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Between the Ochils and the Forth
Chapter III. - From Torryburn to Culross and Kincardine


Village of Newmills— Newmill Bridge and its vicinity— Western limit of Fife—Detached district of Perthshire— Approach to Culross—Valleyfield House and the Preston family—Upper road to Kincardine—Tuliallan woods— Bordie and the Standard Stone—Town of Culross—Its early history in connection -with St Serf and St Mungo —Sir George Bruce and his descendants, the Earls of Kincardine—Ancient monastery and church of Culross —Mansion of Culross Abbey—The "Colonels Close" and Sir George Bruce's Moat—Lower road to Kincardine—Dunimarle and Blair Castle—Blair and Longannet quarries and their traditions—Phenomena of the "lakies"—Town of Kincardine-on-Forth.

In proceeding from Torryburn to Newniills, a house will be noticed on the right-hand side of the road, pleasantly situated in the midst of a park -with old trees, and sheltered behind by a rising ground. This s Tinian, a name which has something of a Gaelic ring about it, but in reality is derived from the well-known and beautiful island of that designation in the South Sea. It was built by a native of Torryburn who had accompanied as a seaman Lord Anson's expedition round the globe in the years 1740-1743, and on his return with a considerable amount of prize-money, purchased the field and built on it the house to which he gave the appellation of Tinian, in remembrance of the friendly shelter which the island in question had afforded to himself and his companions. I have also heard it alleged that the individual in question had found it prudent to quit his native country on account of his having been implicated in the Porteous Mob, that mysterious affair in which it is said many persons of superior condition were involved, and in which scarcely any discovery was ever made regarding the ringleaders. Tinian now forms part of the estate of Torrie.

At the foot of Newmill Brae we are five miles from Dunfermline, five from Kincardine-on-Forth, and six from Alloa. Looking back from the top of the hill at the smithy, a fine view is obtained of Torryburn and road beyond along the seashore to Crombie Point. A little beyond on our right we pass the main entrance to Torrie, the mansion-house of which is a handsome though somewhat irregularly constructed building in the Italian style, finely situated on an eminence overlooking the village of Newmills and the Firth of Forth. The grounds were beautifully laid out by Sir James Erskine more than sixty years ago, with shady walks, gardens, and ponds, after the manner of those at Virginia Water; but till very recently they had been greatly neglected and allowed to run into a wilderness. At one time they were resorted to by visitors from all parts of the country.

Having got clear of Newmills, the traveller will come to a handsome stone bridge, spanning the Bluther burn, which here divides the parish of Torryburn from that of Culross, and the county of Fife from a detached portion of Perthshire. Looking up the stream, he will see a picturesque old bridge, wanting a parapet, and behind it a finely wooded rising ground, with a precipitous whinstone quarry descending to the bank of the stream. The view has already engaged the attention of more than one artist. Beside the old bridge used to be a ChiM, the " New Mill," which gave its name to the adjoining village, but has recently been converted into a bleach-work. It originally belonged to the monastery of Culross, and in 1540 was made over by William and John Colville, joint commendator and abbot of that convent, along with the lands of Blairhall, to Edward Bruce, ancestor of the present Lord Elgin. The burgh of Culross and lands in the vicinity were thirled to it—that is to say, were obliged to carry all their grain to be ground at this the monastery mill. When it was first erected there is no means of determining, but it must have been prior to 1540, and was at that time known as the "Novum Molendinum" or New Mill. In 1596 it seems to have been taken down, and a new building erected dn its stead, which was demolished and replaced about seventy years ago by the structure which, in its turn, has recently been removed to make way for Mr Marshall's bleach-work. As already stated, the New Mill was long the property of the Lairds of Blairhall, about two miles higher up the stream; but in the early part of the last century General Preston purchased the property from them, and incorporated it in a new entail of the estate of Valleyfield, to which indeed, from its proximity, it would seem naturally to belong.

It will probably be a matter of surprise to find a portion of Perthshire lying along the shores of the Fifth of Forth, but for nearly seven miles from Newmill Bridge the road to Alloa through Kincardine passes through tins county, to which the parishes of Culross and Tulliallan both belong. They are quite cut off from the greater Perthshire by the intervection of the parish of Saline in Fife and that of Clackmannan in the county of the same name; and part of them, at all events, was formerly included in the Stewartry of Strathearn. As regards civil jurisdiction, they wholly belong to Perthshire; but for parliamentary representation they are combined with the counties of Kinross and Clackmannan.

There are two ways of proceeding from Newmill Bridge to Culross and Kincardine—one along the shore, the other by a terrace-road along the side of a rising ground or brae. Both have their attractions, and as regards time and distance, the results are pretty nearly the same, whether the journey be accomplished on foot or in a carriage. The shore-road is certainly more level, but is counterbalanced by being somewhat more circuitous. Whichever route the traveller elects to take, I will engage that he shall have no cause for dissatisfaction. He has already traversed a tolerably agreeable country in his route from Dunfermline to Torryburn and Newmills, and the same amenities will attend him through almost the whole of his journey beyond to Alloa and Stirling. A striking contrast in the aspect of the country, to the cold and bleak region lying to the north and east of Dunfermline, has become manifest ever since we descended Urquhart Hill.

The shore-road to Culross (about a mile and a half distant) leads through the straggling village of Low Valleyfield, if indeed village it can be called, seeing it is rather a succession of detached cottages bordering the concavity of Culross Bay, with large gardens stretching up the sunny slope of the braes, the tops of which are crested with wood, through which the upper road passes. A considerable quantity of fruit used to be grown here and sent to market, but foreign competition has tended much to render this unprofitable, except with regard to some of the earlier kinds, such as gooseberries and strawberries. The Forth s more than three miles wide at this point, and on a fine day nothing can be more delightful than a sail either across to Borrowstounness and Kinneil, or upwards past the town of Culross towards Longannet Point and Kincardine. The view of Culross Bay from the water is the most charming that can be imagined, and will vie with many of the most beautiful reaches on the Rhine or Seine. A visit to Preston Island is also a very pleasant outing; but let strangers be cautious, in straying over it, to avoid falling into the open and unguarded coal-pit, which is generally nearly full of water.

Till the end of the last century Preston Island was merely an expanse of green turf at the eastern extremity of the reef known as the Craigmore Rocks, which, being within low-water mark, all belong to the estate of Valley-field. On Si'' Robert Preston succeeding to the property in the beginning of the present century, he conceived the idea of converting this lonely spot into a great centre of trade, as well as source of pecuniary profit to himself. The seams of coal which underlie the basin of the Forth were here cropping out at the surface, and it seemed quite feasible to undertake the revival of the coal and salt industrial which in former days, under the auspices of Sir George Bruce, had made the fortune of Culross and its neighbourhood. Sir Robert had attained to great wealth, partly obtained in trade as the captain of an East Indiaman, partly accumulated by successful speculations in the Funds, and partly derived by marriage with the daughter of a wealthy London citizen. He accordingly set to work in erecting a large range of buildings on the island, including engine-houses, saltpans, and habitations for colliers and salters. Pits were sunk, fresh water brought from the mainland, and for a period a vast industry was carried on, the Forth resounding with the working of the engines, and sloops lying constantly alongside for loading with coals. But whether the preparations had been made, like all Sir Robert's undertakings, on too magnificent a scale, or whether, as is extremely likely, there was gross mismanagement in the conduct of the business, the affair was not long in showing itself to be a losing concern, and ere long completely collapsed, leaving the baronet out of pocket to the extent at least of ^30,000. Fortunately his means were such, that after so great a loss he still remained a man of immense wealth. After the colliery was stopped the salt-pans were let, and worked to a period within my own recollection. The last tenant of them added to his legitimate occupation that of an unlicensed distiller of whisky, and having received a hint that the Revenue officers were upon his track, he decamped, and Preston Island has ever since remained a deserted but still singularly picturesque object, bisecting, as it does, the chord that connects the two extremities of the beautiful Bay of Culross.

The Prestons of Valleyfield belonged to the same family as the Prestons of Craigmillar, in Mid-Lothian, and the estate in Culross parish was first acquired in 1543 by James Preston, grandson of William Preston of Craigmillar, and son of Henry Preston, burgess of Edinburgh. It was conveyed to him by Patrick Bruce, son of Sir David Bruce of Clackmannan, to whom it had been transferred by the commendator and abbot of Culross in the same year that they made over, as already mentioned, the estate of Blairhall to his brother Edward Bruce. The grandson of James Preston received the honour of knighthood from James VI., and his son George was in 1637 made a baronet by Charles.

