Picture of Thomas Pennant

Thomas Pennant

places mentioned

August 1-6: Loch Tay to Deeside

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AUG. 1.

Leave Taymouth ; ford the Lion , and ride above it thro' some woods. On the left bursts out a fine cascade, in a deep hollow, covered with trees: at a small distance to the West is Castle Garth , a small castle seated like Castle Campbell , between two deep glens. Keep ascending a steep hill, but the corn country continues for a while: the scene then changes for a wild, black, and mountainous heath. Descend into Rannoch , a meadowy plain, tolerably fertile: the lake of the same name extends from East to West; is about eleven miles long, and one broad: the Northern bank appears very barren; part of the Southern finely covered with a forest of pine and birch, the first natural woods I had seen of pines: rode a good way in it, but observed no trees of any size, except a birch sixteen feet in circumference: the ground beneath the trees is covered with heath, bilberies, and dwarf abutus, whose glossy leaves make a pretty appearance. This place gives shelter to black game, and Roes. These animals are found from the banks of Loch Lomond , as far North as the entrance into Cathness : in summer their hair is short, smooth, glossy, and red; at approach of winter grows long and hoary, and proves an excellent defence against the rigor of the Highland air. The weight of a full grown Roe is 60 lb. The horns of the second year are strait, slender, and without any branch: in the third become bifurcated: in the fourth, trifurcated, and grow more scabrous and stronger, in proportion to their longevity. They feed during summer on grass, and are remarkably fond of the Rubus Saxatilis , called in the Highlands , on that account, the Roebuck Berry . When the ground is covered with snow, they browze on the extreme branches of the pine and juniper. They bring two young at a time: the fawns elegantly spotted with white. It is extremely difficult to rear them; commonly eight out of ten dying in the attempt. The flesh of the Roe is by some accounted a delicacy: to me it seemed very dry. They keep in small families of five or six.


Near these woods is a saw-mill, which is rented from the Government: and the tenant is obliged to work 150 tuns of timber annually, paying eighteen shillings and six-pence per tun. The deal, which is the red fort, is sold in plank to different parts of the country, carried on horses backs, for the trees are now grown so scarce as not to admit of exportation.112

The lake affords no other fish than Trouts, small Chars, and Bull Trouts; the last, as I was informed, are sometimes taken of the length of four feet and a half. Many water fowl breed in the birns or little streams that trickle into the lake; among others, different sorts of Grebes and Divers: I was told of one which the inhabitants call Fur-bhuachaille , that makes a great noise before storms, and by their description find it to be the speckled Diver, Br. Zool . 2d. ed. II. 414. No rats have hitherto been observed in this country.


This country was once the property of Robertson of Struan , and was granted to an ancestor of his, as a reward for taking Robert Graham , the ruffian who murdered James I . It was then valued at a hundred marks. He was likewise permitted to bear in his coat of arms a Graham bound in chains. A descendent of his, styled Mac-Robert , was the most potent plunderer of his days, and, at the head of eight hundred men, for a long time ravaged Athol and the adjoining countries, in the beginning of the reign of James V. but at length was surprized and slain.113 The late Struan seemed to inherit his turbulent disposition. He had been in the rebellion of 1715; had his estate restored, but in 1745 rebelling a second time, the country was burnt, and the estate annexed to the crown. He returned a few years after, and died as he lived, a most abandoned sot; notwithstanding which, he had a genius for poetry, and left behind him a volume of elegies and other pieces, in some of which he elegantly laments the ravages of war among his vassals, and the loss of his favorite scenes, and in particular his fountain Argentine .


The country is perfectly highland; and in spite of the intercourse this and the neighboring parts have of late years had Superstitions. with the rest of the world, it still retains some of its antient customs and superstitions: they decline daily, but least their memory should be lost, I shall mention several that are still practised, or but very lately disused in the tract I had passed over. Such a record will have this advantage, when the follies are quite extinct, in teaching the unshackled and enlightened mind the difference between the pure ceremonies of religion, and the wild and anile flights of superstition.


The belief in spectres still exists; of which I had a remarkable proof while I was in the county of Breadalbane . A poor visionary, who had been working in his cabbage garden, imagined that he was raised suddenly into the air, and conveyed over a wall into an adjacent corn-field;114 that he found himself surrounded by a crowd of men and women, many of whom he knew to have been dead some years, and who appeared to him skimming over the tops of the unbended corn, and mingling together like bees going to hive: that they spoke an unknown language, and with a hollow sound: that they very roughly pushed him to and fro; but on his uttering the name of God, all vanished but a female sprite, who seizing him by the shoulder, obliged him to promise an assignation, at that very hour, that day sevennight: that he then found that his hair was all tied in double knots, and that he had almost lost the use of his speech: that he kept his word with the spectre, whom he soon saw come floating thro' the air towards him: that he spoke to her, but she told him at that time she was in too much haste to attend to him, but bid him go away, and no harm should befall him; and so the affair rested when I left the country. But it is incredible the mischief these Ægri Somnia did in the neighborhood: the friends and relations of the deceased, whom the old Dreamer had named, were in the utmost anxiety at finding them in such bad company in the other world: the almost extinct belief of the old idle tales began again to gain ground, and the good minister will have many a weary discourse and exhortation before he can eradicate the absurd ideas this idle story has revived.

