Sunday, 15 December 2013

Jacobites in Strathearn ( Part Two )

The defeat at Culloden however was a signal for the Hanoverian establishment led  by the odious Duke of Cumberland aka “ Stinking Willie “ to carry out a campaign of virtual genocide  to eradicate a  culture , a people and a proud society . Much has  been written  regarding support  for  the Jacobite cause in Scotland as a  whole. In Perthshire Strathearn we  find  much distortion of the truth mostly  spun  not by the English politicians  but mainly  by the fanatically zealous Calvanistic  Presbyterians who had never  hidden their hatred  of the mainly Episcopalian and Catholic Jacobites .

The support within  Strathearn  for the Jacobites was  considerable mainly  attributable  to the fact that the Lairds of the land such as the Drummonds , Murrays and Grahams had raised  considerable  numbers  from their  territories to fight for the cause . Much of this  has  been air brushed from history and accordingly I list below  a synopsis  of  some of those from Strathearn and Southern Perthshire   who fought , escaped  were transported or returned  or died  in the conflict . It is  taken from the list compiled in 1998 by Frances McDonnell.

Alexander Abernethy , Captain , farmer , Tippertie  , Duke of Perths Regt  captured at siege of Carlisle  30 Dec 1745 Died  in Southward Prison Aug 1746

John Archibald  , Sheriff Officer Perth imprisoned  10 Feb 1746  Perth and Edinburgh Jail  released under  General Pardon 1746 .

David Barrie , cottar  Easter Kinnaird , Atholl Brigade  , in South  and in England   paid listing money ) .

David Baxter ,weaver in Murray of Niviland’s Factory , Crieff,  Duke of Perths Regt , transported 20 Mar 1747 from Tilbury

John Bourne from Huntingtower, Ogilvy’s Regt , cordwainer , 30 Dec 1745 in Carlisle Prison and Chester Castle . Taken at capture of town . No further information regarding him .

Robert Bresdie, resident of Muthill, pressed out by Lord Drummond but returned now at home.

John Buchanan , Auchterarder, age 22 .Duke of Perths Regt , Buchanan’s Company , carried  arms as a volunteer in the Jacobite Army Prisoner at Auchterarder 7 May 1746, Stirling Castle and Carlisle Prisons , servant to Capt Alexander Buchanan , transported 24 Feb 1747 from Liverpool to Virginia  on the Gildart  arrived at Port North Potomac Maryland  5 Aug 1747.

David Butter in Drum servant ( paid listing money ) Atholl Brigade killed at Culloden

 Martha Campbell  , Duke of Perths Regt  released  1747.

Patrick  Butler . Perthshire  , Tullibardines ( ie Atholl’s Regt ) 24 Jun 1746 imprisoned in Perth , 9 Aug  1746 Carlisle Prison , acquitted  19 Sep 1746 .

James Campbell or MacGregor  from Crieff  Perthshire , piper , Glengyle’s Regt , imprisoned in Carlisle , pleaded guilty  at his trial  on 9 Sep  1746  and sentenced to death . Was reprieved  and tried to escape the night before he was transported  on Elizabeth , Master Daniel Cole from Liverpool to Jamaica   6 Feb 1748n but landed in Antigua .  21 Mar 1748 .

Mungo Campbell , Milnrogie , Glenalmond ,Atholl Brigade .

Mungo Campbell , Ensign  in Glengyle’s Regt , late soldier  in lord John Murray’s  Regt ,Crieff , imprisoned in Perth  23 Mar 1747 , discharged  on bail 11 Jul 1747 .

William Murray , Postmaster , Crieff , carried arms  in some superior  station , whereabouts not known .

Murray Younger of  Dollarie  Crieff , volunteer  , wherabouts  not known . ( son of  Murray of Dollerie  , Sheriff – Depute of Perthshire )

Allan McDonald , brewer , Crieff , volunteer , whereabouts not known .

William Harrell , Struthill Mains , Muthill , carried arms  as a volunteer  , whereabouts not known .

James Drysdale , Muthill Perthshire  , Duke of Perths  Regt , pressed in to service , now at home .

Peter ( or Patrick ) Drummond ,Ensign , Bellnae Comrie  imprisoned  May 1746  in Stirling Castle  discharged  19 May 1746 “ on suspicion “ . 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Crieff Shops and businesses 100 years ago ( names & places ) - Part Two

List of the Retail and Business Outlets in Crieff in 1913/1914 giving name of proprietor and address - Part Two

One Hundred Years Ago !

This is Part Two of the Blog  published on the 29th August 2013 I have listed all the names  and addresses of the businesses and professions . Of the ten banks listed only two ( the Bank of Scotland and the Clydesdale ) remain . Campbell the Bakers is still in King Street albeit at a different address . Of the other names that still trade  we have solicitors  Graham & Finlayson in Comrie Street , Frank Thomson in East High Street and the Strathearn Herald is still around  but operating from Perth and not Crieff . Such is
change !

