Friday, 28 June 2013

The Drummonds of Strathearn - their Castle , Rob Roy and a King's mistress !

The Keep

Picture posted on Facebook by David Cowan  of Crieff

From my collection - pic from about 1890

Who were the Drummonds ?

Clan traditions credit the founder of the clan as Maurice of Hungary, a Hungarian prince descended from Árpád, who is said to have accompanied Edgar Ætheling, heir to the English throne, and his sister Saint Margaret of Scotland, when they sailed there in 1066 to escape the Norman conquest of England.

This disregards accepted history that Edgar and Margaret were brought to England in 1057 by their father, Edward the Exile: Edward died immediately (some say he may have been murdered), and his children lived at the Court of England's King Edward 'the Confessor' with their mother Agatha. Edgar, about thirteen in 1066, was elected king of England after the battle of Hastings and the death of his cousin King Harold II, but together with the rest of the English government submitted to Guillaume (William) of Normandy, afterwards King of England, at Berkhamsted two months later (16 December 1066). He later sailed to Scotland, accompanied by his mother Agatha and sisters Margaret and Christian, several years after 1066. In turn Maurice was the son of György, who went to Scotland in 1055 and became ancestor of the Drummond family. It has long been asserted that the Drummond family was founded by a Hungarian who returned to Britain with Edward Ætheling, so this may be true.

According to some sources György was the son of a Non-Christian marriage of Endre I (András I or Andrew I), afterwards, Apostolic King of Hungary, to a Hungarian woman, before Endre 's conversion to the Roman Catholic faith. Endres subsequent Christian marriage to a Russian Orthodox Princess, rendered the non-Christian children of his first marriage illegitimate under Catholic Canon law, and therefore with no rights to the now Christian Hungarian Throne. Consequently, György was obliged to leave Hungary, settling in Scotland, and founding the Drummond family, possibly named from the lands of Druiman ( Drymen ) which were granted to him either by MacBethad, or Malcolm III of Scotland. His choice of Scotland was very likely linked to the exiled English Royal House, since they had previously resided at the Court of István (Stephen I), King of Hungary, and after the submission of Harold II of England to William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy in December 1066, arrived in Scotland where they were warmly received by Scotland's King Mael-Coluim III who married Edgar's sister Margaret in 1070.

If the account given by Europaeische Stammtafeln is based on fact, then the present Earl of Perth, Chief of Clan Drummond, is a living representative of the original male line of the Royal House of Árpád, the founding dynasty of Hungarian kings

Margaret Drummond - mistress of King James IV


Margaret Drummond (c. 1475 – 1501) was a daughter of John Drummond, 1st Lord Drummond. She was possibly "privately" married to, but most certainly a mistress of King James IV of Scotland. She was a great-great-great-great-niece of the Margaret Drummond who was King David II's second queen.
Her death has been the subject of a very persistent romantic legend.
She was definitely the mistress of James IV during 1496-97, and possibly as early as 1495. Records show her living in his castle at Stirling from 3 June 1496, and from 30 October to March 1497 at Linlithgow Palace. Her presence, and a previous similar arrangement for another mistress in the royal houses, was also noted by the Spanish ambassador Pedro de Ayala.. Ayala later wrote of James IV;