The highroad to Culross, leading through woods along a terrace behind the gardens of Low Valleyfield, is of great beauty, and has suggested to more than one observer a comparison on a reduced scale with the famous Cornice road between Nice and Genoa. The east approach to Valleyfield branches oft" from it immediately after leaving Newmill Bridge, and in an opening through the trees, about a quarter of a mile farther on, is seen Valleyfield House, a square building with wings, but presenting, nevertheless, rather an imposing appearance across a wide expanse of sward, with a background of .wood. Another quarter of a mile up a wooded incline brings us to a finger-post opposite the west lodge of Valleyfield, where two roads branch off,—one going downhill to Culross, and meeting at the foot the shore-road which we have already traversed, and to which we shall shortly return; the other going on to Kincardine by the old turnpike and coach road. We shall for the present follow the latter.

At the lodge on our left hand, about four miles from Kincardine, is the main entrance to Culross Abbey, which we shall afterwards have occasion to discuss more in detail. The road we are now travelling on was laid out in the beginning of the present century, and leads almost in a straight line to Kincardine, over what used to be known as Culross Muir, but which is now nearly all either cultivated ground or woodland. It commands a beautiful view of the Ochils, with their wavy line of rounded eminences covered with rich verdure, and divided from each other by deep wooded gorges, in one of which, on a projecting platform, the grey tower and buildings of Castle Campbell may be discerned on a clear day. Between us and them is a series of parallel valleys running east and west. At the house of Gower-field, three miles from Kincardine, a cross-road intersects the highway, the north branch leading to the upper Dunfermline and Alloa road by Balgownie Mains and West Grange, the southern passing to Culross by what is called the Gallows Loan. From the eminence which crests the latter about a quarter of a mile south from Gowerfield, the finest view in the neighbourhood is obtained of the surrounding country, taking in the whole region between the Oehils and the sea, with the Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle in the middle distance, and Ben Lomond, Ben Ledi, and the hills about Callander in the background. In clear weather, too, the valley of the Allan between Ben Ledi and Dunmyat, at the western termination of the Oehils, comes into view, with its encircling fringe of mountains, including the Ben Voirlich and Uam Var of the ' Lady of the Lake.'

Proceeding onwards to Kincardine, we pass on our left the gateway of the avenue leading to Dunimarle, and then a little farther on we enter the Tulliallan woods, which extend on both sides of the road for more than a mile. We emerge from them about a mile from Kincardine, near the ruined tower of Bordie, which, however, is said to be nothing more than an abortive work which was never completed. Here another magnificent view presents itself of the distant mountains, similar to what may be seen from the Gallows Loan, with the silver Forth winding its way downwards from Stirling through a rich alluvial tract of carseland.

A little to the north of the road on our right, within a tract of unreclaimed moorland, is the so-called Standard Stone, a rectangular block, flush with the ground, and indented with two square sockets, in whicli the Scottish Standard is traditionally said to have been fixed on the occasion of the battle of Culross with the Danes. The engagement is recorded by Boece to have taken place in 1038, during the reign of King Duncan, who himself, with his general, the celebrated Macbeth, commanded the Scottish forces. The Danes had landed in Fife, and advanced farther under the leadership of Sweyn, King of Norway, and brother of Canute the Great. They are said to have been victorious in the engagement, but were unable to follow up their advantage in pursuing Duncan, who retreated with his army to Perth, and there shut himself up in the fortress. Sweyn followed and besieged him closely there, and a negotiation is then said to have been entered into with the Scots. The latter had made indications of being ready to surrender, and now undertook to send a supply of provisions to the Danes, who were reduced to great straits on that account. The Northmen readily accepted the insidious proffer, whereupon a large quantity of bread and ale was sent by the Scots to the Danish camp; but these provisions had been previously drugged by the former with the juice of the deadly nightshade, or "mekilwort hemes," as they are called by Boece.

The Danes eagerly ate and drank of the poisoned victuals, and Duncan having meantime sent for Macbeth, who had been employed in gathering reinforcements, the combined Scottish force fell upon the enemy in their intoxicated condition with such deadly onslaught that only a mere handful (including Sweyn himself) succeeded in making their escape to their ships in the Tay.

It is the fashion now to discredit everything related by Boece, who has certainly incorporated many fables with his History; but .t may be well, I think, to pause before rejecting superciliously any special incident which he may record. It is not very likely that he would invent such a narrative as a Danish expedition against Scotland—an undertaking of which there were numerous examples. However much he might embellish the narrative, it is not probable that he would deem it worth his while to invent the whole groundwork of such a story. Much more likely is it, when fabulous incidents are introduced into a history, that they are connected with a basis of fact, than that the whole story should be absolutely fictitious. It is true that we have only the authority of Boece for the Danish expedition and battle of Culross in the reign of King Duncan, and that it is this authority that has been followed by Major, Buchanan, and subsequent historians who have recorded the same events. But it is, to say the least, quite conceivable that Boece has availed himself of a real and authentic incident, though no other writer has given it currency. That the story of the drugging of the provisions, and consequent overthrow of the Danes, may be altogether a romance, I am quite ready to admit; but it by no means follows that Sweyn's incursion and his victory at Culross belong to the same category. At all events, no positive evidence has been adduced to demonstrate their falsity, and it would be unpardonable to overlook them in treating of the locality in which they are said to have taken place.

Having thus advanced to within a short distance of Kincardine, which lies in front of us at a bend which the Forth has taken in passing from the condition of an estuary to that of a river, we shall exercise the power which travellers like ourselves have always at command, and transport ourselves forthwith back to the finger-post at the west Valleyfield lodge, and take the road to our left, which leads downhill to Culross. A singularly attractive route it is—though, being now much less travelled by carriages than formerly, when it was the only highway, and the shore-road by Lower Valleyfield was* almost impassable, it is not kept quite in such good condition as I think it might be. Bicyclists had better be cautious in descending through this beautifully winding bit of woodland, as there are both a few holes and a good many loose stones scattered about. At the foot we join the Low Valleyfield road, about a quarter of a mile from the ancient royal burgh of Culross.

There are one or two interesting objects, however, to be noticed before we get there. First on our right is the " Endowment," a handsome cottage-like building, at the foot of a steep bank, which was erected by Sir Robert Preston, mainly at the instance of his wife and in furtherance of a provision made for the inhabitants of the parish of Culross. Under the last, Sir Robert burdened the lands of Spencerfield, belonging to him, and subsequently bequeathed to the Elgin family, with an annual rent to supply the cost of maintaining twelve pensioners in this institution (six men and six women). These all receive a weekly dole of two shillings in money and a peck of meal, besides a pound at each term of Whitsunday and Martinmas, and in the winter months a supply of soup anil coals. The whole annual value of the benefaction to each recipient may be estimated at about £12, and it will thus be readily understood that whenever any one of the pensioners dies there is an active competition to obtain the vacant place. A lady custodian resides in the "Endowment," and has the charge of the distribution of the weekly dole, as also of the soup-kitchen which is maintained here during the winter months.

Opposite to the " Endowment" is a grassy plot known as the Pow,1 from the adjoining creek or canal which existed here in former times, and was originally constructed, it is believed, by Sir George Bruce in the end of the sixteenth century, for the purpose of shipping his coals and salt. A solitary post for the mooring of vessels remains still to tell the tale of former glories. Closely adjoining is a large enclosure surrounded by a wall, and washed by the sea at high water on the south and east. This is what is known as Pond or Preston Cottage, and appears to have been constructed by Sir Robert Preston as a reproduction or memorial of a fishing cottage which he formerly possessed at Dagenham Reach, Essex, when he was member of Parliament for Dover. He was a great friend of George Rose, William Pitt's secretary, and both of these were in the habit of partaking annually of Sir Robert's hospitality at Dagenham Reach. The time occupied, however, in going there was in these days considerable, and the suggestion was made, and readily acceded to, that the three friends should have their yearly " outing" at Greenwich. They were joined here by various Cabinet Ministers, and in process of time the gathering assumed a political form, and became a regular recognised institution. So was inaugurated the well-known entertainment of the " Ministerial Fish Dinner." At first the entertainment was entirely defrayed by Sir Robert, who acted as host; but in process of time it was suggested that the tavern bill should no longer be exclusively defrayed by him. He continued, notwithstanding, to issue the invitations, and to the end of his life furnished a buck and champagne as his yearly and special contribution.

Passing on towards Culross, we see opposite the Pond Cottage a weird-like ruin, with a long frontage of windows, of which those in the lower storey have been built up, to prevent access thereby to the wood, which closely adjoins the building. This used to be what was known as Lord Bruce's Hospital, an institution for the residence and maintenance of six poor men and as many women, which was founded by the first Lord Elgin in 1637, though the building which was originally erected in connection with it stood farther east, near the foot of the Newgate of Culross. The present structure has been a ruin for more than half a century, since the removal of the benefits of the charity from Culross by the grandfather of the present Lord Elgin to the village of Charleston, adjoining his lordship's seat of Broomhall. The patronage or right of presentation to the hospital was vested, by the original deed of foundation, in the first Lord Elgin and his descendants, who were also empowered to nominate beneficiaries who might not belong to Culross. Founding on this permission, the w hole benefits of the charity were withdrawn from the town and parish of Culross.

