SITES OF INTEREST AT LOCHBUIE
Compiled by Lorne Maclaine of Lochbuie – 26th Clan Chief.
The original fabric of Moy dates to the first half of the 15th Century. Initial construction probably started during the time of John, 3rd Lochbuie, and would have been completed by his son Hector, 4th Lochbuie.What structure preceded Moy Castle is unknown, probably a defensive dun within a barmkin (a 2 to 3 meter walled enclosure within which were located dwellings), but history records that Hector, 1st Lochbuie, received a grant of land in 1360. It would have been at this time that the previous residents of the Lochbuie area, the Macfadyens (to use the modern spelling convention), would have been encouraged to seek alternative lands.
The Castle first appears on record in a royal charter of March 1494 confirming John, 5th Lochbuie, as being in possession of the lands, which he and his predecessors had held from the Lords of the Isles.The castle was abandoned in 1752 following the completion of a new house (currently the stable block) to the north west of the Castle. Moy Castle is a 4-storey tower castle with garret. In the center of the ground floor is a well with a depth of 1 meter. The well is cut into solid rock but always has a constant supply of fresh water.
A stairway built into the wall leads from the ground floor to the first floor. At the first bend in the stairway, the outline of a doorway is visible, above which are the remains of a wooden lintel.
Was this the wooden lintel into which Murdoch, 6th Lochbuie, had the Gaelic words “food and drink for the MacCormacks” carved?
The first floor is an impressive barrel-vaulted chamber that probably served as the main hall in the original arrangement. At the NE end of the hall there appears to be a raised platform or dais. Two original mural chambers serve the hall in the diagonally opposed east and west corners. There is a garderobe or latrine chute still visible on the SW wall. Near the angle formed by the limbs of the chamber is a hatch providing the only access to a well-constructed pit-prison, 3,3 meters in depth and 1,2 meters square at the base. Within the pit, there is a constant supply of water at a depth of 1,7 meters, and interestingly, the base of the pit prison is appreciably above the outdoor ground level. There is currently no knowledge of how the water is supplied to the pit.
Spiral stone stairs and a short lintelled passage lead from the stairs to a narrow apartment formed within the thickness of the SE wall, perhaps intended as a bedchamber. The second level of rooms is reached through a fine original doorway with pointed arched head composed of four voussoirs and the dressed surround uniformly wrought with a broad chamfer. The next two stories had floors of wood, though the walls are 2,2 meters thick.
Externally the most interesting features are the upper works of the tower where the parapet is embattled with broad merlons and crenelles of deep and narrow proportions. Each turret is provided with small windows and smaller square openings, probably firing apertures. A steeply raked loop with a double aperture protects the entrance to the castle.
Building materials of the castle are schistose slabs quarried from Laggan, harled stone, and beach boulders, all laid with lime mortar. Quoins and margins to all openings are fine-grained sandstone quarried at Carsaig. Large blocks of slate paving for the parapet-walk were probably quarried from Ballachulish.
Still clearly visible between the Castle and the shoreline of Lochbuie loch, are the original galley slips that where the Clan would have hauled their galleys onto dry land. Little evidence of the barmkin, that surrounded the castle and would have contained both small wooden shelters and animal enclosures remains, but the barmkin was clearly marked by the Royal Commission who surveyed the site in the late 1970’s.
Following the death of Ewen, John’s (5th Lochbuie) celebrated fourth son, Hector Mor of Duart, and the Maclean of Scallastle, expelled John from Moy Castle in 1538. John died shortly thereafter. In 1540 John’s son Murdoch Gearr, Short Murdoch, returned from Antrim and supported by the MacCormacks, recaptured Moy and expelled Scallastle. Murdoch was legitimated in 1538, he being the issue of his father’s union with a servant when Duart had previously incarcerated him around 1520.
In January 1679 Hector Maclean and John Campbell, seized Moy Castle from Lachlan, 11th Lochbuie, who was imprisoned in Duart Castle for 6 months, and was still demanding restitution of his castle and lands six year later in 1683. The Maclaines opposed the Revolution Settlement and joined the Royalist cause at Killiekrankie. As a consequence, in October 1690,
Lochbuie was obliged to surrender to the government, whereupon Archibald, 10th Earl of Argyll, garrisoned Moy Castle with 24 men under the command of Colin Campbell of Braglen. The Castle was restored to an aging Lachlan, now 83 years old and his heir Hector (of the Knochbreck fame – the first Jacobite victory of the 1689/90 war) in 1697.
