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Ancient History

The village of Melfort at the head of Loch Melfort is situated in the part of Argyll known as Nether Lorn – “a land of weathered escarpments running south-westwards to end in chains of scattered islets and dark splintered reefs and skerries”

Numerous cairns, Iron-Age forts and dunes provide reminders of an ancient past, whilst several properties on the shores of Loch Melfort bear witness to the domination of the Campbell family in more recent times – Craignish Castle, Arduaine, Melfort, Ardenstur, Kilchoan, Degnish, and Ardmaddy were all at one time or another the property of various Campbell lairds.

The Campbells never had it easy in this “debatable land” and many a marauding band of raiders have left their memorials to these blood-thirsty days, often in the form of funeral cairns or standing stones. In Gillies’ book “Nether Lorn and Its Neighbourhood (1909)” we read of one such example of this: “After his futile attempt upon Craignish Castle, Alexander MacDonald, in his progress northwards invaded Melfort. The Laird, John Campbell, was absent with his retainers in attendance upon Argyll, and his wife, endeavouring to appease the fierce enemies of her Clan, gave orders to have a sumptuous repast laid in the mansion house, then at Ardenstur, for their  entertainment while she and all the inhabitants hid themselves in the woods and mountain retreats. The hostile army, having arrived at the  house, regaled themselves with the food andd drink provided and being in high good humour, MacDonald issued strict injunctions  to his men not to meddle with any of Melfort’s property. Shortly after leaving and as he ascended the pass over into the  neighbouring district of Kilninver, he noticed the house in flames. In great fury he caused enquiry to be made and hanged  three Irishmen who were found guilty upon a gallows erected upon the summit of the hill known as Kenmore at a place called Toma-Chrochaidh (The Mound of Hanging).”