yards along that shore, a hundred million living shell-bearing
molluscs would be found. Of all these not even the smallest would,
strictly speaking, be a microscopic object, though certainly requiring a
lens for the determination of its species. A hundred millions! How
easily we set down the words! And neither the writer nor anybody else
has the least conception of what they represent. And if, from that
little nook on the Gairloch as a measured base, I tried to estimate the
molluscan population of our British shores, making due allowance for the
comparative barrenness of many places, I might fill a large part of one
of these lines with figures; but who would be any the wiser?

"We are not to suppose that a shore so prolific as that of Gairloch has
really only twenty-four kinds of shells. That no more were found among
the seaweeds examined, is simply due to the circumstance that all the
samples were taken from the same kind of ground. Hard by, round a
jutting rock, there is a sandy shell-strewn beach on which, without
trouble, fifty species may be gathered,--some of them such rarities that
the reading of their names is enough to make an eager collector wish he
might forthwith take train for Achnasheen.[2] Let us single out one.
Time was when _Crenella decussata_ was known to naturalists by a single
valve. Here, in a little shell-sand, were six perfect specimens, the
valves united and closed, or each what children call a 'box.' Imagine an
almost transparent pearl, the size of a grain of mustard seed, suffused
with opaline gleams, and covered with exquisite latticed and bead-like
sculpture. It wants nothing but size to rival the most splendid exotics.

"Nothing but size! But, to most people, size is everything; wherefore to
them the small shells and their beauty are not. Their minuteness hides
them as though they were in a far-off and uninhabited isle. To science
bulk is an accident, only one of the many properties which she has to
consider. What science does for us--even for those of us who, being
otherwise busy, can be naturalists only in our leisure time--is
something still more important than providing us with a magnifying lens.
She takes away that mental habitude which makes minuteness a barrier to
interest,--she puts her hand on the inward eye, and we see. Whosoever
has been thus _touched_, has an 'open-sesame' to a treasure-house, has a
slave of the lamp to make rubies common. And, besides all this, who dare
say that that hidden world of beauty and adaptation is wasted, is lost,
till the scientific observer draws near? Certainly he who has watched
the little molluscs at their love and their play will be slow to think
that they have not a sense of beauty which can be pleased. He who notes
how the shells during life are protected from their enemies by their
colours; how they are brown and yellow and red like the seaweed on which
they feed; how they are pink and white among those algæ which are
encrusted with lime; how they are transparent and iridescent as any
jelly-fish in the clear sea-water,--has a glimpse into the process by
which the Divine Architect who works through the ages fashioned those
manifold species. And I, for one, am of Charles Kingsley's creed in this
matter:--'See now,' said the hero of 'Westward Ho!' to his brother, as
they looked at flies and flowers and humming-birds in a West Indian
island, uninhabited till the white man came,--'See now, God made all
these things, and never a man, perhaps, set eyes on them till fifty
years agone; and yet they were as pretty as they are now, ever since the
making of the world. And why do you think God could have put them here,
then, but to please Himself'--and Amyas took off his hat--'with the
sight of them?'"


      Mr Dixon has kindly sent me a considerable quantity of
      shell-sand from Gairloch shore. I have examined it, and
      found the following sea-shells. Those which were somewhat
      plentiful are marked with an asterisk. It would be easy to
      name some additional shells which will probably be found on
      Gairloch shore, though they were absent from the sand
      examined; but I have preferred not to do so.

    *Anomia ephippium.
    * Do.       do.,  _var._ imbricata.
    *Pecten opercularis.
     P. similis (a valve).
    *Mytilus edulis.
    *Modiolaria discors.
    *Crenella decussata.
    *Montacuta ferruginosa (single valves).
     M. bidentata.
     Kellia suborbiculata.
    *Cyamium minutum.
    *Cardium edule.
    *C. nodosum.
     C. echinatum.
     C. Norvegicum.
    *Cyprina Islandica.
     Astarte sulcata (a valve).
     A. triangularis.
    *Venus gallina.
     V. lincta.
     V. exoleta.
    *V. casina.
     V. ovata (a valve).
    *Tapes virgineus.
      Do.      do.,  _var._ alba.
    *Tellina tenuis.
    *T. fabula.
     T. pusilla.
    *Psammobia ferroënsis.
    *Donax vittatus.
    *Mactra stultorum.
       Do.      do.,  _var._ cinerea.
     M. subtruncata.
     M. solida.
     Scrobicularia prismatica.
    *Solen siliqua.
    *Thracia papyracea.
    *Saxicava rugosa.
    * Do.       do., _var._ arctica.
    * Do.       do., _var._ minuta.
    *Patella vulgata.
    * Do.       do., _var._ picta.
    * Do.       do., _var._ cœrulea.
    *Helcion pellucidum.
    * Do.       do.,    _var._ lævis.
     Tectura testudinalis.
    *T. virginea.
    *Trochus cinerarius.
     T. umbilicatus.
    *T. millegranus (young shells).
    *T. helicinus.
    *Do.    do.,  _var._ fasciata.
     T. zizyphinus.
    *Lacuna divaricata.
    *L. pallidula.
    *Littorina obtusata.
    *L. litorea.
    *L. rudis.
    *Do.  do., _var._ saxatilis.
    *L. neritoides.
    *Rissoa violacea.
    *Do.       do.,  _var._ ecostata.
     R. semistriata.
    *R. striata.
    *Do.   do., _var._ arctica.
    *R. parva.
    *Do. do., _var._ interrupta.
     R. punctura (a fragment).
    *R. cingillus.
    *Hydrobia ulvæ.
      Do.      do., _var._ albida.
    *Skenea planorbis.
     Cœcum glabrum (one specimen).
     C. trachea (one specimen).
     Odostomia rissoïdes.
     O. indistincta.
     O. lactea.
    *O. nitidissima.
    *Natica Alderi.
     Velutina lævigata.
    *Aporrhaïs pes-pelecani.
    *Cerithium reticulatum.
    *Purpura lapillus.
      Do.       do.,  _var._ imbricata.
     Buccinum undatum.
     Fusus antiquus.
    *Nassa incrassata.
      Do.      do.,   _var._ minor.
     Pleurotoma striolata (one specimen).
    *Cylichna umbilicata.
    *Utriculus truncatulus.
     U. obtusus.
    *U. hyalinus.
     U. mammillatus (two specimens).
     Philine catena.
     P. angulata (one specimen).
     Melampus bidentatus.
     Spirialis retroversus.

      The following are a few notes on the land and fresh-water

      Pisidium fontinale--Occurred in the shell-sand, having been
      washed down to the sea by streams. I found a fine
      variety--perhaps _var._ pulchella--in a pond between
      Gairloch and Loch Maree.

      Ancylus fluviatilis--Several among the shell-sand.

      Succinea putris--Two among the shell-sand.

      Vitrina pellucida--Not uncommon under stones, &c.

      Zonites cellarius--Two among the shell-sand. I found it also
      living among stones.

      Zonites nitidulus, _var._ nitens--Living among stones, &c.

      Zonites purus--Among dead leaves.

      Zonites radiatulus--Two among the shell-sand. It is probably
      not rare under stones, &c.

      Zonites fulvus--Among dead leaves.

      Helix nemoralis--Among the shell-sand.

      Helix rotundata--Under stones.

      Pupa umbilicata--Under stones. The variety edentula occurs.

      Balia perversa--Common at the foot of walls near the parish
      church, and probably in other places.

      Clausilia rugosa--Under stones, &c.

      Cochlicopa lubrica--Three among the shell-sand.


Chapter IX.



The geology of Loch Maree is unusually varied, interesting, and
representative. It exhibits, in a limited area, the whole debated series
of the succession of rocks in the North-West Highlands. This has been a
fertile subject of controversy, surpassed only by the world-famous Glen
Roy. It has engaged the attention and the pens of some of the most
eminent British geologists, including Macculloch, Hugh Miller, Sedgwick,
Sir Roderick Murchison, Professor Nicol of Aberdeen, Archibald Geikie,
and a host of others not less able. After considerable discussion,
chiefly between Murchison and Nicol, the authoritative name of
Murchison, along with that of Archibald Geikie, who wrote a joint memoir
on the subject, seemed for a time finally to settle the question in
Murchison's favour; and his views were not only generally received, but
were embodied in the geological maps of the district most in use. But,
lately, the whole question has been reopened with greater keenness than
ever, and the conclusions of the geological king have been vigorously
and uncompromisingly assailed all along the line. The war is, at the
present date, in full swing, but with a near prospect of final peace.
The geological problem of the Highlands is by no means settled, though
much additional light has been thrown on the debatable ground by the
researches of the numerous and capable combatants, including recently
Peach and Horne, of the Geological Survey; and their investigations will
no doubt hasten the final determination of the vexed question. But a
firm basis of interpretation has at length been gained, by which the
geological structure of the broad tracts of the Highlands, hitherto
uniformly coloured as Silurian, will be investigated under new and
important lights, and a remapping of the Highland area erelong achieved,
with such permanent results as have hitherto been impossible.

The conditions of the problem are extremely well exhibited round Loch
Maree. Here we are presented, as Dr Archibald Geikie truly observes,
with "a series of sections of singular clearness." He confesses that he
knows of "no locality where the geologist may better acquaint himself
with the order of superposition of the ancient crystalline rocks of the
Highlands, or with the dislocations and metamorphism which they have
undergone." These will now be briefly explained. The whole subject may,
without much difficulty, be understood by the ordinary reader, if he
will use a geological map of Scotland, such as Nicol's or Geikie's,
which he will also find useful as a guide.


The rocks round Loch Maree are shortly the following:--

I. THE HEBRIDEAN GNEISS.--The Long Island from the Butt of the Lews to
Barra Head consists almost entirely of a species of gneiss, very much
metamorphosed. It occurs in the Inner Hebrides in Tiree and Coll, in
Sleat, in Raasay, and Rona, off Portree, but very little in Skye, one of
our youngest isles. It is found in patches on the Mainland on the
western shores of Ross and Sutherland, and stretches from Torridon to
Cape Wrath, whose contorted cliffs it forms. It has been variously
designated _Hebridean_, from being chiefly found in the Hebrides;
_Lewisean_, from forming the most of the Lewis, a less acceptable name;
_Archæan_, from being the earliest system; _Pre-Cambrian_, as being
earlier than the Cambrian sandstone immediately above it; and
_Fundamental_, from its constituting the lowest rock strata in the
British Isles. Murchison identified it with the lowest geological
series, the _Laurentian_, which is so named from being extensively
developed on the St Lawrence in Canada. It is best, however, to
designate the rocks by a geographical and non-theoretical term, like

This gneiss is more largely exhibited on the shores of Loch Maree than
any other rock, forming the greater part of its northern side from the
exit of the Ewe to Slioch, and running along its southern side from near
Inverasdale on Loch Ewe to Talladale. It stretches northwards from the
lake to Loch Gruinard, and westwards to Poolewe and Gairloch, where its
characteristics are very well seen on the wave-beaten coast near the
hotel there. It forms the rugged outlines of Craig Tollie, at the west
end of the loch, and of Beinn Aridh Charr and Beinn Lair, near
Letterewe. It shows one of the most magnificent series of furrowed
precipices in Britain, at the back of Beinn Lair, which should be
visited by all who appreciate the wildly grand; and entirely encloses
the lone Loch Fionn and its darker chamber of the Dubh Loch at its head.
North of Coigeach, it occupies most of the west coast on the mainland up
to Cape Wrath; and southwards, there is a patch of it at the Narrows of
Loch Torridon. From recent researches, it will probably be found widely
extended over the rest of the Highlands.

It is more or less vertical in dip on the west coast, and has there a
general persistent strike from north-west to south-east. The special
character of its scenery is very well seen round Loch Assynt, and is
well presented in the parish of Gairloch. As shewn on the map, it forms
the splendid peak of Alligin, above three thousand feet, which towers
above Loch Torridon, from which it passes to the head of the Gairloch,
where it is admirably exhibited in structure, dip, and strike on the
shore near the Free church and along the picturesque road to Poolewe. It
contains some limestone on Loch Maree in a line parallel to the loch,
for some miles on both sides of Letterewe. A vigorous attempt has
recently been made by Dr Hicks to discriminate this gneiss into certain
series or epochs, which he has named, and by which he seeks to interpret
the rest of the Highlands.[3] In America, the Laurentian system contains
the celebrated _Eozoon Canadense_, that is, the Canadian Dawnlife, the
lowest organic form yet known. It has as yet proved absolutely barren in
Europe, though a flutter was raised by its supposed discovery by Dr
Heddle of St Andrews, Dr Carpenter asserting the fact, but its
discoverer, on further examination, disclaiming the honour.

II. THE TORRIDON SANDSTONE.--This is the chocolate-coloured sandstone so
splendidly exhibited round Loch Torridon, where it towers into the mural
dignity of Liathgach. It is well presented in the mountains of
Applecross, as seen from Loch Carron, and from Loch Kishorn which lies
at their southern base. This sandstone occurs only at one spot in the
Outer Hebrides, round the harbour of Stornoway; it is found in Rum, its
southermost position, in Sleat, Scalpa, Raasay, and neighbouring islets;
it occurs continuously, except where the Hebridean gneiss appears, from
Loch Carron to Coulmore near Loch Inver, and thence in isolated patches,
north to the Kyle of Durness. The scenery it presents is uncommonly
striking, massive and grand, its mural character, which arises from its
horizontal strata, being a special feature, and nothing in style can
anywhere surpass the splendid spear-headed crest of Slioch, the monarch
of the mountains, worthy though his compeers are, that stand round Loch
Maree. The denudation to which this ancient sandstone has been subjected
has been extraordinary. This is well seen round our loch, when we
consider that Slioch is above three thousand feet in height; but still
more impressively, from the sea off Loch Inver, in the sugar-loaf cone
of Suilven and its brethren, all isolated stacks of Torridon
sandstone,--so remarkable that Murchison selected this scene as the most
striking example of denudation he knew, to illustrate the subject in his
famous "Siluria."

Round Loch Maree, it forms its southern shores east of Talladale, where
its character can be well examined in the delightful drive from
Kenlochewe. On the north side, it touches the loch only at its two
extremities, at the one end, near Inveran and along the Ewe, and at the
other, in Slioch, stopping short of the head of the lake, as can easily
be seen from the south side. It is more or less horizontal, or dips
slightly to the south-east, being deposited in thick, well-marked beds,
as everywhere exhibited, and thus forms a remarkable contrast to the
vertical strata on which it rests. An excellent junction of the two,
easily reached and examined, occurs on the shores of Gairloch, at the
end of the rocky peninsula on which the Free church stands. There the
two are seen, the more or less horizontal Torridon superposed on the
vertical Hebridean, in the most striking style, which is rendered all
the clearer by the washing of the restless tides. This sandstone about
Loch Maree is about four thousand feet in thickness.