Going on a little farther, the house and garden of St Mungo's are passed on the right-hand side of the road. This is the ancient designation of a portion of the burgh territory at this spot, which derives its name from a chapel dedicated to St Mungo, which was founded here in 1503 by Archbishop Blackadder of Glasgow, on the spot assigned by tradition as the birthplace of the patron saint of his cathedral city. It probably occupies the site of an older building which had existed in commemoration of this event. The legend asserts that Thenew, a Lothian princess, having formed an illicit connection with Eugenius, prince of Strathclyde, was banished <n disgrace from her father's Court, and placed on board an old rotten boat at the port of Aberlady, from which she was wafted, at the mercy of the winds and waves, up the Forth to Culross, where St Serf, as one of the earliest Christian missionaries, had established a settlement. Having landed here, she was in a short space of time delivered by the seashore of a son, who was brought up by St Serf and baptised under the name of Kentigern, though he is better known to his countrymen by the designation of Mungo, which seems to be a corruption of the Gaelic Mo ghaol\ or "My love." On coming to man's estate he was informed in a divine vision that a great work was destined to be accomplished by him in the west country. Thither, accordingly, he proceeded, till he arrived at the Molendinar Burn at Glasgow, where the Cathedral now stands, and there he founded a church and established a religious community, which grew up ultimately into a great episcopal see. I have already, in a larger work,1 given a number of details regarding the history of St Mungo and his patron St Serf, and to this I would refer my readers. From the same I shall quote here the description of St Mungo's kirk or chapel:—

"The chapel is a complete ruin, almost level with the ground, with the exception of the north wall, which resembles a sunk fence in the bank above, and leaves it a matter of uncertainty whether it was originally built in this form or from the first stood detached, the intervening space between the wall and declivity having been subsequently filled up by the gradual descent of earth and rubbish. Two large beech-trees, certainly not of remote antiquity, flourish on the summit of this space. There is also the decayed trunk of an ancient elder-tree which grows near the north-western extremity, where some remains of the west wall and entrance are still visible. Of the south wall only the foundations are traceable, and these project into the public road beyond the present enclosing wall, which was built by Sir Robert Preston. The eastern extremity of the building formed a three-sided apse—a construction differing from the ordinary shape of the apse, which is generally semicircular. The lower part of its east and north-east side is still enure, the latter exhibiting on the outside a fine front of hewn stone. Traces of windows are also to be seen here. The length of the chapel from east to west is 54 feet, and the breadth 20 feet. A wall, still partly remaining, separated the outer compartment or nave from the interior or chancel, and the raised floor of flagstones with their rounded edges is still very plainly marked here in front of the site of the high altar and east window. Traces of sedilia or seats appear along the north wall, which has a height of from 10 to 12 feet."

A sunny walk of about two hundred yards farther along the wall of the Abbey orchard brings us to the town of Culross, a royal burgh, though of small dimensions. and the only one in the county of Perth besides the Fair City herself. First a burgh of barony under the abbots of Culross monastery, and then in 1588 advanced by James VI. to the dignity of a royal burgh, Culross rose at the same lime into a condition of great commercial prospe1 'ty under the auspices of the celebrated Sir George Bruce, who engaged with such ability and success in the working of coal and manufacture of salt in this neighbourhood that he was soon enabled to acquire a princely estate, which he bequeathed to his descendants. His father, Edward, Bruce, became laird, in the middle of the sixteenth century, of Blairhall, and was the father of four sons, of whom at least the second and third were men of distinguished ability. The eldest <n-he ;ted the family property, and married a natural daughter of John Hamilton, the celebrated Archbishop of St Andrews; the second son, Edward, became an eminent lawyer and statesman, and having been created by the king commendator and lord of Kinloss, was employed in some delicate and important negotiations with Secretary Cecil previous to the death of Elizabeth, in securing the Scottish monarch's accession to the English throne. Further honours and lucrative offices were bestowed on him by the king, with whom he was a great favourite, and whom he accompanied to England. Here he died in 1610, having some years before his death enjoyed the office of Master of the Rolls. He was interred in the Rolls Chapel in Chancery Lane, and had erected to his memory a splendid monument which still exists. He had evidently determined, however, to maintain his connection with his native place, and for this purpose seems to have engaged the celebrated architect Inigo Jones to design for him the splendid mansion of Culross Abbey, the foundation of which was laid in 1608, two years before his death. At least I think there is every reason to conclude that Edward Lord Bruce of Kinloss availed himself, on this occasion, of the services of Inigo Jones, who was then residing at the English Court, and was employed in planning mansions for the nobility, and notably among others for the Earl of Salisbury. The architecture of Culross Abbey, in the Renaissance style, certainly resembles that of Inigo Jones, and it is difficult to conceive that any Scottish architects of the day were capable of devising such a structure. It immediately adjoins the church of Culross and ruins of the old monastery; and the latter is traditionally said to have been the quarry from which the materials for the more modern abbey were obtained. It seems to have been transferred by Lord Kinloss's grandson, second Earl of Elgin, to his kinsman Alexander, second Earl of Kincardine, and grandson of the great Sir George Bruce, Lord Kinloss's younger brother. Lord Kincardine added in 1670 a third storey to Culross Abbey, the original design of which (a quadrangle with flanking towers) was never completed.

Lord Kincardine was succeeded by his son Alexander, third Earl of Kincardine, and he again by his sister, Lady Mary Bruce or Cochrane, wife of William Cochrane of Ochiltree. Her son, Thomas Cochrane, who inherited the abbey estate, succeeded also in 1758 to the earldom of Dundonald. His son Archibald, ninth Earl of Dundonald, and father of the celebrated Admiral, the hero of Basque Roads, involved himself in difficulties with mining and other speculations, and the abbey estate was in consequence sold for behoof of his creditors, and purchased in the beginning of the present century by Sir Robert Preston of Valleyfield. The latter bequeathed it, with a large amount of the property, to the Elgin family, and it is now the property of the Hon. R. Preston Bruce, M.P. for the western district of Fifeslnre.

In the work already referred to,1 I have detailed the various ramifications of the Bruce and Cochrane families as occupants of Culross Abbey , and those of the Prestons of Valleyfield, into whose hands it ultimately passed. For present purposes these are too long to be here reproduced, but I shall have occasion shortly to abridge some of the descriptions of the localities.

Culross (Hotel: the Dundonald Arms, small, but admirably conducted) may not inaptly be described as a sort of fossilised town, a monument of days gone by, and, with ft old-world look and belongings, almost an anachronism in the present age. It has a beautiful appearance from the water, stretching like a big Y along the seashore in the recess of its bay, and along the acclnity whisk rises behind, and is crowned at the summit by the venerable Abbey Church, the ruins of the monastery, and the mansion of Culross Abbey. In passing through it, the stranger is struck with the general sleepiness with which the place seems to be characterised ; but he will also be impressed by the quaint picturesqueness and variety of its streets, whether in the Laigh Causeway or principal thoroughfare, or in the Middle and Back Causeways, which lead up from thence to the open space at the Cross. From the latter a steep lane leads upwards to the church—an ascent which, though somewhat fatiguing, will amply reward the traveller for his trouble.

Culross used to be famous throughout Scotland for its manufacture of "girdles " or iron plates for baking cakes, of which its smiths or "hammermen " held a monopoly. The original charter or deed of gift, of which the date is uncertain, was lost, it is said, during the great civil war at the storming of Dundee, in which many of the Scottish burghs had deposited their titles for security. The privilege had, however, been ratified by a royal letter from James VI. in 1599. After subsisting for more than a hundred years, it was set aside as unconstitutional by a decree of the Court of Session in 1725. Another pre-eminence enjoyed by Culross was her extensive coal and salt works, an industry chiefly developed by the enterprising genius of Sir George Bruce. For a long period they were the largest of the kind in Scotland, and in 1663, by an Act of Charles II., the Culross chalder was made the standard measure for coals.

The Monastery of Culross was founded by Malcolm, Earl of Fife, in 1217, but nothing whatever is known either as to its progress or completion. A "Gilbert, Abbot of Kylros," subscribes the Ragman Roll in 1296. Our information in regard to the buildings is derived entirely from their present condition, and the very imperfect accounts which have coine down to us from the period of the Reformation. They are noteworthy as the scene in 1402 of the meeting between Albany and Douglas, when the murder, by starvation, of the Duke of Rothesay, eldest son of Robert III., was arranged. So we are informed on the authority of the chronicle known as the 'Pluscardiensis.' In 1434 we find a Robert Wedale, who afterwards became Abbot of Culross, employed as master of works at the erection of the Palace of Linlithgow by James I. He is spoken of on one occasion if the Exchequer Rolls as "Robert de Weddale, mnnachus," and on another as "Abbas de Culros, donrnus Robertus de Weddale."

