Sunday, 15 April 2012

The MacRosty Bandstand -Crieff's Edwardian Gem

1920s pic looking from bamdstand towards the old Tea Room

Sketch by June McEwan local artist of Crieff

As a young schoolboy in the distant past I used to spend much of my summer holidays with family friends in a little cottage called Barnshaw in a narrow lane off Comrie Road . Ideal of course for an escape to the wonders of nearby MacRosty Park . In those immediate pre war years life was slowly returning to a semblance of normality . My main attraction in those days was that smooth stretch of water above the Weir where the laid starts and tumbles its way through the Park heading for the mighty Earn . Many a naval encounter was fought a s I propelled a large inflated inner tube about the pool in an attempt to sink the Bismarck !The old Mill was still standing where now the somewhat inappropriately named “ Park Manor “ dominates the landscape . Tucked away amongst the tall pines and looking somewhat forlorn was the old Bandstand . The Park gifted to the Town by solicitor James MacRosty was formerly a nursery and it was laid out as a Park in 1902 . We , the citizens of the Town , have much to be thankful for as the be wooded acres have provided a place for pleasure and indeed relaxation over the decades . The recent refurbishment funded from Lottery sources is very much due to the incredible efforts by Pat Camp[bell and her colleagues in the Friends of MacRosty Park who put in so much effort to ensure that the Park returned to its pristine best . What then of the Bandstand ? It was cast in 1906 by the Albion Foundry and is described in architect speak as : ” octagonal with Corinthian capitalled slender columns supporting the roof; balustrade with swagged panels round the stage “ The background to the company which produced this master piece is somewhat fraught with a see saw like existence . In 1896 Sun Foundry relocated from Parliamentary Road in Glasgow to Clippen in Linwood, suggesting that the company was starting to struggle. They closed in 1899, only three years later. It is somewhat curious that Sun Foundry did not appear to embrace the constructional opportunities of cast iron for building which Saracen and Lion did with much success. In March 2004 we discovered that George Smith relocated to Alloa just before the main company went out of business in 1899 and established the Sun Foundry, Alloa - the archive extract which confirms this is this extract from The Alloa Journal dated April 27th 1889 : 'The Alloa Sun Foundry, pleasantly situated on the north shore of the Forth, is well worthy of notice as an extensive and very important local industry, which, in the last two years, has developed into imposing dimensions. The buildings in which the work is carried on were erected about 20 years ago, and although at one time a very large trade was done in them, this place of business, which was known as the Albion Foundry, stood empty from the year 1878 until 1887. In March of the latter year, Mr George Smith (Senior Partner of the present firm and formerly of the Sun Foundry, Glasgow) took over the foundry, and set about reviving the industry. He soon had a number of workmen busily employed. The work gradually increased as the labour put forth by the firm began to be known and appreciated, and within the space of two years this large foundry, covering as it does an area of between 3 – 4 Acres, has been almost entirley utilised for carrying on the work required of it, and will soon, as we understand, be taxed to it’s utmost extent'. At this stage further research is required to identify how long this arm of the business lasted for.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Breadalbane Campbells , The Campbell Brothers of Crieff and The American Civil War Part Two

Mary Ann McOwan , niece of the brothers born at The Cross Crieff

The Breadalbane Campbells , the Campbell Brothers of Crieff and the American Civil War


In Part One we followed John and Clementina from Kenmore at the eastern end of Loch Tay . We know from information obtained from census returns that prior to coming to Crieff , the Campbells set up home in the Parish of Kilmadock which lies between Dunblane and Callander . It is supposition but John may have worked as a mason either on Lanrick Castle which underwent alterations in the 19th century or perhaps but less probable, repairs to the older Doune Castle . On the 30th January 1824, their first child arrived . John Campbell was , in Scottish family tradition named after his paternal grand father John Campbell . Their first daughter ,Janet McLaren Campbell was born in Kilmadock on the 30th March 1827 followed by Mary on the 25th January 1829 and then Peter on the 2nd January 1831 . After this the family for some reason that is not clear left Kilmadock and headed towards Crieff , settling down in a small house in the Water Wynd at the foot of Mitchell Street .In November 1832 a daughter named Ann was born followed in April 1835 by James McLaren Campbell . In 1838 the last child to be born to John and Clementina arrived and was named , Alexander Campbell to be known to his family as Sandy .

The 1841 census was the first national census carried out in the UK to provide details of each household . It confirms that Clementina Campbell is at the little house in Mitchell Street with five of her children – Janet aged 12 , Peter aged 8 , Ann aged 7 , James aged 5 and Alex aged 3 . Absent were her husband John and oldest son ( also named John ) as well as daughter Mary . It should be pointed out that in Scotland Statutory Registration did not commence until the 1st of January 1855 and that prior to this deaths were seldom recorded especially in the smaller rural parishes and towns . Whether father John had died or not must be conjecture but in the days before proper Poor Law legislation persons in need were at the mercy of the Kirk Session as to the nature of any handouts . It is clear that Clementina would have ben struggling to make ends meet . This was the period of the “ tatty “ ( potato ) famine which struck Scotland a s well as Ireland . Food was expensive .Crieff , where for the last two decades hand loom weaving and its ancillary occupations had engaged some 60 % of the working population , the industry was on its uppers . Raw material costs of cotton “ webs “ had soared whilst the basic wage had more than halved . In Crieff , the once dominant Weaver’s Guild with their Hall in Commissioner Street was wound up . In 1852 Janet married a local carter called James McOwan . Her young brother James had by then also left home and was working as a farm labourer at Eastertown Farm Auchterarder . It was getting more and more difficult to survive .and so James decided to seek his fortune elsewhere . About 1855 he sailed for then USA . His younger brother Sandy followed separately a few years later .

