Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed. Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Reminiscences of Dollar, Tillicoultry and other Districts adjoining the Ochils
Chapter I - Blackford: its old Church and Churchyard


THE ruined walls of the old Parish Church of Blackford, and old burying-ground, are beautifully situated on the top of a high knoll to the north-east of the village, and immediately above the railway station. From it can be obtained a fine view of the surrounding country, including a long stretch of the beautiful Ochil Hills to the south. Below it lies the quiet village of Blackford, built not in the usual irregular fashion throughout Scotland, but in two regular parallel streets, from end to end of the village, with a number of short regular streets or lanes running at right angles between the two. The south street is the old town of Blackford, and forms part of the old highway from Perth to Stirling. It was along it that, on Saturday the 12th day Of November 1715 (167 years ago), the Earl of Mar, with his army of Highlanders, marched from Auchterarder to meet the Duke of Argyle, with some 5000 royal troops, in the neighbourhood of Dunblane, and on the following day fought the stubborn battle of Sheriffmuir.

Mar left Perth on Thursday the 1 0th of November, and reached the battlefield on Saturday night; and on Sabbath the 13th November, about noon, the battle commenced, and raged so long and furiously that darkness alone put an end to it. At the close of the day it was hard to tell which side had gained the victory, which gave rise to the following amusing lines:-

Some say that we wan,
Some say that they wan,
And some say that nane wan at a', man;
But o' ae thing I'm sure,
That at Sheriffmuir
A battle there was that I saw, man.'

I may in passing refer to what led to this famous battle of Scottish history.

On the death of Queen Anne in 1714, George, Elector of Hanover, succeeded to the British crown; but a great portion of the inhabitants of Scotland (notably the Highland clans) had wished James Francis Edward, commonly called 'The Chevalier,' instead, and, headed by the Earl of Mar, determined to raise the standard of revolt, and get this foreigner deposed and their favourite put in his place. Hence the rebellion of 1715.

Some idea may be formed of the feeling in Scotland regarding George I. from the following couplet :-

'Wha the deil ha'e we gotten for a king
But a wee, wee German lairdie.'

A good many of the houses in this south street of Blackford are very old, but it has also some good new buildings; while the north street—which is the more modern part of the village—has some fine new houses, with two beautiful churches, the Established and the Free, with handsome spires and clocks, which give the village quite a smart appearance.

One of the principal industries of the village is brewing, for which it has long been celebrated—Blackford ales being well known throughout Scotland. There are three pretty large breweries, only two of which are at present in operation; but although they must carry on pretty extensive businesses, they do not, unfortunately, give employment to many hands.

About a dozen of hand-loom. weavers, or so, still get occasional employment from Auchterarder; but as a weaving village, its day has gone by.

Before the introduction of the power-loom, however, Blackford, like many villages in Scotland, used to get a weekly supply of webs from Glasgow, which were sent to agents who gave out the webs to the weavers, superintended the weaving, and got the cloth returned to the city; and thus employment was given to very many hands. But this is all changed now. The introduction of steam and the power-loom have concentrated very much the manufacturing of all these goods in the large cities, where large public power-loom factories have been built, the proprietors of which weave goods to any one; and very extensive manufacturing firms in Glasgow get all their weaving done there, and are not possessed of a single loom themselves, except for making patterns on. The proprietors of these establishments are called 'job weavers,' and some of them are possessed of very large premises, with many hundreds of looms, do a large trade, and are possessed of considerable wealth. Cloth can be woven in these factories at a mere tithe of what it used to cost on the old hand-loom; and hence these small weaving villages throughout Scotland have been ruined, so far as weaving is concerned.

Another flourishing industry that was at one time carried on very extensively in Blackford, and gave employment to a great many hands, has now dwindled down to very small dimensions, and must have told greatly on the prosperity and stir of the village; and that was the tanning and currying of leather, and the manufacture of boots and shoes for the wholesale trade of the country. Although still carried on to a moderate extent, few hands, comparatively, are now employed, for the bulk of this trade is now concentrated in steam factories throughout the country, where, with the aid of the sewing-machine, shoes can be produced at a price that hand-made goods have no chance with; and hence this industry, like the and-loom weaving, has suffered greatly in Blackford. From these two causes it is now a very quiet village, and the first time I paid a visit to it—in March of this year—I was struck with the great 'silence that reigned throughout it, and thought it a very rural village indeed. Though quiet in the village, there s plenty of noise adjoining it, however; for throughout ,the day, and night also, the 'iron horse' on the Caledonian Railway (which passes close to the village) snorts away almost constantly, the number of trains during the twenty-four hours on this great iron road to the north f Scotland being very great indeed.

The beautiful water of the Allan passes close to the village, and is (even so near the top of Strathallan) of considerable size, and is considered a very fine trout- fishing stream. Danny Burn, from the Ochils, which passes close to the west side of the village, joins the Allan a little below it. The foot-road through the Ochils, by Backhill House and the Devon to Tillicoultry and Dollar, goes up by Kinpauch House, and before the introduction of the railway was largely used by pedestrians between the north and south sides of the Ochils.

I have been thus particular in giving a description of Blackford, from the fact that it was the birthplace of the writer's grandfather, of whom I will speak more particularly farther on in this narrative.

