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 .
Heritage Restored - The Wild Beauty of Rannoch
Renovation nearly completed
Rannoch Lodge before the fire
I am consciousof the
needto ensure that ourheritage is beingcaredfor andthatfuturegenerationscan appreciate the
wonderful fabric of lifehere in
Perthshire- the “ big county “ ! Heritageofcourse comesin a variety ofdifferent forms be itin the material fabricof a building , a place or indeed a
spokenword . For some considerable time
, I havebeen involvedin advisingand assisting in the restoration of one of Perthshire’s oldest houses –
Rannoch Lodge , located at the west end of Loch Rannoch . This isa part of Scotlandthat is often missedby thetourist due to itscomparative isolation
. Loch Rannoch is some ninemiles in
length withroads on both sides .
Referredto by Alasdair Alpin MacGregor as
the Loch of the Vanquished Clans in his book “ Wild Drumalbain ” itisbetter known perhaps as the Road to the Isles :
Sure by Tummel and
Loch Rannoch and Lochaber I will go
By heather tracks wi'
heaven in their wiles.
If it's thinkin' in
your inner heart the braggart's in my step
You've never smelled
the tangle o' the Isles.
Oh the far Coolins are
puttin' love on me
As step I wi' my
cromack to the Isles.
To quote MacGregor : “
At Camghouran, near the Black Wood , is a grave yard chock full of Camerons .
On the opposite shoreof the Loch , in
the churchyard of Killichonan , the mortal remains of MacGregors and Camerons
rest side byside . The Robertsonsof Struan have their mausoleum at Dun
Alasdair; and the dust of the Stewarts of Innerhadden has faded beneath the
weeds and grasses that conceal many a sore. And there are Stewarts “ gu leoir” lying inLassintullich , hard by Kinloch Rannoch ”
It was the Menzies ( pronounced Ming –us ) Clanwho eventually dominatedthe areaof Rannoch and obtainedlawful
possessionby Royal Charter as a thank
you for subduing the fiery Clan MacGregor . Rannoch Lodgewas builtby the Menzies family as a two storey house in the mid-18th
century and was altered into a shooting
lodgeby Sir Robert Menzies between 1798
and 1803 .During the lastwar itwastemporarily occupied asboardingschoolwhen WellesleySchool relocatedtherefrom distant Broadstairs in Kent !
Itreturnedto privateownership after the war and continued a remarkable record ofbeing a bolt holefor the famous . ElizabethTaylor wasa regularvisitordropping in by helicopterwhenwishing to escape from the curious press. Much earlier than thiswehaverecordsof more than a few internationally
famouspersons retreating to Rannoch Lodge
. In 1901 Cecil Rhodes , in poorhealth
, spentsome three months in the Lodge having
beenintroducedby Leander Starr Jameson , a Scotsmanwhose name is associatedwith a flawed operation by the British
against the Boers in 1895 . Rhodeswasworking on his will and
endowmentsincluding the settingup of Rhodes Scholarships at Oxford
University . Interestingly enoughsome prints
of African scenes were discovered in an oldtrunk by the present owners some years ago and in all probability were a
gift from Rhodesto the owners of that time . During thisperiod a youngWinston Churchill washouseguest . Anothervisitorto Rannoch Lodgewas Andrew Carnegie and this account
describeshissojourn at Rannoch :
Carnegiespent the night in Aberdeen at the Haddo
House Hotel where he received a telegraph from Pittsburgh notifyinghim of the battle at Homestead .
Undeterredby the news , he proceeded
with his vacation plans and left on the 6th of July 1892 for Rannoch Lodge a retreat in the central
highlands , so isolatedthat itcould only be reached by private carriage .
Loch Rannoch and the nearby streamsprovided Carnegiewith an idyllic
setting to pursue a favourite past time , fishing .Whilst vacationing at the
Lodge , he received a number of urgent telegrams from Americaand he also received a welcome letter and a
few trout fliesfrom a certain William
Isherwood whom he had met at Haddo House . “ They are fastened in such a way
that they seldom come to pieces , both ends of the feathers are tied along the
shaft of the wire , a way that is never adoptedby tackle makers ……I should be pleased to hear if you find them
successful. They are most adapted f or stream fishing . ”
In 1985 Rannoch Lodgewas guttedby fire which sadly resulted
in the death of itstwo owners . The
building and grounds were put up for auction andboughtby Crieff coupleIain and Shirley
Somerville . The mammoth task of renovation isstill progressing but this isnearing asuccessful goal . The
variousoutbuildingsand cottages have been modernised andform part of a successful holiday letting
. The Lodge like a phoenixhas risen
from the ashes and is a great tribute to the purposefulness of the owners
coupledwith the skillsof the many tradesmen who have added their
own thing .
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…
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…
The Cursus of Crieff – More of Our Incredible Past !
We have looked at in previous Blogs , the considerable number of known Neolithic or New Stone Age sites around Strathearn and indeed Crieff . The numbers seem to grow by the year and are an increasing part of our heritage . They are relevant not just in a local sense but on the national and indeed international archaeological stage . They date back some 6 000 years and are older than many of the pyramids of Egypt ! Apart from the ancient tomb discovered 150 years ago on the ancient site of the Stayt of Crieff on Broich Road , most recent discoveries include the timber circle at Pittentian and the habitations at Forth Cottage at Fendoch at the entrance to the Sma Glen .
Perhaps however the most incredible was the realisation that we had in our own back yard on the site of the new Strathearn Campus a Neolithic cursus . No , a cursus is not some celestial finger of doom pointing at our fair town an…