"When I arrived, he was keeping a lady with great state in a castle. He visited her from time to time. Afterwards he sent her to the house of her father, who is a knight, and married her [to a third party]. He did the same with another lady, by whom he had had a son."
However, the king had a number of mistresses in his time, and this relationship seems to have been shorter than those he had with either Marion Boyd or Janet Kennedy.
Margaret and James IV had a daughter, Margaret Stewart. She married firstly John Gordon, Lord Gordon and secondly Sir John Drummond of Innerpeffray.
It is definitely known that in 1501 she died of food poisoning, along with her sisters Eupheme and Sibylla, while staying at their parents' residence. As a general rule, claims of poisoning made in relation to a historical figure who died after a sudden illness should be treated with caution, but in this case, with three people who presumably died shortly after eating the same meal, the contemporary judgement should be accepted. The three sisters are buried together in Dunblane Cathedral, their graves can still be seen in front of the altar. This did not cause a great deal of suspicion at the time; standards of food hygiene are unlikely to have been very good then, and cases of accidental food poisoning have happened in any period.
After her death the king paid for masses to be said for her soul, and continued to support their daughter.
It has been widely suggested in more recent years that Margaret Drummond was murdered, either by English agents or by pro-English elements in the Scottish nobility. Many believe that James IV was planning to or had already secretly married Drummond, and her death was necessary in order to allow or force the King to marry the English princess Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York. The (comparatively recent) plaque on her grave in Dunblane Cathedral claims that she was commonly believed to be "privately married" to the king, and that she was murdered by Scottish nobles who supported the English marriage.
Furthermore, the "Marriage of the Rose and Thistle", as the poet William Dunbar described it, brought about the Union of the Crowns exactly 100 years later, as it enabled their great-grandson James VI of Scotland to claim the English throne upon the death of Elizabeth I through his descent from Henry VII.
Had James IV married Margaret Drummond instead of Margaret Tudor, the Union of the Crowns might never have taken place and Scotland might have remained an independent country. This idea has been the theme of numerous historical novels and popular histories.
Serious historians are sceptical of the theory. It is not supported by the contemporary evidence, and originates in a history of the Drummond family written by Viscount Strathallan in 1681. Her death was probably a case of accidental food poisoning, a common cause of death at that time. The idea that James had to be pressured to marry Margaret Tudor is dubious. As Scotland was the less important and poorer country, it is more likely that James IV pressured Henry VII to give him his daughter. It is also clear that negotiations for the marriage had been taking place before Margaret Drummond died
The Castle and its history

Robert the Bruce granted lands in Strathearn to Sir Malcolm Drummond who had
distinguished himself  fighting  alongside Bruce at Bannockburn in 1314 .

In 1474 , James III of Scotland granted the heritable office of Steward, Coroner and Forester of the Earldom of Strathearn to John Drummond of Cargill . These titles  had  originally been under the remit of the Earls of Strathearn but had been subsequently forfeited  to the Crown . Drummond  was some fourteen years later created  Lord Drummond and in 1493   received  a charter conveying  extensive lands in Strathearn to him and his  descendants . Some two years prior  to this he had  received  a Royal Warrant  permitting him to build a castle at his house of Drummond  . Story has it that  the castle  was habitable  but unfurnished  by  May 1496 when the King , James IV spent a night and paid  two shillings “to the masounis of  Drummyne “ . In 1509 Drummond received  another  Royal charter conveying yet  more land  within Strathearn including “ Drummond , with the castle , fortalice , manor , gardens and orchards of the same “ .

James , Fourth Lord of Drummond   was created  Earl of Perth in 1605 . In 1629-1630 his brother John , the Second Earl employed  John Mylne Senior  to carry out work at Drummond  including the erection of a new gate house  adjoining the Keep . At about the same time  , the steep slope  on the south side of the Castle seems  to have been terraces and laid out as a  garden .

In 1653 Oliver Cromwell’s army sacked the castle during what has  been described as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms
James , Fourth Earl of Perth was Lord Chancellor of Scotland   from 1684  until the
“ Glorious Revolution “  of 1688 ( when King James II of the United Kingdom /James VII of Scotland was  overthrown by William of Orange ) . As a consequence of this Drummond was imprisoned in Stirling Castle whilst Government troops  were sent to occupy his castle and at the same time  strengthen its  defences . Shortly after this , his eldest son , James, Lord Drummond( Second Duke of  Perth )  returned from exile and soon after demolished  the defences  and most of the buildings apart from the Keep and Gatehouse . After this he  built detached   , large mansion  house in the centre of the castle’s plateau location .
The Drummonds were strong supporter of the Jacobite cause  and with the failure of the ’45 Uprising found  themselves  somewhat unpopular  with “ German Geordie “ and the  Hanoverian succession . Their lands and properties  were forfeited  to the Crown and it was not until 1785 that these were returned to a  Drummond  who was  considered a “ non Jacobite “ – namely Captain James Drummond of Lundin who later became Lord Perth of Stobhall . He employed John Steven to remodel the mansion house and in due course Drummond  fortunes began to  flourish . His  daughter Clementina married  the Hon Peter Burrell ( who became Lord Gwydir  and twenty second Lord Willoughby d’Erseby ) who was heir  to substantial estates in Lincolnshire , Kent and Wales .
The young  Queen Victoria with husband Albert  paid a visit to the Strath and where else  would they stay but Drummond Castle . Whilst Victoria  visited her titled  minions Albert blasted away at the deer in Glen Artney ! In 1878  local architect GT Ewing ( architect and factor ) remodelled the  mansion house to resemble a 17th century laird’s house . Follow in a fire in 1899 further remodelling took place .

