Thursday, 20 December 2007
Kinross Perthshire Scotland
Loch Leven Castle is one of the best examples of a fourteenth century keep remaining in Scotland. It stands on an island in Loch leven, and its most famous association is undoubtedly the imprisonment here of Mary Queen of Scots. Tour Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland, on an Ancestry Tour of Scotland. Best Scottish Tours, Best Scottish Food, Best Scottish Hotels, Small Group Tours of Scotland. Rent a Cottage in Scotland. Kinross in 1846. Kinross a post-town and parish, in the county of Kinross, of which it is the capital, 15 miles (S.) from Perth, and 25 (N. N. W.) from Edinburgh; containing 2822 inhabitants, of whom 2062 are in the town, and 760 in the rural districts of the parish. This place, which derives its name, of Gaelic origin, from its situation at the head of a promontory extending into Loch Leven, is of very great antiquity. It was selected as a stronghold by the Pictish kings, of whom Congal, son of Dongart, founded a castle on an island in the lake, which subsequently became the occasional residence of several of the kings of Scotland. In 1257, Alexander III., after his return from Wark Castle, whither he had gone to have an interview with his father-in-law, Henry III. of England, resided at the Castle of Lochleven, where he was surprised, and, together with his queen, forcibly conveyed to Stirling. In 1301, and also in 1335, the castle was besieged by the English; but on both occasions the assailants were compelled to raise the siege, and to retire with considerable loss. In 1429, Archibald, Earl of Douglas, was confined here by James I., for some expression of disloyalty towards his sovereign; and in 1477, Patrick Graham, Archbishop of St. Andrew's, after having been for some time under restraint in a cell at Inchcolm, in pursuance of a sentence of deprivation pronounced by Pope Sextus and a college of cardinals, was imprisoned in the castle till his death.
But this ancient fortress derives its chief celebrity from the imprisonment in it of the unfortunate Mary, Queen of Scots, who was placed within its dreary walls in 1567. A captive in the hands of the confederate nobles, she was sent from Edinburgh to the Castle of Lochleven, then belonging to William Douglas, one who had taken an active part against her; and in her journey thither she was treated with studied indignity, exposed to the gaze of the mob, miserably clad and mounted, and under the escort of men of the rudest bearing. The queen was now completely a prisoner, and her confinement was accompanied with circumstances of the greatest rigour; she was put under the charge of Lindsay and Ruthven, two noblemen familiar with blood, and of coarse and fierce manners. The lady of the castle, Margaret Erskine, daughter of Lord Erskine, had been mistress to the queen's father, James V., and was mother to the Earl of Murray. She had been afterwards married to Sir Robert Douglas; and their son, William, was, as already stated, proprietor of the Castle of Lochleven at this period. It was here that Mary made her celebrated resignation of the government in favour of her son, the infant James, and of the Earl of Murray. Feeling assured that her refusal to sign the necessary papers would endanger her life; listening to the insinuation of Robert Melvil, that any deed executed in captivity, and under fear of life, was invalid; and terrified by the stern demeanour of Lord Lindsay, she submitted to what she had at first passionately resisted. Without reading their contents, she, with a trembling hand, affixed her name to three instruments prepared by the confederates. By the first of these she was made to resign the government of the realm in favour of her son, and to give orders for his immediate coronation. By the second, the queen, in consequence of his tender infancy, constituted Murray regent of the kingdom; and by the third she appointed the Earls of Lennox, Argyll, Atholl, and Morton, with others, regents until the return of Murray from France, with power to continue in that high office if he refused it. From the galling restraint thus imposed upon her in the castle, however, Mary at length, on the evening of the 2nd of May, 1568, found means to escape. George Douglas, younger brother of the proprietor of Lochleven, had enthusiastically devoted himself to her interest; and though dismissed from the castle on that account, he had contrived to secure the services of a page who waited on his mother, Lady Douglas, and by his assistance effectually achieved his purpose of releasing the queen. On the evening in question, this youth, in placing a plate before the castellan, dropped his napkin over the keys of the castle, and carried them off unperceived: he hastened to Mary, and hurrying down to the outer gate, they threw themselves into a boat, first turning the locks they had found it necessary to open, and casting the keys into the lake, where they were discovered in the year 1806. Some friends of the rescued queen were lying in wait in the immediate vicinity, and with their aid she fled in the direction of Lanarkshire. In 1569, the Earl of Northumberland, who had incurred the displeasure of Elizabeth of England by the interest which he took in the fate of Mary, was imprisoned for three years in the castle, whence he was removed to England, and publicly executed for treason.