In the middle of the sixteenth century, immediately preceding the suppression of the religious houses, Culross Abbey must, like other conventual establishments, have consisted of a congeries of buildings—square, massive, and imposing—enclosing a yard or cloister court, with the church forming one side of the square, whilst the other three were devoted chiefly to the secular requirements of the monks. Following the general rule, the Monastery Church occupied the north side of the square, whilst it is probable the chapter-house or council-chamber of the abbey filled the north-east corner, and the refectory or great dining-hall extended along the south side in a parallel direction with the church.

As at present standing, the buildings consist of the Monastery or Abbey Church, of which now only remain the choir and central tower, with some fragments of aisles or chapels. The choir serves as the present parish church, and is entered through the tower, from which formerly the nave extended in a westerly direction as far as the present churchyard gate. The nave has completely disappeared, with the exception of the lower part of the south wall, which forms the south side of the churchyard, and separates it from the old cloister court, now used as the upper manse garden. A doorway near the south-west extremity of this wall had evidently given access to the nave from the cloister court, and at the very end is a small fragment which marks the corner, and formed a part of the west front of the church. From this point the western range of the conventual buildings extended southwards to a considerable distance down the hill—as far at least, it would seem, as the southern boundary of the lower manse garden. They are now restricted to the present manse, which, originally constructed out of the old convent buildings, abuts on the south-west extremity of the churchyard, and, with its offices, adjoins the only part of the monastic ruins that still preserves the appearance of their original condition. These consist of a grand vaulted chamber, which, with its imposing groined roof and arches, may possibly have been the entrance or great hall of the monastery. Behind it, and perhaps originally forming part of it, is a vaulted passage of a similar description, which leads through a beautiful Norman doorway into the cloister court. At the entrance of the hall is a staircase leading to an upper storey, which now presents nothing but a bare flat roof, unprotected by any parapet, but which had doubtless anciently contained the cells or dormitories of the monks. The southern end of the great chamber or hall has been completely demolished, and standing on an elevated position, it takes the aspect, to a spectator ascending the hill, of a vast yawning cavern, terminating in front in a precipice. Beneath it, and stretching to an unknown distance, is a series of vaults, which were formerly very extensive, but are now in great measure demolished, and the remaining portion choked up with rubbish.

The Monastery or Abbey Church, at least the tower and nave, belongs to the same period as the convent— that is to say, the beginning of the thirteenth century. The tower is a very marked specimen of Norman architecture, having two fine doorways of that style; one giving access to the porch, which forms its basement storey—and the other, directly opposite to it, leading from the porch to the choir, which since the Reformation has been used as the parish church. Previous to that event the parish church was that now known as the West Kirk, to be described shortly, and situated about half a mile to the west, on the old road leading from Culross through the moor to Kincardine.

The lower storey of the tower, which serves as a porch to the present church, is on three sides, and was possibly also at one time on the fourth, pierced with arches. On the west is the fine outer doorway opening into the porch, and flanked by two pointed openings now closed up. Adjoining the arch on the south side of the door is an ancient piscina or recess attached to an altar, where the chalice was washed, and its rinsings emptied through a conduit in the stonework. On the north side of the porch is an arched opening, now filled in with glass and serving as a window, but which formerly opened into an aisle or chapel on the north side of the tower, which had been lighted on the west by a large window, of which part of the arch still exists. At the same point are still to be seen the remains of an arch which had contained the window at the north-east corner of the nave. The place where the roof of the latter had rested on the tower is still distinctly visible; and a little below, in the south coiner, is seen a closed-up doorway, which had probably served as a communication between the upper part of the nave and the choir by a passage or ledge in the south wall of the porch. To the north of this opening, and right over the outer door of the tower, is a semicircular opening, likewise closed up, which, it is surmised, may, in the days when the church was entire and the nave served as the place of assembly for the laity, have contained the rood or cross with its attendant images.

The roof of the porch on which the first floor of the tower rests is a fine groined vault with an opening in the centre. A staircase attached to the south wall leads to the gallery of the church. On the inner west wall above the outer doorway is sculptured what appears to be the Angel of the Annunciation. On one side is the letter % and on the other what seems to be the letter H, in the Old English character. They probably stand for Ave Maria, the Abbey Church of Culross having been dedicated to St Serf and the Virgin.

The fact of the tower of Culross church rising direct from the ground, and not springing, at a considerable elevation, from the summit of lofty supporting arches, is said to be unique, or, at least, rarely paralleled in other central towers. It consists of three storeys, each of which is very lofty. The basement has already been described. Immediately above it is a vast void apartment, in which it would appear that those accused of witchcraft were formerly detained. It must have been a weird-like dreary abode, indeed, for the poor creatures. Above this, again, is the clock-room and belfry; and over all, the roof with its bartizan. Access to all these stages is gained by a narrow spiral staircase on the north side of the tower, opening from the churchyard. From the bartizan a magnificent prospect is commanded— taking in the basin of the Forth from Ben Lomond to the Bass, and extending over nearly thirteen counties. Culross church-tower, with its pinnacles, is indeed a landmark for the country round, being visible from a great distance, and forming a most picturesque object as it rises amid woods on the crest of the hill. This very picturesqueness, however, is not altogether a matter for unqualified approbation, as, to produce this effect, the old Norman character of the tower was sacrificed, and the building, as far as its summit is concerned, converted into a structure of the perpendicular order. Previous to 1824, it was surmounted by a curious ark-l;ke roof, not unfrequent in old church tow ers, and popularly known as the "kae-house,"—from its being the favourite haunt of the "kaes," or jackdaws. This was surrounded by a walk or ledge, which was unprotected by any parapet; and to run round the kae-house was a favourite deed of daring on the part of the Culross boys.

The old choir of the Abbey Church, now fitted up as the parochial place of worship, has been so much metamorphosed in the course of the alterations which, at different times, it has undergone, that it is difficult now to understand the original condition of the building. Entering it by the inner doorway of the tower, we find ourselves in a very neat and comfortable-looking church, with galleries at the east and west ends, and a north and south transept, which, as nearly as possible, bisect the north and south walls of the edifice. Two very fine Gothic arches, with corresponding pillars, form the entrances respectively of the north and south transepts, and are almost the only objects of antiquity that meet the eye n the interior of the church. There is, indeed, a fine east window of an Early English or semi-Norman character; but this is almost entirely blocked up by the gallery and adjoining staircase. The pulpit is placed within the arch at the entrance of the north transept, whilst facing :it is a gallery that spans the south transept and its corresponding arch.

The exterior of the church now requires our attention. Beginning on the north side of the tower, where, as already mentioned, there seems to have been an aisle or chapel, we pass along the outer wall of the church till we reach the aisle or north transept of the choir, erected by the younger George Bruce. There is nothing in the external aspect of the church here calling for special remark, as the original windows or arches of the choir have been built up, though the Bruce aisle has rather a handsome one at its north extremity. Proceeding still farther east, we come to the vault of the Bruce family—including the great Sir George and his descendants, the Earls of Kincardine. Latterly, it was converted into his own mausoleum by Sir Robert Preston, on becoming proprietor of the Culross estate; and here both he and his wife, Lady Preston, repose. Against the east wall, just opposite the door, is a very fine monument, in alabaster, to the memory of Sir George Bruce. The knight and captain of the industry of old Culross is represented in a reclining position, while in front of him are kneeling figures, also in alabaster, of his*children. The diminutive scale on which the latter are represented has procured for the group the popular appellation of "the babies." The monument itself, which reaches nearly to the summit of the vault, is a close imitation of the monument of Edward Lord Kinloss, Sir George's elder brother, erected in the Rolls Chapel, Chancery Lane, London.

On the south wall of this vault is, perhaps, the most interesting memorial connected with Culross. A brass plate, fixed in the wall above a projection resembling an altar, has the following inscription :—

"Near this spot is deposited the heart of Edward Lord Bruce of Kinloss, who was slain in a bloody duel, fought in 1613, with Sir Edward Sackville, afterwards Earl of Dorset, near Bergen-op-Zoom in Holland, to which country the combatants repaired, the one from England, the other from Paris, for the determined purpose of deciding their quarrel. The body of Lord Bruce was interred in the great church of Bergen-op-Zoom, where, among the ruins caused by the siege in 1747, arc still to be seen the remains of a monument erected to his memory. A tradition, however, existing, that his heart had been sent over to his native land, and was buried near that place, a search was made by Sir Robert Preston of Valleyfield in the year 1808, when it was found embalmed in a silver case of foreign workmanship, secured between two flat and excavated stones, clasped with irons and was again carefully replaced and securely deposited in the spot where it was discovered.