In the 1990s Drummond  Castle featured in the Hollywood  production of Rob Roy . Rob of  course was  a regular  visitor to the Castle as both he and the Drummonds like  many others in the Strath did not disguise their support of the Jacobite cause .

I recall in the 1980s  being shown around Pitkellony House in Muthill by the then Derummond Estate factor , the late Peter Farquhar .Pitkellony is the  which is the Estate Office and  indeed a building of some historical and architectural merit in its right dating back to 1670 . Peter  showed  me an incredible  collection of maps of the Estate done  by a firm of  Edinburgh cartographers  in 1840  some  30 years  prior  to the  publication of  the first Ordnance Survey maps . The immensity of the Estate in the Victorian era was incredible  extending from Muthill to Callander and  south to nearly Stirling. Its  350 000 acres  was measured and mapped into a a huge collection of bound portfolios  which  I inspected  with awe  at the  skill and detail of the map makers . Sadly a fire in the Victorian  extension of Pitkellony in 18991  destroyed  these and  other priceless archives – a loss for which I grieve .

The Gardens

The  picture recently  posted on Facebook  by my old  friend David Cowan showed one of the  many sun dials  that area feature of the garden layout . These gardens  are  quite unique  and date back to the early or mid 17th century when the slope  was terraced  . Later in the  third decade of  19th century the terracing was  restored  and it  was then that  the ornate features were added including balustrades , parapets and ornamental features .Below the terracing  lies the “ parterre “ or formal garden for which Drummond  is  renowned . Stretching between the Castle gate house and the mansion  house is a fancy balustrade with a number of features  whilst a  pair of pedestals  support  flat brass sundials each bearing the initials of James , Fourth Earl of Perth and with an inscription stating that they were made by John Marke of London in 1679 . An interesting feature occurs at the end of the terrace where the round arched gateways have keystones in the form of human heads  dating  back to probably the late 17th century and reputed to have been brought from a demolished church in London .

The great “ parterre “ below the terracing is still in the form  laid out circa 1828 by Charles Barry and  Lewis Kennedy  .Its dominant feature is the box hedge  saltire crossed  by various  paths and dominated  by numerous  17th or  18th century Italian urns and statues . The main feature is the  sundial  made by John Mylne Senior  in 1630 complete with coats of arms  identified as  those of John , Earl of Perth and Jean , Countess of Perth . The east end of the garden has a rubble built  bridge  dating back to about  1790 .


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The History of the Broich Cursus Gradually Unravels !

Dr Brophy points out the extent of the Broich Cursus 

Crieff High School pupils lay out the plan of the Pittentian Round house 

The growing importance of Strathearn as an area of significance in  a Neolithic Scotland  was further emphasised last week with the  visit to the Campus  site  by Dr Kenneth  Brophy of Glasgow University and his archaeologist colleague Ally Becket of Northlight Heritage . The visitation  was  part of the Perth and Kinross Archaeology Month organised  by the Perth and Kinross Heritage trust . Apart  from the  significance of the Cursus dating  back to 3000 BC a number of recent finds  throughout the Strath have now  firmly established this part of Perthshire as something unique  in the long path to Scottish nationhood .