James Campbell settled in Charleston where he worked as a drayman and clerk, joining a Confederate militia company known as the Union Light Infantry, sometimes called 42nd. Highlanders (probably after the 42nd. British Black Watch Regiment because of its predominately Scottish ethnicity). His brother Alexander settled in New York, but spent time in working as a stone mason on the new U.S. Customs House being built at the end of Market Street shortly before the war. While in Charleston he also enlisted in a militia company later identified in letters from his brother as "the H.G.s" which was probably the Home Guards, composed of foreign-born residents of Charleston. In March 1862, James and the Union Infantry were consolidated into the Charleston Battalion. In New York, Alexander joined the 79th. Highlander Regiment. As preparations for war were made on both sides, the brother's corresponded. Alex's unit was transferred to Charleston and occupied parts of James Island in early June 1862, placing him in sight of the city where he and his brother had once lived and that's conquest he had sworn to help obtain. Federal Alex learned of his Confederate brother's service in the vicinity of Secessionville from Henry Walker, a prisoner captured in a skirmish on June 3, 1862. He relayed the information home in a letter to his wife on June 10. "We are not far from each other now . . . this was a war that there never was the like of before Brother against Brother."

Neither knowing at the time, they fought each other at Secessionville. At the peak of the first, and most successful attack against Ft. Lamar, Alexander, now a Colour Sergeant in the 79th. planted the United States Flag before the parapet of Ft. Lamar and kept it there in the face of massed musketry and canon until ordered to withdraw. In the midst of the fighting, when Confederate resistance began to buckle, James, now a Lieutenant in the Confederate army, mounted the parapet unarmed, rolled a log down into the mass of advancing federal troops, seized a Federal musket and continued fighting. The Charleston Mercury reported, "The foe, it is true, displayed admirable courage, the famous Highland regiment, the 79th. New York, occupied the prominent place in the picture, but their desperate onslaughts were of no avail against the stubborn resolve and lofty valour of our brave boys."

The Charleston Courier editorialised on the two brothers, "another illustration of the deplorable consequences of this fratricidal war." It stated Alexander Campbell, "fought gallantly in the late action" and "displayed ... a heroism worthy of his regiment and a better cause" while James Campbell "was conspicuous and has been honourable mentioned on our side."

Afterwards Confederate James wrote his Federal Brother, "I was astonished to hear from the prisoners that you was colour Bearer of the Regiment that assaulted the Battery at this point the other day." James continued, "I was in the Brest work during the whole engagement doing my Best to Beat you but I hope you and I will never again meet face to face bitter enemies on the Battlefield but if such should be the case You have but to discharge your duty for your cause for I can assure you I will strive to discharge my duty to my country and my cause." The letter from brother to brother was carried across the bloody fields of James Island under flag of truce. Shortly after the battle, Confederate James tried to visit his federal brother by going to the Union lines and asking if the 79th. N.Y. was on picket duty. They weren't and the officer in charge of the Federal troops would not allow James to cross the lines and search for his brother nor would he send for Alex so he could be brought out for a meeting.

Alexander wrote his wife in New York, sending along a copy of James' letter, "it is rather bad to think that we should be fighting him on the one side and me on the other for he says he was in the fort during the whole engagement (.) I hope to god that he and I will get safe through it all and he will have his story to tell about his side and I will have my story to tell about my side."

After Secessionville the war continued for these two brothers. Alexander went with his regiment to be wounded in the foot carrying the U.S. colours in the aftermath of the Federal defeat at 2nd. Manassas (2nd. Bull Run) He was one of five Highlander colour bearers wounded during that Battle. At that battle General Isaac I. Stevens took the flag from one of the colour Sergeants to rally his men, crying, "Give me the colours! If they don't follow now, they never will!" The General charged forward a few feet and was killed by a shot though the head. It is unknown if Alex Campbell was present at this incident, or had already been wounded.

Alexander never fully recovered from his wound, was promoted to 2nd. Lieutenant and eventually resigned his commission and left the Federal army in May 1863.

James continued to fight for the Confederacy, helping to defend Charleston. In the famous attack on Battery Wagner by the 54th. Massachusetts. and other federal units on July 18, 1863, James was in the fort, having endured a terrible artillery barrage. The Federals overran part of the fort. James volunteered to investigate. He jumped atop the dark parapet in the night, demanded the troops identify themselves and was attacked by two federal soldiers who lunged at him with their bayonets. He pushed them from the parapet. They fell on their own bayonets and James ordered the other Federals there to surrender. They grabbed him by the leg and dragged him into the ditch below. When they withdrew from the fort, they took James as one of their five prisoners. Newspapers reported, "the oath of allegiance was tendered (Campbell) at Hilton Head, but rejected with the utmost scorn and contempt." While a prisoner, he was promoted to 1st. Lieutenant. While a prisoner, he corresponded with his brother Alexander. He was eventually freed on June 12, 1865 and returned home to Charleston.

After the war James managed a Plantation and eventually bought land on the Ashepoo River South of Charleston. He was active in Charleston's St. Andrews Society and the United Confederate Veterans. Alexander moved to Connecticut and established a business manufacturing "artistic monuments." They corresponded with each other and were on good terms after the war. James died in 1907 and Alexander died in 1909.

