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Culross and Tulliallan
Chapter XXVI. A Local Chapter


I HAVE entitled this chapter “a local chapter,” as it may so be styled par excellence. It is intended to take up, in connection with Culross and Tulliallan, such features, topographical or otherwise, as may in many respects be interesting only to a native, though I hope also that it may not be altogether unworthy the attention of the general reader. I shall first advert to some special localities which have been more or less notable from time immemorial, beginning with the burgh of Culross. At p. 178 of vol. i. a list is quoted of the elders of Culross Church in 1632; as a matter of local interest I annex here in continuation, from the kirk-session minutes, a detailed account of the districts over which they were to preside:—

“13 November 1632.

“Quo die ddibercUionis, (the sessione, being frequently convened,) with common consent divided the paroch into quarters and wardes, to the effect those elders within the samen, or newest adjacent to them, myght the better tak note of the maners of the people inhabiting the saids quarters or wardes, and also therein to consider the necessities of the poor, and all comling strangers servants, and to report after this manner following—viz., first:

“ The Submision of the Townes Quarters.

“1. From the Parlyhill1 to the strend of the people therein Robert Forrest and Patrick Rowane taking on them the charge.

“2. Of the people fra the strend to the end of the little cassie, James Aikine and Andro Gibsone hes taken the oversyght on them.

“3. Fra George Bruce's vittail houses3 eist unto Blairhall his dwelling house, of the people therein M. Edward Blaw and James Sands hes taken the charge.

“4 Of the families fra BlairhalTs place evin to the east end of the toune, John Sandis, elder, Alexr. Eizat, and Andro Brande hes taken the charge.

“5. Of the families fra the cross west throw the south and north streets, even to the Tolbuith, Adam Primrose and Mr Robt. Gourlay taketh the oversyght

“6. Of the people from the Tolbuith to the west end of the town, Patrick Keir, John Haliday, and Thomas Ezat taketh the charge.

“The Divisione of Land.

“Thus—

“1. Over Castell hill, the Blair and pertinents, West Kirk, Kirkton, and the Walles, the laird of Blair and Allane Blaw taketh the oversyght.

"2. Over Langsyd, Birkenhead, Bordy, Lurge, and the Sandes, James Bruce, William Sands, and Patrick Bruce hes taken the charge.

“3. Over Easter and Wester Kincame, Bumbrey, and their pendicles, John Turcane, Hendrie Cowy, and John Calendar taketh the charge.

"4. Over Balgowny, Bad, Blankyrie, Whythillis, Bath,1 Wester and Midle Granges, and Overtoune, with the pendicles, John Colvile and Gilbert Gonrlay hes taken the charge.

“5. Over Wester and Easter Comries, Easter Grange, Bargatie, Schyrsmill, Blairhall, and Barhill, with the pendicles, Adam Mastertonn and John Gray hes taken the charge.

“6. Over the land and people in the Valefield and his works, Sir John Preston taketh the charge.

“7. Over the new miln, people, and works ther, Blairhall himself hes taken the charge.”

As defined in the charter of James VI., already quoted, the boundaries of the royal burgh of Culross are: on the east, the lands of Valleyfield; on the north, the lands of Blairhall and the common moor of Culross; on the west, the lands of Walls and Castlehill; and on the south, the sea. The first of these—i.e., the eastern march—has given rise in modem times to a considerable amount of dubiety and disputation in matters of assessment, regarding the limits of the town and parish. Had the western boundary of the lands of Valleyfield extended in a straight line from north to south, or could it be shown that they did so at any former period, there would have been no difficulty in the case. The fact, however, being that the eastern boundary of the burgh of Culross is marked by a stone situated about twenty yards eastwards of the apex or comer of a triangular piece of ground belonging to Valleyfield, which projects as it were from the main territory of the latter into the body of the Abbey estate, a quesion arises that is not easy of solution. The stone is close to the point where the highroad from New-mills, descending the hill, meets the coast road coming from the same quarter by Low Valleyfield, and thence proceeds westwards as one highway by the Endowment and St Mungo’s into Culross. In allocating the road assessment between burgh and parish, it is still a vexed question to which of these the maintenance is to be assigned of the lower descent of the highroad, passing between the Abbey woods and the gardens of the Low Valleyfield feus, which constitute the triangular piece of ground above-mentioned. According to the charter of Charles II. erecting Valleyfield into a barony, that estate is bounded on the west by “ a ditch extending from the sea-shore through the lands of Byrefield and Barhill to the Cross at our town.”1 At the present day this description would be almost unintelligible, did we not keep in mind that at the north-west extremity of the Valleyfield estate, close by Shiresmill and the Bluther Bum, there is a wood that still bears the name of the Couston or Corsetoun Wood; and in the taxed roll of Culross Abbey given up in 1630, the lands of Corsetoun are mentioned as part of the temporality. Corsetoun is simply another form of Crosstoun, and it is quite possible that there may have been here in Roman Catholic times a stone cross which served as a landmark for travellers and pilgrims to Culross Abbey. Now, from Corsetoun Wood, almost in direct line southwards to the sea, crossing the Kirk Brae and passing through the Abbey grounds to the quarry at the Endowment, the remains of an ancient ditch can still be distinctly traced. In a large portion of its extent it still forms the western boundary of the Valleyfield estate, whilst the Abbey lands through which it passes are those which formerly belonged to the properties of Byrefield and Barhill. The present Abbey estate is quite distinct from the ancient domain of Culross Abbey, and has all been formed by the acquisition of successive patches of ground superadded to the original nucleus of territory belonging to the first Lord Kinloss, on which he erected the modem Abbey mansion. The ancient ditch or gully is very discernible on the west border of the Abbey wood, below the Lady’s Walk, and disappears in the quarry, the working of which has probably caused the obliteration of the remainder between this point and the sea, so as to make the description of it in the charter of Charles II. a thing of the past. If this view be adopted of the course of the ditch, we must conclude that there was a subsequent acquisition by the proprietors of the Abbey of a portion of territory east of this boundary, which had originally belonged to Valleyfield. If, on the other hand, we refuse to admit the identity of the ditch in question with the one mentioned in Charles II.’s charter, we must conclude that the ravine known as “ The Goat,” which comes down from the crest of the hill at the east Abbey lodge, and forms, for a considerable distance below that point, the present boundary between the Culross and Valleyfield estates, is to be regarded, in its entire length from the top of the hill to the sea, as the original western limit of Valleyfield, and that the triangle of territory between “ The Goat ” and the old east port of Culross were subsequently acquired through purchase or exchange by the Prestons. The solution of the problem seems now almost unattainable, and I daresay my readers will think that the subject has by this time been sufficiently discussed.

