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The Sma' Glen

Crieff Town Centre

Sma Glen

Sma Glen











The Sma’ Glen

A few miles to the north of the town of Crieff is the southern entrance to the Sma’ Glen. Here one passes from the lowlands into the Scottish Highlands. Its present name is a modern one for originally it was known as An Caol Ghleann, The Narrow Glen, and its Gaelic name is indeed descriptive of it. It is a typical Highland glen in appearance though only a short one and when passing through it it is difficult to think that only a few miles away to the south is lowland country. The valley is watered by the infant river Almond and the steep sides are clothed with heather and blaeberry plants. It is void of trees except for a few which flourish in the lower part of the glen. On a hill overlooking it is a rock known as the Eagles Rock and doubtless in the old days the golden eagle had its eyrie here.


Small though it is the glen has a long history. It has associations with the Romans being occupied by them during their advances northward only to be halted by the hardy natives of the mountain fastnesses. At the head of the glen is a large boulder called Clach Oisein, Ossian’s Stone. It stands between the road and river and there is a tradition that here about sixteen hundred years ago Ossian, the immortal bard of the Gael, was buried. It is on record that as late as 1733, approximately fourteen centuries after the reputed burial of Ossian, when the military road through the Sma’ Glen was under construction, the road builders found lying in their path the above mentioned stone, though at the time they were unaware of its significance. It was decided to lever aside the stone as no doubt many others had been dealt with rather than slightly alter the course of the road. The stone had no inscription to describe its importance but its removal revealed four smaller stones upon which the larger one had been set. Just below the surface of the ground here was found a chamber about two feet square enclosed by flat stones at the sides, top and bottom. Within were found bones, ashes and a few burnt stalks of heather. As soon as the news of the disturbance of the grave was communicated to the local people they gathered from a considerable area in a remarkably short time, collected together the remains from within the stone chamber and with pipes playing conveyed them to another site of burial and having deposited them there they discharged their fire-arms over the grave. This second reputed grave of Ossian is on the west of the hill of Dunmore in nearby Glen Almond. The great boulder which was on the original grave of Ossian is still there. It and the site of the grave are about a mile south of Newton Bridge on the left side of the road when travelling south. To the left of the present road can be discerned the Wade road with the river Almond just beyond. Between the latter two is the boulder, the site of the grave being beneath Wade’s old road. Close by is a grass covered mound which One might think would be connected with Ossian’s burial here but this is believed to be the resting place of one of Wade’s road makers who died in the glen and was given burial here against what was then in 1733 a very ancient burial site. This I am sure would have taken place after the finding of Ossian’s grave for there is no reason to believe why he would be buried at that spot there if he had died before Ossian’s remains were discovered.

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