In this part of the country the notion of witchcraft is quite lost: it was observed to cease almost immediately on the repeal of the witch act;115 a proof what a dangerous instrument it was in the hands of the vindictive, or of the credulous.


Among the superstitious customs these are the most singular. A Highlander never begins any thing of consequence on the day of the week on which the 3d of May falls, which he styles La Sheachama na bleanagh , or the dismal day.


On the 1st of May , the herdsmen of every village hold their Bel-tein ,116 a rural sacrifice. They cut a square trench on the ground, leaving the turf in the middle; on that they make a fire of wood, on which they dress a large caudle of eggs, butter, oatmeal and milk; and bring, besides the ingredients of the caudle, plenty of beer and whisky; for each of the company must contribute something. The rites begin with spilling some of the caudle on the ground, by way of libation: on that every one takes a cake of oatmeal, upon which are raised nine square knobs, each dedicated to some particular being, the supposed preserve of their flocks and herds, or to some particular animal, the real destroyer of them: each person then turns his face to the fire, breaks off a knob, and flinging it over his shoulders, shoulders, says, This I give to thee, preserve thou my horses; this to thee, preserve thou my sheep ; and so on. After that, they use the same ceremony to the noxious animals: This I give to thee, O Fox! spare thou my lambs; this to thee, O hooded crow ! this to thee, O Eagle!

When the ceremony is over, they dine on the candle; and after the feast is finished, what is left is hid by two persons deputed for that purpose; but on the next Sunday they reassemble, and finish the reliques of the first entertainment.117


On the death of a Highlander, the corps being stretched on a Funeral board, and covered with a coarse linnen wrapper, the friends lay on the breast of the deceased a wooden platter, containing a small quantity of salt and earth, separate and unmixed; the earth, an emblem of the corruptible body; the salt, an emblem of the immortal spirit. All fire is extinguished where a corps is kept; and it is reckoned so ominous for a dog or cat to pass over it, that the poor animal is killed without mercy.


The Late-wake is a ceremony used at funerals. The evening after the death of any person, the relations and friends of the deceased meet at the house, attended by bagpipe or fiddle; the nearest of kin, be it wife, son, or daughter, opens a melancholy ball, dancing and greeting, i. e. crying violently at the same time; and this continues till day-light; but with such gambols and frolicks among the younger part of the company, that the loss which occasioned them is often more than supplied by the consequences of that night.118 If the corps remains unburied for two nights, the same rites are renewed. Thus, Scythian -like, they rejoice at the deliverance of their friends out of this life of misery.

This custom is an antient English one, perhaps a Saxon. Chaucer mentions it in his Knight's Tale.

Ne how the liche-wake was yhold
All thilke night.

It was not alone in Scotland that these watchings degenerated into excess. Such indecencies we find long ago forbidden by the church. In vigiliis circa corpora mortuorum vetantur chorea et cantilenaæ, seculares ludi et alii turpes & fatui .119


The Coranich , or singing at funerals, is still in use in some places: the songs are generally in praise of the deceased; or a recital of the valiant deeds of him or his ancestors. I had not the fortune to be present present at any in North Britain , but formerly assisted at one in the South of Ireland , where it was performed in the fullness of horror. The cries are called by the Irish the 'Ulogohne and Hûllulu , two words extremely expressive of the sound uttered on these occasions, and being of Celtic stock, Etymologists would swear to be the origin of the of the Greeks , and Ululatus of the Latins. Virgil is very fond of using the last, whenever any of his females are distressed; as are others of the Roman Poets, and generally on occasions similar to this.

It was my fortune to arrive at a certain town in Kerry , at the time that a person of some distinction departed this life: my curiosity led me to the house, where the funeral seemed conducted in the purest classical form.

Quodcunque aspicerem luctus gemitusque sonabant ,
Formaque non taciti funeris intus erat .

In short, the conclamatio was set up by the friends in the same manner as Virgil describes that consequential of Dido's death.

Lamentis gemituque et fæmineo ululatu
Tecta fremunt .

Immediately after this followed another ceremony, fully described by Camden , in his account of the manners of the antient Irish ; the earnest expostulations and reproaches given to the deceased, for quitting this world, where she enjoyed so many blessings, so good a husband, such fine children. This custom is also of great antiquity, for Euryalus's mother makes the same pathetic address to her dead son.

                                            Tune illa senectæ
Sera meæ requies? potuisti relinquere solam

But when the time approached for carrying out the corps, the cry was redoubled,

Tremulis ululatibus æthera complent;

a numerous band of females waiting in the outer court, to attend the hearse, and to pay (in chorus) the last tribute of their voices. The habit of this sorrowing train, and the neglect of their persons, were admirably suited to the occasion: their robes were black and flowing, resembling the antient Palla ; their feet naked, their hair long and disheveled: I might truely say,

Vidi egomet nigrâ succinctam vadere pallâ
CANIDIAM ; pedibus nudis, passoque capillo , Cum SAGANA majore ululantem .

Among these mourners were dispersed the females who sung the praises of the deceased, and were in the place of the Mulieres Præficæ of the Romans , and like them, a mercenary tribe. I could not but observe that they over-did their parts, as Horace acquaints us the hireling mourners of his days did.

