Stewarts of Ardvorlich

One of the most bloodthirsty incidents concerning the Stewarts of Ardvorlich was in 1598 and resulted in almost 200 years of persecution for the MacGregors.
In that year James VI was married by proxy to Anne of Denmark and he ordered his deputy forester John Drummond of Drummondernoch to provide venison for the wedding feast. John went hunting in nearby Glenartney forest but was set upon by some MacDonalds from Glencoe who killed him and carried his severed head in a plaid back towards Loch Earn, where they called in at the Stewarts of Ardvorlich to demand refreshments.
Alexander Stewart was not at home but his wife Margaret (sister to John Drummond) gave her visitors some bread and cheese to sustain them whilst she prepared something more substantial.
Upon her return to the group she was met with the horrifying sight of her brother's head set upon her table, his mouth having been stuffed with bread and cheese. The poor woman, pregnant at the time, was understandably demented and fled into the hills (where she roamed for some days before being found).
The MacDonalds then made their way to the MacGregors of Balquhidder at the western end of Loch Earn who swore a holy oath that they would share in the guilt of Drummond's death. It was this act that brought about the ensuing slaughter and persecution of the MacGregors
The child that Margaret Stewart was carrying became Major James Stewart of Ardvorlich and under the name of Allan Macaulay was the hero in Scott's The Legend of Montrose. It was said that John never spared a MacGregor and that "his Mother's sufferings always came before him like blood into the eyes".


There is a commemorative stone to the death of Major James Stewart, when his clansmen were carrying the body down the lochside to St. Fillans to be buried in the old saint's kirk at Dundurn. The MaGregors, having sworn to avenge themselves for his harryings and killings, were determined to cut off his head and set out to intercept the funeral party.
Their intention was betrayed and the Stewarts secretly buried the Major by the lochside and, when times were quieter, returned to take the body to Dundurn.
Another commemorative stone stands testament to a raid on Ardvorlich by seven MacDonalds, guided by a MacGregor. Stewart and his men killed all seven of the MacDonalds and dragged their bodies down to the lochside for burial. Many years later, when the present lochside road was being built, seven skeletons were unearthed and have since been re-interred nearby.

One mile east of the bridge over the River Earn is a small settlement around the old railway bridge. Here in 1803 road builders uncovered a large number of skeletons, metal buttons and decaying rags of clothing. Tradition has it that a dozen or more MacGregors were hanged here by the vengeful James Stewart.


Lest it be thought that the Stewarts where always the blameless victims of clan violence, it must be said that they were as bad as the next clan when it came to thieving and creating mayhem! In 1592 a complaint was made against Alistair Stewart for cattle stealing - admittedly in grand style since he and his followers invaded neighbouring land "with twa bagpypis blawand befoir thame".
The pipers were said to be the famous McCrimmonds and the haul on one such raid was 254 cows, 66 horses and 300 sheep!


St Fillans

© The Perfect Solution

Last updated November 1999