Ally Becket discussed in some detail the  Pittentian round  house  located  during the  pre construction work on the Beauly  to Denny overhead power line . It was graphically illustrated  to an appreciative audience the  size and  type of construction  involved .Thanks  to the  cooperation  of the pupils of Crieff High School  , a layout was  constructed using  a number  of  large pots  to illustrate the positioning of the post holes . The captivated  audience  then climbed  the  adjoining embankment to the school rugby pitch  and  were able  to look down on the layout and appreciate  just how large it was actually .

Earlier  the audience listened  attentively to Ken Brophy  as  he outlined  what was  now known about the Broich Cursus . Dr Brophy   is part of the SERF (Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot ) team  who have  carried  out a  considerable amount of  excavation  and  study  of the area  since 2006 and is a renowned  authority on the Cursus that have  so far been discovered in Scotland

 Between 2006 and 2010 Alder and SUAT Ltd had investigated what is now  known as the Broich Cursus monument. Broadly speaking Cursus monuments are long Neolithic enclosures bounded by ditches, banks or pits usually built on gravelly river terraces. The are many interpretations for these structures from ceremonial processional ways to strips of land where people were prohibited to walk, but the truth is that the function of these monuments is poorly understood.


The Broich Cursus was originally identified from aerial photographs showing a 400m long crop mark in a field south of Broich Road near Crieff. The monument comprised two ditches (135-105m apart) which diverged slightly as the monument extended north. North of the Broich Road the monument could not be traced on aerial photos, the western ditch crossing a grassy field and the eastern seeming to follow Pittenzie Road.

Crieff Cursus

When the land north of Broich Road became the focus for the development of the new community campus, an archaeological investigation took place to try to locate traces of the Cursus. In the first phase of work (2006) trial trenching successfully located the western ditch, but unfortunately the eastern ditch was not found which suggested that it presumably ran along land now occupied by Pittenzie Road. In 2007 the turf and topsoil covering the western ditch was stripped right back, exposing a 147m length. No associated bank had survived, a sign that the field may have been ploughed over after the monument went out of use. The ditch varied in depth from between 0.56m deep to just 4cm deep, and was 1.5-2.5m wide and had gently sloping, roughly symmetrical sides and a flat to concave base. It was most shallow in the northern-most excavated portion.

CrieffCursusIn 2008, the ditch was again revealed and excavated during the construction of the new campus north of the old railway line. The ditch here was deeper than expected (up to 0.42m) but most importantly, contained hazel charcoal, giving dates showing that it had started to infill by the middle of the 4th millenium BC.

Crieff Cursus

The old school is located to the north It was demolished about 2009

The focus of the 2009 investigations was to find out how far the western ditch had survived under the playing fields towards Crieff High School (the 1960s school, now demolished). Surprisingly the ditch was found to have survived right up to the school walls under a tarmac playground. The dimensions of the ditch were roughly as they had been in the 2008 phase (2.2m wide and up to 0.4m deep). One interesting discovery from this phase was that the ditch bent eastwards here, suggesting that the ditch in this area was approaching the northern terminal of the Cursus. Terminals of cursus monuments are generally considered important as they seem to be the focus for ritual activity . Unfortunately  when trial trenches were placed  across the demolished school in 2010 it was  found that the construction of the old school had destroyed any evidence of the monument's terminal.

Dr Brophy pointed out that the northern end of the Cursus  would  have provided a  spectacular  view of the rising hills above Crieff and that the  overall size was such that it  could well have taken some decades  to construct .

South of the Broich Cursus across the River Earn  is another cursus at Bennybeg on the road to Muthill  . Once again one of the key  points  is that it adjoins  a spectacular item of scenic grandeur , namely  the  rock face which nowadays  attracts  young trainee climbers  from all over .

Much is  still to be learned  from these monuments  from the past  which have largely lain undisturbed since  pre history . They have added  yet  more to the fascination of Strathearn’s ancient past .