It was correlated by Murchison with the Cambrian system, the second in
the geologic series, and was so named by him,--a name now recognised by
the chief authorities. It is well, however, to designate it by a neutral
geographical term, and to retain the title given it by Professor Nicol,
that of Torridon Sandstone, or Torridon Red. In Scotland, it has as yet
yielded no organic remains, though these are abundant and good in Wales,
after whose ancient name of Cambria it is called, and also in
Scandinavia, which remained united to Scotland till post-glacial times.
It was long thought to be a western representative of the Old Red
Sandstone of the east coast, Hugh Miller, among others, looking on it as
a worthy example of his pet rocks; but in his day, the geology of the
Highlands was but dimly and imperfectly known, and their great problems
were not even surmised.

Like the Old Red, a fact that tended to mislead early observers, its
lowest bed is a thick massy conglomerate or breccia, which is very well
seen at the junction at Gairloch, and which is generally persistent
throughout the system on the west coast. It consists of varied pieces,
sometimes rounded, often angular, and some of them large, of the
under-lying Hebridean rocks, enclosed in a finer matrix of the same
materials. Portions of the "Eastern rocks" have, it seems, also been
detected in it,--a fact which, if established, indicates the true age
and succession of these "Eastern rocks."

III. THE QUARTZITE.--Above the Torridon Red, lies a thick-bedded whitish
rock, called from its general appearance Quartzite. This French word is,
however, a partly misleading term, as the rock is not quartz, though
much made up of quartz grains; but it is a highly metamorphosed fine
sandstone. It is here sometimes coincident in dip with the underlying
Red, but it is generally non-conformable. It can be easily seen, looking
from the south side of Loch Maree, at a point east of Slioch, on the
right side of a glen watered by a stream called the Fasagh, which
separates Slioch from the ridge to the east. In Glen Fasagh, the
Torridon Red is clearly observed to rest horizontally on the Hebridean
gneiss below, on both sides of the glen; the Torridon forming the most
of the western side of the valley up to the summit of Slioch, but
rising, on the eastern side, only half-way up, being then surmounted by
the strongly contrasted Quartzite to the top of the ridge. The Quartzite
continues eastwards to the wide glen beyond, generally but erroneously
called "Glen Laggan," or "Glen Logan," though its real name is Glen
Cruaidh Choillie.[4]

A vertical fault exists in the middle of this Quartzite ridge, situated
halfway between the two glens, and is easily distinguished by the eye
from the other side of Loch Maree. It has thrown down the rocks on the
eastern half of the ridge some distance, and affects both the Quartzite
and the Torridon Red below.

This Quartzite is devoid of mica. It passes from pale pinkish to pure
white in colour, and occurs in thick, uncommonly regular beds, with
rectangular joints. It is well developed at the head of Loch Maree, and
rises into the white, glistening, barren peaks and ridges of Beinn Eay.
It forms some admirable scenery, not only here but wherever it occurs,
for it is widely distributed over the Highlands.

Its capabilities in this way are also well exhibited on the west coast
round Loch Assynt, rising there into the summits of Beinn More and
Queenaig, above three thousand feet; and also near Loch Carron to the
south, and between Assynt and Eriboll to the north. On Loch Torridon,
its prevailing tendency to whiteness gives rise to the name Grey Heads,
very descriptive of certain contorted peaks near Coulin Lodge.

The Quartzite is interesting as exhibiting the earliest indications of
organic life yet discovered in Scotland:--

1. _Annelid Borings._--The lower beds next the Torridon contain, on
their surface, as described by Murchison, "large round knobs on the top
of cylindrical bodies, which pass through several layers," their number
being often astonishing. These are, it is safely concluded, "infillings
of excavations" made by certain worms called Annelids, and are known as
_Annelid Borings_. They are noteworthy as "the oldest vestiges of life
which can be detected in the North Highlands." They are often very
clearly seen, as the filling in has generally been done by a different
coloured sand from that in which they had been bored. They sometimes
project above the surface like "pipes," and are so numerous as to cause
these beds to be called "pipe-rock." Examples are abundant round
Kenlochewe, and on the roadside at the entrance to Glen Cruaidh
Choillie, where they are unusually good. They should be secured by the
intelligent visitor from their extraordinary interest.

2. _Fucoid Remains._--Interstratified with the Quartzite, are certain
brown, mottled, shaly and flaggy bands, with curious impressions of what
seem leaves, which have been thought to be fucoids or seaweeds. The
recent Survey explorations would seem to point to their being simply
very much squeezed annelid "pipes." The shales in which they occur are
thus generally known as the Fucoid Beds, and, when found, are very good
evidence of the horizon of the rocks. They are often very distinct and
easily seen, and are most interesting. They occur on Loch Maree near the
top of the east side of Glen Fasagh, imbedded in the Quartzite, and run
through the Quartzite to Glen Cruaidh Choillie.

Other organisms have been found in it elsewhere, such as orthoceratite
in Assynt, and certain small conical bodies called serpulites.

This Quartzite, with its annelid borings and fucoid beds, is placed by
Murchison in the Silurian series, the third in the geological record. By
others, such as Dr Hicks, it is considered possibly Cambrian.

IV. THE LIMESTONE.--On the western side of Glen Cruaidh Choillie,
resting on the Quartzite, and generally conformable with it, is found a
limestone. By examining the map, it will be seen that this limestone
runs more or less continuously from Loch Carron to Loch Eriboll. It
receives its greatest development at Inchnadamph, at the east end of
Loch Assynt, where it forms splendid cliffs. It is of commercial value,
and has been worked at various places along its outcrop. It will also be
observed that there is a wide isolated patch of limestone at Durness,
between Loch Eriboll and Cape Wrath.

In this Durness limestone, which was long considered unfossiliferous,
like the other rocks of the North-West Highlands, shells were discovered
in 1854 by Mr Peach, the eminent geologist, and friend of Dick of
Thurso. These were determined to be Silurian by Mr Salter, a great
specialist in such matters, and were described and figured in a paper by
Sir Roderick Murchison in 1858.[5] Since then finer specimens have been
discovered. Their likeness to British Silurian fossils is very remote,
and they are more related to American forms; but they are generally now
accepted as of Silurian or Ordovician age. This discovery of fossils
gave a great impetus to the study of these rocks, and formed the basis
of the theory propounded by Sir Roderick Murchison.

The Durness limestone turns out, however, to be, as a whole, of a
different type from the great strike of limestone which goes through
Glen Cruaidh Choillie and terminates at Loch Eriboll. This Durness
limestone is held by Dr Heddle, who first ascertained the fact, and by
other competent authorities, to be non-dolomitic, while that of the
great strike to the east is dolomitic; dolomite (so called from the
French geologist Dolomieu) being a variety of limestone, which, in
addition to the carbonate of lime of which common limestone mainly
consists, contains more or less carbonate of magnesia,--in this
dolomite, forty-eight per cent. Dolomitic beds have, however, lately
been discovered in the Durness basin by the Survey. For long, no fossils
were obtained from the great dolomitic strike, except an orthoceratite
at Assynt by Mr Peach, and a possible organic mass by myself at the same
place; but recently a varied and important suite of fossils has been
gathered by the Survey, which has clearly decided the age of the
Dolomite to be Silurian. Of its position above the Quartzite there is no

It is pretty well exhibited in Glen Cruaidh Choillie, where it has been
worked at various places, and where its superposed junction with the
Quartzite can be seen.

V. THE "LOGAN ROCK."--Immediately to the east of the Limestone, and in
contact with it, is found a remarkable rock, which appears at various
parts in the middle of Glen Cruaidh Choillie, and which has caused great
discussion in regard to its character, relative position, and age. By
Professor Nicol, it was held to be igneous, serpentinous, felspathic,
porphyritic, and intrusive, and was named by him "Igneous rock;" by
Murchison, to be here a "syenite," and elsewhere a "greenstone," and
"serpentinous and felspathic," interbedded with and resting directly
upon the limestone; by Dr Hicks and others, to be a "syenite," or a
"granitic" and "quartz diorite," and igneous, faulted, and intrusive,
like Nicol; and by Dr Callaway, as the Hebridean gneiss "brought up by a
fault." It is well here, as in all other cases, to designate it
geographically, and call it the "Logan Rock," as first suggested by
Heddle, and now generally used.

In "Glen Logan," it is best exposed in the bed of the river about two
miles above the school. At a point about halfway up the glen it runs up
the hill on the west side, and is seen to overlie the limestone.

This rock appears, as maintained by Nicol, more or less continuously
associated with the limestone strike, and assumes a great variety of
forms, as shewn by the different characterisations it has received. It
has played an important part in the history of the theories of the
succession of these Highland rocks. In Sutherland, it sometimes receives
a broad development.

VI. THE "EASTERN GNEISS."--Immediately to the east of this rock, rising
in Glen Cruaidh Choillie at once from contact with the "Logan Rock," and
forming the whole of the eastern wall of the glen, there stretches a
long series of shales, schists, gneiss, and other rocks. These appear on
both sides of Glen Dochartie, and thence on eastwards through Ross and
the main body of the Highlands, till they are overlaid by the Old Red
Sandstone of the east coast. The position and interpretation of these
rocks have caused extraordinary investigation and discussion, which is
still being carried on. They are variously known as the "Eastern
gneiss," "Eastern schists," by Murchison and others; the term
"Caledonian" has also been proposed by Dr Callaway,--all to distinguish
them from the Hebridean of the west coast.


Up to the Limestone, the order of succession of the rocks may be
regarded as settled, all parties agreeing as to their relations though
differing as to their classification under the early geological systems.
It is held that the order is,--lowest, the Hebridean gneiss; above that,
very unconformably, the Torridon Red; above that, less unconformably,
the Quartzite, with its embedded organic remains; and above that, more
or less conformably, the Limestone, with its numerous fossils. At this
point, begins the controversy which has so long been waged regarding the
nature and succession of the rocks in the North-West Highlands, and
which has passed through many phases of opinion, and even disturbed the
long-tried friendship between the chief combatants, Murchison and Nicol.

The "Logan Rock" Murchison considered to rest on the Limestone, and not
to be intrusive and igneous as thought by Nicol. He also maintained that
the "Eastern gneisses and schists" lay more or less conformably above
the limestone or interbedded syenite, and were therefore more
recent,--in fact, were a continuation of the Silurian system, of which
the limestone was the representative example.

Professor Nicol held to the last,[6] that the Limestone is the highest
rock in the whole series of the North-West Highlands; that faulting or
igneous action exists along the line of the "Igneous rocks," associated
with the Limestone; that these "Eastern gneisses and schists" do not
overlie the Limestone; that where they seem to do this, the appearance
is caused by an overlapping of these "Eastern rocks" through pressure
from the east; and that these rocks are probably the Hebridean, or, as
he called it, the "Fundamental," gneiss reappearing. Latterly, he did
not condescend to identify any of these rocks of the North-West with the
received geological epochs, leaving this to be settled by subsequent
investigation; but he held strenuously that the succession was as he
declared,--Fundamental gneiss, Torridon Red, Quartzite, and Limestone,
the rocks east of this point being metamorphic forms of the western
gneiss reappearing.

Murchison, at last associated with Dr Archibald Geikie, who in 1858
wrote a joint memoir with him on the subject of great value,[7] held, on
the other hand, that there exists an unbroken series from the
Fundamental or Laurentian gneiss to these "Eastern gneisses and
schists," and that they succeed each other in superposition and age.
They, moreover, classified them as Laurentian, Cambrian, and Silurian;
the Silurian beginning with the Quartzite, and continuing eastwards in
various folds and reduplications till overlaid by the Old Red Sandstone.
Other points of difference existed between these eminent geologists,
particularly as to the existence of two Quartzites, and two Limestones,
as apparently exhibited at Assynt and elsewhere; but as these do not
occur in our district, they need not be further described.

For twenty years Murchison's theory dominated over Nicol's, with
scarcely a dissentient voice. The brave old professor maintained to the
end, against the geological world, opinions to which, while seemingly
less probable, he had been led both by years of unusually careful
examination of the whole field, which he knew better than any, and by
general considerations regarding metamorphism and other matters
affecting these ancient rocks; while his opponents were so confident of
their position, that Geikie, in his "Life of Murchison," headed one of
his chapters "The Geological Conquest of the Highlands." But in 1878,
Murchison's conclusions began to be vigorously assailed, the attack
being led by Dr Henry Hicks,[8] and has been strenuously maintained by
him and other eminent geologists, of London, such as Bonney, Huddleston,
Callaway, Heddle, Lapworth, Etheridge, Judd, and many others. These have
written numerous papers advocating conclusions more or less adverse to
those of Murchison, and agreeing in the main with those of Nicol.

Even Geikie has had to abandon his early position, and declare against
the theory of his former chief. In a remarkable declaration, published
in _Nature_ of November 13, 1884, prefacing a paper on "The Geology of
North-West Sutherland," by the two Survey geologists Peach and Horne,
Geikie made a brave and honourable retractation of these opinions, which
he had so long and so ably advocated with Murchison. He there declares:
"With every desire to follow the interpretation of my late chief, I
criticised minutely each detail of the work upon the ground, but I found
the evidence altogether overwhelming against the upward succession which
Murchison believed to exist in Eriboll from the base of the Silurian
strata into an upper conformable series of schists and gneisses." He
found the same true all along the strike of these controverted rocks.
"The clear coast sections of Eriboll have now taught me that the
parallelism between the Silurian strata and the overlying schists is not
due to conformable deposition." He traced the same kind of evidence
southwards for more than ninety miles, and found it "as well marked
above Loch Carron as it is at Loch Eriboll."

These "Eastern gneisses" not only frequently appear to be superposed
upon the rocks beneath, but, as Geikie says, the parallelism of dip and
strike between them and the rocks below them is so complete in some of
the Ross-shire sections, that he asserts "had these sections been
planned for the purposes of deception, they could not have been more
skilfully devised." These Survey geologists explain these extraordinary
phenomena by a system of "reversed faults" and "pushes from the east,"
by which the "Eastern rocks" have been driven westwards, in some cases
ten miles, and are thus made to overlie the older rocks, through
"prodigious terrestrial displacements, to which there is certainly no
parallel in Britain,"--displacements which Nicol, against the evidence
of his eyes, had insisted on as factors, nearly thirty years before.