Ut qui condufti plorant in funere, dicunt
Et faciunt prope plura dolentibus ex animo .

The corps was carried slowly along the verge of a most beautiful lake, the ululatus was continued, and the whole procession ended among the venerable ruins of an old abby. But to return to North Britain .

Midwives give new-born babes a small spoonfull of earth and whisky, as the first food they taste.

Before women bake their bannocks, or oatmeal cakes, they form a cross on the last they make.


The notion of second-sight still prevales in a few places: as does the belief of Fairies; and children are watched till the christening is over, lest they should be stole, or changed.

Elf-shots, i. e. the stone arrow-heads of the old inhabitants of this island, are supposed to be weapons shot by Fairies at cattle, to which are attributed any disorders they have: in order to effect a cure, the cow is to be touched by an elf-shot, or made to drink the water in which one has been dipped. The same virtue is said to be found in the crystal gems,120 and in the adder-stone, our Glein Naidr ; and it is also believed that good fortune must attend the owner; so, for that reason, the first is called Clach Bhuai , or the powerful stone. Captain Archibald Campbell shewed me one, a spheroid set in silver, for the use of which, people came above a hundred miles, and brought the water it was to be dipt in with them; for without that, in human cases, it was believed to have no effect.

These have been supposed to be magical stones or gems used by, the Druids , to be inspected by a chaste boy, who was to fee in them an apparition informing him of future events. This imposture, as we are told by Doctor Woodward , was revived in the last century by the famous Doctor Dee , who called it shew stone and holy stone , and pretended, by its means, to foretell events. I find in Montfaucon ,121 that it was customary in early times to deposite Balls of this kind in urns or sepulchers: thus twenty were found at Rome in an alabastrine urn: and one was discovered in 1653, in the tomb of Childeric at Tournai ; he was King of France , and died A. D. 480.

AUG. 2.

Left Carrie , the house of Mr. Campbell , factor for the Struan estate, where I had a very hospitable reception the preceding night. Went due East; passed over a bridge cross the Tumel , which discharges itself out of Loch-Rannoch . Not far off were some neat small houses, inhabited by veteran soldiers, who were settled here after the peace of 1748; had land, and three pounds in money given, and nine pounds lent to begin the world with. In some few places this plan succeeded; but in general was frustrated by the dissipation of these new colonists, who could by no means relish an industrious life; but as soon as the money was spent, which seldom lasted long, left their tenements to be possessed by the next comer.

Saw a stamping-mill, calculated to reduce lime-stone to a fine powder, in order to save the expence of burning, for manure. The stampers beat it into small pieces in a trough, which a stream of water passed through, carrying off the finer parts into a proper receptacle, the gross ones being stopped by a grate. I did not find that this project answered; but was told, that the benefit the land was to receive from it, would not appear till the third year.


On going up a steep hill, have a fine view of the lake. Where the mountains almost close is Mount Alexander , where Struan once resided, and which he called his hermitage: it is a most romantic situation, prettily wooded, impending over a fine bason, formed by the Tumel , in a deep hollow beneath. At the bottom of this hill is Argentine , a little fountain; to which he gave that name from the silvery micæ it flings up: near this are several rude but beautiful walks amidst the rocks and trees, among which, in clefts and chasms, I was shewn the hard bed of the poor poet, when his disloyalty had made it penal for him to shew his head. Near this the rocks almost meet, and the river rushes with vast violence between. Some outlawed Mc Gregors were once surprized on the precipice, and all killed; one, who made a desperate leap upon a stone in the middle of the water, and another to the opposite side, had the hard fate to be shot in climbing the rocky steeps.

A mile lower are the falls of the Tumel : I have seen higher; but, except that of the Rhine , never saw one with more water.

Ascend a very steep and high hill, through a great birch wood; a most picturesque scene, from the pendent form of the boughs waving with the wind from the bottom to the utmost summits of the mountain. On attaining the top, had a view of the beautiful little Straith , fertile and prettily wooded, with the river in the middle, forming numbers of quick meanders, then suddenly swelling into a lake, that fills the vale from side to side; is about three miles long, and retains the name of the river. After riding along a black moor, in sight of vast mountains, arrive at

Blair ,122 or Athol House, seated on an eminence above a plain, watered by the Gary , an outrageous stream, whose ravages have greatly deformed the vally, by the vast beds of gravel which it has left behind. The house was once fortified, and held a siege against the Rebels in 1746; but at present is much reduced in height, and the inside highly finished by the noble owner. The most singular piece of furniture is a chest of drawers made of broom, most elegantly striped in veins of white and brown. This plant grows to a great size in Scotland , and furnishes pieces of the breadth of six inches.

View near Blair.


Near the house is a fine walk, surrounding a very deep glen finely wooded, but in dry weather deficient in water at the bottom; but on the side of the walk on the rock is a small crystalline fountain, inhabited at that time by a pair of Naiads , in form of golden fish. In a spruce fir was a hang-nest of some unknown bird, suspended at the four corners to the boughs; it was open at top, an inch and a half in diameter, and two deep; the sides and bottom thick, the materials moss, worsted, and birch bark, lined with hair and feathers. The streams afford the Parr , a small species of Trout, seldom exceeding eight inches in length, marked on the sides with nine large bluish spots, and on the lateral line with small red ones.123


No traveller should omit visiting Yorke Cascade , a magnificent cataract, amidst most suitable scenery, about a mile distant from the house.

