Picture of Thomas Pennant

Thomas Pennant

places mentioned

July 24-31: Fife and Perthshire

Next Selection Previous Selection

JULY 24.

Left Edinburgh , and passed beneath the castle, whose height and strength, in my then situation, appeared to great advantage. The country I past through was well cultivated, the fields large, but mostly inclosed with stone walls; for hedges are not yet become universal in this part of the kingdom: it is not a century since they were known here. Reach the

South-Ferry , a small village on the banks of the Firth , which suddenly is contracted to the breadth of two miles by the jutting out of the land on the north shore; but almost instantly widens towards the west into a fine and extensive bay. The prospect on each side is very beautiful; a rich country, frequently diversified with towns, villages, castles, and gentlemen's seats.81 There is beside a vast view up and down the Firth , from its extremity, not remote from Sterling , to its mouth near May isle; in all, about sixty miles. To particularize the objects of this rich view: from the middle of the passage are seen the coasts of Lothian and Fife ; the isles of Garvie and Inch-Colm ; the town of Dumfermline ; S. and N. Queen's Ferries ; and Burrowstoness smoaking at a distance from its numerous salt-pans and fire-engines. On the south side are Hopetoun house, Dundass castle, and many other gentlemen's seats; with Blackness castle. On the north side, Rosythe castle, Dunibrisset , and at a distance the castle and town of Brunt-Island ; with the road of Leith , often filled with ships, and a magnificent distant view of the castle of Edinburgh on the south.

This Ferry is also called Queen's-Ferry , being the passage much used82 by Margaret , Queen to Malcolm III. and sister to Edgar Etheling ; her residence being at Dumfermline . Cross over in an excellent boat; observe midway the little isle called Inch-Garvey , with the ruin of a small castle. An Arctic Gull flew near the boat, pursued by other Gulls, as birds of prey are: this is the species that persecutes and pursues the lesser kinds, till they mute through fear, when it catches up their excrements ere they reach the water: the boatmen, on that account, styled it the dirty Aulin .


Landed in the shire of Fife ,83 at North-Ferry , near which are the great granite quarries, which help to supply the streets of London with paving stones; many ships then waiting near, in order to take their lading. The granite lies in great perpendicular stacks; above which is a reddish earth filled with friable micaceous nodules. The granite itself is very hard, and is all blasted with gun-powder: the cutting into shape for paving costs two shillings and eight-pence per tun, and the freight to London seven shillings.

The country, as far as Kinross , is very fine, consisting of gentle risings; much corn, especially Bear ; but few trees, except about a gentleman's seat called Blair , where there are great and flourishing plantations. Near the road are the last collieries in Scotland , except the inconsiderable works in the county of Sutherland .

Kinross is a small town, seated in a large plain, bounded by mountains; the houses and trees are so intermixed, as to give it an agreeable appearance. It has some manufactures of linnen and cutlery ware. At this time was a meeting of justices, on a singular occasion: a vagrant had been, not long before, ordered to be whipped; but such was the point of honor among the common people, that no one could be persuaded to go to Perth for the executioner, who lived there: to press, I may say, two men for that service, was the cause of the meeting; so Mr. Boswell may rejoice to find the notion of honor prevale in as exalted a degree among his own countrymen, as among the virtuous Corsicans .84

Not far from the town is the house of Kinross , built by the famous architect Sir William Bruce , for his own residence, and was the first good house of regular architecture in North Britain . It is a large, elegant, but plain building: the hall is fifty-two feet long; the grounds about it well planted; the fine lake adjacent; so that it is capable of being made as delightful a spot as any in North Britain .


Loch-Leven , a magnificent piece of water, very broad, but irregularly indented, is about twelve miles in circumference, and its greatest depth about twenty-four fathoms: is finely bounded by mountains on one side; on the other by the plain of Kinross ; and prettily embellished with several groves, most fortunately disposed. Some islands are dispersed in this great expanse of water; one of which is large enough to feed several head of cattle: but the most remarkable is that distinguished by the captivity of Mary Stuart , which stands almost in the middle of the lake. The castle still remains; consists of a square tower, a small yard with two round towers, a chapel, and the ruins of a building, where, it is said, the unfortunate Princess was lodged. In the square tower is a dungeon, with a vaulted room above, over which had been three other stories. Some trees are yet remaining on this little spot; probably coeval with Mary , under whose shade she may have sat, expecting her escape at length effected by the enamoured Douglas .85 This castle had before been a royal residence, but not for captive monarchs; having been granted from the crown by Robert III. to Douglas , Laird of Loch-Leven .