Evidences of these dislocations are not so apparent round Loch Maree as
elsewhere, especially near Loch Eriboll, but they are sufficiently
marked round Kenlochewe as to appeal even to a non-scientific visitor.
In Glen Cruaidh Choillie, at a point already noted, the "Logan Rock" is
seen superposed right upon the Limestone up to the crest of the west
side of the glen; according to Heddle, it also lies over it, with a
slight hiatus, as far as Glen Fasagh. It is to be remembered, following
recent conclusions, that this rock did not naturally have this position,
but has been pushed violently into it by unparalleled "terrestrial
displacements;" and that both this and the long series that form the
eastern side of the glen are portions of the Hebridean again coming to
the surface, and appearing in such mass and extent up Glen Dochartie and
on to Achnasheen.

It would be out of place here to enter into the various opinions offered
to explain the remarkable facts connected with these "Eastern rocks,"
their nature, and their relations to the western. The papers on Loch
Maree are already very numerous, and opinions are still conflicting; and
the Survey has not yet published its memoir on the Loch Maree district.

Dr Hicks, for example, held that these "Eastern rocks" generally are
metamorphosed forms of the Hebridean reappearing, but that the Hebridean
occurs at the junction of Glen "Logan" and Glen Dochartie, and that
along the floor of the latter, the Hebridean, but not the limestone, is
overlaid by certain "blue flags and sandstones, and argillaceous,
quartziferous, and micaceous flaggy beds" in succession, up to the head
of Glen Dochartie. These along with the Limestone he classes as
Silurian, placing the underlying Quartzite with the Cambrian. At the
head of Glen Dochartie, the Silurians disappear, he held, by a possible
fault, and the Hebridean or "Pre-Cambrian" as he prefers to call it,
again reasserts itself up to the summit of Ben Fyn and eastwards. He
writes me, however (1886), that in the light of recent investigations,
he is prepared to class the Glen Dochartie rocks with the Hebridean,
like those at the head of the glen; though he would not yet affirm their
exact place in the broad Pre-Cambrian series, which he has lately
attempted to classify.

In his recent utterance, Geikie maintains that these "Eastern rocks"
have undergone such intense alteration that their original characters
have been in great measure effaced. Some of them are "unquestionably
part of the Archæan gneiss," others are the western Quartzite, &c.; but
traced eastwards, "the crystalline characters become more and more
pronounced, until we cannot tell, at least from examination in the
field, what the rocks may have originally been. They are now fine flaggy
micaceous gneisses and mica-schists, which certainly could not have been
developed out of any such Archæan (that is Hebridean) gneiss as is now
visible to the west. Whether they consist in part of higher members of
the Silurian series in a metamorphic condition remains to be seen."

       *       *       *       *       *

We have now described the whole succession of rocks in our district,
from Gairloch and Poolewe to the head of Glen Dochartie, and given some
idea of the difficult problems they present and the theories offered for
their solution. The succession up to the Limestone is accepted. The
Hebridean is now variously designated "Pre-Cambrian;" and by Callaway,
Geikie, and others, "Archæan;" the determination of Murchison as
"Laurentian" being generally avoided. The Torridon Red is accepted as
"Cambrian" by most, and recently by Geikie and his colleagues; though
there are differences of opinion as to the precise period in that series
to which they belong. The Quartzite and its associated beds are placed
by Hicks and others with the "Cambrian;" and by others, including
Geikie, with the Lower Silurian or Ordovician: but their position above
the Torridon and below the Limestone is undoubted. The Limestone is
conceded to lie above the Quartzite, but its nature and age are not yet
settled, some holding it to be dolomitic and unlike the Durness
limestone; Heddle for a time heading these, though now agreeing with the
Survey; others, like Hicks, holding the limestones to be the same or,
like the Survey geologists, so related as to form one system, which they
call "Durness-Eriboll limestone." The "Logan rock" is variously
interpreted,--some reckoning it to be igneous and intrusive; others, to
be metamorphosed Hebridean; and others, to be granitic and syenitic. The
"Eastern gneisses and schists" are still undetermined as to character,
relations, or age, opinions being very various and conflicting; though
there is a general agreement as to their belonging to some portion of
the Hebridean series. Attempts have been made to classify the Hebridean,
especially by Hicks,[9] but into this, space prevents our entering here.

My own opinion on this much controverted succession, during nigh twenty
years' careful study of the whole field from Skye to Eriboll and more or
less minute examination of the disputed sections, has been increasingly
in favour of Nicol's general position. The proofs of Murchison's
contention of the superposition and newer age of the "Eastern gneisses"
I always regarded imperfect, as often expressed both privately and
publicly. Nicol's general contentions as to the unlikelihood of highly
metamorphic schistose and gneissic rocks, like the Eastern, being
transformed, while older rocks remained so little affected as the
Cambrian and others beneath, gained growing weight. Every fresh
examination of the ground increased the probability of their apparent
superposition being merely overfoldings of the western rocks. The
displacements, the investigations of more recent observers have shewn to
be much greater than all earlier students, including myself, ever

Great honour has lately been done Professor Nicol for his enlightened
perception of the true solution of this difficult problem at so early a
date, "against a phalanx of eminent geological authorities." Professor
Judd, at the meeting of the British Association at Aberdeen last year
(1885), in reviewing this geological problem in a masterly address,
justly observes, and in so doing felicitously expresses general
opinion:--"Calmly reviewing, in the light of our present knowledge, the
grand work accomplished single-handed by Nicol, I have no hesitation in
asserting that, twenty-six years ago, he had mastered the great Highland
problem in all its essential details." "The Murchisonian theory of
Highland succession," he finally concludes, "is now, by general consent,


There are other noteworthy phenomena connected with the geology of Loch
Maree deserving attention, which will be now shortly described:--

I. FAULTS.--Several faults have already been pointed out. The greatest,
however, is that which runs parallel to Loch Maree itself, the loch
lying in and along this huge fault. It extends from Loch Ewe, along Loch
Maree and up through Glen Dochartie to its head, and so on eastwards. It
runs parallel to the strike of the Hebridean gneiss, and has thrown down
the rocks on the south side of Loch Maree by a south-west downthrow of
considerable magnitude, as compared with the rocks on the north side of
the lake. It has not, however, interfered with the strike of the rocks
or their relations to each other, which remain the same on both sides of
the fault. The formation of Loch Maree, which lies exactly in the line
of this great fault, is due in some way, no doubt, to the presence of
the fault at this place and in this direction. The existence of this
fault is proved, among other facts, by the general want of symmetry
between the rocks on the two sides of Loch Maree, and by the low horizon
at which the Torridon lies in the islands of Loch Maree and round
Talladale, as compared with that at which the Hebridean stands in Beinn
Aridh Charr and Beinn Lair, and with its own height in Slioch.

The same remarkable faulting holds good of other lakes. Loch Assynt to
the north, being in much the same position as Loch Maree to these
controverted rocks, lies also in the line of another great fault; Loch
Ness also runs in the line, and occupies the place of a stupendous crack
in the rocks there, shewn by a great anticline which runs from the Moray
Firth to Loch Linnhe, and which has also in some way given rise to the
enormous hollow occupied by Loch Ness,--a hollow twice the depth of the
German Ocean, being nearly a thousand feet deep, while the North Sea is
nowhere deeper than five hundred. The great Loch Maree fault can be seen
in Glen Dochartie, and is there exhibited on both sides of the glen,
where the unsymmetrical relations of the rocks may be studied.

II. GLACIATION.--The phenomena of the Glacial Period are exceedingly
well exhibited round Loch Maree. On the surfaces of the flat Torridon
sandstone, at many places along the southern shores, especially on the
higher parts of the road a little to the east of Talladale hotel, the
scratchings are very good, distinct, and continuous, extending, on some
of the slabs, for hundreds of feet in unbroken line. They run generally
parallel to the longer axis of the lake, and prove the existence of an
immense glacier that moved to the sea down the deep hollow now filled by
its waters. The _Stoss seite_, or rubbed side, of the _roches
moutonnées_ is everywhere apparent, looking up the loch; which shows
that the ice moved seawards, and pressed hard against the landward faces
of all projecting rocks, while leaving their seaward faces, or lee
sides, greatly untouched. This is very well seen on the islands and
projecting capes in the loch itself, especially where the lake narrows
at its western extremity, and markedly, on the east front and north face
of the splendid Craig Tollie opposite Inveran, along and above
water-level. There the smoothing, grooving, and scratching are
remarkably good, and worth going far to see. The visitor should make a
special point to see them also on the flat surfaces of the red sandstone
to the west of Talladale, already mentioned. At both these places, the
_lateral_ pressure of the ice is also very well shewn, as well as, at
not a few points, its _upward_ pressure on projecting rocks, the _under_
side of which are well glaciated. This glaciation also extends all the
way down the river Ewe and out to sea, and is exhibited at many places.

The course of the ice stream has undergone several deflections, arising
chiefly from the nature of the ground. Between Gairloch and Loch Ewe it
has passed increasingly from north to south, as exceedingly well seen on
certain exposed rock surfaces above and to the west of the road between
Gairloch and Poolewe. There the glacier movement seems to have been from
Loch Ewe to Gairloch, showing that the ice stream from Loch Maree had
probably expanded fan-wise on its exit from the narrow glen near
Inveran, where its pressure had been greatest and where its effects are
so well shewn.

Another striking evidence of glacial work, and a telling proof of the
existence of this mighty glacier, should be visited. This is the series
of lateral moraines that lie between Loch Ewe and Loch Gruinard, more or
less parallel to their coasts. They are cut across by the high road at
its most elevated portion, and run interruptedly out to sea, along the
peninsula between these lochs. They consist of irregular lines, more or
less continuous, of rough _débris_, enclosing angular and sub-angular
stones, and they mark the later boundaries of the ice-sheet which filled
Loch Ewe from side to side, flowing over Eilean Ewe, out to the Minch,
and glaciating the rock faces in its course, as well seen at many points
between Poolewe and Inverasdale on the south, and between Poolewe and
Aultbea on the north. No glacier in Scotland is more proved than the
great Loch Maree glacier. The ice markings near Udrigil to the north of
Loch Ewe, and beyond Inverasdale on the south, are very good, on the
well-preserving red sandstone that forms these bounding rocky
peninsulas. Good scratches also occur along the road between Talladale
and Gairloch. At one time Craig Tollie itself had been an immense _roche
moutonnée_, over which the ice sheet, here at least fifteen hundred feet
thick, had triumphantly ridden.

Still another evidence of glaciation is the number of "Carried Blocks"
everywhere seen, borne by the ice sheet, and dropped far from their
parent rocks in the line of the ice movement. At many points, they are
finely perched on conspicuous elevations, and often on the summit of the
higher peaks, as well exhibited on the road between Gairloch and
Poolewe, and, indeed, all over the district. But nowhere are they shown
in such multitude as round the Fionn Loch, and especially from a low
eminence near the stable at the foot of the loch, where they are
scattered over the whole surface in surprising abundance, and look like
sheep or goats in lines along the ridges, gazing on the rare intruder.

A most interesting feature connected with the glaciation of the district
is the probable existence of a glacial period before the Torridon
sandstone was laid down upon the Hebridean gneiss! As suggested by
Archibald Geikie (_Nature_, 26th August 1880), there are evidences of
ice action on the Hebridean floor on which the Torridon conglomerates
were deposited, and the idea is coincided in by Dr Hicks, who also
pleads for the existence of pre-Cambrian volcanoes, as well as glaciers,
as exhibited round Loch Maree. Dr Hicks thinks that the immense amount
of broken rocky matter necessary to form the Cambrian conglomerates was
probably produced in part by pre-Cambrian glaciers, combined with sea
action (_Geolog. Mag._, Nov. 1880).

III. DENUDATION.--One of the most striking geological features of the
district is the amount of denudation to which the rocks have been
subjected. Slioch itself is a splendid monument of denudation, standing,
as it does, a gigantic cone, in isolated grandeur, the rocks that once
reached the same altitude around him having been swept off by gigantic
denuding forces, of which we have now little conception. The same
denuding processes have been at work, as already remarked, on the
Torridon peaks round Loch Torridon and Loch Inver. But Scotland has been
subjected to extraordinary denuding forces all over its surface, from
John o' Groats to Galloway; such peaks remaining as wonderful monuments
both of what once existed and of what has been swept away. Other
remarkable examples of denudation are given in this work. Such forces
have been active since the birth of time.

IV. ROCK JUNCTIONS.--In the district, there are several noteworthy
junctions of the rocks of the great geological epochs deserving

One has already been mentioned, that on the shore near the Free church
at Gairloch, between the Torridon and the Cambrian, strikingly clear and
impressive from the perfect unconformability between the two series, and
their extraordinary dissimilarity in character. The composition of the
breccia may here be easily examined, from its wave-worn bareness, and
the fact perceived that it has been formed of pieces of the Hebridean
floor immediately beneath, with foreign matters included.

Another equally remarkable junction of the same two systems, hitherto
unnoticed, occurs three miles from this one, across the Gairloch, at a
beautiful spot called Shieldaig of Gairloch. Just before descending on
the mansion, the road enters a narrow pass, having a steep cliff on the
right. This precipice consists, in the lower portion, of the Hebridean,
and in the upper, of Torridon conglomerate. The line of union, halfway
up the cliff, is clear from the road, and on reaching it, you can insert
your hand between the two systems and crawl along their junction. The
components of the conglomerate are here much more rounded than at
Gairloch. This Torridon forms an isolated patch, on both sides of the
road, about a quarter of a mile in length and two or three hundred yards
in breadth. It is eminently worth a visit, and is easily reached by the

Another striking junction, also undescribed and little known, occurs
between the road and the sea, about a mile from Poolewe, not far from
Tournaig. There, in a peat bog, an isolated patch of Hebridean rises to
the surface, through the Torridon, which surrounds it. It is not more
than three or four hundred square yards in area, and is the only gneiss
in the broad expanse of Torridon sandstone, which lies on this side of
Loch Ewe between Inveran and Greenstone Point. A fine conglomerate of
the Torridon firmly adheres to the surface of the rough gneiss, on the
outer edges of the bare Hebridean, and fills up its irregularities in a
telling way.

Another junction of the same rocks occurs on a small cape formed of
gneiss, called Craig an t' Shabhail, which juts into Loch Maree about a
hundred yards from Inveran. There a still finer conglomerate is seen, in
a thin hard layer, sticking to the surface of the gneiss, evidently the
tenacious remnants of a thick bed that has been scraped off by the
powerful denuding forces once so active in this region.

Another capital very unconformable junction between the gneiss and the
conglomerate is found on Loch Torridon, where the isolated patch of
Hebridean that towers into Alligin crosses the loch and forms its
Narrows. In the bed of a burn, not far from the school, and in a ridge
above it, the two rocks may be easily traced in contact for a
considerable distance, and the composition of the brecciated
conglomerate easily examined. Similar junctions exist on both sides of
this loch at the Narrows, some of them near Shieldaig of Applecross
being very good,--all examined by me many years ago.