In 1752, John, 17th Lochbuie, abandon the Castle when he moved to a new house, but this did not stop him from using the castle to forcibly confine Hector Maclean of Killean and Allan Maclean of Kilmory in 1758.
OLD LOCHBUIE HOUSE.
Built by John, 17th Lochbuie, the buildings are today used as garages, storerooms and workshops for the estate. The old house was an unpretentious, a two-story residence with stabling and sundry accommodation ranged to the left and right of the main house. A 3m high wall surrounds the structures.
It was in this house that John entertained Johnson and Boswell during their famous tour of the Highlands in 1773. Boswell wrote, “We had heard a great deal of Lochbuie being a great roaring braggadocio both in size and manners. The truth is that Lochbuie proved to be a bluff, comely, noisy old gentleman, proud of his hereditary consequence, and a very hearty and hospitable landlord”. Boswell also noted that in addition to being a “delightful host”, Lochbuie kept “admirable port” of which Boswell admits to drinking a whole bottle and suffering Johnson’s reprimand the next day..
John was undoubtedly honoured by the visit and erected a stone plaque over the front door commemorating the visit. “After leaving Moy Castle, the Lochbuie family resided in the house from 1752 to 1790 and it was in this house that Dr. Johnson and Mr. Boswell were entertained in 1773 by John Maclaine, XVll Laird of Lochbuie”.
John died in 1778, and although Murdoch, 19th Lochbuie, is credited with having built the new and present Lochbuie House, it is probable that the initial planning took place during John’s lifetime.
NEW LOCHBUIE HOUSE.
The Lochbuie Mansion House was built sometime between 1788 and 1790 and the Lochbuie family moved into the House in 1790. Kenneth, 24th Lochbuie, subsequently lost the Mansion House and the extended Lochbuie estates in a regrettable lawsuit, resulting from a single late payment of a loan.
Lochbuie House is a substantial residence consisting of 8 reception rooms, 11 bedrooms, and varied sundry accommodation including 5 servants’ bedrooms. After many years of minimal maintenance, the present owners, Jim and Patience Corbett, are progressively restoring the house to its rightful state.
ST.KILDA’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
Built in 1876 by Murdoch, 23rd Lochbuie, St Kilda’s Episcopal Church is in the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles. Why Murdoch chose to build a second church on the Lochbuie estate (the Kinlochspelve Church, opposite Craigben Lodge, had previously adequately served the needs of Lochbuie community) is unknown but three unsubstantiated reasons have been advanced. Murdoch was an uncompromising individual and, as his relationship with the Kinlochspelve minister was at best described as strained – aggravated no doubt by the minister’s penchant for shooting Lochbuie’s ducks on Loch Uisg - Murdoch decided that a minister of his own choice, located within his own church, would better serve his pastoral needs. The second reason, and perhaps more logical given the reality of the clergy’s mobility, was that Murdoch, appalled by the horrors of the Franco Prussian war he had witnessed as a war correspondent, had St Kildas built as a celebration of his faith and in honour of his God. And finally, it is also possible that Murdoch was of ‘the Church of England in Scotland’ persuasion rather than the ‘Church of Scotland’, as St Kilda’s is notably an Episcopal Church.
Within the church are several interesting stained glass windows dedicated to St. Oran, St Kilda and St. Columba. There are various memorial tablets dedicated to the Maclaine family and others associated with the Lochbuie estate. Joseph Mayer who played the part of Christ many times in the Oberammergau Passion play carved the Crucifix above the Chancel. Murdoch purchased the Crucifix and had it placed in its present position. On the wall to the right of the altar is a framed stone from the church of Mercy le Haut in Metz, which covered the remains of the Bishop of Metz, that was acquired by Murdoch following the destruction of the church by French troops during the Franco Prussian war.
Built into the south wall of the porch is an early Christian stone, bearing a ring-headed cross that was unearthed at a considerable depth when the foundations of St. Kilda’s were being prepared. As there is no record of a chapel or burial site previously occupying the site, its origin is intriguing as a cross of this simplest and earliest form, dates the cross as more than 800 years old.
