Ardvreck Castle on Loch Assynt, Assynt, Scotland. Ardvreck Castle on Loch Assynt, Assynt, Scotland Stretched Canvas Poster Print by Grant Dixon, 24x32.
was devil in disguise
on a rocky promontory jutting into Loch Assynt are the ruins
of Ardvreck Castle. The desolate scenery is a fit setting for
a stronghold with a history of treachery, betrayal and intrigue
with the devil. From its beginnings in the last decade of the
sixteenth century it was reputed to have evil associations.
The land had come to the Macleods through marriage with the
Macneil heiress. Macleod had long envied his relatives of Dunvegan
Castle and wanted nothing more than to own a castle at least
devil saw his opportunity and offered to provide means to build
the castle; but at a price--the soul of Macleod. Stiff bargainingfollowed
but Macleod was wily enough to hold out for immortality to enjoy
his castle. That was too much for the devil and negotations might
have been broken off had not Macleod's daughter appeared on the
scene. The devil resumed his bargaining -- this time offering
to build the castle in return for the maiden's hand in marriage.
Her father hastily sealed the bargain. The wedding took place.
The castle was built. All seemed well -- until the young bride
learned just who her bridegroom was. The Devil in disguise! In
terror she cast herself out the window onto the rocks beneath,
and her ghost wanders the ruins to this day, weeping bitterly.
the Macleods of Assynt got their castle -- but little joy did
it bring them. Legend tells of a wicked old crone who lived in
the castle and caused much unhappiness in the area through her
malicious "claiking" tongue. She was reputed to be a
'familiar' of the devil, but went too far in her slanderous gossiping
one day, and was challenged by her victim's brother -- a young
man who had studied the occult and the black arts. Their confrontation
ended with the appearance of the devil himself who completely
vindicated the young man's sister -- but the area was left desolate
for years. No crops would grow and no fish lived in the loch.
best known tale is one which persisted in the Highlands for centuries,
and was told and retold as a story of treachery and betrayal so
contemptible that it is said that from that terrible day the family
fortunes declined. It happened in 1650. Montrose had landed in
the North and had mustered a force in support of his king. Defeated,
however, and deserted by his foreign mercenaries, he became a
fugitive. It is from here that versions of what occurred differ,
probably to remain a mystery forever.
most widely held belief was that Montrose sought sanctuary at
Ardvreck and was welcomed and offered protection. But Neil Macleod
was tempted by the reward and sent word to General Leslie where
Montrose could be found. Montrose was taken and ignominiously
led off. his feet tied under the horse's belly, to imprisonment
and execution at Edinburgh. Macleod's reward was £20,000
and 400 bols of meal -- and writers ever since have taken delight
in recounting that 'the meal was sour'
vile act of treachery is commemorated in verse:
A traitor sold him to his foes,
o deed of deathless shame.'
The accusation has always been hotly denied by the Macleods,
and recent research has cast doubt upon the motives of his loudest
accuser, who, within the next twenty years raided the castle
and harried Macleod until he was driven from Ardvreck, and the
Mackenzies took possession. The ghost of a tall man, dressed
in grey, has been seen among the ruins on several occasions.
He seems a friendly fellow and willingly enters into conversation
with any brave enough to approach him --provided they speak
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