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bishop, in giving an account of the death of Hilda, Abbess of Whitby, represents the event as being miraculously made known to a nun of the monastery of Hakeness "by the familiar sound of a bell."
Coming down to the nineteenth century, we all know the intense effect which the distant sound of cathedral bells had on the iron mind of the great Napoleon, in the midst of his sanguinary career of boundless ambition and heroic victories.
In Scotland, however, we know little of the exquisite pleasure experienced in listening to the sweet music of the village and city bells of our more favoured sister, England. On a still Sabbath morning, every hamlet and town, every valley and hill, is vocal with the hallowed sounds of musical reverberating chimes, ringing out harmoniously from every ivy-covered belfry and lofty cathedral tower, till the outspreading landscape, far and near, is filled with divinest melody. And yet after all, dear reader, it is not the richness of the music, but the tender associations encompassing the sound of the "Sabbath bell," that is so dear to a Scotman's heart, whether he lovingly lingers at home among his native hills, or boldly braves the dangers of distant lauds, where
"No Sabbath bell
Awakes the Sabbath morn,
Among the yellow corn! "
Very solemn and sweet at all times to the sensitive mind, are the sounds, of whatever kind, of distant music, but chief at balmy summer eventide, when it softly dies away among the distant hills, more dearly loved the farther from us it recedes, more sweet the fainter it becomes, like dying song, low breathed, of some pure sainted spirit gone to rest in the land o' the leal!
Oh! whither shall we roam, my love,
CRAIGHALL and Rattray, with their romantic surroundings, having already been described, there is nothing more of sufficient importance to detain us longer on our way to the braes of Angus. We shall, therefore, at once proceed thither, taking the ancient town of Alyth on our way, not forgetting to cast a loving and admiring gaze on the beautiful Howe on our right with its many towns and villages, its churches, castles, woods, and streams; bounded grandly on the south by the undulating range of the Sidlaws, now clothed to their summits with hanging sylvan woods, or waving fields of golden grain; anon diversified by grassy uplands, and richly purpling heather hills.
Here comes the creaking, heavy laden waggon, slowly along the white and dusty road, and by it proudly walks the stalwart peasant, cracking his long whip loudly in the summer air, while cheerily whistling some favourite rustic air dear to his manly heart. There goes the fresh and rosy shepherd boy, with his fleecy flock of ewes and lambs, and his ever faithful collie dog keeping diligent watch and ward over the numerous, yet obedient flock committed to his charge. See how his canine sagacity is exercised in carefully tending, yet gently chiding yon little bleating lamb that, tired and bewildered, laggs wearily in the rear! While admiring the patient
docility of the flock, let us encouragingly stroke as we pass, the smooth silky head of their shaggy guardian, who, you will observe, repays our kindness by an answering glance of intelligent appreciation from his speaking eyes, and by expressively wagging for a moment his bushy tail, without apparently withdrawing his supervision from the little bleating lamb to which he pays far more attention than to the rest of its companions on account of its inability to keep pace with the straggling flock. Kindness to animals, as well as kindness to children, should be a loving part of our nature, which when exercised to either, will always bring with it its own reward.
The town of Alyth was created a burgh or barony in the reign of James III. It would seem, however, to have been a place of some importance at a much earlier period, for it is said that David Bruce, who reigned from 1341 to 1371, granted an edict in favour of that town, prohibiting Kirriemuir, Alyth, &c., from holding weekly markets, as being within the liberties of Dundee. The antiquity of the parish itself can be traced still farther back, for the lands of Bamff were granted by Alexander II., in the year 1232, to Nessus de Ramsay, the lineal ancestor of the present proprietor, Sir James Ramsay, Bart. In 1303, King David II. confirmed a charter previously granted by the Earl of Marr to the Lyndesays, afterwards Earls of Crawford, of the lands of Balwyndoloch, now Ballendoch; and by successive charters from Scottish Kings the family came into possession of nearly the whole of the parish of Alyth. In 1630, having fallen into straightened circumstances, that family having previously sold the greater part of their lands piecemeal, disposed of all their remaining property in the district to the family of Airlie.
