Obrazy na stronie



Castles, forts, and classic streams,
Realising youthful dreams,
Mystic scenes in bright array,
View them e'er they pass away.

FINHAVEN, or Oathlaw, to which we are now approaching, lies on the south bank of the South Esk, being the adjoining parish to that of Aberlemno, and distant about four miles in a northerly direction from Forfar. In the Acts of the Parlia ment of Scotland, and in other old records, this parish is variously spelled Fynnevin, Ffinheaven, and Phinheaven. The name is supposed to be compounded of two Gaelic words, Fin, signifying white or clear, and Avon, or Aven, signifying a

water or a river.

Finhaven Castle is an object of great interest to the antiquarian tourist, for it was in days of yore the magnificent abode of the powerful family of Lindsay. It surmounts the steep bank of the Lemno, near the place where that beautiful stream joins the Esk, and derives its name Fion-ablian," or the "white river," from the foam cast up by the rippling of the waters of that little stream at their confluence with the Esk. The site of the castle is finely chosen, in a military point of view, being situated at the entrance of the great valley of Strathmore, and so as to command the whole of the Lowlands, beneath the base of the Grampians, and guard the passes of the Highlands through the neighbouring valleys of Glenisla, Glenprosen, and Glenclova. All its ancient splendour is now gone, for you observe the ruins consists of little more

than the keep, a solitary weather-beaten tower of the fourteenth century, split asunder as by lightning and over-grown with ivy. But the associations remain, and the situation of the fine old tower in a rich and fertile vale, with the river Esk running almost under its walls, is picturesquely interesting in the extreme.

You see these iron spikes jutting out from the mouldering walls? It was on these spikes, tradition relates, that "Earl Beardie," proprietor then of the castle, was wont to hang his prisoners. This was the same Earl Beardie or "Tiger Earl," whose acquaintance we have already formed as the chief actor at Glamis in the terrible legend of "The Secret Chamber." The following episode in his history fully bears out the ferocious features of his character.

Earl Beardie joined in the celebrated league with the Earls of Douglas and Ross, and fought, May 18, 1452, at the battle of Brechin, alluded to under the history of "Kinnaird Castle "in which he was defeated in disgrace. His great object in this intrigue, was to oppose Huntly, the Commander of the royal army, in his passage across the Mouth; and the cause of his defeat was the desertion of the laird of Balnamoon to the enemy. He was pursued to the castle of Finhaven, and there gave vent to his rage in the most passionate language, exclaiming, that "he would willingly live seven years in hell, to acquire the glory which had that day fallen to Huntly!"

In the court of the castle, in the time of Earl Beardie, there grew a magnificent Spanish chestnut nearly forty-three feet in circumference, and probably served as the "covin-tree," under which the stirrup-cup was drunk, when guests departed on their journey. There is a tradition connected with this tree, -that a gillie who had been sent on an errand from the castle of Careston to that of Finhaven, had the hardihood to cut a stick from it, which so enraged the Earl that he hanged him on a branch of it, and that immediately afterwards the tree began to decay. It was not, however, till 1740, that the bitter frost of that year killed it outright, and for twenty years later it

continued standing till a storm in 1760 finally levelled it with the ground. The legend would not be complete without adding, that the ghost of the gillie has ever since constantly walked between Finhaven 'and Careston, under the designation of "Jock Barefoot," getting credit for all the tricks and rogueries commonly attributed in England to Robin Goodfellow.

The Barony of the Forest of Platane, a primeval forest chiefly of oak, extended westward of the castle for several miles, in which the Earls of Crawford had a lodge, or residence in the greenwood, the vestiges of which are still pointed out under the name of Lindsay's Hall. The forest has long since disappeared but the tradition of the county bears that the wild cat could leap from tree to tree from the castle of Finhaven to the hill of Kirriemuir.