This country is very mountanous, has no natural woods, except of birch; but the vast plantations that begin to cloath the hills will amply supply these defects. There is a great quantity of oats raised in this neighborhood, and numbers of black cattle reared, the resources of the exhausted parts of South Britain .

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


Visit the pass of Killicrankie , about five miles South of Blair : near the Northern entrance was fought the battle between the Viscount Dundee and General Mackay , in which the first was killed in the moment of victory. The pass is extremely narrow between high mountains, with the Gary running beneath in a deep, darksome, and rocky channel, over-hung with trees, forming a scene of horrible grandeur. The road through this strait is very fine, formed by the soldiery lent by the Government, who have sixpence per day from the country, besides their pay. About a mile beyond the pass, Mr. Robertson's , of Faskally , appears like fairy ground, amidst these wild rocks, seated in a most beautiful meadow, watered by the river Tumel , surrounded with pretty hills, finely wooded.


The Duke of Athol's estate is very extensive, and the country populous: while vassalage existed, the chieftain could raise two or three thousand fighting men, and leave sufficient at home to take care of the ground. The forests, or rather chases, (for they are quite naked; are very extensive, and feed vast numbers of Stags, which range at certain times of the year, in herds of five hundred. Some grow to a great size: I have heard of one that weighed 18 stone, Scots , or 314lb. exclusive of head, entrails and skin. The hunting of these animals was formerly after the manner of an Great Eastern monarch. Thousands of vassals surrounded a great tract of country, and drove the Deer to the spot where the Chieftains were stationed, who shot them at their leisure. The magnificent hunt, made by an Earl of Athol , near this place, for the amusement of James V. and the Queen-mother, is too remarkable to be omitted; the relation is therefore given as described by Sir David Lindsay of the Mount ,124 who, in all probability, assisted at it.

The Earl of Athole , hearing of the King's coming, made great provision for him in all things pertaining to a prince, that he was as well served and eased, with all things necessary to his estate, as he had been in his own palace of Edinburgh . For I heard say, this noble Earl gart make a curious palace to the King, to his Mother, and to the Embassador, where they were so honourably eased and lodged as they had been in England, France, Italy , or Spain , concerning the time and equivalent, for their hunting and pastime; which was builded in the midst of a fair meadow, a fair palace of green timber, wind with green birks, that were green both under and above, which was fashioned in four quarters, and in every quarter and nuik thereof a great round, as it had been a block-house, which was lifted and gested the space of three house height; the floors laid with green scarets spreats, medwarts and flowers, that no man knew whereon he zeid, but as he had been in a garden. Further, there were were two great rounds in ilk side of the gate, and a great portculleis of tree, falling down with the manner of a bar-race, with a draw-bridge, and a great stank of water of sixteen foot deep, and thirty foot of breadth. And also this palace within was hung with fine tapestry and arrasses of silk, and lighted with fine glass windows in all airths; that this palace was as pleasantly decored, with all necessaries pertaining to a prince, as it had been his own palace-royal at home. Further, this Earl gart make such provision for the King, and his Mother, and the Embassador, that they had all manner of meats, drinks, and delicates that were to be gotten, at that time, in all Scotland , either in burgh or land; that is to fay, all kind of drink, as ale, beer, wine, both white and claret, malvery, muskadel, Hippocras, aquavitæ . Further, there was of meats, wheat-bread, main-bread and ginge-bread; with fleshes, beef, mutton, lamb, veal, venison, goose, grice, capon, coney, cran, swan, partridge, plover, duck, drake, brissel-cock and pawnes, black-cock and muir-fowl, cappercaillies: and also the ftanks, that were round about the palace, were full of all delicate fishes, as salmons, trouts, pearches, pikes, eels, and all other kind of delicate fishes, that could be gotten in fresh waters; and all ready for the banket. Syne were there proper stewards, cunning baxters, excellent cooks and potingars, with confections and drugs for their deserts; and the halls and chambers were prepared with costly bedding, vessel and napery, according for a king, so that he wanted none of his orders more than he had been at home in his own palace. The King remained in this wilderness, at the hunting, the space of three days and three nights, and his company, as I have shewn. I heard men say, it cost the Earl of Athole , every day, in expences, a thousand pounds.

But hunting meetings, among the great men, were often the preludes to rebellion; for under that pretence they collected great bodies of men without suspicion, which at length occasioned an act of parlement prohibiting such dangerous assemblies.


Set out for the county of Aberdeen ; ride Eastward over a hill into Glen-Tilt , famous in old times for producing the most hardy warriors, is a narrow glen, several miles in length, bounded on each side by mountains of an amazing height; on the South is the great hill of Ben y glo , whose base is thirty-five miles in circumference, and whose summit towers far above the others. The sides of many of these mountains is covered with fine verdure, and are excellent sheep-walks: but entirely woodless. The road is the most dangerous and the most horrible I ever travelled: a narrow path, so rugged, that our horses often were obliged to cross their legs, in order to pick a secure place for their feet; while, at a considerable and precipitous depth beneath, roared a black torrent, rolling through a bed of rock,, solid in every part, but where the Tilt had worn its antient way. Salmon force their passage even as high as this dreary stream, in spite of the distance from the sea, and the difficulties they have to encounter.