The lower part of the parish lies in the valley of Strathmore, forming an irregular square of nearly four miles a-side. The parish is watered by the Isla and Ericht, and is also traversed by the burn of Alyth, and other minor streams. Mount Blair rises at the northern extremity of the parish to the height of 1700 feet. Three miles to the south of Mount Blair, is
picturesquely situated, on the banks of the Ericht, the hill of Kingseat, 1178 feet above the level of the sea. The other elevations of the parish are Barryhill, and the hills of Loyall and Alyth.
Notwithstanding the proximity of powerful royalist families, the people of Alyth seem to have adhered rigidly to the cause of Presbytery. During the troublous period, from 1640 to 1660, there occur several entries in the Session Records, as to interinissions of public worship, "because of the common enemy." During the greater part of 1646, Montrose's army was stationed in the immediate neighbourhood, to the great consternation of the inhabitants: as appears from the following entries, viz.,"July 5 day 1646, first Sabbath. Given to Hendrie Gargill x sh" for to go to the camp to trie and search some news from the malignants, and that he may forwarnisse of their cuming upon us. July 2 Sab: This day no preaching, because of the common enemie. July 3 Sab. and 4 Sab.: No preaching, because Montrose was so near us. August the first Sab. and 2 day: Ther was no preaching with us since the last Fast, (Feby. 1st) because the enemie was quarterit in our bownds. This day our minister taught."
Among the entries a few years afterwards, occur the following -viz., “August the last day 1651; This day no preaching, because our minister was taken on Thursday last by the Englishes, being the 28 of August 1651." "March the 28, 1652 No preaching, except only one Englishe trooper went up to ye pulpit, and made ane forme of ane preaching who hade no warrant to preach, whose text was upon the 45 Psalm, 13, 14 vs." After the Restoration, however, a change seems to have come over "the spirit of their dream," for we find both minister and people quietly submitting to the altered state of things:-" March 15, 1663: This day, the clerk writter hereof, being appointed and ordained be the minister and session to everie Sab., before the incoming of the minister to the pulpit, red this day," &c. In 1667, it is further recorded that Mr Thomas Robertson was inducted as assistant
and successor, with the usages and ceremonies of the Episcopal Church.
The Flora of the parish although not extensive, is yet rich in rare and beautiful plants, amongst which may be noticed the following, viz.—the Alisma ranunculoides, the Scrophularia vernalis, the Senicio saracenicus, the Astragalus glycyphyllus, the Trollius Europeus, the Campanula latifolia, and the Gallium boreale. In the upland districts may be found, the Orobus sylvaticus, the Trientalis Europea, the Sarrifraga aizoides, and the Erica vulgaris alba (white heath)-these latter very abundantly.
The ruins of several old castles in the parish add considerably to its other attractions. The principal of these are the remains of the old castle of Inverquiech, situated at the junction of the Burn of Alyth with the Isla. The date of the erection of this castle is lost in the mists of antiquity. In a charter granted by Robert II. in 1394, to his nephew James de Lyndesay, it is mentioned as "the King's Castle of Inucuyth," and appears to have been even then in ruins. Corb, there are also the remains of a castle, the name of which is unknown. It is supposed to have been a hunting-seat of the Scottish Kings, or of the Earls of Crawford, from its situation being on the borders of the forest.
The most attractive place, to the antiquarian, however, is doubtless the fort on Barry Hill which Chalmers considers to be coeval with the Roman Invasion. It would appear to have been a pictish entrenchment of great strength, the remains of which are still in a very perfect state of preservation. A deep fosse, about ten feet in height, seems to have protected the fort on the east and south; the other sides of the hill being so precipitous as to render such an artificial defence unneces sary. Some remains exist of a narrow bridge thrown over the fosse; and though there is no vestige of a well, there was, until lately, a very deep pond, which the tenants in their wisdom, thought proper to fill up, the spot of ground reclaimed being doubtless, in their eyes, of more value than antiquarian associations however ancient or important.