"For the particulars of the challenge and fatal duel, in which the Lord Bruce was killed on the spot, disdaining to accept his life from his antagonist, who was also dangerously wounded, see Lord Clarendon's ' History of the Rebellion,' B. i., and the narrative published in Nos. 129 and 133 of the 'Guardian.' "

The Lord Bruce of Kinloss above mentioned was the eldest son of the first Lord Kinloss, elder brother of Sir George Bruce. A tradition of the encounter in which he fell is still preserved in the neighbourhood of Bergen-op-Zoom, where a field near the village of Hal-stercn, about two miles to the north-west of the former town, is still known by the grim appellation of the "Bloedakkerthe Champ de Sang," or the "Field of Blood." In consequence of the destruction of a large portion of the great church during the siege operations of 1747, no trace now remains of a very beautiful marble monument erected shortly after the fatal occurrence by Lady Magdalen Bruce of Kinloss, Lord Edward's mother, in memory of her unfortunate son. She is said to have employed two famous artists of Antwerp in the execution of this work, which was, moreover, distinguished by a long Latin inscription. It has been supposed, indeed, that Lord Bruce was interred, not in the great church of Bergen-op-Zoom, but on the rampart "William," in a corner of the fortifications which are all now levelled. But this is disproved by the positive statement of a contemporary Dutch author, who, a few years after the duel, gives a detailed description of the monument in the church. He does not, indeed, mention the bronze mirror with a death's-head of white marble in the centre, in connection with which a curious supernatural incident is recorded by the Rev. Mr Macleod of Stamer, in Skye, in his ' Treatise on Second Sight,' published at Edinburgh in 1763, under the pseudonym of Theophilus Insulanus. The latter's account is as follows :—

"The unfortunate Lord Bruce saw distinctly the figure or impression of a mort-head on the looking-glass in his chamber that very morning he set out for the fatal place of rendezvous, where he lost his life in a duel, and asked of some that stood by him if they observed that strange appearance, which they answered in the negative. His remains were interred at Bergen-op-Zoom, over which a monument was erected, with the emblem of a looking-glass impressed with a mort-head, to perpetuate the surprising representation which seemed to indicate his approaching untimely end. I had this narrative from a field-officer, whose honour and candour are beyond suspicion, as he had it from General Stuart, in the Dutch service. The monument stood entire for a long time, until it was partly defaced when that strong place was reduced by the weakness or treachery of Cronstrom, the governor."

As Lord Bruce died without issue, he was succeeded in his title and estates by his younger brother Thomas, who, in 1633, was created by Charles I. Earl of Elgin, and in 1637 founded the almshouse at Culross already referred to, known as Lord Bruce's Hospital. The circumstances attending the duel have been woven into a story by Dr Robert Chambers, which appeared in one of the early numbers of' Chambers's Journal' under the title of the " Tale of the Silver Heart." An account of the discovery of the heart is contained in two communications by Ml Begbie, Sir Robert Preston's factor, made in 1808 and 1815, to the treasurer of the Society of Antiquaries, Edinburgh. Previous to being rede-posited with great ceremony in its original resting-place, the silver box containing it was exhibited to the public in a room in Culross Abbey.

Quitting the Bruce aisle, we find, immediately to the east of it, behind the north wall of the church, the ruins of what used to be denominated the Old or Little Aisle. Nothing remains of it now but a very fine fragment of a window of the decorated order, and belonging apparently to a later period than any other part of the ancient architecture of the church. It is said traditionally to have been the burial-place of the Argyll family, who acted as hereditary bailies of the Abbey in Roman Catholic times, and occupied the Castle of Gloom, afterwards Castle Campbell, at Dollar. Several bodies, enclosed in leathern shrouds, were a good many years ago dug up here, and are considered to have been those of members of the house of Argyll.

The monks of Culross belonged to the order of Cistercians, who were first established as a religious community in the year 1098 by Robert, Abbot of Molesme, in the diocese of Langres in France. The name is derived from their chief house Cistertium or Citeaux in Burgundy; and they were also called Bernardines, on account of St Bernard having, fifteen years after the foundation of the monastery of Citeaux, betaken himself thither with thirty of his companions. Here he conducted himself with such reputation that he was elected abbot of Clairvaux, from which he generally takes his designation. The dress of the Cistercians was white, with the exception of a black cowl and scapular; whereas that of the Benedictines was entirely black. They owned thirteen monasteries in Scotland. The Culross monks enjoyed a great reputation for their caligraphic skill, and several beautifully executed MSS., missals, and other religious works, are still in existence from the scriptorium of the convent.

It is well known that ancient monastic buildings had generally round them an enclosure more or less extensive, which contained, besides the gardens and pleasure-grounds, a small extent of pasture-land, and also various domestic offices—all being surrounded with a protecting wall. It is not possible to determine now the limits of the wall of defence which thus enclosed the sacred territory of Culross, but there can be little doubt of the north lodge or portal having been at the spot now known as the Chapel Barn, close to the west Abbey Lodge, and opposite to the entrance of the road leading to the West Kirk. There is here to be seen an ancient wall of great thickness, having its inner side turned to the road, and pierced by a doorway and a small window or bole. Fixed in the upper part of the wall is the spring or foundation-stone of an arch. The locality has long been known as the Chapel Barn; and in ancient Scottish Acts of Parliament and other old documents relating to Culross, the place is spoken of as the Bar Chapel, or the Chapel of Bar, probably from the rising ground immediately above called Barhill. A daughter of the proprietor of the estate of that name became in after-days the wife of the celebrated Thomas Boston of Ettrick, author of the ' Crook in the Lot.' There had certainly been a chapel here, and it must also have been in this neighbourhood that there stood the gateway which is spoken of as "the upper port," leading to the town of Culross, near which was the "Auld Tolbuith " or prison, afterwards pulled down and re-erected in the Sand Haven.

Opposite to the Chapel Barn a road branches off to the west, and leads, after a walk of about three-quarters of a mile, to the West Kirk or old parish church of Culross. Much speculation has prevailed regarding this building, of which little more now exists than a portion of the walls, enclosing what must have been an edifice of very small dimensions. With the quaint little churchyard in which it stands, it is a lonely and sequestered but not unromantic locality—a veritable "God's acre," such as might have inspired Gray to the composition of his " Elegy." Scarcely any authentic record of it has been preserved beyond what is contained in an Act of the Scottish Parliament passed in 1633. This ordains that in future the Abbey Church shall be regarded as the parish church, and enjoy as such all the emoluments, immunities, and privileges which legally appertained to the West Church. The reason assigned for this transfer is, "that the abbey kirk of Culrois hes beine the kirk quhairine the cure hes beine servit, be preatching of the Word of God, celebrating the holy comwnion, and exercising and vsing of vther ecclesiastical discipline sen the Reformatione, and that the kirk callit the paroche kirk of Culrois is ane old kirk quhairine service is not, nor hes not beine vsit since memorie of man, and s altogether ruinous, decayit, and falline down in divers pairts, swa that the said abbay k'rk of Culrois is the most apt and fitt kirk for serving of the cure thairat in tyme coming, and be reputt and haldine the ordinar paroche kirk for that effect in all tyme heireftir."

It appears from the above that so far back as 1633 no remembrance existed of the West Kirk having been used as a place of worship—that no Protestant service had ever been held in it, and that probably even at the Reformation it had become ruined and dilapidated. It probably dates its Origin from the first division of Scotland into parishes, which is supposed to have taken place in the twelfth century, in the reign of David I. The primitive rudeness of its architecture warrants us in referring its erection to a very remote period, the style of building approximating closely to those ancient edifices, few in number, which are still to be found in England, and have been classed under the denomination of Early Saxon. It has a length from east to west of about 68 feet, and a breadth of 18 feet, the only part of the walls that remains tolerably entire being on the east and south sides. The latter contains a low and primitive doorway, with jambs and lintel, unprovided with any ornament; and immediately adjoining it, on its west side, is a narrow aperture or window, once surmounted by a plain pointed arch. This last is the only remaining object in the architecture of the West Kirk that preserves a distinct ecclesiastical character, if we except two large stones sculptured with crosses. These have been built into the walls, one of them serving as a lintel for the doorway just mentioned, and the other as that of a plain window, 3 feet square, on the north side. It seems difficult to account for their situation in their present position, unless we suppose them to have been originally tombstones, and that in Protestant times the ruined church may have been used as a burial-place, and the decaying walls patched up with those relics of a past age. By some the sculptures in question have been held to represent swords, to which, indeed, they bear some resemblance, and a theory was in consequence maintained that the West Kirk had formerly belonged to the Knights Templars. But there is no evidence whatever to support this, and there can be little question that the delineations on the stones are crosses, and possibly of the kind known as "pre-Christian."

What may originally have been a projection or transept on the south side of the church, is now used as the burying-vault of the Johnstons of Sands. It was purchased in the middle of the last century by the ancestor of the present proprietor from the Browns of Barhill. The churchyard is st'il occasionally used for interments, though, for the most part, these are confined to the Abbey churchyard. A handsome mausoleum has of recent years been erected on the west side, though not actually within the precinct, as the burial-place of Mr Dalgleish of West Grange.