The northern boundary of the burgh, as laid down in the charter of James VI., has also given rise to matter of dispute. It is stated to be the lands of Blairhall and the common moor of Culross. The former is readily ascertained—the estate of Blairhall, as the ancient patrimony of the Bruces, having well-defined demarcations. But the precise limits of the common moor, as existing in ancient times, are now hardly to be determined, seeing that a very large portion of it has been reclaimed and converted into arable land. And as the present highroad from Newmills to Kincardine passes for a long distance through the moor, it is a matter of uncertainty whether or not a certain portion of this highway lies within the burgh of Culross—that is to say, to the south of the common moor.

As regards the west and south boundaries of the burgh, there exists no dubiety whatever. The lands of Walls, though they have long ceased to form a separate lairdship, can still be identified, and still preserve a remembrance for the popular mind in the Walls Cottages or Half-way House on the Kincardine road. The lands of Castlehill or Dunimarle are perfectly well defined, and the western boundary of the burgh is at the present day practically marked out by the narrow road which leads southwards from the west extremity of the Ashes Farm to the West Kirk, and from thence by the rivulet known as the Dean Bum, which flows southward and falls into the sea close by the house of the Dunimarle gardener. The sea as the southern limit leaves, of course, no room for dispute.

It ought here to be observed that the parliamentary boundary of Culross fixed at the period of the passing of the Reform Bill is nearly coincident with that laid down in the charter of erection, except that the eastern and northern limits are strictly defined—first by a line drawn due north from the western extremity of Low Valleyfield to the Kirk Brae, and then by another extending from the latter point due west till it meets at right angles the ancient western boundary of the burgh. These dimensions are only recognised in the matter of parliamentary elections, all other questions that may arise being determined by the limits of the royal charter.

In ancient times Culross was guarded by three gateways or ports, by which the approaches to the town on the north, west, and east sides were secured. They have all long since disappeared; but 'we have seen from the burgh records that the east port was in existence down to the middle of the seventeenth century, though probably in such a dilapidated state as to give a colourable excuse to the parties who are reported as having been brought before the magistrates for carrying away the materials. It must have been situated near the Pow, that grassy plat by the sea-shore where of yore was the artificial canal or creek that served the purpose of a harbour. I shall now proceed westwards from this point, taking up in order the various objects of interest as I pass along, but of course omitting all details regarding such as have already been described.

On the north side of the road, nearly opposite the Pow, and picturesquely situated at the foot of a steep bank covered with wood, stands a neat cottage which bears the name of “The Endowment.” It is occupied by a lady custodian, who acts as dispenser of a charity which was founded by Sir Robert Preston, on the instigation mainly of his wife, Lady Preston, for behoof of poor persons belonging to the parish of Culross. It provides for a distribution of two shillings and a peck of oatmeal every Monday morning to six men and six women, who are to be elected by his representatives under his will, and enjoy the benefits of the charity during their life or good behaviour. Besides the weekly dole, they receive 1 at Whitsunday and another at Martinmas, and participate, moreover, in the distribution of coals and soup made during the winter from “The Endowment” to a larger number of persons. Of the many—indeed too many—public charities of Culross, that of “ The Endowment ” is the chief, its emoluments amounting in value nearly to 12 per annum, so that a keen competition is sure to occur whenever a vacancy takes place by the death of any of the beneficiaries. In one of the rooms of the establishment a Sunday-school is held weekly.

Next, on our left hand is Pond or Preston Cottage, with its tidal pond formed out of the old “Bucket-pat”; and immediately opposite to it on the north side of the road is the roofless ruin of Lord Bruce’s Hospital. A little farther on, on the same side, the foundations of the south wall of St Mungo’s Chapel will be seen projecting on the footpath, whilst immediately beyond are the house and garden of St Mungo’s, and still farther west the Abbey orchard. About midway between St Mungo’s and the town of Culross stood the row of small houses known as the Petty Common, against which Lord Dundonald exercised his machinations. In the field directly opposite, on the south side of the road, will be observed the circular stone shaft of an ancient coalpit, down which, it is said, his lordship’s overseer descended on that memorable Sunday morning when he pulled down the props that supported the roofs of the subterranean workings, and caused the sinking of the superincumbent ground and houses. On the rising bank of the orchard to the west stood the first building of Lord Bruce’s Hospital, the site having been afterwards excambed for the one at the east port. We are now at the foot of the Newgate—the steep lane or path that leads up to the church, and which, from the high walls by which it is enclosed, irresistibly reminds one of the narrow and hemmed-in road traversed by John Bunyan’s pilgrims. It appears to have been constructed in the latter half of the seventeenth century.

