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Antiquarian Notes, Historical, Genealogical and Social
(Second Series) Inverness-Shire, Parish by Parish
Chapter XVI. Kilmuir


SIR ALEXANDER MACDONALD had large transactions with Perthshire cattle-dealers, and also regularly sent stock under his own men to the English markets, but great as his handling was, as already shown under the Parish of Sleat, he is found borrowing money to carry on. I have a bond by him to Mr Alexander Nicolson, minister of the gospel, at Aird, in Sleat, for the sum of seven thousand merks, dated at Ord, 22nd October, 1744, and witnessed by Alexander Macdonald of Kingsburgh, and Donald Macdonald of Castleton.

The family at this period had already removed from Duntulm to Monkstadt. When on a previous occasion I was in Skye, I heard that a very old woman, reputed to have passed her 100th year, lived not far from Duntulm. In 1892 she came to the roadside to meet me by request, accompanied by all the women and children of her township. I found the old lady most interesting, her chief story—and on account of which she was best known—was that she had in her youth spoken to a woman who, in her 16th year, attended and danced at the last ball held in the Castle of Duntulm, where Simon Lord Lovat and several Inverness-shire and Argyleshire proprietors were present.

I am not exactly sure when Duntuim was vacated, but believe it was between 1720 and 1730. Supposing this ball occurred in 1728, my visitor had seen and conversed with a woman born in 1712, 18o years before my visit.

Duntulm Castle has been a ruin for more than 150 years, and it is greatly to be regretted that so much of it was destroyed and carried away for base purposes within the memory of many living.

In regard to the Kilmuir Centenarian I copy an entry in my Common Place Book, made 11th of August, 1892, of an event occurring on 7th of June preceding, and as the ' King of Skye" told me on one occasion that it had been abandoned—he thought, about 1730— one life connected an event which had occurred at least 160 to 170 years ago. It is as follows :-

"On Tuesday, the 7th day of June, 1892, while canvassing in the north of Skye on my way from Kilmuir to Kilmaluag by Duntuim, and when passing the ruins of the Castle of Duntulm, Mr Archibald Macdonald, Garafad, who accompanied me, together with Mr Alexander Mackenzie of the Scottish Highlander, mentioned that there was an old woman at Kilmaluag, reported to be about 103 years of age, who possessed some information in regard to the castle when occupied. Being under the impression that the castle was vacated long before Culloden, I asked that I might have an opportunity of speaking to the old woman, and a messenger was despatched to bring her to the roadside. On coming towards Kilmaluag, we found her waiting with several others who had been attracted by the summons. Her name is Christy Macleod. She had hobbled up to the road from her own house, no great distance, with the aid of two sticks. Her clothing was very scanty. She had a nice countenance, good eyesight, not very deaf, and such teeth as remained were sound and white. Interrogated in Gaelic, she having no English, she stated that she had lived in the neighbourhood all her days, and remembered when a great deal of the walls of Duntulm was entire. She was well acquainted in her youth with a very old woman named Mary Macdonald, who married a Donald or Alexander Macdonald, who told her, and she heard her repeat it to others, that when she was 16 years of age she was an under chambermaid at Duntulm, and had danced at a ball in the Castle when the Macdonalds of Sleat were then occupying it. That Lord Lovat, Macleod of Macleod, Lochbuie, and a great number of Inverness-shire and Argyleshire gentlemen were entertained at the castle for about a week. The old woman thankfully received a half-crown piece, which she examined with deliberation, and I received her blessings. This said Mary Macdonald was afterwards married within the castle."

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