What transpired at a later date that Mary Ann McOwan , James and Sandy’s niece , left Crieff and went to live in Charleston North Carolina with her Uncle James . The date was 1877 . She later married and died in Cranford New Jersey in 1953 aged 83 .

Friday, 6 April 2012

The Breadalbane Campbells, The Campbell Brothers of Crieff and the American Civil War

Taymouth Castle

The Clearance Cairn Glen Quaich

The Breadalbane Campbells ,the Campbell Brothers of Crieff and the American Civil War


Considerable interest has arisen over the incredible tale of the two Campbell brothers from Crieff . Alexander or Sandy as he was better known and his older brother James who fought on opposite sides in the American Civil War away back in the mid 19th century .

I first became aware of this fascinating true tale of the two Crieff lads some years back when I was contacted by a descendant, Tim Campbell Naylor who lives in Baltimore Maryland .Tim , it transpired , is a two times great grand nephew of the two brothers . The purpose of this blog is two fold . I want firstly to look at the back ground to the scenario that saw them ending up fighting at the Battle of Secessionville in 1862 on different sides and secondly how the family came to Crieff in the first place .

John Campbell , the father of Sandy and James was born at Nether Balleychandey , a farm near Logierait between the towns of Pitlochry and Aberfeldy on the 26 July 1790 . His father in all probability was a farm worker but John was apprenticed as a stone mason and married a local girl , Clementina McLaren on the 21 September 1822 in Kenmore . He was 32 and she was 28 . Logierait is some 16 miles from Kenmore and one wonders why John was resident at that time in that particular place ? The answer in all probability lies in the activities of John Campbell’s kinsman who just had to have the same name as himself . John Campbell of Carwhin was the fourth Earl of Breadalbane and the owner of some 167 000 hectares or an incredible 412, 666 acres of Perthshire and Argyll . I know from historical research that in 1822 this incredibly wealthy Clan Chief had employed an architect William Atkinson to design and build a new East Wing to his palatial Taymouth Castle . This extension dwarfed the existing Adam pavilion and main house and required the skills of stone masons like John Campbell to bring it about .

This is a particularly contrasting time for the clansmen like John Campbell from Logierait and his Clan Chief . Despite the enormous wealth being generated by the Breadalbanes the land was exceedingly over crowded and the poorer members of the Clan were finding life more than a little difficult .It is perhaps apposite at this stage in the story to quote the following :

“In time the estates of Balloch will yield only one rent , then none at all, and the last laird will pass over Glenogle leaving nothing behind “

Prophecies of the Lady of Lawers c 1680

At this time a number of things happened which sullied the name and reputation of John Campbell , Marquis of Breadalbane .Glen Quaich runs North West from Amulree. From the furthest point the River Quaich runs South East from the hills into Loch Freuchie. Along the shore line of Loch Freuchie there are several sites of ruined communities. These communities would have several houses, sometimes a mill and would have been home to perhaps 10 to 15 families.
Most of this development happened in the 18th century when the communities in Loch Tay were being vacated as a result of the new farming and tenancy agreements brought about by the Marquis of Breadalbane. The families however did not remain in Glen Quaich for long, many emigrating to Canada. In the early 1800s around three hundred crofters left the glen to resettle in Canada. After a three month voyage they colonised the Easthope area of Ontario and named their settlements Amulree and Glenquaich.The road eventually rises up to the higher slopes of the glen where superb views make for an excellent photo opportunity and then descends down to Kenmore and the picturesque Loch Tay. R. Alister, author of ‘Barriers to the National Prosperity of Scotland’ details 500 families removed twixt 1834-53 from Breadalbane. 60 families from Glenquaich.
‘On the Braes of Taymouth, at the back of Drummond Hill, and at Tulloch youle, some forty or fifty families formerly resided where there is not one now. Glenorchy, by the returns of 1831, showed a population of 1806; in 1841, 831 - is there no depopulation there?....You must be aware that your late father raised 2300 men during the last war and that 1600 of those mean were from the Breadalbane estate. My statement is that 150 could not now be raised. Your Lordship has most carefully avoided all allusion to this - perhaps the worst charge of the whole. ..Those best acquainted with the Breadalbane estates assert that on the whole property no less than 500 families, or about 2500 souls, were driven into exile by the hard-hearted Marquis of that day.’

John Campbell, second Marquis of Breadalbane, was a man of austere countenance and commanding presence. He succeeded to the Marquisate in 1834, aged 38, and was inordinately proud of his ancestry and his exalted rank. Amongst his many other titles Wick; Viscount Tay and Pentland; Baronet of Glenorchy and Nova Scotia; and 15th laird of Glenorchy. His Gaelic patrynomic was Mhic Chailean mhic Dhonnachaidh and he was second only to the Duke of Argyll as Chief of all the Campbells. His ancestors had put together an estate of almost half a million acres in Perthshire and Argyll by fair means and foul, and in 1834 the second Marquis could ride fifty miles north and south, and a hundred miles east to west, without leaving his land.
But by 1834 the Breadalbane estates had become greatly over populated. There were 3500 people living on the north and south shores of Loch Tay in Perthshire who had between them 2000 head of cattle, 600 horses, 500 unbroken horses, 6000 sheep and 400 goats. The poor soil could not support so many and there was much hardship.
The first Marquis of Breadalbane had recruited 1600 men from his estates into a Fencible Regiment for the Napoleonic Wars. When the men returned home he divided farms into smaller units to give the veterans land, whether or not they were due to inherit as eldest sons. This well-meaning deed caused even worse poverty as the plots became uneconomic in size. His son, the second Marquis, listened to the fashionable liberals of the day who said that poverty stricken Highlanders should be removed from their miserable existence, and settled elsewhere. The younger sons of Highlanders had always had to leave home to seek their fortune elsewhere because the land could not support them. The terrible mistake of the new policy was to remove an entire stock of people and replace them with sheep, which were more profitable. On the advice of his factor the second Marquis evicted fourteen families from Rhynachuilg , twelve from Edramuckie, thirteen from Kiltyrie, nine from Cloichran, and nineteen from the farm of Acharn, all places lying at the west end of Loch Tay. The farm walls were levelled and the fields between turned into grazing for blackface sheep imported from the Borders.