Bakers (6)

Hugh Campbell 2 King Street

Crieff Cooperative Society East High Street

David Ferguson 53 King Street

Peter McCowan Comrie Street

WH McKinlay  26 High Street

Robert Taylor 50 High Street and 1 King Street

Banks (10 )

Bank of Scotland Galvelmore Street

British Linen Co  Bank High Street

Clydesdale Bank Ltd West High Street

Commercial Bank of Scotland James Square

Union Bank of Scotland West High Street

North of Scotland Bank James Square

Post Office Savings Bank at head Post Office and Hydropathic and King Street

Savings Bank of the County and City of Perth

Berlin Wool and Fancy Repositories ( 5 )

Miss Aitken King Street

Mrs H Hay King Street

Miss Lowrie West High Street

Miss McIntyre Comrie Street

Miss White 16 High Street

Billposting ( 1)

A Macdonald  Burrell Street

Blacksmiths (12)

George Anderson Commissioner Street

Thomas Burrell Dubbs Head Madderty

Robert Galloway New Fowlis Wester

James Marshall and Sons  Tomacknock and Ochtertyre

Andrew Morris Gorthy Fowlis Wester

William Murray Logiealmond

Peter McNab Cornton Place

James Pringle Mitchell Street

James Rorie Harrietfield

John Stewart East High Street

William Watt Commissioner Street

James Young St Davids Madderty

Booksellers  Stationers Printers Binders and Newsagents ( 9)

Robert Band 40 High Street

JF Balfour Comrie Street

Peter Comrie 23 West High Street

Mrs DD Makinson King Street

George Miller High Street

George McCulloch  11 James Square

David Philips 20 Comrie Street

James Robertson King Street

David Smith West High Street ( and also in  King Street )

Boot and Shoe Makers (10 )

M Allan The Cross

A & DF Cook West High Street

Crieff Cooperative Society High Street

John Dickson High Street

Dundee Equitable Boot Stores 37 High Street

William Mottashaw King Street

D McEwan 22 High Street

MP Smeaton West High Street

James Smith King Street

James Whyte St Davids Madderty

Cabinetmakers (7)

John Caw ( and upholsterer) 50 High Street

William Drummond and Sons Burrell Street

James Halley King Street

Alex Kerr ( and upholsterer ) Hill Street

George Myles ( and upholsterer ) High Street

R McNab King Street

Stothhard and Sons Duchlage Road

Cart and Ploughwrights (6)

James Comrie New Fowlis Wester

James Duff Buchanty

Monteath Bros Commissioner Street

John McKerchar New Fowlis

John McOwan St Davids Madderty

Daniel McRostie Fowlis Wester

Chemists and Druggists ( 4)

F Hamilton 12 James Square

Harley & Watts James Square

Wm McKenzie James Square & Comrie Street

Robert Speedie  25 High Street

China & Glass Dealers (1)

P & PJ Currie 1 West High Street

Coach Builders  (2)

Crieff Motor & Carriage Co Church Street

David Millar & Sons Commissioner Street

Coach Hirers (11)

William Black 1 Marshall Place

William Brown Meadowhead

Robert Donaldson Ferntower Road

John Duff & Son Academy Road

John Halley Gavelmore Street

Roberet Hislop Burrell Street

T & R Lauder Drummond Arms Stables James Square

Thomas Locke Commissioner Street

RE McArthur High Street

Peter Scrimgeour Lodge Street

Henry Smith High Street

Coal Merchants (6)

( all located at Railway Station )

Alloa Coal Co – John Scrimgeour , agent .

Alexander Herron ( and lime )

JohnMenzies ( and lime )

Thomas Muir , son and Patton – William Barlass – agent.

John McOwan

A Stewart

Cycle Agents and Hirers ( 4)

Peter Crerar High Street

James Halley King Street

D McBirnie James Square

D Miller & Sons Commissioner Street

Dentists ( 3)

AP Barrie 6 Burrell Square

George Crighton 28 High Street

James Fraser LDS Comrie Street

Fishing Tackle Makers (2)

James Gibson King Street

Mrs Jack 36 High Street

Fleshers ( Butchers ) ( 5 )

D Comrie King Street

Robert Kemp King Street

John McCulloch & Sons 25 West High Street

William Roy 12  High Street

John Veitch East High Street

Game Dealers and Fishmongers ( 5)

Charles Duncan 2 King Street

Alexander Heron ( game ) Railway Station

John Low West High Street

JD McGlashan High Street

John Menzies ( game ) Railway Station

Greengrocers and Fruiterers ( 4)

