History of the Parishes of Monzievaird And Strowan

Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Volume 2
 By Society of Antiquaries of Scotland ( 1822 )

The Old Strowan Kirk closed to worship about 1802




History of the Parishes of Monivaird And Strowan

In the Archives of the Society


Mr Porteous , Minister of Monivaird

The united parishes of Monivaird and Strowan are almost in the midst of Perthshire , sixteen miles north west from Stirling and thirteen miles west from Perth ; to both which places small ships and the tides come . The inhabited part thereof is a parallelogram of four miles from east to west . , and two miles from north to south : but it has another parallelogram of the Grampian Hills and moorish ground on the north , of four miles in length , and two in breadth ; and a smaller one on the south , of moor , of the same length , but only half a mile in breadth ; and its is bounded on the north by the tops of high mountains; which lie betwixt it and Glen Almond . This glen consists of detached parts of the parishes of Monzie , Foulis and Crieff; these places being originally only sheals,  that is , places for grazing , to which the farmers in these parishes sent their cattle to feed in the summer , building in them annually huts for their herds ; but they have now become farms themselves .There is a rivulet or a large burn , rising out of these mountains named Barvick . After running two miles , it has cut through a rock , steep on both sides ; and going down a precipice for half a mile , has made very high and beautiful cascades , with deep linns below , which the fall of water has worn out of the rock . But it is only a few of them which we are able to approach owing to the steepness of the rock. This burn runs into the water of Turret , and with it , for some way , separates this parish from Monzie on the east ; and Turret moving on to the River Earn , separates it also from the parish of Crieff on the east . There is , on the south , a high ground from east to west , going over the top of Mount Turlam , the height wherof , or in the language of old papers , the place where wind and water sheers , separates it from the parish of Muthill . It marches on the west with the parish of Comrie ..

What is inhabited of these united parishes consists of two large valleys encircled by a high rising ground beginning near the east and running west all the way except where the river Earn breaks through it at Strowan .

The valley on the north has at the bottom of it the church and loch of Monivaird in the east part and the river Earn in the west with the King’s highway from Perth to Inverary on the south of the loch and the north of the river. The valley on the south has the river running from west to east in the bottom  with a road on the south side and another on the north from Crieff to Strowan .

In a particular description , we shall begin at the begin at the east  with the church of Monivaird . All the old names in the south as well as the north of Scotland being Gaelic and the author being ignorant of this language he must be often straitened to explain theirs meaning . Moni is frequently used in the composition of our names and signifies a plain hill or moss ; as Monimusk , Monteith , Monimeal , Monimoon , Moneidy etc . Vaird signifies bard , ) the Bard’s Hill or Moss ) . The neighbouring parish Monzie is , in old papers , called Monie Laggan .Laggan signifies low .The reason of this designation may be , that although the church of Monivaird be now as low as Monzie , yet the old house of the Toshachs of Monivaird was at Balmuck , in a very high place , where the foundations of the house and of a large garden wall are still to be seen . The under part of the walls of the church still bear the marks of the burning of a great number of Murrays there by the Drummonds , who , for this dreadful murder , suffered by the hands of justice , as mentioned in our histories .

William ,  Master of Drummond , son of John first Lord of Drummond , a man of parts and spirit , being at variance with the Murrays , who had openly defied him and had actually gone in forcible manner to draw teinds on the Drummond lands in the parish of Monivaird , marched with his followers in order to prevent them  and was accidentally joined by Duncan Campbell , Captain of Dunstaffnage , who had come down from Argyleshire with a party of his men to revenge the death of his father in law , Drummond of Monie , whom , with his two sons , some of the Murrays had lately killed . Upon their approach , the Murrays fled to the kirk of Monievaird for refuge whither they were followed by the Drummonds party . The Master , being satisfied with driving them off the field , was returning home , when a shot , fired from the kirk , unluckily killed one of the Dunstaffnage men ; which so enraged the Highlanders , that they immediately set fire to the kirk ; and it , being covered with heather , was soon consumed to ashes , and all within burnt to death . The Master of Drummond was immediately apprehended .