Next to go was the entire population of Glenquaich, a lovely heather clad glen running inland from Loch Tay to the hamlet of Amulree, and where over 500 people lived. The evictions were carried out before the houses were set alight. The people decided to emigrate to Canada, and in particular to an untamed area of Ontario owned by the Canada Land Company. Eight or nine families had arrived here voluntarily in the summer of 1832 after a voyage lasting three months. Amongst these was John Crerar from Amulree who was older than the average immigrant. He was a tall, well built man who had been factor on the Shian estate in Glenquaich, and also a whisky smuggler, running distilled spirit from illicit stills in the glens to the towns. The excise men were closing in and John Crerar emigrated to Ontario to avoid arrest. Here he found employment constructing the Twentieth Line Road into an untamed region of 44,000 acres known as the North Easthope Concession,in South Ontario. This was named after Sir John Easthope, a director of the Canada Land Company and had first been surveyed just three years before in 1829.After the Breadalbane evictions began in 1834 more and more families from central Perthshire began to emigrate . They left with great sadness
The story of Anne Menzies is typical. She was born at Shian, Glenquaich in 1839. Her father was a local school teacher who also had a small croft. Out of this he had to provide the Marquis with two cartloads of peat, so many skeins of wool, so many pounds of butter and cheese, and £16 rent every year. Anne's family were forced to emigrate in 1842 and sailed from Greenock on the Clyde. The voyage was long and stormy and the ship was three times blown back to the Irish coast. Every one on board did their own cooking and ate their own supplies. There was much sickness and many died. Cholera was the scourge on the emigrant ships and over 20,000 victims of the ship-borne disease lie buried at Grosse Island, Quebec.

But the immigrants buckled down to the task of carving a new homeland out of the wilderness. The population of North Easthope had reached 2000 by 1850 and had 10,605 acres under cultivation. About this time the enormity of the evictions from the Breadalbane estates had dawned on the people of Scotland. The Marquis was condemned in the press and tried in vain to defend his policy. But the figures spoke for themselves. Out of 3500people on Loch Tayside only 100 were left. In Glenorchy in Argyll only 6 people were left out of a population of 500. The Marquis endeavoured to raise a Fencible regiment from the estate in 1850 but where his father raised 1500 willing men his son could only find 100, and none of them volunteered. 'Put your red Coats on the back of the sheep that have replaced the men !'.cried one old man These were prophetic words. The Second Marquis of Breadalbane died a lonely un mourned death in Switzerland in 1862. On the death of the third Marquis in 1922 the vast estate began to be broken up and by 1948 not a single inch remained out the half a million acres built up over 500 years by the family of Campbell of Breadalbane. 'The castle ha' sae big and braw' – Taymouth Castle - lies empty. Only the ruins of the deserted crofts remain in the empty glens.The clearances were only one contributing factor to the mass wave of emigration occurring at this time. The collapse of the kelp industry, extreme poverty, the potato famine all made a new life abroad seem desirable .

It was this sad chapter of events which undoubtedly brought the Campbell down the Glen and into Crieff . They took up residence at the foot of Mitchell in what was then termed Water Wynd ( not as now the lane from the “ Pret “ to Millar Street ) . Father John was still working away from home and Clementina was left to look after and bring up her five bairns : Janet aged 12 , Peter aged 8 , Ann aged 7 , James aged 5 and Alex or Sandy aged 3

In Part Two of this Blog I will look at what happened to the family - some staying in Crieff and others like James and Sandy seeking a new life .

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Tom a Chastel - The Royal Castle of Strathearn

Tom a Chastel

The Royal Castle of Strathearn

Fully a mile south of the old kirk of Monzievaird lies Trowan or Trewin . Today it is dominated by Baird’s monument sitting atop Tom a Chastel or the round hill of the castle Once it was the site of the Royal Castle of Earn ., In by gone times it was at the north east edge of the Glen Artney deer forest . From its summit beacon fires would proclaim the Earl’s rule over the whole of Strathearn . In 1329 John de Warrens , Earl of Surrey and his wife Joanna , Countess of Strathearn were condemned to imprisonment for life in the castle for complicity with various other lords against King Robert Bruce . The judgement was given by the Parliament at Scone . Joanna was the daughter of Malise , then seventh Earl of Strathearn . Tradition states that castle was burned down in the later part of the 14th century and some noble ladies confined therein were consumed by the flames . About 1790 most of the old stones of the castle were removed to be used as building material for the farm dykes and other enclosures. When excavations were being carried out for the erection of the present monument in 1832 , the old castle founds were exposed and several jars and pieces of metal were found blackened by the fire centuries before . From a part of the castle which probably had been the stables , a blackish mould was discovered which transpired to have been horse manure ! Inter mixed with this were pieces of metal which were identified as being stirrup buckles .

