Sunday, August 20th was another fun-filled day. Karen had planned a whole host of wonderful sights for me to see and experience. We left her home in Scone and traveled a few short miles to the nearby city of Perth, which was once the capital of Scotland many, many years ago around the 12th century.
We parked the car and she took me on a bit of a walking tour in the core of the old part of the city.
One of the first buildings we came to was this quaint stone building where a certain young lady, Catherine Glover, once lived. She was known as The Fair Maid of Perth because she was the main character in a novel written by Sir Walter Scott. Inspired by the strange, but historically true, story of the Battle of the North Inch, it is set in Perth (then called ‘Saint Johnstone’) and other parts of Scotland around 1400.
Nearby in the High Street (now a pedestrian shopping zone), there was this statue of Catherine Glover, the Fair Maid of Perth.
Makes me want to read the book now. Catharine Glover, the daughter of a glovemaker in Perth, kisses Henry Gow, the armorer, while he is sleeping, on Valentine’s Day, and declares him her love. However, Catharine had also caught the eye of the Duke of Rothesay who also wanted her so much that he tried to abduct her by putting a ladder up to her window to steal her away. When Henry Gow interrupts this attempted abduction by the Duke, the armorer is drawn simultaneously into a royal intrigue and a Highland feud. Sounds intriguing! Anyway, back to the tour…
Anyway, back to the tour…
Next, we came upon the only remaining part of the old wall of the city…
A bit further down a city lane called The Skinnergate, she brought me to the oldest establishment in Perth, The Ship Inn, which has been here and functioning since medieval times and is one of Perth’s oldest licensed premises! Famous for its trading in leather goods, the Skinnergate is one of Perth’s oldest streets!
We walked along for a bit longer in the old town, taking in the sights, when we realized what time it was. We needed to get back up to the North Insch (a park) along the banks of the River Tay because there was something very special taking place there in a little while!
We arrived at the park and found two other long time friends of Karen’s, Lynne and her brother David from the Dundee area who were saving us seats in the grandstands for the Perth Tattoo!!!
Before the Tattoo began, however, there would be a parade along the street that borders the river and leads into the park. The parade consisted mostly of the performers that would be entertaining us at the Tattoo! I always just love a parade, so while Karen, Lynne, and David got caught up with each other, I headed down to the parade route and enjoyed what it had to offer.
The parade began with an escort led by the local motorcycle enthusiasts!
Then my favorite, a pipe band with men in kilts!
Followed by a whole host of other organizations and characters.
Even the Japanese were there! Wow. What is so cool about this is that a lot of the bands from nearby and famous Edinburgh Tattoo come over to Perth afterward to perform for this event.
After the parade, I headed back to the grandstands where Karen, Lynne, and David were, got settled into my seat and thoroughly enjoyed the various performances that were set out for us to enjoy for free! Talk about a concert in the park! Wow!
We had Highland dancers from a ballet company too!
As a super added bonus, we were entertained by the Red Hot Chili Pipers! They are so good and sure add a different twist to bagpipes! So much fun!
We were a bit hungry after that varied and lengthy plethora of entertainment so our next stop was to get a bite to eat at the Black Watch Castle! How fun!
They had a lovely Tea Room attached to the castle and soon we were enjoying some of their delicious choices of fare.
Feeling totally satiated after that wonderful meal, we all piled into Karen’s car and drove north out of town into the countryside to take in some more sights. This is basically the route we followed.We drove north out of Perth toward Dunkeld and then turned west and then north again to climb way up high over one track roads to the hills and Heather filled moors near Loch Fruechile with vistas that just gave me goose bumps!
Over the top and heading down the other side of the pass we came to these outstanding views of Ben Schiehallion in the distance.
After descending back down into the valleys beyond we arrived in a lovely village called Kenmore. On the banks of Loch Tay, there were these very interesting ancient Iron Age type of dwellings called a crannog at the Scottish Crannog Centre.
According to their website, Oakbank Crannog is one of 18 crannogs in Loch Tay, Perthshire located off the village of Fearnan on the north shore. Dating to the early Iron Age some 2500 years ago, it was originally built of timber, utilizing piles (stilts) driven into the loch bed to create a platform above the water supporting a settlement. Incredibly well-preserved structural remains include the remains of the house floor covered with bracken and ferns; stakes and piles that supported the woven hazel walls and roof of the house; and 40 elm and oak stumps marking the remains of a walkway which led to the shore. Incredible dwellings, aren’t they?
Then we drove to the nearby village of Kenmore with their row houses near Taymouth Castle.We parked the car and went to visit the church in the village, the Kirk of Kenmore.
