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A Scottish Ghost Story of Yore


A Legend of the West Highlands

This is the tale of the man

Who heard a word in the night

In the land of the heathery hills,

In the days of the feud and the fight.

By the sides of the rainy sea,

Where never a stranger came,

On the awful lips of the dead,

He heard the outlandish name.

It sang in his sleeping ears

It hummed in his waking head:

The name ~ Ticonderoga,

the utterance of the dead.

Original Inverawe House Late 1800s

Original Inverawe House Late 1800s

The Legend of Inverawe

The ancient castle of Inverawe stands by the banks of the Awe, in the midst of the wild and picturesque scenery of the Western Highlands.  Late one evening, before the middle of the last century, (18th)  as the laird, Duncan Campbell, sat alone in the old hall, there was a loud knocking at the gate, and, opening it, he saw a stranger, with torn clothing and kilt besmeared with blood, who in a breathless voice begged for asylum.  He went on to say that he had killed a man in a fray, and that the pursuers were at his heels.  Campbell promised to shelter him.  “Swear on your dirk!” said the stranger, and Campbell swore.  He then led him to a secret recess in the depths of the castle.  Scarcely was he hidden again there was a loud knocking at the gate, and two armed men appeared.  “Your cousin, Donald, has been murdered, and we are looking for the murderer.”  Campbell, remembering his oath, professed to have no knowledge of the fugitive, and the men went on their way.  The laird, in great agitation, lay down to rest in a large, dark room, where, at length he fell asleep.  Waking suddenly in bewilderment and terror, he saw the ghost of the murdered Donald standing by his bedside and heard a hollow voice pronounce the words, “Inverawe! Inverawe!  blood has been shed.  Shield not the murderer.”  In the morning, Campbell went to the hiding  place of the guilty man and told him that he could harbor him no longer.  “You have sworn on your dirk!” he replied; and the laird of Inverawe, greatly perplexed and troubled, made a compromise between conflicting duties, promised not to betray his guest, led him to the neighboring mountain (Ben Croatian) and hid him in a cave.


Black Watch Memorial Library

“Thrice have you seen me, brother,

But now shall see me no more,

Till you meet your angry fathers

Upon the farther shore.

Thrice have I spoken, and now,

Before the cock be heard,

I take my leave forever

With the naming of a word.

It shall sing in your sleeping ears,

It shall hum in your waking head,

The name ~~ Ticonderoga,

And the warning of the dead.”

In the next night, as he lay tossing in feverish slumbers, the same stern voice awoke him, the ghost of his cousin Donald stood again at his bedside, and again he heard the same appalling words, “Inverawe! Inverawe! blood has been shed.  Shield not the murderer!”  At break of day he hastened, in strange agitation, to the cave, but it was empty; the stranger had gone.  At night, as he strove in vain to sleep, the vision appeared once more, ghastly pale, but less stern of aspect than before. “Farewell, Inverawe!” it said.  “Farewell till we meet at Ticonderoga!”

“Far have I been and much have I seen,

Both as a man and boy,

But never have I set forth a foot

On so perilous an employ.”

It fell in  the dusk of the night

When unco things betide,

That he was aware of a captain-man

Drew near to the waterside.

He was aware of his coming

Down in the gloaming alone;

And he looked in the face of the man

And lo! the face was his own.