Thomas Cuthbert East High Street

James McAra High Street

Donald McOmish 9 West High Street & 25 Comrie Street

Grocers ( 1)

J McFarlane King Street

Grocers & General Dealers ( 20 )

( marked thus * are also Spirit Dealers )

Mrs Ainsworth 91 King Street *

Donald Anderson  St Davids Madderty

A Cameron 7 Comrie Street *

James Cochrane 17 High Street *

Crieff Cooperative Society East High Street

Thomas Cuthbert 2 East High Street

Peter Dakers  Fowlis Wester

Lipton Ltd High Street

A Laing 44 High Street *

William Low & Co West High Street

James Melville James Square *

J & A Miller Comrie Street  *

D & J McEwan & Co James Square *

Thomas McEwan & Co South Bridgend

J McFarlane King Street

Mrs McGregor 56 King Street

Mrs Stevenson Miller Street

William Watson High Street *

Hairdressers (5 )

WJ Bryden King Street

John Cameron East High Street

AP Mills West High Street

Robert McKenzie Comrie Street

D Stewart 60 King Street

Hotels Innkeepers and Hydropathic Establishment ( 15)

Commercial King Street -  Miss Neish

Drummond Arms – Kelly  - James Square

Strathearn Hydropathic Establishment Thomas H Meikle MD manager

Mrs Innes Foulford

McFarlane Fowlis Wester

James Melrose Pretoria

John Miller Harrietfield

Charles McDonald – Star 35 East High Street

A McIntyre Railway Inn King Street

Thomas – Crown Inn East High Street


AJ Forrest – Victoria King Street

Mary Headrick King Street

William Kay High Street

Misses McRae 13 James Square

Joseph Mitchell West High Street

Ironmongers and Hardwaremen (4)
Mark Aitken & Sons High Street

Walter Muir ( and oil merchant ) High Street

Thomson & Lunns 3 King Street

Frank Thomson East High Street

Joiners and Carpenters (9)

J Band Miller Street

John Caw High Street

William Drummond & Sons Burrell Street

D Ferguson Ramsay Street

Monteath Brothers Commissioner Street

Peter McGregor Burrell Street

John McLeod Gilmerton

Duncan Robertson Harrietfield

Stothard & Sons Duchlage Road

Laundries (8 )

Mrs Clark Comrie Road

Mrs Fotheringham Burrell Street

Hydro Laundry Dallerie

Mrs McGregor West High Street

Mrs Munro Galvelmore Street

Miss Smith Milnab Street

Strathearn Laundry Co Ramsay Street

Miss Wilson King Street

Libraries (4)

Peter Comrie West High Street

Free library Taylor’s Trust Comrie Street

G McCulloch James Square

Public Library Innerpeffray

Linen & Woollen Drapers ( 10 )

JCAmes High Street

Donald Anderson St Davids Madderty

Alfred A Diack 24 West High Street

J & J Graham James Square

W Inglis High Street

WJ Lynas High Street

George McNeill James Square

James S Rentoul 20 High Street

David Rodger High Street

A  J Scrimgeour Comrie Street

Manufacturer ( 1)

R & H Hay  ( wool spinners ) Earn Vale Mills Crieff

Millars ( 6)

Peter Anderson Mill of Cultoquey

Alexander Comrie Buchanty

John Fraser Dubheads Madderty

J Miller Bridgend Mills

Robert Taylor Dalvreck

Peter White Milnab Mill

Milliners and Dressmakers ( 12 )

JC Ames High Street

Misses Best 16 High Street

J & J Graham James Square

Mrs Johnstone Burrell Square

Miss Kippen Burrell Square

Margaret McCowan  ( baby linen etc ) 8 Comrie Street

George McNeill James Square

David Rodger Comrie Street

A & J Scrimgeour Comrie Street

Mrs Sharp Burrell Street

Miss Whyte King Street

Miss Wright Miller Street

Millwrights ( 1)

George Morgan & Sons Turretbank

Music Teachers ( 6)

M Dobinson Ferntower Road

Clement A Harris Ellengowan

Miss McDonald Red Knock

Miss McLaren Lodge Street

 Misses Thomson  Myrtle Cottage

JD Turner Burrell Street

Newspapers ( 2)

Crieff Advertiser ( Thursday ) Robert Band High Street

Strathearn Herald ( Saturday ) David Philips Comrie Street

Painters ( 3)

Anderson & Porteous James Square

H Arnot High Street

Thomas Edwards Comrie Street

Photographer ( 1 )

John Trotter Comrie Street

Plasterers ( 2)

J Gorrie Commissioner Street

James Tainsh Millar Street

Plumbers and Gasfitters (4 )

Charles Anderson Comrie Street

Bennet & Ferguson King Street

William McDonald Commissioner Street

Thomson & Lunns  15 King Street

Preserve Makers (1)