Then we piled back in the car and traveled a bit further to another distinctive village, Fortingall. Karen explained its history to us as we drove through and past these delightful and unique houses. Instead of trying to relate all of the wonderful information she bestowed upon us as we admired the architecture, I am just going to let Wikipedia explain it for me:
“The attractive village of Fortingall, with its large hotel adjoining the churchyard, was built 1890-91 by the shipowner and Unionist MP, Sir Donald Currie (1825–1909), who bought the Glenlyon Estate, including the village, in 1885.
It was designed by the architect James M MacLaren (1853–90) and built by John McNaughton. The thatched cottages are notable examples of a planned village built in vernacular style (here combining both Lowland Scottish and English influences, notably from Devon) and are increasingly appreciated as one of the most important examples of ‘arts and crafts’ vernacular style in Scotland.
The Fortingall Hotel, recently (2006–07) restored to its original appearance, is an important example of Scottish vernacular revival. Based on the tower-houses and burgh architecture of the 16th and 17th centuries, but in a modern idiom which anticipates the buildings of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose work MacLaren influenced.
Glenlyon House, and its adjoining Farm and steading, west of the village, were also designed, or largely rebuilt, to MacLaren’s designs.
At the church, we got out of the car to explore and stretch our legs.
One of the main attractions for me in this kirkyard is the ancient Yew tree below.The Fortingall Yew is an ancient tree in its own walled enclosure within the village churchyard. Its age is estimated to be between 3000 and 9000 years, and it may be the oldest living tree – perhaps even the oldest living thing – in Europe. Place-name and archaeological evidence hint at an Iron Age cult center at Fortingall, which may have had this tree as its focus. The site was Christianised during the Dark Ages, perhaps because it was already a sacred place.
In the two photos below, the first picture shows what remains of the trunk of the tree. In the second picture, you can see little wooden posts inserted in the ground in a circular fashion. These posts show where the whole trunk of the tree stood and how big around it was. It is amazing that after such a long time, that there is still a rather large segment remaining! I wanted so badly to snatch a small twig of this tree to bring home with me, but that’s a no-no! Dang!
Again, according to Wikipedia: The parish church is on an early Christian site, dedicated to Coeddi, Bishop of Iona (died 712), probably founded about 700 AD from Iona itself as a daughter monastery. Though undocumented, crop-marks of surrounding ditched enclosures have been identified from the air, and the church’s unusual dedication and fragments of several finely carved cross-slabs preserved in the church all point to an early origin as a major church site. Also preserved in an alcove in the church is an early hand-bell in Irish style (iron with bronze coating), dating from the 7th or 8th century, one of several to have survived in Highland Perthshire. Several slabs with simple incised crosses (best paralleled at Iona and other west of Scotland sites) and a massive early font are to be seen in the churchyard. The attractive white-harled parish church (built 1901-02), notable for its fine woodwork, is open in summer. Its Arts and Crafts style was designed to harmonize with the rest of the village. A permanent display on the cross-slabs and the early church was recently installed in the building. Fortingall has one of the largest collections of early medieval sculpture in Scotland.
We continued our journey passing this wonderful little waterfall.
We began our journey back toward Scone over another remote pass near Ben Lawers, passing Lochan Na Lainge with the Ben Lawers Dam along the way and then traveled through Aberfeldy following the River Tay along the way back to the A9 to head south back to Scone.
By the time we arrived in Scone the sun had gone down and it was dark. We managed, however, to get back to town just below 11 p.m. and in time to go to Karen’s favorite chip shop for a fish dinner which we ate in the car at the top of a hill at an overlook where we could see the city lights of Perth below as we devoured our food. It was such a fun adventure. I still can’t believe how much we did in one day! For a change, I didn’t have to do all the driving either! Thank
It was such a fun adventure. I still can’t believe how much we did in one day! For a change, I didn’t have to do all the driving either! Thank you, Karen, you are the hostess with the mostess! Wow!
The following day, I was due to head just a bit further south to visit more friends near Edinburgh, but before I took off down the road, Karen and I squeezed in one more very special sight I couldn’t miss while in Scone, the Scone Abbey where the ancient Kings of Scotland were crowned and only just a mile or so from where Karen lives!
Below, in this little ancient building, so much history has been made. Also, do you see the bell hanging off the tree branch in the photo on the right? The Scottish Parliament used to meet here and whenever they passed a new law, that bell would be rung so everyone would know a new law had been put into effect.
Below is a replica of the Stone of Scone or Stone of Destiny. The original now resides in Edinburgh, but, this is the spot where the Kings of Scots would have sat upon the Stone of Scone to become crowned as Kings. A very historic, albeit humble, spot indeed!
