Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The Earn- the heron and a precious stone

One of the benefits and joys  of living in Strathearn is its wonderful choice of  walks . Walks to suit  all participants . Hill walkers can  access the peaks  above Loch Turret with ease  whilst  those older  members  of the community   can choose from a superb  variety of pleasant  but  non demanding rambles in some of  Scotland’s  most beautiful countryside . Recognised paths are clearly sign posted and rights of way are protected under the auspices of the local Council . The last few  decades have seen a network of long distance  walks and paths established  across Scotland – the best known in all probability  being the West Highland Way stretching from Milngavie ( pronounced Mul – guy !! ) just north of Glasgow  , all the way to Fort William at the fooft of Ben Nevis , our highest peak .Local writer , publisher and  out door  enthusiast Felicity Martin wrote recently in Facebook : 

“ Super walk today from St Fillans on Loch Earn in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park to Comrie. We were checking the route for the Three Saints Way, a pilgrim route planned from Killin (and eventually Iona) to St Andrews. Today's walk largely followed Day 6 of the Clan Ring, which I researched and wrote up earlier in 2014 for Breadalbane Tourism Co-operative”

There are  a number of  useful web sites which describe and evaluate the  many  walks in and around Strathearn . The annual Drovers Tryst ( pronounced Try-st not Trist ) lists  the  many walking and social events  that this  annual Crieff based festival arranges in the month of October . The Walk Highland will  list the suitability level for  a  wide  variety of  walks in this area . Last  but  certainly  not least is Martin Forsyth’s Crieff based Wandern Schottland  which provides outdoor holidays for  Germans  wishing to visit Scotland .

Web Sites

The Heron

The heron has  been around the wilds of Scotland  for many centuries . In the  far off Middle Ages the bird  came close to extinction .Our  ancestors regarded the heron as a  bird of sport and it  was  pursued relentlessly  by huntsmen with hawk or falcon . This majestic  bird   was oft  regarded as a fine delicacy and many a laird of the day offered his guests this bird on a plate . We know  from history that the  conservation policies of the Scottish Parliament were not the born of the “ Green Revolution “  but  existed a way back over  four centuries ago . In 1600 ,at the instigation of James VI ( James I of Great Britain ) ,  they passed an Act which stated

“ The slaughter of herons having been so frequent and common these diverse years within the Carse of Gowrie , Fife , Strathearn and other places thereabout , that few or none are left in the said bounds . A small number have begun to build their nests in the King’s park of Falkland and his Majesty being desirous to have them increase and multiply has ordered that the slaughter of these birds be forbidden in all the countryside adjacent . To this end , there is an Order to inhibit all persons from shooting, slaying or taking any herons from the bounds of  Fife , Kinross shire , the Carse of Gowrie , Strathearn from Comrie east upon the Earn and at Kilbuck ( Kinbuck ) east upon the Allan for a period  of three years after the date thereof . This under pain of imprisonment for one year for the first offence and banishment from the country  for the second fault “ 

  James VI 

This early act of conservation  may perhaps  have  been responsible  for saving this  , so beautiful of  birds . Herons currently abound  throughout the Strath . The Earn , the Turret and the Bennybeg Pond between Crieff and Muthill are popular  haunts  for the heron and can be enjoyed  by each and everyone of us throughout the year . I do wonder perhaps just how  many locals  of yesteryear  were indeed imprisoned or banished  for attacking our  feathered friend !

The Fresh Water Pearl Mussel

The rivers , burns and lochs of the Strath have  provided excellent fishing  for  trout , sea trout and salmon for countless generations . November saw a run of sea  trout ascend the Turret in considerable  numbers endeavouring  to proceed  beyond the  recently repaired weir and fish ladder at the north end of MacRosty Park in Crieff . It has been a number of years since  this fascinating spectacle of nature has  been  witnessed in this airt !

The River Earn flows  from Loch Earn in and easterly direction till it joins The Tay below Perth . It is  comparatively short ( 46 miles /74 Km ) in length and is fast  flowing and unnavigable . It is  noted  for  its salmon and sea trout  and gives seasonal sport to locals and visitors alike . Apart  from the fish  , it is home to the unique fresh water pearl mussel .This mollusc is historically fascinating . It is said that the real reason that the Romans invaded Britain was the rumour that the islands abounded is that  in pearls and that Julius Caesar who had a predilection for these gems,  led the way  for that very reason ! Caesar himself worshipped and paid  tribute to the gods . It  was to Venus in her temple  that the mighty emperor  dedicated his own breast plate in her honour . This piece of armour was embellished by British fresh water pearls . British  ? Scottish ? Strathearn ? Sadly , we shall never know ! What we do know , however , is that Scotland was that part of these isles  which was the most prolific in producing these comparatively rare shell fish . Pearl fishing  has  been for decades – nay centuries – been carried  out on both the Tay and the Earn here in Perthshire . James VI of Scotland was instrumental in reviving this industry which had in the earlier part of the 17th Century . The writer , John Monipennie , wrote, in 1612 :

” In most of the rivers in Scotland besides the marvellous plenty of salmon and other fishes gotten there, there is a shell fish called the horse mussel , of a great quantity , wherein are engendered innumerable fair, beautiful and delectable pearls , convenient for the pleasure of man and profitable for the use of phisicke . Some of them are so fair and polished that they may be equal to any oriental pearls ; and generally by the providence of Almighty God , when dearth and scarcity of victuals are in the land , then the fishes are most plentiful taken for the support of the people “ .

