A Quick Guide to Perthshire’s Must See Churchyards

A Quick Guide to Perthshire’s Must See Churchyards

Perthshire is home to some of the most striking church’s and churchyards across the UK and are a must see for any history buff. Churches in Scotland have a long and prestigious influence within Scottish culture. Historically church’s were the central focus of a town, with the churchyards being used not only as burial sites, but also as marketplaces and points of business too.

The historic gravestones which are housed within churchyards across the country display important aspects of Scottish history, with many sites displaying the craftsmanship and religious beliefs of past civilizations such as the Picts and Celts. Weather you are a history fanatic or just fancy an interesting day out, take a trip to some of Perthshire’s most interesting churchyards, right on your doorstep. Here is a quick guide to some of the most interesting and noteworthy churchyards across the country:

1. Alyth Churchyard

 

Alyth Churchyard

This Churchyard is located in the picturesque landscape of the Scottish town Alyth. The church’s heritage can be traced back as far as 1352 and was a significant part of the towns history, with the churchyard being used as the town main trading market for decades. The iconic arches of the Churchyard make this a unique Perthshire churchyard and a must see destination.

2. Collace Churchyard

Alyth Churchyard

Collace Church has had a large influence on the heritage of the local people, being used as a focal point of the town for decades. The ancient gravestones and buildings of the churchyard create an awe inspiring atmosphere with the landscape being associated with the story of Shakespeare ‘Macbeth’.

2. Coupar Angus Churchyard

Coupar Angus Churchyard

The idyllic setting of the Coupar Angus Churchyard makes for a fascinating day out for any enthusiastic historian. The Coupar Angus Abbey Churchyard sits on a slight prominence in an otherwise low-lying area. The site itself has a rich history, with the churchyard ground displaying strong evidence to Roman activity.

4. Meigle Churchyard

Meigle Church’s heritage can be traced back to the Neolithic times and is among the oldest churches in the country. An impressive collection of Pictish sculptured stones can be discovered around the courtyard, highlighting the craftsmanship of the ancient civilization.

Perthshire has a rich history of churchyards, with many of the their heritages being traced back centuries. More information about must see church’s and churchyards can be found here. If Perthshire churchyard history has caught your attention, why not take a look at our article about the fascinating world of body snatching and defending the dead here

Body Snatchers: A Gruesome Guide to The Body Business

Body Snatchers: A Gruesome Guide to The Body Business

Who are body Snatchers?

As unusual as it sounds – body snatching, the action of taking a corpse from its place of burial to be sold for medical or teaching purposes, was a huge problem 200 years ago. The dead were in high demand at the time, and perhaps not for the reason you would first think.

In the 19th century, the law restricted the use of medical research to only allowing postmortems  to be carried out on the bodies of deceased criminals. With a huge shortage of corpses, medical professionals and students alike looked to find alternatives. The answer? Dig up bodies of the recently deceased from churchyards around the country. Body snatching became a booming industry as a result of this demand, with some body’s fetching up to £12 on the black market, which was equivalent to the annual pay of a factory worker at the time.

Body Snatching became a serious problem in the turn of the 19th century, with the scandal being driven by the huge demand medical research facilitates had for human corpses. The action of grave robbing was not a new concept, with accounts of grave robber’s stealing from burial sites across the country for hundreds of years before body snatching became a significant problem. While body snatching was a gruesome and  disrespectful criminal act, the phenomenon had a large impact on the world as we know it. Countless groundbreaking medical discoveries were made as a result of human corpses used by medical professionals and to helped deepen our understanding of the human anatomy and how bodies were affected by illness and disease.

Body Snatchers in Perth and Kinross

Just like the rest of the country, there is a detailed history of body snatching in Perth and Kinross. There are numerous accounts of grave robbing across the county. The Perth and Kinross  Heritage Trust developed a detailed guide on body snatching within the county which can be seen below:

 

 

Discover the Action

If you want to get closer to the action, why not visit some of the best churchyards in Perthshire? Go straight to the scenes of the crimes and see first hand where body snatchers would find their victims. With a huge range of churches and churchyards around Perthshire you are bound to find out all about the fascinating history of body snatching. Take a look at our article about the best churchyards in Perth and Kinross here.

 

About Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust

The Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust is a council-based organisation which is dedicated to preserving and promoting the architectural and archaeological heritage of Perth and Kinross. They conserve the local historical sites so residents, tourists and future generations have the opportunity to discover the fascinating history of Perthshire.

