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Aberfeldy Bridge

Birks of Aberfeldy

Dunkeld Cathedral

Dunkeld Bridge

Dalguise Village Hall

Dalguise

The Black Watch

The Black Watch

 


Tour Strath Tay

Strathtay Photograph Scotland

The River Tay three miles north of Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland. 10x8 Photograph (25x20cm) The River Tay three miles north of Dunkeld from Robert Harding.

Strath Tay proper is the tract of country which lies
between Aberleldy and Logierait though it does extend
to Dunkeld and Birnam having turned southward near
Logierait. It has a similarity to Strath Tummel in that
there is a road along both banks of the River Tay. This
strath is divided from the valley of the Tummel by a
high mountain ridge. It has a long history and the
scenery and countryside is much varied there being an
amount of arable land besides moorland backed by
mountains.

Dunkeld is situated on the north bank of the Tay whilst across the river is the lesser known township of Birnam. From the earliest times Dunkeld has been a place of note and is of unknown antiquity. The Romans approached it from the south in A.D. 138 but did not proceed further for fear of the Caledonians. During the Pictish period of A.D. 446-843 Dunkeld was of the seat of Royalty. At that time it was a chief seat of the Culdees and there is good reason to believe that St. Columba and St. Kentigern both visited and resided in it and even before the monks fled to Dunkeld on the pillage of lona an ancient monastery occupied the site of the cathedral.

Dunkeld was the object of two Danish invasions. The first of these took place in 845 and failed, Kenneth MacAlpine having met and defeated them near Clunie. On the second occasion the attack was more successful and Dunkeld was burned. Some chronicles state a third
attack intended about 990 concluded when Kenneth III
met and overthrew them at Luncarty. Dunkeld also figured during the troubles of the Stuarts in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Amongst Dunkeld’s most notable buildings besides the ruined cathedral are the bridge across the Tay and
Dunkeld House Hotel. Within the grounds of the hotel
is a fine larch tree. Originally there were two and they
were known as “the mother larches” as they were
supposed to be the first of their kind grown in Britain
having been brought from the Tyrol in 1738 by Menzies
of Culdares.

The wide river is spanned proudly by the seven arches of the bridge which was built in 1808 by Thomas Telford.

The countryside around Dunkeld is much wooded. North of the town there is a good road on both banks of the Tay. Near the modern road which runs along the east bank and before reaching Ballinluig can be seen traces of General Wade’s road from Perth to Inverness.

The ancestral home of an old Highland family, the Stewarts of Dalguise is on the opposite side of the river. Their origin goes back to King Robert II. Not far distant from this is another mansion Kinnaird and here there is a holy well.

As before mentioned the Tay is joined by the Tummel at Ballinluig and at this point the Tay valley turns westward. At Logierait was the seat of the Court of Regality wherein the Lords of Atholl administered feudal justice. The famous Rob Roy MacGregor is said to have been imprisoned at Logierait in 1717. When Prince Charles Edward Stuart fought the Battle of Prestonpans on September 21st, 1745, and won it in less than ten minutes, killing four hundred Hanoverians and taking more than sixteen hundred prisoners, he made use of the Logierait prison as a state prison and a considerable number were brought all the way up to Logierait from Prestonpans.

The site of the court house and prison is now occupied by the Logierait Hotel. It is reputed the Atholl Court of Regality was originally held at Tullimet but in later times was removed to Logierait. There appears to be no record of the date of the removal. The site of the Gallows Knoll, Cnoc-na-croiche, of the Logierait court was on what is called the Rath to the north east of the village. Formerly this site was occupied by a castle, a favourite resort of several Scots kings, particularly Robert II and James III is said to have been the last monarch who stayed at the Rath. The castle was probably built in the fourteenth century. The site is now occupied by a large Celtic cross erected by the tenantry of the Atholl estates to the memory of the Sixth Duke of Atholl who died in 1864.

Continuing west on both sides of the strath are
numerous castles and mansions, Ballechin, Eastertyre,
Pitnacree, Grandtully Castle, Edradynate, Killiechassie,
etc. One of the most interesting buildings is the church
of Grandtully dedicated to St. Eonan or Adamnan. It is
a very ancient Christian site and likely was a centre of
Druid worship centuries before the missionaries of the
cross came here from lona.

Further along the strath is the town of Aberfeldy and here again are various Druid remains and the supposed site of a Roman camp. Also in the area are the Falls of Moness, visited in 1787 by Robert Burns and celebrated in one of his most admired songs, “The Birks o’ Aberfeldy.”

The name of Aberfeldy is said to have been deduced from St. Palladius who was supposed to have visited the locality when returning from an unsuccessful mission to Ireland having been sent there in 469 by Pope Celestine.

Eventually he built a cell in the den of Moness and from here ministered to the sacred needs of the local people.

The memory of his name is perpetuated by a rock
in the den called Caisteal Pheallaidh, Palladius’s Castle.
and also nearby is a spot called Raghra-nah-Eaglais, the
Field of the Church, and near this religious spot grew
the township of Aberfeldy. But it is known that for long
before the visit of St. Palladius the approach to the
place was guarded by a prehistoric fort.

At Aberfeldy the Tay is spanned by a splendid bridge built in 1733 by General Wade when constructing the military road from Crieff to Dalnacardoch. This road of course linked there with the road from Dunkeld to Inverness which had been constructed a few years previously. The bridge is of noteworthy appearance having five attractive arches, the middle one has a span of sixty feet and the four corners of it are surmounted by tapering pillars.

On flat ground by the bridge on the south side of the river is where, in 1739, Am Freacadan Dubh, the Black Watch, was embodied as a regiment of the line. Six companies of this regiment numbering more than five hundred men had been raised as far back as 1730 but when in 1739 four more companies were added it raised them to an aggregate of about a thousand men and the ten companies were embodied as a regiment of the line in 1739 on the ground by Wade’s Bridge at Aberfeldy. The original use of this regiment was to help keep quiet the Highlanders in sympathy with the ill fated Royal Stuarts but in 1743 it fought in Flanders and in later years after the last Jacobite rising in 1745-46 it became largely composed of descendants of the men it had been opposed to. Following the collapse of Jacobitism the Black Watch was often to land on foreign shores and since then it has had a renowned history having fought with distinction and honour in every quarter of the globe. On the site where the first muster of the regiment took place stands a large memorial cairn surmounted by the figure of a Highlander. This was erected in 1887 and only a few months ago the Black Watch received the freedom of its birth-place.

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