Nigh to this place is St Serf’s well and the moor wheron St Serf’s market is held . He was the tutelary saint of the parish of Monivaird . This well is a plentiful spring of water . About sixty years ago our people were wont on Lammas day to go and drink it leaving white stones , spoons or rags which they brought with them ; but nothing except the white stones now appear , this superstitious  practice being quite in oblivion . It has been useful in a strangury , as any other very cold water would be ; for a patient taking a tub full of it immediately from the well , plunging his arms into it , which were bare to the elbows ,was cured .

St Serf’s fair is still kept on the 11th of July where Highland horses , linen cloth , &c. both from the south and north were sold . Ascending to the height of the sixth part of a mile from the church , a steep though arable brae , north east , we come to what we, who live amongst mountains , name a little hill, viz. the Sheers . On top of it are some short trenches , like those of the Romans at Ardoch  or Dalginross, rising in view of this last camp , although it is five miles distant . It seems to have been of the outposts intended to give warning to their army , by fires or otherwise , when the Scots should cross the mountains or come down Glen Almond . But if we give credit to a Gaelic song , they took another route by Loch Earn and the forest of Glenartney ; and, under a warlike lady or queen , beat the Romans and drove them out of Strathearn .

Although in the lower part of this parish there is plenty of game such as hares, partridges , wild ducks , snipes , plovers and wood cocks in their season, and a few foxes , till of late we had no rabbits ; for it is only about twenty years past since Sir Patrick Murray brought them and placed them in this high ground . They have multiplied much , nestled in the Knock of Crieff and in mzany places two or three miles distant from it . If lime were not so dear and so far from us , the , the inclosing  of this ground with stone and lime ditches over which the rabbits could not pass making proper divisions confining them to some of these inclosures and sowing turnip in others to feed them in winter , might be profitable . It is said an improvement of this sort has been made by an English gentleman in the parish of Ayton , and shire of Berwick to a very great advantage ; although he sends them to the Edinburgh and Newcastle markets . On this and adjacent places are abundance of whins  or furze which are burnt by our bakers and poor and turned by our farmers to a more profitable use . Their servants provide themselves with a  thick glove and a strong sickle . They cut their crops , carry them home in their carts , thrash them in their barns to take away their prickles ; or rather provide large troughs of wood and cross hatchets , the same tanners use in cutting bark ; and cutting the whins small , they give them to their horses or cows finding they feed as well as corn and hay . They are of great use to them when fodder is scarce .

Their ploughs here differ from that in our carse ground ; their timber and iron , are stronger and their horses go all in a breast . The man who guides them walks backwards immediately before them having all their halters tied , holding a rod of timber about five feet long in his hand . Their plough is stronger this way for tilling up hill and meeting many unforeseen large stones fast in the ground wherof their land is full ; and they say this method fully compensates for the injury which the horses trampling down the red land occasions . They only take a very high furrow when going up hill ; and notice that commonly they have the best crop on that part of the ridge which is tilled in this manner .

On the north of this brae is the mountainous parallelogram already mentioned . It lay in the middle of the Caledonian wood which extended from Callander in Monteith to Dunkeld , more than thirty miles . Many natural woods in the parishes of Muthill and Comrie , in this , and in Monzie , are not only the  remains of this forest but inall our mosses which are many , even in our highest hills , there are still found logs of oak , birch , fir and pieces of hazel , with the nuts. There is the appearance of many ridges  which have been tilled on the tops of our highest mountains , which are now so extremely cold that garss will not grow on them : but it seems that in old times , being inclosed with trees , they were kept warm by them .

Until about twenty years past , horses , cows and some small sheep and goats , pastured on them ; but now , very properly,  a great number of large sheep brought from the south have been put in their room .These are eating up the heath which gives liberty to the grass to grow .so that in some years most of the moors will be green .


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