J McNee & Son Bridgend

Refreshment Rooms (4)

H Campbell James Square and King Street

Mrs Alex Clark King Street

Mrs Mary Headrick King Street

Wyllie  & Orchison King Street

Saddlers ( 3 )

George Brown King Street

William Cook High street

John Sinclair 19 James Square

Saw Millers ( 4 )

Messrs Peter McAinsh Carrington Terrace

George Morgan Turretbank

Stothart & Sons Duchlage Road

Peter White Milnab Mill

Seedsmen ( 5 )

James McAra High Street

D & J McEwan & Co James Square

Mark Aitken & Sons High Street

Donald McOmish West High Street and Perth Road

F Thomson East High Street

Slaters ( 2 )

Alexander Drysdale Burrell Square

George Philips  Addison Terrace

Solicitors ( 8 )

DT Clement Addison Terrace

Colville & Drysdale Comrie Street

Malcolm Finlayson Depute Sheriff Clerk etc Comrie street

Graham & Finlayson Comrie Street

Graham Mickle & Co West High Street 

T McDuff  Hill Street

James MacRosty , MacRosty & Reid West High Street 

Charles DM Ross procurator fiscal High Street

Stonemasons & Builders ( 5 )

Alexander Crerar North Bridge Street

William Ellis Carrington Terrace

Peter Keay Harrietfield

R McRobbie Perth Road

Wyllie & Son Dollerie Terrace

Surgeons ( 6 )

M Burnett MD Comrie Street 

DR Dobie MD  Surgeon James Square

James Gardiner MD Coldwells

J Haig Viewfield

A McEwan MD Thornhill

Alex Stewart MD Ivy Lodge

Tailors & Clothiers ( 14 ) 

Robert Allan King Street

JC Ames 2 High Street

Donald Anderson St Davids Madderty

K Buchanan  East High Street

J Gloag King Street

James Gorrie Harrietfield

J & J Graham James Square

William Inglis High Street

James McIntyre Comrie Street

Alexander McLeish Comrie Street

AM Myles 23 James Square

A & J Scrimgeour West High Street

P Smith East High Street

Urquhart King Street

Timber Merchants ( 4 )

Messrs McAinsh Carrington Terrace

Lewis Miller Ferntower Road

George Morgan Turretbank

Hugh Morgan Broich Terrace

Tinsmiths ( 2 ) 

Mark Aitken & Sons High Street

Archibald Thomson 15 King Street

Tobacconists ( 9 ) 

WS Bryden King Street

AJ Gordon James Square

Mrs Jack 36 High Street

R McKenzie Comrie Street

McLaren King Street

Alex Paterson King Street

Robertson King Street

D Stewart King Street

Taylor 3 West High Street

Undertakers ( 8  )

John Caw The Cross

Drummond & Sons Burrell Street

W Ferguson Ramsay Street

Alex Kerr Hill Street

Monteath Bros Commissioner Street

Peter McGregor Burrell Street

MD Stewart High Street

Stothard & Son Duchlage Road

Veterinary Surgeons ( 4 )

George Anderson VS Commissioner Street

Andrew McGergor King Street

John Robertson Madderty

William Watt Commissioner Street

Watch & Clock Makers ( 5 ) 

Hector Dick East High Street

James Dyer 17 West High Street

John Kippen West High Street

John McOwan James Square

George McKenzie King Street

Miscellaneous ( 13  )

Andrew Allison Burgh Inspector James Square

James Bain cooper & fancy goods dealer High Street

Mrs Burke broker East High Street

Crieff Aerated Water Co Ltd ( James MacRosty secretary)

George T Ewing architect Pitkellony Muthill

Charles F Ewing architect

William Finlayson architect

Duncan Forbes Hill Street ( * no occupation stated )

Peter Halley contractor Gavelmore Street

Harley & Watts chemists & aerated water manufacturers

Alexander Herron potato dealer & manure manufacturer Railway Station

Mitchell Bros & Co Ltd distillers Glenturret Distillery

James McNee & Sons preserve makers

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Strathearn Village of Dunning and its fascinating heritage

 St Serfs

We are fortunate  in having  numerous  small villages and places of historic interest  scattered  throughout the Strath . Undoubtedly one of the villages  which stands out amongst the best in terms of  both ancient and modern heritage  is Dunning . Located south of the River Earn at the  foot of  the Ochil Hills , it  has a unique  past well guarded and protected  by the Dunning Parish Historical Society . The Society has been active over the decades having undertaken  numerous schemes aimed at preserving a respect  and knowledge of life as it was in this  quiet part of Perthshire Founded in 1992 it currently has  over  300 members and apart from a  well designed and informative web site it holds  regular  meetings in the village addressed  by a variety of speakers on selected  topics  of interest .

