Monday, 9 June 2014
A look into some interesting Crieff archives
The Scotsman 10th November 1891
The “ Kind Gallows of Crieff"
At a meeting of the Town Council yesterday a very interesting relic was formally handed over to the Council for safe custody ,this being two parts of the famous Kind Gallows of Crieff , so well known as being referred to by Sir Walter Scott in his Waverley and also mentioned by Lord Macaulay in his History of England ( sic ) . During the great fairs held in Crieff prior to the establishment of the Falkirk Trysts about the year 1770, hanging of cattle stealers was very common and the Earls of Strathearn and other feudal superiors were wont to hold frequent courts in afield to the south west of the Town, known as the Stayt .The principal highway in the valley of the Earn led east and west past the Gallows Hill , a small knoll nearly a mile from the Stayt . This place of execution is now embraced in Crieff and is at present indicated by a tree , the locality being known as the Gallowha’ . Raiders on cattle and sheep caught red handed were disposed of very summarily . Macaulay when referring to these times in his “History “ says : “ one day many square miles of pasture lands were swept bare by armed plunderers from the hills. Another day a s core of plaids dangled in a row on the gallows of Crieff .
Sir Walter Scott visited the locality more than once and most likely he “ inspected “ the famous instrument .
The last authenticated trial which took place in the Steward of Strathearn’s Court is that of the Rev Richard Duncan , minister of Trinity Gask ( some five miles from Crieff ) for the murdering of his illegitimate child . He was condemned and executed on the Crieff gallows in June 1682 ***
In all probability the gallows were in use up till the time of the “ rebellion “ ( sic ) in 1745 . The hangman held office e until 1746. The timber of the old gallows was for a time kept in a smithy near the top of King Street *** and in 1832 a box was made from part of it and sent to Sir Walter Scott . In more recent times it was much cut up and made into
“ souvenirs of Crieff”. Since then the famous relic has passed through the hands of various owners until yesterday when , as above stated , it was consigned to the custody of the Crieff Town Council .
*** This account fails to recognise that the poor Rev was pardoned but the messenger carrying the pardon failed to reach Crieff in time . See my previous Blog for further details
*** This is the site of the current Police Station – the emblem of the smith by name of Wright is built into the wall near the main entrance .
The Scotsman 17 November 1893
The Crieff Burgh Seal
The above is a representation of the seal adopted by the Town Council of Crieff. The seal is emblematic of historic scenes in the District . In pre historic times , the Earls of Strathearn – scions of the Royal family – had their stronghold or castle situated by Tomachastel, a conical hill some three miles west of Crieff and on which now stands Sir David Baird’s monument , a conspicuous object in the valley of the Earn . Singularly enough , too , the title is still held by one of the Royal Family of Great Britain – the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn . The Earls of Strathearn who flourished in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were succeeded by the Stewards of Strathearn and they held courts in a field about a mile south from the town , now part of the Estate of Broich . Down till about the beginning of the present century the “ stayt “ or “ skeat “ where the court was held was about 12 yards in diameter with the centre raised , on which the Earls or Chief Judges sat .In 1850 the then laird of Broich demolished the “ stayt “ . The seal represents the Earl sitting on the mound dispensing justice .On his left is the cross of Crieff, also a pre historic relic and according to Mr TW Jones , Professor of Geology , Cambridge University dates not later than the eighth century. In the foreground are the Crieff iron stocks or pillory ** which are still seen at the door of the Court House They are almost the only remains of the kind in the country .In ancient times criminals were wont to suffer punishment in the stocks , the mode being that the delinquents lay on their backs and had their legs securely locked .
** known as jougs .