The Stayt of Crieff - Site of the Court of the Earls of Strathearn
“ jougs “ or stocks where the miscreants were tethered to submit to there prescribed punishment .
Name and meaning. The Stayt or Stait of Crieff is found in a wide variance of spellings over the centuries . Stayt = Stede , Steid meaning a place .
The above is transcribed from a paper by Mungo Headrick entitled “ The Stayt of Crieff – a Bronze Age Burial Site ” circa 1860 .
Location : Regrettably present day searchers scouring the well detailed Ordnance Survey maps in both the Landranger ( 000 ) or the Pathfinder ( 000 ) will do so in vain . The Stayt of Crieff has according to the cartographers of that well respected organisation vanished ! The 1932 edition as well as earlier versions , showed the locus of this historic site as well as the closely linked , but now vanished , standing stone in the adjoining field . The OS reference is NN 866 207 . In practical terms it is on the south side of
The History of the Stayt : The most accurate account historically and archeologically is that written by Mungo Headrick away back in 1the 1860s . It has been largely forgotten so I reproduce it in entirety for the sake of future searchers of the truth ! Incidently Mungo was an ancestor of an old friend of mine and well known Crieff worthy the late Fraser Neil .
The Stayt of Crieff – A Bronze Age Burial Site
( 1860 )
Quite recently there came into the possession of The National Museum of Antiquities , Edinburgh , an urn of dark colour . The urn is of the food vessel type ( see page 1 ) , stands 4 5/8 inches in height , expands from a width of 5 ¼ inches at the moth to a width of 5 ¾ inches at the shoulder , and thence contracts to base of about 3 inches in diameter . Three slightly raised mouldings encircle it : at the lip . at the shoulder and midway between . The shoulder moulding is ornamented by a double row of triangular punctulations and the other two by a single row of similar markings . The vessel is encircled between the central moulding and that on the shoulder , as well as on the inward sloping rim , by two transverse lines formed by the imprint of a twisted cord of two strands of clay when soft . The transverse lines are not continuous
Being interrupted in three places by a number of vertical lines formed in the same way as the transverse lines . Hanging from the shoulder is a series of impinging and inverted chevrons each filled in with like markings , drawn on the clay with a pointed tool . The urn , it is stated , had been found in a cist near Crieff in 1860 . No more definite indication of the locality of the find is given and the purpose of this paper is ( first ) to identify the mound in which the cist was exposed , and ( second ) to show that the mound had been in use as a place of justice when courts were held in the open air . , down to a date near the end of the seventeenth century .
Prior to the year 1860 there stood on the lands of Broich , near Crieff , a low mound some 12 yards in diameter , which had at one time been surrounded by a wall of earth and stone . The site is indicated on the O.S . map at a point some 330 yards to the east of the entrance to Broich , on the south side of the road leading from Crieff to Highlandman , and on the field side of the narrow belting of wood which skirts the road at that part . In the month of November 1860 the mound was levelled and ploughed over , and in the course of the operations two cists containing human remains were exposed , along with an urn of clay the measurement of which is given as 5 inches in height by 5 inches across the mouth . The finds were duly recorded at the time in the local press ** , from which the following particulars are taken : -
17th November 1860 : “ One of the urns ( cists ? ) was simply composed of blue whinstone sides , the ends of red sandstone . These were laid roughly together . The bones deposited were very much decomposed and broken , so much so that , had it not been for the presence of a pretty complete heel bone , ulna , , rib etc ., it would have been difficult to determine whether they were human remains or not . Some of these are crumbled to an almost impalpable white powder , and others are appear to have been subjected to the action of fire …… The second deposit of bones was less formal – resting in the solid soil , and covered over with three rough slabs of no great size ….There is an immense boulder , weighing over a ton , which has not yet been displaced , but which is supposed to cover the upper slab of a cist . ”
24th November 1860 : “ The huge stone , weighing close on two tons being removed , disclosed a sandstone slab 5 feet 3 inches by 2 feet 2 inches , and about a 1 ( foot ?) thick . Beneath this slab was another of those little cists or cinerary boxes measuring 2 feet 6 inches by 1 foot 6 inches , and about 10 inches deep , and composed of rough slabs . The bones found in this were in that abnormal pulverised state which we discussed last week …. An interesting vase , somewhat in the style of an Etrurian vessel , has been found in that last discovered grave .It is globular; stands 5 inches high , with a mouth about 5 inches across and is made of clay hardened by fire . There are rude attempts at floriated decoration round the vase , somewhat in a “ herring
bone “ pattern , and evidently done by pats of a trowel or what served the maker for one . This relic is now in the possession of A. Monteith Esq ., of Broich . ”
8th December 1860 : “ We will now take a glance at the interior of the quasi** tomb before it was touched by the intruder’s feet . The surface of the bottom was smoothly laid with clay …. An urn lay on its side ….and beside it lay a small heap of ( it is supposed ) cremated human bones . The moulds was of a dark brown colour , and had a rich , soft , velvety feel . “
It will be seen that the urn now in the National Museum corresponds with that taken out of this mound ; and as there is no record of any other urn having been found in a cist near Crieff in 1860 , the conclusion is irresistible that it is the same .
It was on this mound that the court of the Earls of Strathearn and the stewards or seneschals was held , when such courts were held in the open . from the Statistical Accounts we learn that the old Tolbooth in Crieff was erected in 1665 for the accommodation of the steward’s court , “ which from this period ceased to be held in the open air . “ It is known that some forty volumes of records of the steward’s court were stored in the Tolbooth , and that they were ruthlessly destroyed by soldiery quartered there in 1798 , who used the tomes for fuel !