The king responded to this writing  by presenting the Privy Council with a missive  regarding the protection and harvesting of the mussel . This was passed as an Act on the 30th January 1621 and its preamble stated :

“ For as much as the fishing and seeking of pearls in the waters of this Kingdom ( a commodity which being rightly used would prove honourable to the country and beneficial to his Majesty )has been these diverse years neglected or used at such inconvenient and unseasonable times as has done more harm by the spoiling of the breed and quality of the pearls than benefit by taking thereof and whereas  the King , His Majesty has the undoubted right  to all pearls breeding in waters  as to the metal and precious stones found in this land within his Majesty’s  dominions “ .

The Act fixed the time  for pearl fishing to be in July and August as in these months the pearls were considered  to be at their most perfect  both in colour and in quantity . Initially only the rivers in the  North of Scotland were  covered  by the Act but on the 26th February  1662 , another Act was passed  which included the Tay and the Earn . It cannot be said that the  industry was  ever very profitable  although  many fairly good  pearl of their  kind have been taken  from time  to time in the Earn near Crieff .One especially fine example  was  found in  September 1864  and was exhibited locally  for a time.

Current Danger To The Mussel

The freshwater pearl mussel, already critically endangered, is facing a potentially terminal threat from another foreign invader. American signal crayfish released into the wild have spread through the nation’s rivers in recent decades and now directly threaten the remaining colonies of the rare molluscs. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the government’s countryside protection agency, says crayfish are now just 20 miles away from a prime colony of freshwater pearl mussels in the Tay. Anglers are being encouraged to protect the mussel beds from being destroyed. The Tay Fisheries Board is urging fishermen and other river users to avoid anything which could help spread the crayfish, such as eggs which have attached to fishing gear. They also stress the need to kill any adult crayfish found and never return them to the water.
The warning follows SNH-supervised experiments which have demonstrated that crayfish will attack colonies when they eventually invade mussel habitat. Scottish Natural Heritage’s freshwater adviser, Dr Colin Bean, said they now had evidence of a “mortal” threat to the mussel beds.

“Upstream in the River Earn, there are crayfish around Comrie,” he said. “You get mussels as far down as Perth. They haven’t clashed yet on the Tay, but there is a threat given how fast they spread. It’s not far away.”

Scotland is home to half the world’s population of freshwater pearl mussels. They have been harvested close to extinction on the off-chance they might contain a pearl, and are sensitive to pollution.The precise location of surviving colonies is publicised as little as possible to give the mussel numbers a chance to recover.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Coal Mines that would have changed the Strath – a fortunate escape !

The 19th century in Strathearn was one in which industry grew and expanded . Auchterarder  was a thriving power and hand loom weaving centre for  cotton fabric . Crieff housed a multiplicity of new and expanding enterprises  including brewing , distilling ,paper making ,tanning , rope making, oil mills weaving and dying !
What is oft forgotten is that in the early 19th century , in common  with so many  other areas not that far distant , there were incredible efforts by entrepreneurs , individuals and corporate bodies  , to explore , discover and develop the vast  coal resources  that lay under Scottish soil . Here in Strathearn , we were  no different  from  our neighbouring contemporaries in Stirlingshire ,Clackmannan and Fife .

The story of the  efforts made locally are  well documented  by Porteous in his “ The History of Crieff “ and I replicate a few  of these tales of yesteryear . It  was in 1819 , just after the Napoleonic Wars  that things began in earnest. Trial sinkings  were carried  out at Cultoquhey some 3 miles east of Crieff. The journal of a local worthy recounts the following :

Friday 31st December 1819 : Went up the Ferntower Road with the intention of going on to Gilmerton  to look at the place they are digging for coals , but poor Major got quite lame with the snow and the intensity of the frost , in pity to him I turned .

Friday 3rd March 1820 : Met young Christy coming out at the door   to see if  I would go east to Cultoquhey to see the boring for coals . Spoke in with Jessy . We all set out together and a cold blast  we got . Went the Old Perth Road thinking it would be warmer . Took us much further about .After having to jump over dykes , hedges and palings got it at last .Five men busy working in the way of boring. Had a great deal of conversation with the projector . Wretched looking men altogether “ .