This castle underwent a siege in the year 1335; and the method attempted to reduce it was of a most singular kind. John of Sterling , with his army of Anglicized Scots , sat down before it; but finding from the situation that it was impossible to succeed in the common forms, he thought of this expedient. He stopped up the water of Leven , at its discharge from the lake, with a great dam, with stones, and every thing that would obstruct its course, hoping by that means to raise the waters so high, as to drown the whole garrison. But the watchful governor Alan de Vipont , took an opportunity of sallying out in boats when the besiegers were off their guard; and piercing the dam, released the pent-up waters, and formed a most destructive deluge on all the plain below; struck a panic into the enemy's army, put them to flight, and returned to his castle, laden with the spoils of the camp.86

St. Serf's isle is noted for having been granted by Brudo , last King of the Picts , to St. Servan and the Culdees ; a kind of priests among the first Christians of North Britain , who led a sort of monastic life in cells, and for a considerable time preserved a pure and uncorrupt religion: at length, in the reign of David I. were suppressed in favor of the church of Rome . The priory of Port-moak was on this isle, of which some small remains yet exist.


The fish of this lake are Pike, small Perch, fine Eels, and most excellent Trouts; the best and the reddest I ever saw; the largest about six pounds in weight. The fishermen gave me an account of a species they called the Gally Trout, which are only caught from October to January , are split, salted and dried, for winter provision: by the description, they certainly were our Char, only of a larger size than any we have in England , or Wales , some being two feet and a half long. The birds that breed on the isles are Herring Gulls, Pewit Gulls, and great Terns, called here Pictarnes .

Lay at a good inn, a single house, about half a mile North of Kinross .

JULY 25.

Made an excursion about seven miles west, to see the Rumbling Brig at Glen-Devon , in the parish of Muchart , a bridge of one arch, flung over a chasm worn by the river Devon , about eighty feet deep, very narrow, and horrible to look down; the bottom, in many parts, is covered with fragments; in others, the waters are visible, gushing between the stones with great violence: the sides, in many places, project, and almost lock in each other; trees shoot out in various spots, and contribute to increase the gloom of the glen, while the ear is filled with the cawing of Daws, the cooing of Wood-Pidgeons, and the impetuous noise of the waters.


A mile lower down is the Cawdron Lin . Here the river, after a short fall, drops on rocks hollowed in a strange manner into large and deep cylindric cavities, open on one side, or formed into great circular cavities, like cauldrons:87 from whence the name of the place. One in particular has the appearance of a vast brewing-vessel; and the water, by its great agitation, has acquired a yellow scum, exactly resembling the yesty working of malt liquor. Just beneath this, the water darts down about thirty feet in form of a great white sheet: the rocks below widen considerably, and their clifty sides are fringed with wood. Beyond is a view of a fine meadowy vale, and the distant mountains near Sterling .


Two miles North is Castle Campbel , seated on a steep peninsulated rock between vast mountains, having to the South a boundless view through a deep glen shagged with brush wood: for the forests that once covered the country, are now entirely destroyed. Formerly, from its darksome situation, this pile was called the Castle of Gloom ; and all the names of the adjacent places were suitable: it was seated in the parish of Dolor , was bounded by the glens of Care , and washed by the birns of Sorrow . The lordship was purchased by the first Earl of Argyle . This castle, with the whole territory belonging to the family of Argyle , underwent all the calamities of civil war in i645; for its rival, the Marquis of Montrose , carried fire and sword through the whole estate. The castle was ruined, and its magnificent reliques exist, as a monument of the horror of the times. No wonder then that the Marquis experienced so woeful and ignominious a fate, when he fell into the power of so exasperated a chieftain.

Returned to my inn along the foot of the Ochil hills, whose sides were covered with a fine verdure, and fed great numbers of cattle and sheep. The country below full of oats, and in a very improving state: the houses of the common people decent, but mostly covered with sods; some were covered both with straw and sod. The inhabitants extremely civil, and never failed offering brandy or whey, when I stopt to make enquiries at any of their houses.


In the afternoon crossed a branch of the same hills, which yielded plenty of oats; descended into Strath-Earn , a beautiful vale, about thirty miles in length, full of rich meadows and corn-fields, divided by the river Earn , which serpentines finely through the middle, falling into the Tay , of which there is a sight at the East end of the vale. It is prettily diversified with groves of trees and gentlemen's houses; among which, towards the West end, is Castle Drummond , the forfeited seat of the Earl of Perth .


Dupplin ;88 the residence of the Earl of Kinnoul , seated on the North side of the vale, on the edge of a steep glen. Only a single tower remains of the old castle, the rest being modernized. The South front commands a pleasing view of the vale: behind are plantations extending several miles in length; all flourish greatly, except those of ash. I remarked in the woods, some very large chesnuts, of spruce and silver firs, cedar and arbor vitæ. Broad-leaved laburnum thrives in this country greatly, grows to a great size, and the wood is used in fineering.


Fruits succeed here very indifferently; even nonpariels require a wall: grapes, figs, and late peaches, will not ripen: the winters begin early, and end late, and are attended with very high winds. I was informed that labor is dear here, notwithstanding it is only eight-pence a day; the common people not being yet got into a method of working, so do very little for their wages. Notwithstanding this, improvements are carried on in these parts with great spirit, both in planting and in agriculture. Lord Kinnoul planted last year not fewer than eighty thousand trees, besides Scotch firs; so provides future forests for the benefit of his successors, and the embellishment of his country. In respect to agriculture, there are difficulties to struggle with; for the country is without either coal or limestone; so that the lime is brought from the estate of the Earl of Elgin , near Dumfermline , who, I was told, drew a considerable revenue from the kilns.