The town, though the chief town of Kinross-shire, and the place where the sessions are held, and the business of the county transacted, is not distinguished by any features of importance. It is not even a royal burgh; and the market which was formerly held here has been gradually discontinued, and is now entirely transferred to Milnathort, in the adjoining parish of Orwell. The streets are lighted with gas; works for that purpose having been erected on a site nearly equidistant from Kinross and Milnathort, by a company of shareholders established for the accommodation of both places. A public library is supported by subscription, under the direction of a committee; and there is a reading and news room established in an appropriate building in a central part of the town; also a library maintained by the tradesmen and artisans, and three juvenile libraries in connexion with Sabbath schools. The manufacture of cutlery, formerly carried on here to a very considerable extent, has been altogether discontinued. The chief manufactures at present are those of ginghams, checks, and pullicates, for the houses of Glasgow; and also, and of still more recent introduction, tartan shawls, plaids, and other articles of similar character, by some companies settled in the town. There is likewise a manufactory for damasks. The post-office has a daily delivery; and a branch of the British Linen Company's bank has been established. Facility of intercourse with the neighbouring places is afforded by excellent roads, of which the great north road passes through the town; and there are not less than thirteen bridges of stone over the various streams that intersect the parish. Fairs are held on the last Wednesday in March, the 1st of June, the last Wednesday in July, and the 18th of October, all O. S.; they are for cattle, agricultural produce, and various articles of merchandise. The government is under the management of a president, treasurer, and clerk, assisted by a committee of eight or ten persons; they are annually chosen by the inhabitants, at a general meeting held for that purpose, and the police and all other regulations are conducted by them, the expenses being defrayed by subscription. The county-hall is a handsome edifice, erected in 1826, at an expense of £2000, of which £750 were granted by government, and the remainder raised by voluntary contribution, and assessment of the heritors of the county; it contains a spacious hall for the courts, and the apartments requisite for conducting the public business. Attached to it is the gaol, comprising three wards for debtors, two cells for criminals, and a guardroom.
The parish, which is about four miles in length, from east to west, is bounded on the east by Loch Leven, and comprises 7062 acres, of which 6608 are arable, 271 woodland and plantations, and the remainder rough pasture and waste. The surface, though generally elevated, is flat, in no part rising into hills; the chief river is the Leven, which issues from the lake of that name, and has been rendered more copious and powerful in its stream by a contraction of the expanse of the lake. There are numerous springs of excellent water; and the scenery, in many parts romantic, is enriched by thriving plantations. Loch Leven, the principal object of attraction, as well from its natural beauty as from the historical events with which it is associated, was, previously to the contraction of its surface by draining, fifteen miles in circumference, and in its present state may be estimated at about twelve miles. It is studded with islands, of which the chief are, the island of St. Serf, in the parish of Portmoak, and the Castle island, in this parish, so called from the erection of the ancient castle. The latter isle, situated near the north-western extremity of the lake, is five acres in extent. The castle, which is defended by an outer rampart of stone, inclosing a spacious quadrangular area, consists chiefly of a lofty square tower at the north-west angle of the inclosure, and a round tower of smaller dimensions at the south-east. The building is without a roof, and at present is a mere ruin; some portions of what is supposed to have been the chapel are still remaining, and under the square tower is a dungeon. The whole area within the rampart is about 600 feet in circumference. The island is planted with trees, of which some are of great antiquity; and the surface affords good pasturage. The lake abounds with trout and various kinds of fish, but not in such variety as before its contraction; the season commences in January, and ends in September, and the fish chiefly taken are, trout, pike, perch, and eels, in which two boats and four men are constantly employed. The fishery is let at a rent of £204; the produce is sent to the markets of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Manchester, at which last place it is in great demand.