Despite the failure to find any coal deposits in the vicinity of Gilmerton , searching  continued in other  parts of the Strath . In 1839 it was thought that coals  could be found about Tullibardine , between Muthill and Auchterarder . A Committee  was formed  to consider the best plan to be adopted to carry out a trial bore in that area . On 14th February 1837 they published and circulated a pamphlet  outlining their proposals :

Proposal for Sinking a Coal Shaft in Strathearn
The Tenants of the Estates of Strathallan ,Drummond Castle and a number of the Inhabitants of Auchterarder and adjoining villages met at the Boohall ( Hall of the Home Farm ) Strathallan on the 14th Current, and took into consideration a report which had long prevailed in the country , that there is a seam of coal lying in the Farm of Peddie’s –fauld, on the Estate of Tullibardine. They examined  several witnesses who remembered the traditionary account of a bed of coal being found there , but which was then concealed from the Public  for some reason now unknown .They were also informed that there is a continued stream of water flowing from  the remains of an old coal bore , which leaves a sediment of a dark and glutinous   nature  resembling the slime of a coal pit , and mixed with small particles of black matter which when ignited , burn like the best coal “ .

The result of this pamphlet saw a sum  of money raised locally  to fund the project . Accounts  of this state a total figure of  some £661 of which Crieff and Parish contributed £ 129 . The representatives of the town were Mr Robert McIlvride ,Mr William Kemp and Mr William Taylor of Cornton . The Committee met on the 27th April 1837 in the house of Mr McIlvride in Crieff and appointed William Brown , writer (  solicitor ) as Secretary . They agreed  to proceed to advertise for contractors  to undertake the works . As a result of this a Mr James Snaden of Saline in Fife was appointed and an agreement was  signed  with him on the 15th June 1837 .It was not a very well structured arrangement as  it transpired that Snaden did  not have the necessary plant and equipment to commence  operations at Peddie’s –fauld. The Contract  was terminated  before work had commenced !Undeterred , the Committee now headed to South Sauchie ( near Alloa ) and approached a miner  their  by the name of Adamson and obtained a suitable estimate  for the sinking of the shaft . 

To quote Porteous : “ Shafts were sunk at the appointed places , but no coal was found . The whole undertaking came to a conclusion with a battle royal between the Contractor and the Committee . It is well that there are no coal strata in Strathearn and that the sylvan beauties of the vale have been preserved “ .

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Lady Mary’s Walk

Lady Mary’s Walk

A Crieff Beauty Spot

Lady Mary’s Walk is  one of Crieff and Strathearn’s  most popular and enjoyable of walks . It was formed in 1815 by Sir Patrick  Murray of Ochtertyre  and being a favourite walk of his daughter Lady Mary Murray , became  known  by her name . Lady Mary’s runs  for about a mile along the banks of the Earn from  what is known as Ling- a –wing . Miss Margaret Wright  in her journal mentions that on 12th May 1815 she “ went a little on the new walk  by the water side  , made by Sir Patrick . It must be delightful “ .  Miss Wright in these last words expresses feelings confirmed  by every native and visitor to Crieff in the last 200 years . In the account of Lady Mary’s walk in Porteous “ The History of Crieff “ , it states ( and this was  written in the first decade of the  20th Century ) that : “ It is , however  to be regretted , that the peaceful amenity  of the walk  has been somewhat spoilt by the close proximity of the  Comrie Railway  which runs  parallel to it  and the jarring rattle  of the occasional train detracts  from the true  enjoyment of the peaceful surroundings erstwhile broken  only by  the gentle murmour of the river . “

The railway , sadly is long since gone . I have always  regretted not having been able to enjoy that quite serene passage through what is surely our most picturesque landscape . Much still remains of the old line  but sadly it is no more and Strathearn is the loser . The River Earn is the superb back drop . I remember that, for a number of years , the  former Oakbank Inn sponsored a raft race from Comrie  to Crieff . A fantastic  spectacle  battling man against nature , Again – sadly no more !

All that remains of the railway viaduct across the Turret on the path  down to the Walk


Signs of the old railway

Monday, 17 November 2014

Hogmanay and Handsel Monday Two Time Honoured Crieff Festivals

Alexander Porteous  wrote the “ The History of Crieff “ which was published in 1912 and to this  day is  recognised  as the definitive  account  of the towns illustrious and historic  past . The following  account reflects clearly  how traditions  can quite  easily  be  forgotten as the  social pattern change  with the passing years  . We look at two  festivals  which occurred  close  to one another at  the start of the new year . Handsel Monday , alas  is  gone but the other Hogmanay has  gone  from strength to strength both locally  here in the Strath , in Scotland and indeed the World !