[Plate VII appears near here in the 1800 edition.]

In Dupplin are some very good pictures; a remarkable one of Luther, Bucer , and Catherine the nun, in the characters of musicians, by Giorgiani di Castel franco .

A fine head of a secular priest, by Titian . St. Nicholas blessing three children. Two of cattle, by Rosa di Tivoli . A head of Spenser. Rubens' head, by himself. A fine head of Butler , by Sir Peter Lely . Mrs. Tofts , in the character of St. Catherine , by Sir Godfrey Kneller . Sir George Haye , of Maginnis , in armour, i640; done at Rome , by L. Ferdinand. Haye , Earl of Carlisle , in Charles the First's time; young and very handsome. The second Earl of Kinnoul , by Vandyck . Chancellor Haye , by Mytens . A good portrait of Lord Treasurer Oxford , by Richardson . And a beautiful miniature of Sir John Earnly .

But the most remarkable is a head of the celebrated Countess of Desmond , whom the apologists for the usurper Richard III. bring in as an evidence against the received opinion of his deformity. She was daughter of the Fitzgeralds of Drumana 89 in the county of Waterford ; and married in the reign of Edward IV., James fourteenth Earl of Desmond : was in England in the same reign, and danced at court with his brother Richard , then Duke of Gloucester . She was then a widow, for Sir Walter Raleigh says she held her jointure from all the Earls of Desmond since that time.90 She lived to the age of some years above a hundred and forty; and died in the reign of James I. It appears that she retained her full vigor in a very advanced time of life; for the ruin of the house of Desmond reduced her to poverty, and obliged her to take a journey from Bristol to London , to sollicit relief from the court, at a time she was above a hundred and forty.91 She also twice or thrice renewed her teeth; for Lord Bacon assures us, in his Hist. of Life and Death, ter per vices dentiffe ; and in his Natural History mentions that she did dentire twice or thrice, casting her old teeth, and others coming in their place.92



Ascended the hill of Moncrief ; the prospect from thence is the glory of Scotland , and well merits the eulogia given it for the variety and richness of its views. On the South and West appear Strath Earn , embellished with the seats of Lord Kinnoul , Lord Rollo , and of several other gentlemen; the Carse , or rich, plain of Gowrie; Stormont hills and the hill of Kinnoul , whose vast cliff is remarkable for its beautiful pebbles. The meanders of the Earn , which winds more than any river I at this time had seen, are most enlivening additions to the scene. The last turn it takes forms a fine peninsula prettily planted; and just beyond it joins the Tay ,93 whose æstuary lies full in view; the sea closing the prospect on this side.

To the North lies the town of Perth , with a view of part of its magnificent bridge; which, with the fine woods called Perth Parks, the vast plain of Strath-Tay , the winding of that noble river, its islands, and the grand boundary formed by the distant highlands, finish this matchless scene. The inhabitants of Perth are far from being blind to the beauties of their river; for with singular pleasure they relate the tradition of the Roman army, when it came in sight of the Tay , bursting into the exclamation of, Ecce Tiberim .

On approaching the town are some pretty walks handsomely planted, and at a small distance, the remains of some works of Cromwell's , called Oliver's Mount.


Perth is large, and in general well-built; two of the streets are remarkably fine; in some of the lesser are yet a few wooden houses in the old style; but as they decay, the magistrates prohibit the rebuilding them in the old way. There is but one parish, which has three churches, besides meetings for separatists, who are very numerous. One church, which belonged to a monastery, is very ancient: not a vestige of the last is now to be seen; for the disciples of that rough apostle Knox , made a general desolation of every edifice that had given shelter to the worshippers of the church of Rome : it being one of his maxims, to pull down the nests, and then the Rooks would fly away.

The flourishing state of Perth is owing to two accidents; the first, that of numbers of Cromwel's wounded officers and soldiers chusing to reside here, after he left the kingdom, who introduced a spirit of industry among the people: the other cause was the long continuance of the Earl of Mar's army here in 1715, which occasioned vast sums of money being spent in the place. But this town, as well as all Scotland , dates its prosperity from the year 1745; the government of this part of Great Britain having never been settled till a little after that time. The rebellion was a disorder violent in its operation, but salutary in its effects.


The trade of Perth is considerable. It exports annually one hundred and fifty thousand pounds worth of linnen to different places; from twenty-four to thirty thousand bolls of wheat and barley to London and Edinburgh , and about twelve or fourteen thousand pounds worth of cured salmon. That fish is taken there in vast abundance; three thousand have been caught in one morning, weighing, one with another, sixteen pounds; the whole capture, forty-eight thousand pounds. The fishery begins at St. Andrew's Day, and ends August 26th, old style. The rents of the fisheries amount to three thousand pounds per annum .