From a tablet on the inside of the north wall of the old church, we learn that the good people of Blackford had been long honoured in having a baronet for their minister, one of the ancestors of the present Sir Henry Wellwood Moncreiff, Bart., of Tuffibole, Fossoway. The inscription runs thus

THE REVEREND SIR WILLIAM MONCREIFF, BART.,
MINR. BLACKFD., ORDAINED 1738.
DIED 9TH DECR. 1767, AGED 61.
AND
MRS. KATHERINE WELLWOOD, HIS WIFE,
WHO DIED 31ST MARCH 1768, AGED 45YEARS

My purpose, however, in drawing attention to this old church and churchyard of Blackford is more especially to take notice of a very interesting tombstone (so far as the writer's relatives are concerned) lying flat on the ground about the centre of the churchyard, and which, from the date on it (1739), must have been placed there a year after Sir William Moncreiff, Bart., was ordained to the parish. I herewith give a rough sketch of this stone, with that part of the inscription which is plainly readable, the rest of it, unfortunately, being too much wasted to make clearly out what it is, although words are still traceable.

The James Miller who was buried beneath this stone, and who was born at the Mill of Duchally in the year 1.680 (202 years ago), was the writer's great-great-grandfather. One of this James Miller's sons was named James, who had a family of nine children—four sons (named William, James, John, and David) and five daughters, one of the latter of whom was named Jean, born in 1746, my grandmother by my father's side, and who lived in my father's house in Dollar till her death, which took place in October 1842, she being then in her ninety-seventh year.

KINCARDINE GLEN, DUCHALLY MILL, AND AUCHTERARDER.

The Mill of Duchally is in one of the most picturesque glens, perhaps, in Scotland—the beautiful water of the Ruthven (or, as the Auchterarder folks generally call it, the Water of Riven') flowing through the centre of it. It is situated directly south from Crieff Junction railway station, and within ten minutes' walk of it; but although so near, this really beautiful glen is almost entirely unknown to the many thousands who daily pass that station. If its beauties were known, I have no doubt it would have very many, visitors, for no more lovely spot could be selected for a day's outing, and for picnic parties enjoying themselves. This deep gorge or glen of the Ruthven, of some 150 feet deep, and from 700 to 800 feet wide at the top (called Kincardine Glen from Kincardine Castle, the old seat of the Duke of Montrose), commences at the north end of Gleneagles, and runs nearly due east, with the beautiful little stream of pure water running at the bottom of it, which empties itself into the Earn some dozen of miles away.

For a good distance above the mill, and about half a mile below it, the steep sloping banks are beautifully green, with here and there clumps of fine old trees, forming quite a romantic scene, and just such a place as one would like to shut himself in for a day from the bustling outside world. About half a mile below the mill, the fine policies around Kincardine Castle commence, and the glen is densely wooded down to the water's edge, and is really one of the most romantic spots one could wish to see.

On the high ground not far from the mill, the farm house of The Barns is situated, and here it was that the Duke of Montrose, when resident in Kincardine Castle, kept his retainers; and many a struggle would no doubt take place between them and the Duke of Argyle's clansmen residing at Castle Campbell (romantically situated in the beautiful glen above Dollar)—a deadly feud having long existed between the two houses. The distance between the two strongholds would not be more than a dozen of miles or so, and two roads were available, one through Gleneagles, and the other by the Borland Glen. The old road through Gleneagles is still distinctly traceable, near the bottom of the glen, and on the opposite side from the present road.

The Miller family of Duchally Mill and Auchterarder, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, carried on the trade of wheelwrights, that of making spinning-wheels for the young brides of those days, for no young wife thought of taking up house without that most essential piece of furniture, and the making of them was a trade by itself. At that time the spinning of yarn was all done by hand, and the wool carded with hand cards; and thus almost every household carded and spun their own yarn, and gave it to weavers to weave into cloth, for the clothing of their households. Then it was that 'homespun' cloths were a reality, and not, as now-a-days, a name given to a cloth which our manufacturers make in imitation of them.

What a contrast to all this now exists at the present day! The introduction of the carding engine, and the invention of the spinning mule, have completely revolutionized this old state of matters; and now can be seen in any of our large factories as many as from 30,000 to 40,000 spindles, spinning yarn, and each spindle turning off as much as at least five women could do with the old hand spinning-wheel; thus the production of one mill is now as great as that of 150,000 to 200,000 hand wheels.

The making of spinning-wheels by the Millers of Auchterarder gradually developed into a general wright's and cabinet-making trade, which has been carried on very extensively and successfully up till the present time. Mr. David Miller [Regarding Mr. Miller and some others referred to in the following pages, see Appendix to the First Edition.] (who retired from the business some time ago) is a great-grandson of the James Miller who was born in 1680, and Mrs. Tainsh (who is nearly ninety years of age) is a great-grand-daughter.

The principal occupation of the inhabitants of Auchterarder in my young days was hand-loom weaving, the webs being supplied (as in Blackford) from Glasgow. Now there are three large factories in the town, which supply webs to those who still continue at the hand- loom, while they give employment to a very large number of women at the power-loom, of which there will be well on for a thousand.