Near the east end of the Low Causeway or main street stands the Free Church manse, a neat modem building which possesses some archaeological interest, as being erected on the site of a fine old house that formerly belonged to the Bruces of Blairhall, and was known as Lady Blairhall's jointure-house. In days gone by the county families were frequently the owners of houses in the burgh towns, where they occasionally resided for business or social purposes. It resulted from this that a degree of refinement was frequently characteristic of the social circles of these Scottish towns that would scarcely have been expected in the circumstances and surroundings. Thus we find resident in Culross in the seventeenth century the Earl of Kincardine and Mr Dempster of Balbougie; and in the early years of the eighteenth, the Black and "White Colonels Erskine.

The streets of the town, as we learn from the burgh records, seem to have been first causewayed about 200 years ago, nearly at the time when the Newgate was first formed. The magistrates took a very simple and ready way of getting this work accomplished by ordering all the burgesses to contribute their quota to it either in work or money. At the present day these things are not managed so easily. The stream known as the Stryne or Strynd then flowed in an open course from the height above across the main street of Culross to the sea, but is now for the most part covered over.

The Free Church of Culross is a plain small building, situated in a small square or open place known as the Little Sand Haven, in contradistinction to the Sand Haven in front of the Town-house. It would appear from this appellation that in former tunes there had been an open space between the Little Sand Haven and the sea, though it is now occupied by houses and gardens.

There are four principal streets or causeys in Culross. These are the Laigh or Low Causeway or Causey, the Middle Causey, the Back Causey, and the Little Causey. The first of these is the main street, along which we have been journeying, passing through the Little Sand Haven, and crossing Culross from east to west. The other three converge at the Cross, from which the Little Causey descends to the Little Sand Haven by the end of the Free Church. The Middle Causey ascends from the Low Causey a little to the west of the Red Lion Tnn on the opposite side of the street, and the Back Causey joins the main street or Low Causeway a little more westward still, at the east end of the great Sand Haven, near the Town-house.

The last-named building has already been described in detail. The original main street of the town proceeds westward from this point, passing the courtyard of the Colonel’s dose with its old houses, and leaving on the right an opening leading up to Bessie Bar’s Well Following the narrow street, we emerge on the West Green, in front of which and the Sand Haven are the harbour and pier of Culross, such as they are, but which are now almost solely confined to the accommodation of small boats. Changed, indeed, is the state of matters from the palmy days of the commercial prosperity of Culross, when, we are informed, as many as 170 vessels might sometimes be seen in the adjoining roads, waiting for their cargoes of coal and salt. In modern times, indeed, a large fleet of vessels may occasionally be seen riding at anchor in the same quarter, but these have no concern with Culross, and are chiefly engaged in conveying prop-wood from Sweden and Norway to the port of Grangemouth, for the supply of the coalpits in the neighbourhood.

A wooden pier connects the shore with the old stone pier, at the extremity of which a magnificent view of Culross is obtained, though a more perfect one is gained by rowing a little distance farther into the bay. To the left of the spectator, at the pier end, are the Blue Boulder-stone and the Ailie Bocks; and almost in a direct line to his right, and opposite to Dunimarle, is the circle of stones that marks the site of Sir George Bruce’s famous moat.

Abutting on the West Green are the mansion and grounds of Balgownie House; and here stood formerly the hospital founded by the younger George Bruce of Camock for the maintenance of twelve poor widows. The house has long since disappeared, and the bequest having been made previous to the disjunction from Culross and annexation to Tulliallan of a portion of the former parish, the latter, on this event taking place, was made a participator to a corresponding extent in George Bruce’s bounty, two-thirds of the recipients being selected from Culross, and the remainder from Tulliallan. The benefaction is known as “ The Widows’ Meal,” and, in accordance with its terms, is paid in kind, two bolls of oatmeal being given yearly to each widow, who, moreover, receives a small sum of money in lieu of the former house accommodation.

The lane ascending from the shore at Balgownie Stables to the West Kirk road bears the appellation of the Slate Loan, probably from the grey laminated sandstone which crops out through a great part of its course having formerly been used for slating. The locality at the foot of this lane, where some houses formerly stood, used to be known as the “ West Port.” The field immediately to the west, extending to the Dean Bum, which forms the western limit of the burgh, has from time immemorial been known as the Playfield, Here, as I have already indicated, there is good reason to believe that the mysteries and miracle-plays of medieval times were performed in the open air in the days of the old regime of Culross Abbey.

If we ascend the glen of the Dean Bum, we shall, after some scrambling, find ourselves at the West Kirk, on the old road leading by it through the moor to Kincardine. The narrow boundary-road of the burgh, leading north from it at this point, conducts us to the Ashes Farm, after leaving on our right the old Cisterns Park, with its spring or fountain-head, known as the Monks’ Well, from which the mansion-house of Culross Abbey is supplied with water. Here we are on the modem turnpike road leading from Kincardine to Newmills, which for about half a mile eastwards may be said to constitute the northern limit of the burgh territory. Though the land is all cultivated now in this neighbourhood, it still retains some traces of the moor from which it has been reclaimed. Its original boundaries here cannot be defined, but it extended at least as far north as the farm of Gallow Rig or Gallows Ridge, at the east of which, abutting on Balgownie Wood, is the farm of the Muirs. At Gallow Rig in olden times the gibbet belonging to the Abbey domain seems to have stood, and the road leading up to it in a direct line from Culross, about a mile distant, bears still the name of the “Gallows Loan.” Descending the Gallows Loan towards Culross, we arrive at the crest of the Barhill, from which, in a clear day, the magnificent prospect already described is obtained. The field on our right is called the Gaigie, from the property to which it formerly belonged. On our left is a narrow lane which led up to the house of Barhill,—that little lairdship of the Browns, from whose family the author of * The Crook in the Lot’ selected his wife. Proceeding down the hill, we reach the point where the road branches off from Culross to Shiresmill and the railway station at East Grange. Passing eastwards along this road, leaving on our right the Abbey rookery and park, with the Abbey mansion below, and crossing the comer where the road turns northward to Shiresmill, we continue along the disused grassy road, which conducts us past the old Abbey lodge and original entrance to the demesne. A little to the east of this the road descends, and at last joins the modem highroad to Newmills near the farm of Woodhead. This grass-grown roadway is known as the Kirk Brae, and doubtless derives its name, not from the present Abbey Church of Culross, but from the old West Kirk, which, before the Reformation, served as the parish church, and to which the Kirk Brae would form the approach from the east.

