Friday, April 20, 2007

The wrong man was hanged here in 1752

This is the site of the killing of the Red Fox. It is about 200 feet above the curve in the road between Ballachulish Pier and Kentallen. It is actually the ancient road to the South which used to pass in front of our cottage. The victim was carried from here to Ballachulish House where he died from his gunshot wounds.
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote "Kidnapped" based upon a true tale of the Highlands. His uncle built the Corran Ferry so he knew our area well. In the story, a lad was accused of killing a local "factor" - the man who collects the rents in the Highlands. He was chased and harried all over the country to Edinburgh, but they hanged the wrong man, his 52 year old cousin, for the murder.

The victim was a Campbell - always they seem to feature in these atrocities, the Campbells. This one was very unpopular with the Stewarts of Appin because he was a bit tough on them. He had plans to clear out a lot of the Stewart families from their lands. These are the lands around our cottage, including Ardsheal across the water from our lounge. 1752 was the year exactly 70 years after the Massacre of Glencoe.

This chap Colin Campbell, The “Red Fox” was having a drink in Inshaig the old pub in Duror with James Stewart, known as James of the Glens. James was arrested, and taken to Inverary for trial. It was rigged, James was hanged on a rock above to-days Ballachulish Hotel and beside the bridge. You can see the rock there if you look. His bones were tied together and left there as a warning to others.
Friends later cut them down and buried them at Keill Graveyard near Duror just off the road to Oban two miles to the South of us.
Gillian and I made a serious effort a few years ago to find the graveyard. It was ruined, very overgrown and based in the middle of farmyard buildings. We found it but it took a bit of doing.
There is a big row going on in the local papers now about how it has become even more difficult to find because the farmer has locked gates and hampered access. We hope it gets opened up properly, it is a national treasure this site.
ps The weather has been unbelieveable up here. Who says it rains in Scotland?
Lochside cottage near Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland
  • Short Breaks Glencoe
  • Stories about Appin villages blog