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 asked  by a lady from Ontario  in Canada to look into her Scottish roots and in particular those of her ancestors  who had  come  from Glen Beich near Lochearnhead . At that time I was totally  ignorant  of the significance  of this , one of the most beautiful and unheralded  parts of the Strath . Apparently  her family  had  been small crofters in a n area of the Glen on an  elevated part above the settlement of Ardveich . Ardveich which in Gaelic is Ard-Bheathaich or “ height of the birch woods ” lies  less 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 is  clear that this area had been  inhabited  for countless generations back into the mists of time . A castle had  been built  near by and had been constructed as a fortified  tower  house for the  chief of the Clan McLaren . It  has been referred to as both Ardveich and Dalveich Castle over the years and now is sadly a mere pile of  rubble surmounted  by a clump of trees .These lands were originally as noted the fiefdom of the McLarens . The origins of the clan are uncertain, but by tradition the MacLarens are descended from Loarn mac Eirc of Dál Riata, who landed in & settled Argyll in 503 A.D. The clan name is supposedly derived from Lorn (variations Loarn, Laurin, Laren); these variations are all ultimately pronounced Lawrin in Gaelic. However there is no concrete evidence of Lorn being the progenitor of the family. A more likely origin of the clan is that they take their name from a 13th century abbot called Laurance of Achtow. This theory is also supported by the MacLaren rallying cry which in gaelic is: "Creag an Tuirc" which means "Boars Rock". The rock in question is near Achtow in Balquhidder . Dalveich of course is not that  far  from there and in the 17th century this powerful clan held all the land in the lower part of  the Glen . They were however in something  of a decline  and the lands came into the possession of the Marquis of Atholl and eventually the powerful Marquis of Breadalbane . From the extremely informative Stewarts of Balquhidder Discussion Forum ( , it is explained that the lands of this part of Glen Beich  were occupied  by the Stewarts  from about the middle of the 17th century on leasehold tenure ( wadset ) . These Stewarts were a  branch of the well known Stewarts of Ardvorlich  on the south side of the Loch .
In those far off days this would have  been a thriving  community with the tenants living a crofting  existence relying  on fish ( from the Beich Burn and no doubt the adjoining Loch ) as well as root crops such as potatoes , seasonal barley or bear for food and beer and flax which was spun and  woven into linen cloth . A hard but satisfying existence in this  idyllic  spot . The old parish records show  countless generations of Stewarts being born , living out life and dying in this so beautiful airt . Alas, by the mid 19th century all was to change . The rapacious  Marquis of Breadalbane realised that sheep were more profitable than people and the Perthshire clearances began both here  and in Glen Quaich near Amulree . En masse the people  moved away having  been thrown off their lands and the roofs of their cottages  stripped and burned . It is part of our history which in a Perthshire context has been overlooked . It should  not  be forgotten . These people should be remembered for the suffering they endured prior  to reaching the promised land of Canada . Not a few failed to make it  .
Ruins of Ardveich/Dalveich Castle
 Deserted croft


The Beich Burn




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