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TITLE
From Sea to Sea (13 of 19)
EXTERNAL ID
HC_STS_FROMSEATOSEA_13
DATE OF RECORDING
2001
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Bob Pegg
SOURCE
The Highland Council
ASSET ID
2414
KEYWORDS
canals
waterways
bards
audio

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The following extract is taken from 'From Sea to Sea', an audio celebration of the history, people, landscape and culture of the Great Glen waterway - The Caledonian Canal. The project was created in 2001 by Bob Pegg and funded by Highland Council through the British Waterways 'Living Waterways Programme'.

'The Well of the Seven Heads' (Part 1)

Narrator: But these hills have also seem much that was harsh and bloody and vengeful. Pause for a moment at this idyllic waterside, by the 'Well of the Seven Heads', and think on what once happened here.

[Clarsach]

'In 1649 the Duke of Montrose attacked the Covenanters at Inverlochy Castle. Among the dead was Donald Glass MacDonald of Keppoch. He left behind two sons - Alastair his heir, and the younger, Ranald. As befitting an extended Highland family, the Clan Donald rallied to the aid of their grieving kinsmen. The two boys were placed under the guardianship of James MacDonald of Sleat. As was the custom of the times, when the boys were old enough, they were sent to Scots College in Rome in order to finish their education.

Now, if travel broadens the mind, then staying at home must surely narrow it. For when Alastair and Ranald returned home to Keppoch, all fired up with youthful enthusiasm and full of foreign ideas, they soon found themselves very unpopular with the neighbours. One who took a particular dislike to their young laird's newfangled ways lived in nearby Inverlair and went by the name of Dugald.

Until Alastair had reached adulthood, his uncle, Alastair Buidhe, had run the Keppoch Estate. He was now no longer required and greatly resented this enforced retirement. His last act had been to arrange a great feast to mark the handing over of the estate to Alastair. All were invited, and Uncle Alastair made sure that Dugald, along with his six sons, received a special invitation.

The feast would have been something special. The table would have groaned with the full culinary delights of the Highlands - haunches of venison, best beef and freshly caught salmon would have been laid before the guests, all washed down with the best claret wine that money could buy. The festivities were in full swing when, on a given signal, the boys from Inverlair started an argument with Alastair and Ranald MacDonald. The argument grew into a fight and during the mêlée Alastair and Ranald were murdered. Revenge for this atrocity was the order of the day.

Ian Lom MacDonald, known as the Bard of Keppoch, took up the fight for justice. He went to James MacDonald of Sleat, the murdered boys' guardian. There he sang a song praising the courage and wisdom of his host, before telling of the murder and asking for help. James MacDonald, filled to the brim with the bard's flattery, as well as anger of the death of his two wards, agreed to help. He petitioned the Scottish Parliament and received a commission of 'fire and sword'. This allowed him to use any means to bring the murderers to justice.

On the fifth of September 1663, the Bard of Keppoch, his followers, and fifty fighting men sent by James MacDonald of Sleat, laid siege to the murderers' house at Inverlair. Finding the door barricaded they set fire to the house and as the murdering family ran out to escape the smoke and flames they were hacked down. As they all lay dead in the heather, Ian, the Bard of Keppoch, took from one body the very knife that had been used to kill Alastair and Ranald MacDonald. With this knife he cut off the heads from the seven murderers, threaded them onto a heather rope, slung them over his shoulders, and set off for home. On his way, he stopped by this well at Loch Oich and washed the seven heads before presenting them to Lord MacDonell and Aros, at Invergarry Castle. From there the heads travelled to Sleat and then on to Edinburgh. They were presented as proof that the commission of 'fire and sword' had been carried out and that Highland justice had been administered to the perpetrators of a ghastly crime.'

[Clarsach]

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From Sea to Sea (13 of 19)

2000s

canals; waterways; bards; audio

The Highland Council

The Highland Council: From Sea to Sea

The following extract is taken from 'From Sea to Sea', an audio celebration of the history, people, landscape and culture of the Great Glen waterway - The Caledonian Canal. The project was created in 2001 by Bob Pegg and funded by Highland Council through the British Waterways 'Living Waterways Programme'. <br /> <br /> 'The Well of the Seven Heads' (Part 1)<br /> <br /> Narrator: But these hills have also seem much that was harsh and bloody and vengeful. Pause for a moment at this idyllic waterside, by the 'Well of the Seven Heads', and think on what once happened here.<br /> <br /> [Clarsach]<br /> <br /> 'In 1649 the Duke of Montrose attacked the Covenanters at Inverlochy Castle. Among the dead was Donald Glass MacDonald of Keppoch. He left behind two sons - Alastair his heir, and the younger, Ranald. As befitting an extended Highland family, the Clan Donald rallied to the aid of their grieving kinsmen. The two boys were placed under the guardianship of James MacDonald of Sleat. As was the custom of the times, when the boys were old enough, they were sent to Scots College in Rome in order to finish their education. <br /> <br /> Now, if travel broadens the mind, then staying at home must surely narrow it. For when Alastair and Ranald returned home to Keppoch, all fired up with youthful enthusiasm and full of foreign ideas, they soon found themselves very unpopular with the neighbours. One who took a particular dislike to their young laird's newfangled ways lived in nearby Inverlair and went by the name of Dugald. <br /> <br /> Until Alastair had reached adulthood, his uncle, Alastair Buidhe, had run the Keppoch Estate. He was now no longer required and greatly resented this enforced retirement. His last act had been to arrange a great feast to mark the handing over of the estate to Alastair. All were invited, and Uncle Alastair made sure that Dugald, along with his six sons, received a special invitation. <br /> <br /> The feast would have been something special. The table would have groaned with the full culinary delights of the Highlands - haunches of venison, best beef and freshly caught salmon would have been laid before the guests, all washed down with the best claret wine that money could buy. The festivities were in full swing when, on a given signal, the boys from Inverlair started an argument with Alastair and Ranald MacDonald. The argument grew into a fight and during the mêlée Alastair and Ranald were murdered. Revenge for this atrocity was the order of the day. <br /> <br /> Ian Lom MacDonald, known as the Bard of Keppoch, took up the fight for justice. He went to James MacDonald of Sleat, the murdered boys' guardian. There he sang a song praising the courage and wisdom of his host, before telling of the murder and asking for help. James MacDonald, filled to the brim with the bard's flattery, as well as anger of the death of his two wards, agreed to help. He petitioned the Scottish Parliament and received a commission of 'fire and sword'. This allowed him to use any means to bring the murderers to justice. <br /> <br /> On the fifth of September 1663, the Bard of Keppoch, his followers, and fifty fighting men sent by James MacDonald of Sleat, laid siege to the murderers' house at Inverlair. Finding the door barricaded they set fire to the house and as the murdering family ran out to escape the smoke and flames they were hacked down. As they all lay dead in the heather, Ian, the Bard of Keppoch, took from one body the very knife that had been used to kill Alastair and Ranald MacDonald. With this knife he cut off the heads from the seven murderers, threaded them onto a heather rope, slung them over his shoulders, and set off for home. On his way, he stopped by this well at Loch Oich and washed the seven heads before presenting them to Lord MacDonell and Aros, at Invergarry Castle. From there the heads travelled to Sleat and then on to Edinburgh. They were presented as proof that the commission of 'fire and sword' had been carried out and that Highland justice had been administered to the perpetrators of a ghastly crime.'<br /> <br /> [Clarsach]