To complete the description of Culross within the burgh : Retracing our steps up the Kirk Brae to the foot of the Gallows Loan, we turn southwards to the left, and, opposite the west Abbey lodge, pass on our right the opening of the road leading to the West Kirk, between the Barcrook field on its north and the Gutterflat on its south side. Continuing the descent, and leaving on our right the lodge entrance to the mansion of the Park, we reach the Parlyhill, or space on the top of the hill in front of the churchyard gate, the favourite place for the Sunday lounge or “crack” before the morning and afternoon services,—a practice reprobated so severely in many a deliverance of the kirk-session. Leaving the church, manse, and ruins of the monastery on our right, we reach, a little lower down, the point where the Newgate diverges, and then, after descending for about 300 yards a very steep causeway, each side of which used in former times to be bordered with houses, the sites of which are now all included in the grounds of the Park, we reach the “ Lockit Well ” and the head of the Tanhouse Brae. A road diverges in a north-west direction at this point, leading round the Park grounds to the West Kirk highway. A comer in this, forming a grassy plateau, overlooks and commands a splendid view of the town of Culross. It is known as the Sessions Green, being probably so called from having been at one time the property of the kirk-session, who owned lands in this neighbourhood, including the Gutterflat. Another pendicle in that quarter, which I have not been able to identify, bore the name of the Psaltercroft—probably from its produce having been appropriated in ancient times to the maintenance of the music in the choir > of the Abbey Church. A similar designation waa long current in connection with the Abbey Church of Dunfermline, where the space enclosed within the ruins of the ancient choir, which is now occupied by the New Abbey Church, was known as the Psalter Churchyard.

From the Sessions Green a narrow path leads along the crest of what may be termed the “Hanging Gardens of Culross,” seeing that they are supported by stone terraces along the high bank that rises behind the houses on the Sand Haven and the West Green. They form a marked feature in the view of Culross from the water, as already mentioned.

Returning to the Tanhouse Brae, another steep descent conducts us to the Cross and open place by which it is surrounded. The Middle and Back Causeways open into it on the west side, and the Little Causeway on the south. At the north-west angle is the curious edifice known as the Study, and already described. About half-way down the Middle Causeway stands the Dundonald Arms Inn, a very comfortable little hostelry, famous for its snug, well-appointed dinners at ordinations, ploughing-matches, and suchlike occasions. On the other side of the street is the fine old house traditionally said to have been occupied by Bishop Leighton on his diocesan visits to Culross. The garden behind it descends to and opens on the main street or Low Causeway.

The roads through the parishes of Culross and Tulliallan partook in old times, as we are informed by the authors of the Old Statistical Account, of the same qualities that distinguished British roads generally previous to the introduction of mail-coaches and the systematic improvements of Macadam,— that is to say, they were execrable as regarded the transit of all kinds of wheeled vehicles, though they might be practicable enough, under most circumstances, for pedestrians and horsemen.

The present broad and commodious highway, which now extends between Newmills and Kincardine, was laid out in the first years of this century, when such general improvements in roadmaking had taken place all over the island. Part of it forms the high or upper road to Culross; but previous to its construction, the chief highway to Culross lay along the shore, and was then, as till very recently it was in many places, most inconveniently and dangerously narrow. The fine modern bridge that now spans the Bluther Bum at Newmills was erected at the time the new road was formed. The picturesque old bridge that crosses it a little higher up is, as it now stands, sufficiently narrow, affording no more space than would just allow passage for one horse and cart. In times more remote, it would seem to have been narrower still, as, on examining the structure from below, there has evidently been a second arch joined on to the first, so as to give a greater breadth of roadway. As originally constructed, it would at most admit only of being crossed by a single horse* man. As its masonry bears a somewhat dose resemblance to that of Culross monastery, it may not be altogether an unfounded conjecture that it was built by Malcolm, Earl of Fife, for the convenience of persons travelling to or from the religious house which he had founded.

From old Newmill bridge one road led by the shore to Culross, and another by Valleyfield House, through Culross moor, to Clackmannan. What precise direction the latter followed after leaving the bridge, I cannot take upon me to determine; but after running westwards nearly in the same line

with the present upper road to Culross (its course being indeed distinctly traceable through the wood on the north side), it seems to have turned northwards, and then, passing close to the mansion of Valleyfield, and behind the farm of Woodhead, to have proceeded along the declivity (where its course may still be followed) across Blairhall bank, and thence, by the present farm of Blairhall Mains, to the road running north in continuation of the Gallows Loan. Crossing this road, its course is still very manifest in the old disused road which leads from this point into Tulliallan woods behind Righead. It continued in this way straight on through the moor to Clackmannan, and seems to have been a leading artery of communication between the east and west.

Another old road ascended the face of the hill from the western end of Low Valleyfield, and may still be traced on the side of the bank. After the new road leading down from the finger-post to the Endowment had been formed, the latter, in consequence of its having been given in exchange for the older one, received the designation of the Swap Road—a name which is not yet altogether forgotten. This old road seems to have continued in an easterly direction, pretty nearly on the same line with the present highroad (as may still be traced), till it joined the old highway, already mentioned, leading to old Newmill bridge.