The soil is generally fertile and productive; the crops are, oats, barley, wheat, potatoes, and turnips. The system of agriculture is improved; the lands have been well drained and inclosed; the farm houses and offices are substantial and commodious; and on most of the farms threshing-machines have been erected, of which one is impelled by steam. Considerable attention is paid to the rearing of live stock, and much improvement has been made under the auspices of the various agricultural societies established in the vicinity, several of which hold their cattle-shows in the town. About 400 cows, and a nearly equal number of calves, with 650 head of young cattle, are pastured annually; the number of sheep is 400, and of horses 300. The rateable annual value of the parish is £11,102. The plantations are larch, and Scotch and spruce firs, intermixed in some parts with different kinds of forest-trees; they are judiciously managed, and in a thriving condition. The substrata are, sandstone, which is found in two varieties, the old red formation and the carboniferous; whinstone; and limestone. The whinstone, which is very compact, is quarried for the roads, for which purpose it is well adapted. Coal is supposed to exist, and it has been in contemplation to explore it; but an abundant supply of that mineral is procured from works not more than five miles distant, and at a very moderate cost. There are three extensive mills in the parish, all formerly for grain; but two of them have been converted into mills for spinning and carding, connected with the manufactories of tartan plaids. Kinross House, the seat of Sir Graham Montgomery, Bart., a spacious mansion erected by Sir William Bruce, architect to Charles II., was originally intended as a residence for James, Duke of York; it is finely situated, and was once surrounded by some very ancient and stately timber.
The parish is in the presbytery of Dunfermline and synod of Fife, and patronage of Sir Graham Montgomery; the minister's stipend is £184. 16. 8., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £35 per annum. The present church, a handsome edifice in the later style of English architecture, was erected in 1832, at an expense of £1537, towards which the Rev. Geo. D. C. Buchanan contributed about £300; it is situated on an eminence nearly in the centre of the parish. The tower of the old church is still standing, by itself, in the town. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church and of the United Secession. The parochial school affords a liberal education, and is well attended; the master has a salary of £34, with £55 fees, and a house and garden. A savings' bank, established in 1837, contributes to diminish the number of applicants for parochial relief; and there are four friendly societies, and a ladies' society for the distribution of oatmeal to necessitous females. The sum of £8. 6. 8. is annually given to twelve poor persons, in lieu of the foundation of an almshouse which was projected by Sir William Bruce; and the poor have also the interest of a bequest of £100 by George Graham, Esq., of Kinross. About a mile from the town is a small cairn; and there were formerly others, in one of which, when removed, was found a coffin, rudely formed of upright stones, with a slab resting on them, and inclosing several human bones, and some ashes apparently of burnt wood. On the lands of Coldon have been discovered about 400 silver coins, chiefly of Edward I. and II. of England, and a few of the reigns of Alexander III. and John Baliol. At West Green, in 1829, was found, deeply imbedded in the earth, an ancient seal of pure gold, of singular workmanship; it has the arms of Scotland on the dexter side of the shield, impaled with those of England on the sinister, and is supposed to have been the private signet of James IV. On the lands of Lathro have been discovered, by the plough, several graves, containing some human bodies and a skull: near the spot is an eminence called the Gallows Know, which renders it probable that these may have been the skeletons of malefactors, executed here prior to the abolition of heritable jurisdictions. Dr. John Thomson, professor of general pathology in the university of Edinburgh, was a native of this parish.