“Two time honoured  institutions – or perhaps  they may more suitably  be  called festivals  - for long celebrated in Crieff , as  elsewhere , were “ Hogmanay “ the last evening of the year , and “ Handsel Monday “ , the first Monday of the New Year ( old style ) . The  celebration of these still lingers , more from a legendary point of view , amongst the youngsters of Crieff ; but well on into the sixties of the last  century , adults were the principal partakers .Soon after darkness fell on New Year’s Eve , bands of guisers  commenced their rounds . The disguised adopted  were many and various ; and the faces  were  invariably  blackened , it  being considered   a most important matter that no recognition  be possible . One of the party was usually provided with an accordion or concertina with which he accompanied songs rendered by his comrades . An al fresco entertainment was given at each house they visited – which houses needless to say , were carefully chosen from the point of view of appreciation of their efforts . A monetary recompense  was looked  for , which was often given , but as often as withheld . A refusal , however , did not daunt the spirits of the guisers , as amusement and fun , beyond all else  , was the object in view .


Handsel Monday , was more generally observed than Hogmanay , and the echo of the last  stroke of midnight had  barely died away ere the streets became enlivened  with crowds of youths . The most ardent of these were also the most mischievous, and they seemed  to consider that the season of the year warranted every excess and licence . The attention of the revellers  were mainly directed  to those  against whom any of them had a grievance , which had been carefully nourished  during the year . In many instances the vents would be blocked by turf , while in others a penny whistle would be vigorously blown through the key- hole . These were the joys of youth ; while the elders would indulge in first footing , with the result that many were seen wending their devious way homewards  in the early dawn in a more  or less hilarious  state of  inebriety . As the century wore on , New Year’s Day itself  began to take  the place of Handsel Monday , and the celebrations of the latter  is now practically obsolete .  “

Handsel Monday was celebrated throughout Scotland and indeed also parts of Northern England.  Among the rural population of Scotland, Auld Hansel Monday, was traditionally celebrated on the first Monday after January 12. This custom reflected a reluctance to switch from the Old (Julian) style calendar to the New (Gregorian) calendar.[ January 1 is the earliest day on which Handsel Monday can fall.
An 1825 glossary marks Handsel Monday as an occasion "when it is customary to make children and servants a present". On this day, tips of small gifts were expected by servants,[6] as well as by the postman, the deliverers of newspapers, scavengers, and all persons who wait upon the house.
In this respect it is somewhat similar to Boxing Day, which eventually supplanted it. If the handsel was a physical object rather than money, tradition said that the object could not be sharp, or it would "cut" the relationship between the giver and the recipient. The day is known in Scottish Gaelic as Diluain Traoighte (Drained Monday).

The custom was also known as “Handseling a purse”. A new purse would not be given to anyone, without placing money in it for good luck. Money received during Handsel Monday is supposed to insure monetary luck all for the rest of the year. It is worth mentioning that one William Hunter, a farm worker was cured in the year 1738 of an inveterate rheumatism or gout, by drinking freely of new ale, full of harm or yeast. The poor man had been confined to his bed. for a year and a half, having almost entirely lost the use of his limbs. On the evening of Handsel Monday, as it is called, some of his neighbours came to make merry with him. Though he could not rise, yet he always took his share of the ale, as it passed round the company, and in the end he became much intoxicated. The consequence was that he had the use of his limbs next morning, and was able to walk about. He lived more than twenty years after this, and never had the smallest return of his old complaint .

The association of music and the celebrations of New Year and Handsel Monday perhaps gave rise  to the formation of an instrumental band in the town in  1825 . At first it was composed of about twenty performers , and they were instructed by an old regimental  band master . It seems to have got on fairly well for a few years  but fell into bad habits . A letter from one William Campbell in Crieff to Donald McOmish in 1831 , states :  “ I am sorry to inform you that the music band is all going to wreck with drunkenness . There is not a time when taken out to anything but what there are some of them sqwaling and fighting , for which cause I have a year or more ago dropt going near them , although I love the music as much as ever . Their way I detest , and every respectful person in Crieff despises their ways of doing . “

They seem, however , to have pulled themselves up  again as we  are told that during the stirring period of the 1832 Scottish Reform Act when democracy started  to take  root , they often paraded  with exited crowds around them  and they  were engaged  to perform at  various functions  throughout the country including the  laying of the foundation stone of the new Stirling Bridge .
Although Handsel Monday is now lost in the dim recesses of history , New Year and Hogmanay lives on with the  recently revived  celebrations taking  place in James Square in the centre of town .This year ( 2014/2015   ) Crieff's Number One Classic Rock Band, Reddog will help  to bring  in New Year 2015 in style in James Square – great  that some of our  older traditions still survive !

