A Battle of Kings Fought On Our Doorstep

Perched high above Loch Turret are some of the most picturesque peaks in Strathearn. For many years visitors and locals alike have walked from the foot of the Turrett Dam past Creag Chaissean towards Choinneachain, the Blue Crags and the source of the Barvick Burn. 

Picture of the Cairn taken by Crieff author and ley line expert David Cowan 

Not the highest of local hills at little over two and half thousand feet but undoubtedly one of the most interesting. In 2005 the stone cairn from which the hill gets its name celebrated a unique anniversary. The ordnance survey map proclaims both in English and our native Gaelic that it is King Kenneth’s Cairn. 

Who was Kenneth and why does this lonely peak have a cairn in his memory?  One thousand years ago (the actual date is subject to debate) a great battle was fought between Kenneth lV, King of Scots, and his cousin Malcolm. Kenneth was known as Kenneth the Grim or Kenneth the Brown from his dark, swarthy complexion. Malcolm who was in possession of what is now Cumbria had fallen out with his relation over his claim to the throne. He alleged that his father had settled the dynasty in his favour and that Kenneth was a usurper. A civil war ensued and Malcolm invaded Strathearn at the head of a substantial army. Battle was engaged in the area of ground below where Ochtertyre House now stands and the ruins of Castle Cluggy on the north bank of Loch Monzievaird . 

Castle Cluggy adjacent to the Battle of Monzievaird

The Church at the time tried to intervene and attempted to negotiate a compromise, proposing that Kenneth reign for his lifetime and on his death be succeeded by Malcolm or his heirs. Alas both parties ignored this peace saving move and on the 25th of March 1005 battle raged.   Kenneth and his son Giric were slain.  Malcolm became King as Malcolm ll. He reigned for some thirty years and in this time the differences between the Picts and the Scots was consolidated thus laying the foundations of a stable kingdom. Up until this time succession to the throne was by a system known as tanistry. The dying king named the person to succeed him from one of the two family lines (maternal or paternal). Malcolm's solution to this was quite simple. On Kenneth’s death, he murdered all his surviving male heirs! The somewhat incestuous nature of succession was not however entirely eradicated. Kenneth’s granddaughter had a son Luloch prior to her marrying Macbeth (and becoming Lady Macbeth). . When Macbeth died Luloch, great grandson of Kenneth became King of Scotland.
Loch Monzievaird 

The ancient cairn on the hill is a sad reminder of Strathearn’s violent past. The slain King’s body does not, as some sources suggest, lie beneath it but was removed and buried on the Island of Iona, the traditional resting place of Scotland’s monarchs. 



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