Fifty years ago, Auchterarder was very poorly supplied with water, and in dry seasons it had to be carted, in barrels, up from the 'Water of Riven.' They have now, however, got an abundant supply of fine, pure water, from beyond the Muir of Auchterarder; and for this the town was very much indebted to the exertions, along with others, of Mr. David Miller, who took an active part in getting it introduced, which was done in 1832.

In order to get information about my progenitors, Mr. Miller and I paid a visit to Blackford. Churchyard in the month of March of this year; and, after about an hour's work, in 'Old Mortality' style, succeeded in laying bare the inscription on the old family tombstone, which turned out to be of such very great interest to us both. It was covered with green mould of about half an inch thick.

DOLLAR-RELATIVES-CASTLE CAMPBELL.

My grandfather, James Gibson, was born in Blackford in 1756; and married Jean Miller of Auchterarder in 1780 or 1781.

As grandfather died in 1819, before I was born, I am indebted for any information regarding him to my elder relatives. He was a tall, stout man, with reddish hair; very pushing and enterprising; of an affable and genial disposition, and was a general favourite with the good folks of Dollar.

Grandmother (who died in 1842) I remember well, as she lived in my father's house till her death. She had been a most active woman in her day, and to her energy and business tact their success in after life was not a little indebted.

They commenced business in two small houses in the old town of Dollar, in the north street that leads up to Castle Campbell, where Mr. Miller's hail (at present a grain store) was afterwards built.

Like most country shops in those days, they dealt in almost everything—groceries, drapery goods, hardwares, etc.; and, from a very small beginning, their business gradually extended, and became the principal emporium, for almost everything, for the district for miles around. With what success they prosecuted their calling may be judged of from the fact that, in 1806, grandfather built the large dwelling-house and shop farther down the village, at present occupied by Mr. Hunter, and where, for forty years, the business was successfully carried on—first by grandfather, and then by my father, and, where the writer, and the rest of the family, were born and brought up.

In those early days, and before the introduction of spinning machinery, business was very differently conducted from what it is now, and Mrs. Tainsh has told me that she remembers well of grandfather coming north to Monzie ('Monee') market, to buy blankets and plaidings, and calling at Auchterarder on his way there.

The yarn was spun by the women of the parish, and also in the Highlands beyond, on their spinning wheels; woven into blankets and plaidings, and sold in the annual market held at Mouzie. As a fair specimen of how goods were manufactured in those early days, and of one of our rural weaving villages at that time, I may here introduce the account given of Monzie parish in the statistical account of Scotland, in regard to its manufactures, written by the Rev. George Erskine, in the year 1792. He says:-­' The principal industry in the parish is that of weaving. They weave all kinds of plain and tweeled linen, and woollen cloth; and these not only for their own use, but also for sale; the chief kinds of cloth made by them are plaiden, linen, and scrims. The plaiden they sell at from 10d. to 14d. per yard. They make a very large quantity of linen cloth, and bleach it excellently themselves; it is of various degrees of fineness, and they sell it at from is. to 4s. per yard. Some families, where there are only two looms, have made and sold 1000 yards per annum. The scrim is a narrow linen cloth, of different degrees of fineness, and which they sell without bleaching it. It is all exported, perhaps for trousers. The women spin a great deal of yarn, which they make into cloth for sale, and thus by their industry raise a part of their rent. Number of weavers in the parish, 54. . . . There is only one yearly market in the parish, when every house, hut, and shade is converted into a dram-shop ;—it is held in the middle of August.'

When spinning machinery was afterwards introduced, plaidings and blankets were manufactured in Tillicoultry and Alva, and the market for them was changed to Perth; and thither the manufacturers of our neighbourhood used to go regularly to dispose of their wares. This market must have been discontinued about the year 1840; for, after that time, the manufactures of our district were sold to wholesale houses in the large cities, principally in Glasgow. When I came to Tillicoultry in 1847, I used to hear many stories about our manufacturers attending Perth market.

Grandfather had two sisters and a brother—Margaret and Emily; but his brother's name I have not been able to find out, nor have I been able to trace clearly what became of him, further than that he settled somewhere in England, was married, and had a family, and that two of his daughters once paid a visit to my late married sister in Stirling, Mrs. Daigleish, which must have been more than forty-three years ago, as she died in 1839. Margaret married a Mr. Ritchie, and I can learn of only two of her family—Mr. William Ritchie of Portobello (I am not aware whether he still survives or not), and the late Mrs. Whitehead of Perth. Emily married a Mr. John Lawson of Blackford, who commenced business as a brewer in Glendevon, and died there, leaving his widow with a large family. After the death of her husband, grandfather brought his widowed sister and her family to Dollar, where they afterwards resided in one of his houses, nearly opposite his own. Her descendants are very numerous at the foot of the Ochils at the present day—Mr. Edward Moir, Tillicoultry (at present eighty-three years of age), being a grandson; whilst her great-grandchildren and great- great-grandchildren are very numerous. Mr. Lawson draper, Alloa, is a great-grandson.

Grandfather's family consisted of three— two sons and a daughter, named William, James, and Janet, the last of whom died in infancy. Whether my father or Uncle James was eldest, I have not been able to find out; but, from the record in my father's family Bible, Uncle James died on the first Sabbath of July 1812, when quite a young man.