The Society has transcribed various census  returns  for the village and these are  available  to download  are consult on their  web site . Again in a genealogical vein , DPHS has produced a grave yard  survey of the ancient St Serf’s Kirk where some of the stones date back to the early 1600s . The survey too can  be consulted on the Society’s web site and has proven a  wonderful assistance to researchers  both home and abroad. In 2005 , the Society together  with the Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust  published a superb little  book “ Historic Dunning – A Perthshire Village ” which  can be purchased through their web site .

What then can one  find in and around the village ? Below  are some of the many  interesting  places , buildings and tales  one  can find in and about Dunning and the surrounding countryside .


The Battle of Mons Graupius


This epic  battle  between the native Picts ( the painted people ) and the Romans has  recently been considered as having  been fought  near Dunning  in the Clevage Hills. Roman Scotland stated on their web site
The Clevage Hills are a recognised constituent part of the Ochils “Northern Hills”, a rolling ridgeline (Dorsum) that stretch from Craig Rossie, past Dunning and, fronting the River Earn, along to at least as far as Carpow on the Tay.
The proposed Caledonian position is on the slopes of the Clevage Hills which stretch for some 3km from Middle Third to Craigenroe Hill (circa +290m OD).

The Roman auxiliaries will have deployed out of the side of their camp and marshalled their battleline on the approximate line of the modern Bridge of Earn Road (circa +50m OD) centred near Garvock.

 An initial Roman deployment 1.5 km wide will indeed have been menaced by the length of the Caledonians position on the Clevage Hills and a redeployment to 2.7 km width will have to an extent countered this threat.

 The local feature Bogtonlea suggests that boggy ground lay to the Romans flank and rear near Nethergarvock which explains the position chosen by the Romans for their camp on the slightly higher ground fronting the hillfort on Dun Croup / Crub – fort at the Croup or as it latterly came to be known in Gaelic speaking Scots times; Dun Knock.

The legionaries and Agricola’s cavalry reserve may have deployed out of the front of the camp, and were probably positioned here behind Dun Knock – crowned with its multi vallate hill fort - where they would be hidden from the Caledonians on the Clevage Hills but located sufficiently close to be able to intervene in a matter of only a few minutes if required.

Tacitus tells us they were held in reserve and Maxwell in 1990 cogently argued that the cavalry reserve (at least) had to be held in a position where they would be hidden from the Caledonians in order for their eventual counter attack to be launched to such cataclysmic effect, no doubt on account of the surprise of their sudden appearance on the battlefield at the critical moment.These are points which we shall return to.
This location also convincingly explains Tacitus own much misunderstood phrase, the legions were stationed “pro vallum” . This phrase is usually now – not entirely satisfactorily - translated as “in front of their marching camps defences”. A superior reading would fit at Dunning; i.e. before the (hillforts) ramparts.

Whether or  not this was the site of the battle  will undoubtedly remain controversial but it is clear that the Dunning site is  now considered as  being the correct locus by more than a few historical experts .

The Dupplin Cross


This 9th century sand  stone cross stood originally  in a field  overlooking what was the Pictish royal palace at Forteviot not far from Dunning . Unfortunately the probable deterioration due  to acid  rain and other modern  nasties deemed it necessary to  remove and install it elsewhere where it would  be  properly protected . After  some controversy and disputes  it  was  agreed that it  would undergo some restoration  work through Historic Scotland and be placed  in the Museum of Scotland  for three years  before returning here to Strathearn . The beautiful  13th century church of St Serfs in Dunning  was chosen as its final destination where it  can be admired in comparative  comfort ! Standing some 2.6 metres tall , the main figure on the front face is believed  to depict King Constantine ( c 789 – 820 AD ) on horseback supported  by  ranks of foot soldiers . A blank panel on the  west face revealed lines of Latin script connecting  with the King rather than Kenneth Mac Alpin as had originally been thought .

St Serf’s Church

A most attractive old building similar in many ways to the old parish kirk in Muthill not that far away. St Serf’s was endowed by the Charter of Inchaffray Abbey near Madderty and  dates  back to the early 13th Century if not before . No longer used as place of worship it is in the care of Historic Scotland and houses the Dupplin Cross described above and is  open to the public. A stone slab found within the church would  indicate that  there  may well  have been an older  building  on the site pre dating  the existing.  The “Laird’s loft “was added in 1687. The original medieval church was reconstructed about 1808.
The oldest house in the village


