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Legends and Traditions
The Craig Liath Mhor


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 stalwart Highlanders.

Their 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 unsportsmanlike appearance.

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 chase.

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 combat.

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.


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