Three Kings Story

Helen Skinner


On the North side of the Moray firth there is quite a historic tale to be told and happened about the year 850. On these shores are three little fishing villages; Hilton, Balintore and Shandwick. In these days there were three castles built; Cadboll Castle, Ballon Castle and Lochshin Castle, the latter was never completed. Another castle in the neighbouring district is Balnagown where it is said the Earl of Balnagown stayed. This earl married a Danish Princess. The Danes or Vikings or Narsman, whatever they may be called formerly, landed on these shores. Into the life of this Earl came another fair maid from who he fell in love and being cruel he imprisoned his wife the Danish Princess in Ballon Castle.


The Earl of Balnagown learning of this wanted to get his wife back. He called his two brothers and formed a convoy to chase after the Princess. Around the coast there are very dangerous rocks, which could mean death to an unskilled navigator. It was in the darkness of the night the three King’s sons, not knowing of these rocks sailed their boat into them and were drowned. One of the bodies came in at Hilton, one at Shandwick and one below Nigg hill. They were brought ashore and buried respectfully in the Chapel of Hilton of Cadboll, Nigg churchyard and Hilton. The bodies remained there for some time but then up lifted and buried in the St Duthus cemetery in Tain.


The Kind of Denmark came across and erected three stones in their memory. One at Shandwick which stands there until this day, the other is still in Nigg cemetery the other which was erected at Hilton of Cadboll Chapel, but in after years was removed to the museum of antiquities in Edinburgh.


This chapel at Cadboll went to ruin and some of the stones were taken to build some houses in Hilton. The memorial stone was said to have been used as a door stop and authorities recognised it and it was then removed to Edinburgh. This chapel at Cadboll was very famous they came from miles and miles to worship there. There is a well there even yet, but at that time was known as the Holywell.