I was not aware, till the other day, that I am really descended from a wool-spinner (the business I have now been engaged in for thirty-five years), but an old and respected native of Dollar informs me that Grandfather Gibson, a Robert Pitcairn, and John Burns (father of the first Mrs. Peter Stalker—Eliza Burns) formed themselves into a company, and built the first wool mill in Dollar; and that one Willie Wilson was the manager. This mill was situated between the upper bridge and Mrs. Bell's Hall (formerly the second wool mill), and stood parallel to the burn; and the water for the wheel of it was brought in a lade from the weir (now entirely demolished) at the public bleaching-green, down past the foot of the gardens, where the Castle Walk is now formed. This original mill was entirely removed when the second mill was built, some sixty years ago. Like most country mills at that time, it was for carding and spinning country wool, and the yarn was made into goods—blankets, plaidings, cloths, etc.— by weavers throughout the village, for the use of the respective parties who sent in the wool; and thus, in a sense, each family was its own manufacturer. This practice is still continued in many country places, and especially in the Highlands, at the present day, where many thriving country mills are still carried on.

To show the price of wool at that period, I have learned, on undoubted authority, that Mr. John Burns bought a Glendevon clip of black-faced wool, one year, at the very low price of 5s. 6d. per stone (2d. per lb.).

Mr. Burns was, by the way, like very many in those days, a famous fiddler, and his services were had in great request on festive occasions.

Having referred to the public bleaching-green, I may here give a short account of how it was acquired by the people of Dollar.

In the end of last century a petition was got up for presentation to the then Lord of the Manor—the Duke of Argyle—to grant a piece of ground for a public bleaching-green, and Mr. William M'Leish (the Rev. John M'Leish's father) was despatched to Inveraray Castle, to present it to his Grace. After the long and tedious journey was accomplished, and the castle reached at last, Mr. M'Leish was ushered into the presence of the butler—a thorough-bred, true-horn Highlandman, and one who would have fought to the last drop of his blood to uphold the dignity of the house of the great M'Callum-Mohr. After the usual civilities had passed between this dignitary and William, something like the following conversation took place, which the latter ever afterwards used to tell with the greatest gusto.

WILLIAM (on seeing a pony-phaeton driving in through the Castle grounds, with a gentleman, dressed in tartan, in it). 'What gentleman will that be?'

DUGALT. 'That, sir, iss a nopleman; that pe his Grace ta Tuke of Argyle, ant faar apove eny mere shentlemans.'

W. 'But you are surely joking; the great Duke would never drive in a small phaeton like that!'

D. 'No, sir, I am not joking; and that isa shust ta Tuke. He hale thirteen graant carriages, but he shooses to trive in ta wan that you see him in, ant we have no pusiness.'

W. 'But surely he must have few horses when he drives with a little beastie like that?'

D. 'Few horses! Dit you'l only saw his thirty graant horses, you neffer see ta like ov them pefore, nor neffer will to again, neffer.'

W. 'But surely my Lord would never dress with a common tartan kilt like that gentleman?'

P. 'You are not to call him "My Lort," for a Tuke isa faar apove a Lort; ant as for his tress, it las his Grace's pleasure to wear ta kilt; but he hafe neffer so many peautiful tress, as you neffer see pefore, neffer.'

W. 'Well, well, I must not doubt your word any longer, but believe that it was really the Duke I saw; and now I would like to see his Grace, and present the petition I have come with from the inhabitants of Dollar.'

D. 'Yiss, yiss, I will now take you to ta Tuke's shamber, but rernemper you are not to say, "from ta inhapitants of Tollar," but "from ta Lordship of Campbell;" ant when you leafe ta Take's presence, you must walk packwards, shust ta same as from ta King's presence.'

Mr. M'Leish was kindly entertained by order of the Duke; and the result of the interview was that the petition was favourably received; and in a few weeks word came to Dollar that a free grant, in perpetuity, was given of the piece of ground petitioned for. The entrance to this bleaching-green is by the back of the houses on the north side of 'Hillie's Close.'

When referring to Inveraray Castle, I think it may not be out of place here, to give a thoroughly characteristic specimen of the genuine 'Hielan" proclamations that the good folks of the county-town of Inveraray were at one time called on to listen to. With stentorian lungs, Donalt, the town-crier, was heard one day making known the following terrible warning through the streets of the town:-

T--Ahoy ant T—Ahoy again, ant ta—hither Ahoy—three times!!! Whisht!!!

'If eny person or persons isa caugcht fushin' spoon ta Loch, or under ta Loch, or through ta Loch, or in ta Loch, she shall pe persecute with three persecutions. First, she shall pe droont, then she shall pe purnt, and syne she shall pe hangit. Ant if she'll evermore come pack again to do ta same thing, she shall pe veesit with a faar waur death.

We should think there would not be much fishing of any kind round Inveraray for many a long day after this.

Behind the second wool mill (which is the only one I remember of) there was a large, deep pond, for run- fling the dirty Waulk Mill water into; and this was emptied occasionally during the night, and the burn not polluted when people were requiring water. It was a most dangerous place for children, although I don't recollect of any one ever being drowned in it, but many a poor kitten ended its days there. This mill pond was in the next garden to my father's, and was a well-known place to us all.