Monday, 20 October 2014

Crieff’s “ Dad’s Army “ – the Home Guard of World War 2

Crieff Home Guard

After the onset of WW 2 , the safety of small towns  such as Crieff was in the hands of  what was termed  the LDVF – the Local Defence Force Volunteer This somewhat cumbersome title  was  changed  on the 9th of August 1940 to the Home Guard . The BBC series  Dad’s Army ran from 1968 to 1977 with a number of well known “ vintage “ actors of the time including  Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring ( pronounced Manner - ing ! )  , John Le Mesurier as Sergeant Wilson, Clive Dunn as Corporal Jones  and a host of others . This  sit com was based very much on the belief  that the Home Guard  was  made  of bumbling  incompetents  who were either  retired  or were in reserved  occupations .My own father  who was employed in the general office of  a large steel manufacturing company in the West of Scotland fell into  the latter category and I know how  seriously they took their task in their contribution to the Nations defence .

I have in my possession a document entitled  “Diary of the 3rd Perthshire Bn ( Battalion ) H.G  ( Home Guard) “ and sub titled “ Historical Notes- December 1944 “ . On the basis that the document is  some seventy years old , I am of the belief that I can disclose  some of its contents  without danger of being to The Tower  for High Treason !
In addition to the Diary , I had  the privilege of  interviewing a  local Crieff man , the late Johnnie Brough , as part of an Open University Oral History course I was undertaking back in the 1990s . Johnnie had  suffered a disability as a result of polio as a child  and  was rejected  for army service . He opted  to join the Home Guard and  some of the  tales he related were perhaps not suitable  for  inclusion in the  official Diary !   
I have  chosen , nevertheless , to select some exerts  from the Diary which perhaps  reflect what it was really like  to be in the Crieff and neighbouring areas Home Guard away back in those  far off days . This part of Strathearn was a busy   place with numerous regiments  based in and around Crieff including a Free Polish Army Unit at the  Hydro which had been commandeered  for military use , the RASC in the Taylor’s Institute School ( the school had  been moved in with Crieff Primary )  . After that came a Battalion of the Enniskillen Fusiliers,  a Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment as well as a Battalion of th Cameronians . There were troops at the Market Park where the Canteen was located as well as Nissan Huts erected at the Bridgend .   A prisoner of war  camp was located at Cultybraggan for German soldiers whilst in Crieff ,  Italian prisoners of war were housed .
In May and June  1940 the LDVF was raised in this part of Strathearn  and was termed “No. 3 Company, No. 9 Group LDVF “ which was later to become the “ 3rd Perthshire Battalion Home Guard “.The Auchterarder Platoon covered Auchterarder , Strathallan ,Duppplin and Dunning and Gask and Aberuthven .It was under the leadership of JC McIntyre assisted  by N McLaren , Sir JD Roberts , ADC Main and GA Buchanan , Across the Strath in Crieff the initial set up was led  by DW Crighton and the three Crieff sections  by RJB Sellar, JM Scrimgeour and SDW Stewart . In addition there were  three other sections  based at Amulree Madderty and Trinity College 
( Glenalmond ) .

By all accounts the local Home Guard  were well set up in terms of arms and equipment but initially this was not the case . According to Johnnie Brough all they had  were pikestaffs – long tubes of steel with a pin stuck in the end . The only rifles they had were Lee Enfield relics from World War 1 supplied by Morrison’s’ Academy OTC ( Officer Training Corps ) ! They seemed , however, to be very much involved in routine training and participation in combined  exercises  with the regular army. The Diary  mentions a number of incidents which no doubt raided  the blood  pressure of the elderly  members of the platoon . In the early days of the war the Home Guard / LDVF investigated a report of parachutists in the hills behind Glenalmond . This  turned out  to be the RAF practicing the dropping of supplies  by parachute ! In 1941 the  Strathallan Platoon turned  out  to search for a parachutist in the immediate  vicinity after a  number of  reports  were received . It turned out to be a false alarm as the culprit  was not a human being  but a stray barrage balloon !

To keep the men on their toes regular exercises were held in the area . The Diary  recounts a particular one in March 1942 : “ Exercise ‘Pongo’ saw B Company attack A Company at Findo Gask Aerodrome in which rapid reinforcing was attempted  by mobile Platoons against a threat  by paratroops . An engagement at the edge of the aerodrome resulted in a useful lesson being learned “ What the lesson was  it does  not  state  but I am sure it was all worthwhile !
A somewhat more bizarre tale was told to me by Johnnie Brough : “ I can remember something big was happening and two Divisions came down from the North of Scotland . They sent us to Gask School on Saturday and Sunday .We had sandwiches  and our dixies .We tried  to cook on the stove in the class room  but it would have taken a year to brew up and cook . One of the boys said there were lots of bricks lying outside  so we  went out and built  fire . We took some coals from the head mistresses room and piled on the logs . Black out or no black out , we all had our tea outside . What a night ! At the same time we had been told to keep our eyes on the road passed the House of Gask which crosses the bridge  where the main road  to Perth goes . We blackened our faces and hid behind the hedge . A bloke on a bike came along and one of the lads jumped out . The poor man got such a fright that he leapt from his bike into  a ditch . “ A thought it was a ******* ghost ! “ , he blurted out  . I think he had had a wee drink or two ! “

How  many men were involved in the Home Guard during the War ? The Diary tells  us that 1944 there were 207 men serving in  Crieff, 116 in Auchterarder and some 664 in the other parts of the  district to the east of Crieff. Interestingly , the Comrie and St Fillans areas appear to have  been attached  to a different Battalion than that of Crieff.

