Those from the rear flying in disorder soon confused the men in front, and the result was a complete rout. Hector's men followed, killing every one they met for it was ordered that no quarter should be given, the number being so large that they might again turn round, attack and defeat the victors. In this retreat almost all the men of the clan Dingwall and MacCullochs capable of bearing arms were killed, and so many of the Munroes were slain that for a long time after "there could not be ane secure friendship made up twixt them and the Mackenzies, till by frequent allyance and mutuall beneffets at last thes animosities are setled and in ordor to a reconciliation, Hector, sone to this William of Foulls, wes maried to John Mackenzie's sister Catherine."
At this conflict, besides that it was notable for its neat contrivance, the inequality of the forces engaged, and the number of the slain, there are two minor incidents worth noting. One is that the pursuit was so hot that the Munroes not only fled in a crowd, but there were so many of them killed at a place on the edge of the hill where a descent fell from each shoulder of it to a well; and most of Hector's men being armed with battle-axes and two-edged swords, they had cut off so many heads in that small space, that, tumbling down the slope to the well, nineteen heads were counted in it and to this day the well is called "Tobar nan Ceann" or the Fountain of the Heads. The other incident is that Suarachan, better known as "Donnchadh Mor na Tuaighe," or Big Duncan of the Axe, previously referred to as one of the heroes of the battle of Park, pursued one of the enemy into the Church of Dingwall, to which he had fled for shelter. As he was entering in at the door, Suarachan caught him by the arm, when the man exclaimed, "My sanctuary saves me!" "Aye," returned Suarachan, "but what a man puts in the sanctuary against his will he can take it out again; and so, pushing him back from the door, he killed him with one stroke of his broadsword. [MS. History by the Earl or Cromartie.]
Sir William Munro returned that night to Fowlis, where happened to be, passing the evening, a harper of the name of MacRa, who, observing Sir William pensive and dispirited, advised him to be more cheerful and submit patiently to the fortunes of war, since his defeat was not his own fault, nor from want of personal courage and bravery, but arose from the timorousness of his followers, who were unacquainted with such severe service. This led Sir William to take more particular notice of the harper than he had hitherto done, and he asked him his name. On hearing it, Munro replied, "You surely must have been fortunate, as your name imports, and I am sure that you have been more so than I have been this day; but it's fit to take your advice, MacRath." This was a play on the minstrel's name--MacRath literally meaning "Son of Fortune"--and the harper being, like most of his kind, smart and sagacious, made the following impromptu answer--
Eachainn le sheachd fichead fear, Agus thusa le d'ochd clad, Se Mac Rath a mharbh na daoine Air bathaois Cnoc faireal,
Which may be rendered in English as follows:--
Although MacRath doth "fortunate" import, It's he deserves that name whose brave effort Eight hundred men did put to flight With his seven score at Knockfarrel. [Ardintoul MS.]
In 1499, George, Earl of Huntly, then the King's Lieutenant, granted warrant to Duncan Mackintosh of Mackintosh, John Grant of Freuchie, and other leaders, with three thousand men, to pass against the Clan Mackenzie, "the King's rebels," for the slaughter of Harold of Chisholm, dwelling in Strathglass, "and for divers other heirschips, slaughters, spuilzies, committed on the King's poor lieges and tenants in the Lordship of Ardmeanoch," [Kilravock Papers, p. 170.] but Hector Roy and his followers gave a good account of them, and soon defeated and dispersed them. He seems to have held undisturbed possession until the year 1507, when John and his brother Roderick were on a visit in the Aird, at the house of their uncle, Lord Lovat, when a fire broke out at the castle. According to the Earl of Cromartie, when the house took fire, no one was found bold enough to approach the burning pile but John, who rushed boldly through the flames and carried away the Lovat charter chest "a weight even then thought too much for the strongest man, and that cheist, yett extant, is a load sufficient for two. His uncle, bothe obleiged by the actione, and glad to sie such strength and boldnes in the young man, desyred (him) to do as much for himself as he haid done for him, and to discover his (own) charter cheist from his uncle, and that he should have all the concurrance which he (Lovat) could give to that effect."
Anderson's History of the Family of Fraser ascribes this bold act to Roderick, for which he was "considered amply recompensed by the gift of a bonnet and a pair of shoes." It matters little which is the correct version, but it is not unlikely that Lovat's valuable charter chest was saved by one or other of them, and it is by no means improbable that his Lordship's suggestion that they should procure their own charter chest and his offer to aid them in doing so was made and determined to be acted upon on this occasion.