Between Gairloch and Poolewe, in a hollow to the west, just before the
road rises to its summit level, a detached mass of Torridon sandstone,
referred to elsewhere, may be easily observed by the traveller. It forms
a thick deposit, with a bold precipitous front facing the south and
east, the horizontally bedded red sandstone contrasting well with the
grey gneiss that surrounds and underlies it. It also bears well-marked
traces of the lateral pressure of ice on its sides next the road.

V. THE VALLEY OF THE HUNDRED HILLS.--No geologist or traveller should
miss traversing the picturesque road between Kenlochewe and Loch
Torridon, for its wonderful scenery of unsurpassed grandeur and
loneliness, and its splendid exhibitions of the Torridon sandstone,
crested by the contrasting pale Quartzite, as seen in Beinn Eay, the
Grey Heads, and Liathgach. No sea loch in the Highlands is encircled by
such mountain masses, mighty, mural, precipitous, and profoundly

About halfway to Torridon, on the left hand, the eye is arrested by an
extraordinary, if not unique, assemblage of hillocks, closely set along
the bottom of a glen which opens on the road. These are generally round
and peaked, and consist of loose stony _débris_. They caught the eyes of
the observing Celts of old, who named the place the Coire Cheud Cnoc,
the "Corrie of a Hundred Hillocks." The explanation of their number and
character seems not far to seek. It will be observed that, opposite this
valley, on the right, lies the steep narrow glen that separates
Liathgach from Beinn Eay. Out of this has issued an immense glacier, as
proved by the abundant scratches that point into it, which pushed its
ice right across the strath we are in, against the hills on the other
side and up into the valley with the hillocks. As is well known, the
surface of a glacier is traversed by numerous runnels, which gush over
its icy front, bearing with them the _débris_ that constantly falls on
the glacier from its enclosing walls. These streamlets thus deposit a
series of conical hummocks of this _débris_, which gradually cover the
ground as the ice retreats, similar to those in the corrie in question.
Examples of such glacial hillocks may be found, by the uninitiated, in
the sketches of Norwegian glaciers in Campbell's "Frost and Fire." On
the Liathgach glacier, the amount of detritus would be unusually large,
from the steepness of the hillsides and the constant waste of the
sandstone, and still more, from the superabundant _débris_ of the
rapidly disintegrating Quartzite in the precipitous Beinn Eay.

Maree Hotel, the stream that forms the Victoria Falls runs over Torridon
sandstone. A short distance above the bridge which carries the Gairloch
highway over its waters, about three or four hundred yards above the
falls, and just beside the last of a succession of lesser falls, on the
left bank of the stream, there exists a flat bed of sandstone, some
sixteen feet square, on which occur certain remarkable impressions which
deserve attention. These were first noticed by the late Mr Walter
Carruthers of the _Inverness Courier_, who directed my attention to
them, and published some account of them, along with observations made
by me regarding them (July 1, 1880), of which the following is a

The most distinct of the impressions consists of two continuous flat
bands side by side, 1¼ to 1½ inch broad and about a quarter of an inch
deep, running quite straight across the flat layers of sandstone _in
situ_, and perfectly distinct for sixteen feet, disappearing on the west
side under the superincumbent rock, and broken only where portions of
the sandstone have been weathered out. In some places, a third line runs
alongside, but this is much less distinct and persistent. The double
band resembles nothing more nearly than the hollow impression that would
be left by double bars of iron neatly inserted in the rock for clasping
some structure on it, if the iron were subsequently removed. The bands,
when narrowly looked into, consist of very fine, close, hair-lines,
continuous and parallel to their sides, resembling very minute striæ
left by glaciation, and they look as if caused by some object drawn
along the original red sand, before it became the present indurated

A similar double line runs parallel to this one, about two feet lower
down, seven feet long; and a third parallel double line occurs on the
upper side, three feet long,--both of the same breadth as the first.
Besides those pointed out by Mr Carruthers, which occur on the same flat
of sandstone, other lines exist farther down, on the other side of the
pool below this rocky flat, on a similar bed of sandstone, part of the
same layer,--one three feet in length, another six feet, running more or
less parallel to those above. Indications of others may also be seen,
and, no doubt, several more may be discovered on more careful

What they are I can scarcely even surmise, having seen nothing of the
_same_ kind elsewhere. They do suggest the possibility of their being
the indentations of the caudal appendage of some huge creature, similar
to the hollow tail lines between the footprints on the sandstone at
Tarbatness and along the shores of Morayshire,--a suggestion
strengthened by the fact of the existence, on both sides of the line, of
numerous rounded hollow marks, very like the footprints on these
reptiliferous rocks, occuring, as in them, at intervals. But the
continuous even breadth and square section of the lines would seem to
render this impossible. They might be the depressions left on the soft
sand by the hinder portions of the shell of some huge crustacean,--a
more likely cause, rendered more probable by the existence of very good
ripple marks on the same sandstone, in the same and neighbouring layers.
The striæ-like lines of which the grooves consist would seem to point to
some moving agent, organic or physical. They may, however, be the casts
or impressions of some great land reed or sea fucoid, the hair-lines
being the marks of the fine flutings on its stem or the parallel veins
of its leaves. It would be desirable to have the superincumbent layer of
rock carefully removed where the bands in question disappear under the
upper rock, in order to shed more light on the nature of the strange
marks. Whatever they are, they certainly deserve the careful attention
of geologists. Dr Heddle, who has examined them since 1880, is of
opinion that they are not in any way connected with organisms, but are
due to mineralogical and structural causes, but he has not yet published
his views.

VII. THE FIONN AND DUBH LOCH.--This double loch is remarkable, and
eminently worth visiting, not only for its scenery, elsewhere described,
but also for its geology. Both lakes are enclosed in Hebridean gneiss,
which here very powerfully exhibits its usual characteristics, reaching
its highest in the picturesque peak of Coire Chaoruinn, above the centre
of the loch. The Torridon sandstone appears on Ruadh Stac or Red Peak,
which bears an appropriate title, and possibly on the very crown of the
Maiden. The pale rock which catches the eye from far on the front of
Craig an Dubh Loch, at the head of the Fionn Loch, is a remarkable
species of granite, known by the French term Pegmatite, which consists
of quartz and felspar, often with small quantities of silvery mica. It
abounds in the Hebridean gneiss in other parts of the west coast, but in
our district, it is comparatively little developed except at the Dubh
Loch, where it also appears on the Maiden's shoulders, and on Carn Bhan
or the White Cairn, to which it gives name. It should be examined on the
great cliff of Craig an Dubh Loch, where it traverses its face and head
in serpentine lines and masses, like injected lava. The rare mineral
epidote is also found here, and near the top of Beinn a Chaisgean, on
the north shore of the lake.

The smaller upper part of the loch is almost entirely separated from the
lower, and forms an Alpine chamber, strongly contrasting with the rest
in form, feature, colour, and surroundings, which has given rise to its
most appropriate name of the Dubh or Black Loch. This loch is an
excellent example--none better--of a moraine-dammed lake, being held in
by an uncommonly pronounced moraine, which marks the last boundary of
the ancient glacier that filled its deep pot. This moraine begins on the
left side, under the grand cliff of Craig an Dubh Loch, curves finely
round the lower end of the Dubh Loch, crosses the loch to the other
side, forming in its passage the narrow waist that separates the two
lakes, and then runs along two-thirds of the Dubh Loch till it gets lost
in the general rubbish of the hills, the path to Loch Broom which
crosses the causeway taking advantage of its terraced line for some
distance. The moraine consists of a long circular ridge of loose
_débris_, enclosing large protruding blocks, having a general height of
from twenty to thirty feet, with steep sides, like a kaim or esker, and
considerable breadth. It is quite continuous, except for three hundred
yards at the union of the lakes, where it has been cut through to
water-level, but descends so little below the surface that
stepping-stones, forming a causeway, are carried across the strait. On
the north side, the moraine widens greatly, and encloses a lochan,
beyond which rises an isolated steep hill, Carn na Paite, some three
hundred feet high, which has formed a huge _roche moutonnée_. Over this
the ice of the old glacier has passed, and smoothed it, the same ice
having crushed and striated the steep front of Craig an Dubh Loch, on
the other side of the glen.

Other telling proofs are apparent all round of the more general
glaciation of Scotland, when it was a veritable Greenland, with a huge
ice sheet enveloping mountain and glen, in the numerous perched blocks
placed in most striking positions. One large boulder is set right on the
very head of Scuir a Laocainn. Others crest the surface of Carn Bhan and
the Maiden, and give the sky-line of their summits the appearance of a
broken-toothed saw, so numerous are these deposits of the great ice
sheet of the severer Glacial Period. The remarkable gathering of blocks
seen from the lower end of Fionn Loch has already been noted, and the
height near the stable there should certainly be climbed to view them.
The jutting capes and islands, as well as many exposed surfaces on the
way back to Poolewe, all tell the same tale.

VIII. THE TRIAS AT LOCH GRUINARD.--Another series of rocks--the
comparatively recent Trias--may be seen by the traveller not far from
Loch Maree, on Loch Gruinard, some miles to the north of the moraines
already described. On the way to Aultbea, the road rises to a
considerable height above Loch Ewe, and overlooks its waters. Here, from
the Torridon sandstone, a magnificent view may be had of the whole
remarkable country, with its striking scenery and interesting geology,
exhibited at a glance. In front, stretches a rolling plateau of the bare
Hebridean gneiss, which attains its greatest altitude in the graceful
Maiden and her powerful fellows at the head of the Fionn Loch, and in
the pointed Beinn Aridh Charr, Beinn Lair, and Beinn Alligin. Beyond,
rise the dark domes of the Torridon Red, in Slioch and his compeers; and
then the bright peaks of the Quartzite, in the shining Beinn Eay and
other mountains, the Quartzite being seen finely cresting masses of the
lower red sandstone. Behind these, stretch the undulating hills of the
Eastern gneiss far into the background of the wonderful picture.

On the shore of Loch Gruinard, to the east and west of where the road
touches the loch, are found two isolated patches of the Lower Trias, the
lowest of the Mesozoic series, and the second above the Carboniferous.
This Trias is the second rarest series in the Hebrides,--rarer than the
next strata, the Lias and Oolite of Skye, Mull and Brora, and than even
the Cretaceous or Chalk, on the shores of Mull and Morven. The only
rarer, if not unique, rock in the Hebrides is the one patch of
Carboniferous on the tide line of Ardtornish in Morven, opposite Oban.

The Trias here consists chiefly of a thick-bedded sandstone of uncommon
redness, which recalls the bright tints of the Old Red of Fochabers and
the Permian of Dumfries. It is well exhibited in cliffs and reefs along
the shore, by breccias and conglomerates, thin shales, yellow and
greenish sandstones and flags, and concretionary limestone.

These Triassic rocks extend for about three miles, from Sand, on the
east, to a point beyond Udrigil House, on the west. They are continuous,
except near Udrigil, where the Torridon sandstone that encloses them
comes to the surface. They are reckoned to be about a thousand feet
thick. No fossils have as yet been found in them, but their age has
otherwise been satisfactorily determined.

These rocks are extraordinarily interesting. They are the most northerly
examples of the Secondary Geological Period on the west coast, and they
form an isolated fragment of the deposits of this period, which once
extended from Gruinard to the Ross of Mull to a depth of over a thousand
feet, and which have been entirely swept away by enormous denuding
forces, except at a few scattered points. Their protection has, in all
cases, except at Gruinard, been due to being covered by volcanic
outbursts on the grandest scale, which took place in the late Tertiary
Period, and mainly formed the beautiful islands of Skye and Mull. At
Gruinard, they were preserved from destruction by enormous faulting, by
which they were dropped down at least a thousand feet into the Torridon
Red. They are represented on the east coast of Sutherland, and,
according to Professor Judd, by the famous reptiliferous sandstones of

Chapter X.


By Professor W. IVISON MACADAM, F.C.S., F.I.C., M.M.S., &c., Edinburgh.

The following minerals were obtained in the localities mentioned, but
the list is very incomplete. Time has not permitted of analyses being
made of many samples, but such are now under examination, and will be
available for a further edition of this work:--

    Agalmatolite--Black Rock, Tollie.
    Albite feldspar--Loch Fionn.
    Agaric limestone--Coppachy.
    Agate--Tollie Rock.
    Barytes--Black Rock, Tollie.
    Biotite--Loch Fionn.
    Calcite--Black Rock, Tollie, &c.
    Chalcedony--Glen Logan, &c.
    Chlorite--Loch Gruinard, &c.
    Dolomite--Glen Logan, Slioch, &c.
    Epidote--Loch Fionn, Tollie Rock.
    Galenite--Glen Logan limestone.
    Garnet--Loch Fionn.
    Heliotrope, or Bloodstone--Glen Logan, &c.
    Hornblende--Loch Gruinard, Loch Fionn, &c.
    Limestone (Massive)--Glen Logan, &c.
    Limonite (Bog iron ore)--South Erradale, &c. &c.
    Marcasite--Glen Logan, Coppachy, &c.
    Muscovite--Loch Fionn, &c.
    Oligoclase feldspar--Loch Fionn, &c. &c.
    Pyrite--Glen Logan, Coppachy, &c.
    Pyrolusite (Dendritic markings)--Loch Fionn.
    Quartzite (common)--Glen Logan, &c.
    Rock crystal--Black Rock, Tollie (small crystals).
    Serpentine--Black Rock, Tollie.
    Smoke quartz--Tollie Rock.



    CHAPTER                                                         PAGE
        I. Gairloch of the Present Day                               293
       II. Approaches and Roads                                      299
      III. Achnasheen to Kenlochewe                                  301
       IV. Kenlochewe to Talladale                                   305
        V. Talladale to the Gairloch Hotel                           308
       VI. The Gairloch Hotel to Poolewe                             312
      VII. Poolewe to Aultbea                                        318
     VIII. Excursions from Kenlochewe                                321
       IX. Excursions from Talladale                                 326
        X. Excursions from Gairloch                                  327
       XI. Excursions from Poolewe                                   332
      XII. Excursions from Aultbea                                   337
     XIII. Excursions by Steamer on Loch Maree                       340
      XIV. The Fionn Loch and its Dubh Loch                          349
       XV. Loch Gruinard                                             355
      XVI. Angling in Sea Lochs                                      359
     XVII. Angling in Loch Maree                                     361
    XVIII. Angling in Fresh-water Lochs                              363
      XIX. Salmon Angling                                            366
       XX. Deer Forests and Grouse Shooting                          372


In addition to the references to preceding Chapters given in this Part,
the reader is recommended to consult the Index for other references to
pages where the various places and persons noticed have been previously

Chapter I.


