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Lairds and Lands of Loch Tayside

TO the east of Allt Mheine, the eastern boundary of the lands of Ardeonaig, is the thirty-merk land of Ardtalnaig. This district is held under the Crown.

Ardtalnaig had been at one time a place of considerable importance. On the farm of Milton there is pointed out a spot, where stood, according to tradition, the Castle of Tay. There was, we believe, some vestige of a building to be seen there so recent as the last century, but all trace of it has since been removed. This castle was reputed to have been the hunting-seat of the Scottish kings, several centuries ago, when they came to enjoy the pleasures of the chase in the wilds of Breadalbane. The salmon fishings in Loch Tay also formed an attraction, and it was while fishing there in 646 that Donald IV. was drowned. He could not, however, have occupied the Castle of Tay, for according to the traditionary account, the founding of it is ascribed to Malcolm II., who reigned 1004-34. Close by, there is a cairn said to be almost co-eval with the castle, and underneath which are supposed to rest the remains of a mighty warrior, none other than a brother of Banquo, Thane of Lochaber, who, as the story runs, was wounded in a conflict with McCouill, of Lorn, in the west, and, coming hither, died of his wounds. Above his grave was raised a cairn; which in time became covered with lichen, and from which it received the name of Carnbane, or white cairn, a name that came to be applied to the farm on which it stands. From time to time in course of land improvements several relics have been discovered about the place.

Prior to the appointment of Sir Duncan Campbell, second laird of Glenorchy, to the Bailiary of Discher and Toyer, the Kings’ Bailies held their Courts at Ardtalnaig, and a portion of land there is still known as the Bailie’s land. The last of the Bailies who presided there was a Macintosh of Monzievaird. He is said never to have visited the district without having at least one execution carried out, and “ Cha’n ann a’ h-uile latha bhios mbd aig Mac-an-Toisich”—“It is not every day that Macintosh holds a court ”—became an ominous and proverbial saying in the country-side. The Black Book of Taymouth says that Sir Colin Campbell, first laird of Glenorchy, “ conquessit the takis of the threttie markland of Ardtallonick.” The same authority gives 1480 as the year of Sir Colin’s death, while the Chronicle of Fothergill records his demise as having taken place in 1475. The latter appears to be the correct date. In the Crown Rental for 1480, Sir Duncan Campbell, Sir Colin’s heir and successor, is entered as tenant of certain lands on Loch Tayside, but his name does not appear in connection with Ardtalnaig. Two-thirds of the lands were then in the hands of the Carthusian monks, under whom Sir Colin, however, may have held. The remaining third was let to Donald McCawis (McTavish), son of Duncan McCawis, and his mother, who were granted a lease of three years, to date from the expiry of their existing lease, which had two years to run; but by 1484, they, for some inexplicable reason, had ceased to be tenants, and their lands were occupied by an Irishman, named Patrick Leitch. James Campbell, laird of Lawers, got a tack of the Charterhouse lands of Ardtalnaig with the mill thereof, sometime prior to 1555, and in that year he assigned the tack to Sir Colin Campbell, sixth laird of Glenorchy, who, before his death in 1583, got feus of both the Crown and Charterhouse lands on Loch Tayside, and these have remained in the possession of his descendants ever since.

The church and manse of Ardeonaig, so called, are situated in the lands of Ardtalnaig, in what was formerly known as the boat croft of Tullich, a forty-penny land. The original manse was built shortly after 17 91, and in 1795 the boat croft became the minister’s glebe. The old church, which stood within the graveyard at Ardeonaig, having got into a delapidated condition, the fourth Earl of Breadalbane erected the present church in 1820, the Presbytery of Dunkeld having sanctioned its erection in Kenmore parish. To the east of the church and manse the lands of Ardtalnaig lie in the following order:—Wester Tullich, Tom-nadason, Easter Tullich, Craig, Ten-shilling land, Kindrochit, Achomer, Claggan, Leadour, Tullichglas, Tomflour, Lurg, Revane, Mallie, Cromron, Carnbane, Croftdow (the last five possessions being now known as Milton), Leckbuie, Skiag, Shenlarich, Kep-rannich, and Ardradnaig.

The meal mill of the property was wrought up to about 1832. There was also a lint mill. It was erected in 1788. Various other industries have from time to time been prosecuted at Ardtalnaig and abandoned, notably among these, lead and copper mining, distilling, bobbin-turning and farina-making. Lead was wrought in Leckbuie hill in the last century, and, in the time of the first Marquis of Breadalbane, copper was discovered at Tomnadason, and mines were opened there by the second Marquis, and continued in operation till his death in 1862, when the workings were discontinued, the undertaking having, it is understood, proved unremunerative. Lead mines were also wrought at the top of Meall na Creige, on the march of the Ardtalnaig and the Ardeonaig lands, and something was done in unearthing silver ore in Milton hill. The late Marquis of Breadalbane possessed one or two trinkets, made of gold found at Tomnadason.

The burying ground of Ardtalnaig was laid out early in the last century. The second interment in it was made in 1715.

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