IIn the early 1400's a son was born to Sir Duncan Campbell and his wife Margaret, a granddaughter of King Robert III. His
name was Colin, and was known to the Campbells of Glen Orchy as Cailean dubh na Roimhe - Black Colin of Rome. Black Colin
was responsible for much of the building of Kilchurn Castle, which sits beneath Cruachan Ben at the northern end of Loch Awe.
The reference to Rome in his title signifies that he visited there three times. An account from the Black Book of Taymouth
refers to a stone that he carried on his journeys: Ane stone of the quantity of a hen's eg set in silver, whilk Sir Coline
Campbell first Laird of Glenorchy woir when he fought in battel at Rhodes agaynst the Turks, he being one of the knychts of
The Scots were fierce Crusaders, and it was not unusual for them to carry charms with them on their journeys to the Holy
Land. The stone mentioned above was the one that Black Colin took with him on his journey as a Crusader, which brings us to
the story at hand.
Colin learned of the Crusades and vowed to go. His young wife, Margaret, was not keen to see him leave but Colin was adamant.
Before he left, he had a ring made, inscribed with both their names. He broke the ring in two and gave Margaret one half,
saying, If you come to receive my half of the ring you will know me to be dead.' He then took ship at Leith for Rome where,
after an audience with the Pope, he left to join the knights fighting at Rhodes.'
Seven years passed. Lady Margaret was besieged by suitors during that time, who insisted that Colin must be dead. She
replied that she had never received the token that Colin had promised to have sent upon his death, and that he must, therefore,
still be alive.
Unknown to Lady Margaret, one of her suitors, Baron Neil MacCorquodale, had
intercepted messages that Coling had sent, killing the messengers. He remained steadfast in his pursuit of her, despite
her refusal to marry him, as the lands of Glen Orchy would add nicely to his Barony.
Despite her refusal to describe the token, MacCorquodale came up with a plan. He arrived to visit her with a raggedly
dressed man who said that he bore a letter with news for the Lady of Glen Orchy. When she opened it she found that it described
the death of her husband.
Is there no token?,' she asked.
There is no token,' said the man. But I received word in Rome from the only survivor of the Campbells who accompanied
your husband. He told me that, as he lay dying, your lord entrusted a token to this man. However, the man was sorely wounded
in a battle with the Saracens after that, and the token was taken from him.'
Lady Margaret was overwhelmed by grief. But, as time went by, MacCorquodale remained attentive, and continued to press
for her hand. Finally, she agreed to marry him as soon as the tower of Kilchurn Castle was completed.
Despite her agreement, she still retained hope that Colin would return. She ordered the workmen to build as slowly as
Another woman also had doubts about Colin's death; it was his old foster-mother. She disliked and mistrusted MacCorquodale,
and hated the idea of him taking her lord's place. She called her eldest son to her and told him to go to Rome, and find out
what he could about Colin.
Colin's foster-brother made his way to Rome, where he came face to face with Colin. He told him what was occuring at home,
and they immediately took ship for Scotland.
When they landed Colin sent his foster-brother home alone, told him to tell his mother that he had been unsuccessful,
and said that he, Colin, would follow in disguise. Dressed as a beggar, Colin followed him to the home of his elderly foster-mother.
Unrecognized by her, Colin asked for hospitality of the house, which was readily granted. Colin then revealed himself to his
foster- mother, and asked for news of the wedding. She told him that it was planned for the following day.
The next day dawned and found Colin making his way to the castle in his beggar's disguise. He arrived to find that the
wedding feast was under way, and entered the hall, seating himself at the lowest table. When wine was brought to the table
he announced in a loud voice that he would only accept a drink from the Lady of Glen Orchy, herself.
While some found this declaration by a beggar offensive, the lady made her way to the apparent beggar and offered him
a cup. Colin, took the cup from her hand, drained it in one gulp and handed it back to her. Margaret looked down into the
cup, where she saw his half of the token ring. Startled, she looked at the beggar, who raised his eyes to meet hers, and Margaret
saw her husband who had left so many years before.
Their reunion was a time of great joy for the two of them, as it was for Colin's clansmen. Obviously, the wedding was
called off, the wedding feast turned into a celebration of Colin's return and the news was spread throughout Glen Orchy.
MacCorquodale was terrified at Colin's return but, as he had already accepted the hospitality of the house, he was allowed
to return to his own lands unharmed. That did not, however, stop Colin's clansmen from later hunting MacCorquodale down and
killing him for his duplicity.