Inside Scone Abbey…
Again, I’ll let Wikipedia do the detailed explanation of the significance of this place:
Scone was from at least the 9th century the crowning-place of the Kings of Scots and home to the Stone of Scone, more commonly referred to as the Stone of Destiny. Kenneth MacAlpin (traditionally known as the first King of Scots), Shakespeare‘s Macbeth, Robert the Bruce, and Charles II number amongst the 38 Kings of Scots inaugurated and crowned at Scone.
It was believed that no king had a right to reign as King of Scots unless he had first been crowned at Scone upon the Stone of Scone. In the Middle Ages, the land was the site of a major Augustinian abbey, Scone Abbey, nothing of which now remains above ground level except detached architectural fragments. Scone was also the site of the first Parliament of Scotland, or Council/Assembly. King Constantine II in 906 called for an assembly to meet at Scone. The assembly was recorded in the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba; Alba being the early name for the early medieval Kingdom of Scotland. The Chronicle records that:
King Constantine and Bishop Cellach met at the Hill of Belief near the Royal City of Scone and pledged themselves that the laws and disciplines of the faith, and the laws of churches and gospels, should be kept pariter cum Scottis.
Scone was thus the center of power in the ancient Kingdom of Alba, doubling up as the site of both Scottish coronations and parliaments. Further to this in medieval times, Scone acted as a royal residence and hunting ground. Robert II would have spent most of his life calling Scone home. He was eventually laid to rest in the Abbey itself, although his grave has never been located. A popular old saying suggests the significance of Scone’s status in the ancient Kingdom of Alba‘s, and later Scotland’s, governance and rule:
As the Bell of Scone rang, So mote it be.
This saying has often been re-quoted as “When the Bell of Scone tolls, the law of the land has been made”. It is a statement of the great significance of the ceremonies held at Scone, and the judgments made from a top the Moot Hill.
It is old sayings like this which frustrated historians, as the sayings clearly detail Scone’s important role in Scottish history, and most interestingly in the early formation of the Scottish nation. The primary source of much of Scone’s early history and modern reputation is reliant upon Scottish folklore. An example of another piece of Scottish folklore which reminds us of Scone’s position as the premier seat of power in the evolving early medieval Scottish nation is the Gaelic:
Comhairle clag Sgàin: An rud nach buin duit na bean dà.
“Counsel of the bell of Scone, Touch not what is not thine own.”
In Gaelic poetry Scone’s association more specifically with kings and king-making gave it various poetic epithets, for instance, Scoine sciath-airde, meaning “Scone of the High Shields”, and Scoine sciath-bhinne, meaning “Scone of the Noisy Shields”. The “Noisy Shields” here refers to a folkloric ceremony in which magnates would gather at Scone for a Council. As they entered the Great Hall each magnate in turn would hang their shield displaying their Coats of Arms on the walls before beating their weapons against them.
The mons placiti or Scone Moot Hill is the inauguration site of the Scottish Kings. It is also called ‘Boot Hill’, possibly from an ancient tradition whereby nobles swore fealty to their king whilst wearing the earth of their own lands in their foot-bindings or boots, or even by standing upon the earth that they had brought with them from their respective homelands (carrying the soil in their boots). The tradition is that the Moot Hill, or rather ‘Boot Hill’, came into being as a result of this tradition of nobles bring a piece of their own lands to Scone.
The Kings of Scots, themselves inaugurated upon the Moot Hill, were thus making during these ceremonies a hugely symbolic commitment to the people of Scotland, the Scots. This commitment was made from atop a hill which, if one believes the tradition, represented all parts of the kingdom of Scots and thus allowed the King to make his oaths whilst standing symbolically upon all of Scotland.
Just across the way from the Abbey is Scone Palace built of red sandstone with a castellated roof, it is one of the finest examples of late Georgian Gothic style in the United Kingdom. The Palace has thus been home to the Earls of Mansfield for over 400 years. We went inside and toured its magnificent interiors (I couldn’t take pictures) and it was indeed nice and filled with many treasures, but quite frankly, I much more preferred the small Abbey and its overwhelming significance and historical value to Scotland.
As they say, however, all good things must come to an end. After spending two absolutely delightful days exploring Perthshire with Karen, I hated to leave, but leave I must. Such an adventure we had. I loved meeting her friends, Karen, Lynne, and David and we all had such a grand time together, sharing laughs, stories and enjoying the sights together. What a wonderful experience. I hope to return again someday soon and do a whole lot more exploring with Karen in her neck of the woods! Thank you, Karen!