I was informed that smelts come up this river in May and June .


There has been in these parts a very great fishery of pearl got out of the fresh-water muscles. From the year 1761 to 1764, 10,000 l. worth were sent to London , and sold from 10s. to 1l. 16s. per ounce. I was told that a pearl had been taken there that weighed 33 grains. But this fishery is at present exhausted, from the avarice of the undertakers: it once extended as far as Loch-Tay .


Gowrie House is shewn to all strangers; formerly the property and residence of the Earl of Gowrie , whose tragical end and mysterious conspiracy (if conspiracy there was) are still fresh in the minds of the people of Perth . At present the house is occupied by some companies of artillery. I was shewn the Gowrie staircase where the unhappy nobleman was killed, the window Conspiracy. the frighted monarch James roared out of, and that he escaped through, when he was saved from the fury of the populace, by Baily Roy , a friend of Gowrie's , who was extremely beloved in the town.

From the little traditions preserved in the place, it seems as if Gowrie had not the lest intent of murthering the King: on the day his Majesty came to Perth , the Earl was engaged to a wedding dinner with the Dean of Guild : when the account of the King's design reached him, he changed color, on being taken so unprovided; but the Dean forced him to accept the nuptial feast, which was sent over to the Earl's house.

When the King fled, he passed by the seat of Sir William Moncrief , near Earn-bridge , who happening to be walking out at that time, heard from the mouth of his terrified majesty the whole relation; but the Knight found it so marvellous and so disjointed, as plainly to tell the King, that is it was a true story, it was a very strange one .

Gowrie was a most accomplished gentleman. After he had finished his studies, he held the Professor of Philosophy's chair for two years, in one of the Italian universities.

Cross the Tay on a temporary bridge; the stone bridge, which is to consist of nine 'arches, being at this time unfinished : the largest arch is seventy-fix feet wide; when complete, it promises to be a most magnificent structure. The river here is very violent, and admits of scarce any navigation above; but ships of a hundred and twenty tons burthen come as high as the town; and if flat-bottomed, of even two hundred tons.


Scone lies about a mile and half higher up, on the East bank of the river. Here was once an abby of great antiquity,94 which was burnt by the reforming zealots of Dundee . The present palace was begun by Earl Gowrie ; but, on his death, being granted by James VI. to his favorite Sir David Murray , of Gospatrie , was completed by him; who, in gratitude to the King, has, in several parts of the house, put up the royal arms. The house is built round two courts; the dining-room is large and handsome, has an ancient but magnificent chimney-piece, the King's arms, with this motto,

Nobis hæc invicta miserunt centum sex Proavi .

Beneath are the Murray arms. In the drawing-room is some good old tapestry, with an excellent figure of Mercury . In a small bedchamber is a medly scripture-piece in needle-work, with a border of animals, pretty well done; the work of Mary Stuart , during her confinement in Loch-Leven castle: but the house in general is in a manner unfurnished.

The gallery is about a hundred and fifty-five feet long; the top arched, divided into compartments, filled with paintings, in water colors, of different sorts of huntings; and that Nimrod, James VI. and his train, appear in every piece.

Till the destruction of the abby, the Kings of Scotland were crowned here, fitting in the famous wooden chair, which Edward I. transported to Westminster Abby , much to the mortification of the Scots , who esteemed it as their palladium. Charles II, before the battle of Worcester , was crowned in the present chapel. The old Pretender resided at Scone for a considerable time in 1715, and his son made it a visit in 1745.


Repassed the Toy at Bullion's Boat; visited the field of Loncarty , celebrated for the great victory95 obtained by the Scots over the Danes , by means of the gallant peasant Hay , and his two sons, who, with no other weapons than the yokes which they snatched from their oxen then at plough, first put a stop to the flight of their countrymen, and afterwards led them on to conquest. The noble families of Hay descend from this rustic hero, and in memory of the action, bear for their arms the instrument of their victory, with the allusive motto of Sub jugo . There are on the spot several tumuli , in which are frequently found bones deposited in loose stones, disposed in form of a coffin. Not remote is a spot which supplied me with far more agreeable ideas; a tract of ground, which in 1732 was a mere bog, but now converted into good meadows, and about fifty acres covered with linnen; several other parts with buildings, and all the apparatus of the linnen manufacture, extremely curious, and worth seeing, carried on by the industrious family of the Sandimans : and in the bleachers are annually whitened, four hundred thousand yards of linnen, the manufacture of this family, and of Mr. Marshal! and others from Perth .


The country is good, full of barley, oats, and flax in abundance; but after a few miles travelling, is succeeded by a black heath. Ride through a beautiful plantation of pines, and after descending an easy slope, the plain beneath suddenly contracts itself into a narrow glen. The prospect before me strongly marked the entrance into the Highlands , the hills that bounded it on each side being lofty and rude. On the left was Birnam Wood, which seems never to have recovered the march which its ancestors made to Dunsinane : I was shewn at a great distance a high ridge of hills, where some remains of that famous fortress (Macbeth's castle) are said yet to exist.