Ascend a steep hill, and find ourselves on an Aerie , or tract of mountain which the families of one or two hamlets retire to with their flocks for pasture in summer. Here we refreshed ourselves with some goats' whey, at a Sheelin , or Bothay , a cottage made of turf, the dairy-house, where the Highland shepherds, or graziers, live with their herds and flocks, and during the fine season make butter and cheese. Their whole furniture consisted of a few hornspoons, their milking utensils, a couch formed of sods to lie on, and a rug to cover them. Their food oat-cakes, butter or cheese, and often the coagulated blood of their cattle spread on their bannocs. Their drink, milk, whey, and sometimes, by way of indulgence, whisky. Such dairy-houses are common to most mountainous countries; those in Wales are called Hafodtai , or Summer-houses; those on the Swiss Alps, Sennes .


Dined on the side of Loch-Tilt , a small piece of water, swarming with Trouts. Continued our journey over a wild, black, moody, melancholy tract. Reached Brae-mar ;125 the country almost instantly changed, and in lieu of dreary wastes, a rich vale, plenteous in corn and grass, succeeded. Cross the Dee near its head, which, from an insignificant stream, in the course of a very few miles, increases to the size of a great river, from the influx of numbers of other waters; and is remarkable for continuing near fifty miles of its course, from Invercauld to within six miles of Aberdeen , without any sensible augmentation. The rocks of Brae-mar , on the East, are exceedingly romantic, finely wooded with pine. The cliffs are very lofty, and their front most rugged and broken, with vast pines growing out of their fissures.

Brae-mar Castle.


On the North side of the river lies Dalmore , distinguished by the finest natural pines in Europe , both in respect to the size of the trees, and the quality of the timber. Single trees have been fold out of it for six guineas: they were from eighty to ninety feet high, without a lateral branch, and four feet and a half in diameter at the lower end. The wood is very resinous, of a dark red color, and very weighty. It is preferable to any brought from Norway , and being sawn into plank on the spot, brings annually to the proprietor a large revenue. On the opposite side of the river is the estate of Inverey , noted also for its pines, but of a size inferior to those of Dalmore . When the river is swelled with rains, great floats of timber from both these estates, are sent down into the Low Countries.

This tract, abounding with game, was, in old times, the annual resort of numbers of nobility, who assembled here to pass a month or two in the amusements of the chace. Their huntings resembled campaigns; they lived in temporary cottages, called Lonquhards , were all dressed in an uniform habit conformable to that of the country, and passed their time with jollity and good chear most admirably described by John Taylor , the water poet, who, in 1618, made there his Pennilesse Pilgrimage , and describes, in page 135, the rural luxury with all the glee of a Sancho Pança .

I thank my good Lord Erskin, [says the Poet] hee commanded that I should alwayes bee lodged in his lodging, the kitchen being alwayes on the side of a banke, many kettles and pots boyling, and many spits turning and winding, with great variety of cheere: as venison bak'd, sodden, rost and stu'de beefe, mutton, goates, kid, hares, fresh salmon, pidgeons, hens, capons, chickens, partridge, moore-coots, heath-cocks, caperkellies, and termagants; good ale, sacke, white and claret, tent or (Allegant) and most potent aquavitæ .126


All these, and more than these, we had continually, in superfluous abundance, caught by faulconers, fowlers, fishers, and brought, by my Lord's (Mar) tenants and purveyors, to victual our campe, which consisted of fourteen or fifteen hundred men, and horses. The manner of the hunting is this: five or six hundred men doe rise early in the morning, and they doe disperse themselves divers wayes, and seven, eight, or ten miles compasse, they doe bring or chase in the deer in many heards (two, three, or four hundred in a heard) to such or such a place, as the noble-men shall appoint them; then when day is come, the lords and gentlemen of their companies doe ride or goe to the said places, sometimes wading up to the middles through bournes and rivers; and then they being come to the place, doe lie down on the ground till those foresaid scouts, which are called the Tinckhell , doe bring down the deer; but, as the proverb says of a bad cooke, so these Tinckhell men doe lick their own fingers; for, besides their bowes and arrows which they carry with them, wee can heare now and then a harguebuse, or a musquet, goe off, which doe seldom discharge in vaine: then after we had stayed three houres, or thereabouts, we might perceive the deer appeare on the hills round about us, (their heads making a shew like a wood) which being followed close by the Tinckhell , are chased down into the valley where we lay; then all the valley on each side being way-laid with a hundred couple of strong Irish grey-hounds, they are let loose, as occasion serves, upon the heard of deere, that with dogs, gunnes, arrows, durks and daggers, in the space of two houres, fourscore fat deere were slaine, which after are disposed of some one way and some another, twenty or thirty miles, and more than enough left for us to make merry withall at our rendevouze. Being come to our lodgings, there was such baking, boyling, rosting and stewing, as if Cook Ruffian had been there to have scalded the Devil in his feathers.

But to proceed.

Pass by the castle of Brae-mar , a square tower, the seat of the ancient Earls of Mar : in later times a garrison to curb the discontented chieftains; but at present unnecessarily occupied by a company of foot, being rented by the Government from Mr. Farquharson , of Invercauld , whose house I reach in less than half an hour.

