AT the foot of Glen Errochdie, on
the road between Struan and Rannoch, stand the ruins of the ancient
farmhouse of Blairfettie. The present building is comparatively a modern
structure, having been built somewhere about the middle of the present
century; but the one I refer to is situated across the river, immediately
opposite the present one. It is now a complete ruin, and, in fact, its
site is almost obliterated. At the foot of a birch plantation, and in
close proximity to the river Errochdie, it formerly commanded an extensive
view of the glen. Towards the latter end of the seventeenth century, it
was the property of a certain Laird of Muirlaggan, Rannoch, who resided
there along with his eleven sons, all but one of whom were manly and
mother having died when giving birth to the youngest—a fair-haired,
sickly-looking child—the sons resolved to remain at home to support and
comfort their venerable father in his declining years.
Being muscular and powerful fellows,
their sole delight was in fishing and hunting, and exerting and testing
their strength at feats of valour and skill. Their aged father they
honoured with unbounded respect, always consulting him before engaging in
any contemplated hunting or deer-stalking expedition.
The youngest brother, who was at the
period of my tale only about sixteen years of age, would never consent to
join his bigger brothers in their games, as his disposition was perfectly
opposite to theirs, he preferring to roam amongst the woods and down the
river’s side in quest of blaeberries and wild flowers.
He was his father’s favourite,
which, together with his girlish manners, and his utter distaste for manly
sports, made him disliked by his brethren.
One morning, towards the fall of the
year, the brothers decided on going on a deer-stalking expedition. The
place chosen for the chase was the Hill of Tulloch, now part of the
Auchlecks estate. Accompanied by their youngest brother, whom they had
with some difficulty induced to join them, and taking with them a few
couples of stag-hounds, which they held in leashes, they started on their,
journey, striding along gaily and enlivening the way with merry banter and
chat, whilst teasing and tormenting their youngest brother on his
Attaining the summit of the hill,
they at once engaged in the hunt, which was continued up to mid-day, when
they decided to rest and partake of their oatmeal bannocks and usquebaugh.
The spot where they rested is called the "Craig Liath Mhor," which,
literally translated, means the, "Big Grey Crag."
Having partaken of their meal, they
engaged in conversation, to while the time away before again resuming the
During the course of their talk, the
deer-hounds suddenly commenced to quarrel and fight, and would upon no
account be separated, although various measures were resorted to quell and
subdue them. All attempts at pacification proving futile, the company in
the last resort resolved to let the outrageous animals fight it out, and
thereupon sat down to witness the result. Wagers were freely engaged in,
and out of one of these wagers there arose a quarrel between two of the
brothers. Like the dogs, they were determined to fight it out, and agreed
to settle the dispute at the point of the dirk.
The rest of the brothers, unwilling
that any such affair should disgrace their family, strove their utmost to
separate the two combatants; but, instead of quelling the dispute, they
only succeeded in adding fuel to the fire.
Without further ado lots were cast,
and a general and equal-sided fight then began.
Fierce and bloody was the fray, and
melancholy the result; for not a single man of the brothers remained alive
at the end of it, except the youngest, who had taken no active part in the
He returned to his father with the
sad and terrible tidings of what had occurred; upon hearing which the
wretched man was heart-broken, and within a few days succumbed to his
grief. What became of the survivor I cannot tell, as all traces of him
seem to have been lost.
On the summit of the "Craig Liath
Mhor" may be seen to this day ten cairns, which mark the last
resting-place of the brothers. A few stones roughly piled one above the
other are all that mark the spot where the fatal struggle took place.