There is no town, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, in the parish
of Gairloch, and there is no village that, properly speaking, bears the
name of Gairloch. Of villages or townships there are about thirty-four.
They contain the greater part of the population of the parish, which
according to the census of 1881 numbered 4594. Many of these villages
are so small that in the lowlands they would only be termed hamlets.
They have no separate legal existence as villages or townships; but in
those which are townships there is a bond of union, in so far as the
crofter inhabitants have their hill pasture in common, and club together
for the purpose of herding their cattle and sheep thereon.

All these villages are on the sea coast except the five first named.
They are as follows:--

      Near the head of Loch Maree--Kenlochewe.

      On the north-east side of Loch Maree--Coppachy, Innis Ghlas,
      and Fuirneis.

      On the south-west side of Loch Maree--Talladale.

      At the south-west extremity of the parish--Diabaig (part

      On the south or south-west side of Gairloch (the sea
      loch)--South Erradale, Openham (or Opinan), Port Henderson,
      Bad a Chrotha (Badachro), and Charlestown.

      On the north side of Gairloch--Gairloch (the hotel, Free
      church, &c.), Achtercairn, Strath (including Smithstown,
      Upper and Lower Mioll, and Lonmor), Sand (or Big Sand),
      North Erradale, and Melvaig.

      On the west side of Loch Ewe--Cove, Meallan na Ghamhna
      (Stirkhill), Inverasdale (including Midtown, Brae, Coast,
      and Firemore), Naast, and Poolewe (including Londubh).

      On the east side of Loch Ewe--Aultbea (including
      Tighnafaoilinn), Badfearn, Buaile na luib, Ormiscaig, Mellon
      Charles, and Slaggan.

      On the west side of the Bay of Gruinard--Oban, Mellon
      Udrigil, Laide, Sand, First Coast, and Second Coast.

There are the following churches in the parish of Gairloch:--

Of the Church of Scotland (Established) at--

      (1) Gairloch, the parish church; (2) Poolewe, the church of
      the _quoad sacra_ (or ecclesiastical) parish of Poolewe.

Of the Free Church of Scotland at--

      (1) Kenlochewe; (2) Gairloch; (3) Poolewe (meeting-house);
      (4) Aultbea; (5) North Erradale (meeting-house); and
      (6) Opinan (mission church).

Gairloch is one undivided civil parish, but has been divided for
ecclesiastical purposes by the erection of Poolewe into a _quoad sacra_
(or ecclesiastical) parish.

The minister of the parish of Gairloch is the Rev. Duncan S. Mackenzie,
of the manse at Strath of Gairloch, and he officiates at the parish
church at Gairloch.

The minister of the Poolewe _quoad sacra_ parish is incapacitated, and
his duties are performed by an assistant-minister. The _quoad sacra_
parish of Poolewe includes the west side of Loch Ewe, the east side of
Loch Maree, the River Ewe, and Loch Ewe, and all places in Gairloch
parish lying to the east of Loch Ewe. It extends along the north-east
side of Loch Maree as far as Fuirneis, Letterewe. The rest of the parish
of Gairloch is attached to the old parish church of Gairloch. Gairloch
is in the Presbytery of Loch Carron and Synod of Glenelg.

There are two Free Church ministers, viz., the Rev. John Baillie, who
officiates at the Gairloch Free church, and at Opinan and North
Erradale, and who resides at the Gairloch Free Church manse; and the
Rev. Ronald Dingwall, who officiates at the Aultbea and Poolewe Free
churches, and resides at the Aultbea Free manse. Mr Baillie has the
assistance of Mr John Mackenzie, of Melvaig, as catechist; and Mr
Dingwall is assisted by Mr William Urquhart, of Cove, as catechist. A
catechist can conduct ordinary services, just as a minister can. Mr
Dingwall also officiates occasionally in a room in the old schoolhouse
at Inverasdale, and in the caves at Cove and Sand, as well as in rooms
at Mellon Udrigil and Slaggan.

The parishes or districts attached to the Free churches, are the same as
those of the Established churches.

A Free Church minister is provided at intervals, as can be arranged, for
the church at Kenlochewe, but there is no manse.

There are ten and a half schools in the parish of Gairloch, all
conducted by certificated teachers. They are situated at Kenlochewe,
Achtercairn, Opinan, Big Sand, Melvaig, Poolewe, Inverasdale, Buaile na
luib, Laide, Mellon Udrigil, and Diabaig, where the school is shared
with the parish of Applecross.

The School Board of Gairloch has the management of these schools, and
consists of nine members, who meet periodically at Poolewe, with the
Rev. John Baillie as chairman. Mr John Ross, of Strath, and Mr
Mackenzie, of the post-office, Aultbea, are the officers appointed by
the School Board for looking after the attendance of the children.

Mr James Mackintosh, postmaster, Poolewe, who is clerk of the School
Board, has furnished me with the following information regarding the ten
principal schools in Gairloch relating to the year 1884:--

                              Numbers of Scholars
                                             In average
      School.             On the Rolls.      attendance.

    Kenlochewe                  35               27
    Opinan                      53               36
    Achtercairn                107               55
    Sand                        40               26
    Melvaig                     60               51
    Inverasdale                 89               66
    Poolewe                     34               21
    Buaile na luib              97               63
    Laide                       55               33
    Mellon Udrigil              55               30
                               ---              ---
        Totals                 625              408

Besides the above about twenty Gairloch children attend the school at

The following are the present teachers of the ten schools:--Kenlochewe,
Miss Maclean; Opinan, Mr A. Nicolson; Achtercairn, Mr M. Lamont; Sand,
Mr J. Mackenzie; Melvaig, Mr J. MacRae; Inverasdale, Mr J. Maclennan;
Poolewe, Miss Ferguson; Buaile na luib, Mr H. Murray; Laide, Mr H.
Macleod; Mellon Udrigil, Miss Johanna Mackenzie.

Mr Mackintosh tells me that the number of scholars in all the school
districts of Gairloch is decreasing, with the exception of Achtercairn,
and perhaps Inverasdale. At the commencement of the Education Act in
Gairloch, the number of children of school age for whom accommodation
was then provided was 850.

There are also what are termed side-schools at Letterewe and Slaggan,
for a few children at each of those places whose homes are at a
considerable distance from any board school. The school-rate is one
shilling and sixpence in the pound.

Those who are acquainted with the working of schools in the south, will
consider the average attendance at the Gairloch schools rather meagre as
compared with the numbers on the rolls; but allowance must be made for
the great distances between the homes of the children and the schools,
for the rough roads or tracks some of the children have to travel, and
for the stormy weather, especially in winter.

Notwithstanding these difficulties several of the teachers succeed in
passing 98 per cent. of the scholars they present at the annual
examinations by Her Majesty's inspectors, and the average percentage of
passes is about 80 per cent.

Mr Malcolm Lamont, Achtercairn, is registrar of births, deaths, and
marriages for the parish of Gairloch.

Pauperism is too prevalent in the West Highlands. There are on the
Gairloch roll of paupers one hundred and thirty-eight persons receiving
parochial relief, viz., forty-six males and ninety-two females, besides
fifty-three dependants, such as children, who are relieved along with
the paupers. There are also six lunatics boarded at home, and nine in
the joint-asylum at Inverness. The other paupers are relieved at home.
The total outlay on these paupers, dependants, and lunatics was £1172.
14s. 10d. for the year ended Whitsunday 1886. The poor-rate is one
shilling and tenpence in the pound, half of which is paid by the
proprietor and half by the tenant. The poor-rate is administered by the
Parochial Board, which includes the proprietors of the parish or their
representatives and certain elected members. Mr Mackintosh is the
inspector of poor for the parish, and has kindly given me the
particulars here stated. Dr F. A. M'Ewen, who resides at Moss Bank,
Poolewe, is the only general practitioner in the parish. He receives a
fixed salary for medical attendance on the paupers of the parish. He is
a duly qualified surgeon and physician. Dr Robertson is likewise a
registered medical practitioner.

There is one highroad in the parish, viz., that which leads from
Achnasheen, down Glen Dochartie, past Kenlochewe and Talladale, on to
Gairloch, and thence forward to Poolewe and Aultbea, where it
terminates. It has a branch from Kenlochewe towards Torridon. It is a
county road, and is entirely maintained by the county, the cost being
defrayed by an assessment averaging about fivepence in the pound. This
road is generally kept in fair order by the local contractor. All other
roads are private estate roads, maintained by the proprietors, with
certain contributions from their tenants.

There are but two policemen in the parish, the one stationed at
Achtercairn, the other at Aultbea. There is a lock-up with two cells at
Achtercairn. There is little crime in Gairloch. The few offences are due
either to the temporary presence of workpeople from other places, or to
the too free use of the ardent spirits obtained at the licensed houses.

Several justices of the peace reside in Gairloch parish, but they seldom
hold courts. When they have business they meet at Poolewe. Ordinary
misdemeanours are tried by the sheriff at Dingwall.

There are six licensed houses in the parish, viz., the hotels or inns at
Kenlochewe, Talladale (the Loch Maree Hotel), Gairloch, Poolewe, and
Aultbea, and the small public-house at Cadha Beag in Fisherfield Bay, at
the northern extremity of the parish. The hotels are described in their
places in the Guide. The license to Luibmhor inn has been discontinued.

There is a daily post, conveyed by Mr M'Iver's mail-car, from Achnasheen
to Gairloch, and thence, by a smaller mail-car, also daily, to Poolewe
and Aultbea. Letters are conveyed by runners three days a week to the
villages on the north and south sides of the Bay of Gairloch and on the
west side of Loch Ewe. There is also a runner who takes the post-bags
three days a week (in winter, only two days a week) to the villages
between Aultbea and Gruinard. Mr M'Iver's mail-cars leave and collect
post-bags and parcels at all the villages and places along the line of
the county road.

The telegraph to Stornoway runs alongside of the county road to Poolewe,
and thence for six miles along the shore of Loch Ewe to Firemore, where
it becomes submarine. There is a supplemental wire serving Kenlochewe,
Talladale, and Gairloch, to and from which places, as well as to and
from Poolewe, telegrams may be regularly transmitted.

The carrier of Messrs Wordie, of Edinburgh, conveys goods from
Achnasheen to Kenlochewe and Torridon in the first half of each week,
and from Achnasheen to Gairloch and intermediate places in the second
half of each week.

The bank at Gairloch, a branch of the Caledonian Bank, is a substantial
building, a little to the north of Charlestown, and nearly a mile from
the Gairloch Hotel. Mr Alexander Burgess is the manager.

There are cattle markets held twice a year at Gairloch and Aultbea, and
once a year at Kenlochewe and Tollie; they are of little more than local

One or two members of the preventive service are stationed at Gairloch;
their chief work is to detect illicit distillation.

Mr David Macbrayne, of Glasgow, provides a service of steamers on the
west coast. One of his large steamers, with cargo and passengers, calls
every Saturday at Gairloch, Poolewe, and Aultbea. In summer there is a
regular service of swift steamers to or from Oban, and to and from
Portree in Skye.

Mr Hornsby's little steamer the _Mabel_ plies on Loch Maree during the
summer months.

Full particulars of these steamers are to be had at the hotels; and Mr
Alexander Burgess of the bank, who is agent for Mr Macbrayne, is always
ready to supply every information.

A company of rifle volunteers was organised by Mr Alexander Burgess (who
was the first lieutenant) in 1867, and is still in a flourishing
condition. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie was captain for nearly fifteen years,
and was succeeded in the command by Mr Burgess, who, on his retirement
from the corps in 1883, was permitted, after his long service of sixteen
years, to retain his rank of captain. The present officers are, the
writer as captain, and Mr Malcolm Lamont and Mr Anthony MacClymont as
lieutenants. The sergeants are as follows:--Colour-Sergeant Alexander
Macpherson, Opinan; Sergeant Roderick Macintyre, Strath; Sergeant John
Maclennan, Inverasdale; and Sergeant Alexander Bain, Lonmor. The corps
includes a number of fine tall men; the right-hand man stands six feet
four inches in his stockings, and a number of the rank and file are
fully six feet in height. The pipers are Mr A. Mackenzie, Mr W.
Maclennan, and Mr W. Boa. The company is worked in three separate
sections, viz., the headquarters section at Achtercairn, the
"south-side" section at Opinan, and the Poolewe section. The sections
meet occasionally for combined drill during the spring months. The
disused schoolhouse at Achtercairn has been granted by Sir Kenneth
Mackenzie, Bart. of Gairloch, at a nominal rent, for an armoury and
drill-hall. There is a good drill-shed at Opinan, and the Poolewe Public
Hall is hired for drills there. There are rifle ranges at each of the
three centres. Each section has its annual shooting competition, the
prizes being mostly provided by subscription, to which the gentlemen in
the neighbourhood handsomely contribute. Besides money prizes, there are
an antique challenge cup presented by Mr Bateson of Shieldaig, and a
challenge cross given by Mrs Burgess, which are competed for

The principal houses in the parish of Gairloch are the Kenlochewe Lodge,
Flowerdale House, Shieldaig Lodge, Pool House, Inverewe House, Tournaig,
Drumchork House, Inveran, Ardlair House, and Letterewe House. Flowerdale
House is occupied part of the year by Sir Kenneth S. Mackenzie, Bart. of
Gairloch. It was built in 1738 by Sir Alexander Mackenzie, Bart., the
ninth laird of Gairloch; it is an interesting old house, and has a
curious façade (_see frontispiece_). Its gardens contain some plants
which exemplify the general mildness of the west coast winters.
Flowerdale is usually let with shootings for the shooting season, from
12th August till the end of October. Inverewe House is the beautiful
residence of Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie, situated in the north corner of the
bay at the head of Loch Ewe. It is also usually let for the shooting
season, and sometimes, with angling, for the spring and summer.
Kenlochewe, Shieldaig, and Drumchork are also shooting-lodges, but Mr C.
E. Johnston lives at Drumchork House during a greater part of the year
than the ordinary shooting season. The Dowager Lady Mackenzie of
Gairloch resides at Tournaig; and the writer at Inveran. Mr and Mrs Liot
Bankes have erected a spacious mansion, with extremely lovely prospects,
at Ardlair, beneath the cliffs of Beinn Aridh Charr. Mr Charles Perkins,
the lessee of the Fisherfield deer forest, has enlarged the old house at
Letterewe, where he resides during the shooting season, and he has
erected a shooting-lodge near the head of the Fionn Loch. Sir Thomas
Edwards Moss, Bart., is the lessee of Pool House, at Poolewe, which has
been enlarged, and he rents shootings along with it.

