He was known as the Wolf of Badenoch – or sometimes the Celtic Atilla.
The cruel rampages of Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, were deadly – and his appetite for destruction of his foes simply terrifying.
As he rampaged through the north, he set fire to the towns of Forres and Elgin, where the cathedral was torched and chaplains and canons burnt out of their homes.
It is believed that Pluscarden Abbey was also lit by the Wolf as he fought back against the influence of the Bishop of Moray.
The driver for much of his rage was his marriage to Euphemia I, Countess of Ross, who was unable to bear him a legitimate child. It is said he fathered up to 40 offspring by other women.
His anger, combined with the gift of land and power from his father, King Robert II, who made him the Earl of Buchan in 1382 and the Crown’s chief law officer in the north of Scotland, made him a beastly threat – even by the standards of 14th Century Scotland.
The Wolf’s territory stretched from Moray to the Pentland Firth – with much of its people to feel the full force of this “avarious and cruel” figure, according to Sir John Scott Keltie in his 1875 publication a History of the Scottish Highlands.
In 1389, by which time the Earl was bedding down with his mistress, Mariota Athyn, at his secluded island home of Lochindorb Castle, the Wolf’s touch paper was lit when the Bishop of Moray, Alexander Bur, refused to annul his marriage. He was later to excommunicate the Wolf.
The Earl was “exasperated….to such a degree of fury” that he was reduced key parts of his territoriy to ash.
“In the month of May 1390 he descended from his heights and brun the town of Forres, with the choir of the church and the manse of the archdeacon,” Keltie wrote.
“And in June following, he burnt the town of Elgin, the church of St Giles, the hospital of Maison-Dieu and the cathedral, with 18 homes of the canons and chaplains in the college of Elgin.
“He also plundered these churches of their sacred utensils and vestments which he carried off.”
It is likely that the Priory of Pluscarden was burned at the same time with traces of fire from around the 1390s still seen today in the building .
The Wolf, whose other homes incuded Drumin Castle near Glenlivet, Castle Garth near Glen Lyon, and Ruthven Castle near Kingussie, was prosecuted and punished by his father and was ultimately absolved of his crimes to be received back by the church.
Some records state the The Wolf of Badenoch died in 1394, although others maintain is was in 1406, when it is believed that he played chess with the devil at Ruthven Castle.
Legend has it he was visited by a tall man dressed in black and the pair played through the night, with a storm conjured when the visitor called “check” and “checkmate”.
In the morning, the Wolf was found dead in the banqueting hall and his men too found lifeless outside the castle walls. The tomb of the Wolf can be found in Dunkeld Cathedral.
Depiction of the blaze at Elgin Cathedral which was lit by Alexander Stewart, the Earl of Buchan – otherwise known as the Wolf of Badenoch.
The tomb of the Earl of Buchan at Dunkeld Cathedral
Six ancient myths from Scottish islands http://www.scotsman.com/heritage/people-places/six-ancient-myths-from-the-scottish-islands-1-4171756
The myth of the Hebridean mermaid http://www.scotsman.com/heritage/people-places/the-myth-of-the-hebridean-mermaid-1-4073947
History of Scottish surnames from the Isle of Skye
Scottish clan profile: MacDonald
GUINEVERE’S GRAVE AND PICTISH STONES
The village of Meigle lies just thirty minutes north east of Perth, & for those interested in Arthurian legends or Pictish stones. In the graveyard of the local kirk is a mound with a plaque. It reads Vanora’s Mound.
Vanora’s Mound Plaque
This mound is by tradition the burial
place of Vanora or Guinevere, the
legendary queen of King Arthur.
The stone claimed to be her
momunent is now situated within
Meigle Museum at the south west
corner of the churchyard.
Local legend goes something like this.. King Arthur was leaving for Rome on Crusade and left his nephew, Mordred, as regent of the kingdom and Guinevere in his care. Mordred soon took Guinevere as his wife, and then made himself king of the Pictish kingdom. Arthur learned of this treason and returned with his army. They battled until Arthur killed Mordred, but was himself mortally wounded. He died before Guinevere was able to seek his absolve. She was arrested and held at the fort at Barry Hill nearby. She was tried and found guilty of treason and adultery. She was torn to pieces by a pack of wild dogs as her punishment and buried in the kirkyard. A curse was placed on her burial mound, and it is said that to this day if a young woman walks upon the mound she will be barren.
Arthur’s 12 Battles in Scotland https://arthurianscotland.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/arthurs-12-battles-in-scotland/comment-page-1/#comment-5