In a field to the north of the West Kirk, on the farm of the Ashes, is a spring of excellent water, which bears the name of the Monks' Well. The name seems to have come down from Roman Catholic times, as the designation of the fountain-head from which the monastery was supplied. At least there was then some kind of reservoir here, as, in an Act of the Scottish Parliament in 1594, confirming to Alexander Gaw of Maw his possession of certain lands conveyed to him and his predecessors by the commendator and convent of Culross, the field in question is designated "The Cisterns."

The mansion of Culross Abbey, which closely adjoins the eastern side of the Abbey churchyard, and has succeeded to the title of the old monastery, is an oblong building of three storeys, flanked by turrets at the east and west extremities of its south front, which, standing on the crest of the hill, both commands a magnificent prospect, and when viewed from below or the water, forms, with the church and monastery ruins, a most imposing and picturesque group, overshadowing the town of Culross. It had originally only been an edifice of two storeys, with a tower at each end, and the intention doubtless was to have it completed in the form of a quadrangle, with a court and grand entrance, most probably on the eastern side. A portion of the west side of the quadrangle, at right angles to the front or south side, was actually erected, and now remains to show the plan of the founder.

The architraves of the windows on the first floor, as well as those on the upper storeys of the turrets, are marked with the initials L. E. B., D. M. B.—these denoting respectively Lord Edward Bruce of Kinloss, and his wife, Dame Magdalen Bruce, a daughter of Sir Alexander Clerk of Balbirnie. On the east gable are two superimposed dates, 1608 and 1670. The first refers to the edifice as originally erected by Lord Kinloss, the second to the third storey, added in the year last mentioned by Alexander, second Earl of Kincardine, whose architect was probably his kinsman, the celebrated Sir William Bruce of Kinross.

The entrance to Culross Abbey is on the north side, but all the principal apartments face the south, and command splendid views of the Forth and opposite shores. The first floor is almost entirely occupied by a grand suite of rooms, consisting of dining and drawing rooms, connected by a noble gallery. One of these used in Lord Dundonald's time to be hung with fine Gobelins tapestry, and was known as the Kings Roomy from the tradition of King James having been entertained here on his visit to Scotland in 1617. Notwithstanding the imposing appearance of the structure, the number of apartments" that it contains is, owing to the narrowness of the building and the space taken up with corridors and state-rooms, not so great as might be imagined. Sir Walter Scott, indeed, on the occasion of his visit to Valleyfield, when Sir Robert Preston was repairing the Abbey as a dower-house for his wife, after having many years before ruthlessly converted it into a ruin, expressed his opinion that it could never be much more serviceable than as a banqueting-house.

By his will, Sir Robert's trustees were directed to maintain the Abbey ;n a habitable condition, and he moreover directed, in somewhat whimsical fashion, that the old designation should be exchanged for the appellation of the Abbey Elizabeth, in compliment to his deceased wife, Lady Preston, nee Miss Elizabeth Brown. This new nomenclature, however, was never adopted except in one or two legal documents, and is now quite abandoned. After remaining untenanted, except by a housekeeper in charge, and almost wholly unfurnished, during a period of more than thirty years, Culross Abbey was, on the accession of the Elgin family, held in lease for eight years by Henry Liddell, Esq., of the Bombay Civil Service, who died here in 1873. It was afterwards occupied by Major Johnston of the Madras Service, who died in 1888.

The Abbey garden and orchard, comprising for the most part those belonging to the old convent, stretch down the slope of the hill towards the public road, and from their productiveness and fine exposure, still testify to the horticultural skill and judgment of the monks. They seem to have been laid out in their present terrace form by Alexander, second Earl of Kincardine, who at least must have built the pavilion or arbour which occupies the eastern extremity of the fine upper terrace, and bears the date of 1674. An ancient oak settle placed within this summer-house has carved upon it, among other indentations, the words "Jo. Cochrane, 1767," which were probably cut there in his boyhood by the Hon. John Cochrane, Deputy Commissary to the Forces in North Britain, and younger brother of Archibald, ninth Earl of Dundonald, the unfortunate projector and speculator. It is probable, however, that the seat is as old as the pavilion itself.

Next to the Abbey there are no houses more interesting about Culross than the two old mansions enclosed within a court at the north-west corner of the Sand Haven, as the open space in front of the town-house is termed. Their old and proper name is " The Colonel's Close," from one of them, at least, having been occupied in the first half of the last century by Colonel John Erskine of Carnock, generally known from his dark features as the " Black Colonel." A kinsman of his, also a Colonel John Erskine, but a man of fair complexion, is said to have inhabited the other of these houses, and, to distinguish him from his swarthy relative, was known as the "White Colonel." It may here be stated in passing that these epithets were no nicknames, but given and received as most honourable appellations, and as such we find them used in a list of the Culross elders, presiding at a communion occasion in 1722, as recorded in the kirk - session minutes. Of the two houses, one bears the date 1597, and the initials G. B., from the great George Bruce, its founder; the other has the date 1611, and the initials S. G. B., having been erected after Bruce had been raised to the rank of a knight. Though respectable and substantial in appearance, such as befitted the residence of a wealthy burgess of the day, they are by no means remarkable for splendour or beauty of architecture, and certainly were not designed by Inigo Jones.

It is the interior of these houses which possesses the chief interest, from the curious painted ceiling with which the principal apartment in each is adorned. The ceilings are coved, and the material on which the paintings are executed consists of thin planking, now very much decayed. The colours are still wonderfully vivid, though in many places time and damp have obliterated the pictures. In the older house these consist of a series of allegorical designs, well drawn, and having attached to each a sentence in black-letter as a text for the pictorial sermon, which is either some moral lesson or a representation of the general instability and uncertainty of human affairs.

These pictures n the old house, though they cannot lay claim to a high artistic excellence, are nevertheless of very respectable execution. Among the designs are "Ulysses and the Sirens," "Fortune with her Wheel," &c. They are most valuable as specimens of house decoration of the period, and King Tames has doubtless frequently sat under and contemplated them on occasion of his expeditions from Dunfermline and partaking of the hospitality of Sir George Bruce. The same house contains a muniment or strong room, with a vaulted roof and a massive iron door.

The painted room in the mansion of 1611 is of a less pretentious character than that in the older house, the ornaments consisting mainly of geometrical delineations. Each house is quite distinct from the other, and both are in a woful state of dilapidation. No one has occupied either for many years, and the havoc caused by wind, weather, and general neglect has been very great. It s possible enough that the second house may have been erected by Sir George to accommodate his son, the younger George Bruce of Carnock. It is clear that, being both situated within the same court, they could only have been ntended as residences for members of the same family, or at least very intimate friends. And there seems to have been only one garden, common to both mansions.

From references in the burgh and kirk-session records there can be little doubt of at least the first Earl of Kincardine, Sir George Bruce's grandson, having resided in the tenement in the Sand Haven, though in which of the houses is quite uncertain. His brother Alexander, second Earl, may also have resided here for a time, though shortly after 1670, at latest, he had removed to the Abbey, which had passed from the representatives of the first Lord Kinloss to those of his younger brother, Sir George Bruce. The Kincardine family continued to possess the property in the Sand Haven till about 1700, when it was transferred, with the bulk of their estates, by judicial sale, to the Black Colonel.

Colonel John Erskine of Carnock having found himself prevented from including in his purchase the mansion and grounds of Culross Abbey, which he had to resign to Lady Mary Cochrane, took up his abode in the Sand Haven, and from him the tenement derives its old and most fitting designation of the Colonel's Close. Tradition has constantly asserted, though I have been unable to find direct confirmation of the fact, that the Black Colonel occupied one of the houses in the court, whilst the other was tenanted by his kinsman the White Colonel. There was thus a double propriety in the bestowal of the appellation. Latterly the Colonel's Close became the property of the Halkerston family, two members of which, father and son, were successively town-clerks of Culross. It passed by inheritance from Miss Halkerston, last resident of the name in Culross, to her relative, the late Captain James Kerr of East Grange. After his death it was sold by his representatives to Mr Luke, in the possession of whose family it still remains.

When Captain Kerr succeeded to the Colonel's Close, he found it designated in the title-deeds as the Palace or Great Lodging in the Sand Haven of Culross. Not well versed in ancient legal phraseology, he at once leapt to the conclusion that the tenement of which he was now proprietor hail in ancient times been a royal residence. He consequently dubbed it "The Palace," and its surrounding court "Palace Yard." The title was captivating, and to the present hour not merely do people speak of the building as "The Palace," but assertions have even found their way into print of its having been an ancient residence of one or more of the Scottish kings.

