On a hillside near Ballachulish in the Scottish Highlands in May 1752 a rider is assassinated by a gunman. The murdered man is Colin Campbell, a government agent travelling to nearby Duror where he's evicting farm tenants to make way for his relatives. Campbell's killer evades capture, but Britain's rulers insist this challenge to their authority must result in a hanging. The sacrificial victim is James Stewart, who is organising resistance to Campbell's takeover of lands long held by his clan, the Appin Stewarts.
James is a veteran of the Highland uprising crushed in April 1746 at Culloden. In Duror he sees homes torched by troops using terror tactics against rebel Highlanders. The same brutal response to dissent means that James's corpse will for years hang from a towering gibbet and leave a community utterly ravaged.
Introducing this new and edition of his account of what came to be called the Appin Murder, historian James Hunter tells how his own Duror upbringing introduced him to the tragic story of James Stewart.