Alexander de Lindsay, Lord of that ilk, Earl of Crawford, Knight, as the Master of Crawford, and Victor of Arbroath is designed in a charter of 1449-is still remembered traditionally in Scotland, as "The Tiger," or "Earl Beardie." These nicknames he acquired from the ferocity of his character, and the exuberance of his beard, although a more modern authority derives the latter epithet from the little reverence in which he held the King's courtiers, and his readiness to "beard the best of them."

In consequence of his defeat at the battle of Brechin, already alluded to, the superstition long prevailed, that green was unlucky to the Lindsays, the prevailing colour of their dress having on this occasion been of that colour :—that

"A Lindsay with green
Should never be seen."

Although after his reconciliation with the king, Earl Beardie's whole character changed, and from being the wildest of the wild chiefs of the north, he became "ane faithful subject and sicker target, (sure shield) to the king and his subjects," tradition has forgotten his repentance, and the

tiger earl is believed to be still playing at "the deil's buiks," in the Castle of Glamis, doomed by the Evil One to play there till the end of time!

This legend receives in this neighbourhood a somewhat different interpretation from that given to it by the writer in the tradition of the "Secret Chamber," inasmuch as it is averred that Beardie, who was constantly losing, having been advised by one of his companions to give up the game"Never," he exclaimed-" till the day of judgment!" The Evil One, it is further said, instantly appeared, and both chamber and company vanished. No one has since discovered them, but in the stormy nights when the winds howl drearily around the old castle, the stamps and curses of the doomed gamesters may still, it is said, be heard mingling with the blast. Both versions are terrible enough, and I leave my readers to judge which is the more awful of the two.

Earl Beardie, left by his wife Elizabeth Dunbar, who survived him for nearly half a century, two sons, minors, David fifth Earl of Crawford, created Duke of Montrose by James III., and Sir Alexander of Auchtermonzie, who inherited that barony from his mother, and who latterly became seventh Earl of Crawford.

Earl Beardie left a daughter also, Lady Elizabeth Lindsay, wife of John the first Lord Drummond, and ancestress of the unhappy Darnley, father by Mary Queen of Scots, of James I. of Great Britain.

Cardinal Beaton, the ruins of whose once splendid residence at Melgund we have just seen and described, resided for a short time at Finhaven Castle in 1545, and there publicly, and in a style of the most ostentatious magnificence, married one of his natural daughters to the Master of Crawford. He had six natural daughters, and if he had bestowed upon each of them the same dowry of 4000 merks, they must have been among the best tochered brides in Scotland.

On that beautiful point of land, a little below the castle at the junction of the Esk and the Lemno, are still visible the

foundations of an old church called the Church of Aikenhauld, and this would appear to have been the original parish


The celebrated "Vitrified Fort," on the hill of Finhaven, is one of the earliest and most conspicuous of those ancient monuments, which must in early times have been the residence of some very powerful tribes. This hill rises to the height of about 1500 feet above the level of the surrounding country; and commands a very rich and extensive prospect of hill and dale in all their panoramic beauty.

The fort is in the form of a parallelogram, extending from east to west by recent accurate measurement, about 476 feet. At the east end the breadth is about 83 feet, and towards the west end which is somewhat lower down the hill, the breadth is about 125 feet. The exact height and thickness of the walls cannot now be ascertained, although, in their present state, they are in many places upwards of ten feet from the ground. The masonry of the walls must have been subjected to the action of a very powerful fire. The most fusible stones are placed indiscriminately on the walls with others, in order to bind them together. It is evident that this work had been raised at a great amount and expense of labour and skill, and constructed upon military principles, for the holding of a numerous garrison, with walls and outworks for their defence, and capable of resisting not only a sudden attack, but a lengthened siege. It is undoubted that this fort was one of the strongholds of those early tribes, who inhabited the country about the time of the invasion of the Romans.

About two miles and a half to the north-west of this fort is the Roman camp of Battledykes. This camp is of very considerable magnitude, the mean length of it being about 2970 feet, and its mean breadth about 1850 feet. It encloses a space of about 80 acres, and is now the site of a well-cultivated farm called the farm of Battledykes.

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