McPhun's Cairn is depicted on old maps, lying on the eastern shore of Loch Fyne and just over half a mile north of the old jetty at Creggans Point. The cairn has been seen on maps dating from 1870, up to the 1960s, but seems to be omitted on later editions.
The spelling is uncertain, as there is a gravestone at Creggans which carries the inscription "THE BURYING PLACE OF THE MACPHUNN'S OF DRIPP", and this form is echoed in most period accounts, while maps usually show McPhun's Cairn.
The continued existence of the cairn is also in doubt, its absence from later mapping suggesting it may have been lost during past road widening schemes on the A815.
Half Hung Archie
The story of Half Hung Archie, Archibald MacPhunn of Dripp, dates from the 17th century, possibly 1608, with various versions being reported. Rather than favour any one account, these have been summarised below.
Archibald MacPhunn has been described as a local laird who fell on hard times, and survived with his wife by running a small ferry between Strachur and Inveraray across Loch Fyne. This route seems unlikely as the journey would have involved rowing almost five miles along the length of the loch. The trip from St Catherine's, which as almost across the loch from Inveraray, is about 1½ miles, would have been more realistic. The five mile walk would have been quicker and easier than rowing, even more so if undertaken by horse. That said, there is a reference to Lady Macphunn on the label of The Machphunn whisky, and the title would be expected to have come from her husband, if the story on the label is accurate.
Alternatively, he has been described as the blackguard of the MacPhunn family, who came to be known in the area as a notorious sheep stealer. His career came to an end when he was arrested, tried, found guilty and sentenced to hang by the neck at Inveraray Jail. On completion of the sentence, his body was cut down from from the gallows and returned to his wife for burial.
MacPhunn may have been lucky, although one account suggests the passing of a bribe, but while his wife (described as nursing a young baby at the time) was rowing his body home across the loch, she is said to seen it twitch. Tearing the shroud open, she mixed some of her own milk with some whisky (some accounts say brandy) and forced the mixture between his lips, causing him to revive by the time they reached shore.
Under Scottish Law, Archibald MacPhunn could not be hanged a second time for the same crime, and he lived on with his wife, to be buried with the rest of the MacPhunns of Dripp in the cemetery of Strachur Parish Church.
Those who have carried out more detailed research of the story report that MacPhunn was tried and hanged at Inveraray for murder, rather than sheep stealing, and that his burial in the church cemetery confirms the story of his revival, and that his eventual death was unrelated to criminal activity.
Today, the Creggans Inn stands near the spot where Archie MacPhunn reportedly reached shore, and where the bar and restaurant are named after him, and the cairn marks, or marked, the place where the MacPhunns landed, a few hundred yards north of the inn.
Transcript of Court Proceedings
Indeed Archie and his wife ran an Inn and he was hanged for the murder of a guest. The following transcript is courtesy of the Strachur Local History Society.
ARGYLL JUSTICIARY RECORDS 1664 – 1705 VOL.1 THE STAIR SOCIETY
82. 15 Jan. 1691 (Court at Inveraray: before Ardkinglas.) (34) Which day Archibald M’Phune of Dreip being entred upon panel dilated accused and persued at the instance of Alexander Campbell of Leckuarie, Charles Campbell of Stroneskir coussen germans to umquhill Duncan Campbell in Kenlochlean for themselves and in name of his remanent kinn and relations and Robert Duncanson procurator fiscall of the said Justice Court for their majesties interest who compearing personally to persue him for the murder and slaughter of the said umquhill Duncan Campbell contained in the said panel his indictment whereof the tenor follows forasmuchas by the Divine Law of the omnipotent God Laws of all weel governed Kingdomes and Commmon wealths Laws Acts of Parliament and constant practiques of this nation the cryme of murder and manslaughter is esteemed most atrocious and of ane odious nature severly punishable with the loss of lyfe and confiscatione of the goods of the committers thereof notwithstanding it is of verity that upon the last day of December last or ane or other of the dayes of that moneth the said Duncan Campbell with severall others his neighbours being upon their way homeward from Edinburgh came to the said Archibald M’Phune his house being ane ordinary Innes for taking refreshment in their journey And there upon the samen last day of December they sitting in ane room in his house at table and he with them without any cause offence or injury done to him by the said umquhill Duncan or any of the company he of ane setled purpose and intent to bereave the said Duncan of his lyfe did most barberouslie and cruelly strike at him and stobb him with his durk at or near the heart giving him thereby ane deadly wound the blood issuing out in great quantity and whereby he dyed immediately And he so soon as he gave the said unhappie and fatall stroke conscious of his own guilt and with all possible heast left that room taking his gunn with him fled to or above the house of Invernedane being a considerable distance from his own (35) house whilst by the providence of Almighty God who seldom even in this world leaves murder unpunished and by the vigilance of these in company with him he was apprehended secured and brought to the said place of imprisonment for which most horrid and wiched cryme of murder upon the day of January instant he being brought in and examined before the said Sir Coline Campbell of Ardkinglass Justice Deput of Argyleshyre to the tollbooth of Inverarey in ane fenced Justice Court he acknowledged the samen to be of verity and cannot now