Wednesday, 4 April 2012



The creation of the Earl and Countess of Strathearn with the marriage of Wills and Kate created considerable interest and publicity both here in the Strath and indeed in Scotland as a whole . Unfortunately it has now become clear that this historic title dating back some 1 000 years is very much secondary to the chosen alternative of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge . The latter was first granted in 1664, when James Stuart, son of the Duke of York by his first wife, was granted the title. James, Duke of Cambridge died young and without heirs, and the title became extinct.

The purpose of this Blog is to look at how the title first came into use and the tales of intrigue and subterfuge which are closely woven into the fabric of the titles .

After the Battle of Lumphanan in 1057 when Malcolm Canmore defeated Macbeth , the emergent nation of Scotland was predominantly Irish / Celtic. It had a tribal structure with mormaers or Toiseachs ruling the major provinces as autonomous Princes under the high King , father of the people. The former province or Kingdom of Fortren became the Earldom or Mormaership of Strathearn. This was essentially a Pictish structure. The historian ,RA Dodgson wrote in 1981 about a possible evolution from a Pictish division of Alba into two ie north and south of the Mounth. That established the Mormaerships or deputies to the “ High King “. Despite the change to the feudalism introduced by David l who had brought up in Norman ways , Strathearn survived as Celtic earldom after 1286. The Earldoms were sub divided into thanages such as Balquhidder in West Strathearn. These thanages had a thaneston where the thane lived and often a “ kirkton “. It is possible that the “ pit “ names of Pictish Strathearn may conceal the locations of the ancient tribal capitals.

According to Porteous , the name of Malise , Earl of Strathearn appears on a charter founding the monastery at Scone. He was succeeded by his son Ferteth or Ferquhard. He conspired with the other five Mormaers against Malcolm who had antagonised the people with his homage to the English King Henry ll. There was near rebellion and eventually Malcolm sought peace with his Earls. Ferteth was succeeded by his son Gilbert who with the feudalising of the land was the first to receive charters from the King. Muthill ( 1172/78 ) and Madderty in 1185 were the first. At this time there was a minor uprising against King William led by Gillecolm whose title was Marshall and is said to have occupied Dundurn .

The Earldom of Strathearn now stretched from Newburgh in the east to Balquhidder in the west. Inchaffrey Abbey was founded in 1200 and the name Crieff first appears in the charters. One witness is described as Bricius, the parson of Crieff ( about 1199).

Earl Gilbert did well for himself. He married Matilda , daughter of the Earl of Arundel ( to become the Norfolks) . He had 8 sons and 3 daughters. He took a prominent part in the coronation of Alexander ll in 1214. He died in 1223 and was succeeded By Robert a great supporter of Inchaffrey having initially quarrelled with the Abbot over their possessions. He signed a charter in the 1222 in the ancient Church of Strageath.

The Earls of Strathearn were very important play makers in the King’s business. Malise who succeeded Robert attended the coronation of Alexander lll in 1249. The king was only 8 ! The young King married Margaret daughter of King Henry of England 2 years later. Henry tried to inveigle his way into Scottish affairs but the young King resisted. Malise was in the favour of the English King and was appointed co Regent ( there were 15 in number ) to govern Scotland until Alexander reached 21.Malise married 4 times and as a result inherited more land and property. From his first wife Marjory he obtained lands in Northumberland. From his second wife Matilda , daughter of the Earl of Caithness and Orkney he obtained the Barony of Cortachy in Angus. He then married Emma and lastly Maria, widow of Magnus , King of Man. The account of Malise tells how he used his rights to “ sell “ many of the poorer classes into service of the Church at Inchaffrey. He died in 1271.

His son also Malise ( lll ) was made a Regent to the Maid of Norway , Margaret. Malise was in collusion with Edward l and was a party to the signing of the Treaty of Salisbury by which the Scottish Estates agreed to the marriage of Edward’s son to the young maid and heiress to the Scottish throne. She died and history was changed.

It should be emphasised the Earls of Strathearn were amongst the leading nobility in Scotland. The Pope when addressing the See of Dunblane wrote directly to the Earl .He married the sister of John Comyn , Earl of Buchan. Malise a was an Anglophile and in 1291 paid homage to Edward l at Stirling. He supported Balliol. He did however follow him when he invaded Cumberland and ravaged the country. In fact he was captured but soon released and paid further homage to Edward. His sons were residing at the English Court. In 1303 Malise was with the English army at Perth dining with the Prince of Wales. As Bruce gained the favour and support of the Scottish nobility and was crowned king at Scone in 1306, Malise continued his support for Edward. Bruce delivered an ultimatum to him via the Abbot of Inchaffrey, to acknowledge his sovereignty but the reply was curt : “ Nay, I have nothing to do with him “.

Bruce and the Earl of Atholl marched into Strathearn to Fowlis, at that time the chief. castle of the Earldom

Malise had now retired to what was referred to then as the “ wood of Crieff ( possibly Callum’s Hill ) “ with his retainers . Bruce delivered another ultimatum. Malise met with him but refused to swear fealty and departed under a safe conduct arrangement. Malise blew it when he met with the Earl of Atholl and insulted him over his loyalty to Bruce.

The incensed Atholl persuaded Bruce to withdraw safe conduct from Malise who was take n prisoner and sent to Inchcolm on the Firth of Forth. His obstinacy continued until death was threatened and he duly performed homage to Bruce. This was never true and when asked to march with Bruce against the Earl of Pembroke, refused. He was besieged at Castle Cluggie ( Ochtertyre ) . Malise spoke with Bruce but nothing transpired to change matters. thereafter Bruce was defeated at Methven by the Earl of Pembroke . Malise was a born loser. Thereafter he was captured by his English friends and charged with treason for swearing fealty to Bruce whilst on Inchcolm. He was confined to Rochester Castle “ but not in chains “ by Edward . His son also Malise was detained at Carlisle. Malise was tried at Westminster, but acquitted having stated that his loyalty to Bruce was forced upon him under threat of death. Thereafter he remained loyal to the English. His son however threw in his lot with Bruce and when Perth was stormed son captured father. He died shortly thereafter and was buried in Inchaffrey Abbey to the right of the High Alter.