The inhabitants of Dollar were, I believe, indebted to the Rev. Dr. Mylne for the construction of this pond, and the preserving to them of their beautiful stream of pure water. Previous to his coming to Dollar, the dirty Waulk Mill water had been regularly run into the burn, and greatly polluted it; and against this nuisance the doctor sent a strongly-worded protest to the manager of the mill, and insisted on its being stopped at once. Not knowing the calibre of the man he had to deal with, Willie Wilson sent him back a joking answer, telling him he didn't see the need of making such an ado about it, and 'that the water would make fine cream to his tea.' However, he soon found out he had mistaken his man, and that the doctor was in earnest, and not to be trifled with, and that some plan must be adopted at once to allay the wrath of the new priest. Accordingly, the big pond was devised, and carried into execution; and thus the nuisance was put an end to.

My father had decided to join grandfather in the now thriving business of general merchants, and after grandfather's death carried on the business successfully for twenty-seven years. The shop, during my father's lifetime and for long afterwards, was where the parlour of the house now is. It was an emporium for almost everything, and people came from many miles around to it, from Glendevon, Muckart, Crook-of-Devon, Powmill, Blairingone, Forrestmill, etc.

In the course of his business my father paid an annual visit to the farmers of the Ochils, and amongst others with whom he dealt I may mention one or two of the names—Mrs. Low, of the Borland Glen; Mr. Guild, of Glenquhey; Mr. David Taylor, of the Eind, above Auchterarder, etc.

For ironmongery goods, such as grates, fenders, etc., he went always to headquarters,—Carron and FalkirkIronworks,—and bought at first hand. I remember well of going with him on one of these visits, when a very little boy; and as there were no railways in those days, the journey had to be done on foot. It was a very hot day, and when trudging through the moss between South Alloa and Carron, we couldn't get a drop of drinkable water, and I was almost on the point of giving in. How much the present generation ought to prize the facilities they have for travelling now-a-days; only those who remember those early times can fully appreciate the immense advantages we now enjoy.

Castle Campbell

Dollar is beautifully situated at the foot of the Ochils, immediately below the ruins of the famous old stronghold of the Duke of Argyle—Castle Campbell; and although a small town, is of very ancient date, John Knox having dispensed the sacrament at Castle Campbell, while the guest of Archibald, fourth Earl of Argyle, in the year 1556; and Thomas Forrest, vicar of Dollar, being a well-known character in Scottish history. The bridge over the Devon, about a mile east from Dollar, where he crossed the stream on his peregrinations between the monastery at Inchcolm and Dollar, still takes its name from him—The Vicar's Bridge. The following inscription is on it, and was put there by the well-known antiquarian, the late John Coventry, Esq. of Devonshaw

Sacred to the memory of THOMAS FORREST, the worthy Vicar of Dollar, who among other acts of benevolence built this bridge. He died a martyr, A.D. 1538.

This inscription, however, is a little misleading, as the actual bridge built by the vicar forms only the eastern half of the arch. It was a narrow bridge, without ledges, for foot passengers only; and about eighty years ago another arch was built alongside the old one, thus widening the bridge, and making it suitable for conveyances. Low parapet walls were then built, but not proving sufficient to prevent accidents, the present higher ones were afterwards substituted.

Authentic records in connection with Castle Campbell date even about a hundred years before John Knox's time, the oldest title-deeds known for it and the lands of Dollar being dated the 19th of April 1465— four hundred and seventeen years ago. They were then the property of John Stewart, third Lord Innermeath, and passed into the possession of the Argyle family in 1481, when Cohn, first Earl of Argyle, married Isabel Stewart, one of Lord Innermeath's daughters, and must have got them along with his bride as a marriage dowry. The Castle at this time went by the name of Castle Glaume (Gloom); but in 1489 an Act of Parliament of James III. was passed, changing it to Castle Campbell, which would seem to show that the Argyle family had decided to make it one of their principal places of residence. How long before 1465 the Castle was built, there is no authentic record, but it is more than probable it was two or three hundred years. It continued in the possession of the Argyle family till 1805 (three and a quarter centuries), when it was sold to Craufurd Tait, Esq. of Harviestoun, and is now the property of James Orr, Esq.

Harviestoun and Castle Campbell estates were for a great many years in the possession of the Globe Insurance Company, but were bought by Sir Andrew Orr in the year 1859. Sir Andrew also bought Aberdona estate in 1860, and that of Sheardale in 1861. Mr. Gibson, Dollar—the writer's brother—was appointed his factor in 1862, and continued to hold the appointment till he resigned in favour of his son, Mr. John. Mr. James Orr, who succeeded to the estates on the death of his brother in 1874, is now one of the largest landed proprietors in the county of Clackmannan.

Castle Campbell was burned in 1644 by the Macleans (who formed part of the Marquis of Montrose's army) when passing along the valley after the battles of Auldearn and Alford, and immediately before the battle of Kilsyth. And not only was the Castle destroyed, but all the houses in Dollar and Muckart, with the exception of one in each place (which were saved through a mistake), the inhabitants of both parishes being vassals of Argyle.

