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Coy with our sunny ringlets fair,
While murmurs fondly at our feet
PROCEEDING on this bright morning a few miles to the west of Kettins, we reach the beautifully situated parish of Cargill. The scenery now becomes much bolder in outline, and altogether more richly diversified by wood and water, gentle eminence and luxuriant hollow, than that around the district we have left. The church and manse occupy a charmingly romantic site on the sylvan banks of the noble Tay, forming, with the adjoining well-kept burial-ground, one of the most delightful scenes on which the eye could rest. The original church, gifted to the Abbey of Cupar, would seem to have been in another part of the parish, the Priests' Den and the Priests' Well being a considerable distance from the present structure. On the top of a perpendicular rock which rises abruptly over the Linn at Campsie, are traceable the remains of an ancient religious house and burial-place, and being near the site of a Roman Camp, it is probable, according to Jervise, as the Gaelic words Caer-Kill mean either the kirk, or burial-place of the fort or camp, that the peculiar situation of this church or chapel had given the name of Cargill to the district.
The Muschets of Cargill were of Roman origin, and seem to have come to Scotland with William the Lion, the first appearance of them being in the year 1200, when Richard of Munficheth, witnesses a grant by that king to the Monks of Arbroath, of a toft in the burgh of Perth. (Reg. Vet. de
Aberb. 13). Twenty years later, William, the son of Richard, gave the Abbey of Cupar a grant of the common pasture of his lordship of Cargill, which his father had received from King William. This baron, who appears to have been afterwards knighted, 'witnesses various charters during the time of Alexander II. (Jervise). The male line of the family failed in the person of William, warder of the town and castle of Dundee for the English, during the early part of the Wars of Independence, who, in 1331, is a witness to a local charter; and the following year became Justiciary of Scotland. (Spalding Club Miscell., v. 10). Like his progenitor in England, he left three co-heiresses, one of whom, Mary, carried the lands of Cargill and Stobhall, by marriage, to Sir John Drummond, ancestor of the Earls of Perth; while the lands of Pitfour and Drumgrain, which belonged to the other sisters, Margaret and Dornagilla of Montefix, and also some estates in Dumbartonshire, were lost by forfeiture in the time of David II. (Crawford's Peerage).
The noble family of Drummond, one of the most ancient and illustrious of the Scottish nation, still possesses the Muschet estates in this district. Annabella Drummond, the beautiful and accomplished daughter of Sir John Drummond and Lady Mary Muschet or Montefix, had the high honour of being married to Robert III. King of Scotland, and crowned with him at Scone in the month of September 1390. Queen Annabella was mother to James I., King of Scotland, and from her are lineally descended all the royal race of the Stuarts.
Very beautiful and romantic are the views along the Tay in this charmingly situated parish. The village of Cargill stands near the river about half-a-mile from its junction with the Isla. At this spot, and exactly opposite to the ancient Castle of Kinclaven on the other side of the river are the vestiges of a Roman encampment, now called the Castlehill. The encampment was defended on one side by the steep banks of the Tay, on another by a deep ravine; while on all
other sides where it was assailable, it was guarded by high breastworks and strong entrenchments. The fossæ are yet distinct, and the aqueduct by which they were filled from a neighbouring rivulet, is still in a good state of preservation. The site of the encampment, however, is now converted into a corn-field. In this camp, according to Bothius, the Romans took up their winter quarters under Tribellius, after Agricola left him, and preserved their communication with other detachments of their troops who had advanced farther into the country, towards the foot of the Grampians.
Another interesting object in this parish is Stobhall, a venerable fabric, formerly a seat of the Perth family, now belonging to the representatives of Lord Willoughby d'Eresby. It is fancifully situated on a narrow peninsula on the banks of the Tay, and being of various kinds of architecture, must have been built at different times and on different plans.
The river, near the west end of the parish, forms what is called the Linn of Campsie, already noticed, by falling over a rugged basaltic dyke, which crosses the bed of the river at this place, and extends in a direct line many miles to the east and west of the Tay. At the distance of twenty miles to the westward, Drummond Castle stands on a similar rock, which is supposed to be a continuation of the
A Roman road about twenty feet broad, composed of rough round stones, rudely laid together, passes along the high grounds. This military road is supposed to have been made by the army at Ardoch, to preserve a communication between their different camps, and as convenient for their after marches, had they conquered the country.
The village of Gallowhill in a field called the Gallowshade, is so named as having been a place of execution under the feudal system; and near the parish-school-house, to the north, is a well said to have been used by the executioner for washing his hands after being engaged in his bloody work. In this well, now partly filled up, some seventy or eighty years ago a
quantity of human bones were discovered. The well still goes by the name of "Hangies Well."
Near the village were, until lately, to be seen a number of large erect stones, said to have been of the same class of antiquities as the sculptured stones of Meigle. Upon these stones were representations of the moon, and stars, and the corn-field where they stood, is called the Moonshade, or Moonstane Butts to this day.
The parish is diversified by several artificial little hills or conically shaped mounds, called Laws. One of these at Lawton, being in the near neighbourhood of Macbeth's Castle on Dunsinane Hill, is supposed to have been the place where Macbeth dispensed laws and settled differences among his subjects.
"Woodman, spare that tree."
Two miles from Coupar Angus, and towards the eastern boundary of Perthshire, we come to the borders of Bendochy, a parish which consists of two great divisions, the Highland and the Lowland. The Highland division nearest to the parish church is about eight miles distant, while its remotest point is upwards of thirteen miles off. In the parochial registers of the parish the name is written Bendochie, in 1642; Bennathie in 1704; and Bendochy in 1760. From the great uncertainty of Gaelic Etymology, it has been found very difficult to ascertain the true import of the name; some defining its meaning to be Nether Hill; others, The hill of good prospect; or, The hill of two waters.
Leaving these etymological differences to be reconciled by the learned in such matters, let us pause for a moment on the middle of the bridge over the Isla at Couttie, and watch the placid river's zigzag, meandering course among the hollows to the east until our eye rests with a sweet pleasure on the prettily situated manse of Bendochy on its gently rising banks to the north. How silent and lone! How shut out from the busy world does it seem! Yet for nearly half-a-century in that modest solitary manse has lived one of the most eloquent and accomplished ministers of the Church of Scotland. Yes, and in that little white-washed barn-like kirk has he been content to minister to a rural congregation, when he would have been admiringly welcomed as their pastor by the