The astonishing discovery of the ruins of a village lost by a Highland deer

DUNCAN Mackenzie had a series of jobs ranging from being a policeman to a butcher and game dealer and even running a guest house.

However, it’s the current role that has given him the most satisfaction and that shouldn’t come as a surprise given that his DNA links him to it.

Mr Mackenzie is now a deer stalker, who lives east of Ullapool in Wester Ross in Scotland, and single-handedly discovered the ruins of a lost community of national significance.

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He is the subject of a new documentary which will air on BBC Alba on Tuesday August 30 at 9pm.

Directed by award-winning filmmakers Richard Else and Margaret Wicks of Adventure Show Productions based in Newtonmore in the Scottish Highlands, the program explores Mr Mackenzie’s radical views on deer stalking and his discovery of the ruins of a lost community.

Archaeologists at the Wester Ross find site

With stunning landscapes of wild, uninhabited mountainous regions dotted with lochs and lochs, the program explores how Mr. Mackenzie’s DNA is directly linked to the land where he works. He is described as a naturalist, stalker and historian and has been a policeman, butcher, game dealer and guesthouse manager. His family has been tied to this land for generations and he describes himself as the last of the line.

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He has a non-sporting lease – so he doesn’t take paying clients with him – to an estate just south of Lochinver in Assynt. It is one of the wildest lands in Scotland. Duncan speaks of his “duty of care” to the deer he manages and, with some satisfaction, says, “I don’t take guests up the hill. I’ve dated guests in the past and it was always the testosterone-filled men to watch out for. It was just pull the trigger, grab a deer, go home and get drunk. I argued a lot with them. Many estates are still clinging to Victorian principles, but I go in, shoot any animal I want and leave the rest of the herd alone.”

HeraldScotland: Duncan Mackenzie is connected to the land he now roamsDuncan Mackenzie is connected to the land he now roams

Searching for where generations of his family had lived, he discovers the ancient moss-covered stone ruins of a “cleared village”. Duncan found what is probably the largest community in the north of Scotland and one that fundamentally changes many common misconceptions about Highland life. Larger than most, stretching about four miles to Inverlael Glen, he explains how the villages were “cleared” of their inhabitants around 1819, when he thinks 77 families, possibly 600 to 700 people, were driven from their homes – they weren’t even allowed to dig up their potatoes to take them with them. “Their DNA has been on this earth since the beginning of time,” says Duncan. Historian Dr Martin McGregor explains that “evil replaced what was heaven” for these people.

“My dad introduced me to bullying when I was a kid,” says Duncan, “it’s either in you or it’s not, but it’s part of who I am.” The four-year program explores his work on the land following the herd through mountain peaks and glens with his two dogs Polar and Molly, as well as commentary from scholars working to uncover the ruins of the colony.

Filmmaker Richard Else said: “Duncan Mackenzie is literally one in a million – a man transported to this part of Scotland with a huge set of skills that most of us lost long ago. It was a real privilege to work with him and the long days of hiking the hills in all weathers were amply rewarded”.

Duncan Mackenzie, the documentary, airs on BBC Alba on Tuesday August 30 at 9pm and is available across the UK on iPlayer.