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Scottish Traitor

The name of the laird of Assynt lives in Scottish history with that of Sir John Menteith, who sold Wallace. It is remembered as the solitary case of a Gael who betrayed a suppliant for gold. Ian Lom, the bard of Keppoch, has
left bitter verses on the ‘stripped tree of the false apples, Neil’s son of woeful Assynt’. He made little of his infamy. His lands were raided by Glengarry, the Macleods, and the penitent Mackenzies. After the restoration he
was a good deal in gaol, and was twice tried for his life. His castle was burned, and no children survived to bear his name. He was awarded 2. 5,000 pounds Scots for his services, of which 20,000 were to be paid in coin and
the rest in oatmeal. It does not appear that he ever got the money, but the receipts for the meal were long extant, and Highland tradition is positive that two-thirds of it were sour.

John Buchan (1875—1940), Montrose. Neil Macleod of Assynt handed the Marquis of Montrose over to the Covenant leaders after the Battle of Carbisdale in 1650. The destruction of his castle of Ardvreck is itself the
subject of a legend, recorded in Polson’s Scottish Witchcraft Lore: A ball was given in the castle one Saturday night, and the fun, which was fast and
furious, was continued to the early hours of the Sunday morning. The revellers, to prevent the dawn reminding them of the approach of the Sunday morning, had heavy blinds drawn across the windows, and the cocks’ tongues
cut out lest they should herald the morning. A dispute, however, arose between some of the guests, bloodshed was threatened, and it was agreed to ask the presence of the devil in bodily form to settle the matter. After the
chanting of incantations, the Prince of Darkness did appear, but at the same moment the castle was found to be on fire, and in a few minutes the whole building was a mass of blackened ruins. It has never been rebuilt.

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