The pass into the Highlands is awefully magnificent; high, Craggy, and often naked mountains present themselves to view, approach very near each other, and in many parts are fringed with wood, overhanging and darkening the Tay , that rolls with great rapidity beneath. After some advance in this hollow, a most beautiful know], covered with pines, appears full in view; and soon after, the town of Dunkeld , seated under and environed by crags, partly naked, partly wooded, with summits of a vast height. Lay at Inver ,96 a good inn, on the West side of the river.

Dunkeld Cathedral.

JULY 28.

Crossed it in a boat, attended by a tame swan, which was perpetually solliciting our favours, by putting its neck over the sides of the ferry-boat. Land in the Duke of Athol's gardens, which are extremely pleasing, washed by the river, and commanding from different parts of the walks, the most beautiful and picturesque views of wild and gloomy nature that can be conceived. Trees of all kinds grow here extremely well; and even so southern a shrub as Portugal laurel flourishes greatly. In the garden are the ruins of the cathedral, once a magnificent edifice, as appears by the beautiful round pillars still standing; but the choir is preserved, and at present used as a church. In the burial-place of the family is a large monument of the Marquis of Athol , hung with the arms of the numerous connections of the family.

On the other side of the river is a pleasing walk along the banks of the water of Bran ,97 a great and rapid torrent, full of immense stones. On a rock at the end of the walk is a neat building, impending over a most horrible chasm, into which the river precipitates itself with great noise and fury from a considerable height. The windows of the pavillion are formed of painted glass; some of the panes are red, which makes the water resemble a fiery cataract. About a mile further is another Rumbling Brig , like, but inferior in grandeur, to that near Kinross .

The town of Dunkeld is small, and has a small linnen manufacture. Much company resorts here, in the summer months, for the benefit of drinking goats' milk and whey: I was informed here, that those animals will eat serpents; as it is well known that flags do.

After a ride of two miles along a narrow strait, amidst trees, and often in sight of the Tay , was driven by rain into a fisherman's hut, who entertained me with an account of his business: said he paid ten pounds per ann . for the liberty of two or three miles of the river; sold the first fish of the season at three-pence a pound; after that, got three shillings per fish. The houses in these parts began to be covered with broom, which lasts three or four years: their insides mean, and very scantily furnished; but the owners civil, sensible, and of the quickest apprehensions.

The strait now widens into a vale plentiful in oats, barley and flax, and well peopled. On the right is the junction of the Tay and the Tumel : the channels of these rivers are wide, full of gravel, the mark of their devastation during floods. Due north is the road to Blair and Fort Augustus , through the noted pass of Killicrankie : turn to the left; ride opposite to Castle Menzies : reach Taymouth , the seat of the Earl of Breadalbane .


Taymouth 98 lies in a vale scarce a mile broad, very fertile, bounded on each side by mountains finely planted. Those on the South are covered with trees, or with corn fields far up their sides. The hills on the North are planted with pines and other trees, and vastly steep, and have a very Alpine look; but particularly resemble the great slope, opposite the grande Chartreuse in Dauphine . His lordship's policy99 surrounds the house, which stands in the park, and is one of the few in which fallow deer are seen.

[Plate X appears near here in the 1800 edition.]


The ground is in remarkable fine order, owing to his Lordship's assiduity in clearing it from stones, with which it was once covered. A Blaster was in constant employ to blast the great stones with gunpowder; for, by reason of their size, there was no other method of removing them.

The Berceau walk is very magnificent, composed of great trees, forming a fine gothic arch; and probably that species of architecture owed its origin to such vaulted shades. The walk on the bank of the Tay is fifty feet wide, and two and twenty hundred yards long; but is to be continued as far as the junction of the Toy and the Lion , which is about as far more. The first runs on the sides of the walk with great rapidity, is clear, but not colorless, for its pellucidness is like that of brown crystal; as is the case with most of the rivers in Scotland , which receive their tinge from the bogs. The Tay has here a wooden bridge two hundred feet long, leading to a white seat on the side of the opposite hill, commanding a fine view up and down Strathtay . The rich meadows beneath, the winding of the river, the beginning of Loch-Tay , the discharge of the river out of it, the neat village and church of Kinmore , form a most pleasing and magnificent prospect.


The view from the temple of Venus is that of the lake, with a nearer sight of the church and village, and the discharge of the river. The lake is about one mile broad, and fifteen long, bounded on each side by lofty mountains; makes three great bends, which adds to its beauty. Those on the south are well planted, and finely cultivated high up; interspersed with the habitations of the Highlanders , not singly, but in small groupes, as if they loved society or clanship: they are very small, mean, and without windows or chimnies, and are the disgrace of North Britain , as its lakes and rivers are its glory. Loch-Tay is in many places a hundred fathoms deep, and within as many yards of the shore, fifty-four.