I ran a blog in July 2012  concerning , the oldest member of Crieff Home Guard , Alexander “ Snacks “ Taylor which makes  fascinating reading :

Alexander Taylor was seventy-seven when war broke out. Despite his age he managed to enlist and in doing so succeeded in becoming the oldest person in uniform in the British forces

Taylor had  served in the Boer War as well as WW1 and lived with his  family in the Drill Hall in Meadow Place where  he was employed as an instructor . After this  he moved  to Mitchell Street and  became  a tobacconist in High Street where Boots the Chemist is now located .

In conclusion  let  me list those  mentioned in the Diary who received Certificates of Commendation  for Good  Service in the Crieff Home Guard 
Major ADC Main   1944, Lieut A Dow 1942, Sgt W Shand 1944, Sgt Gilfillan 1943, Sgt S Christie 1944, Sgt J Clark 1944, Sgt J Ferguson 1944, Sgt R Murdoch  1944, Sgt T Rintoul 1944 and Private J Urquhart 1944.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Castle Cluggy and Loch Monzievaird , Ochtertyre

Castle Cluggy and Loch Monzievaird  , Ochtertyre

Loch Monzievaird ( above ) 

 Sir Patrick Keith Murray with the castle in the trees 
behind the crannog 

Castle Cluggy

We have discussed at some  length in these “ blogs “ the presence of  crannogs  or artificial islands  in Strathearn and north in Loch Tay in ancient Breadalbane in April 2013 (
These are an incredible reminder to us  how and where our ancient forbearers dwelt and existed at  time  when native  soil was inhabited by wild animals as well as aggressive natives ! Loch Monzievaird  has  excellent examples of these crannogs  but in addition  on the north shore  lies one of Strathearn’s ancient dwellings , namely Castle Cuggy . Located and accessed from the west at Loch Mozvievaird Chalets , the Castle is very old , being described in 1467 as being “antiquum fortalicium” – an ancient castle !
Tradition has it that it was the home of the Red Comyn the protagonist of Robert the Bruce , King of Scotland .Legend tells us that Castle Cluggy was one of the possessions of Malise, Earl of Strathearn  It came into possession of the Drummond family and in 1488 was  the subject of a legal battle with the Murray family over ownership . In 1650 it was occupied by Sir William Murray  , first Baronet of Ochtertyre when Cromwell was endeavouring to take over Scotland .It lies on a piece of land  known as the “Dry Isle “  .The crannog  due  south of it was said  to have  been used in days gone by as a place of containment for any prisoners held  by the castle. It is now a scheduled monument under the ownership of Sir Brian Souter of Ochtertyre . Much of the original castle has been destroyed revealing an impressive  square tower with thick walls and arrow slots at various levels .
The  natural beauty of Loch Monzievaird make it a pleasant walk around its perimeter shores .

Perthshire Crieff Strathearn Local History Blogs

A Current Index

The Blog has been running since February 2012 and has  published well over 100 stories of the Strath . This Index  will allow  you  to see clearly  what is  available . To look at the   chosen subject look at the "Archive " heading  on the right hand of the opening page an  click on the  year The Blogs are in chronological order so scroll down  till the  chosen one  is accessed . 