Friday, 7 June 2013

The Carpow Logboat a late Bronze Age gem plucked from mud banks of the River Tay


The Carpow Logboat 
It is quite astonishing  how much of  our early past  is being revealed thanks  to the fastidious  work of  our dedicated archaeologists and associates . In these blogs  we have  discussed the early Neolithic findings including the Crieff Cursus , the Forteviot  burial sites and the timber  round  houses revealed  during the preliminary work on the Beauly to Denny power lines . What   should  not  be ignored is  a quite astonishing  discovery  at Carpow where the River Earn joins up with the mighty Tay .
Carpow Bank is a small tidal shelf lying off the south side of the river .  The name Carpow appears on a many ancient maps There is a belief that here the Romans  established a boat  bridge providing a crossing to the north side of the Tay . This would have been close to their Fort at Carpow . According to  David Strachan’s  superb  book “ Carpow in Context ”( Society of Antiquaries of Scotland . Edinburgh 2010)  it is  clear  from the  study of many of the  old  maps of this area ( National Library of Scotland : ) that the area  around this  part of the Tay and Earn were criss crossed  by numerous ferries allowing  good communication in an era  where cars , trains and busses did not exist !

Perhaps this is  why our  ancient relatives in all probability dropped  roots in what is now a very quiet back water . Their  communication  was primarily  by  water  and not  land particularly in view  of the wild  terrain and animal predators including bears , wolves and lynx . The craft they used  to cross the rivers and tidal waters  was termed a logboat .Again quoting from Strachan : “ The earliest known logboat  in Britain  is the oak fragment from Catherinefield in Dumfries and Galloway of around 2000 BC . The latest are late medieval  in date , but there are 18th century Scottish documentary  references  to their use . In Fox’s day ( Sir Cyril Fox , Director of the National Museum in Cardiff  .1925 ) all British logboats  were assumed to be prehistoric , ie pre Roman . Now that   a number of logboats from this country have been dated  scientifically , we realise that most  are of Roman or of medieval date , such as Carpow  is both unusual  and most welcome .”
The logboat after excavation
Logboats have  been  discovered in this  vicinity on a number of occasions but  mostly in the   19th century . The Carpow finding occurred in 2001 when a Dundee metal detecting enthusiast Scott McGuckin  and two colleagues were searching the mudflats at low  tide primarily for Roman artifacts on account of the proximity of the site of the old Roman Carpow Fort . The three had  split up  to carry out individual searches  when McGuckin espied an object sticking up from the sand . The eagle  eyed searcher realised this appeared to be the stern of a logboat . He had  recognised it  from seeing   similar  one in the McManus Gallery in his  home town . The  find  was duly reported and as it  was located  within the geographical boundaries of Perth and Kinross , the onus  fell upon them to investigate the find further .

In 2001 ,the archaeological team which was organised by the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust ( PKHT) developed an evaluation strategy which had  four main objectives

  • To establish the date of the vessel
  • To establish  the condition of the  buried portion of the vessel
  • To establish the full length of the vessel
  • Too protect the vessel in situ while long term management options  were considered
It  was determined that the age  of the Carpow  logboat was around 1000BC ( late Bronze Age )  and that it  was  constructed  from a single oak trunk . Although the  prow of the boat  was exposed above  the sand the greater  portion lay buried .When finally  excavated the  boat  was some 9 metres long .The boat was  carefully removed and transported  to the National Museum in Edinburgh where it was carefully restored. Such was the complexity of this  part of the project , that it  took some 5 years to complete .
The logboat at Newburgh on its way to Edinburgh

Careful you go !
What was so interesting about the Carpow log boat that has  drawn the attention of  so many people ? Only two logboats of the Carpow vintage so far  discovered in the UK have had  fitted transom boards . What you may ask is a transom board ? This was inserted into the   main structure to assist with navigation particularly in tidal and strong flowing waters . From Strachan’ s book we find : “ A notable  feature of the Carpow boat is that she appears  to have been fitted with a dwarf transom aft of her main transom . This  may have been inserted to stem the flow of water that could have swept through the main transom when this boat had, on occasions ,  to be paddled  stern first ,  for example , when manoeuvring within a narrow river  . “

The Carpow  logboat was until recently on display in Perth Museum . It has now  been sent to Glasgow on loan to the Glasgow Museums’ Resource Centre   where it will be on display for the next 5 years .

The location of the find