Now the whole of this nomenclature is an absurd blunder, originating in Captain Kerr's mistake of identifying with a royal residence the "palatium " or " palace " in the title-deeds of the Colonel's Close. This is nothing more than the appellation which, in law Latin and phraseology, is used to denote any large or imposing building, more especially any bu Iding which is occupied by a nobleman. Culross Abbey is also designed the Palace or Great Lodging, and many similar instances from other places in Scotland might be produced. The term " Colonel's Close " ought still to be retained, both from having been so long employed, and from its preserving the memory of an important local if not historical personage. But when the public has once laid hold of a name, it is almost impossible to get it altered ; and I fear, therefore, that the misnomer of "The Palace" will continue to perplex as long as the-building itself exists.

The town-house of Culross deserves some notice, were it for nothing more than the elegant bell-tower which .mparts so picturesque an appearance to the lower part of the town, and is, in its way, as characteristic a feature of Culross as her church and abbey. The building itself dates from the year 1626; but the tower was only erected in 1783, and provided then with a clock and bell. The town-hall, or "tolbooth," as it used to be called, faces the Sand Haven, and is approached by a double flight of steps leading to the first floor, which contains the council-chamber, and a room formerly known as the "debtors' room," on the wall of which a stone is fixed with an inscription in gold letters, by a grateful municipality, to Sir George Preston of Valleyfield, for his benefaction of 2000 marks to the town of Culross. The ground storey is what used to be called the "Laigh Tolbooth," or the " Iron House," and, as this last grim title imports, was frequently used as a prison. Another place of confinement was in the so-called "High Tolbooth," or garret of the town-house, a dreary fireless place, contained within the lofty roof of the building, and lighted through the slates. Here the unfortunate women accused of witchcraft used to be confined and "watched." In front of the town-hall stands a stone platform, well known in Scottish burghs as the "Tron," or "Trone," which in Edinburgh and Glasgow gave a' designation to the churches immediately adjoining. It was the place where commodities were weighed, and the term belongs properly to the weighing-machine itself, which consisted of a wooden post supporting two cross horizontal bars with beaked extremities. From the latter circumstance the word is derived—i.e., from the old Norse trana, a beak or crane. It is probably also connected radically with tree and throne.

Just where a narrow passage, like the neck of a bottle, connects the Back Causeway with the open space about the Cross, stands a tower-like building containing a fine spiral staircase, which gives access to two large apartments in the adjoining tenement, used as workshops by Mr John Harrower, the proprietor. The lower one of these is a fine, well-proportioned room, lined with oak-panelling beautifully carved, of which that on the east wall is still in good preservation, and is moreover adorned with some fine inlaid work of a different material. It bears the date 1633, which, however, is probably only that of the panelling itself, as indicating the period when, in churchwarden phrase, the apartment was "beautified" by its owner, some wealthy burgess of the seventeenth century.

The tenement in question looks to the south, facing the Cross, and has other apartments besides those to which access is gained from the turret stair. One of these is on the same floor, was originally fitted up in the same style, and communicated probably with the lower wainscoted room. The wall which forms the north boundary of both s provided with a range of curious arched recesses of hewn stone, which some have imagined served the purpose of containing book-shelves. Following out this conjecture, it has been surmised that the two apartments formed a library, and had possibly belonged as such to the abbots of the monastery. Others have connected them with Bishop Leighton, to whose diocese Culross belonged. And the appellation of "The Study," which the tenement has borne from time immemorial, has been explained as expressing the purpose for which it was originally employed.

As no positive evidence whatever exists on the subject, I venture to put forward my own opinion, that the recesses were nothing more nor less than cupboards or buffets, which served to contain plate and other articles, as a fitting appendage and set-off to the general splendour of the apartments. And as regards "The Study," I think the term has been derived not from these rooms, but from a very curious apartment at the top of the turret stair. This forms externally a prominent object, projecting, as it does, slightly from the lower walls of the tower, on which it rests. It is entered from the summit of the spiral staircase, by a tiny corkscrew stair of its own, which is both of the narrowest dimensions and closed at the foot by a door. Ascending we find ourselves in a small chamber of about 9 feet square, and a little over 7 feet in height. It contains a fireplace, and three small windows or apertures, looking respectively east, west, and .south, commanding views of the whole town of Culross, and taking in the Forth and its shores as far as Queensferry on one side, and the Carse of Falkirk on the other. It is exactly such an apartment as formed the habitation of the sage Herr Teufelsdrockh and overlooked the whole city of Weissnichtwo. Certainly no place could embody more completely the idea of a philosopher or wizard's chamber, cut off, as it is, so completely from the outer world, and yet affording such scope for the study both of nature and mankind, in the distant view of sea and land, and the near one of the surging tide of humanity which on market-days gathered round the Cross of Culross.

I conclude, therefore, that this little chamber, from having been used at one time as a study or observatory, has given its name to the whole tenement, the walls of which, it may be remarked, are of an extraordinary thickness—the gable-end having a breadth of nearly four feet. Adjoining the house, as we ascend the hill, is another tenement, occupied by Mr Harrower himself, which has a remarkable semicircular projection that may at one time have served as part of a staircase. What may also have been the doorway at the foot is now converted into a window, and over it appears the following Greek inscription :—

"God provideth and will provide"—

one of those pious and pithy sayings which our forefathers were so fond of engraving on their dwellings. The date and author of the inscription are unknown, and the house to which it belongs, though old, has no other characteristic deserving of special notice.

The Cross of Culross is an ancient structure as regards its basement; but the upper part is modern, having been re-erected in 1819. Four streets converge on the little space fronting the Cross. A little down from the latter is the Dundonald Arms Inn, an exceedingly snug and comfortable as well as admirably conducted little hostelry. On the opposite side of the street, still farther down, as we descend to the Laigh Causeway, stands a fine old house, which tradition has connected with Robert Leighton, who as Bishop of Dunblane, the diocese to which Culross belonged, is said to have resided here (luring his official visitations. The house is old enough to have existed in the days of " the saintly Leighton," and it contains at least one large and handsome apartment, finely panelled. But the tradition has been as little verified as the conjectures regarding the Study.

Culross used to pride herself on her wells and copious supply of excellent water. Bess e Bar's Well beside the Colonel's Close, Baby's Well on the Laigh Causeway, and the Lockit Well at the head of the Tanhouse Brae, were each, and more especially the first, regarded as ver table Bandusias, clear and sparkling as the heart of any poet could wish. Alas for specious appearances and the stern veruict of analytical science! Bessie Bar was pronounced by the latter to be no better than she should be; and as for Baby, her condition was "past praying for." A new water-supply has quite recently been introduced from Glen Shcrup in the Ochils, a source which now supplies not only the town of Dunfermline, but a large portion of the western district of Fife.

Facing the town of Culross, and running parallel to the shore at the distance of about a hundred yards, is a ridge of rocks, known as the Ailie Rocks, behind which the votaries of Neptune may indulge in the luxury of a bath, without the least risk of being overlooked by profane gazers. At the western extremity of these rocks is what is referred to occasionally in the burgh records as the Oxcraig. This derived its name from the existence there of a species of rude staircase, up which cattle were driven to be shipped on the farther side for Borrowstounness. Near this point is a large blue boulder-stone, which, according to popular tradition, marks the place of sepulture of those who died of the plague in 1645, and were buried here to prevent the dissemination of infection by their being interred in the churchyard. Here also were deposited, it is said, the bodies of any persons who, by suicide or other offences, had rendered themselves unworthy of Christian burial. Bones and fragments of coffins have frequently been exhumed and floated ashore from this spot, as I am credibly assured by persons on whose averments I can place unhesitating reliance. The Blue Rock has now been somewhat diminished, from portions of it having been broken down and carried away to make road-metal. At a little distance on the west side of the harbour is the pier of Culross, which originally was disconnected with the shore, and could only be reached at low water or by wading. A new pier, constructed of stones taken from the Oxcraig, was erected a good many years ago, and joined to the outer pier by a wooden jetty.

About two hundred yards up the Forth, and nearly due west from the extremity of the outer pier, is the celebrated moat of Sir George Bruce, now merely visible at low water like a heap or rickle of stones. It was here that formerly a massive circular building towered above the surface of the water, as described, along with its adjacent submarine workings, by John Taylor, in his ' Pennilesse Pilgrimage,' already quoted. He gives there a very graphic picture of the moat and nune as they appeared in 1618, though he says nothing of the renowned adventure which is reported to have befallen James I. there in the preceding year, on the occasion of the latter's visit to Scotland. My own impression is, that the adventure in question occurred before James's accession to the English throne, and whilst he was as yet only James VI. of Scotland. The incident is well known, but it may nevertheless be as well to recapitulate that the king had been paying a visit to his friend and favourite Sir George Bruce, whose commercial genius and enterprising activity were raising Culross to a sudden and exalted degree of prosperity in connection with the working of coals and manufacture of salt. The great mine, whose workings extended beneath the Forth, and had two entrances, one on land and another from the sea, was visited by his Majesty, who descended it from the shore, and after being conducted through a long dark passage underground, was conveyed upwards to the summit of the moat. Arriving here, and seeing himself surrounded on all sides by water, the affrighted monarch, who had already had a pretty extensive experience in plots and conspiracies against the royal person, thought, not unnaturally perhaps, that another of these schemes was now in preparation, and bawled out lustily, " Treason 1 treason ! " But he was soon reassured by the tranquil urbanity of his host, who explained the situation to him, and showed him an elegantly fitted-up pinnace which was to convey him ashore. The story further goes on to say that the day concluded with a sumptuous banquet, probably served to his Majesty in the Pamted Chamber in Sir George's house in the Sand Haven of Culross.