In the aftermath of the 1714 Jacobite uprising , Dunning  like many other of the villages of Strathearn  suffered  from the scorched earth policy of Marr’s Jacobite army. He had  botched up the Battle of  Sheriffmuir when victory was in his grasp displaying little  military skill or ability . Sheriffmuir lies  south of  Dunning  near the town of Dunblane . It was here that the Hanoverian (Government)  general, John 2nd Duke of Argyle had encamped . Marr  unlike Argyle  was no soldier but a politician . Although casualty figures are still a source of uncertainty it is  clear that the Government army  suffered  far greater casualties  than the attacking Jacobites. Marr’s  indecisiveness saw the Jacobites being ordered to retreat .  The winter snows  were deep and Marr adopted a scorched  earth policy  destroying  all  stocks of fodder in the  villages as well as burning the houses .   The  frustrated  army comprising mainly  Highland soldiers and clansmen undoubtedly  vented their  frustration on the  poor inhabitants  who just happened to be in their way . Dunning  was torched and the only  house  to avoid  destruction  can be seen today  in Kirk Wynd in the village . Known as the “ straw house ” it got its name from the actions of the old  woman  who lived there at the time  . She had  set  fire to a bundle of damp straw thus  misleading the  soldiers  who wrongly assumed that the  house was already alight .


Maggie Wall supposed witch


An earlier  blog on witchcraft  covers  the tale of Maggie Wall of Dunning and I replicate it below :
Not far from Crook of Devon lies the village of Dunning . Dunning has a memorial to Maggie Wall a so called witch . Her story has been covered in many books and pamphlets over the years The historian and author Archie McKerracher in his book on Perthshire says that a wreath is left at the cairn each year, with a card saying 'In memory of Maggie Wall, Burnt by the Church in the Name of Christianity'. Nobody knows what her 'crime' was. Perhaps somebody's cow took sick and died and Maggie got the blame. Maybe she just knew too much for her own good about the special properties of herbs and flowers. There again, perhaps the 'Witch Pricker' was called in to look for the 'Devil's Mark' on her body, and found it. This was a patch of skin stained red, brown or blue where his three-inch blade gave no pain when he pushed it in. The truth is blacker. Probably it has more to do with politics than spells, for Maggie Wall lived and died in troubled times. She also had the bad luck to live in an area with a terrible reputation for persecuting witches. Six more were executed in Dunning in 1663, in a wood on the other side of the village. That number is terrifying for a village of perhaps a few hundred souls. Fear and hysteria were in the air and no woman was safe. A recent theory concerning Maggie Walls has been put forward by author Geoff Holder in his book Paranormal Perthshire (The History Press.2011) . Geoff states that in fact there was no such person as Maggie Walls . Indeed examination of the records do not reveal a person of that name suffering with the other unfortunates of the time . His theory is that that it was a mistranslation from an Estate Map of Lord Rollo of Duncrub produced in 1755 The map showed a field close by Duncrub House with a stone dyke referred to as Maggie’s Wall ! So Maggie may well have been around a s a witch but her surname was not Walls !

Monday, 4 November 2013

Heritage Restored - The Wild Beauty of Rannoch


Renovation nearly completed 

Rannoch Lodge before the fire

I am conscious  of the need  to ensure that our  heritage is being  cared  for and  that  future  generations  can appreciate the wonderful fabric of life  here in Perthshire  - the “ big county “ ! Heritage  of  course comes  in a variety of  different forms be it  in the material fabric  of a building , a place or indeed a spoken  word . For some considerable time , I have  been involved  in advising  and assisting in the restoration of one of Perthshire’s oldest houses – Rannoch Lodge , located at the west end of Loch Rannoch . This is  a part of Scotland  that is often missed  by the  tourist due to its  comparative isolation . Loch Rannoch is some nine  miles in length with  roads on both sides . Referred  to by Alasdair Alpin MacGregor as the Loch of the Vanquished Clans in his book “ Wild Drumalbain ” it  is  better known perhaps as the Road to the Isles :

Sure by Tummel and Loch Rannoch and Lochaber I will go

By heather tracks wi' heaven in their wiles.

If it's thinkin' in your inner heart the braggart's in my step

You've never smelled the tangle o' the Isles.

Oh the far Coolins are puttin' love on me

As step I wi' my cromack to the Isles.

To quote MacGregor : “ At Camghouran, near the Black Wood , is a grave yard chock full of Camerons . On the opposite shore  of the Loch , in the churchyard of Killichonan , the mortal remains of MacGregors and Camerons rest side by  side . The Robertsons  of Struan have their mausoleum at Dun Alasdair; and the dust of the Stewarts of Innerhadden has faded beneath the weeds and grasses that conceal many a sore  . And there are Stewarts “ gu leoir”  lying in  Lassintullich , hard by Kinloch Rannoch ”

It was the Menzies ( pronounced Ming –us ) Clan  who eventually dominated  the area  of Rannoch and obtained  lawful possession  by Royal Charter as a thank you for subduing the fiery Clan MacGregor . Rannoch Lodge  was built  by the Menzies family as a two storey house in the mid-18th century and was altered  into a shooting lodge  by Sir Robert Menzies between 1798 and 1803 .During the last  war it  was  temporarily occupied  as  boarding  school  when Wellesley  School relocated  there  from distant Broadstairs in Kent !