Invercauld is seated in the centre of the Grampian hills, in a fertile vale, washed by the Dee , a large and rapid river: nothing can be more beautiful than the different views from the several parts of it. On the Northern entrance, immense ragged and broken crags bound one side of the prospect; over whose grey sides and summits is scattered the melancholy green of the picturesque pine, which grows out of the naked rock, where one would think nature would have denied vegetation.

A little lower down is the castle above-mentioned; formerly a necessary curb on the little kings of the country; but at present serves scarce any purpose, but to adorn the landscape.

The views from the skirts of the plain near Invercauld , are very great; the hills that immediately bound it are cloathed with trees, particularly with birch, whose long and pendent boughs, waving a vast height above the head, surpass the beauties of the weeping willow.

The Southern extremity is pre-eminently magnificent; the mountains form there a vast theatre, the bosom of which is covered with extensive forests of pines : above, the trees grow scarcer and scarcer, and then seem only to sprinkle the surface; after which vegetation ceases, and naked summits127 of a surprising height succeed, many of them topped with perpetual snow; and, as a fine contrast to the scene, the great cataract of Garval-bourn , which seems at a distance to divide the whole, foams amidst the dark forest, rushing from rock to rock to a vast distance.

Some of these hills are supposed to be the highest part of Great Britain : their height has not yet been taken, but the conjecture is made from the descent of the Dee , which runs from Brae-mar 128 to the sea, above seventy miles, with a most rapid course.

In this vale the Earl of Mar , first set up the Pretender's standard on the 6th of September 1715; and in consequence drew to destruction his own, and several of the most noble families of North Britain .


Rode to take a nearer view of the environs; crossed the Dee on a good stone-bridge, built by the Government, and entered on excellent roads into a magnificent forest of pines of many miles extent. Some of the trees are of a vast size; I measured several that were ten, eleven, and even twelve feet in circumference, and near sixty feet high, forming a most beautiful column, with a fine verdant capital. These trees are of a great age, having, as is supposed, seen two centuries. Their value is considerable; Mr. Farquharson informed me, that by sawing and retailing them, he has got for eight hundred trees five-and-twenty shillings each: they are sawed in an adjacent saw-mill, into plank ten feet long, eleven inches broad, and three thick, and sold for two shillings apiece.

Near this antient forest is another, consisting of smaller trees, almost as high, but very slender; one grows in a singular manner out of the top of a great stone, and notwithstanding it seems to have no other nourishment than what it gets from the dews, is above thirty feet high.

The prospect above these forests is very extraordinary, a distant view of hills over a surface of verdant pyramids of pines.

I must not omit, that there are in the moors of these parts, what I may call subterraneous forests, of the same species of trees, overthrown by the rage of tempests, and covered with vegetable mould. These are dug up, and used for several mechanical purposes. The finer and more resinous parts are split into slender pieces, and serve the purposes of torches. Ceres made use of no other in her search after her lost daughter.

Ilia duabus
Flammifera PINUS manibus succendit ab Ætna .

OVID. Met. lib. v. 7.

At Ætna's flaming mouth two pitchy pines
To light her in her search at length she tines.


This whole tract abounds with game: the Stags at this time were ranging in the mountains; but the little Roebucks129 Were perpetually bounding before us; and the black game often sprung under our feet. The tops of the hills swarmed with Grous and Ptarmigans . Green Plovers, Whimbrels, and Snow-flecks,130 breed here: the last assemble in great flocks during winter, and collect so closely in their eddying flight, as to give the sportsman opportunity of killing numbers at a shot. Eagles,131 Peregrine Falcons, and Goshawks breed here: the Falcons in rocks, the Goshawks in trees: the last pursues its prey an end, and dashes through every thing in pursuit; but if it misses its quarry, desists from following it after two or three hundred yards flight. These birds are proscribed; half a crown is given for an eagle, a shilling for a hawk, or hooded crow.

Foxes are in these parts very ravenous, feeding on roes, sheep, and even she goats.

Rooks visit these vales in autumn, to feed on the different sort of berries; but neither winter nor breed here.

I saw flying in the forests, the greater Bulfinch of Mr. Edwards, tab . 123. 124. the Loxia enucleator of Linnaeus , whose food is the seed of pine cones; a bird common to the north of Europe and America .


On our return passed under some high cliffs; with large woods of birch intermixed. This tree is used for all sorts of implements of husbandry, roofing of small houses, wheels, fuel; the Highlanders also tan their own leather with the bark; and a great deal of excellent wine is extracted from the live tree. Observed among these rocks a sort of projecting shelf on which had been a hut, accessible only by the help of some thongs, fastened by some very expert climbers, to which the family got, in time of danger, in former days, with their most valuable moveables.


The houses of the common people in these parts are shocking to humanity, formed with loose stones, and covered with clods, which they call devots , or with heath, broom, or branches of fir: they look, at a distance, like so many black mole-hills. The inhabitants live very poorly, on oatmeal, barley-cakes and potatoes; their drink whiskey, sweetened with honey. The men are thin, but strong; idle and lazy, except employed in the chace, or any thing that looks like amusement; are content with their hard fare, and will not exert themselves farther than to get what they deem necessaries. The women are more industrious, spin their own husbands' cloaths, and get money by knitting stockings, the great trade of the country. The common women are in general most remarkably plain, and soon acquire an old look, and by being much exposed to the weather without hats, such a grin, and contraction of the muscles, as heightens greatly their natural hardness of features: I never saw so much plainness among the lower rank of females: but the ne plus ultra of hard features is not found till you arrive among the fish-women of Aberdeen .

