Britannia, by William Camden


The River Tay. Big O OUT of the very bosom of the Mountains of Albany, issues the Tay, the greatest river in all Scotland, and rolls along violently through the Fields, till widening it self into a Lake full of Islands, it there restrains its course. Perth. After this, being kept within banks, it waters Perth, a large, plentiful, and rich Country, ⌈so called from Perth, a Burgh Royal, and the head burgh of the County;) which to the north and north-west hath Badenoch and Lochabyre, to the north-east is bounded with Marr, to the west with Argileshire, to the south-west with Dumbartonshire, and to the south with Clackmannanshire, part of Sterlingshire, and the river and firth of Forth; to the south-east, it hath Kinrosshire and Fife; and to the east, Angus. The length of it from east to west is above fifty two miles, the breadth about forty eight. The high grounds are good pasture, and the low very fruitful in Corn.⌉

Amund, riv. The Tay receives the Amund, a little River coming out of Athol. This Athol (to make a short digression,) is infamous for Witches; but a country fruitful enough, having woody vallies, where once the Caledonian ForestThe Caledonian Forest. (dreadful for its dark intricate windings, and for its denns of Bears, and its huge wild thick-maned Bulls, which we have mentioned before) extended it self far and near in these parts. As for the Places herein, they are of little account, but the Earls are very memorable. Earls of Athol. Thomas, a younger Son of Rolland of Galloway, was, in right of his Wife, Earl of Athol; whose sonChronicon Mailros. Patrick was murder’d at Hadington in his Bed-chamber, by the Bissets, his Rivals; and they immediately set the house on fire, that it might be supposed he perished casually in the flames. In the Earldom succeeded David Hastings, who had married Patrick’s Aunt by the mother’s side: whose son that David (sirnamed of Strathbogy) seems to have been, who a little after, in the reign of Henry the third of England, was Earl of Athol, and married one of the daughters and heirs of Richard, base son to King John of England, and had a very noble Estate with her in England. She bore him two Sons, John Earl of Athol, who being very unsettled in his allegiance, was hanged on a Gallows fifty foot high; and David Earl of Athol, who by marriage with one of the daughters and heirs of John Comin of Badzenoth by one of the heirs of Aumar de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, came to a mighty Estate. He had a son David, who under King Edward the second, was sometimes summoned to Parliament amongst the English Earls; and being made, under King Edward Baliol, Lieutenant-General of Scotland, was conquer’d by the valour of Andrew Murray, and slain in a battle in Kelblen-Forest, in the year 1335. His son David had only two daughters, Elizabeth, married to Thomas Percy, from whom the Barons de Burrough derive their original; and Philippa, married to Sir Thomas Halsham, an English Knight. Then the title of Athol fell to that Walter Stewart, son to King Robert the second, who barbarously murder’d James the first, King of Scotland, and was punish’d suitably to so execrable a piece of cruelty: insomuch that Æneas SylviusAEneas, then Nuncio in Scotland to Pope Eugenius the fourth, is reported to have said, That he could not tell whether he should give them greater commendations who reveng’d the King’s death, or punish them with sharper censures and invectives, who polluted themselves with so heinous a Parricide. After an interval of some few years, this honour was granted to John Stewart of the house of Lorne, son of James, sirnamed the Black Knight, by Joan, the widow of King James the first, daughter of John Earl of Somerset, and * * Nepti.neice to John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster; whose Posterity enjoy it at this day. ⌈That is to say, by the marriage of Dorothea Steuart, eldest daughter of the last Earl of Athol, with William Murray Earl of Tullibardin; whose Descendants have been successively advanced to the higher honours, first of Marquiss, and then of Duke, of Athol. Lord Charles Murray, second son to the Marquiss of Athol, was by King James the seventh created Earl of Dunmore; and William, the fourth son of the said Marquiss; and his descendants, became vested with the title of Lord Nairn, by marriage with the only daughter of Robert Lord Nairn.⌉

Now the Tay, being enlarged by the Influx of the Almund, makes for Dunkeld,Dunkeld. adorned by King David with an Episcopal See. This, on account of the name, is look’d upon by most as a Town of the Caledonians; and those persons interpret it, The hill of Hazles, who will have it to take the name from the Hazles of the Caledonian Forest. ⌈It is surrounded with pleasant woods, at the foot of the Grampian hills, on the north-side of Tay. The ruins of the Cathedral Church are still to be seen. It is the chief Market-Town of the High-lands; and is of late very much adorned with stately buildings, erected by the Duke of Athol. Sir James Galloway, Master of Requests to King James the sixth and King Charles the first, was by the latter created Lord Dunkeld. In these parts lies Gillichrankie,Gillichrankie. remarkable of late days for the defeat of the King’s Forces, by the late Viscount Dundee and his Associates;Ann.1689. himself being killed in the Action.⌉

From hence the Tay takes its course by the ruins of Berth,Berth. a little desolate City, not forgetting, what calamity it brought upon it in times past, when with an impetuous torrent it overflow’d the pasture and corn-grounds, and destroyed all the labours of the Husbandman, and swept away this poor City, with a Royal Infant, and all the Inhabitants. Instead of which, King William built Perth, much better situated; and this presently grew so rich, that Necham, who lived in that age, made this Distich upon it;

Transis, ample Tai, per rura, per oppida, per Perth,
Regnum sustentant istius urbis opes

Great Tay through Perth, through Towns, through Country flies:
Perth the whole Kingdom with her Wealth supplies.