It  returned  to private  ownership after the war and continued a remarkable record of  being a bolt hole  for the famous . Elizabeth  Taylor was  a regular  visitor  dropping in by helicopter  when  wishing to escape from the curious press. Much earlier than this  we  have  records  of more than a few internationally famous  persons retreating to Rannoch Lodge . In 1901 Cecil Rhodes , in poor  health , spent  some three months in the Lodge having been  introduced  by Leander Starr Jameson , a Scotsman  whose name is associated  with a flawed operation by the British against the Boers in 1895 . Rhodes  was  working on his will and endowments  including the setting  up of Rhodes Scholarships at Oxford University . Interestingly enough  some prints of African scenes were discovered in an old  trunk by the present owners some years ago and in all probability were a gift from  Rhodes  to the owners of that time . During this  period a young  Winston Churchill was  house  guest . Another   visitor   to Rannoch Lodge  was Andrew Carnegie and this account describes  his  sojourn at Rannoch :

Carnegie  spent the night in Aberdeen at the Haddo House Hotel where he received a telegraph from Pittsburgh notifying  him of the battle at Homestead . Undeterred  by the news , he proceeded with his vacation plans and left on the 6th of July 1892  for Rannoch Lodge a retreat in the central highlands , so isolated  that it  could only be reached by private carriage . Loch Rannoch and the nearby streams  provided Carnegie  with an idyllic setting to pursue a favourite past time , fishing .Whilst vacationing at the Lodge , he received a number of urgent telegrams from America  and he also received a welcome letter and a few trout flies  from a certain William Isherwood whom he had met at Haddo House . “ They are fastened in such a way that they seldom come to pieces , both ends of the feathers are tied along the shaft of the wire , a way that is never adopted  by tackle makers ……I should be pleased to hear if you find them successful. They are most adapted f or stream fishing . ”


In 1985 Rannoch  Lodge  was gutted  by fire which sadly resulted in the death of its  two owners . The building and grounds were put up for auction and  bought  by Crieff couple  Iain and Shirley Somerville . The mammoth task of renovation is  still progressing but this is  nearing a  successful goal . The various  outbuildings  and cottages have been modernised and  form part of a successful holiday letting complex ( . The Lodge like a phoenix  has risen from the ashes and is a great tribute to the purposefulness of the owners coupled  with the skills  of the many tradesmen who have added their own thing .








Monday, 28 October 2013

Our lost heritage

The language of Crieff and Strathearn in the 1790s and how a concerted  effort was made in the 18th Century to remove Gaelic as the spoken language of the people



Like  many Scots , I have a thoroughly mixed pedigree .I do believe that this factor , perhaps  more than any  other , allows  one to analyse and appreciate  one’s genetic heritage without the innate prejudice that all too frequently mars true objectivity in Scottish  discussions especially those  concerning politics and religion  ! My maternal great grand parents Archibald and Mary McFarlane  were  born and raised in the  delightful Kintyre village of Clachan some miles south of the fishing port of Tarbert on Loch Fyne in the County of Argyll – the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada  . They were first cousins – their  fathers Duncan and Archibald McFarlane  being brothers. Archibald  was  some eleven years older than  Mary and  was a widower at the time of their marriage in Campbeltown in 1864 . Both were native Gaelic speakers and were educated at the small  village school in Clachan . Family anecdotes passed  down through the generations tell us that the only non Gaelic speaking  person  in the  school at the time  was the teacher ! This  somewhat bizarre situation  was not  to uncommon in Highland  Scotland in the 18th and early 19th Centuries  . Clachan  school was run by an organisation known as the SSPCK  or to give it its  full “ handle” – The Society in Scotland  for the Propagation Of Christian Knowledge . It was formed by Royal Charter in 1709 for the purpose of founding schools and they proudly proclaimed  where religion and virtue might be taught to young and old in the Scottish Highlands and other uncivilised areas of the country.” 

Their schools were part of a programme  by the Established  Church of Scotland – known as the “ Kirk “  to extend its influence throughout the country and to include those  parts of Scotland known in Gaelic as   a' ghĂ idhealtachd  or those parts of Scotland where Gaelic  was spoken as the dominant and  first language by the  local population. This  ,remember,  was still in the aftermath period of the Jacobite rising and the Presbyterian Kirk was somewhat  paranoiac  about those who espoused  the old faiths – the Episcopalians and  the Catholics  . Many of the Highland Clans still adhered to these traditional Christian forms of worship but to those of  Calvinistic disposition they were now an anathema in Scotland amongst the  established  Presbyterian society . The fact that Kirk had already started  to fragment  with the first Secession  in 1733 is perhaps  indicative of its  failure  to appreciate the importance of other viewpoints in those far off days .

