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Old Pitlochry

Pitlochry, which is a corruption of “ Pit-cloich-aire,”
meaning “the place by the sentinel stone,” can lay claim to a respectable antiquity of fully 1700 years, as the name goes back to 208 AD., when the Roman Emperor, Septimus Severus, led his forces across Scotland to the Moray Firth. To protect the flank of his army being attacked, he closed up the valleys that opened out on his line of march by constructing a fort in each, one being on the north bank of the Tummel, on what is now the Recreation Ground. The Picts, from the then important town of Moulin, placed a sentinel beside the boulder stone that is still lying above the Pitlochry Smithy, to keep watch on the fort, hence the origin of the place name.

Pitlochry was originally made up of three small hamlets.
The one to the west, which lay to the south of the sentinel stone, has all disappeared except the two old cottages on the west side of the road branching off to the Golf Course. The cottage in front next the main road was at one time a public house, and is associated with a tragedy. Shortly after the middle of the 18th century, Stewart of Bonskeid and his cousin, Stewart of Sheirglass, when returning from Dunkeld Market, called at this house. A quarrel arose between them, when
Shierglass, drawing his dirk, stabbed Bonskeid who only survived a few minutes. Shierglass made his escape and ultimately found refuge in Holland. Before leaving he concealed himself behind a stone in the Faskally Wood, from which a view of the road could he got, as he believed in the old superstition, that if a murderer could see daylight under the bier of his victim he would escape capture, and in this he was successful. The dirk is still in the possession of one of his descendants.

The middle hamlet was on both sides of the Moulin burn
where the main road crosses it. The old Mill ol Pitlochry was on the flat on the West side of the burn, and dated from the end of the 15th century, at which time it was removed from Moulin, probably to gain greater water storage. As the lands of Pitlochry belonged to the Church, the Mill was a Church Mill, and the thirlage rights of the older Moulin Mill were transferred to it. The old course of the burn, which had passed down the hollow near the Bank of Scotland, was closed up, and the present channel was made to lead the water into a large
Mill pond, on the site now occupied by Fisher’s Hotel and
garden. The water supplv was further augmented from the pond known as ‘‘ The Cuilc ‘‘ by a deep cutting, which brought that water, which had previously gone Westwards, past the Sentinel Stone, below which it was taken by a lade to the Moulin burn as it entered the Mill pond. This old lade, though no longer inuse, is occasionally met with during drainage operations. The Mill House or Mansion House of Pitlochry is still in good preservation and has the date 1701 over the doorway. Its appearance has been much destroyed owing to
the heightening of the roadway, so that it now looks as if
the ground floor were a half-sunk basement. Nothing is left of the old Mill but the Kiln which is occupied as a Tailor’s workshop.

The old Inn, between the Mill House and the burn, dates
from 1727, when General Wade made the North road through Pitlochry. There was no bridge at that time, as the Moulin burn, except when in flood, passed underneath the road by a conduit into the Mill pond, and the ground to the North of the road behind the Mill House formed a square containing the Mill and Inn steadings. The two old cottages there facing the East represent all that remains of these buildings.

The present Pitlochrv Mill was built about 1827 and on account of its higher site, the mill pond at Wellwood had to be made. Shortly afterwards the new Inn now forming part of the East wing of Fisher’s Hotel was built and the old mill pond became the Hotel garden.

The rising ground on the East side of the burn was known
as “ Bonnethill “ and on it there were two rows of Cottages between the road and the burn but now only a part of one row remains. On the opposite side was a small square of thatched houses which fell into disrepair and were removed when the ground was feued about 40 years ago.

The third hamlet was Toberargan and it is probably the
oldest. When St Colm founded the Church of Moulin about 490 A.D. he seems to have had a preaching station at Toberargan, and baptised his converts at a well that is now covered over, but which is situated in the Tigh-na-craig garden, and was known as Tober Chalmaig or St CoIm’s Well. Just above it is Toberargan or Argan’s Well, which may have got its name from a disciple or priest whom St Colm left in charge, and who may have thought it would be presumption to use the Saint’s Well.

From at least the earliest Church times there was a road
hetween Pitlochry and Moulin by Bonnethill, hut the West
branch was not made till about 1830. There was no road through Toberargan, in to Moulin till about 1835, as the road did not go past the Well, all the ground being occuppied by an oak wood. Previous to General Wade’s road, the access to Pltlochry from the South was by a road which branched off the Port-na-Craig and Moulin road about 150 yards above the ferry, and it can still he traced passing through the wood till it reaches the Pitlochry Gas Works.

About 100 years ago, Pitlochry, in addition to its mill had
two distilleries and a brewery. The oldest distillery was at Balnacraig farm and it was moved lower down about 1835
to the site of the first hole on the Golf Course, but as the water was not suitable for distilling, the distillery after few years fell into disuse. The Pitlochry distillery was at the West End of the Village and the offices at Sunny Brae are the only remaining part of the distillery buildings. It was a small distillery and was not kept up after 1800. The Brewery, which has been converted into cottages, was carried on till about 1870, but it was never a commercial success.

The old Pitlochry School, now converted into the Station
Cottages was beside what is now the Railway loading bank, and the Railway sidings occupy part of the School playground. Gas was introduced into Pitlochry as early as 1830, when a small gas work was erected by the Messrs Conacher in connection with their house and shop, hut the gas works, the shop, and dwelling-house, were many years ago merged in what is now known as Scotland’s Hotel.

Below Pitlochry Railway Station and about 100 yards to
the East of the Recreation Ground, is a deep hollow, known as ‘‘ The Lady’s Dell.’’ The tradition regarding it is that early in the 17th century a Laird of Pitlochry, boasting before his marriage, of the size of his comparatively small estate, promised the lady who became his wife to give her as a dowry as much land as she could see. When he brought her home she reminded him of his promise, so he took her to this hollow, and said all the land she could see was hers. The extent was about one acre, but the lady claimed it, and having expressed a wish that when she died, she should be buried there, this was accordingly done, and her grave could at one time be seen near the centre of the hollow.
The above was written in 1923.

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