deny the same by all which it is palpably evident that he hath committed the foresaid murder at the tyme and in manner above exprest and was airt and part thereof committed of set purpose and provisions (sic) And therefore by all Law equity and conscience ought and should be punished with the loss of lyfe and confiscation of goods in terror of others to commit the lyke in time coming as in the said indictment at more length is contained after reading of which indictment and no defence made by the said panel or any in his name against the same he judicially adhered to and owned his former judiciall confession above mentioned the Justice Deput fount the said indictment relevant and referred the samen to the knowledge of ane assize of the persons following theyare to say Niccoll M’Niccoll of Ellerigmore, Archibald M’Kellar in Stuckscarden, Duncan M’Nokaird in Coulfuckan, Donnald M’Viccar of Stronmagachan, Donald M’Kenechow in Inverarey, William Brown late Provost there Robert and John Browns and Donald Walker merchands there, Archibald Gillize cordiner there, John M’Viccar of Brenchellzie, Mr. Alexander Duncanson in Inverarey, George Thomson there. Dugald M’Kellar of Kilblaan and Patrick Campbell in Inverarey which persons of assize…having removed altogether furth of court to and within the church of the said Brugh…(36) re entred again in Court and found and declared the said Archibald M’Phun pannell guilty of the foresaid cryme contained in the said indictment witnesses depositions and judiciall confession above mentioned whereupon they returned their verdict in wryte in face of court which was read and closed and sealed as use is And thereafter the said Justice Deput continued pronouncing sentence against the said pannell till to morrow being the sixteenth day of January instant and adjourned the court to the said day.
Inverarey the sixteenth day of January jm vje and nynty one years.
Which day Archibald M’Phune of Dreip entered upon panel to hear and see Doom pronounced against him as he who was convict be ane condigne assize in ane court of Justiciary holden within the tollbooth of Inverarey upon the fifteenth day of January instant of the murder and manslaughter of umquhill Duncan Campbell in Kenlochlean in manner contained in the said pannell his indictment Judiciall Confession and depositions of the witnesses adduced for proving thereof Therefore the said Justice deput be the mouth of John Clerk Dempster of Court ordained and adjudged the said Archibald M’Phune of Dreip to be taken upon the sevinteenth day of January instant betuixt tuo and three aclock in the afternoon to the ordinary place of excution and there to be hanged on a gibbet till he die the death And ordained his whole moveable goods to be escheat for their majesties use which was pronounced for Doom And appointed the magistrates of Inverarey to see the samen done and attend the execution.
The MacPhunn whisky
The MacPhunn is described as an exceptional whisky, produced from a selected single cask of an 18 year old sherry matured Speyside single malt, with a yield of under 300 bottles. A second bottling was produced in 2008, retailing for £65.90 from Loch Fyne Whiskies, Inveraray, or online,
Loch Fyne Whiskies romanticised version of the tale (note the two spellings of Drip/Dripp, and the lower case p in Macphunn, as taken from the rear label).
THE WATER OF LIFE
Some centuries ago, Archibald Macphunn of Drip was caught stealing sheep, taken to Inveraray and hanged. His grieving widow came by boat to collect the corpse and on her way home, half way across Loch Fyne, saw her husband's body move. A nursing mother. Lady Macphunn hastily mixed some of her own milk with whisky and, cradling Archie's head, forced it between his pale cold lips. They twitched, his eyes opened and he breathed the words 'uisge beathe' - the water of life.
By the time the boat landed at Creggans, Macphunn of Dripp was fully revived. Unable by law to be hung twice for the same crime, he lived to a ripe old age, albeit with his head listing to one side, and was know in Argyll and further afield as 'Half-hanged Archie' He now lies buried in Strachur churchyard and gives his name to the legendary whisky, The Macphunn.
STRACHUR, ARGYLL PA27 8BX
Archibald MacPhun's forfeitures and fines rescinded in 1690
Archibald MacPhun's name appeared in a list of names given in an Act rescinding the forfeitures and fines since the year 1665 recorded in the Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707:
Our sovereign lord and lady the king and queen's majesties and three estates of parliament, in prosecution of the Claim of Right, and for relief of their majesties' good subjects and the better settlement of the peace, quiet and tranquillity of this kingdom, by the tenor hereof, declare, statute and ordain that the decreets and dooms of forfeiture pronounced against the persons after-named: namely, ... Archibald MacPhun of Drip (Perhaps 'Dripps', Lanarkshire. ), ... ; and generally all and whatsoever decreets and dooms of forfeitures, given and pronounced against any of the subjects of this kingdom, either by the high court of parliament or ordinary or circuit courts of justiciary, or any other court or commission from 1 January 1665 to 5 November 1688, with all escheats fallen upon the grounds of the said forfeitures since the said day, are and shall be void and of no value, force, strength nor effect in all time coming, rescinding and reducing the same forever, ...
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