The Kirk  was already working with support from a tax on landowners to provide a school in every parish.  The SSPCK had 5 schools by 1711, 25 by 1715, 176 by 1758 and 189 by 1808 with 13,000 pupils attending.  Initially the SSPCK avoided using Gaelic with the result that pupils learned by rote without understanding what they read.  My great grandparents experience appears  not to have been that unusual in Highland Scotland . In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the attitude of most Lowland Scots towards the Highlanders was one of disdain and contempt  for both their language and their way of life .

Indeed the following is an extract from the published Statistical Account of the Parish of Kilcalmonell in which Clachan was situated .

“ Language : The Gaelic is the vernacular language of the parishioners but the English is displacing it and the sooner it overmasters it the better “

One  can examine the written words  contained  within the Statistical Accounts  of Scotland produced for every parish in the country in the 1790s and the 1830s .   

The two Statistical Accounts of Scotland, covering the 1790s and the 1830s, are among the best contemporary reports of life during the agricultural and industrial revolutions in Europe.

Based largely on information supplied by each parish church minister Statistical Accounts of Scotland provide a rich record of a wide variety of topics: wealth, class and poverty; climate, agriculture, fishing and wildlife; population, schools, and the moral health of the people. ( University of Leicester )

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet one can access them all on the Edina ( Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow ) web site

Go to “ For non subscribers “ and click on the “ browse scanned pages “  . You then enter the  Parish ( or County )  name in the appropriate box .

What then were  conditions like in Strathearn and particular in the town of  Crieff situated  right on the  border  between Highland and lowland Scotland ?The following extracts from the aforementioned Statistical Accounts written in the 1790s is  self explicit regarding the prevailing  attitude in some quarters towards Gaelic and its culture .


The people speak the English language in the best Scotch dialect ; although Gaelic be commonly spoken at a distance of three miles north , or four miles west of Crieff , yet no adult natives of the Lowland part of the Parish can speak or understand it .They have not even contracted the peculiar  tone of that language by their intercourse with the numerous Highland families now residing in the town . Many of these indeed understand  no other language but the Gaelic , and their children born in Crieff speak that alone as their mother tongue . The great number of these Highland families , their general poverty , their frequent ignorance in the grand subjects of revelation , their incapacity of deriving benefit  from the public religious service performed in the English language , the happy effects to themselves and society that may result from a proper regard to their interest and comfort , are all such , as justify to merit  the  humane attention and friendly aid of the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge. A small annuity allotted to a prudent man qualified to instruct and catechise these people on Sundays , would be an act of piety and  beneficence .


Character and Language

Like the generality of the common Highlanders , the lower ranks here are here modest , peaceable and very obliging .There are few law suits among them and there have been none for these 10 years , except  about legacies , multures and marches , They are frugal , moderate and industrious , and except at merry meetings are not much addicted to drinking – the common language of the people is Gaelic . All the natives understand it , but many , especially of the old  , do not understand English well .All the young people can speak English , but in order to acquire it , they must go to service in the Low Country.  The Gaelic is not spoken in its purity, neither here , or in the bordering parishes ,

Fowlis Wester

The inhabitants of the northern half  of the Parish use among themselves the Gaelic  tongue ; all of them can however speak English which is the only language spoken or understood on the south side of the hill .
This parish being situated on the borders of the Highlands , and having much intercourse and connection  with the natives , we need not be surprised to find that Gaelic is spoken in the back part of it , and the old Scotch dialect in the fore part , spoken with the Gaelic tone and accent . There are , however , very few persons in the whole Parish who do not speak or understand Gaelic . Most of the names of places are evidently derived from that language and are expressive of their local situation .

The Society in Scotland  for the Propagation Of Christian Knowledge .

The expansion of the Society was only possible by the generous and sometimes large accessions of capital particularly from its wealthy Presbyterian  supporters in Lowland
Edinburgh .   In the second charter by George II of 1738 the Society was empowered over and above the purposes of the original patent “to instruct pupils in husbandry, housewifery, trading, manufacturing or manual occupations”.  The Society main ambition  would  appear to have  been the establishment of charity schools throughout the Highlands  . Their attitude  towards the Gaelic language and its  culture went a long  way to destroying an already vulnerable but established way of life . A ban on teaching Gaelic literacy was not lifted until the 1760s and is  generally regarded as part of their overall strategy to  attempt  to destroy the language “ in the hopes  of producing a greater civilisation  in the Highlands”
Today when I leave Crieff for a day out  to enjoy the  beauties  of Strathearn , I am conscious that the vast  majority of the hills , mountains  and lochs shown on my map are still named in the language of our fore fathers . For that  we should be deeply thankful How sad that not  enough was done  to maintain  our very old  and rich heritage and that so much has been lost .