Of other houses mention may be made of Kerrysdale, an old house, which
has been frequently occupied by a younger brother or by a son of the
laird of Gairloch. There is a roomy house at Carn Dearg, about three
miles from the Gairloch Hotel. It was erected by Mr George Corson, of
Leeds, and commands a fine view of the bay of Gairloch and the Minch
with its islands. It is remarkable for its high-pitched and red-tiled
roof. The old house on Isle Ewe is occupied by Mr William Reid, the
farmer. The farmhouse at Slatadale is a modern building. The Established
Church manses at Gairloch and Poolewe, and the Free Church manses at
Gairloch and Aultbea, are substantial houses.

There is at Poolewe a building used as a public hall. It comprises a
reading and recreation room, which is available for meetings, and though
comparatively small is sufficient for the population. It was opened on
12th February 1884 by a meeting, at which Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie
presided. It contains accommodation for a caretaker, and it is intended
to provide an additional recreation room. The profits, if any, of this
book are to be devoted to this little institution.

Chapter II.


There are four approaches to Gairloch by road.


This is indeed the mode of entering Gairloch by road most generally
adopted. The traveller usually reaches Achnasheen by rail. No
time-tables will be given in this book. Trains, steamers, and mail-cars
run at different times, and those times are liable to continual
variations. The traveller should consult the printed time-bills issued
from time to time, and which may always be seen at the hotels. The route
from Achnasheen is described in our next chapter. It has many
advantages. It avoids the uncertainties of a sea-voyage, and is worked
in connection with the trains on the Highland Railway.


A new road has been made from Achnashellach, leading from the main Loch
Carron road through the Coulin forest, past Loch Coulin, to Kenlochewe.
This road is strictly private. It passes through magnificent scenery,
but as it is not available to the ordinary tourist it is not necessary
to describe it here.


There is a road from Loch Torridon (described in Part IV., chap. viii.)
by which Kenlochewe may be reached. This road enters Gairloch parish
about six miles from Kenlochewe. Drive from Strathcarron to Shieldaig of
Applecross, where there is a humble inn, and proceed thence on foot, or
horseback, or by boat to the head of Loch Torridon. There is a
right-of-way up the loch side to Torridon, and part of it is a good
road. There is no difficulty in procuring a boat at Shieldaig. This
approach to Gairloch not only includes the scenery of Glen Torridon, but
also that of Glen Shieldaig, which is very fine, and well worth seeing.
The route is strongly recommended. There is no hotel at Torridon, nor is
there any service of steamers into Loch Torridon. Those travelling in a
yacht will find it a pleasant expedition to visit Loch Maree and the
adjacent parts of Gairloch from Loch Torridon. All who enter Gairloch by
this route must walk from Torridon to Kenlochewe, unless conveyances
have been previously ordered to meet them at Torridon.


The estate road between Gruinard and Aultbea having now been rendered
passable by carriages, there is no reason why it should not be used as a
means of ingress or egress to or from Gairloch parish. The principal
difficulty in the way is, that there is no bridge over the Meikle
Gruinard river, and it cannot always be forded. A minor difficulty, not
however of much importance, is that a quarter of a mile of private road
between the ford on that river and the commencement of the county road
near Gruinard House is in a very bad state. The best method of using
this route as an approach to Gairloch, is either to walk it, taking the
ferry-boat across the Meikle Gruinard river, or else to drive to that
river in a conveyance hired from Garve or from the Dundonell Inn at the
head of Loch Broom, and to have another conveyance from the river to
Aultbea, Poolewe, or Gairloch, as may be desired,--the second conveyance
to be ordered beforehand from the hotel at one of the last named places.
The distances are given in the "Tables of distances." Of course if this
route be selected for leaving Gairloch, the conveyance for the road
north of Gruinard must be ordered beforehand. The route from Garve need
not be described here. The last part lies over Fain Mor, or Feithean
Mor, to Dundonell and Little Loch Broom, and thence forward to Gruinard.
The road from Gruinard to Aultbea is described in Part IV., chap. xii.
When a bridge is erected over the Meikle Gruinard river this route will
no doubt become popular. It reveals some grand scenery.

       *       *       *       *       *

Besides these approaches by road there is Mr David Macbrayne's service
of west coast steamers, by which a large number of tourists arrive at
and depart from the Gairloch pier during each summer. Gairloch is
reached from Oban in one day, and the arrangements are so complete that
you may even visit Skye from Gairloch and have eight hours in that
interesting island, returning the same day. I have myself done this.

There is an approach to Gairloch which is sometimes adopted, and has its
charms in settled weather. It is to take a boat from Ullapool to Laide,
where, by previous arrangement, a conveyance may meet the traveller from
one of the inns or hotels in Gairloch parish, of which Aultbea is the
nearest. Of course this route may be also used as an egress from
Gairloch, by previously arranging for a boat to be ready at Laide. With
a favourable breeze the part of the journey on the water is delightful,
to those who are good sailors, affording as it does magnificent views of
the mountainous coast and of the Summer Isles. The great drawback is the
uncertainty. I remember once leaving Aultbea, after an early breakfast,
walking to Laide, and owing to a dead calm not reaching Ullapool until 9

The pedestrian who is able to take advantage of the rougher roads not
traversable by carriage, and the canoeist who, in summer weather, can
explore any part of the coast at his pleasure, will find other means of
entering Gairloch. Our map will shew all that is needed.

The roads within the parish of Gairloch are named in the "Tables of
distances," which state also their condition. The main road from
Achnasheen to Kenlochewe, Talladale, Gairloch, Poolewe, and Aultbea,
which is maintained by the county, is usually in a good state of repair,
and even the man on wheels--the bicyclist or tricyclist--will find this
road yields him easy running. The great drawback is the steep hills, or
"braes" as they are called, which have to be surmounted. These are for
the most part unavoidable, though in one or two cases the gradients
might be still further improved. The estate and private roads are also
generally kept in good order. They are included in the "Tables of
distances," which specify the parts where carriages will find it rough

Loch Maree is itself a sort of highway, and boats may generally be hired
at Kenlochewe, Talladale, or Poolewe to traverse its length. But now
that the little steamer plies on Loch Maree the tour of the loch is
greatly facilitated. (See Part IV., chap. xiii.)

Chapter III.


The parish of Gairloch communicates with the great railway system of the
kingdom at Achnasheen; the nearest part of the parish is about four
miles from the railway station.

The Dingwall and Skye Railway was opened about 1870, and is now a branch
of the Highland Railway. Before 1870 the Gairloch mail-car started from
the Dingwall railway station. The mail-car was worked at that time, as
now, by Mr Murdo M'Iver, the much-respected and courteous landlord of
the Achnasheen Hotel. At this hotel the traveller may obtain
refreshments _en passant_, or may linger awhile. Notice the luxuriant
growth of the lovely scarlet creeper _Tropæolum speciosum_, on the
hotel. The mail-car leaves Achnasheen for Gairloch soon after the
arrival of the morning train from the south. In the height of the
tourist season it is safest to bespeak seats on the car. More luxurious
tourists may hire open or close conveyances from Mr M'Iver, whose postal
address is "Achnasheen, by Dingwall." The name Achnasheen means "the
field of storms," and is generally allowed to be appropriate. The
obliging station-master may be relied upon to remedy as far as he can
any of those casualties which frequently occur to travellers in the
tourist season, who sometimes move about with an unnecessary amount of

To most people it is an agreeable change to lose sight of the railway, a
consummation which is achieved a few minutes after you leave the
Achnasheen Hotel. Over the bridge on the left goes the road to Strath
Carron. Beyond the bridge is the Ledgowan shooting lodge, formerly the
hotel. Notice here the wonderful straight terraces, resembling very
closely great railway embankments. Geologists differ about their origin;
they look like moraines of ancient glaciers or ancient sea-banks, broken
through by the now small river from Loch Rosque, which must have had
larger volume at some remote date. On the left we pass the old Loch
Rosque lodge, and on the right the new one. Near the roadside, below the
new lodge, are to be seen quantities of iron slag, the evidences of
ancient iron-smelting. Similar remains of ironworks may also be observed
by the roadside near the other end of Loch Rosque. These old ironworks
belong to the ancient class treated of in Part I., chap. xvii. Loch
Rosque is over three miles long, and is placed on our list of Gairloch
lochs, inasmuch as its western end juts into the parish. Observe on the
other side of the loch pieces of detached walls, erected to enable sheep
to shelter from the cutting winds which often sweep through this glen.
Most travellers get rather tired of Loch Rosque, yearning as they
naturally do for the superior attractions of Loch Maree. A small burn
near the west end of Loch Rosque is the boundary of Gairloch parish.
Just after passing it is a cottage, and near it stands a square upright
stone. The stone is called Clach an t' Shagart, or "the stone of the
priest." The place is called Bad a Mhanaich, or "the monk's grove." It
seems there was here a settlement of some of the early pioneers of
Christianity. They say that baptisms were conducted at the Clach an t'
Shagart. The name of Loch Rosque itself is believed by many to signify
"the loch of the cross." (See "Glossary.")

After passing the Gairloch boundary there is another humble dwelling
(lately a licensed house), called Luibmhor. It suggests what the inn at
Kenlochewe must have been in the old days as described in Pennant's
"Tour" (Appendix B). On the green at the head of the loch was the
original Luibmhor Inn, the scene of the incident called "The watch of
Glac na Sguithar," related on page 51.

The road now ascends; gradually the eastern hills pass out of sight; the
rugged mountains of Coulin and Kenlochewe are in view during the drive
along Loch Rosque; then they also disappear. At this part of the journey
I always think of what occurred to myself some years ago. I was on the
mail-car, traversing this road in the reverse direction. Near me sat a
tourist, a clergyman of the English Church, who had amused himself
during the preceding part of the journey by inquiring the name of every
hill and place we passed. As soon as the mountain called Scuir a
Mhuilin, to the south of Strath Braan, eastward of Achnasheen, came in
sight, he asked me its name. I told him. When we got near Achnasheen he
again inquired the name of the same hill, which now seemed larger and
grander, and I again told him. Half an hour later he came up to me on
the platform of the Achnasheen station, and asked quite seriously if I
could tell him "the name of that hill." I said with some emphasis,
"Scuir a Mhuilin!" I am bound to admit that the reverend gentleman
tendered a humble apology for his unconscious repetition of the inquiry.
Whether he remembered the name of the mountain I know not. There is no
good to be gained by stating the name of every hill we notice.

Soon after leaving Loch Rosque a curious hill is seen away to the left,
which is said in all the guide-books to resemble the profile of a man's
face looking skywards, and by a stretch of the imagination any traveller
may arrive at the same conclusion.

The ascending road now tends to the right. Near its extreme height an
improvement in the line of the road was effected about 1874. The
original piece of road is visible a little above to the right. It is a
pity some other Gairloch roads are not similarly improved.

At the head of the watershed, 804 feet above the sea-level, we enter
Glen Dochartie, a truly wild Highland glen. Its stern character is
greatly relieved by the exquisite distant view of Loch Maree, half-way
down which, at a distance of about twelve miles from the spectator, Isle
Maree may easily be discerned. There used to be a very good well just
below the road at the head of the glen; the water still flows at the
place, but the well is covered by the new road; this was formerly a
favourite trysting-place of the Gairloch and Loch Broom men when they
went out to lie in wait for the Lochaber cattle-lifters. Glen Dochartie,
and the Great Black Corrie in Glen Torridon, were the entrances to
Gairloch from the south and east. (See stories in Part I., chap. xiii.)
Glen Dochartie has many attractions, especially in the great variety of
colouring on both sides. Perhaps it is best seen on the return journey
by this route. On the right is Carn a Ghlinne (1770 feet), and on the
left Bidein Clann Raonaild (1529 feet). There are remains of ancient
ironworks near the head and at the foot of the glen (Part I., chap. xx).
We travel rapidly down the glen, passing at the foot of it, to the
right, the farm of Bruachaig. Shortly before finishing this stage Meall
a Ghuibhais and Beinn Eighe (or Eay), come into view, the latter being
perhaps the most effective mountain, from an artistic point of view, in
the kingdom. Leaving the Kenlochewe shooting-lodge to the right, and
crossing the bridge over the River Garbh, we pull up at the hotel at


The name of this place is in Gaelic Ceann-loch-iu. It signifies the head
of Loch Ewe, by which name Loch Maree was called in the seventeenth
century. Hugh Miller, in that interesting book "My Schools and
Schoolmasters," says:--"The name--that of an old farm which stretches
out along the _head_ or upper end of Loch Maree--has a remarkable
etymology; it means simply the head of Loch Ewe, the salt-water loch
into which the waters of Loch Maree empty themselves, by a river little
more than a mile in length, and whose present _head_ is some sixteen or
twenty miles distant from the farm which bears its name. Ere that last
elevation of the land, however, to which our country owes the level
marginal strip that stretches between the present coast line and the
ancient one, the sea must have found its way to the old farm. Loch
Maree, a name of mediæval origin, would then have existed as a
prolongation of the marine Loch Ewe, and _Kenlochewe_ would have
actually been what the compound words signify,--the head of Loch Ewe.
There seems to be reason for holding that ere the latest elevation of
the land took place in our island, it had received its first human
inhabitants,--rude savages, who employed tools and weapons of stone, and
fashioned canoes out of single logs of wood. Are we to accept
etymologies such as the instanced one--and there are several such in the
Highlands--as good in evidence that these aboriginal savages were of the
Celtic race, and that Gaelic was spoken in Scotland at a time when its
strips of grassy links, and the sites of many of its seaport towns, such
as Leith, Greenock, Musselburgh, and Cromarty, existed as oozy
sea-beaches, covered twice every day by the waters of the ocean?"

Kenlochewe is a thoroughly Highland village, with its shooting-lodge,
hotel, church, school, smithy, and not far away the old burial-ground of
Culinellan. The village is beautifully placed, near the head of the
level strath which spreads south-eastward from the head of Loch Maree.
It comes in for a good deal of rain, being the centre at which four
glens meet, viz., Glen Cruaidh Choillie (often erroneously called Glen
Logan), Glen Dochartie, Glen Torridon, and the great glen of Loch Maree.
The shooting-lodge is surrounded by a well-grown plantation; and other
younger plantations are growing up near the village. The hotel is
exceedingly comfortable, and visitors staying here have the privilege of
fishing in the upper parts of Loch Maree. As the hotel is not large,
rooms should be engaged beforehand. In Pennant's "Tour" (see Appendix B)
is his account of the accommodation he found at Kenlochewe; read it, and
be thankful for the luxuries of the present well-kept house. The neat
little church was erected in 1878 by public subscription; it belongs to
the Free Church, but has not a regularly settled minister. There was in
old days a church or place of worship at or near Kenlochewe. There is a
large grove of tall ash trees in the Culinellan burial-ground, and a
colony of rooks nests annually in them. Several of the stories and
traditions given in Part I. refer to Kenlochewe or its neighbourhood. A
little to the north of the Kenlochewe Free church is the hillock called
Cnoc a Chrochadair, or "the hangman's hill," where some of the M'Leods
are said to have been hung (see page 45). Below the Culinellan
burial-ground is the ford on the river called Athnan Ceann, or "the ford
of the heads." The story relating the origin of this name is given on
page 13. Kenlochewe is a favourite resort of artists, who find many
subjects in the neighbourhood. Beinn Eighe, and the more distant
Liathgach,--both in Glen Torridon,--are superb mountains, and they are
best seen from Kenlochewe or near it.