I have frequently had occasion to refer to the old road leading through the moor by the West Kirk to Kincardine. It still affords a most delightful walk in dry weather, skirting as it does the south border of Tulliallan wood, and ever redolent of the fragrance of the Scotch firs.. There is rich velvety turf for the feet; and the sides of the road, as well as the adjoining wood, are verdant with blaeberry plants. This portion of Tulliallan forest was long the property of Sir James Gibson-Craig (formerly James Gibson, Esq. of Ingliston), the well-known Liberal representative of the Stirling Burghs, who obtained a feu-grant of it from the burgh of Culross, it being the last portion of Culross moor that was so disponed. He seems merely to have procured it to strengthen his influence in the burgh, as he never bestowed the least attention on his acquisition, though he paid regularly every year the feu-duty of 50, which still forms an important item in the town’s revenues. After his death, it was purchased by the Tulliallan family, with whose estate it is now incorporated.

Delightful is this woodland road, either “When purple morning starts the hare,” or again,

“When e’enin’, sinking in the west,
The curtain draws of nature’s rest; ”

and no more appropriate locality could have been selected by the heroine of Burns’s charming song for meeting her swain at break or close of day. It emerges at last on the turnpike road a little to the east of Bordie, and then continues on the opposite side of the way to Kincardine, passing very dose both to the Standard Stone and the Pulpit, and likewise not far from Tulliallan Castle.

An interesting road in the parish of Tulliallan is the “Drove Road,” which diverges from the highway leading north from Kincardine a little to the south of the hamlet of Dalquhamy, and passing first in an easterly and then in a northern direction, emerges at last on the great north road leading from Dunfermline to Alloa. And the last of these byways to which I shall refer is that very beautiful one which passes behind the woods of Brankston Grange, skirting nearly the northern boundary of Culross parish, and having its western termination at the Hareshaw Mill in the parish of Clackmannan, and its eastern in the parish of Saline, joining there the road which runs south and north between.the villages of Saline and Comrie.

The principal monuments in Culross and Tulliallan have already been described. Of those which possess for the most part only a local interest, may be mentioned first the fragment of old building at Bordie on the crest of the hill overlooking Kincardine and the Forth, and commanding a magnificent view. With many others I had been accustomed to regard this as the veritable ruin of the old family-mansion of the Bruces of Bordie; and I was confirmed in this impression on learning that the lintel of one of the windows, now covered by a cowshed, bears the initials J. O. B. I am credibly informed, however, that the remnant in question is in reality only an abortion, being an edifice commenced but left unfinished by the last proprietor of the estate before it was purchased by the Dundases of Blair, and incorporated with that property. There had doubtless existed at one time an old mansion on this site, but it seems to have disappeared. The old garden with its wall is very distinctly marked, though it is now turned into a corn-field.

To the east of Bordie, on the slope extending between the Tulliallan woods and the sea-shore, there used to be two small properties occasionally referred to in the burgh and kirk-session records, and bearing the names respectively of Birkenhead and Lang-side. Of the former of these there is still one of the outhouses remaining, whilst a small house situated a little to the north-east of Blair Castle Mains represents the latter. In the same line with these, but to the west of Bordie, was the ancient though small lairdahip of Lurg, the memory of which is still preserved in the house occupied by the Sands gamekeeper.

North from Bordie, in Tulliallan forest, is the old house of Keir, which deserves some notice as the ancient residence of the Browns of Keir, formerly influential heritors in the parish of Culross, and relations of the Browns of Barhill. Though much sunk now in point of status, it bears still evident traces in its surroundings of former respectability and position. Lord Keith lived here for a time whilst the present castle of Tulliallan was in process of erection.

An old mansion that has disappeared was that of the old house of Balgownie, which in days gone by was situated, not near the town of Culross like the present one, but fully two miles off in the hollow at the foot of the hill, a few hundred yards to the west of the farm of Balgownie Mains. The Erskines of Balgownie, cadets of the Mar family, were among the most influential in the parish of Culross. Their house is said to have corresponded fully with their position, but it has now entirely disappeared. An old lady, long since deceased, informed my old Mend the Rev. William Stephen, that she remembered seeing the last remains of the old house of Balgownie removed (in accordance with the spirit of vandalism that was so rampant a hundred years ago) to supply materials for building the present mansion of Balgownie at the west end of Culross; and here I ought not to omit mention of Balgownie wood, an extensive tract of forest situated a little to the southeast of Balgownie Mains. It was long annually felled as coppice, and was famous for its supplies of bark, the stripping of which furnished occupation to a large number of persons, as well natives as strangers. Reference is made to this traffic in the burgh records as early as 1654: latterly the wood was exploits on so great a scale that very little of the old timber was left. For many years it has been left nearly undisturbed, but has scarcely yet recovered the effect of the old devastations.

