Keppochs of Achnacochine or Achnancoichean

Achnacochine Field of the Disputants: From The East Highland Way – Amenities Guide

As mentioned in my previous post, my ancestor Aonghus Ban Innse of Inch (Fair-haired Angus of Inch) married Christina Macdonald, of Achnacoichine. She was the daughter of Archibald Macdonald, 3rd of ‘Achnacoichine’ according to my cousin Hamish’s family tree (source: Burke’s Landed Gentry, 1937, under “Macdonell of Keppock”). I was interested in the spelling of Achnacoichine because the Clan Macdonald of Keppoch entry on the Wikipedia shows Achnancoichean as being a one of the ‘Principal Cadet Families’. I had been struggling to find Achnacoichine, but thanks to comments from Doug on my Fantasy ancestry road trip to the highlands – part 1 post I realised spelling might be part of the problem, e.g. Inch is also spelt Insch and Insse. I found a reference on the Clan Cameron Reference Guide below that made me think that Achnancoichean was another spelling of Achnacochine:


“Field of the Disputants.”  This location was once a favored rendezvous place for cattle reivers, while on their way to foras in either Perthshire or Strathspey.  Located southeast of Achluachrach, in the Braes of Lochaber.

  • Achnacochine
  • Achnacoichine
  • Achadh-nan-cothaichean

= Achnancoichean?

I found this photo of the Achnacochine or Field of the Disputants on the Glenrothes Hillwalkers Club Photo Gallery site before finding the ruins marked on the map above in The East Highland Way – Amenities Guide by Kevin Langan on ISSUU below:

Achnacochine or Field of the Disputants

I’m not sure if this is where my Macdonald of Achnacoichine ancestors hail from but, I have plotted it on GoogleMaps. It’s very close to the ancient burial grounds of my Keppoch Ancestors at Cille Choirill, and you can cross the Spean on the Monessie Gorge suspension bridge nearby, which would make a great walk.

The Monessie Gorge suspension bridge
Achnacochine is also in close proximity to where my other ancestors lived in the region around the same time, which are all located between Roybridge and Laggan (e.g.  Keppoch House, Torgulbin, Garvabeg, and Sherrobeg – see Fantasy ancestry road trip to the highlands – part 1 post). I’ve also noticed that many of the other principle cadet families of the Macdonald of Keppoch’s hail from nearby, such as Bohuntine, Cranachan, Fersit, Inverroy, and possibly Gellovie in Badenoch. Aberarder, Murlaggan and Tulloch seemed to be further away though, and I haven’t found Dalchosnie, Tullochrom, Clianaig, Tirnadris and Killiechonate yet.
Notes: I’ve done some cross referencing on spelling but not sure I’m any the wiser for doing so. Most of the sources I’ve found use  Achnancoichean rather than Achnacochine:
Melville Henry Massue Ruvigny Et Raineval’s The Jacobite Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage, and Grants of Honour, Extracted …:

Angus Ban married in Kilmonivaig in Lochaber in, 31st Marh 1752, Christina, daughter of Archibald Macdonald of Achnancoichean in Lochaber.

Alexander Mackenzie’s History of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles; with genealogies of the principal families of the name:

Angus Ban, married on the 31st of March, 1752, Christina, daughter of Archibald Macdonald of Ach-nan-coichean

Volume 3 of The Clan Donald by the Reverends Angus and Archibald MacDonald:

This family is descended from Angus, fifth son of Alastair nan Cleas X. of Keppoch, who gave him as a hostage to the Earl of Argyll in 1595. There was another family at Achnancoichean, descended, according to MacVurich, from John Cam, a natural son of Sir Alexander Macdonald of Lochalsh, known as ” Sliochd an larla,” no doubt on account of their descent from Alexander, Earl of Ross.

Volume 3 of The Clan Donald on Archibald IV of ‘Achnancoichean’:

He had several sons who emigrated to America, one of whom Angus, and a daughter, Christina, who married Angus Ban of Inch.