Till of late, this lake was supposed to be as incapable of freezing as Loch-Ness, Loch-Earn , and Loch-Each ; tho' Loch Rannoch , and even Loch-Fine , an arm of the sea, often does. But in March 1771, so rigorous and uncommon was the cold, that about the 20th of that month this vast body of water was frozen over, in one part, from side to side, in the space of a single night; and so strong m was the ice, as greatly to damage a boat which was caught in it.

Loch-Tay abounds with Pike, Perch, Eels, Salmon, Charr, and Trout; of the last, some have been taken that weighed above thirty pounds. Of these species, the Highlanders abhor Eels, and also Lampreys, fancying, from the form, that they are too nearly related to Serpents.


The North side is less wooded, but more cultivated. The vast hill of Laurs , with beds of snow on it, through great part of the year, rises above the rest, and the still loftier mountain of Benmor closes the view far beyond the end of the lake. All this country abounds with game, such as Grous, Ptarmigans,100 Stags, and a peculiar species of Hare, which is found only on the summits of the highest hills, and never mixes with the common kind, which is frequent enough in the vales:101 is less than the common Hare; its limbs more slender; its flesh more delicate: is very agile, and full of frolick when kept tame; is fond of honey and carraway comfits, and prognosticates a storm by eating its own dung: in a wild state does not run an end, but seeks shelter under stones as soon as possible. During summer its predominant color is grey: about September it begins to assume a snowy whiteness, the alteration of color appearing about the neck and rump, and becomes entirely white, except the edges and tips of the ears: in April it again resumes its grey coat.

I. Ptarmigan.   II. Hen of the Wood..


The Ptarmigans inhabit the very summits of the highest mountains, amidst the rocks, perching among the grey stones, and during summer are scarcely to be distinguished from them, by reason of their color. They seldom take long flights, but fly about like pigeons; are silly birds, and so tame as to suffer a stone to be flung at them without rising. It is not necessary to have a dog to find them. They taste so like a Grous, as to be scarcely distinguishable. During winter, their plumage, except a few feathers on the tail, are of a pure white, the color of the snow, in which they bury themselves in heaps, as a protection from the rigorous air.


Royston Crows, called here Hooded Crows, and in the Erse, Feannag , are very common, and reside here the whole year. They breed in all sorts of trees, not only in the Highlands , but even in the plains of Murray : lay six eggs; have a shriller note than the common sort; are much more mischievous; pick out the eyes of lambs, and even of horses, when engaged in bogs; but for want of other food, will eat cranberries, and other mountain berries.

Ring Ouzels breed among the hills, and in autumn descend in flocks to feed on the berries of the wicken trees.

Sea Eagles breed in ruined towers, but quit the country in winter? The Black Eagles continue there the whole year.

Cascade near Taymouth.


It is very difficult to leave the environs of this delightful place. Before I go within doors, I must recall to mind the fine winding walks on the South side of the hills, the great beech sixteen feet in girth, the picturesque birch with its long streaming branches, the hermitage, the great cataracts adjacent, and the darksome chasm beneath. I must enjoy over again the view of the fine reach of the Tay , and its union with the broad water of the Lion : I must step down to view the druidical circles of stones; and lastly, I must visit Tay-bridge , and, as far as my pen can contribute, extend the fame of our military countrymen, who, among other works worthy of the Romans , founded this bridge, and left its history inscribed in these terms:

viam hanc militarem
Ultra Romanos terminos
M. Passuum. CCL. hac illac
Tesquis et paludibus insultantem
per Montes rupesque patesactam
et indignanti TAVO
ut cernis instratam:
Opus hoc arduum sua solertiâ,
Et decennali militum operâ,
A. Ær. Xnm 1733. Posuit G. WADE
Copiarum in SCOTIA Præfectus.
Ecce quantum valeant
Regis GEORGE II. Auspicia.


Taymouth is a large house, a castle modernized. The most remarkable part of its furniture is the works of the famous Jameson ,102 the Scotch Vandyck , an eleve of this family. That singular performance of his, the genealogical picture is in good preservation. The chief of the Argyle family is placed recumbent at the foot of a tree, with a branch; on the right is a single head of his eldest son, Sir Duncan Campbell , Laird of Lochou ; but on the various ramifications, are the names of his descendents, and along the body of the tree are nine small heads, in oval frames, with the names on the margins, all done with great neatness: the second son was first of the house of Breadalbane , which branched from the other about four hundred years ago. In a corner is inscribed, The Geneologie of the house of Glenorquhie Quhairof is descendit sundrie nobil & worthie houses . Jameson faciebat 1635. Its size is eight feet by five. In the same room are about twenty heads of persons of the family; among others, that of a lady, for very ugly, that a wag, on seeing it, with lifted hands pronounced, that she was fearfully and wonderfully made . There are in the same house, several heads by Jameson ; but many of them unfortunately spoiled in the repairing.

In the library is a small book, called, from the binding, the black book , with some beautiful drawings in it, on vellum, of the Breadalbane family, in water colors. In the first page is old Sir Duncan , between two other figures; then follow several chiefs of the family, among whom is Sir Colin , Knight of Rhodes , who died 1480, aged 80. At the end is a manuscript history of the family, ending, I think, in 1633.