1.       26 February 2012 : Welcome  !
2.       26 February 2012 : Colin's Books on Perthshire
3.       27 February 2012 : The Lost Castle of Fowlis !
4.       27 February 2012 : Gone ! Gone ! Gone!
5.       27 February 2012 : Ferntower House
6.       28 February 2012 : Our Shame Over Inchaffray Abbey
7.       1 March 2012 : Some Strathearn Names and their Origins 
8.       5 March 2012 : The Crieff Coat of Arms
9.       11 March 2012 : Crieff some 6 000 years ago !
10.   18 March 2012 :The Cursus of Crieff
11.   20 March 2012 : The Oldest Roman Frontier
12.   22 March 2012 : The Crieff Tryst
13   29 March 2012 : Strathearn – the Kingdom of Fortren - birthplace of modern Scotland
14.   30 March 2012 : A Bloody Battle in the Heart of Strathearn
15.   1 April 2012 : Strathearn's Pictish Trail
16.   1 April 2012 : Intrigue In Pictish Strathearn
18.   5 April 2012 : Tom a Chastel - The Royal Castle of Strathearn
19.   6 April 2012 : The Breadalbane Campbells, The Campbell Brothers of Crieff and the American Civil War
20.   11 April 2012 : The Breadalbane Campbells , The Campbell Brothers of Crieff and The American Civil War Part Two
21.   1 April 2012 :Strathearn's Pictish Trail
22.   15 April 2012 : The MacRosty Bandstand -Crieff's Edwardian Gem
23.   1 May 2012 : The Story of Weaving  in Crieff and Strathearn  ( Part One )
24.   10 May 2012 : The Story of Weaving in Crieff & Strathearn ( Part Two)
25.   22 May 2012 : The Story of Weaving in Crieff & Strathearn ( Part Three )
26.   26 May 2012 : Fancy A Trip On The Crieff Canal ??
27.   2 June 2012 : The Story of Transport in the Strath
28.   6 June 2012 : Witchcraft in Strathearn - Part One of Two
29.   11 June 2012 : Witchcraft in Strathearn - Part Two of Two           
30.   18 June 2012 : The Story of Highland Toffee
31.   22 June 2012 :David Mallet , Crieff poet and con man .
32.   27 June 2012 : The Rev. Dr David Malcom LL.D , academic, minister , teacher and forgotten poet of Madderty and Crieff ( 1763 – 1833 )
33.   3 July 2012 : The Pow - Strathearn's Historical Drain !
34.   9 July 2012 : The Rise and Demise of the Leather Tanning Industry in Crieff & Strathearn in the 18th and 19th Centuries
35.   13 July 2012 : The Crieff Riot of 1780
37.   15 July 2012 : The Burning of The Strathearn Towns & Villages : PART TWO
38.   17 July 2012 :The Story of Ferntower House
39.   18 July 2012 : General Sir David Baird ( 1757 to 1829 )
40.   22 July 2012 : Alexander “ Snacks ” Taylor (1862 –1954) : Crieff Soldier's Incredible Military Record
41.   6 August 2012 : Peter Crerar (1882 –1961 ) “ A pioneer of many interests “
42.   10 August 2012 : The Village and Parish of Blackford
43.   12 August 2012 : Tullibardine Chapel – A Pre Reformation Gem Well Worth A Visit
44.   23 August 2012 : The Wells of Strathearn - magical , mystical , Holy and ordinary !
45.   25 August 2012 : Six Months Of My Local History Blog
46.   5 September 2102 : Celebrate Crieff- A Festival of History
47.   5 September 2012 : Well,well, well – yet more wells ! Once Crieff’s only source of fresh water
48.   7 September 2012 : Bonnie Strathearn
49.   14 September 2012 : Lewis Miller - farm boy - religious rebel - entrepreneur - lad o' pairts !
50.   23 September 2012 : Religion is an intensely personal thing and indeed traditionally it i
51.   23 September 2012 : Churches of the Strath - a Way of Life
52.   7 October 2012  : St Fillans Perthshire - a look into it's past
53.   28 October 2012 : The Witches Maze At Tullibole Castle Crook of Devon
54.   4 November 2012 : William McGregor ( 1846 –1911 ), football pioneer
55.   5 November 2012 : Ewan and Uncle Denis( Ewan McGregor and his Uncle Denis )
56.   21 November 2012 : Trades and Industries That Have long Gone
57.   22 November 2012 : The Last Thatched House In Crieff
58.    13 December 2012 :  Where was that ? The Crieff of yester year !
59.    13 December 2012 : The Perthshire Clearances and Glen Beich
60.   31 December 2012 : New Year : Hogmanay in the Strath and the Comrie Flambeaux
61.   11 January 2013 : The Crieff Burgh Band /Crieff Silver Band
62.   12 February 2013 : Thanks for looking !
63.   19 February 2013 : Comrie Floods of 1898 & 1928
64.   21 February 2013 : Crieff Community Action Plan 2013 / 2018 - History Repeats Itself !
65.   4 March 2013 : Crieff to Perth Road Building in the 18th Century
66.   5 March 2013 : Ruberslaw House - a relic of Crieff's Georgian past
67.   6 March 2013 : What a " Relief " - a tale about our religious past and a forgotten Kirk that still stands!
68.   8 March 2013 : Cock Fighting In Crieff -Big Crowds and Big Money In The 19th Century !
69.   11 March 2013 : Bridgend and Crieff in the Early 19th Century
70.   21 March 2013 : Yes – These Are Really Strathearn Names !
71.   24 March 2013 : Jacobites of Strathearn - the'45 Put Into Perspective
72.   2 April 2013 : The Stayt of Crieff - Site of the Court of the Earls of Strathearn
73.   29 April 2013 : Crannogs – the amazing artificial islands that abound in Perthshire’s many Lochs