Tenants pay their rent generally in this country in money, except what they pay in poultry, which is done to promote the breed, as the gentry are so remote from any market. Those that rent a mill pay a hog or two; an animal so detested by the Highlanders, that very few can be prevaled on to taste it, in any shape. Labor is here very cheap, the usual pay being fifty shillings a year, and two pecks of oatmeal a week.

Pursued my journey East, along a beautiful road by the river side, in sight of the pine forests. The vale now grows narrow, and is filled with woods of birch and alder. Saw on the road side the seats of gentlemen, high built, and once defensible. The peasants cultivate their little land with great care to the very edge of the stony hills. All the way are vast masses of granite, the same which is called in Cornwall , Moor-stone.


The Glen contracts, and the mountains approach each other. Quit the Highlands , passing, between two great rocks, called the Pass of Bollitir , a very narrow strait, whose bottom is covered with the tremendous ruins of the precipices that bound the road. I was informed, that here the wind rages with great fury during winter, and catching up the snow in eddies, whirls it about with such impetuosity, as makes it dangerous for man or beast to be out at that time. Rain also pours down sometimes in deluges, and carries with it stone and gravel from the hills in such quantity, that I have seen the effects of these spates , as they are called, lie cross the roads, as the avelennches , or snow-falls, do those of the Alps . In many parts of the Highlands were hospitia for the reception of travellers, called by the Scotch, Spittles , or hospitals: the same were usual in Wales , where they are styled Yspytty , and, in both places, were maintained by the religious houses: as similar Asylums are to this day supported, in many parts of the Alps .

This pass is the Eastern entrance into the Highlands. The country now assumes a new face: the hills grow less; but the land more barren, and is chiefly covered with heath and rock. The edges of the Dee are cultivated, but the rest only in patches, among which is generally a groupe of small houses. There is also a change of trees, oak being the principal wood, but even that is scarce.


On the South side of the river is Glen-Muik , remarkable for a fine cataract formed by the river Muik , which after running for a considerable way along a level moor, at once falls down a perpendicular rock of a semicircular form, called the Lin of Muik , into a hole of so great a depth worn by the weight of water, as to be supposed by the vulgar to be bottomless.

Refreshed my horses at a hamlet called Tullich , and looking West, saw the great mountain Laghin y gair , which is always covered with snow.


Almost opposite to the village of Tullich is Pananich , noted for the mineral water discovered a few years ago, and found to be very beneficial in rheumatic and scrophulous cases, and complaints of the gravel. During summer great numbers of people afflicted with these disorders resort there to drink the waters; and for their reception several commodious houses have already been built.


A little below Tullich ride over the South corner of the hill of Culbleen , where, soon after the Revolution, a bloodless battle was fought between King William's forces under the command of General Mackay , and some gentlemen of the country, with their dependents. The last made such an expeditious retreat, that in derision it was called the race of Tullich .

The Hill of Culbleen is the South-West extremity of a range of mountains which form a deep semicircle, and enclose on all sides, except the South, a very fruitful bottom, and five parishes, called Cromar . The soil, excepting some moors and little hills, is good to the foot of the mountains, and produces the best barley in the county of Aberdeen. Cromar is the entrance into the Low Countries; the Erse language has been disused in it for many ages, yet is spoken at this time six miles West in Glen-gairn .


One of the mountains to the West is styled the Hill of Morvern , of a stupendous height, and on the side next to Cromar , almost perpendicular. From the top, the whole country as far as Aberdeen , thirty computed miles, seems from this height as a plain; and the prospect terminates in the German ocean. The other great mountains appear to sink to a common size; and even Laghin y gair abates of its grandeur. About four miles below Culbleen , at Charles-Town , ride on a line with the Hill of Coul , the South-East extremity of the Cromar mountains.

A little North of Charles-Town stands Aboyne Castle, the seat of the the Earl of Aboyne , amidst large plantations; but his Lordship's pines in the forest of Glen-Tanner , yield to none in Scotland , excepting those of Dalmore .

Observed several vast plantations of pines, planted by gentlemen near their seats: such a laudable spirit prevales in this respect, that in another half-century, it never shall be said, that to spy the nakedness of the land you are come.

Dine at the little village of Kincairn Oneil . Hereabouts the common people cultivate a great deal of cabbage. The oat-fields are inclosed with rude low mounds of stone.

It gives me real concern to find any historical authority for overthrowing the beautiful relation that the powerful genius of Shakespear has formed out of Boethius's tale of Macbeth . If we may credit Fordun , that usurper was slain in his retreat at Lunfanan , two miles North-West of this place. To Sir David Dalrymple's 132 accurate investigation of a dark period of the Scottish history, I am obliged for this discovery. "Near the church of Lunfanan " adds that gentleman, "is the vestige of an antient fortress once surrounded by "a brook that runs by." This he conjectures to have been the retreat of Macbeth .

Lay at a mean house at Banchorie . The country, from Bollitir to this place, dull, unless where varied by the windings of the river, or with the plantations.