The Castle is most romantically situated in Dollar Olen, on a high rocky promontory between the two burns of Sorrow and Care (or, as they are now called, the Bank and Turnpike burns), and immediately above the junction of the two, and is so surrounded by the deep, densely-wooded, rocky gorges, at the bottom of which the burns run, that no grander scenery is to be found, I believe, in Scotland. That this is the general opinion throughout the country is fully borne out by the many thousands who annually visit it, it being evidently considered one of those romantic sights which must not be overlooked. The old tower of the Castle, with its walls of some seven or eight feet thick, shows what a place of great strength it must have been, and before the introduction of artillery must have been almost impregnable. Tradition says that Argyle's retainers were away on a foray of their own when the Macleans attacked and destroyed it, and this seems more than probable, as a very small number of defenders might, in such a situation and with such a stronghold, have defied the whole of the Marquis's army.

In my young days, and for long after, the road to Castle Campbell was by the old cart-road to the north side of the Ochils, that goes up past the Brewlands (so Iona the abode of Mr. Alexander Stewart), and through Gleuquhey. At Gloomhill Quarry a foot-road branched off, down to the bottom of the beautifully-wooded glen; and, after crossing the Turnpike Burn, the ascent to the Castle was made up the almost perpendicular brae, by a series of steps worn out of the turf by the tramp of many hundreds of years. There is now, however, a romantic walk up to the Castle, through the beautiful glen, the whole way; and for this the inhabitants of Dollar are indebted, I believe, to the late Dr. Strachan and Mr. Peter Stalker, who first talked the matter over, and inspected the ground, with the view of making it, and the inhabitants afterwards deserve great credit for the spirited way in which their efforts were seconded; for, by subscriptions, concerts, etc., the handsome sum of £300 was raised to carry the project out. How well this was done must be attested by every one who visits the Castle, for every advantage has been taken of the romantic glen in the formation of the road, and the view from various parts of it is very fine indeed. To stand on the end of the long bridge, at the foot of Kemp's Score, and look around, presents a view that is unsurpassed for grandeur, I believe, anywhere in Britain. The fine scenery, also, at Sochie—above the Castle— was opened up to the visitor by the formation of this walk, which was carried as far up as Nellie's Dell, beyond the fine waterfalls of Upper and Lower Sochie. Until it was formed, few people in Dollar, I believe, had ever seen these beautiful waterfalls, or the deep rocky gorge through which the water for a considerable distance runs.

The first meeting in connection with this walk was held in the Castle Campbell Hotel on the 9th of August 1864—the late Dr. Strachan in the chair when the following committee was appointed to arrange for a public meeting:—Mr. Stalker, Dr. Strachan, Mr. Bradshaw, Dr. Lindsay, Mr. Brown, Mr. Cousin; Mr. Bradshaw, convener.

On the 15th of August 1864, a public meeting was held, when the following committee was appointed to see to the proper laying out and constructing of the new path:—Mr. Stalker, Dr. Strachan, Mr. Bradshaw, Dr. Lindsay, Mr. Brown, Mr. Cousin, Mr. Westwood, Mr. Horn, Mr. Alexander Wardlaw. Mr. Bradshaw was appointed secretary, and Mr. Wardlaw treasurer.

Dollar Glen

The public of Dollar are greatly indebted to this committee, and to those who were afterwards added to it, for the great amount of trouble entailed upon them, and the complete success which crowned their labours. Mr. Westwood, Mr. Stalker, and Mr. Horn were of great service to the committee in the engineering part of the work; and Mr. Bradshaw as secretary, and Mr. Wardlaw as treasurer, deserve special thanks for the extra share of work that fell to their lot. Dr. Strachan took a keen interest in the carrying out of the scheme, and for a considerable number of years, and so long as he was able to officiate, acted as chairman at all the meetings held in connection with it.

The footpath was formally opened on the 26th of May 1865, when nearly a thousand people assembled on the ground. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Dollar Flute Band, which had been in attendance, proceeded through the streets of the village, and played a number of favourite airs.

The open-air proceedings were followed by a supper in the Castle Campbell Hotel—Dr. Strachan in the chair, Mr. Brown and Mr. Westwood acting as croupiers —when eighty gentlemen sat down to supper. The evening was spent very pleasantly, and amongst many other toasts, that of the Lord of the Manor, Sir Andrew Orr, and of Mr. James Cairns, tenant of Dollarbank, were specially proposed, and a vote of thanks tendered to them, for kindly giving their consent to the making of the footpath through the Castle grounds, and those adjoining them.

From a most interesting speech by Mr. James Christie about Castle Campbell, I here give the following short extract:-

Solitude reigns around, broken only by the dashing cascade, the caw of the rook, or the merry laugh of some visiting party.

The jackdaw nestles in its towers,
Devoid of every fear,
And spiders spin their airy webs,
Where hung the sword and spear.

The warder's tread no more is heard,
In echoes deep and long;
And in its wild, dismantled ha'
Is hushed the minstrel's song.'

During the course of the evening it was announced from the chair that, in honour of the occasion, a new song had been composed by Mr. James Christie, and that it would now be sung by Mr. Deany. It is as follows:-

Winsome lassie, will ye go, will ye go, will ye go?
Winsome lassie, will ye go, to the woods o' Castle Campbell?

The Ochils smile in summer dress,
The birk-tree waves her silken tress,
While nature bathes in loveliness
The woodland paths o' Campbell.
Winsome lassie, etc.

The burnie dashes doon the glen,
O'er rocky scaur, where brackens ben',
Or wimples saft by fairy den.
Among the woods a' Campbell.
Winsome lassie, etc.