Proceeding now to the sea-shore at the south-east extremity of the parish, I would note, in passing, a large white house known as “ Low Valleyfield ” par excellence, being the largest house in the straggling village of that name, and forming a prominent object from the water. The circumstance of my having been bom in it and spent there the first two years of my life, will form an excuse for this reference; and I now pass on to another dwelling of smaller dimensions westward along the shore, which preserves for me reminiscences, and these much more distinct than the house of Low Valleyfield. It was the place to which we were sent on our daily expeditions in the summer-time, for the purpose of an immersion in the “briny.” It may here be remarked that Culross Bay, though not presenting the most agreeable beach for bathing in the world, is yet, from its shallowness and uniformity of level, remarkably safe, and there is no danger of wandering too rapidly out of one’s depth, or being suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelmed by the advancing waves. The water is none of the saltest or clearest, being both largely charged with alluvium and with the particles of peatmoss which at one time was discharged in great quantities into the Forth at Blair Drummond, above Stirling. This was in consequence of the operations adopted for clearing away the moss in that quarter from the subjacent soil, and discharging it into the river, so as to effect a reclamation of many acres of rich arable soil. The idea was an ingenious one, and attended with a great measure of success, but proved in its execution most detrimental to the general amenity of the banks of the river, and more especially the estuary between Kincardine and Queens-ferry. Above all, the shores of Culross Bay were sadly polluted, being lined in many places with thick layers of black moss or mud, over which the advancing tide rolled in waves of a deep inky hue. The nuisance, in consequence of being stopped or abated at its fountain-head, has of late years in a great measure ceased, though it will take a long period yet to efface its effects. Besides the moss, which may be regarded as an accidental and temporary pollution, the alluvial sludge which deposits itself on the soil of the bay is of a more enduring character; and I well remember that when, as frequently happened, we had to wade in for a considerable distance to obtain a dip, it was necessary to cleanse ourselves of the unctuous slime in a bucket of fresh water.

But I must return again to the little cottage, with its mistress, Mrs Cumming, or as she was commonly known, in accordance with the old Scottish fashion which retains for a matron her maiden name, by her latter designation of Becky Hoy. Indeed I never knew her by any other. Dear old Becky 1 she was emphatically a “ canty carline,” and a fine specimen of the hearty and intelligent old Scotchwoman. She had originally come from the neighbourhood of Shiresmill, her mother having rented the farm of Bargatie, at Bargatie Brae, a little to the north of that hamlet. She herself was laundry-maid in the service of Sir Charles Preston of Valleyfield, the elder brother of Sir Robert. After her marriage she settled with her husband on the feu in Low Valleyfield; and there she continued to reside for upwards of sixty years, till her death, which did not take place till she had reached the verge of ninety. When I last saw her she was eighty-seven, and retained all her faculties unimpaired, with the exception of hearing. Her house was a very picture of neatness and comfort.

She has given a name to the steep path leading up by her garden to the highroad on the braes above, which will doubtless perpetuate her memory in this quarter under the appellation of “Becky’s Brae.”

Immediately adjoining Becky’s feu on the west, was another belonging to a very different character, a half-witted man named Will Harrower, who was generally known as Laird Harrower, Laird Will, or with dignified brevity, “The Laird.” The Laird’s house was at one time in a sad state of dilapidation, the roof being so open to the skies that he used to declare that he was the only man in the parish who could lie in his bed and see the moon and stars. He has long since been gathered to his fathers.

I shall not say anything more about the Low Valleyfield folks, beyond that they have always borne the reputation of a special race of people, differing in many respects from the inhabitants of Culross. A sort of traditional animus on the part of the latter town against her eastern neighbour would seem almost still to exist, cording down from the days when Sir George Preston got Valleyfield erected into a burgh of barony, and arrogated the right of communicating to the burgesses a share in the monopoly of girdlemaking.

As I am now on the subject of “characters,” I may here mention the Brothers Eeid in the Back Causeway of Culross, who carried on a miscellaneous business in money-lending, market-gardening, hair-cutting, bird-stuffing, and dealing in old furniture and antiquities. Their house was a perfect “Old Curiosity Shop,” and suggested irresistibly the idea of a wizard’s mansion or the abode of a dealer in occult arts. In the third of the above vocations—the mowing of polls—it was my fortune occasionally to be admitted within the precincts, when myself, brothers, and sisters used to be despatched periodically from Inzievar2 to Culross for the purpose of getting our heads trimmed. A queer job, I remember, they made of them, the “ cut ” being very much of the charity-school kind, or what used to be known as the “ cog cut r.e., the primitive style of hair-cutting, which was exercised by placing a “ cog ” or wooden bowl on the head and cutting the hair all round. I remember the horror expressed by an Edinburgh hair-dresser on witnessing the result of Mr Reid’s operations on my head.

But I must not be too hard on “The Barber,” as he used to be known in our household, for I well remember what enjoyment we derived from these visits to his house, which we used to regard as glorious “outings.” Well do I remember the dimly lighted, grimy chamber, with its old-fashioned pulpit-like chimney, and the old pictures, clubs, and relics of antiquity by which it was surrounded. And the delightful room up-stairs, filled with stuffed animals and other curiosities, reached by a broken old ladder, and where we were only admitted occasionally, must not be forgotten. One specialty that it contained was a hand-organ, whilom the property of Mrs Barbara Maclean, the minister’s wife of Dunfermline, the sweet sounds evolved from which appeared to us the music of the spheres. And a very intelligent man to boot was Mr Reid, who had a great turn for natural history and antiquities, and could discourse in very interesting fashion on the various articles of the collections he had made. There were two brothers who lived together, but it is only of one of them that I have a special recollection. Their museum of curiosities was sold and dispersed after their death.

One more “character,” belonging to a much higher social sphere, though originally he had not belonged to one much more exalted, should not be omitted in treating of the notables of Culross and Tulliallan. I refer to the well-known Sir James Wylie, so celebrated as the favourite surgeon of the Emperor Alexander I. of Russia, grand-uncle of the present Czar. The story of his life is rather piquant, and may thus be told:—

