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Old Moulin

The village of Moulin, some 2000 years ago, was a Pictish
town of such importance that it was protected by a double circle of outlying forts, and was probably the Capital of the Province of Atholl or Fodla, by which latter name it was known to the Annalists of the early church.

Moulin (Moy-linne) means “the place of the pool,” but
in the 16th century, according to the original Charter of the Balnakeilly estate, it was called Kirktown or Balmalzie, which would mean the Mill-town. Probably the town marked Lindum on the Map of Ptolemy, the Egyptian geographer, who lived about 140 A.D., is represented by Moulin, as the sites almost correspond and the names have a certain similarity, as Lindum or Lindun would mean “the fort by the pool.” The church was built inside this fort, which was often done at that time for safety, and
it will be noticed that the burial ground and church occupy what was once a peninsula in a lake. The lake extended from the south side of the churchyard eastwards to Auchnahyle, with a breadth of about 400 yards. It was shallow, not exceeding 8 feet in depth, and in the centre was a large crannog or artificial island which served as a refuge in times of danger. The lake was drained about 1720, but remained a marsh for fully 100
years afterwards.

On the west side of the Moulin burn, almost opposite the
old mill, was Caisteal Dubh. There was another Caisteal
Dubh on Ballinlochan Farm, and a third Caisteal Dubh at Edradour on the west side of the burn, a short distance below the Black Spout. All these were circular stone forts of no great size, but except the foundations of the last, they have all disappeared within the last century.

Further out, the Forts guarding Moulin were as follows
On the west, in the centre of what is the Golf Course, was Craigiedun, which is still in a fair state of reservation below that, on the north side of the railway near the level crossing, is Cnocfaire, or the Sentinel’s Knoll; then at the west end of Pitlochry, is the boulder stone from which Pitlochry takes its name. Near the east end of Pitlochry is the wooded knoll known as Cnoc-an-roaire, or the knoll of the careful watch, 400 yards further to the east, is Dundarach, or the fort in the Oak wood, and above that, in the Atholl Palace grounds, is another Cnocfaire.

Apparently, however, danger was feared from the east, as fully a mile distant is Donavourd, Don a-fuirt, the fort by the ford. Three hundred yards beyond that, above Dalshian, is the Fourich, or the place of watching, protected by a deep, dry moat, and at East Haugh is another Cnoc-an-roaire, with the burn of Alt-roaire on its west side. Such a series of forts would indicate that Moulin was not only a place of great importance, but that it must also have had a considerable population.

The Ruler of a Province under the Pictish Kings was the
Mormaor, and his fortified dwelling may have been the artificial mound that is seen on the south side of the road below Pitfourie.

As would be expected from its importance, Moulin was the site of the earliest Church in Atholl. Its founder was St. Colm, an Irish Pict, who with St. Fillan, came to Scotland about 490 A.D. While St. Fillan confined his labours to Loch Earn and the west of Loch Tay, St. Colm, judging from the numerous church dedications to him, seems to have travelled over a large part of Scotland.

Markets were usually held on the name day of the local
Saint, so Moulin Market, which is held in March, is known as Feill Machalmaig, or the market of dear St Colm It wac
much the largest market in Atholl and lasted for the greater part of a week. The original market stance was on the west side of Moulin in the field below Baledrnund, where there is a large Standing Stone. The old church mill was on the east side of the Moulin burn, about 250 yards above the church, and as it had thirlage rights, the corn grown in the vicinity was ground there, until the mill was transferred to Pitlochry some time before the Reformation Moulin Mill was probably contemporary with the church, so was one of the oldest mills in Atholl. A
sawmill now occupies the site, and the old mill dam, which is in good order, still supplies the water power.

The Moulin burn originally flowed into the lake on the
north-east side of the churchyard, where there was a small ravine, the upper part of which has been filled up and now forms the access to the church, and when the mill was removed to Pitlochry, the burn was directed into its present channel. Before that, the church and village all lay on the west side of the burn, and the church lands embraced the small strip of ground now cut off by the burn, and occupied by the Smithy and as garden ground.

In the twelfth century, Moulin belonged to the Celtic Earls of Atholl, and in 1180 A.D., Malcolm, Earl of Atholl, granted the church and church lands of Moulin to the Abbey of Dunfermline for Masses for the souls of himself and his wife. The Comyns afterwards succeeded to the Earldom, and having taken the side of Balliol, Robert the Bruce forfeited their lands, and in 1314, after The Battle of Bannockburn, he gave to Sir Neil Campbell, his brother-in-law, and Mary, his spouse, and to their son, John, all the lands belonging to David, Earl of Atholl. This son,
afterwards Sir John Campbell of Lochow and Earl of Atholl, built the Castle of Moulin about 1326 on the island or crannog in the lake, and the landing place for boats from the Castle was at Balnadrurn, where a causeway was uncovered sorne years ago. The Castle was inhabited till 1500, the year of the plague, when it is said that a messenger, who had arrived there, having become suddenly ill, the country people, fearing he had the
plague, gathered a great quantity of faggots and set fire to the Castle, burning all the inmates, but effectually stopping the plague.