'Sweet scenes o' beauty wait the e'e,
Of rifted rock, and flower, and tree,
A richer picture conidna be—
The leafy glens o' Campbell.
Winsome lassie, etc.

Well roam the Castle's ruined towers,
In gloamin's calm and dewy hours,
When starnies blink frae siller bowers
Upon the woods o' Campbell.
Winsome lassie, etc.

'Let ithers seek for golden gain
On stormy sea or burning plain,
Content I'll be wi' you—my sin,
Among the woods o' Campbell.
Winsome lassie,' etc.

Dollar Glen

Although the new path was now formally opened, the labours of the committee did not then by any means terminate, but went on for the long period of nine years, the last committee meeting in connection with it being held on the 23d of April 1874, and the whole proceedings were finally brought to a close on the 8th of May 1874, when a supper took place in the Castle Campbell Hotel, a company of twenty gentlemen being. present on the occasion.

The original committee had from time to time the following gentlemen added to its number:—Dr. John Strachan, Mr. James Christie, Mr. Symmers, Mr. Henry Cadogan, Mr. Charles Davies, Mr. T. S. Bradshaw, Mr. J. B. Henderson, all of whom seem to have taken a very active part, along with the original members of committee, in devising means to raise money for the extinction of the large debt entailed by the construction of the walk.

Some idea may be formed of the labour of Mr. Bradshaw in connection with it, when I state that no fewer than seventy-seven meetings were held from first to last, the minutes of some of which are of very great length; and that, besides, a very extensive correspondence had been carried on between the committee and the several parties interested, the whole of which is engrossed in the minute-book.

The debt was wholly extinguished, and a small balance of £1, 5s. 9d. left over, which was given to a few of the poor people of Dollar.

GRANT OF WATER TO DOLLAR.

When finished with this account of the making of this really most romantic walk to Castle Campbell, I think it would not be out of place here to refer to an undertaking that has been a great boon to Dollar, and that was the successful introduction of a bountiful supply of fine pure water from Dollar Glen, which must have proved an inestimable blessing to the village. The inhabitants of Dollar are under a deep debt of gratitude to the late Sir Andrew Orr for giving them a free grant in perpetuity of this abundant supply of fine water, and thus freeing them for ever from an expensive water-rate.

It used to be considered one of our great schoolboy feats to go up Kemp's Score, and, in company with George Gibson (a son of the janitor's of the Academy), I accomplished it once, but was never tempted to try it again. My companion got fairly stuck for a time, and could neither get up nor down; and, considering all further efforts fruitless for that day, bawled up to me at the top, to go down and tell his folks to send up his supper, as it was evident to him he must remain there all night. However, by a last, almost despairing effort, he got over the difficulty, and reached the top in safety.

Our worthy minister, the late Dr. Andrew Mylne, had the misfortune to make a slip at the top of 'The Score,' and slid all the way down to the bottom on his back; and the wonder to every one was how he wasn't killed on the spot. As it was, he was very much hurt, and his nether garments were in a woful plight.

A young lady, also, from a neighbouring village, when visiting the Castle along with two gentlemen, had ventured down a little bit at the top of 'The Score,' and she, too, shared the same fate as the Doctor, and was so seriously hurt that she was confined to bed for a considerable time after it.

Whether Kemp's Score was a natural chasm, or one quarried out by the inhabitants of the Castle, I suppose no one can tell; but it must have been of great service to them when the Castle was besieged, as by it—if provided by wooden steps (as it would very likely be)—a supply of water could at all times be got, independently of their enemies.

I used often to imagine that part of the ground below the Castle garden had a hollow sort of sound, and that possibly some subterranean rooms might be in existence there; but no exploration of it was ever made, although I think it might yet be worth while doing so. Perhaps some antiquarian friend may persuade Mr. Orr to take the matter up.

Mr. and Mrs. John Taylor, and a large family, lived for a very long time in the Castle, in the two rooms at the foot of the stair, which must have been a very dismal abode to live in; but they were all very strong and healthy-looking notwithstanding, and seemed to get on quite comfortably in them. Looking at the whole place and its surroundings, it is really a mystery how some of the children didn't get themselves killed.

A family is at present living in the Castle, but the accommodation for them has been very much improved and enlarged since John Taylor's time. The danger, however, for children is as great as ever, and must keep the parents very anxious.

The Castle was thoroughly repaired in 1874-75, by the present proprietor, James Orr, Esq., and may now stand for very many centuries. Previous to this it was fast crumbling into decay, and in the course of another hundred years would probably have been a shapeless mass of ruins. The internal accommodation also, for the family who live in it, has been greatly enlarged and improved, and no more picturesque spot could be got anywhere for summer quarters.

PORTGOBER.

The hamlet of Pitgober, about a mile east from Dollar, and not far from the Vicar's Bridge, was called, it is said Portgober in days of old, and an anchor, tradition says, was once discovered there, deeply imbedded in the soil. Whether this be a myth or not, there cannot be a doubt but that at one time (although at a considerably remote period) the whole valley of the Devon and the carse lands of Clackmannan and Stirlingshire were covered to a great depth by the waters Of the ocean, and that most probably vessels would regularly trade to the inland seaport of Portgober. In that most interesting book, Ossian on the Clyde, the Rev. Hateley Waddell clearly proves that the whole valley of the Clyde was at one time an arm of the sea, and that where Govan and the lower parts of the city of Glasgow now stand, it was covered to a great depth with water; and that probably small boats and vessels of light draught could then sail from Ardrishaig to Crinan with- out the aid of a canal. If this, then, was the case on the west coast, it would, of course, be the same on the east, and the towns and villages of those days must have been at a very much higher level than at present.

