There is evidence of settlement in the area surrounding Kinloch Rannoch from as far back as 500AD when the missionary St. Blane arrived although the name remains a mystery, as the word “kinloch” means head of a loch, rather than the foot, where the village is located. For many hundreds of years, this tiny and remote hamlet was home to a few primitive people who lived a poverty-stricken existence, surviving mainly by thieving and, for a long time, there were no roads or bridges in the area.
It wasn’t until the end of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion that James Small, a soldier in Lord Loudon’s Regiment, started to enlarge and settle the village with numbers of discharged soldiers and displaced crofters. Initially, the soldiers spent a large part of their time trying to apprehend bands of plundering Highlanders who stole cattle and hid quantities of arms in the hills. The soldiers met with little support from the locals, and the reputation of the “Rannoch thieves” spread far and wide.
However, by about 1754, things began to calm down, and the thieving subsided. This meant that the soldiers were able to turn their attentions to more constructive deeds, and they started to build roads, bridges, shops and schools under James Small’s direction. Small brought in joiners, masons, wheelwrights, cobblers and smiths to teach their trades to the locals and he was supported in these ventures by a local schoolmaster and poet, Dugald Buchanan, and his wife, who encouraged the villagers. The marble statue in the square was erected later in Buchanan’s honour for the tireless work he undertook. Small also introduced potatoes and flax to the area, improved agricultural methods and, by 1791, there was a good road network, a cluster of new houses in the village and twelve bridges had been built. One project which failed, however, was an attempt to drain an area of moorland which was just too marshy, although vestiges of the trenches dug by Small’s soldiers can still just be seen.
Today’s peaceful village is a far cry from its bloody and rebellious past.