Dunkeld and Dowally


Dunkeld and Dowally
   DUNKELD and DOWALLY, a parish, in the county of Perth, 15 miles (N. by W.) from Perth, and 55 (N. N. W.) from Edinburgh; comprising the ancient city of Dunkeld, partly within the parish of Caputh; for many years the seat of the primacy of the kingdom prior to its removal to St. Andrew's, and now the seat of a presbytery; and containing in the parish 2848 inhabitants, of whom 1096 are in the town. This place, which is of very remote origin, and is supposed to have been the capital of the ancient Caledonia, appears to have derived its name from the erection of a castle or stronghold, towards the close of the 5th century, on an eminence commanding the passes of the vale of Atholl, and still called the King's seat, from its having been the resort of some of the earlier monarchs for partaking the diversion of the chase. There are yet remains of this ancient fortress; and near the site, Mary, Queen of Scots, narrowly escaped a serious injury from one of the herd, while witnessing a chase for the celebration of which the Earl of Atholl had employed 2000 of his Highlanders to collect the deer of the central Highlands. A monastery was founded here about the year 570 for brethren of the order of St. Columba, subordinate to the abbey of Iona, over which that saint at the time presided; and Columba remained for some months at this place, for the instruction of the people of the surrounding district, who assembled in great numbers to hear him. The establishment was placed under the superintendence of an abbot, many of whose successors held the most distinguished offices in the state; and the brethren, who are identified with the ancient Culdees, employed themselves chiefly in teaching and transcribing the sacred Scriptures, but had no communion with the Church of Rome. The monastery, originally of rude construction, was rebuilt with stone about the year 729, and continued to advance in importance; numerous dwellings gradually arose in the immediate vicinity, and in 834 the town had so much increased in extent that Brudus, king of the Picts, with a numerous army, after crossing the Tay, found sufficient accommodation in the town and castle preparatory to his battle with Alpinus, king of the Scots, at Angus.
   In 845, the Danes, on their march to plunder the monastery, were encountered near Dunkeld by Kenneth Mc Alpine, who defeated them with considerable loss; but, in 905, again advancing for the same purpose, they succeeded in plundering the monastery and laying waste the town. In the reign of Kenneth III., a numerous army of Danes, in a third attempt to commit the same depredations, were intercepted on their march by that monarch, who, in a severe conflict near Luncarty, defeated them with great slaughter. The buildings connected with the monastery still increased, and the relics of St. Columba were removed from Iona, and deposited in a church erected here, and dedicated to his memory by Kenneth Mc Alpine after he had united the Scots and Picts into one kingdom. The Culdees continued their establishment under a superior of their own nomination, and had, in the parish of Dowally and other places in the district, various smaller institutions, till they were superseded by canons regular in the reign of David I., who, in 1127, converted the monastery into a cathedral establishment, and made Dunkeld the seat of a diocese, which retained the primacy of the kingdom until the distinction was transferred to the see of St. Andrew's in the reign of James III. The prelates of Dunkeld were much exposed to the aggressions of the heads of the Highland clans in the vicinity of the diocese, with whom a constant state of warfare was maintained. The revenues of the see were frequently intercepted by armed bands who waylaid the bishops' officers, and carried them off by violence; and such of the lands belonging to the bishops as were contiguous to the estates of the Highland chiefs were either seized and appropriated to their own use, or plundered and laid waste. The bishops were assaulted even while officiating in the cathedral; and those who ventured to resist, or bring to punishment, the leaders by whom these outrages were perpetrated, were beset by parties against whose hostile attacks they were compelled to defend themselves by a numerous retinue of armed attendants.
