The title of this tune may refer to the suburb of the city of
Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory or to Duntroon
Castle, located on the north side of Loch Crinan and across from
the village of Crinan in Argyll, Scotland. It is thought to be
the oldest continuously occupied castle on mainland Scotland. I
am assuming the latter.
Duntroon Castle was originally built by the MacDougall clan in
the 13th century, along with several other castles in the area,
including the MacDougall stronghold of Dunollie Castle near Oban.
Duntrune Castle was eventually taken by the Clan Campbell. In
the 17th century the castle was besieged by the rival MacDonalds,
under Alasdair Mac Colla. The Campbells sold Duntrune in 1792,
to the Malcolms of Poltalloch. The castle is now owned by Robin
Neill Malcolm, current clan chief of the Clan Malcolm. The
curtain wall of the castle dates from the 13th century, although
the tower house which forms the main part of the castle is of
the 17th century.
The ghost of a handless piper is said to haunt the castle.
According to one story, the Macdonald piper was sent into the
castle as a spy, but was found out. He was imprisoned, but
played his pipes to warn the Macdonalds that their 'surprise'
attack was now expected. Alasdair Mac Colla retreated, and the
piper's hands were cut off by the Campbells.
According to another story, one more well known, the Macdonalds
captured the castle. Mac Colla needed to return home and left a
small garrison to defend the castle, with his personal piper
among them. While he was away, the castle was recaptured by the
Campbells and all the MacDonalds were killed, except the piper,
who was spared because of his status. After retaking their
castle the Campbells laid a trap for the Macdonalds.
As Mac Colla sailed returning to the castle he and his crew
heard, as expected the piper playing a tune of welcome from the
castle ramparts. As the MacDonald boat grew closer, the
Macdonalds were able to discern the tune and recognised it as a
warning. The small boat turned away and the trap failed. To
punish the piper, his hands were cut off so that he may never
play again. The piper bled out and died of his injuries.
During a set of renovations at the castle, workers unearthed a
handless human skeleton under a stone path, whose hands had been
removed by clean cuts to the wrist. It is believed that this
skeleton is that of the Piper of Duntrune.