112 Some Pot-Ash is also made of the Birch Wood.

113 Buchanan , lib. xiii. c. 47.

114 These tales of spectral transportations are far from being new; Mr. Aubrey , in his Miscellanies p. 13, gives two ridiculous relations of almost similar facts, one in Devonshire , the other in the shire of Murray .

115 Which was not till the year 1736.

116 My account of this, and every other ceremony mentioned in this journal, was communicated to me by a gentleman resident on the spot where they were performed.

117 A custom, favoring of the Scotch Bel-tein , prevales in Gloucestershire , particularly about Newent and the neighboring parishes, on the twelfth day, or on the Epiphany , in the evening. All the servants of every particular farmer assemble together in one of the fields that has been sown with wheat; on the border of which, in the most conspicuous or most elevated place, they make twelve fires of straw, in a row; around one of which, made larger than the rest, they drink a chearful glass of cyder to their master's health, success to the future harvest, and then returning home, they feast on cakes made of carraways, &c. soaked in cyder, which they came at a reward for their past labors in sowing the grain. This seems to resemble a custom of the antient Danes , who, in their addresses to their deities emptied, on every invocation, a cup in honor of them. NIORDI et FREJÆ memoria poculis recolebatur, annua ut ipsis contingerent felicitas, frugumque et reliquae anonæ uberrimus proventus . Worm. Monum. Dan. lib. 1. p. 28.

118 This custom was derived from their Northern ancestors. Longe securius moriendum esse arbitrantur, quam vivendum: puerperia luctu , funeraque festivo cantu, ut in plurimum concelebrantes . OLAUS MAGNUS. 116.

119 Synod. Wigern . An. 1240. c. 5. as quoted in Mr. Tyrwhit's Chaucer , IV. 234.

120 Woodward's Method of Fossils, p. 30. See also Mr. Aubrey's Miscellanies, p. 128.

121 Les Monumens de la Monarchie Francoise .

122 Or a level clear spot of ground, a fit place for an engagement.

123 The Samlet. Br. Zool . III. No. 148.

124 Hist. Scotland , 146.

125 Brae signifies a steep face of any hill.

126 The French , during the reign of Charles IX. seemed not only to have made full as large sacrifices to Diana and Bacchus , but even thought their entertainment incomplete without the presence of Venus. Jacques du Fouilloux , a celebrated writer on hunting of that age, with much seriousness describes all the requisites for the chace, and thus places and equips the jovial crew:—

L'Assemblée se doit faire en quelque beau lieu soubs des arbres auprès d'une fontaine ou Ruisseau, là ou les veneurs se doiuent tous rendre pour faire leur rapport. Ce pendant le Sommelier doit venir avec trois bons cheraux chargez d'instrumens pour arrouser le gofier , comme coutrets, barraux, barils, flacons et bouteilles: lesquelles doiuent estre pleines de bon vin d'Arbois, de Beaume, de Chaloce et de Graue: luy estant deseendu du cheval, les metra refraischir en l'eau, ou biens les pourra faire refroidir avec du Cansre: apres il estranda la nappe sur la verdure. Ce fait, le cuisinier s'en viendra chargé de plusiers bons harnois de gueule , comme jambons, langues de bœf fumées, groins, oreilles de pourceau, cervelats, eschinées, pieces de bœuf de Saison, carbonnades, jambons de Mayence , pastez longes de veau froides couvertes de poudre blanche, et autres menus suffrages pur remplir le boudin lequel il metra sur la nappe.

Lors le Roy ou le Seigneur avec ceux de la table estrendront leurs manteaux sur l'herbe, et se coucheront de costé dessus, beuvans, mangeans, rians et faisans grand chere;

and that nothing might be wanting to render the entertainment of such a set of merry men complete, honest Jacques adds,

et s'il y a quelque femme de reputation en ce pays qui fasse plaisir aux compagnons, elle doit etre allegeée, et ses passages et remuemens de fesses, attendant le rapport a venir.

But when the great man sallies out to the chace of foxes and badgers, he seems not to leave so important an affair to chance, so sets off thus amply provided in his triumphal car:

Le Seigneur, [says Fouilloux ] doit avoir sa petite charrette, là où il sera dedans, avec la Fillette agée de seize a dix sept ans, laquelle luy frottera la teste par les chemins. Toutes les chevilles et paux de la charrette, doiuent estre garnis de flaccons et bouteilles, et doit avoir au bout de la charrette un coffre de bois, plein de coqs d'inde froide, jambons, langues de Bœufs et autre bons harnois de guelle. Et si c'est en temps d'hiver, il pourra faire porter son petit pavilion, et faire du feu dedans pour se chauffer, ou bien donner us coup en robbe a la nymphe. [p . 35, 75.]

127 The highest is called Ben y bourd , under which is a small Loch , which I was told had ice the latter end of July .

128 The most distant from the sea of any place in North Britain .

129 These animals are reared with great difficulty; even when taken young, eight out of ten generally die.

130 Br. Zool. . I.No 122.

131 The Ring-tail Eagle, called here the Black Eagle. I suspect, from the description, that the Dotrel breeds here. I heard also of a bird, called here Snatach na cuirn , but could not procure it

132 Annals of Scotland , p. 2.

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

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