Until the time of General Wade there were only two roads
in the district and these both met at Moulin. The one was the old North road from Dunkeld which, after passing behind Edradour, descended from Kinnaird by Lettochbeg, and thence along the North side of the Glebe into the village, beyond which it went by Pitfourie, Balnacraig and Drumchorry to the Pass of Killiecrankie. The other was the hill road from Strathtay. and the South side of the Tummel, which went from Portnacraig Ferry by what is now the East road passing Pitlochry School to the
village of Moulin, after which it crossed the Balnakeilly Park, and keeping the hill side, went behind Badvo into Strathardle. It was by this road that Queen Mary came from Coupar-Angus when she passed through Moulin in 1564 on her way to Blair Atholl, and by it the Earl of Mar came from Braemar to Moulin in 1715, where he remained for some days when more than 1,000 Atholl men enrolled themselves under his Standard. It was by the old North road that General Mackay marched through Moulin in 1689 to the Battle of Killiecrankie, and it was along it
that the victorious Highlanders went the next day when they unsuccessfully attacked Dunkeld.

There are no remains or records of the pre-reformation churches, hut all, both before and since, have occupied the same site.

The present Church of Moulin was built in 1834, and the
previous Church was erected in 1613, but in 1704 the front wall was taken down and the Church was widened and re-roofed. The main entrance was then from the South across the Churchyard by a gateway at the end of the old Schoolhouse. The front of the Church faced the South, and the doorways and the outside stone stair leading to the loft, were all on the South side.

The Baledmund papers show that there was no manse or
glebe in connection with Moulin Church till 1630, when ground was acquired by the Heritors from Stewart of Balnakeilly, immediately to the East of the Churchyard.

Among the Balnakeilly papers there is a sketch of part ot
Moulin village, probably made about 1770, which shows the site of the first manse. It was a little to the North-East of the Church, and immediately to the West of the present village pump, but the level of the ground was then several feet lower, as the roadway has been made up, and the garden now outside the glebe, was then the Minister’s garden. There were three small cottages below the old manse, with a small house and yard for the bellman, but this ground was excambed sometime before
1800 for ground on the East side of the glebe.

In 1758 a new manse was built on the present site, and in this old plan the offices are shown forming two sides of a square in front of the manse, with the stack-yard on the West. The present manse was built on the same site in 1820.

The old Parish School and teacher’s house were on the East side of the south entrance gate to the church, and the dwelling-house now on the site represents these old buildings which were partly renewed in 1840, when a new school was built, and the old school became the schoolmaster’s house.

A Baron's Court was held in Moulin until the abolition of
heritable jurisdictions in 1746 and the Records or Minutes of the Court fiom 1676 to 1741 are preserved in the Balnakeilly charter chest. The Court was held under the authority of the Earls, afterwards the Dukes of Atholl, and the members of the Court were usually Stewart of Balnakeilly and Fergusson of Baledmund. The minutes, which were written and kept by the Stewarts of Balnakeilly, are for the first fifty years models of
composition and good writing, but afterwards deteriorated, and they show the high standard of education of a country gentleman of the 17th century.

The jurisdiction of this Court extended to Strathardle, but
only dealt with petty offences such as stealing peats or cutting divots (turf), for which the punishment was an hour or two in what is termed the “Chaggs,” probably the “Jugs,” which were attached to the old ash tree in the Churchyard. This tree, which is still standing, must be of great age, as it is described in the oldest Kirk Session Minutes as ‘‘the old ash tree.” All serious cases were tried at Logierait where there was the Court House of the Regality of Atholl, presided over by Stewart of Ballechin, the hereditary Baron Bailie.

Moulin lost its importance when the new North road
through Pitlochry was made by General Wade in 1727. About 1830, the present road was made from Moulin to Strathardle in substitution for the old road through the Balnakeilly park, and on the west side the position of the old road was shifted some distance southwards so as to form the March between the Baledmund and Faskally Estates. It was then also that the old approach to Baledmund was altered to the present east approach. The old access was through the field below the House, to which it went from the west.

There were two Inns in Moulin, the present Inn and
Croftclachan house on the Baledmund Estate, but at the time of the Moulin Market every house was an Inn.

Time has wrought many changes, and little of Old Moulin
remains, except the old ash tree and the old mill pond, but the memories and traditions of the past still cling to this old world village and invest it with the halo of romance.
The above was written in 1923.

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