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 !
Nowadays citizens of Crieff and
indeed the whole country are confronted
by a raft of legislation
concerning the family car ! The punishment for contravening the laws
are extensive and quite draconian
. Private car parks , parking meters , average speed cameras , lines on the road , traffic wardens
(aka blue meenies !! ) and so on and so on ! In days gone by , long before Mr
Daimler had invented the four wheel metal box , crimes
were of a different nature and indeed
a different scale of punishment . I have
had a look through the
archives pertaining to the town in the
18th and 19th centuries and judge for
yourself whether a £60
parking fine is more tolerable than some of the felonies listed below !
In 1770, Andrew Wilson from Aberfoyle
and Janet Graeme his wife were tried at Perth Circuit Court for breaking
into the Waulk Mill at Monzie and stealing there from two pieces of cloth .
They were found guilty and banished to the Plantations ( America ) for life . In…
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
story is one of the sad tales of the Strath. This ancient family once were one
of the dominant influences in Strathearn and their names appeared with frequent
regularity as the centuries unfold. The Graeme family of Inchbrakie are however
still around. There is a most excellent web site http://www.inchbrakie.com/ which provides a
superb source of research and information into not only the family but also
their domicile up until the late 19th century at Inchbrakie . Anthony Graeme ,
a present day descendant and a most charming person , lives in far off Devon
but is a frequent visitor here in Strathearn .Interestingly , there are here in
Crieff, a couple of roads bearing that
illustrious name .One wonders just how many of the inhabitants of houses in
those specific airts know much about the original name ! We are, however , most fortunate that the family history of the
Graemes was painstakingly recorded in a book Orr and Sable – a book of the
Graemes and Gr…