The future of The Celtic Earls of Strathearn was heading towards a certain end. Their duplicity and opposition to Bruce were their ultimate downfall. Of Malise lV the tale of Tom a Chastile will be told elsewhere. He seemed to have regained at one time some of the lost importance thrown away by his father as he is the fourth signatory to the Declaration of Arbroath. What happened to him is uncertain. Malise V paid the penalty of his forefathers. Baliol had granted the title to the Earl of Surrey and it was claimed that Malise lll had stood down voluntarily. In 1344 David ll would not reinstate him and granted the title to Maurice Moray . Moray’s tenure was short lived . He was killed at the Battle of Durham and the title remained dormant for a number of years. In 1370 Robert ll conferred the title upon his son David. The title passed to the Graham family when David’s daughter married Patrick Graham. The animosity between the Drummonds and Murrays arose from a court case where Sir Alexander Murray , a brother in law of the King , declined to appear before Sir John Drummond, Steward of Strathearn on a murder charge Eventually he did with much bad feeling .

In 1413 , Sir Patrick Graham, Earl of Strathearn was forced by the Murray family to remove Sir John Drummond from office. In the park at Ferntower Sir John killed Earl Patrick and took flight to Ireland and was never heard of again. Malise Graham became Earl on the death of his mother 1408. He was delivered as a hostage for the release of James l from England. James coveted the title and claimed that the Graham claim was faulty. He thus annexed it to the Crown and ended the long line of independent Earls of Strathearn .

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Intrigue In Pictish Strathearn



After the defeat at Mons Graupius in AD 82 , the Caledonian tribes ( the emerging Picts ) in all probability co existed with the Roman occupiers of Strathearn . Archaeological opinion and the lack of evidence of any confrontation between the two clearly indicates that Strathearn or Fortren was more or less at peace . Remember that after Mons Graupius , Roman presence existed , off and on up until about 380 AD . At its peak Roman armed strength was considerable possibly reaching some 20 000 armed soldiers in or about the Gask Ridge . This is some three times the number of inhabitants of Crieff in the early part of the 21st Century ! The logistics of providing the ordinance for these troops must have been considerable and would have provided adequate opportunity for the entrepreneurial Picts ! The arrival of the 5th century in Strathearn saw the Pictish inhabitants going from strength to strength as the dominant Kingdom of Pictavia .

Kenneth mac Alpin came to Strathearn and took over the Pictish Kingdom of Fortren/ Fortriu between 839 and 844. He was a Scot of Dalriadic origin from the branch of Cenel Gabrain . ( Dalriada was basically modern Argyll on the west coast of Scotland ). Why he ended up as king is not quite clear ! There was precedent in that Scots had previously occupied similar positions. He took up his kingship at the Palace of Forteviot which lay at the confluence of the Water of May and the River Earn to the east of Dunning here, in Strathearn. The tales that emerged after his death were numerous and basically unsubstantiated. It was said that he had seized power in an illicit coup. The account of his reign in the book Berchan’s Prophecy states that he purged the Pictish nobility in a single act of treachery- at perhaps the first but not the last “ black dinner “ in Scottish history. Extra colour was given to the story when it was stated later that traps had been set under the benches for the unsuspecting Pictish nobles. It is clear however that Kenneth has now been recognised as first King of the Scots. During his reign he invaded Lothian six times . In turn the Britons raided as far as Dunblane whilst the Danes got as far north as Dunkeld. It was however only after his death that the regnum of the Scots moved to Forteviot. Although Kenneth claimed to be King of Scotland his rule in fact covered the southern Pictish Kingdoms of Fortren itself, Fib or Fife, Circenn and Atholl. His influence was indeed less than his Pictish predecessors , Kings of Fortren , namely Constantine and Oengus. At this time the Pictish kingdoms north of the Mounth probably moved out of his domination. He was an ambitious but somewhat unsuccessful warlord.


In 849 the relics of St Columba were moved to Dunkeld from Dalriada in the West. This is significant as he was the Patron Saint of Dalriada. Scone became the centre Fortren and the place where Scots Kings were to be crowned. St Andrews in Fife as the name suggests was the centre of veneration for St Andrew and had been established a century earlier during the reign of Constantine.


One of the complexities of following the so called “ King line “ in Pictish genealogy is that the Picts followed what is termed Tanastic succession . This Celtic law of succession saw the crown being passed down to strongest or most suitable male from the immediate family . It was not until 1034 and the death of Malcolm ll that things changed .Without exception grand sons and cousins or sometimes brothers succeeded rather than sons. Life was short. Of the 14 between the death of Kenneth in 858 and 1034, no fewer than 5 reigned for 5 years or less and a further 4 survived less than 10. The politics of this period still involved the minor Kings of Scots and Picts as well as the Dumbarton Kings of Strathclyde. Strathclyde had become a subservient kingdom to MacAlpin’s based in Strathearn. Things were precarious in the extreme . The Britons had inflicted defeat on them at Abercorn near the Forth. Another threat had arisen from the Viking Kingdom based in York. Politically Kenneth MacAlpin showed a degree of political astuteness by chosing a varierty of names for his sons , Pictish, ,Roman, Gaelic and Scandinavian. ( ie Constantine, Aed and Olaf. )