   In the reign of James II., the Earl of Atholl, nephew of that monarch, assembled the canons of the abbey, and requested them to appoint his brother, Andrew Stuart, though not in full orders, successor to the see, which had become vacant by the death of Bishop Brown. With this request they thought proper, through intimidation, to comply; but the election was afterwards abrogated by Pope Leo X., and Gavin Douglas, uncle of the Earl of Angus, was appointed, whose arrival to take possession of the see caused the servants of Stuart to fly to arms, and seize upon the palace and the tower of the cathedral, whence they discharged a volley of shot against the house of the dean, to which Douglas had retired to receive the homage of the clergy. On the following day, the city was filled with the armed adherents of both parties, and a dreadful scene of violence ensued; but at length, Stuart, finding it impossible to relieve his men in the palace, was compelled to abandon it, and, having no hope of retaining the prelacy, he retired on condition of being allowed to hold that portion of the bishop's rents which he had already received, and also the churches of Alyth and Cargill, on payment annually of a trifling acknowledgment. From this time the see remained undisturbed till the Reformation. The church erected by Kenneth Mc Alpine in 845 continued to be the cathedral till 1318, when the choir of a more spacious and elegant structure was completed by Bishop Sinclair, and appropriated to that purpose; in 1406 a nave was added to the building by Bishop Cardney, and the remainder of the church was completed in 1464 by Bishop Lauder, who also erected the lofty tower of the cathedral, and built the chapterhouse, in 1469. The episcopal palace, to the south-west of the cathedral church, was formerly defended by a castle, erected in 1408, but of which at present nothing remains except the site, still called the Castle Close; and in 1508, a wing was added to the palace, and a handsome chapel built immediately adjoining it. The bishops had palaces also at Cluny, Perth, and Edinburgh, with ample revenues; and at the time of the Reformation, the church of Dunkeld was valued at £1600 per annum. In 1560, a commission was issued by the Lords of Congregation for purifying the church, by removing the altars, images, and other idolatrous ornaments, and burning them in the churchyard; and in their zeal to fulfil this commission, the mob destroyed the whole of the interior of that beautiful and venerable structure of which the ruins display the stately magnificence, and left nothing entire but the walls. These, too, were subsequently stripped of their roof, and have since remained in a state of dreary ruin, with the exception only of the choir, which in 1600 was roofed with slate at the expense of the family of Stuart, of Ladywell, and has been appropriated as the parish church. By acts of the General Assembly in 1586 and 1593, the city was made the seat of a presbytery; but there is still a bishop of Dunkeld, though unconnected with the Church of Scotland, who presides over the episcopal churches of Dunkeld, Dunblane, and Fife.
   After the battle of Killiecrankie in 1689, the Highland troops of Viscount Dundee, who had been killed in that conflict, advanced to the city, then garrisoned by the newly-raised Cameronian regiment; and after a severe struggle, the Highlanders obtained possession of many of the houses, from which they made frequent discharges of musketry upon the Cameronian soldiers, who, in order to dislodge them, set fire to the buildings where they had sought shelter. The whole of the town, with the exception of the cathedral and three houses, was totally burnt; and the inhabitants were compelled to take refuge in the church. In 1703, the Marquess of Atholl was elevated to the rank of duke by Queen Anne, who is said to have subsequently paid a visit to that nobleman, first at Blair-Atholl, and then at Dunkeld House, to confer with him on matters connected with the union of the two kingdoms; and in corroboration of the event a state room in the castle at the former place is still called Queen Anne's bedchamber. On the breaking out of the rebellion in 1745, the Marquess of Tullibardine, accompanied by the Pretender, whose cause he had embraced, took temporary possession of Blair Castle in the absence of his younger brother, the Duke of Atholl, and sent the lords Nairn and Lochiel to proclaim the prince at the market-cross of Dunkeld. Early in the following year, the Duke of Cumberland stationed part of his forces at Blair-Atholl and in the city, which posts, after his departure, were occupied by bodies of Hessian troops, between whom and the Atholl Highlanders frequent skirmishes took place in the neighbourhood. In September, 1842, Her Majesty the Queen, while visiting her Scottish dominions, made an excursion to Dunkeld House, attended by Prince Albert, and was met on the boundary of the estate by a numerous guard of the Atholl Highlanders, who escorted the royal visiters to the park. Here Lord Glenlyon, the heir of the family, at the head of his Highland regiment, received the Queen, and then conducted her to the tent which had been erected for her reception on the lawn to the north-west of the cathedral, a spot commanding a splendid view of the wildly romantic and beautifully picturesque scenery for which the place is so highly celebrated. Her Majesty reviewed the regiment, and passing along the line formed by the various local societies that had been assembled in the park, retired into the tent, where a sumptuous collation was served, after which the officers of the Atholl clan were severally introduced to the Queen, and had the honour of kissing hands. Having remained for a few hours at Dunkeld, Her Majesty took her departure for Breadalbane, escorted by the Hon. Capt. Murray, who rode by the side of the royal carriage to the boundary of the Atholl estate, a distance of thirteen miles, pointing out by name to the Queen the various objects of interest. In 1844, Her Majesty, on her second visit to Scotland, passed again through Dunkeld.
