Ere we pass down the south side of the loch, through the glorious Black Wood or old Caledonian forest of Dall, to the last little grave-place at Carie, let us turn aside at Camghouran to an enclosure on a knoll between the road and the loch. This is St Michael’s Burial-ground, and it is so full of Camerons that there is scarcely elbow-room for anyone else. A fort or a cell once stood on the adjoining hillock. But the legend of St Michael, Camghouran, as I got it, has more murder than religion in it, and with this old tale I make an end of this Rune of Rannoch lore.
There lived a woman of great beauty at Dunan up the Gaur. A Rannoch Cameron and a Mackintosh of Moy fell in love with her, but the Cameron was the lucky one and brought her home to this old fort at Camghouran. There she bore him seven fine boys. One day at Perth market the Mackintosh went into the fletcher’s shop to buy a bunch of arrows. He bought the finest sheaf, and said, “I will fetch the arrows later on.” The Cameron also came to buy arrows. “I’ll take these, for they are your best,” said he. “But they are trysted,” said the fletcher. “Who trysted them ?” “The Mackintosh.” “Then I must have them,” and off he went with the arrows. When the Mackintosh came back and heard the tale, he kissed the dirk and made off with his men by the shortest road across the hills for the house of Cameron, who had twice supplanted him.
He walked in and told the beautiful wife of the Cameron that she must come with him. But she flouted him and refused.
“Then,” said he, “I will brain every one of these seven fine boys.”
“And if you dared, I would not shed a tear,” said she, thinking he would not dare.
Then he brained six of them on a large stone, but before he could brain the seventh the wife broke down and begged him to spare the boy. He did that. Just then the Camerons came and slew every Mackintosh save one, who escaped across the loch by swimming. But when he reached the other side a Macgregor cut him down. All the sons of the Cameron were buried here, and that was the beginning of this Cameron place of graves at St Michael’s, Camghouran. The stone on which the boys were brained lies today on the left-hand side of the entrance gate, and it is still called the Clach-na-Ceann or Stone of the Heads. That is the tale as I got it hot from the lips of a Cameron.
Above, in the page header, are two pictures taken in the year 2000 at the little graveyard near Tighe-na-Dige, Camghouran, on the south-western shore of Loch Rannoch. The ‘stone’ is pictured in the right-hand photo, and some of the graves of the Camerons on the left.
This legend, in its various versions, persists in the tales of the Camerons. The version reproduced here is quoted from T.Ratcliffe Barnett’s book ‘The Road to Rannoch’, [p.151] and a colourful and readable one is told in a book by A.D.Cunningham, ‘Tales of Rannoch’. [see 'Links' and 'Sources' for the Rannoch website and more details].