By a singular coincidence, the same year that witnessed the deaths of King James and Sir George Bruce, chronicled also, within three days of the royal demise, the destruction of the monument of industrial enterprise with which both their names are connected. In the great tempest of 30th March 1625, which was long remembered, in reference to a popular appellation, as the storm of the " Borrowing Days," the moat and its workings were completely destroyed, and never again rebuilt or resumed. At present the three concentric walls of hewn stone of which the building consisted are still distinctly visible, though almost level with the ground. The tops of piles are also to be seen, and the spaces between the three walls are firmly packed with blue clay. The distance between the two outer walls is 3 feet, and between the second and third walls fully 15. The diameter of the inner wall, which enclosed the shaft of the pit, is 18 feet, while that of the outer wall from edge to edge is about 60. The landing-place is supposed to have been on the eastern side, and there are also remains on the south-west side of what seems to have been a breakwater. The moat communicated, as already mentioned, by workings under the sea, with a pit on the shore, which is supposed to have been sunk in the hollow below the house of Castlehill or Duni-marle. The projection on the seashore, formerly an old "bucket-pat," has also some claims to be regarded as the site of the pit which the king descended on his memorable visit, to emerge subsequently by the moat. Remains of masonry which belonged to this pit, and the draining apparatus connected with it described by Taylor, are said to have been in existence in this neighbourhood up to the beginning of the present century. At the present time nothing regarding its site can be affirmed with certainty.

Culross by the shore-road is. about four miles from Kincardine. A very pretty route it is for the most part, winding among plantations, overhung by the slopes of Dunimarle and Blair, and affording fine glimpses of the Forth and the opposite shores of West Lothian and Stirlingshire. Dunimarle (the original name of which has recently been restored) was long under the appellation of Castlehill, the property of the ancient family of Blaw, which intermarried with the ancestors both of the Elgin and Rosebery families. About fifty years ago it was acquired by Mrs Sharpe Erskine, grand-aunt of the present Earl of Rosslyn; and its revenues were bequeathed by her as an endowment of the Episcopal chapel of St Serfs-next-Culross, which she erected on the slope adjoining the hamlet of Blair-Burn. The house of Dunimarle, with its tower and castellated surroundings, she appointed to be the residence of the incumbent, the Rev. William Bruce. It contains a fine collection of pictures and other curiosities, which, in terms of Mrs Erskine's will, are open on Wednesdays and Saturdays to the public during the summer months.

Immediately to the west of Dunimarle is Blair Castle (Robert Miller, Esq.), formerly the patrimony of the Dundases, and at an early period the property of the Hamiltons, the illegitimate progeny of the celebrated Archbishop of St Andrews of that name. He appears in his younger days to have been Abbot of Culross; and it is at all events tolerably well authenticated that he gave great scandal by an intięgue with a lady of quality, who was then living separate from her husband, and pro-priefrx of Blair. They had several children, one of whom, John Hamilton, succeeded to the estate; and another, a daughter named Margaret, married Robert Price of Blairhall, elder brother of the celebrated Sir George. The Archbishop built, it is alleged, at Blair, the substantial mansion which Mr Dundas, many years ago, had the greatest difficulty in demolishing, owing to the thickness of the walls. It stood a little in front of the present house.

The Blair quarries, though at present disused, are well known for their excellent building-stone, from which large portions of the New Town of Edinburgh have been erected, besides Drury Lane Theatre and other distant structures. From an older quarry at Longannet Point, a little farther up, it is said that the town - hall of Amsterdam was erected in the seventeenth century, when the lands in the neighbourhood were in the possession of the Earl of Kincardine. An interesting confirmation of this tradition is furnished by the great Dutch poet Vondel. In his poem on the rebuilding of the town-hall of Amsterdam in 1655, he speaks of the stone material as brought from the " Marble Cliff in the West," and in a footnote the locality referred to is explained as denoting Scotland. The fine white freestone of Blair quarry may well be regarded as warranting its description by poetical licence as marble. At that period the commercial intercourse of Holland with Scotland was very great, and more especially with the towns on the shores of the Firth of Forth. Alexander Bruce, afterwards second Earl of Kincardine, was then residing in Holland as a sharer of the fortunes of Charles II. He married a Dutch lady, Veronica Van Arsens, daughter of Cornelius Van Arsens, Baron of Sommelsdyk, and a descendant of the celebrated Francis Van Arsens, the first holder of the title and estate. The last-mentioned is famous as the ambassador of the States-General of Holland to the Court of Henry IV., and also not so creditably known as the enemy of the unfortunate John of Barneveldt. In further reference to the Blair and Longannet quarries, we are distinctly informed, in a case reported in Morison's ' Decisions of the Court of Session,' that the Jews of Amsterdam in the seventeenth century entered into negotiations with the Earl of Kincardme for a supply of build mg-stone from a celebrated quarry on his estate, to be employed in the erection of a synagogue. The transaction, however, was never completed.

Before coining to Longannet Point (about a mile below Kincardine), the mansion-house of Sands (Laurence Johnston, Esq.) will have been noticed on the right-hand side of the road, pleasantly situated on a verdant slope bordered with trees. The district here formerly belonged to Culross parish, but in the middle of the seventeenth century was annexed to that of Tulliallan.

Kincardine-on-Forth (Hotel: The Commercial) is a burgh of barony belonging to or connected with the estate of Tulliallan (Lady W. G. Osborne Elphinston), which comprises all the ground in the immediate neighbourhood. It was formerly noted, like Culross, for its coal and salt works; but this industry has long since entirely disappeared, to be succeeded by the shipbuilding trade, which in its turn has also become extinct. With the exception of a rope-work, a woollen factory, and a paper-mill, constructed out of the famous distillery of Kilbagie about a mile to the north of the town, there is little commercial activity about Kincardine, though it covers a considerable space of ground, and was once the grand entrepot of communication in the coaching days by means of its ferry between Fife and the west country. An air of depression now hangs over t, and altogether it possesses few attractions, though the view from the pier, looking up the Forth towards Alloa and Stirling, w ith the Ochiis in the background, is uncommonly fine.

A singular natural phenomenon connected with the tides is to be observed in the neighbourhood of Kincardine and adjacent places in the upper reach of the Forth from Culross to Alloa. This is the so-called lakies or double tides, which have long been a subject of remark, but to account for which hitherto no explanation has been devised. When the tide is flowing, and has done so for three hours, it recedes for the space of two feet, or a little more, and then returns on its regular course till it has reached the limit of high water. Similarly, in ebbing it begins to flow again, and then recedes to the limit of low water, thus causing four tides in twelve hours, or eight in the twenty-four. The space over which it thus flows and recedes varies a little, and sometimes the lakie only shows itself by the tide coming to a standstill for about an hour and a half. The legendary account of the matter is, that on one occasion when St Mungo with some of his ecclesiastics was sailing up the Forth to Stirling, the vessel went aground in ebb-tide, and could not be floated. The saint exercised his miraculous powers, and the tide in consequence returned, so as to enable him and his companions to proceed on their journey; and there has ever since been a double tide in this region of the Forth. It is believed that these lakie or leakie tides are peculiar to this locality, though a somewhat similar phenomenon is said to occur at Southampton and Portsmouth.

Kincardine church is a modern building of a little over half a century old; and on the rising ground behind stands, in a picturesque situation in its churchyard, the dismantled old church, erected in 1675, on the occasion of the annexation to Tulliallan of a large portion of the parish of Culross having rendered a still older church quite inadequate to accommodate the new influx of worshippers. This last, now converted into the mausoleum of the Keith family, stands about a mile farther north in its little churchyard, in a corner of the park of Tulliallan. The present castle of Tulliallan was erected about 1S20 by Admiral Lord Keith, who purchased the estate from Mr Erskine of Cardross in Monteith. It is a handsome building in the Italian style, closely adjoining the town of Kincardine at the western extremity of the extensive woodland which now covers a great part of the old moor of Culross. Lord Keith was succeeded in the property by his eldest daughter, the late Baroness Keith, and she again by her half-sister, the present proprietrix, Lady W. G. Osborne Elphinston, whose husband, Lord William Godolphin Osborne, is uncle of the Duke of Leeds.


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