A wide choice of topics covered from the dawn of history right up to present days . Many of these have a wider relevance than purely within the context of Strathearn . The author's viewpoint often is at variance with the accepted opinions espoused elsewhere eg The Jacobite Uprisings and The Reformation .
A Roman Fort on the Edge of Their World
Fendoch The Forgotten
I accumulatedamongstmy post cardcollection of Crieff and Strathearn a late
Victorianor early Edwardian picture of
a horsedrawn charabanc ( bus ) drawn up
at a place called Fendoch at the entranceto the Sma Glenand entitled “
Roman Camp , entranceto the Sma Glen
near Methven “ Apartfrom the factthat it was somewhat closerto Crieffthan Methven , itdepicted ascene all butforgotten locally . In the days priorto the automobile , it was a popularexcursionfor the better off
citizens of the town toenjoy a Sunday afternoon trip up by horse
drawn coach into the mysterious hinterland that lay northwards of the Strath .
Indeeduntil comparatively recentlythere was an aging signpainted on the gable end of a houseon East High Street stating “ McArthur’s
Charabancstrips to the Sma Glen ” The
destination was the Amulree Hotel on the road to Dunkeld and Aberfeldy . An old
coaching inn itwas allegedly thebase for General Wade who withthe assistance ofmore than a few Highlandersconstructed a network of militaryhighways to facilitatemovement ofthe Hanoverian redcoats in theirtask of “ pacifying “ the Highlandsin the aftermath of1714 Rising .
the “ Roman Camp “ locatedat
Fendochwas a point of interest en route
to their ultimate destination .
Why did the Romansconstruct not just a fort buta
camp in such an isolatedspot ? We
havecovered in previous blogs thefascinating tale of the Gask Ridge , the
oldest Roman frontier in the World.
Thanksto the detailedand well documented investigationsby Professors David Woolliscroft and Birgitta
Hoffman we are able to piecetogether a
fascinating account of this turbulent period in ourhistory . Theirpublication “ Rome’s
First Frontier “ ( The History Press.Stroud . 2011 ) includes their analysis of
Fendoch ‘s location and function . Fendoch was termeda “ glen blocker “ - intendedby the Romans as a preventativemeasure against intrusionby the Caledonii tribeswho inhabitedthewildterrain north of the Gask Ridgedefensive line .
Fendoch was first excavated in 1936 and 1939 by Richmond
and McIntyre and their plan of the site became quite famous . It
transpiresfrom Woolliscroft’sfindings that perhaps the accuracy of the
information on this plan is somewhat suspect The fort was not excavated in
entirety and it appearsthat Richmondand McIntyre interpolatedtheirfindings andmade more than a few
assumptionsbasedon alimiteddig .
It isclear however
that Fendoch didfollowa similarpattern of layout to the
“ standard “ type fortconstructedby the Romansin the Gask Ridge vicinity in the 1st
Century AD . What type of buildings were constructed within it’s ramparts? According
to Woolliscroft it would in probability have had an administrative block ,
store rooms and offices andin all
probability a shrine to the gods . The commanding officer would have had a
separate dwelling from the barracks whilst therewould have been a granary . In the case of
Fendoch , ovenswere discoveredbuilt into theexternal rampart . There may have been a
workshop and hospital accommodation . Probablestrength wasbetween 500 and 1
000 men . Ithad been assumedprior to the secondinvestigationthat Fendoch
existed as a single phaseoccupancy
being abandoned systematically when the Romans withdrew. A pollen analysis has suggested that there would
havea lack of suitable treesto use in the construction of the fort
andthat these would have to have been
broughtfrom further a field . These
givescredence to the belief that
thesetimberswouldhave been dismantled andremoved
rather than merely burned on the abandonment .
Recentfindingsof pottery and other artefactssuggest that the occupancy was perhaps
earlier than had been initially thought . Findings were Samian ( 69 -79 ) and
late Neronian ( 54 – 68 ) .
It hasbeen the
beliefsince the initial excavations in
those far off pre war daysthat to the
west of the fort , the Romans had constructed a watch tower of thetype found on the Gask Ridge . Woolliscroft
has raised some doubtsconcerning this
and no doubt future excavationswill
throwlight on its authenticity .
Recent excavationscarried outonaccount of the Beauly to Denny power
linehave revealed an iron age( 1000 BC ) settlement androundhouses similarto those found at Pittentian near Crieff .
Fendoch is intriguing and an oft forgotten part ofour local Roman heritage. One truststhat it will soonrecover some of
its past glory !
A number of years ago I purchased a small booklet on Glen Artney in the book shop
that existed for some years in Drummond Street Comrie. The
author was the late Gordon Booth FSA , a superb researcher and accomplished
author . He was not a local man since moving to the village from I believe the Island of Islay in the
Inner Hebrides. Since arriving in the area, he had
read and assimilated much of the history and folk lore of this part of
the Strath .I recall the late Tom Weir (
of the woolly hat ) doing a programme in his Weir’s Way series on Glen Artney
an d featuring Gordon Booth . Regrettably
all seven of his little books are out of print although they may be
available to borrow through Perth and Kinross Library Service. I have
incorporated partial excerpts from his writings
in this blog on the Glen which I duly acknowledge as a fitting tribute to his
Glen Artney is some eight or so miles in length from the former
prisoner of war camp at Cultybraggan
An Account Of One Of The Most Bloody Political/Religious Battles Fought In This Part Of Scotland The Battle of Tibbermore /Tibbermure
Victory by the Back Door The surge in the amount of violence and mayhem in the Middle
East and in targeted European (including British) locations has caused much grief and sadness to innocent families
and individuals . Atrocities carried out
in the name of religion are not something
that has suddenly occurred .They
have been part of society for longer than we might imagine .
The period of the 1640s in Scotland was one of violent confrontation between the
Royalists faction supporting the Stewart monarch Charles 1 and the fiercely
Presbyterian adherents known as Covenanters . Despite the efforts of James VI
to introduce Bishops into the Kirk , the Covenanters with their
power base in the south and south
west of Scotland were vociferous and militant in pursuit of their cause . In
1644 they marched south into
England to lend support to the Engl…
Scotland has had a different Poor Law system to that of
England . In 1579 the Scottish Parliament legislated enabling individual parishes to remunerate the impoverished living therein .It established a system which
was not just an enumeration of the destitute but an examination of whether these individuals could find
alternative means of support from other
individuals or family members .They made begging and vagrancy public nuisances
The Act intended to remove the
responsibility for the support of the poor from the church to the parishes .
Magistrates were ordered to build Correction Houses or
workhouses so that beggars could be made to work. In 1843, a Commission of
Enquiry was set up to suggest improvements to the Scottish Poor Law system.
Proposals suggested included:
Setting up a Board of Supervision and Parochial Boards ,the
levying of a poor rate and joint poorhouses in urban areas. An Inspector of the