74.   10 May 2013 : A look at the historic village of Methven and its Castle
75.   27 May 2013 : Strathearn and Perthshire's Role in the Wars of Independence : Wallace and Bruce .
76.   7 June 2013 : The Carpow Logboat a late Bronze Age gem plucked from mud banks of the River Tay
77.   18 June 2013 : The History of the Broich Cursus Gradually Unravels !
78.   28 June 2013 : The Drummonds of Strathearn - their Castle , Rob Roy and a King's
mistress !
79.   14 July 2013 : A Roman Fort on the Edge of Their World
80.   24 July 2013 : Auchterarder in the 1790s - home to the Ryder Cup in 2014 at its Gleneagles Golf Club !
81.   5 August 2013 : Crieff in the early Victorian Days
82.   6 August 2013 : The Sad Demise of The Crieff and Strathearn Hand Loom Weavers c 1860
83.   11 August 2013: Crieff at the time of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1897
85.   29 August 2013 : Crieff’s High Street Before World War 1 ( 1913/1914 ) Part One
86.   5 September 2013 : The Murder of the “ Red Fox “ - a mystery unsolved for over 250 years
87.   23 September 2013 :Toshach Castle - Strathearn Stronghold of the Clan Macintosh
88.   9 October 2013 :The Ancient Secrets of Glenlednock above Comrie – a look at this Highland glen in the 18th and 19th centuries
89.   28 October 2013 : Our lost heritage
90.   4 November 2013 : Heritage Restored - The Wild Beauty of Rannoch
91.   18 November 2013 :The Strathearn Village of Dunning and its fascinating heritage
92.   28 November 2013 : Crieff Shops and businesses 100 years ago ( names & places )
93.   15 December 2013 : Jacobites in Strathearn
94.   30 January 2014 :The Meaning of Many Local Place Names Around Crieff
95.   2 February 2014 : Strange Roman Apparitions in Strathearn
96.   5 February 2014 : Huntingtower Castle
97.   6 February 2014 : Cultoquhey - " at the back of a snowdrift "
98.   11 February 2014 :Drummond Arms Hotel Crieff And Our Neglected Heritage
99.   13 February 2014 :Two Years of Our PerthshireCrieffStrathearn Blog
100.                        16 February 2014 : Saint Fillan And His Cures For Sundry Ailments
101.                        20 February 2014 : Strathearn Perthshire Past and Present In Pictures
102.                        25 February 2014 :The Rev McAllister And A Religious "Punch Up" In Crieff
103.                        9 March 2014 : Pestilence and Arson in 17th Century Strathearn
104.                        28 March 2014 : The Poorhouse and Poverty in Crieff in the late Victorian Period
105.                        14 April 2014 : History of the Parishes of Monzievaird And Strowan
106.                        21 April 2014 : Daniel Robertson -a "Lad o' Pairts "** - the local ploughboy who became a millionaire
107.                        7 May 2014 : The Last Hanging In Crieff ; Kangaroo Court ?
108.                        11 May 2014 : The Strathearn Heritage of Prince William and Kate Middleton and more about Kinkell -the "Terrible Parish " !
109.                        11 May 2014 :New Blog Site For Perthshire Crieff and Strathearn Pictures Old and New
110.                        14 May 2014 : Ancient History and Heritage of Strathearn Begins to Be Recognised
111.                        1 June 2014 : Royal MacRosty : The Visit of William and Kate , Earl and Countess of Strathearn
112.                        9 June 2014:   A look into some interesting Crieff archives
113.                        11 July 2014 : The Sad Demise Of An Historic Part of Crieff : PART ONE
114.                        12 July 2014 : The Sad Demise Of An Historic Part of Crieff : PART TWO
115.                        22 July 2014 : The Sad Demise Of An Historic Part of Crieff : PART THREE
116.                        26 July 2014 : The Sad Demise Of An Historic Part of Crieff : PART FOUR
117.                        17August 2014 : Some Important Buildings of Strathearn
118.                        22 August 2014 : A Battle of Kings Fought On Our Doorstep
119.                        11 September  2014 : Pictish Strathearn and a lost or misplaced Kingdom !
120.                        21 September 2014 : Who Do We Think We Are ? Scots Brits or “Anglais” ?
121.     6 October 2014 : Castle Cluggy and Loch Monzievaird
122.   20  October 2014 : Crieff's " Dad's Army - the Home Guard of World War 2
123.   17 November 2014  : Hogmanay & Handsel Monday - Two Time Honoured  Crieff Festivals
124.   03 December 2014 : Lady Mary's Walk
125.   14 December 2014 : The Coal Mines That Wouls Have Changed The Strath - A Fortunate Escape !
126.   31 December 2014 : The Earn- The Heron And A Precious Stone !
127.   01 Januuary 2015 : A Happy New Year Ftom Crieff And Strathearn !
128.   06 January 2015 : The Ancient Church of Strowan near Crieff
129.   09 January 2015 : Fowlis Castle - A Forgotten Part of Strathearn's Heritage .
130 .  13 January 2015 : A Walk Around Old Crieff In The Steps of the Drovers
131    29 January 2015 : Tullibardine Castle and the Pride of the Scottish Navy !
132.   20 February 2015 : The Railways of Strathearn .