St. John’s Town. But posterity hath named it, from a Church founded in honour of St. John, St. John’s Town. And the English, in the heat of the war between the Bruses and the Baliols, fortified it with large Bulwarks, the greatest part of which the Scots afterwards demolished. It is nevertheless a neat little City, pleasantly seated between two Greens; and although some of the Churches are defaced, yet wants it not its beauties: and it is so divided, that almost every street is inhabited by a several trade apart, and is furnished by the Tay every tide with Commodities from Sea, in their light Vessels. Upon it J. Johnston, so often mentioned, hath these Verses:


Propter aquas Tai liquidas, & amœna vireta,
Obtinet in medio regna superba solo.
Nobilium quondam Regum clarissima sedes,
Pulchra situ, & pinguis germine dives agri.
Finitimis dat jura locis, morèmque modumque
Huic dare, laus illis hæc meruisse dari.
Sola inter patrias incincta est mœnibus urbes,
Hostibus assiduis ne vaga præda foret.
Quanta virum virtus, dextræ quæ præmia nôrunt
Cimber, Saxo ferox, & genus Hectoridum.
Felix laude novâ, felix quoque laude vetustâ,
Perge recens, priscum perpetuare decus

Near Tay’s great stream, amongst delightful plains,
Majestick Perth in royal splendour reigns.
For lofty Courts of ancient Kings renown’d;
Fair is the site, and ever rich the ground.
Hence Laws and Manners neighb’ring parts receive,
Their praise ’tis to deserve, and her’s to give.
No Walls like her, her Sister Towns can show,
Which guard her riches from the bord’ring foe.
How stout her Knights, what noble spoils they won,
The Britains, Saxons, and the Danes have known.
Renown’d in eldest and in latest days;
Oh! may her glories with her years encrease,
And new deserts advance her antient praise.

King James the sixth * * Very lately, C.advanced PerthEarl of Perth. to an Earldom, upon his creating James Baron Dromond, Earl of Perth.

Baron Methven. Near Perth is Methven, which Margaret of England, Dowager to K. James the 4th, purchased with a Sum of money for her third husband Henry Stewart of the Blood Royal and his Heirs; and did withall obtain for him, of her son James the fifth, the dignity of a Baron. Ruthven, or Reuven. A little lower is Rethven, a Castle of the Rethvens; a name to be accursed, and raz’d out of all Memorials, since the States of the Kingdom pass’d a Decree, that all of that name should lay it down, and take a new one, after that the Rethvens, Brothers, in an execrable and horrid Conspiracy, had plotted the murther of the best of Princes, James the sixth, who had created their father William, Earl of Gowry; but did afterwards (upon his insolently prescribing Laws to his Sovereign, and being convicted of High Treason) behead him. But I may seem to have said too much of persons condemned to eternal oblivion: and yet the mentioning such wicked generations, may be an useful caution to posterity. ⌈Sir Thomas Ruthven of Freeland, descended of this Family, was created by King Charles the second, Lord Ruthven. Not far from hence, is Dincrub; from which place Sir Andrew Rollo was created Lord Rollo, by King Charles the first.⌉

Gowry. As for Gowry, so much celebrated for its Corn-fields, and the fertility of the Soil, it lies along the other side of the Tay, and is a more level Country. In this Tract, over-against Perth, on the farther side of Tay, stands Scone,Scone. a famous Monastery in times past, and honoured with the Coronation of the Kings of Scotland; ever since King Keneth, having hard-by made a general slaughter of the Picts, placed a Stone here, enclosed in a wooden Chair, for the Inauguration of the Kings of Scotland. throne It was transported out of Ireland into Argile; and King Edward the first of England caused it to be convey’d to Westminster. Concerning which, I have inserted this Prophecy, so common in every man’s mouth; since it hath † † Now, C.proved true, as few of that sort do.

Ni fallat fatum, Scoti quocunque locatum
Inveniunt lapidem, regnare tenentur ibidem

Or Fate’s deceiv’d, and Heaven decrees in vain,
Or where they find this Stone the Scots shall reign.

By the special favour of King James ⌈the sixth,⌉ Scone ¦ ¦ Gives, C.gave the title of Baron to David Murray, ⌈created afterwards by the same King Viscount of Stornmouth, which is the Upper Part of the Country of Gowry.⌉

Arrol. Where the Tay, now grown larger, spreads it self, Arrol hangs over it, the seat of the noble Earls of Arrol:Earls of Arrol. They have been hereditary Constables of Scotland ever since the time of the Bruses, and deduce their original (which is exceeding antient) from one Hay, a very stout and valiant man; who, together with his sons, in a dangerous battle against the Danes at Longcarty, catching up an Ox-yoke, did, by fighting bravely himself, and encouraging others, rally the retreating Scots, so as they got the day. Which Victory and Deliverance, the King and the States ascrib’d to his singular valour. Whereupon, several excellent Lands were assign’d in this place to him and his posterity, who in testimony of this action have a Yoke for their Crest over their Coat of Arms. ⌈From this Family is descended John now Earl of Arrol. Near to which lived Sir George Kinnaird of Rossie, who was created Lord Kinnaird in the year 1682.⌉ Huntley-Castle. As for Huntley-Castle, hard by, I have nothing to write of it, but that it has given name to a very great and honourable family; ⌈unless, perhaps, the title of Earl of Huntley was taken from a place in the Merse, called by that name, which is part of the Barony of Gordon, the ancient Inheritance of this Family. Huntley-Castle is one of the dwelling-houses of the Earl of Strathmore, and now passeth under the name of Castle-Lyon; and is well planted and pleasantly situate.

As to Antiquities in this Shire; at the Meagile, there is an ancient Monument of Stone, cut with several figures, said to be the burial place of Queen Vanera, who had her dwelling three miles north, upon a hill called Barray, where are the ruins of a great building.⌉

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52