Kenneth Macalpin had in the 830s aligned himself with the Viking King of the Hebrides. Constantine ll married off his daughter to Olaf lll Norwegian King of Dublin as Kenneth had done before him. Viking ( Danish ) York was played off against Norwegian Dublin. In 866 Olaf King of Dublin attacked and laid waste much of Pictavia . Four years later he sacked Dunbarton the Briton’s capital after a 4 month siege. He attacked Galloway and the north of England , slayed a Saxon king and returned to Dublin with 200 ships and countless slaves and booty. In 869 , the Pictish Chronicles record that Fortren was ravaged and plundered by the Danes and carried off hostages. In 874 his successors laid waste the North of Scotland including Caithness, Moray Ross and Sutherland. A year later he was defeated and the lands recaptured. In 877 , Constantine was killed at a battle with the Danes in Fife. The armies clashed at Dollar. In 889 , Harold King of Norway captured the Western Isles. Orkney and Caithness come under Norwegian “ jarldom “.

In 900 , Danes pillaged east coast of Scotland and Donald King of Scots was slain at Dunotter. At this time the tower at Abernethy was constructed.In 903 , the Danes again attacked Fortren but were beaten by the local men thus fulfilling the “ Prophecy of St Berchan “ :

“ By him shall be attacked the powerful house
Ah, my heart ! on the banks of the Earn,
Red shall be the colour of the house before him,
He shall fall by the men of Fortrenn . “

Legend states that the Men of Fortrenn went into battle with the crozier of St Columba as its standard. This was the last of the attempted Scandinavian invasions of Mac Alpin’s realm.


In 997 Kenneth IV came to the throne. Called Grim or Donn ( brown) he fought a civil war in Strathearn with Malcolm son of the previous Kenneth lll who was king of Cumberland and laid claim to the Scottish throne. He invaded Strathearn in 1004 and the sides clashed at Monzievaird , probably on the south side of Ochtertyre. Kenneth was slain and Malcolm ll became King. The OS map ( ref NN 823 287) shows the site to the east of Loch Turret and it is called Cairn Chainachan or the cairn of Kenneth .

Strathearn's Pictish Trail

Strathearn’s Pictish Trail

Strathearn the ancient Pictish Kingdom of Fortren or Fortriu still retains much of its mysterious Pictish past . A past which may not be instantly discernible to the visitor or indeed the resident of our beautiful part of Perthshire.


A first clue to the former locations of our Pictish ancestors lies in place names
Picts spoke “ P- Gaelic “ unlike the Scots Gaelic spoken today. It was more akin to Welsh , Breton and Cornish. It used the OGHAM alphabet as seen on many of the inscribed standing stones around the Strath . Place names indicating a Pictish presence mostly start with “ Pit “or “ Pett “. This means a parcel of land and is not generally found south of Antonine’s Wall which bisects Scotland from the Clyde to the Forth .

In Strathearn these names still abound Names such as Pittentian, Pittacher, Pett Farm at Muthill , Pitkellony all indicate an earlier Pictish presence ! Other prefixes which again show an early Pictish settlement and are derived from the “ P- Celtic “ language are Carden, Lanerc , Pert, Pevr and Aber .

Standing Stones
As you wander around the Strath and stravaig the quieter back roads and rolling hills you inevitably come across single standing stones and circles . These stone circles and alignments are pre Pictish and belong to the third millennium ie 3000 BC This was a time of change when communal burial replaced by individual burial and new types of pottery and metal working introduced. first copper then bronze. The communal burial took place in a stone chambered cairns or barrows. Stone circles or henges ceremonial and often recorded celestial movement. Single stones possibly tribal boundary markers. My good friend Andrew Finlayson of Comrie has produced a splendid book on these stones You can read more on the Blog

As we have noted in earlier Blogs , the Pictish period can be dated approximately from 100 AD through to about 850 AD . The Pictish inhabitants of Fortren/Fortriu have left a clear marker of their presence in their symbol stones .

Pictish Symbol Stones and Cross

These date from the mid 6th century until about the 8th century. They are divided into three classes .

Class l : The designs are incised not carved in relief onto boulders or on roughly dressed stones. No Christian crosses or other recognised attributes are found . Dating is uncertain, and designs are “ crescent and V- rod “ , the notched rectangle and Z-rod and the arch and horse shoe. You also find animal forms like serpents , bulls and boars.One example in Strathearn is some two and a quarter miles SW of Auchterarder (NN 924 097 )It is located in a field near to the road .Is incised with a bird - probably a goose , with its head turned back .Also a rectangular double edged comb. Other Class 1 stones are found eastwards of Strathearn in Angus . There two outstanding examples are the Aberlemno Stone( pictured above ) and the Dunnichen Stone . The latter is housed in the Meffan Institute in Forfar with a replica located at Dunnichen Churchyard .

Class ll :These date from 9th century and differ from the earlier Class 1 in that they clearly show the Christian influence particularly with the crosses. The older symbols have become less pronounced and they are carved in relief on one side. They are dated to the 9th and 10th century and the Christian symbols , the cross and various allegorical forms often show an elaborate decorative interlace . The delightful village of Fowlis Wester (NN 927 240) has two fine examples of Class ll stones . ( pic at head of page ) The first was until comparatively recently located in the small square leading up to the church . With the damaging pollutants in our atmosphere beginning to reek havoc with the soft sandstone , it was removed for renovation to the National Museum in Edinburgh . On its return it found safe sanctuary within the walls of the attractive little Kirk of St Beans built on a site in the centre of the village which has ecclesiastical connections dating back to the 10 the century . The stone shows a man leading a cow with a bell and two horsemen in two tiers with a beast between them. One horseman has a hawk. Perhaps a man being devoured by a beast. The second stone was found during restoration in the 1930s. It could be Jonah and the whale although debate still persists . The two Saints are possibly St Paul and St Anthony.

The 1837 Statistical account for the Parish of Fowlis Wester refers to the existence of “ Druids “ referring to the stone circle above the village. To quote what was written at the time :

“ Fowlis appears to have a favourite seat of the Druids. Several of their clachans have been demolished but there are still four large Druidic stones standing west from the village one of which is a croleach or alter stone, in which there is an artificial cavity where the blood and oil of the sacrifices flowed. On the summit of the hill due north from the same place there is a Druidic circle of stones and a double concentric circle. This is believed to have been the temple of an arch Druid which when erected was probably in the midst of a forest in which were the oak and consecrated grove, the favourite objects of their superstition. The circle consists of sixteen stones between which and the double circle there is a large stone incumbent where the arch druid stood and addressed himself to those around him. The outer precinct of the concentric circle is 18 yards in circumference in which there are 40 stones. Three yards north from it there is a large standing stone which is probably monumental of some illustrious dead as they were then interred around those places, where they worshipped the Supreme Being. To the west of this temple there is a Siun which signifies in Gaelic a mount of peace, near which is a fairy hillock where urns have been found. and which s believed to have been inhabited by an inferior kind of genii called fairies. On the Siuns , the Druids held assizes when it was customary to kindle a large bonfire called Samhin or the fire of peace. On Hallows Eve , a druidical festival , these fires are still lighted up in this district and retain the same name.

The same Account later on mentions the cross and states that there were once chains where culprits were attached to and exposed to punishment like a pillory. There is a story that up until the turn of the century the old cross was smeared in grease to ward off evil spirits.

The Royal Palace of Strathearn and the Dupplin Cross

We have in earlier Blogs discussed briefly the royal Palace of Forteviot and its importance in the rise to power of the kings of Fortren . Archaeologists believe Forteviot was the chief residence of the Kings of Starthearn as far back as the 7th century and a s such was recognised as the capital of Fortren by Pinkerton in 1789 . Despite this, there is no documentary evidence to confirm Forteviot’s royal associations before the 9th century . This of course is in all probability due to the poor survival of Pictish sources from that early period .

We read that Kenneth mac Alpin (or to give him his Pictish name Cinead Mac Alpin ) moved from Dalriata or Dalriada in the west to Forteviot in the 9th century . This was a time that saw the culmination of a long period of cultural , linguistic and political integration between the Scots in the West and the Picts here in Strathearn . The complexity of the King lists can be followed from the sources the Scottish Chronicle and the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba ( Scotland ) . These are indeed transcriptions of earlier versions now lost in the mists of time but which are well authenticated over the years . The reason mac Alpin moved east was in all probability o the risks of Viking raids in Argyll . Mac Alpin is now recognised a s being more Pictish than Scots and his immediate successors after he died at Forteviot were Pictish and not Scottish Kings . The names Alpin and Kenneth ( Cinaed ) are Pictish as opposed to Gaelic . The Prophesy of Bercan states

Seventeen years , heights of valour
In the high –kingship of Alba
After slaughtering Picts , after harassing Vikings
He dies on the banks of the Earn .

The digs and investigations at Forteviot have undoubtedly increased or knowledge of our somewhat mysterious Pictish antecedents . The control of the kingdom was based on dominance . The Pictish kings would have travelled around their kingdom and stayed in places of strength which were well fortified such as Dundurn at St Fillans .

What then happened to Forteviot that only the archaeological digs of Nick Aitchison and his colleagues can really determine ? It is clear that the Palace was swept away by the power of the Water of May as it changed course on numerous occasions over the years . , that powerful river that joins the Earn at Forteviot . It was in the mud of the river the magnificent sculpted arch way from the Palace was recovered - the only remnant to have so far been recovered from its destruction in the 12th century . To quote Aitchison : “ One item stands out amongst this evidence . This is the magnificent arch , carved from a single block of sandstone and decorated with men and beasts in an enigmatic and unique scene that has eluded interpretation since its discovery over 170 years ago . The Forteviot Arch is a masterpiece of early medieval sculpture and provides the most tangible evidence of the royal centre of Forteviot , a direct link with a distant and forgotten past and its inhabitants “ ( pictured at the head of this Blog )

We cannot discuss Forteviot without mentioning the two crosses associate with it . The first , the Dupplin Cross now resides in St Serf’s Church in Dunning having been moved there after renovation Edinburgh about 1998 . It is a Pictish high cross standing nearly 9’ high and was originally in a field looking towards Forteviot .A badly weathered Roman inscription was detected in 1990 on the west face of the cross . This is one of only four Latin inscriptions found on a Pictish sculpture . It would appear that the stone relates to Causantin son of Uurguist who was King of the Picts between 789 and 820 . By linking the cross to a named individual , this inscription enables the cross to be dated more closely . The Dupplin Cross was a public and monumental expression of Royal power .

The Invermay Cross stood south of Forteviot but suffered considerable damage when broken up by the farmer on whose ground it stood in the 19th century Much of the carving that has been found on the remnants of the cross closely resembles that of the Dupplin Cross .