Monday, 5 December, 2022
HomeScottish History BlogHow a bad case of flatulence saw the Macleans gain the lands...

How a bad case of flatulence saw the Macleans gain the lands of Ardgour

Donald Maclean and the Maclean seizure of Ardgour

In the 1430s, while residing at Ardtornish and ill with an upset stomach which caused him ‘not to smell well’, Alexander MacDonald, Lord of the Isles was visited by his barons. During the meeting, the barons were overcome and ‘were offended by a noisome smell’.

Believing that the dogs present in the room were the culprits the barons chased them out. However, MacMaster of Ardgour whispered to the others that ‘it is the man not the dog’.

MacDonald overheard him and was determined to avenge the insult.

MacDonald encouraged the landless Donald Maclean, son of Lachlan ‘Bronnach’ MacLean of Duart, to ‘leap the dyke where it was lowest’.

Taking the hint, Donald Maclean set sail from Mull with a group of followers and landed in  Ardgour where they set about massacring the inhabitants including MacMaster.

MacMaster’s eldest son escaped the carnage but was caught trying to cross Loch Linnhe at Corran Ferry and was killed. The ferryman had been out fishing on the loch and ignored the young MacMaster’s calls.

When the ferryman came ashore with his catch Maclean had him killed for disloyalty. Donald Maclean is reputed to have said that  ‘any man who is not loyal to his chief is not worthy of life’. The unfortunate ferryman was then hanged from his own oars.

Donald Maclean then took possession of Ardgour, which was granted by a Charter issued by Alexander MacDonald and later confirmed by King James I.

The estate of Ardgour sits on the southern shore of Locheil and extends from Garvan to Inversanda on the western shore of Loch Linnhe. Loch Linnhe is the sea loch that leads from the Firth of Lorn and the Sound of Mull into Lochaber. The narrowest point of the loch is at Corran.

It was just to the west of these strategically vital narrows that the Macleans of Ardgour had their residence and where they could control the shipping on the loch.

Last Updated on 29 July 2022 by Neil Ritchie

Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie is the founder and editor of Neil is also the editor of other online publications covering military history, defence and security. He can be found on Twitter: @NeilRitchie86.

Related articles


80th anniversary of the Royal Marines Commandos marked at Spean Bridge

Hundreds of commandos gathered in Lochaber to mark the 80th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Marines Commandos. The gathering took place at the Commando Memorial near Spean Bridge in the heart of Commando Country. Surrounded by hills and...

The Scottish Highland Clans: Origins, Decline and Transformation

The Highland, Gaelic-speaking clans are a vital part of Scotland’s history. They also shape how the world imagines Scotland today. This course uses the expertise of University of Glasgow academics to explain the structure, economy and culture of the clans....

most read

Massacre of Glencoe

In the Massacre of Glencoe of 13 February 1692, 120 Scots Army soldiers from the Earl of Argyll’s Regiment of Foot fell upon the Macdonalds of Glencoe. Under the command of Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon they carried out...

The Spanish Galleon of Tobermory Bay

Following their defeat at the hands of the English navy in the summer of 1588, the surviving ships of the Spanish Armada were forced to make their way home around the north and west coasts of Scotland. Several ships...