Sir James Wylie was a native of Kincardine-on-Forth, in the parish of Tulliallan, and was the son of a carrier or carter. His father is said to have been of a rough intractable nature, akin to his occupation, whilst his mother was a woman of much higher intelligence and aspiration. There was a large family of sons, some of whom, inasmuch as they took after him, the father declared to be his; whilst he made over to his wife, as her special offspring, those who had “a soul above buttons,” and desired to raise themselves to a higher station. It was said the mother had sometimes to smuggle these out of the house by the window in order that they might attend school. One of them—James—managed to procure a university education, and having qualified himself as a surgeon, went out in that capacity on board a ship bound for St Petersburg. It anchored at Cron-stadt in the end of the last century, just when the vagaries of the Imperial madman Paul were causing his Ministers the utmost trouble and vexation Among other lunatic whims, it is said that Paul had persuaded himself that a bee had found its way into his ear. His courtiers vainly endeavoured to demonstrate to him the baselessness of his belief, but only rendered him more obstinate in maintaining it. At last they hit on the bright idea of suggesting to him a consultation with the young Scotch surgeon who was in the ship that had just arrived at Cronstadt. Paul readily acceded to the notion, and young Wylie was sent for, being doubtless well tutored as to his patient on the way. Having arrived at Court, and been presented to Paul, lie declared, on examining the ear, that there was really a bee inside, but that he would soon effect its removal. He made some manipulations about the imperial head, exclaimed he had caught the creature, and then, turning to Paul, asked if he did not now feel himself rid of the pest. The Emperor answered that it was really so; and from that day the surgeon’s position at Court was assured. Such, at least, is the story, though I do not vouch for its accuracy. After the death of Paul and accession of Alexander, Mr Wylie’s fame and fortune rapidly advanced, the Emperor treating him as a personal friend, and it is said that Wylie had in his keeping many important secrets of the Romanoff family. He accompanied Alexander on his expedition after joining the coalition of sovereigns against Napoleon, and was present at the battle of Leipsic. On this occasion he had the honour of amputating the legs of General Moreau, who had joined his fortunes to those of the Allied sovereigns, but did not now survive the decisive victory which crushed the strength of imperial France, already greatly weakened by the disastrous Russian expedition. On the visit of the Allied sovereigns to Great Britain in 1814, Mr Wylie accompanied his imperial master, and at Alexander’s request had the rank of a baronet of the United Kingdom conferred on him by the Prince Regent.

Sir James Wylie does not seem to have ever revisited his native town of Kincardine, where he had a multitude of relations. He is said not to have regarded them with particular favour; but his mother, Mrs Wylie, paid a visit to her son at St Petersburg, where she seems to have received much kindness and attention. On her return home, she astonished greatly the good folks of Tulliallan by appearing in church with an Indian shawl and a pair of gold spectacles, with which she had been presented by her dutiful son.

Sir James Wylie died at the commencement of the Crimean war, and bequeathed by will all his property to the Emperor. The bulk of this was situated in Russia; but some years before his death he had purchased stock in the British funds to the amount of 70,000—for the purpose, it is said, of purchasing an estate. His Scotch relatives, whom he had thus unceremoniously left out in the cold, maintained that the general bequest to the Czar did not cany this particular sum of money; and in this contention they were, after prosecuting a suit in Chancery, successful. There were no surviving brothers or sisters of Sir James; but there was a host of nephews and nieces, all in respectable positions in life, among whom the money was divided.

A chapter like the present may be appropriately concluded by a comparison between the ancient and modem localities of the parishes, so as to ascertain how many of the former have been preserved or can now be identified.

I have already said that the greater part of the land in the parish of Culross is at the present day owned by the descendants of Sir George Bruce— though merely by an accidental concourse of circumstances. The only estate which has never been purchased or transferred since the Reformation, and is still enjoyed by the representatives of the family which have held it for upwards of 300 years, is that of Valleyfield, belonging to Mr Campbell Preston.

The lands of West Grange, excluding those of Bath and Divelly, which have only been incorporated with it in modem times, belonged, like the rest of the parish of Culross, to the Abbey domain, and were in the end of the sixteenth century in the hands of a feuar named Andrew Stewart. A decree is registered against him in the Burgh Court of Culross for payment of a quantity of malt purchased by him from the elder Robert Brace of Blairhall, and his wife, Margaret Hamilton, a natural daughter of the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews. It afterwards passed into the hands successively of Gilbert Gourlay, George Henderson, and John Malcolm. About the middle of the last century it was purchased by Mr Dalgleish, the ancestor of the present proprietor, whose father, James Dalgleish, Esq., added to the family property the estate of Balgownie, which he purchased from Captain Cunningham, the representative of the old proprietors, the Erskines. A small portion of the original estate, with the family mansion, at the west extremity of Culross, was retained by Captain Cunningham, and still belongs to his family.

The estates of Middle Grange and East Grange —deriving their titles, like West Grange, from their having been the home farms attached to Culross monastery — are now respectively the property of Laurence Johnston, Esq. of Sands, and the Carron Company. Middle Grange was the earliest property acquired in the parish of Culross by Mr Johnston’s family, into whose ownership it came about 1730. They afterwards acquired the properties of the Bur-rowin, Whitehills, Montd Claret, and the Ashes, in the parish of Culrossand in the parish of Tulliallan the estate of Sands, which has since been their principal seat. East Grange, from at least the end of the sixteenth to the middle of the seventeenth century, belonged to a family of the name of Masterton; afterwards it passed to Mr Murray; and latterly to Captain Kerr, from whose representatives it was purchased by the Carron Company a few years ago.

Included in West Grange is the property of Bath, which seems at one time to have belonged to the Mastertons of East Grange, who were also proprietors of the farm of Divelly. They appear to be the same as the Mastertons of Parkmill, who take their name from the village of Masterton, to the south-east of Dunfermline, and one of whom is said to have been the architect of Dunfermline Abbey. There were formerly two Baths, Easter and Wester; and the former of these used also to bear the designation of Chapel Bath or The Chapel. From a somewhat singular congeries of names in this quarter, it has been fancifully conjectured, and even gravely asserted, that some former laird in this quarter, having travelled on the Continent, bestowed Italian names on those bleak localities, which experienced the usual fate in such cases of being strangely corrupted in the vernacular. Thus Montd Claret and Divelly were supposed to be corruptions of Monte Claro and Della Villa; whilst Bath, or Chapel Bath, implied the existence in former days of a holy well or healing spring. All these surmises are, I believe, quite erroneous, as I shall endeavour to show in the next chapter.