There seems to be some consistency in the spelling of ‘Achnancoichean’, although not sure this destroys my theory about this family hailing from ‘Achnacoichine’ on the Spean. I noticed the spelling my cousin Hamish uses (e.g. Christina Macdonald, of Achnacoichine), and it’s also used on the Clan MacFarlane site who cite the following:

  1. Macdonald genealogy, Roddy Macdonald of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh (no longer online)
  2. E-mail, From Don Thompson rec: 12 Dec 2012 MacFarlane information from Bruce MacFarlane & the Andersons from Mabel Manz
  3. Stirnet Genealogy, Peter Barns-Graham, Macdonald06

Interestingly, there’s a copy of Stirnet Genealogy’s Macdonald06 page here, and the ‘Achnancoichean’ spelling is also used:

Angus Macdonell or Macdonald of Insch, 17th of Keppoch d after 1819 m. Christina Macdonell or Macdonald dau of Angus Macdonell or Macdonald of Achnancoichean


7 thoughts on “Keppochs of Achnacochine or Achnancoichean

  1. I came across this by accident in the course of researching details of my forebears who were tenants of MacDonnell of Keppoch and migrated to Australia in 1848. They lived in the village of Achnacochine ( and there are various spellings as you have pointed out). I visited there in July, staying at the Glean Spean Lodge Hotel, but only had half a day to explore. I walked across the suspension bridge and along the river to the ruins of the village. The 1841 census has details of the family members and others then living at Achnacoichine. I should mention the curious fact that my forebears were Campbells, known as McGlasserich Campbells they had left their ancestral lands a couple of centuries before and were given protection by Keppoch. It seems likely some of them followed him in the rising of 1745 and survived Culloden, which the then chief of the MacDonnells (or MacDonalds) did not. My great grandmother, Sarah Campbell (nee MacIntosh) is buried in the churchyard at Cille Choirill
    This is why I was idly looking to see what there was online about the fate of the MacDonnells following Culloden. I see that Keppoch House was destroyed, but rebuilt, but most of the lands seem to have passed out of their control.
    I would like to revisit the area now I know more about it, but am not sure when I will have another opportunity, living in Australia, as I do!
    I would be interested in finding out more about the relationship of my ancestors with the MacDonalds in the century after Culloden.
    Ian Tonking (

    1. Thanks John. Think I have gone back as far as I can for now. Wish I had more time to look into family history as I find it fascinating.

      1. There is a record from the National Records of Scotland about Archibald McDonald, who would be both yours and my ancestor – I descend from his son Captain Angus MacDonald, who fought at Culloden and went to Canada. I’ll probably request a copy of this record.

        Country code GB
        Repository code 234
        Repository National Records of Scotland
        Reference CC2/8/49/9
        Title Archibald McDonald tacksman of Auchnacoighan (Achnacochine)

    2. john, My GGG Grandfather (Alasdair Ruadh MacDonald, Slioch an Taighe) left Achnachchine in 1816 for Mabou Cape Breton, NS with his wife and Family (3 sons and 5 daughters). i believe he was a drover. His family heritage was within the Bohuntin Farm, Glen Roy. Once at Mabou, he settle on Alpine Ridge and this family was known as the Ridge MacDonalds.
      Alasdair was the son of Angus, son of Angus. Any background info on these MacDonalds or Achanachochean would be greatly appreciated. Gary MacDonald (Boston USA)

  2. John; my GGG grandfather (Alasdair Rudah MacDonald (1769-1832), was born in Achanacochine, and took his family in 1816 to Mabou Cape Breton. There he carved out his farm on Alpine Ridge and became known for generations as the Ridge MacDonalds. He was of Slicoch an Traigh and a direct male descendant to Alasdair Carrich, founder of the Keppoch branch of MacDonalds.
    Alasdair Rudah was the son of Angus. Alasdair’s 2’nd son Allan an Ridge (my gg grandfather (1794-1868), continued the Bohuntin Keppoch tradition of music and poetry and was recognized as a creative poet and dubbed “the Robert Burnes” of Canada after his demise.
    I am very interested in your extensive genealogy of this family if you would make it available.
    BTW, Allan was born in Alt an Strothail (n). We have never identified this location. Any suggestions?
    My Best,
    Gary MacDonald (gb42 at verizon dot com)

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