That this was the ease is established beyond the possibility of doubt, from the fact that the skeleton of a whale, sixty-four feet long, was discovered on Coruton Farm, near Bridge of Allan; and about seventy years ago one of seventy-two feet long was found in the 'Moss Park,' on Airthrey estate, not far from Logie Church, and this park has ever since been known by the name of the 'Whale Park.' This latter whale is only six feet shorter than the skeleton of the one in the Museum in Edinburgh, which is seventy-eight feet long, and which was caught, stranded on the beach near North Berwick, in the year 1826.

On the authority of those who live in the neighbourhood, there is said to be a very old rusted ring in the front of the 'Yellow Craig,' above Logie Church, to which, tradition says, vessels in those ancient times had been moored; but I have not seen it myself, although a guide in Blairlogie offered one day to take me to it, if I had had time, which unfortunately that day I had not. It is very doubtful, however, that it really was used for this purpose, as I am afraid iron could not last so long exposed to the action of the atmosphere. Sea shells, however, have been dug up on the top of the 'Yellow Craig,' which shows the sea to have been at one time there.

Two very worthy brothers, Mr. James and Mr. Adam Hutton, lived in Pitgober in my young days, and a great intimacy existed between them and and my father's family. Mr. James worked a small farm, and many a happy night we spent in his house at the 'Harvest Home,' or 'Maiden,' as we used to call it. His son William served an apprenticeship in my father's shop, and afterwards commenced a wholesale business in Glasgow, in the prosecution of which he travelled through the greater part of England, and pushed very bard to establish a business for himself. He was cut off, however, when quite a young man. Mr. Adam Hutton was factor for some of the small proprietors around, and in this capacity acted for a great number of years for Dr. Paton of Lawhill and Middletown. Mr. Adam was a bachelor, and lived with his brother. Their house was the farthest west of the little village.

Another well-known inhabitant of Pitgober in those days was Mr. Charles Stewart (Charlie Stewart he used generally to be called), a very pushing small farmer. Charles was 'excellent company,' and I have a very distinct recollection of a curlers' dinner in the Castle Campbell Hotel, at which he acted as one of the croupiers, and kept us all in good humour the whole evening.

COLLIERIES.

Extensive and valuable seams of coal underlie the whole of Dollar parish, and further east into that of Muckart, and forty to fifty years ago were extensively wrought. Dollar in those days had a considerable mining population, and Carbo, in the old town, was built specially for the colliers. It is as far back as I can recollect of the Fiddlefield coal-pit being wrought, which was the nearest pit to the village. Some of the seams of coal crop up to very near the surface, and, it was said, the folks used to hear the sound of the picks in below their houses when this pit was wrought. This I can readily believe, for in Tillicoultry Burn, adjoining Castle Mills, the coal actually comes up to the surface, and could be got in considerable quantity with very little trouble in digging.

The Middletown coal-pit was carried on very successfully for a great many years by Mr. Maxton, with Mr. Snowdowne as his manager, and the row of houses just under it was then built. The Apple-yard pit, too, near to Kellybank, was also carried on for a long number of years.

At the same time that Mr. Maxton had the Dollar coal, he was lessee of the Tillicoultry coal-pits (the Woodlands, etc.) as well; and when he left the district, Mr. Snowdowne became lessee, and continued so for a good many years. They are now in the hands of the .Alloa Coal Company.

When the Devon Iron-Works were in operation (near to Sauchie Old Tower), the ironstone mines at Vicar's Bridge were extensively wrought; but the long cartage between the two places must have been a serious item of expense, and have added greatly to the cost of the finished iron. The mineral water got in these mines was at one time quite celebrated throughout the kingdom for its healing properties, and sent to all parts of the country. This was discovered from one of the miners having got a severe flesh wound, which was quickly healed by working amongst the water. The entrance to these mines is now entirely closed up. Now that the railway has. got within a few hundred yards of them, however, they may again probably be opened up.

A good story is told in connection with the Middletown coal-pit. A Mr. Lachlan M'Intosh (or 'old Lachie,' as he used to be called), an Excise officer in Dollar, got frequently and seriously 'on the spree,' and was a well- known character in the district. Well, in one of his drunken 'bouts' he had somehow wandered down the stair of this coal-pit, and, lying down on the stair, fell sound asleep. On some of the colliers coming up from their work, Lachie was discovered, and, a happy thought striking them, he was at once hoisted on one of their backs, and carried down into the workings. After sleeping off his carousal, he was horrified to find himself, on awaking, in some dreadful place of darkness, with lights flitting about in all directions, and as at once seized with the most dreadful forebodings. Coming forward at the moment, a black creature, with a light on its head, paused before him, and in stern language demanded, 'Who are you, sir?' when Lachie dolefully replied, 'I was a gauger in the last world, but I dinna ken what am gaun to be in this.' We can easily imagine what a relief it would be to him when he got back to terra firma again.


 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast