Clan Cameron members have embarked on finding the burial spot of Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, 17th clan chief, with hopes of creating a fitting memorial to the man described as a “true legendary leader” of his people.
Sir Ewen, who is remembered for biting out the throat of an adversary and killing the last wild wolf in Scotland, died from a high fever in February 1719 aged 90.
While most believe he was buried in the now ruined old church at Kilmallie in Lochaber, there is only faint documentary evidence to confirm this.
No grave marker for Sir Ewen exists with it likely destroyed after the Battle of Culloden by Hanoverian forces who ripped their way through Lochaber following their victory over the Jacobites in April 1746.
Thomas Cameron, commissioner of the Clan Cameron Association of North America, who is based in Chicago, said : “Sir Ewen was a canny, sharped-toothed 17th Century gentleman.
“His many descendants and modern-day clansfolk would love to provide a fitting resting place for him.
“Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel’s final resting place remains a slight mystery, but the tale of how his grave, then more than 25 years old, was probably lost in the aftermath of Culloden may be the true tragedy.”
Following Culloden, Old Achnacarry, a traditional home of the Cameron chiefs, was burnt to the ground along with a huge ash tree at Kilmallie which was revered by Lochiel and his men for many generations.
Sir Ewen’s long fighting career included the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 and an onslaught at Inverlochy in the early 1650, where he led an attack on dozens of Cromwell’s men sent to build a new garrison in the Highlands.
Despite this battle record, legend has it that Sir Ewen never lost a drop of blood or received a wound in conflict.
Mr Cameron added: “I also tend to appreciate how he ended the legendary 360 year long bloody feud with Clan Mackintosh, mostly via strategic acts near the River Arkaig.
“He was a true leader, a legend to many that we great take pride in.”
Tracing the grave of Sir Ewen has been hampered by the lack of records on this period of Clan Cameron history.
Lady Lochiel, the wife of Sir Ewen’s grandson, is said to have taken batches of important family papers in wooden boxes from Old Achnacarry to a hiding place in the hills to save them from post-Culloden raids.
However, they were destroyed after taking on rain water with cattle breaking the boxes open, Mr Cameron said.
The search is now underway for any further documentary evidence of Sir Ewen’s burial site.
It is hoped that archaeological survey work may be carried out at the churchyard at Kilmallie to help determine the location of the grave.