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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 church.
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.
“Of brownyis and of bogillis full this buke."
Gawin Douglas. LEAVING Finhaven Castle with all its mystical associations, we cross the beautiful Esk, at a most interesting point on the great north road to Brechin ; where, to the left, you observe the miller's cozy cottage, with the old-fashioned meal mill, and trimly kept garden, snugly reposing on the verdant banks of the musical river; while on our right, the luxuriant woods of Finhaven, in all their summer beauty, stretch away in ever-varying lines of light and shade, far away into the shadowy distance.
As we leisurely wend our way along the now almost deserted road, let us admire with a passionate delight, the long and beautiful array of lofty mountain pines which line our woodland path, and listen to the soft yet sad and weirdlike music which issues from their waving boughs, like the sweet angelic notes of a thousand Æolian harps attuned in harmony with the “new song,” which ever reverberates along the golden valleys, and over the radiant mountain-tops of the empyreal heavens. What charms had these scenes, and that music to me in early youth, and what day-dreams of prospective fame would then flash before my dazzled eyes, as I lay beneath the friendly shadow of these stately mountain pines, which so lavishly adorn this ancient highway, and the banks of that beautiful river !
We are now approaching Fearn, a parish also connected with the Lindsays, full of legendary lore, and remarkable as the birth-place of men of genius.
Fearn, or Fern, in Gaelic means the alder tree. No record of any proprietor of the barony of Fearn occurs, until the reign of David I., when Robert de Montealto is mentioned as lord of the manor.
When the family became extinct, the lordship of Ferne was acquired by the Earls of Crawford, some time before 1450. The Lindsays were succeeded in•the barony of Ferne by the Carnegies towards the close of the sixteenth century.
The family of Lindsay were “of Vayne,” till nearly the middle of last century. Tradition ascribes the erection of the castle to Cardinal Beaton, and appropriated by him for the residence of Lady Vane, a corruption, probably, of Bane, or Bain, signifying white or fair. In proof of this, a deep, black pool in a dark cavern of the Noran is pointed out as the place where one of his sons by Lady Vane, was drowned, having fallen over the overhanging precipice. The pool is called Tammys Hole, or Cradle, to this day.
Such is the tradition, but it has been satisfactorily proved that Beaton never had any proprietory interest in the parish, and so the legend in reference to him is valueless. It shews, however, the unrelenting and uncharitable spirit of the people in thus loading his memory with gratuitous infamy, and in ascribing to him everything that was bad and disreputable. But as is shewn in Tytler's History of Scotland, and the Spalding Club Miscellany, it is to him we are chiefly indebted for the preservation of some of the most valuable remains of our monastic literature. It may be, therefore, that when the present investigations by impartial antiquarians are pleted, posterity will yet be enabled to pronounce a more favourable verdict on his life and character, as it already has done in the no less famous, and equally notoriously execrated Claverhouse.
Among the eminent men connected with the parish may be mentioned, James and Dr Henry William Tytler, both of whom were men of learning and genius, and distinguished in literature, whose father, Mr George Tytler, was minister of
Ferne, in the latter part of the last century. James, was compiler of the greater part of the Encyclopædia Britannica, and many other works of established merit. He was author of the well-known Scottish songs of “The Bonnie Bruiket Lassie,” “Loch Erroch-side,” and “I canna come ilka day to woo." Henry is famous as the first Scotsman who published a translation of the Greek classics. He was also author of several poems of sterling merit, amongst which may be mentioned a “Voyage from the Cape of Good Hope.”
The Castle of Vayne is situated on the brink of a romantic den, on the north bank of the Noran. With the exception of the gable wall on the east, the building is now a total ruin. It is described, however, by Ochterlony, subsequent to some alterations made in the time of Robert Earl of Southesk, as “a very good house, called the Waird, well planted, good yards, the house presently repaired by him (the Earl of Southesk) and well furnished within ; it hath ane excellent fine large great park, called the Waird.”
Here Vandalism has done its work in a more systematic and prosaic manner than is usual with the detestable race of Goths, inasmuch as part of the castle has been blown down by gunpowder, by a tenant farmer, and the stones used for building dykes, and similar purposes ! The only roofed part of the building remaining is a vault, forming the ground floor of the east wing, under which is said to be a deep dungeon, into which the family before taking their final departure, threw all their treasure of money and plate! Although often sought for, only one person is believed ever to have found it. In his haste to be rich, this worthy was just about to descend in search of the valuables when "he was forcibly thrust from the mouth of the yawning gulph by an uncouth monster in the shape of a horned ox, who departed in a blaze of fire through a big hole in the wall (still pointed out) and before the terrified treasure-seeker could recover himself, the chasm which he had wrought so hard to discover, was again shut from his view !”