DONALD’S MEMORIAL – also known as THE RED MONUMENT
This stone obelisk is on the right, set approximately 20 meters back into the rhododendrons, two thirds of the way along Loch Uisg traveling towards Lochbuie. The memorial is to Donald, 22nd Lochbuie. The inscription on the memorial reads;
“In memory of Donald Maclaine of Lochbuy who died 18th October, 1863 aged 46 years. The monument is erected by his tenants, servants and a few friends, in memory and respect for him. A considerable landlord and master, and useful country gentleman. A fair and upright magistrate, as well as sympathy for his bereaved family so early deprived of his wise counsel and Christian example. 1864.”
VICTORIA JUBILEE MONUMENT
This pyramid shaped monument is also on the right hand side of the road alongside Loch Uisg – shortly after the Red Monument – and just before the end of the Loch. It is set beside the road, but is some 3 meters above the road level on a low bluff of rock.
The plaque reads; “Erected by Lochbuie and his Highlanders to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, 22 June 1897. God Save the Queen”
The pyramid shaped monument is located at the shore of Lochbuie at the end of the road that sweeps around the Lochbuie valley. It is approximately 50 meters from St. Kilda’s Church.
The plaque on the face of the monument reads;
“Erected by Lochbuie and his Highlanders to commemorate the coronation of their majesties Edward Vll and Queen Alexandra. God save the King and Queen. 29 August 1902.
CAIBEAL MHEAMHAIR “ The Chapel of Remembrance”.
The Family Mausoleum and graveyard.
The main core of the building is of a late medieval date. Above the doorway to the Chapel is a plaque inscribed “Consecrated to St. Kenneth 1500”, however nothing is known of the early history of the chapel and it had presumably fallen into disuse by 1701, when the first recorded burial within it took place. The present appearance of the building owes much to the restoration carried out in 1864 by Donald, 22nd of Lochbuie.
Preserved within the Chapel is a block of Carsiag sandstone wrought in the form of an octagonal basin set upon a square base. This stone appears to be a font of late medieval date.
- Table-tomb stones of note within the Chapel are those of Murdoch -10th Lochbuie - who died in 1662, Hector-12th Lochbuie- died in 1701, Murdoch – 13th Lochbuie- who died in 1729, and Margaret the wife of Hector – 12th Lochbuie.
White marble memorials recognize other Clan Chiefs and those associated with the chief’s family.
At the East end of the Chapel, the Mausoleum vaults reflect the names of those members of the family who are buried or interred at the Mausoleum. The Chapel’s preservation is the responsibility of the Clan Chief.
MAUSOLEUM OF JOHN, 17TH LOCHBUIE.
200 meters NW of Lochbuie House is a small mausoleum built specifically as a monument where the remains of John, his Lady and their six children were to be deposited. The structure was built in 1777 and while John died in 1778 no record of his internment at this Mausoleum exists.
The building is in a good state of repair although the original slate roof has been replaced with corrugated iron. The easiest route to the Mausoleum is to follow a pathway leading up the rockery at the NW end of Lochbuie House.
LOCHBUIE CAIRN - Bronze Age 2500 - 600 BC.
In a group of trees 100 meters NNW of Stone Circle are the remains of a kerb-cairn measuring about 6,5meters in diameter and 0,6 meters in height. It has suffered severely from stone robbing and an exploratory trench has been driven across the center. Nonetheless the kerb is still comparatively well preserved on the N and S sides. The largest kerbstone is 0,7 meters high and is immediately to the North of the ‘portal’.
STONE CIRCLE - late Neolithic period or Bronze Age.
The Lochbuie Stone Circle is the only stone circle on Mull.
It is an interesting group of prehistoric monuments, comprising a stone circle, several standing stones and the kerb-cairn, and is situated on the flat ground 400 meters north of Moy Castle.
The stone circle originally consisted of nine stones, but one of these is now missing and has been marked by a small boulder. The circle is 12,3 meters in diameter and is composed for the most part of granite slabs, which have been positioned with their flatter faces towards the inside of the circle. The tallest stone measures 2 meters in height. There are two standing stones outside the circle. The nearest is 4,6m outside the circle to the south east, and the second, is 38 meters to the south west and stands 3 m in height.