There are two modes of reaching Gairloch from Kenlochewe. One, described
in the next chapter, is by the county road past Grudidh bridge,
Talladale, Slatadale, and the Falls of Kerry to the Gairloch Hotel. The
other is to take the steamer from Ru Nohar, down Loch Maree to Tollie
pier, and to proceed thence by road to Gairloch, as described in Part
IV., chap. xiii. The mail, which, as has been said, is worked by Mr
M'Iver, of Achnasheen, is not at present in connection with the steamer.
Mr Hornsby, of the Gairloch Hotel, by previous communication, or Mrs
Macdonald, of the Kenlochewe Hotel, so far as regards those who are
staying in her house, will arrange for the conveyance of passengers and
luggage to the steamer at Ru Nohar pier, which is two miles from
Kenlochewe Hotel. In the busiest part of the tourist season there is a
large conveyance awaiting the arrival of the mid-day train at
Achnasheen, to carry to Ru Nohar those who wish to avail themselves of
the steamer route.

Chapter IV.


Leaving the village of Kenlochewe we see the Torridon road striking off
to the left. A mile further on the road crosses a burn, whose bed is
composed of fragments of white quartzite washed down from the rocky
heights of Beinn Eighe.

Further on to the right is the farm of Tagan, a short distance from the
road. Beyond and above it notice the precipitous spur of Beinn a
Mhuinidh, called Bonaid Donn, and the waterfall (Part III., chap, i.) on
its steep face. In the distance, looking up the glen between the Bonaid
Donn and Slioch, may be observed a curious hill, similar to one noticed
in the last stage; the outline is a silhouette of a man's profile facing


As we approach the strand of Loch Maree the woods of Glas Leitire begin,
and now the interest heightens. Wildfowl may often be seen about the
marshy ground at the head of the loch. On the left a spur of Meall a
Ghuibhais, with wild ravines, comes near the road, and the mingled
foliage of the firs and birches enhances the charms of the scene.

Ru Nohar, with its little pier or jetty, is soon reached and passed.
Were it not for the great convenience of the steamer on Loch Maree, and
the new beauties it unfolds, most people would think it out of character
with the wild surroundings.

Passing through the Glas Leitire woods roe-deer and black game may often
be observed. One or two fir trees are of umbrella-like form (_see

Her most gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, in "More Leaves from the
Journal of a Life in the Highlands," describes this part of the route in
the following graphic language:--

"The windings of the road are beautiful, and afford charming glimpses of
the lake, which is quite locked in by the overlapping mountains. There
are trees above and below it, of all kinds, but chiefly birch, pine,
larch, and alder, with quantities of high and most beautiful heather and
bracken growing luxuriantly, high rocks surmounting the whole. Here and
there a fine Scotch fir, twisted, and with a stem and head like a
stone-pine, stands out on a rocky projection into the loch, relieved
against the blue hills as in some Italian view."


The road is almost level until a mile beyond the bridge of Grudidh.
Before we reach this bridge the wild Glen Grudidh, which is one of the
most telling features in the scenery of Gairloch, has come in view. Its
noble centre-piece is the fine peak of Ruadh Stac of Beinn Eighe, which
is the highest summit in Gairloch parish, and attains an altitude of
3309 feet. The smaller peak beyond it acts as a foil to set off its

There are fine old fir trees near Grudidh bridge; in combination with
the rocky course of the Grudidh water they supply a series of splendid
subjects for the artist's brush (_see illustrations_).

A mile further Eilean Grudidh is seen in a little bay. This island is
mentioned on pages 21, 24, and 43, and is described on page 98. It was
many centuries ago a stronghold of the MacBeaths, and afterwards of the

The road here is wild and dreary. Her Majesty speaks of it thus:--"Part
of the way the road emerges altogether from the trees and passes by a
mass of huge piled-up and tumbled-about stones, which everywhere are
curiously marked, almost as though they were portions of a building, and
have the appearance of having been thrown about by some upheaving of the

Some rocks by the roadside exhibit fine examples of groovings and
scratchings effected by ice in the glacial epoch.

The rocky hill along the base of which the road passes is Coinneachadh
Beag (1830 feet), a spur of Beinn a Chearcaill. The English of
Coinneachadh is a "meeting-place;" it does not require a great flight of
imagination to picture the famous Hector Roy meeting his warrior forces
on the slope of this wild hill to plan dire vengeance against the
blood-stained M'Leods. Two miles beyond Grudidh bridge the road ascends
and climbs the shoulder of Coinneachadh Beag, which runs out in a low
promontory almost dividing Loch Maree. The highest part of the road is
130 feet above the level of the loch, and affords a fine view of
Letterewe at the other side, and of the hills beyond it, on which is the
place called to this day the Hollow of the son of Black John. An account
of the death of this Macleod at the spot which bears his name will be
found on pages 43 and 44. Descending the western side of the hill we
reach the hamlet of Talladale, at the foot of the Talladale river, which
comes from Strath Lungard. Here are picturesque trees. On the right is
an old lime-kiln, and a little further on the same side the keeper's
house. In the corner of the first field on the left were formerly
ironworks (see page 92). John Roy Mackenzie, fourth laird of Gairloch,
died at Talladale; his piper, Rorie Mackay, spent part of his life here,
and here Rorie's son, the celebrated "Blind piper," was born. Crossing
the bridge, notice the stony bed of the small river and the steep end of
Beinn an Eoin in the distance to the right. Almost immediately we reach


This hotel was built in 1872, and is beautifully placed in a sheltered
bay, backed by a hill called Sron a Choit, 970 feet in height, whose
rocky tops rise above most beautiful natural birch woods. A small pier
or jetty was erected here in 1884 as a landing-place for the steamer.
There are good stables, in connection with the larger posting
establishment at Gairloch. Mr M'Iver, of Achnasheen, has also a stable
not far from the hotel for the horses which work his mail-cars. The
hotel, which has lovely views of Slioch and the islands of Loch Maree,
contains a spacious coffee-room, a private sitting-room, and near a
score of bedrooms. There is a telegraph and post office, and a supply of
boats and gillies waiting for engagement. Visitors here have the
privilege of fishing some of the best parts of Loch Maree. The sport
varies in different years, and is frequently very good. Part IV., chap.
xvii., is devoted to the subject of angling in Loch Maree, which may be
said to continue from the middle of May to the middle of October. The
greatest rush of anglers is from the middle of August to the middle of
September; I recommend those who can to come earlier in the season.

The Loch Maree Hotel has been distinguished by the visit of Her Majesty
Queen Victoria, who occupied the house from 12th to 18th September 1877.
Her Majesty narrates the incidents of this visit very fully in her book
already quoted, to which I beg to refer the tourist. Her Majesty has the
following entry on the day of her departure:--"Got up early and
breakfasted at half-past eight, and at a quarter to nine we left with
regret our nice cozy little hotel at Loch Maree, which I hope I may some
day see again." This visit of our most gracious Sovereign evoked the
reverential loyalty of all in Gairloch, and the popular wish still
cherished among us may be accurately expressed in the old words,--

    "Will ye no come back agen?"

In commemoration of the visit of Her Majesty, Sir Kenneth Mackenzie
caused an inscription to be carved on a boulder of the "Torridon red"
sandstone, which stands opposite the front door of the hotel. The
inscription is in Gaelic, and is as follows:--"Air an dara latha-deug
deth mhios meadhonach an fhoghair, 1877, thainig Ban-Righ Bhictoria a
dh' fhaicinn Loch-Maruibhe, agus nan criochan mu'n cuairt. Dh'fhan i sea
oidhche s'an tigh-osda so thall; agus 'na caomhalachd, dheonaich i g'um
biodh a' chlach so 'na cuimhneachan air an tlachd a fhuair i 'na teachd
do 'n chearn so de Ros."

The following is a literal translation:--"On the twelfth day of the
middle month of autumn 1877 Queen Victoria came to visit Loch Maree and
the country round it. She remained six nights in the opposite hotel,
and, in her kindness, agreed that this stone should be a memorial of the
pleasure she experienced in coming to this quarter of Ross."

Chapter V.


The road from Talladale to Gairloch passes for more than a mile through
the woods which here skirt Loch Maree. Pretty peeps of the loch are
obtained here and there where the trees permit.

As the natural birch wood grows thinner, its place is taken by a thick
plantation of larch. This is bounded by the Garavaig burn, which is
surmounted by a substantial bridge. Crossing the bridge we get a glimpse
of the Victoria Falls (Part III., chap. i.). On the right begin the
fields or parks (as enclosed cultivated lands are always called in the
north) of Slatadale. In the angle formed by the loch and the Garavaig
burn, at the corner of the first park, was the old Garavaig
iron-smelting furnace; and if this field should happen to have been
lately ploughed, the traveller may notice that parts of it are stained
black with charcoal burnings (see page 93). The house of Slatadale,
which is distant two miles from the Loch Maree Hotel, is a neat
building, prettily situated near the margin of the loch.

Along the shore at Slatadale commences the section of the old road,
which follows the line of the loch for some two miles further, and then
strikes up the depression to the south-west of the Craig Tollie range,
and so reaches Poolewe. Remains of this old military road have been
visible all the way from Achnasheen, except in some parts where the
present road is on the same track.

From Slatadale the road to Gairloch rapidly ascends, winding round the
base of a hill named Meall Lochan a Chleirich (1319 feet), which rises
to the left; on the right, but further away, is Meall an Doire. As we
approach the summit, lovely views are obtained of the range of mountains
on the north-east side of Loch Maree (including the conical peak of
Slioch), and of the wide part of the loch with its numerous islands,
which from this point of view stand out distinctly separate from each

A little above the road, on the left, is a large detached fragment of
rock, which bears a curious resemblance to an old stage coach, or
perhaps, more accurately speaking, to one of the old lumbering
_diligences_ of France.

Just beyond the apex of the watershed is a small loch, on the left,
called Fear (or Feir) Loch, and a little further a larger and very
picturesque loch called Loch Bad na Sgalaig; in the distance is the
superb peak of Bathais or Bus Bheinn. For an account of the introduction
of pike into these lochs see Part IV., chap. xviii. The good bag of
eagles recorded in Part III., chap. iii., was made on Bus-Bheinn; and
Iain Liath's well (see page 39) is at the base of the mountain. Near the
road, but on the other side of the River Kerry where it leaves Loch Bad
na Sgalaig, is a keeper's house; and a little beyond it the old road
diverges to the right, at the foot of a hill called Meall Aundrairidh
(1068 feet).

The road now rapidly descends, and in half a mile passes alongside the
Kerry Falls (Part III., chap. i.). Another mile brings us to Kerry
bridge, where Her Majesty Queen Victoria, on 17th September 1877,
graciously met above two hundred and fifty Lews people, who had come
over by steamer from Stornoway to see their beloved Queen, accompanied
by the Rev. Mr Greenfield, their minister.

The road over this bridge leads to Shieldaig and the other places on the
south side of Gairloch. Beautiful patches of natural wood are seen on
all sides, and the colouring of the lower hills is very fine.

A little further, Kerrysdale House is passed. It is a small farmhouse,
with very picturesque surroundings, but is placed rather low. The road
now enters a large larch plantation, and runs for some distance along
the Kerry river. This was a well-known resort of the fairies. The Gaelic
name of Kerrysdale is Cathair Bheag, or the "little seat" of the
fairies. Emerging from the wood, look back at the remarkably fine view
of Bathais or Bus Bheinn. It rises beyond the centre of the deep gorge,
which has dense woods on either side. In the dark depths of this gorge
the River Kerry is seen gleaming far below. Another mile brings us to
the bay and hamlet of Charlestown, in an inner recess of the Gairloch
sea-loch. The houses clustered about the head of this bay (called in
Gaelic Ceann an t' Sail, or "the head of the salt water") are now
generally included in the term Gairloch, as applied to a village or
place. The first house we come to is Glen Cottage, the residence of Mr
Donald Mackenzie, west coast manager for Sir Kenneth Mackenzie. Before
arriving at the post-office several houses are seen below the road and
near the sea to the left, where are some trees of remarkable size,
considering that they actually overhang the tide. The best of these
houses is a lodging-house kept by Miss M'Iver; another is the only
bakehouse in the parish. On the other side of the little bay is the
Gairloch pier, with its storehouse and several houses beyond, called
Port na Heile.

The post-office (which was formerly the Gairloch Inn) is at the head of
the bay of Charlestown. Close by is the burn or small river which comes
from the Flowerdale glen.

Immediately over the bridge that spans this burn is the road, to the
right, leading to Flowerdale House and farm. This road is private. About
a quarter of a mile up it is Flowerdale House, on the left. On the
right, in a field below the road, may be seen the remains of the garden
walls of the Tigh Dige and Stank-house, recalling memories of the old
chiefs of Gairloch, and in a paddock beyond is "the island of justice,"
all described in former pages. Among the farm buildings is the old barn
with the Mackenzie coat-of-arms, including the figure of Donald Odhar,
the great Macrae archer.

After passing the end of the Flowerdale road, the short road leading to
the pier at Port na Heile turns off almost immediately to the left. Just
beyond this point the main road passes the well called "the Gairloch,"
from the story told on page 30.

Before leaving this picturesque little bay, the view up the Flowerdale
glen, with the rocky Craig a Chait rising above the woods immediately
behind the house, ought to be particularly noted. Think of Donald
Odhar's wonderful shot recorded on page 46. Looking out towards the
sea-loch, Fraoch Eilean is seen, celebrated for the slaughter of so many
Macleods in the affair of Leac nan Saighead, the story of which is told
on pages 45 and 46.

