Swein Macdonald, the self-styled Highland Seer, for more than 25 years held sway at his incense-burning crofthouse at Viewhill, Ardgay, Sutherland, being consulted by lords and ladies, curious and some sceptical commoners, all fearful of their future.

Many went away convinced of his second sight, for his recital of events and acquaintances in their lives was often uncannily accurate.

He claimed to have

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predicted the Braer tanker disaster off Shetland three months ahead of the event, the onset of the Falklands war in 1982, and a royal assassination three years earlier - Lord Mountbatten in the west of Ireland.

In truth there were three Highland Seers, including the original Coinneachd Odhar of Brahan, burned in a barrel of tar at Chanonry Point on the Black Isle on the orders of the Countess of Seaforth, after he declared he ''saw'' her husband in dalliance with a courtesan in Paris.

The other two were Swein Macdonald and his late wife Isabelle, who stormed the Glasgow psychic scene long before their reputation for sooth-saying came back north with them in 1971.

Their daughter, Gaye Hart from Dounie, who was born at Horsburgh Castle, near Peebles, after the pair of them eloped from Tain 45 years ago, remembers them demonstrating their ''powers"'' to enraptured audiences at psychic fairs around Glasgow.

Swein, who served his time as a mason with Corbett Brothers in Tain, had taken a job as handyman at the Borders castle before joining the Clyde Navigation Trust as a clerk of works.

He subsequently moved to Hamilton and he joined the Ministry of Works' ancient history branch, supervising projects such as the restoration and maintenance of the Antonine Wall at Bearsden. It was there he sustained a severe head injury when struck by the jib of a crane - and many people mistakenly attributed the resultant concussion to be the cause of his ''second sight''.

Gaye disputes that suggestion: ''He had the gift all his life, and so had my mother. I used to get annoyed when he was called the Highland Seer because their stage name then was the Highland Seers. She was every bit as good as dad, if not better. But she had to look after him following his injury, so she could not do both.''

Isabelle, who had three children previously - Doreen, Winnie, and Robert Melvin - recalled a severe upbraiding she received from her father when, as a little girl, she had ''seen'' the funeral of a local man who was still alive. But he died within weeks.

They carried on this divination when Swein returned with Isabelle to the family croft which looks out over the Kyle of Sutherland. She acted as receptionist for the long list of people who had made appointments to have their fortunes told.

One of their friends said: ''He charged only a couple of pounds, no matter if the caller was a pauper or a lord - he could have made millions, but preferred to work for charitable causes, taking only his expenses.''

Well-known names in show business, the film industry, and among the nobility regularly called on him, either in person or by telephone. He had offers to be flown to the United States, to Switzerland, and to the Middle East for consultations with the rich and powerful. Of course, the media loved him. The sceptical news editor of a Glasgow-based paper telephoned him gruffly to arrange an interview. ''I don't like your attitude, my man,'' Swein told him stiffly, ''and furthermore you are conducting an illicit affair with a woman called M.'' The startled news editor abruptly terminated the call.

There was the hilarious occasion when Swein had to cancel one of his public performances ''due to unforeseen circumstances''. This was because his challenger failed to turn up.

Swein described the process of interviewing people thus: ''It's like watching a slow-moving film. As we talk, I begin to see images rolling along, instances from their past, people they know and what happened to them; sometimes the film quickens and I have to rush to get things out, then it slows down again. But if I see something black or tragic in the future, I refrain from telling people. I am not in the business of frightening folk.''

His ''powers'' attracted women and his life became entangled. He attracted nationwide attention in the mid 1980s when he and his then partner, Lindsay Mackinnon - they had two sons, Michael and John - devised a scheme for a ''drum dance temple'' at the croft which did not find favour with neighbours or the planning authority.

He had split with Isabelle, his wife of almost 30 years, and she moved back to Tain, where she died two years ago.

Offensive euphemism