JULY 30.

Went to divine service at Kinmore 103 church, which, with the village, was re-built, in the neatest manner, by the present Lord Breadalbane : they stand beautifully on a small headland, projecting into the lake. His Lordship permits the inhabitants to live rent free, on condition they exercise some trade, and keep their houses clean: so that, by these terms, he not only saves the expence of sending on every trifling occasion, to Perth or Crief , but has got some as good workmen, in common trades, as any in his Majesty's dominions.


The church is a remarkably neat plain building, with a very handsome tower steeple. The congregation was numerous, decent, attentive, still; well and neatly clad, and not a ragged or slovenly person among them. There were two services, one in English , the other in Erse . After the first, numbers of people, of both sexes, went out of church, and seating themselves in the church-yard, made, in their motly habits, a gay and picturesque appearance. The devotion of the common people of Highland Scotland , on the usual days of worship, is as much to be admired, as their conduct at the sacrament in certain places is to be censured. It is celebrated but once in a year,104 when there are sometimes three thousand communicants, and as many idle spectators. Of the first, as many as possible crowd on each side of a long table, and the elements are sometimes rudely shoves from one to another; and in certain places, before the day is at an end, fighting and other indecencies ensue. It has often been made a season for debauchery; and to this day, Jack cannot always be persuaded to eat his meat like a christian.105

Every Sunday a collection is made for the sick or necessitous; for poor's rates are unknown in every country parish in Scotland . Notwithstanding the common people are but just rouzed from their native indolence, very few beggars are seen in North Britain : either they are full masters of the lesson of being content with a very little; or, what is more probable, they are possessed of a spirit that will struggle hard with necessity before it will bend to the asking of alms.

Visited a pretty island in Loch-Tay , tufted with trees, and not far from the shore. On it are the ruins of a priory dependent on that at Scone ; founded in 1122, by Alexander the First; in which were deposited the remains of his Queen Sybilla , natural daughter to Henry I.: it was founded by Alexander in order for the prayers of the Monks for the repose of his soul and that of his royal consort.106 To this island the Campbells retreated, during the successes of the Marquis of Montrose , where they defended themselves against that hero, which was one cause of his violent resentment against the whole name.

JULY 31.

Rode to Glen-Lion ; went by the side of the river,107 that gives name to it. It has now lost its antient title of Duie , or Black , given it on account of a great battle between the Mackays and the Macgregors ; after which, the conquerors are said to have stained the waters with red, by washing in it their bloody swords and spears. On the right is a rocky hill, called Shi-hallen , or the Paps. Enter Glen-Lion through a strait pass: the vale is narrow, but fertile; the banks of the river steep, rocky, and wooded ; through which appears the rapid water of the Lion . On the North is a round fortress, on the top of the hill; to which, in old times, the natives retreated on any invasion. A little farther, on a plain, is a small Roman camp,108 called by the Highlanders Fortingal , or the Fort of the Strangers: themselves they stile Na fian , or descendents of Fingal . In Fortingal church-yard are the remains of a prodigious yew-tree, whose ruins measured fifty-six feet and a half in circumference.


Saw at the house of Col. Campbell of Glen-Lion , a curious walking-staff, belonging to one of his ancestors: it was iron cased in leather, five feet long; at the top a neat pair of extended wings, like a caduceus ; but, on being shaken, a poniard, two feet nine inches long, darted out.

He also favored me with the sight of a very ancient brotche, which the Highlanders use, like the fibula of the Romans , to fasten their vest: it is made of silver, is round, with a bar cross the middle, from whence are two tongues to fasten the folds of the garments: one side is studded with pearl, or coarse gems, in a very rude manner; on the other, the names of the three kings of Cologne , Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar ; with the word consummatim . It was probably a consecrated brotche, and worn not only for life, but as an amulet. Keyster's account of the virtues attributed to their names confirms my opinion. He says that they were written on slips of paper in this form, and worn as preservatives against the falling-sickness:

Gaspar fert Myrrham, Thus Melchior, Balthazar Aurum; Solvitur a morbo Christi pietate caduco.



Return South, and come at once in sight of Loch-Tay . The day very fine and calm, the whole scene was most beautifully repeated in the water. I must not omit that on the North side of this lake is a most excellent road, which runs the whole length of it, leading to Tiendrum and Inveraray , in Argyleshire , and is the route which travellers must take, who make what I call the petit tour ,109 of Scotland . This whole road was made at the sole expence of the present Lord Breadalbane ; who, to facilitate the travelling, also erected thirty-two stone bridges over the torrents that rum from the mountains into the lake. They will find the whole country excell in roads, partly military, partly done by statute labor, and much by the munificence of the great men.