An isolated stone that stands 380 meters NNW of the circle may also be associated with this group. It stands 2 meters in height and the top appears to have been deliberately broken.
DUNAN MOR - a defensive dun – probably dating to 200 or 300 AD.
Duns were fortified sites – a comparatively small defensive enclosure with disproportionately thick walls enclosing an area that rarely exceeded 375 square meters. Duns were usually situated on islands, on the summits of small hills, or at the ends of coastal or inland promontories. Wall thickness varied from 2,3 to 4,0 meters.
Dunan Mor is situated 160 meters SW of the Mausoleum and occupies the summit of a rocky boss, which rises some 20 meters above the shore of the loch, but only 2,6 meters above the adjacent ground. The dun may have been approached with relative ease from all sides except the NW, where there are cliffs 3 meters high at the top of the seaward slope. Roughly sub-rectangular on plan, it measures 17m from NE to SW by 14 meters transversely within the ruins of a stonewall which has been reduced for much of its circuit to a low spread of stony debris, 2,1m in average thickness.
CAISTEAL EOGHAINN A’ CHINN BHIG - Ewen’s defensive crannog at Loch Sguabain.
A massive dry-stone perimeter wall, having a thickness in places of 3,3meters and enclosing an ovoid area measuring 22m by 10 m, fortified a small island at the north end of first loch, in a chain of small lochs, in the valley of Glen More. The island is traditionally associated with Ewen ‘of the little head’, son of John, 5th Lochbuie, and who was active in the early 16th Century. This tradition is confirmed by Munro’s description in 1549 of “Ellan strat stuaban” as an inhabited ‘strength’. The structural remains are ascribed to the late medieval period although the island could date back to 1000 BC. It It may safely be assumed that one or more domestic timber structures originally occupied the enclosure. Today little remains of the defensive wall that was built around the perimeter of the island. Evidence of a causeway is to be found on the NE side of the island. It is impossible to say whether the island is of artificial origin but no bedrock has been observed.
It was from this crannog that Ewen rode forth in 1538 to battle the forces ranged behind his father who was supported by the Macleans of Duart.
LUSSA FALLS - Reputed initial burial site of Ewen.
This site is alongside the main road from Craignure to Iona. Just after the Lochbuie turn-off on the left, the road enters a coniferous forestry plantation – two cattle grids mark the plantation’s boundaries – one going into the forest, the other at the exit. 800 meters beyond the exit grid is a parking area alongside the left hand side of the road. Also visible are the remains of an old stone building. Park here.
A small, informal cairn marking Ewen’s initial grave is visible some 30 meters below the road on a direct line between the stone building and the suspension footbridge across the Lussa river in the glen. Legend relates that Ewen’s horse bolted from the field of battle with the headless body still wedged in the saddle. Ewen’s exhausted horse finally came to a halt at this spot where the headless body fell to the ground. It was apparently at this spot the Ewen’s body was initially buried by his Clansmen before being subsequently disinterred and carried to Iona – Ewen’s final resting place. Ewen’s table tombstone is to be viewed within the Iona Abbey. Interestingly, no bracken or significant grass growth has ever invaded the site over the past 500 years – just a few clumps of red heather! More substance to the legend of the ghost of the headless horseman??
It is Lorne’s intention to erect a permanent memorial cairn to Ewen at the Lussa Falls site.
Isle of Mull
The Isle of Mull lies just off the west coast of Scotland, in the United Kingdom.
From Oban, on the mainland, where many visitors arrive on their way to Mull, the seaward view is dominated by the rocky peaks and green slopes of the Mull mountains.
Mull is an island of high peaks, dramatic views, waterfalls, wildlife, history and atmosphere.
According to your interests, the islands of Mull and Iona can be a wilderness awaiting discovery, a sporting paradise, a haven of peace and relaxation or simply a charming and beautiful centre for a Highland holiday away from the cares and pressures of modern life.
Mull is an island that bewitches the visitor with its amazing geology and its Celtic and Viking past but perhaps the most captivating thing of all is that the sea seems everywhere you look and every twist in the road presents yet another dazzlingly beautiful seascape. You can drive or walk miles in a day and see few people if you wish. Yet in the evening, the bars are jolly and fishing boats are bobbing in the bays. As so many visitors say, Mull is indeed a magical place.