   The town is beautifully situated on the north bank of the river Tay, over which is a noble bridge of five open arches, of which the central arch has a span of ninety feet, and the others of eighty-four and seventyfour each, with two dry arches of twenty-five feet span, the whole erected in 1809, by the late Duke of Atholl, at an expense of £30,000, of which £5000 were granted by government. From the centre of the bridge is a fine view of the city, which consists partly of a spacious street of handsome modern houses, extending from the bridge along the line of the great north road from Perth to Inverness; and a street of more ancient but well-built houses crosses the former at right angles, in the marketplace, from which the old cross was removed about the commencement of the present century. Near the cathedral is the deanery, the only house now remaining of the three saved from the conflagration in 1689. There is a public library, called the Mackintosh library, which originated in a gift to the town by the Rev. Donald Mackintosh, in 1811; it is under the direction of a committee of curators, and the collection at present consists of more than 2000 volumes. The manufacture of linen and the tanning of leather, formerly carried on to a considerable extent, have been discontinued, and the chief trade at present is the making of shoes. Many of the poorer class are employed during the spring and summer months in the peeling of oak, and at other times in agriculture and in the slate-quarries; there are also a distillery, a public brewery, and several malting establishments, and a saw-mill, affording occupation to a moderate number of persons. Since the erection of the bridge a very great increase has taken place in the general traffic of the town and neighbourhood. There are now two spacious hotels with posting establishments, for the reception of visiters whom the beauty of the scenery and the numerous objects of deep interest in the vicinity attract; and several lodging-houses are occupied by families and individuals who during the summer months make this their residence. The post-office has a good delivery; the Inverness mail through Atholl passes daily, a coach to Perth three times in the week, and during the summer there are coaches to Inverness, Dundee, Loch Lomond, and Perth. The market, which is amply supplied with provisions of every kind, is on Saturday; and fairs for cattle and horses, and for hiring farm-servants, are held on February 14th, March 25th, April 5th, June 9th, and the second Tuesday in November. The police is under the management of an officer appointed by the Duke of Atholl as hereditary lord of the barony. A court for the recovery of small debts is held quarterly, under the sheriff; and the county magistrates for the district hold their courts in the Masons' lodge, in which also public meetings are held, and the general business of the town transacted. The old prison was taken down in 1743, and one of the dry arches of the bridge was subsequently inclosed and fitted up for the temporary confinement of offenders.
   The parish is situated on the north side of the vale of Atholl, and extends for more than six miles along the bank of the Tay, varying in breadth, and comprising about 12,000 acres, of which 1200 are arable, 300 pasture, 10,000 woodland and plantations, and the remainder covered with water. The surface is strikingly diversified with hills of precipitous elevation and fantastic form, of which the steep acclivities are indented with deep ravines, and which vary in height from 1000 to 2000 feet above the level of the sea, rising abruptly from a narrow tract of shelving low land apparently gained by embankment from the river. These hills were planted with larch-trees by the late Duke of Atholl, and form an extensive forest, nearly fourteen miles in length from Craig-y-barns, opposite the King's Seat, which has an elevation of 1000 feet above the sea, and varying from three to six miles in breadth. On the summit of the hill of Duchray, which rises to a height of 1900 feet, is a lake about half a mile in circumference, abounding with perch; on the hill of Ordie, at an elevation of 700 feet, is another, several miles in circumference, in which are trout of excellent quality; in the barony of Dulcapon is Loch Broom, also containing trout; and at Rotmel are two lakes, in which perch are found. The soil in the lower lands is thin and light, but on the acclivities of the hills richer, and slightly intermixed with clay, producing good crops of oats and barley, with turnips and potatoes. The state of husbandry has been greatly improved, and an agricultural society for the district established; the lands have been drained and inclosed; the farm-buildings and offices are of stone, roofed with slate, and are comfortable and well arranged. The rateable annual value of the parish is £6073. The substratum is principally clay-slate, of which the rocks are composed, and which is remarkable chiefly for the irregularity of its formation. On the eastern base of the hill of Craig-y-barns, a small vein of copper-ore was discovered, but has not been wrought; and in a bank of sand about twenty feet above the level of the river Tay, in the lands of Dowally, some grains of gold were found, of which ornaments were made; but the quantity obtained was so small, in comparison with the expense of extracting it, that all attempts have been abandoned. Pearls of good colour and form, though coarse, are found in the muscles of the Tay, and occasionally some of finer quality and of great value.
   The present Dunkeld House, one of the seats of the Murray family, now in an unfinished state, was commenced by the late Duke of Atholl not long before his death in 1830, since which event the building has been discontinued. The mansion had been raised to the second story; an elegant family chapel, the grand staircase, and a gallery ninety-six feet in length had been nearly completed; and in this state, with a temporary roof to protect the walls from injury, the structure, which is in the later English style of architecture, still remains. It is situated in a park of no great extent, but pre-eminent for the unrivalled beauty of its scenery, and for the extensive views it commands over the rich vale of Athol and the river Tay on the one side, and the majestic forest and wildly mountainous district on the other. Within the park are the stately remains of the venerable abbey of Dunkeld, with which the style of the mansion is in pleasing harmony; the grounds are laid out with great taste and effect, and combine every possible variety of deeply-interesting features. Near the remains of the cathedral are two fine larch-trees, the first of that species introduced into Britain, having been brought from the Tyrol by Mr. Menzies, of Culdares, in 1738. They were reared in the greenhouse, and planted not far from the old mansion about the same time as those in the Monzie gardens, near Crieff; they have attained a height of about ninety feet, with proportionate girth, and are apparently in a state of progressive increase. The village of Dowally consists of a few houses near the church of that name, with one good inn; there is also the small village of Kindallachan, about a mile distant.
