Showing posts from March, 2012

A Bloody Battle in the Heart of Strathearn


Some of you older bloggers may recall a quite dreadful movie called Brigadoon which even the talented Gene Kelly and the legs of Cyd Charisse failed to save from ignominy! . Brigadoon was a mythical Scottish village which only appeared once every 100 years .One only hoped that perhaps it never would reappear ! Brigadoon never fails to remind me of that ancient battle referred to by historians as Mons Graupius . Varying accounts as to “when and where” abound as does the actual existence of its Pictish hero and leader aptly named Calgacus - the swordsman . Calgacus appears as an important character in the biography of the Roman Governor of Britain, Julius Agricola , De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae, written by his son-in-law, Tacitus, in AD98. Nothing else is known about him from any other source, and there has to be some question about whether he actually existed at all. But if he didn't then someone like him probably did. Julius Agricola began his campaign to conquer th…

Pictish Strathearn – the Kingdom of Fortren - birthplace of modern Scotland

Part One – Who Were The Picts ?
When I was first taught “ Scottish” history as a school boy many decades ago , I recall being told emphatically that the Picts had “ just vanished leaving a mystery behind that will never likely be solved “ . In previous Blogs we have looked at numerous aspects of our valuable heritage here in Strathearn . It is clear that too little is being done to high light our incredible past for both present and future generations . Let us now examine something about those people who had “ just vanished “ !
Classical and later historic sources use a variety of evolving terms to signify the people who inhabited Scotland and /or their territorial divisions prior to the late eighth century. Of these terms Picti , first recorded in 297 and derived from the Picts’ own name for themselves , or possibly a Roman nickname meaning ” the painted ones” , has been the most enduring . The Picts were referred to as assailants of the Roman frontier in northern Britain. Much ink h…


The Crieff Tryst

From Grimnish to Lochmaddy
Dunvegan to Glenelg
We’ll rope the kye together
When we reach the river’s swell
We’ll keep a weary virgil
As we rest them for the night
And we’ll follow on the droving road
To meet the Falkirk Tryst

Tryst ( pronounced “ Tr – eye –st “ as per poem above ) is an old Scots word originating in Banffshire and described local cattle markets . Modern English has the word “ tryst “ - a lovers’ meeting a la Mills and Boon - and it is pronounced “ trist “ ! I am conscious that many people in Crieff use the latter and to be honest it doesn’t really matter as the original concept survives !

The Tryst

The Earl ( of Perth ) was the "patron " who held court for the purpose of regulating disputes and keeping law and order . Certain of his feuars were bound by their charters to provide guards for policing the market .The Statistical Account for the Parish of Monzie recounts that when the Tryst was at its height the inhabitants of the Parish went i…

The Oldest Roman Frontier

The Oldest Roman Frontier !

Around AD 80, some 40 years before the construction of Hadrian's Wall the northern frontier of Roman Britain was marked by a series of forts and watch towers along the Gask Ridge, a ridge of high ground running from south of Crieff to Bertha (Inveralmond, Perth ) .
The Romans eventually retreated to what is now the Scottish-English border and in the AD 120s constructed Hadrian's Wall. Twenty years later the frontier had moved north again and the Antonine Wall was constructed stretching from West Kilpatrick on the Clyde to Carriden on the Forth At this time some of the Gask forts were reoccupied. .
Ardoch Fort at Braco is one of those early Gask system forts - possibly constructed at the time of the Battle of Mons Graupius (between the Caledonians and the forces of Roman Governor of Britain, Gnaeus Julius Agricola). When it was reoccupied in the 140s it was one of the largest Roman stations in Britain. In area it extended to some 3.2 hectares / 8 a…

The Cursus of Crieff

The Cursus of Crieff – More of Our Incredible Past !

We have looked at in previous Blogs , the considerable number of known Neolithic or New Stone Age sites around Strathearn and indeed Crieff . The numbers seem to grow by the year and are an increasing part of our heritage . They are relevant not just in a local sense but on the national and indeed international archaeological stage . They date back some 6 000 years and are older than many of the pyramids of Egypt ! Apart from the ancient tomb discovered 150 years ago on the ancient site of the Stayt of Crieff on Broich Road , most recent discoveries include the timber circle at Pittentian and the habitations at Forth Cottage at Fendoch at the entrance to the Sma Glen .

Perhaps however the most incredible was the realisation that we had in our own back yard on the site of the new Strathearn Campus a Neolithic cursus . No , a cursus is not some celestial finger of doom pointing at our fair town an…


Crieff some 6 000 years ago !

The last few decades have seen an incredible increase in knowledge about our town or t o be specific that part of it lying immediately to the south near the banks of the River Earn .The Beauly to Denny power line with its Eiffel Tower like structures has caused not a little consternation amongst those living in its shadow . The project is now making its way through the Strath and in the course of work near Pittentian Farm to the south east of the town , the remains of a timber circle have been revealed . It is believed to date back over 5000 years and is similar to others previously excavated in other parts of Scotland . Fragments of burnt clay, flints and bone have turned up on the site which lies approximately a mile from the Neolithic cursus found during the construction of the Strathearn Campus . Archaeologists from Northlight Heritage who were responsible for the dig are quoted in the Strathearn Hera…

The Crieff Coat of Arms

The old arms of the Burgh of Crieff show the Steward sitting on the ceremonial chair on top of the old Stayt or hill in Broich Road holding the scales of justice and in front are the stocks or jougs and to his left the Cross of Crieff . The design of these heraldic insignia is attributed to one Duncan Kippen . Kippen was a Crieff man , a musician , composer and organist , as well as being a more than talented local historian and scribe . Indeed he is mentioned in the preface to Porteous’s History of Crieff and it would appear that much of the local historical information contained therein ,came from his pen . A more avuncular individual than Porteous , he tended to shun the lime light but on reflection must be rated alongside his Perth contemporary Fittes in contribution to research into our past . Both the cross and the jougs are now lodged inside the Town Hall basement area where a permanent display is mounted .


Some Surnames of Strathearn

For those of us engrossed in family history , it is quite usual to become aware of names that keep cropping up in a particular area . Having been involved with Strathearn genealogy for more than a few years I thought it of interest to point out a few that originated locally or are indeed were found in abundance in these airts

TOSHACH :.Strangely enough , those football fans amongst you will yell out “ John Toshack ”. Although the former Welsh captain was a sporting legend in the Valleys , the name actually originated here in Strathearn . Akin to MacKintosh , the Toshacks of Monzievaird were a leading family in the 16th and 17th centuries whilst the Toshacks of Pittenzie were a powerful bunch centuries prior to this . Finlay Toshack of Pittenzie is mentioned in documents in the 1500s whilst one ,Alester McAndro Tossoche .was fined for reset for members of the outlawed Clan Gregor in 1613 !

BROCK : Sometimes spelt Broch ( they …