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Glenbuchat Heritage

63 Muats Stone and the Muat Cameron Feud
The Glenbuchat Image Library
63 Muats Stone and the Muat Cameron Feud

Lady Brux provides a good example of the implacable, vindictive spirit common to the women of the sixteenth century. Her husband, Cameron of Brux, had agreed to meet one Muat of Abergeldie, with whom he was at feud, each being attended by twelve horse only. Muat treacherously took advantage of the literal meaning of the words, and provided each of his twelve horses with two riders. In the fight that ensued at Drumgaudrum, near the Don, Brux and his party were outnumbered and slain. His widow thereupon offered the hand of her daughter, now heiress of the Brux estates, to whomsoever should avenge her husband’s death. A young gallant named Robert Forbes challenged Muat to single combat, and killed him. On presenting himself to Lady Brux, that bloodthirsty old lady clasped him to her bosom, declaring that the marriage should take place at once, while Muat’s gore was yet reeking upon the bridegroom’s knife. [Don: A Poem, p.16. (London, 1655.)]

The story of the Muat Cameron Feud

The Earl of Mar, having had to fly from his home on Deeside, was wandering among the wilds of Badenoch and Lochaber. One night, when famishing for want of food, he came upon a lonely hut, and craved shelter for the night. The kind-hearted Highlander at once admitted him, and, whether judging by his appearance or otherwise that his guest was no ordinary man; he killed the only cow that he had to make provision for him. By and bye the time came when the Earl could return home, and, not forgetting the kindness which he had received, he gave him an invitation to visit him at Mar Castle. Cameron did so, and as a recompense for his kindness, he was granted certain lands in Kildrummy, on the Don. As time rolled on, the Camerons began to wax powerful; but a quarrel with Muat, a Deeside chief, put an end to the race at one fell swoop.

Brux is the seat of the ancient Camerons, who were engaged in a quarrel with Muat, Laird of Abergeldy, who at that time possessed most part of that country which is called Braemar upon the river Dee. To put an end to their disputes Cameron, Laird of Brux, and Muat of Abergeldy agreed to meet at the hill of Drumgaudrum near the river Don and to bring twelve horsemen on each side and there decide their quarrel by the sword. Muat treacherously brought two men on each horse so that they were two to one. Brux and all his sons and most of his party were killed. On the other side, Muat's two sons, the Laird of Macfadden, and several others were killed upon the spot and were all buried there which place bears the name of Macfadden to this day.

Brux left no children but one daughter named Katherine under the guardianship of the Earl of Mar, against whom Muat had rebelled. Although his vassal, Brux's taking the earl's side was the cause of the quarrel. The young lady made a vow never to marry any but him who would revenue the death of her father. The Lord Forbes had four sons, one of them, falling in love with Katherine Cameron, undertook to revenge the death of the Camerons. Muat hearing of this sent him a challenge to meet him on the 8th of May at a place called Badenyon neat the head of Glenbucket. They both kept the appointment, but being afraid of treachery, each brought a great number of their friends and followers along with them. When they met, to prevent more bloodshed, they agreed on a single combat and both parties solemnly vowed to live in peace with whoever of them should be victorious.

Another Version
Of this event tradition gives an account somewhat different and with additional circumstances, of which the following only are perhaps worthy of notice, viz: That Katherine Cameron, after her father's death lived under the immediate care or guardianship of her mother Lady Brux, a woman animated by a spirit suited to the times, and who exasperated by the treacherous murder of her husband and successive outrages of the Muat clan, is stated to have made the vow ascribed with less probability to the youthful Katherine. “That whoever should bring to her Muat's head or evidence of having killed him should have her daughter and the estate of Brux” Such a prize so to be won could not remain long uncontended, for Robert Forbes the youngest of Drimminor's sons, a warm admirer of the young lady, challenged Muat, fought and killed him with his dirk or skien after a long and desperate contest, as narrated in the poem. Going directly from the field of battle to the house of his fair one and, bearing no doubt ample credentials of his zeal and success, Forbes was proceeding to claim the promised reward and to deprecate the postponement of his happiness to any distant period, when Lady Brux in a tone and manner sufficiently characteristic of her feelings on the occasion, settled at once all dispute as to the time and preparatory ceremonials of the marriage by declaring that Kate Cameron should go to bed with Rob Forbes “as lang's Muat's blood was reekin on his gully”. Of this arrangement, report sayeth, that the gallant Forbes expressed entire approbation and that his blushing bride did not permit the maiden scruples she was about to make to stand a moment in competition with her filial obedience

Muats Stone
In 'The Book Of Glenbuchat' Douglas Simpson states that Badenyon is said to have been the property of the Muats of Abergeldie. This perhaps explains the choice of this site for the challenge.
At this place Forbes killed Muat and here there was a monument set up which is called Clachmuat, or Muat's stone to this day. The place where Muat fell is marked by a grey stone, and the hill on the opposite side of the Bucket is still called Ladylea, the young heiress having watched the progress of the struggle from that eminence.
Muat's Stone, a rough undressed stone extant in 1866 and said to mark the place where a local laird Muat was killed in a sword fight with another laird. About 1868, Alexander Walker dug around the stone and found a late 14/15th century dagger which is now in Banff Museum. Muat's Stone was extant until about 15 years ago when a landslide either swept it away or buried it. The tradition is still known locally.
Visited by OS (N K B) 4 September 1968.
Nothing now remains to indicate the precise position of this stone, which originally lay near the foot of the S-facing scarp of the river-cliff that rises above the Coulins Burn at a point 260m ENE of Glenbuchat Lodge (OS 6-inch map, Aberdeenshire, 1st and 2nd editions, 1869 and 1903 respectively, sheet l). Such a location is consistent with Simpson's account, which describes it as standing '...within a plantation on the right-hand side of the drive leading to the Upper Lodge, ... [in a] ... natural amphitheatre formed by a deep embayment of the old terrace of the Coulin's Burn'. Simpson reports that the original stone was broken up for building purposes, but was then replaced with another.
Visited by RCAHMS (ATW), 15 May 1997.
W D Simpson 1942
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Picture added on 20 April 2010 at 16:17
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History Texts

126 Cattle Rustling in the Glen88 1696 Poll Book Belnacraig87 Original 1696 Poll Book91 Wandering in the Highlands 188185 Sketch of 'Old Glenbucket' about 174575 Peatfold70 New Statistical Account of Strathdon 184571 Descendants of the Great Glenbucket69 My First Detachment -The Glenbucket Inn4 St Margarets Chronicle Free afternoon Glenbuchat