The estate of Valleyfield proper, as originally possessed by the Prestons, is but of small extent, and does not even bulk largely along with the outlying farms of Overton and Muirside, which were added to the family possessions by Brigadier-General Preston in the last century. When held by Sir Robert Preston, a princely lairdship was connected with the estate, inasmuch as he had become by purchase the owner of Culross Abbey and the lands of Blairhall, the ancient patrimony of the Bruces. But all the territory that Sir Robert held in his own right, unfettered by an entail, he bequeathed, as already mentioned, to the Elgin family.

Blairhall has always been a large property, and at one time had been the chief one in the parish. It has been the cradle of the Broomhall family, which is descended from Sir George Bruce, second son of Edward Bruce of Blairhall, and now unites in itself the titles of Elgin and Kincardine, created respectively in favour of Sir George’s nephew and grandson. The old mansion has long since disappeared; but a relic of the Bruces still remains in a mutilated heraldic' fragment, surmounting what seems to have been the entrance to the old garden or courtyard.

Though much defaced, it seems closely allied to the figures which stand at the entrance of Kinross House, which was built by the celebrated Sir William Bruce, the architect of Holyrood House, and a cadet of the Blairhall family.

The Blairhall estate includes the hamlet and mill of Shiresmill, with the farms of Duckdub (now Blairhall Mains), Glourowrum (now New Farm), and Bennies Walls—the latter being partly situated in the parish of Torrybum and county of Fife. It also comprised the Newmills, and right of thirlage exercised by the same over Culross,—though these were by General Preston recovered for Valleyfield, to which they would seem naturally to belong. After passing into the hands of the Stewarts—one of whom, a brother of the first Earl of Bute, married Mary Bruce, the heiress of the property—it again was transferred into those of the Ronaldson-Dicksons, whose fortunes, in the succeeding generation, rapidly declined, and Sir Robert Preston became the purchaser of the domain. As if jealous of the old preeminence of the former possessors, he subjected the house, by demolishing the eastern wing, to a contumelious treatment, similar to what he had practised on Culross Abbey.

The “Kingdom of Fife” has long been noted for the multitude of small properties or lairdships which it contains in comparison with the other counties of Scotland. The same characteristic used to belong to the parish of Culross, but in modem times it has almost completely disappeared. The wonder is how all these petty heritors could have contrived to exist and maintain their position as county gentry on the produce of their little domains. Certainly their requirements must have been moderate, and they must have practised an almost Roman simplicity in their mode of life. The only really large properties were Blairhall and Balgownie—Valleyfield, though claiming the dignity of a barony, being but of small territorial extent. West Grange has been increased by the addition of Bath and Divelly; Comrie by the union of two properties, known respectively as Easter and Wester Comrie—the former belonging in the seventeenth century to John Gray—the latter to John Colville, the son of the Commendator. East Grange seems to have been always of the same extent as at present. Middle Grange, the Burrowin, the Ashes, and part of Barhill, have all accrued to Sands; whilst Langside, Birkenhead, and Bordie, stretching continuously from east to west, beginning at the modem Blair Mains, are now all included in the estate of Blair Castle.

The property of Sands, which for nearly a century and a half has belonged to the Johnston family, lies now chiefly in the parish of Tulliallan, but was formerly entirely in that of Culross, and seems to have given name to a dan, which, both as lairds and ordi-. nary individuals, were in bygone days very numerous around and in Culross. In the end of the sixteenth century we find a “ Thomas Sands, portioner of that Ilk”; [Of the same place—the common old-fashioned way of expressing laird of Birkenhead, John Sands of Langside, and John Sands of Overton, besides many other individuals bearing the name, of lower degree. Some time apparently in the early part of the seventeenth century the estate of Sands came into the hands of a family of the name of Wilson, who held it for nearly a hundred years along with the lands of Kirkton— so called from its proximity to the West Kirk of Culross. The original acquirer of the property is said to have been private secretary to Anne of Denmark, queen of James VI. A descendant of his, doubtless, is a certain “ George Wilson of Sands,” who appears in the burgh records in the early years of last century as one of the bailies of Culross.] and there also stand recorded William Sands,

The portion of Sands in the parish of Culross comprises a narrow strip extending along the sea-shore to the westward of Blair quarry, and known in former times as Kelliwood, or Sands Kelliwood. Altogether the property, though cumulatively large, is very much scattered. Its latest acquisition was the little lairdship of Lurg, lying near the mansion-house of Sands, and about the last of the ancient holdings to merge in the larger estates. The house of Lurg, as already mentioned, is now occupied by the Sands gamekeeper.

The large domain of Tulliallan, though perfectly compact and continuous, is nevertheless an agglomeration of smaller territories. The barony of that the fact of the name of the proprietor and his estate being the same. My readers will remember Sir Walter Scott’s “ Sir Robert Redganntlet of that Ilk.”

To the Tulliallan estate belongs almost the whole of the moor of Culross, the ancient patrimony of the burgh, but which is now almost all planted, and generally known by the name of the Tulliallan Woods, or Tulliallan Forest. It is intersected by many delightful paths, the old highways across the moor, and contains within its precincts two extensive sheets of water—the Peffermill dam on its northern, and the Moor dam or Tulliallan Water at its western extremity. The ground at the eastern extremity, adjoining the farm of Kirkton, used to be occupied by a third sheet of water, known as the Kirkton dam, which was in existence till at least the end of the last century. The site is now, like the rest of the moor, planted with trees.


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