It is about a mile further to the Gairloch Hotel. Mounting a "brae," we
pass the Caledonian Bank on the right, and a little further the
Established church, also on the right. Just below the road on the left,
alongside of the Established church, is the hollow in the turf-covered
sand called the Leabaidh na ba bàine, or "bed of the white cow," where
the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is dispensed twice a year. The
gathering on these occasions is well worth seeing; it is described on
pages 118 _et seq._

A little further, to the left of the road, in a flat hollow in the sand
hills, is the Gairloch churchyard or burial-ground, where lie the
remains of the older lairds of Gairloch, and of many of the bards,
poets, and pipers mentioned in this book, as well as of a great number
of the less-known inhabitants of Gairloch. Here also was formerly the
church of St Maelrubha, probably a thatched edifice. Perhaps the most
remarkable gravestone in the churchyard is that of John Hay (see pages
82 and 83), said to have been the last manager of the Letterewe
ironworks. Outside the entrance to the churchyard some fragments of slag
may be seen (page 95). Between the churchyard and the road is the
monument erected to the memory of John Mackenzie of "The Beauties" (Part
II., chap. xxii.). The road now mounts the shoulder of the hill called
the Crasg (mentioned on page 40); and fine views open out of the largest
sandy beach at Gairloch, and of the wide expanse of the bay or sea-loch
of the same name, with the hills of Skye, and some smaller islands
further north, in the distance. At the south-west end of this sandy
beach, a little to the right of the volunteer targets, is the hillock on
which the Dun, the ancient castle of Gairloch, often named in the
traditions given in Part I., and described on page 98, formerly stood.
Some traces of its foundations are still to be seen, as well as slight
remains of a vitrified fort, which is supposed to have occupied the same
site before the castle stood there. On the side of the Crasg overlooking
the churchyard, and a few yards west of the high road, is the Cnoc a
Croiche, or "gallows hill," overhanging a steep ravine (see page 116).

Surmounting the Crasg we rapidly descend, and passing the new Free
church (which actually contains a stained-glass rose window) on the
left, and the Free church manse with its well-kept garden on the right,
we reach at last


This hotel was erected in 1872, and enlarged in 1881. It has a large
coffee-room, a good drawing-room, a reading-room, a smoke-room, a
billiard-room, and several good private sitting-rooms, whilst nearly one
hundred and fifty beds can be made up. The hotel is conducted on the
best modern system, and no one should object to the charges, for when
the highest degree of comfort is provided it should be ungrudgingly paid
for. The season is short, and the crowds of visitors it brings are
necessarily a great tax on the resources of the establishment.

During the season services according to the form of the Church of
England are conducted in the house, whilst those who prefer the
Presbyterian churches will find the Established and Free churches in
close proximity.

There is a stall in the hotel where Gairloch hose, photographs of the
district, and other souvenirs can be purchased.

There are excellent gardens and hothouses on the slope behind the hotel,
which is well supplied from them not only with vegetables in season, but
with grapes, flowers, and decorative plants.

Near the hotel is a lawn-tennis ground, which may also be used as a

Sea-bathing may be had on the sandy beach below; a suitable
bathing-machine is provided. Those who prefer to bathe _al fresco_ and
are able to swim, will find a retired nook immediately to the south-west
of the eminence where the Dun and vitrified fort formerly stood; here
there is a sort of natural swimming-bath, into which a header may be
taken, and which gives space for a good swim. The sea is always as clear
as crystal on this rock-bound coast.

Boats may be hired from the hotel for sea-fishing, or for expeditions on
the Gairloch. The smaller islands may be visited, and the coast on
either side examined.

Loch Tollie is appropriated for anglers staying at the hotel. There is a
boat on the loch, and good trout-fishing may be had on its waters.

There is a small shop in the vicinity of the hotel. In the neighbouring
village of Strath, about a mile from the hotel, are good general
merchants' stores where most things may be purchased.

The Gairloch Hotel is remarkable for the fine view of the broad bay
which is obtained from all the front windows of the house. Beyond the
bay is the Minch, bounded in the extreme distance by the Isle of Skye.
Every atmospheric change invests this beautiful view with a new

Chapter VI.


Starting northwards from the Gairloch Hotel, the hamlet of Achtercairn
(Part IV., chap, x.) is the first place we pass; Achtercairn House (Dr
Robertson) is on the right.

As the road ascends the Achtercairn Brae the village of Strath of
Gairloch is well seen. The house in the largest grove of trees is the
Established church manse (Rev. D. S. Mackenzie), in the enlargement of
which in 1823 the celebrated geologist and author, Hugh Miller, took
part as a mason's lad. In another grove in Strath is the Cottage
Hospital, founded by Mr Francis H. Mackenzie, but now disused and
occupied as a dwelling-house.

From the higher parts of the Achtercairn Brae there are splendid views
of the Bay of Gairloch and the hills of Skye. From one point near the
top of the Brae the jagged summits of the Cuchullins in Skye may be

To the left of the road, as the higher part is gained, there is a fine
deep gorge down which the Achtercairn burn or river rushes; it forms a
pretty cascade in the higher part. A rock on the north side of the gorge
is called Craig an Fhithich, because a raven formerly nested in a
crevice on the face of it. After a short descent notice a large boulder
on the right of the road called "The shoestone" (Clach nam Brog), from
the fact that women who had walked barefoot over the hills on their way
to church at Gairloch were (and still frequently are) accustomed here to
resume their shoes and stockings. To the left is a reedy loch on the
minister's glebe, called Loch Feur, a haunt of ducks and other wildfowl.
Another small loch, called Lochan nan Breac, or Lochan nan Breac Adhair,
lies still further to the left.

At this point notice a singular-looking hill to the right of and nearer
to the road than the Lochan nan Breac. It is an interesting subject for
the geologist. Dr Geikie, speaking of the hummocky outlines of the
gneiss emerging from under the overlying sandstones, writes as follows
of this hill:--"Little more than a mile to the north of the church
(Gairloch) the road to Poolewe descends into a short valley surrounded
with gneiss hills. From the top of the descent the eye is at once
arrested by a flat-topped hill standing in the middle of the valley at
the upper end, and suggesting some kind of fortification; so different
from the surrounding hummocky declivities of gneiss is its level grassy
top, flanked by wall-like cliffs rising upon a glacis-slope of debris
and herbage." Further on, this flat-topped hill, seen in profile, looks
like an enormous railway embankment.

By the side of the road, on the left, there is or was one of those heaps
of stones formed by funeral parties (see pages 115 and 116).

About half a mile beyond the shoestone, and some two hundred yards to
the right of the road, is a pond or very small loch, called Lochan nan
Airm, or the "tarn of the arms," into which long ago warriors vanquished
in a fight near the place threw their weapons (see page 21). The
commencement of a drain, intended to empty the tarn so as to discover
the weapons, is still to be seen; it was stopped by the then laird of
Gairloch, whose permission had not been obtained for draining the tarn.
This tarn is in a hollow on the side of one of the moraines of ancient
glaciers which hereabouts flank the highroad.

About two and a half miles from the Gairloch Hotel the summit of the
watershed is reached. The pass through which the road turns, after a
long ascent, is called "The glen," where is a good spring. To the left
is the rock called Craig Bhadain an Aisc, at which the two little boys
of Allan M'Leod, of Gairloch, were murdered by their uncles and then
buried (see page 26).

At the further end of "The glen" there is on the right hand side of the
road a flat moss called Blar na Fala, or "the plain of the blood,"
because this was a place to which cattle were driven in order that blood
might be taken from them (see page 136).

Further on, Loch Tollie, a mile in length, is spread out on the right.
The trout-fishing of this loch is attached to the Gairloch Hotel, and
there is a boat for the use of anglers. The small island near the shore
with a few bushes on it (_see illustration_) is of artificial origin; it
was a crannog or fortress of the MacBeaths, and afterwards of the
M'Leods. The traditions connected with the island will be found in
chaps. vi. and vii. of Part I. An anecdote of a very different
character, telling how a wild cat and her young were killed on this
island, is given in Part III., chap. iii.

The hill to the south of "The Glen" bears the name of Meall Aridh Mhic
Criadh, and is 1140 feet in height.

Beyond Loch Tollie, to the right, is the northern end of the fine range
of Craig Tollie, which is peculiarly rocky and wild.

The hill to the left of the road before we got to Loch Tollie was Meall
a Deas (749 feet); and now, as we leave Loch Tollie, we have on the left
the end of Meall na Cluibha, or Cliff Hill (750 feet), which is much
finer on its face towards Poolewe, where it rises from a lower plateau.

From the higher part of the road as we skirt Loch Tollie there is a good
view before us, at a distance of some six or eight miles, of Beinn a
Chaisgean (2802 feet), in the parish of Loch Broom, beyond Fionn Loch,
and through a gap in it may be seen some of the jagged summits of the
Dundonell mountains.

At the lower end of Loch Tollie there was formerly a weir or dam in
connection with a mill far down the burn which flows from the loch, and
this kept the water of the loch at a higher level than it now stands at.

[Illustration: LETH CHREAG, TOLLIE.]

After leaving Loch Tollie we can easily trace the old road from
Slatadale winding down the glen behind Craig Tollie. Shortly before it
joins the road we are travelling it is overshadowed by a bold crag,
called Leth Chreag (_see illustration_), on the opposite side of the
burn. The name means the "half rock," and refers to the sheer aspect (as
if half had been broken off) of the face of the rock towards the burn.

The first view of the lower end of Loch Maree now comes in sight, with
the graceful form of Beinn Aridh Charr rising above it. A peak close to
the summit of this mountain bears the name of Spidean Moirich, or
"Martha's peak." It is said that a woman of that name having climbed
this peak sat down and began winding thread on her spindle. The spindle
fell from her hand down the steep rocks to the north-east. Martha tried
to recover the spindle, but fell over the rock and was killed. Hence the
name. To the left of Beinn Aridh Charr are the spurs of Beinn a
Chaisgean Mor, called Scuir a Laocainn and Scuir na Feart, with the
Maighdean to the right. Reaching the point where the branch road leads
down to Tollie pier, a magnificent view of Loch Maree presents itself to
the eye. The whole length of the loch, and Glen Dochartie beyond it, are
in sight. On any tolerably fine day the road up Glen Dochartie is
plainly seen at a distance of not less than fifteen to sixteen miles, a
proof of the wonderful clearness of the northern atmosphere. Beyond Glen
Dochartie in the extreme distance are peaks, thirty miles away, of
mountains in the Monar forest, which retain some snow long after it has
disappeared from the mountains of Loch Maree. Half-way up Loch Maree is
seen Isle Maree, with its grove of tall trees. The immediate foreground
is softened by the natural woods of birch, oak, and rowan round the
bases of Craig Tollie and of the lower hills on the east side of Tollie
farm. This view of Loch Maree has formed the subject of celebrated
pictures by the late Horatio M'Culloch, Mr H. W. B. Davis, R.A., Mr A.
W. Weedon, and other well-known artists. The road so far is the same as
that which is traversed by the carriages or "machines" conveying
voyageurs to the Loch Maree steamer. For our present purpose we shall
suppose the tourist to be proceeding towards Poolewe.

The road now turns abruptly to the left, and rapidly descends the hill
called Croft Brae. The present road is a great improvement upon the old
one, which takes a higher course and has a steeper incline. The old road
went straight down to the banks of the Ewe, but our way proceeds from
the foot of the hill along level ground a little above the river. The
small hamlet or village here is properly called Croft of Tollie,
misspelt in the Old Statistical Account "Croft of Jolly," the last word
being decidedly a _lucus a non lucendo_. This hamlet is usually called
Croft. A short bit of road to the right leads to the landing-place at
the lower extremity of the navigable part of the River Ewe, called Ceann
a Chro, or Cruive End, _i.e._ the head or end of the cruive (for taking
salmon), which formerly spanned the river just below. At Cruive End is a
thatched house called "The still," occupied rent free by several poor
widows. It was originally built for a whisky distillery. Close to Cruive
End there formerly stood a small thatched church or place of worship
(see pages 70 and 99), which was used in the memory of old people now
living, _i.e._ up to about 1826. All traces of it have now disappeared.

On the left of the high road, two hundred yards beyond Cruive End, is
the green hillock called "The hill of evil counsel," where Allan
Macleod, who lived in the island of Loch Tollie (see page 25), was
murdered by his brothers.

Looking back there are beautiful views of the upper reaches of the river
Ewe winding through low wooded hills, which may be called "the Trossachs
of Loch Maree," and a distant peep of the loch itself heightens the
charm of the view.

Further on to the right is the Poolewe manse, well placed on a brow
overlooking the river. To the left is the Poolewe post and telegraph
office, formerly a school.

The group of houses a little further on to the left is called Mossbank.
The tallest house (Mrs Morrison) is a lodging-house. The next is
Mossbank Cottage, occupied by Dr M'Ewen; it has a fruitful walled
garden. Another house, of the usual local type, is occupied by John
Mackenzie (Iain Glas), the present water-bailiff of the river. In a
cottage a little further on lives Finlay M'Kinnon, the Poolewe artist
(Part II., chap. xxiv.). We now enter the village of


It is not a beautiful spot, but it perhaps gives one more the idea of a
village than some other more scattered places in Gairloch parish. Mr H.
F. Wilson, of Cambridge, has well described Poolewe, in his racy ode,
dated August 1885, and entitled "Carmen Pooleviense." After speaking of
the Ewe, he says you may see,--

        "Just where that river feels the brine,
        A bridge, a pool, a whitewash'd line
        Of unpretentious cottages,
        Differing in sizes and degrees;
        A kirk, too ample in extent
        To house the shrunk 'Establishment;'
        An inn, our 'guard-room,' to command
        Wide-reaching view by sea and land;
        A windy green, a sandy cliff,
        A flag-staff standing stark and stiff;
        Such is our πολις, proud to be
        Compact, αναγκαιοτὰτη."

Poolewe was formerly called Clive, and, according to the retour of 1638
(page 61), was once "a burgh of barony." There are three merchants'
shops in the village street, also (on the left) the salmon depôt or
boiling-house of Mr A. P. Hogarth, of Aberdeen, the lessee of the
salmon-fishings on the extensive sea coast of Gairloch. It is managed by
Alexander Mutch, of Aberdeen, who generally arrives at Poolewe early in
April and remains until September.

The first building on the right is the Poolewe Public Hall, which though
but a small room suffices for the wants of the place (see Part IV.,
chap. i.).

On the same side at the further end of the village street is the
Established church (Church of Scotland), and on the right is the Poolewe
Inn or Hotel, kept by Mr A. Maclennan. Compared with the Gairloch, Loch
Maree, and Kenlochewe hotels, it yields but humble accommodation. Some
improvements are being effected, and I believe even ladies find the
house comfortable enough. Mr Maclennan carries on a posting business.
Boats can be hired for sea-fishing in Loch Ewe, and trout-fishing can
generally be had on some fresh-water lochs.

On the flat plain behind and to the south of Poolewe and Moss Bank
(called Bac Dubh), a large market, called the Feill Iudha, or "ewe
market" (page 104), was held for generations, and was discontinued about

Mr Macbrayne's large steamers call at Poolewe once a fortnight. A jetty
and storehouse, where goods are landed and kept dry, have recently been
provided just below Poolewe church. There are considerable quantities of
clayband and hematite iron ores to be seen both here and nearer Poolewe