Showing posts from 2012

New Year : Hogmanay in the Strath and the Comrie Flambeaux

Crossing Dalginross Bridge Hogmanay -  Seekin' Their Cakes In Fife  Burning The Clavie At Burghead   Hogmanay ( New Years Eve ) is an old and much celebrated occasionthroughout Scotland . The word itself however is something of a mystery . Amongst the theories regarding its origins is that it is from the word “ Hagmena “ – a corrupted Greek wordmeaning “ holy month “ . Another “ learned “ school of thoughtimplies that theword isof French origin andwasbrought over with the Normans in 1066 !This latter line isbased on theold Norman word “ Haguillennes “ . To add to thegeneral confusion a third source promotes the theory that the Hogmanay source lies in theancient Norse festivals that was celebrated at Yule time . The nightbefore it startedwas called “ hoggin – nat “ or“ hogenat “ whichmeant the slaughter night when the cattlewerekilled to allowthe prepararationoffoodon the great day . Confused ? – well join the club!
There isno doubt that the Scottish Hogmanay and Neerday ( New Years…

The Perthshire Clearances and Glen Beich

OS Map showing the area of Glen Beich in this "blog" Loch Earn from Glen Beich  I recall about ten years ago being askedby a lady from Ontarioin Canada to look into her Scottish roots and in particular those of her ancestorswho hadcomefrom Glen Beich near Lochearnhead . At that time I was totallyignorantof the significanceof this , one of the most beautiful and unheraldedparts of the Strath . Apparentlyher familyhadbeen small crofters in a n area of the Glen on anelevated part above the settlement of Ardveich . Ardveich which in Gaelic is Ard-Bheathaich or “ height of the birch woods ” liesless than half a mile from the shores of Loch Earn on the east side of the Beich Burn . On the west side was another small settlement known as Dalveich- Dal-Bheathaich- “ the field of the birch woods ” .It isclear that this area had beeninhabitedfor countless generations back into the mists of time . A castle hadbeen builtnear by and had been constructed as a fortifiedtowerhouse for thechie…

Where was that ? The Crieff of yester year !

The top of Church Street was known as the " Shambles " 

There isan incredibly detailedmap of Crieffdrawn up in 1822 by John Wood . Wood was a Scottish surveyor resident in Edinburgh. Between 1818 to 1830 he engraved 52 plans of Scottish towns, of which 48 were published in Atlas form in 1828. He also surveyed numerous Northumberland and Durham towns during the period 1826 and 1827. Fortunately hisworkhas beenpreservedby the National Library of Scotland in digital form on the internet : (
By clicking on the imageyou can increase or decrease the sizemaking itso easyto takea town tour of Crieff as it was nearly two centuriesago ! For thegenealogist / family historian withroots in the town there is an addedbonusin that the houses are clearly delineatedwith the owner oroccupier’sname shown . Indeed in some cases theoccupations are also listed !
An area shown with cross hatching is described as the “ Shambles ” . I had always associate…

The Last Thatched House In Crieff

The Last Thatched House In Crieff Extracted from Crieff Past & Present published 21 January 1888
Hill Street or Hill Wynd
Among the many new and fine buildings in the town, the churches are a leading feature with their handsome outlines and lofty spires. Within the past few years The Established, Free, UP and Episcopalian Churches have erected noble edifices costing over £20 000 the hotels are also splendid buildings, and the banks are well represented in the architecture of the town All kinds of property have rapidly improved during the last 30 years and , with one exception in Hill Wynd , all the thatched houses have disappeared
In the mode of living there is a very great difference from what it usedbe . It is not so long since a room and closet were considered sufficient for a family , and ventilation was never taken into consideration . According to the size of the family there would be from one to five beds in the two apartments We have seen four beds placed two and two like tho…

Trades and Industries That Have long Gone

Trades and Industries That Have long Gone
Crieff Past And Present
(1885)  There is an old Scots word " couthie " which conveys a meaning oft lacking in the" Queen's
 English ". Perhaps gentle - agreeable or kindly is an apt translation . The following extract is from one of my favourite collections " Crieff : Its Traditions and Characters " written in 1881 by a certain D McAra . MacAra is somewhatovershadowedby the rather patrician historian Porteous whose 1908 epic “ A History of Crieff ” is still regardedas the ultimate account of things in and around the town . MacAra – a couthie individual by all accounts, capturesmuch of the lost sentiment of yester year when the paceof thingsin that pre technology age was that littlebit slower ! The appended tale of trades of the pastdepicts a world of rural artisans working at thingswhich in thismodernage areall but forgotten !

Many kinds of tradesmen etc have disappeared from the district including spunkmakers …

William McGregor ( 1846 –1911 ), football pioneer

Staute of William McGregor outside Villa Park  Grigor McGrigor was a tailor born in Balquhidder in about 1796 . He marriedJean McNicol in Muthill Parish in 1825 and settled down to raise a family in the village of Braco . Eleven children were born to the couple including William in 1846 . The family live in Front Street near the Braco Hotel ( now known as the Frog and Thistle ) . Young William according to legend witnessed his first football match with his three older brothers near to where the Ardoch Roman Camp is situated . He seemed a bright lad being described in the 1861 Census for the village as a “ pupil teacher “. Shortly after this he headed to Perth where he was apprenticed as a draper. Seeking opportunities that were not readily available in the FairCity, young William headed south to Birmingham where he established his own drapers business in the town and rapidly prospered.
McGregor became associated with Aston Villa Football Club and eventually rose to be their Chairman. …

The Witches Maze At Tullibole Castle Crook of Devon

The Witches Maze At Tullibole Castle Crook of Devon

This weekmyeyecaught thenewspaper article and the BBC News story on the opening of the “ Witches Maze “ at Tullibole Castle in the Crook of Devon . Quite an appropriate “blog “ as Halloween approachescomplete with witches , black cats , turnip lanterns and the inevitable guysers !
Tullibole Castle Lord Moncrieff and Lesley Riddoch (  who used to live in Fowlis Wester )at the opening
The memorial however is a somewhat sad reflection on the evil and indeedbizarre behaviour of our ancestors and in particular ourEstablishedChurch . These pillars of society undertook a spate of trialswhich on reflectionmake the Salem Witch Trials across the “ Pond “ resemble a Sunday school picnic ! The Witches Maze at Tullibole Castle commemorates the victims of the Crook of Devon witch trials in 1662.
The castle was once home to William Halliday and his son John who held court over the 'covens' in the village. Lord Moncrieff, who now owns Tullibole,…

St Fillans Perthshire - a look into it's past

St Fillans – a look into its past

Much of the input in thisblogwas published in the “Guide to St Fillans “ about 1980 . It is said that Queen Victoria swithered atonetimebetween St Fillans and Balmoral when shewas seeking a Scottish Estate . Imy selfwas delightedtobe invited to appear in the BBC TVLandward programme in 2010 concerning the villageand its origins .
 Some two hundred years ago it was known asPort of Lochearn and consisted of a fewthatched biggins or cottages. The largest one wascalled Portmore and another was calledPortbeag or Littleport . AboveSt Fillans as we knowittoday lies the remainsof an old township called Morell located to the west of Glentarken Wood . Itwas eventually abandoned at the beginning of the 19th Century when the occupantsmoved down the hill and settled in the cottageswhich had been built atPort ofLochearn . Neish Island In 1817 Lord Gwydyr , whose wife Clementina Drummond, daughter and heiress of James , Duke of Perth , had inherited the vast Drummond …