   The parish of Dowally and the ancient city of Dunkeld both formed originally part of the extensive parish of Caputh, from which they were separated in 1500, and erected into a distinct parish. The minister's stipend is £161, with an allowance of £63 in lieu of manse and glebe; patron, the Duke of Atholl. The CHOIR of the CATHEDRAL was first repaired, and fitted up for public worship, at the expense of the Murray family, about the year 1691; and in 1820 it was thoroughly repaired, and restored, with some trifling exceptions, to its original state by the late duke, at a cost of £5400, towards which £1000 were granted by government. The interior contains 655 sittings, and is separated from the aisles by a range of seven circular arches, supported on low massive Norman columns, above which are a triforium of similar character, and a range of clerestory windows of the early English style. In the choir was formerly a recumbent figure of Alexander, son of Robert, King of Scotland, but better known as the Wolf of Badenoch; it is now placed in the vestibule, in which, also, is a tablet to the memory of the Rev. John Robb, minister of Dunkeld, who was wrecked in the Forfarshire steamer in 1838. In the north wall of the choir is a tablet to Thomas Bisset, commissary of Dunkeld; and in the south aisle is the monument of Bishop Cardney, on which is his effigy in a recumbent posture, under a crocketed canopy. The statue of Bishop Sinclair, of which the head has been broken off, is in one of the aisles; and within the walls are also tombstones of the Dean of Dunkeld in 1476, and the rector of Monedie in 1548. The other portions of the cathedral are roofless, and falling into decay; the walls of the aisles are strengthened with buttresses between the windows, terminating in crocketed pinnacles above the parapet, and at the west end of the nave is the lofty tower, ninety-six feet high, with an octagonal turret of great beauty. The Chapter-house, which has been appropriated as a sepulchral chapel for the Murray family, contains several stately monuments, among which are, a marble statue of John, fourth duke of Atholl, attired in his parliamentary robes, erected by his duchess in 1833; a monument to the Marquess of Atholl, on which the armorial bearings with their several quarterings are richly emblazoned; and a tablet inscribed to the memory of Lord Charles Murray, who died in Greece.
   The church of Dowally was erected in 1820, on the site of the old church founded by Bishop Brown; it is a neat structure containing 210 sittings, all of which are free, and to which, by the erection of a gallery, eighty might be added. On the east wall of the building are the armorial bearings of Bishop Brown. Divine service is performed every Sunday, both in the English and Gaelic languages, by the assistant minister of Dunkeld. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, Independents, and Glassites. The Royal Grammar School was founded in 1567, by James VI., who granted funds for its support, from which the rector derives a salary of £5. 13. 4., in addition to the fees and a house rent free; the presentation is vested in the Murray family, subject to the approval of the synod of Perth and Stirling, who have power of removal on sufficient cause. The buildings are maintained by the family; the course of study is similar to that of the High School of Edinburgh, and the number of scholars averages about eighty. A parochial school was established at Dowally in 1833, by the trustees of the Atholl estates, who erected a school-house, and pay the master a salary of £34, in addition to about £14 fees. A school for the instruction of girls in sewing, tambouring, and other branches of female industry, was instituted by Jane, Duchess of Atholl, in 1788, and since her decease has been maintained by Lady Glenlyon; the duchess also instituted a Sunday school in 1789, for which she erected an appropriate building. An hospital was erected in 1510, by Bishop Brown, for the maintenance of seven aged men, each of whom had a free house, with five bolls of meal, and an allowance of five merks annually. The building was destroyed in the conflagration of the city in 1689, and some good houses were erected on the site, of which several were afterwards sold; the rent of the remainder is distributed in meal among the bedesmen, under the patronage of the commissary. A chapel dedicated to St. Ninian was founded in 1420, by Bishop Cardney, who endowed it with the lands of Mucklarie, the rents of which are now paid to the rector of the royal school; there are no remains of the building, and the site is occupied by the houses in Atholl-street. On the summit of an eminence to the east of the town, not far from St. Ninian's, was a chapel dedicated to Jerome, and called the Red Chapel; the site is inclosed by a stone wall, but there are no remains of the edifice. The ruins of the ancient castle of Rotmel were removed about the beginning of the present century, when numerous coins were found in digging up the foundation. To the east of the city is an extensive tract called the Craigwood, in the centre of which is an eminence commanding a fine view of the town and the several passes of the vale of Atholl. On the side of Craig-y-barns are two caves overlooking the King's Pass, of which one was an ancient hermitage, and the other the abode of a noted robber who was shot on his return from the well of St. Columba; and on the east side is another, called the Duchess' Cave, which till lately was neatly fitted up. There are also several caves on the back hills of Dowally, which were inhabited for many months after the battle of Culloden.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.