I was informed, that Lord Breadalbane's estate was so extensive that he could ride a hundred miles an end on it, even as far as the West Sea, where he has also some islands. These great properties are divided into districts, called Officiaries : a ground officer presides over each, and has three, four, or five hundred men under his care. He superintends the duties due from each to their Lord, such as fetching peat, bringing coal from Crief , &c. which they do, at their own expence, on horses backs, travelling in strings, the tail of one horse being fastened by a cord, which reaches to the head of the next: the horses are little, and generally white or grey; and as the farms are very small, it is common for four people to keep a plough between them, each furnishing a horse, and this is called a horse-gang.

The north side of Loch-Tay is very populous; for in sixteen square miles are seventeen hundred and eighty-six souls : on the other side, about twelve hundred. The country, within these thirty years, manufactures a great deal of thread. They spin with rocks,110 which they do while they attend their cattle on the hills; and, at the four fairs in the year, held at Kinmore , above sixteen hundred pounds worth of yarn is sold out of Breadalbane only: which shews the great increase of industry in these parts, for less than forty years ago there was not the lest trade in this article. The yarn is bought by persons who attend the fairs tor that purpose, and sell it again at Perth , Glasgow , and other places, where it is manufactured into cloth.

Much of this may be owing to the good sense and humanity of the chieftain; but much again is owing to the abolition of the feudal tenures, or vassalage; for before that was effected, (which was done by the influence of a Chancellor,111 whose memory Scotland gratefully adores for that service) the Strong oppressed the weak, the Rich the Poor. Courts indeed were held, and juries called; but juries of vassals, too dependent and too timid to be relied on for the execution of true justice.

81 Such as Rosythe castle, Dumfermline town, Lord Murray's , Lord Hopetoun's , Captain Dundass's .

82 Or, as others say, because she, her brother and sister, first landed there, after their escape from William the Conqueror.

83 Part of the antient Caledonia .

84 Hist. Corsica , p. 285, of the third edition.

85 Historians differ in respect to the cause that influenced him to affirm in his sovereign's escape: some attribute it to his avarice, and think he was bribed with jewels, reserved by Mary ; others, that he was touched by a more generous passion: the last opinion is the most natural, considering the charms of the queen, and the youth of her deliverer.

86 Sibbald's Hist. of Fife and Kinross . 108.

87 In Sweden , and the North of Germany , such holes as these are called Giants Pots. Kalm's Voy . 121. and Ph. Trans. abridg . V. 165.

88 Near this place was the battle of Dupplin , 1332, between the English , under the command of Baliol , and the Scots . The last were defeated, and such a number of the name of Hay slain, that the family would have been extinct, had not several of their wives been left at home pregnant?

89 Smith's Hist. of Cork . II. 36.

90 Raleigh's Hist. of the World. Book I. Ch. V. Sect. V.

91 Sir W. Temple's Essay on Health and Long Life. Vide his Works, Folio Ed. L 276.

92 Cent. VIII. Sect. 755.

93 Taus, Taciti Vit. Agr.

94 Founded by Alexander I. 1114, for canons regular of St. Augustine .

95 In the time of Kenneth , who began his reign in 976.

96 Inver , a place where a lesser river runs into a greater; or a river into a lake or sea, as Aber signifies in the British.

97 Rivers in Scotland are very frequently called waters .

98 Its name, in old maps, is Balloch ; i. e. the mouth of the Loch: Bala in the British language.

99 This word here signifies improvements, or demesne: when used by a merchant, or tradesman, signifies their warehouses, shops, and the like.

100 Br. Zool . I. No. 95.

101 Br. Zool . No. 21.

102 Son of an architect at Aberdeen ; studied under Rubens , at Antwerp. Charles I. sat to him, and presented him with a diamond ring. He always drew himself with his hat on. His prices were 20 l. Scots , or 1 l. 3 s. 4 d. English, per head; was born in 1586; died at Edinburgh , 1644. For a further account, consult Mr. Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting.

103 Or the Great Head.

104 Formerly the sacrament was administered but once in two years.

105 Tale of a Tub .

106 As appears from a grant made by that Monarch of the isle in Loch-Tay, Ut Ecclesia DEI ibi pro me et pro Anima SYBILLÆ Regina ibi defunctæ fabricetur , &c.

107 This river freezes; but the Tay , which receives it, never does.

108 It possibly might have been made during the expedition of Severus , who penetrated to the extremity of this island. It was the most northern work of the Romans of which I had any intelligence.

109 Which comprehends the route I have described; adding to it, from Taymoutb , along the road, on the side of the lake, to Killin , 16 miles; from thence to Tiendrum , 20; Glenorchie , 12; Inveraray , 16; Luss , on the banks of Loch-Lomond , 30; Dunbarton , 12; Glasgow , 15; Sterling , 31; Edinburgh , by Hopetoun House, 35; a tract unparalleled, for the variety and frequency of fine and magnificent scenery.

110 Their Lord gives among them annually a great number of spinning-wheels, which will soon cause the disuse of the rock.

111 Earl of Hardwick , who may be truly said to have given to the North Britons their great charter of liberty.

Thomas Pennant, A Tour in Scotland 1769 (London: Benjamin White, 1776)

Next Selection Previous Selection