wee birchen corries lie patches of green,
Whee gardens and bare-headed bairnies have been,
But the huts now are rickles of stones nettle-grown
And the once human homes, een their names are unknown.
Shairp, who was a frequent visitor to Rannoch a hundred years ago, sums up
in his little poem the situation of a place that used to be. All the
clansmen, the MacDougalls, the Robertsons, the MacGregors, the Camerons,
the Menzies and the MacDonalds have departed and left nothing but rickles
of stones, and so it was also with the Stewarts.
Stewart ascended the throne of Scotland it was natural that the Kings
kith and kin should benefit. The first Stewart King, Robert II, in 1379,
the year of his accession, gave his son Alexander Stewart the lands which
included Lassintullich, Crossmount, Tulichcroske, and Kynachan in
Rannoch. He became known as the Wolf of Badencoh, not without cause
because by all accounts he was a vicious and cruel man who lived by murder
and rapine. I do not think he had much to do with Rannoch ..there was
nothing for him to steal or plunder here. He went for richer gains such
as existed in Forres and Elgin where the towns and the cathedral of Elgin
were burnt to the ground. He was finally killed in battle near
Blairgowrie in 1392 and buried in Dunkeld Cathedral where his tomb is.
The inscription on it must have been engraved by someone with a sense of
humour for it says about this man, who was surely the biggest blackguard
of his time, Hic jacet Dominus Alexander, Dominus de Badenoch, bonae
memoriae Here lies Lord Alexander, Lord of Badenoch, of good memory!
Stewarts in Rannoch carried on in a similar lawless fashion as the Wolf.
They led bands of wild Rannoch tribesmen on cattle raids far and wide and
one of them, Neil Stewart, who lived at Garth, by some means or other
acquired more land in Rannoch. He laid claim to the north side of the
Loch, called Slios Min, land which the Menzies regarded as theirs. After
frequent fights the sovereign was brought in by the Menzies and he decided
in favour of them. This was in 1477.
sometime after this that Stewarts of Appin arrived in Rannoch. They
settled in Innerghadden, Bunrannoch, Tempar and Strathgarry and at first
they, like the rest of the Rannoch clansmen, led anything but a peaceful
life. It was called the time of misruell in Atoill when murders and
oppression were common. It was so bad that the Privy Council ordered that
a watch be set out to guard the country.
Stewarts did not have a clan chief in Rannoch and they usually joined the
Robertsons in the various risings and rebellions in support of the House
of Stewart. When they went to battle they carried with them the banner
Bratach na Mogan, meaning the Banner of the Stocking. They carried
this as a compliment to the bravery of their woman, for one day when the
men were away in the hills Bunrannoch was attacked by a strong force of
raiders. The raid was so sudden that the women had no time to provide
themselves with weapons, so they took off their stockings, put sufficient
stones in them and used them as cudgels. So successful were they that
they drove off the attackers who left empty handed.
It is sad
that there are so few names to record of the many Stewarts of the
Bunrannoch area who gave their lives in the 15 and the 45. It is sad
that the villages were deserted of all but the women folk whose men found
their graves at Culloden and elsewhere. There was one, Allan Stewart of
Innerhadden, called Great Allen, who was a poet some say a much better one
than Struan Robertson. He strode on to the hill which bears his name now,
Dun Allan, and chose it as his burying place so that on Judgement Day he
and his race might come back and see their old lands stretched out before
them. He was not killed at Culloden but after the battle he managed to
hide himself successfully in the district and he and Stewart of Crossmount
evaded capture until the hue and cry died down. They eventually got their
lands back but their houses had been burnt down as reprisals. Stewart of
Kynachan was killed, also Neil Stewart of Tempar, James Stewart, brother
of Tullochcroisk, and sixteen other of the Athollmen fell and will no
doubt be with Big Allan and the other Rannoch Stewarts on Judgement Day,
and with all their brave tenants who fought in vain for their royal
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