TWO COWS WENT WANDERING• and sparked off a ‘hidden treasure mystery at Farigaig


It all happened so suddenly and unexpectedly the day two cows belonging to forestry ganger and smallholder Alexander Livingstone wandered aimlessly away.  They had been nosing around when curiosity got the better of them. They strolled into an old house and suddenly the, door shut behind them. Alex, of Whitefield, near Dores, Inverness-shire, was justly proud of his two beasts. He started searching for them, but neither he nor his missus could find them.

That is until a few days had passed. They peeped into the old derelict house at Erchite, Farigaig, overlooking Loch Ness, high up on a hillside not far from their own cottage, and saw to their horror that the cows had got trapped and were dead.

It was only the start of Alex’s troubles. He found, that the two beasts ,had swollen op so much that he could not get them out through the door of the old cottage.


There was nothing left but to approach the Forestry Commission for permission to burn down the building. The Commission readily agreed.  A match was set to the place “in the interests of hygiene an health and anyway the house was of no use to anyone,” a Forestry Commission official told me yesterday at Inverness.  That looked as if the matter had been finally sorted out and the mystery of Alexs disappearing cows solved.  But alas, someone on the other side of Loch Ness spotted the fire and telephoned Inverness Fire Brigade, Firemen raced only to learn their services were not wanted. The story does not end there. As Alex was looking round the ruins of the house he came upon “hidden treasure” in the form of forty-eight £1 notes dated 1916. They had been stuffed into an old tea caddy and hidden in the thick walls of the building.


So Alex had solved the problem of his missing cows only to, come up with another one. To whom does the money belong? Inverness County Police have got the tea caddy and the money and are trying to trace the owner.

At the Forestry Commission headquarters in Church Street, Inverness, an official helpfully produced a 10-year- old file which showed that the derelict house once belonged to a Mr H. Mackintosh and that the heir-in-law was a Mr James Smith.  But they did not know where Mr Smith is living In fact, he is still alive.   If Mr Smith happens to read  this story and his claim to – the money can be legal established. He might be able to write “finis” to this story — and at the same time help himself to a nice little nest-egg.

 No comment

As for Mr Livingstone, he just did not want to discuss the loss of his cows or his unexpected monetary find with me.  In fact, he told me it was really none of my business. But I still think it makes an interesting little story. Doesn’t it?.


Ruin of the house at Erchite where the money was found

Ruin of the house at Erchite where the money was found



A  FOYERS man, Mr James Smith, has claimed the £48—all in old £1 notes found in a tea caddy in the ruins of a cottage at Erchite, Farigaig, overlooking Loch Ness.

His claim follows a report in “The Press and Journal” of the circumstances in which the money was found. About’ a month ago, Mr Alexander Livingstone, ‘crofter  and forestry ganger, of White-field, near the Loch Ness-side village of Dores, found that his two cows had strayed into the derelict cottage and, unable to get out. had died. The bodies were so swollen that he was unable to remove them, so he got permission to burn down the ruined cottage. Later, as he looked round the  burnt-out ruins, Mr Livingstone came across the old tea caddy, stuffed with 48 £1 notes dated 1916, hidden in the thick walls, The money was handed to Inverness County Police who started a search for the owner.

Forestry Commission files showed the cottage had once belonged to Mr H. Mackintosh and that the heir-in-law was a Mr James Smith, but of Mr Smith there was no trace.

When the story was first told “The Press and Journal.” an appeal was made to Mr Smith to come forward. Now Mr Smith has done so. He is an aluminium plant furnace- man and lives at 5 Elmbank, Foyers, the, next village down Loch Ness from Dores.  Yesterday, Mrs Smith told “The Press and Journal’: When our neighbours saw the story they knew right away that it was us and they all came rushing to show us the paper. “It’s some years since my husband made the house over to the Forestry Commission, but he still had the documents showing he was once owner. These were handed’ over to the police when the claim’ was made. “Now we’re just waiting for the law to take its course and see if we can get the money.   We’ve no idea how it got there. My husband has stayed in Foyers all his life, but it was his house.”

1922 pound note

Photo of one of the pound notes found at Erchite Wood

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