If you would like to find out more about the Perth and Kinross Heritage trust, visit their website to learn more about their current projects and places of historical interest within Perthshire here.

 

Mary Queen of Scots Festival 2017

Mary Queen of Scots Festival 2017

 

The Mary Queen of Scots Festival 2017

Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd September
Market Park, Kinross – FREE ENTRY!

 

 

The Mary Queen of Scots Festival is part of Scotland’s ‘Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology’ and set to inspire visitors to #facethepast #HHA2017

The Mary Queen of Scots Festival 2017 will celebrate the rich cultural and history and heritage of the Kinross area, most notably it’s famed connection to Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. The event will commemorate Mary’s life as Kinross poignantly marks the 450 year relationship with the Castle on Loch Leven Island where she was held captive and where spent some of her most troubled years, and the end of her reign in 1567.

The festival will take place over the first weekend in September (2nd & 3rd) at Market Park, Kinross and the programme will include living history encampments, music, food and drink and a programme of children’s entertainment to explore; all activities will guarantee a great day out.Working with our partners It’s Not All Black & White (who created the original concept in 2015) the new Mary Queen of Scots Festival programme for 2017 will be created, developed and delivered by Unique Events, Scotland’s leading independent event organisers and festival creators.

The festival will showcase the varied pastimes the Queen enjoyed as well as create a medieval atmosphere. Aspects of the festival include:

Encampments

 The festival will have its very own royal encampment filled with the sounds and scents, the hustle and bustle of 16th century Scotland with Mary, herself, in attendance. It will be impossible for the visitors not to be instilled with a sense of enthusiasm and excitement for the time of Mary, Queen of Scots. We are delighted to have Clanranald Trust for Scotland, Scotland’s premier living historians, onboard to provide both historically accurate and spectacular activities throughout the day.

Mary herself, will hold court dressed in her finery, going about her royal business and enduring her captivity in style. Visitors will be invited to have an audience with Her Majesty and to join in with the revelries as Suitors, Court Advisors and servants vie for her attention.

Medieval Encampment

The Royal Stuart Kitchens

This is a hands on activity showcasing the food of the time period, both for Royalty and peasantry. Enough to make anyone’s stomach turn!

In addition to this dining display, a large variety of the best catering companies in the area are joining us at the festival to bring you a brilliant selection of delicious cuisine. Companies such as Woodburns Pizza, Jarvis Pickle, Alanda’s Fish and Chips and Nelson’s Ice Cream will all be attending the. To plan your meal or more information about these delicious treats find out more here.

 

Blacksmith Armoury

Queen Mary’s reign was a turbulent time for Scotland. Armourers and Smiths all over the country wer

e very much at the heart of the period’s constantly evolving War industry.  Visitors can experience the creation of the elaborate weapons and armour of the day. The armoury will also house a selection of weapons throughout the ages, showcasing the development that happened throughout Mary’s reign.

 

Stuart Pastimes

Pastime and leisure entertainment is something we value today but was equally important to all classes 400 years ago.  In Mary’s time, theatre was very popular and most of the plays were about morality.  Most of the actors at the time were men, even the women!  Other popular games included, balloon ball, ring ball, dice, cards and mummery.  Fully interactive set up hosted by costumed characters.

 

Topiary tent

MQoS introduced the concept of formal gardens to Scotland.  Come and meet her gardeners, see the tools and have a go at topiary.

 

Tudor pottery

Tudor pottery for domestic and leisure use – Using a drum kiln and employing traditional and modern types of clay and techniques, we want to have a hands on area for children (and adults) to make their own ‘poppets’ and learn about the importance of clay industries of the time.

 

Medieval Falconry

Falconer

Visitors will also be able to visit a falconer with a chance to meet the amazing birds of prey and learn about their role in medieval society.

 

 

 

Jousting

With the invention of gunpowder, most traditional ways of war suddenly became obsolete therefore armoured combat became a sport in the form of jousting and man on man armed competitions a bit like today’s riding and fencing competitions.

In magnificent tailored armour, Jousting Knights come from all over the realm to show off their finery and prowess in the saddle. There will be Knights from the Kingdom of Cornwall, the Shire of Nottingham, the Flatlands of Mercia and our own home-grown Caledonian Knights.  You will be able to mingle with these flamboyant characters, hear details of their training, lives, loves and losses. In between the jousting demonstrations our knights will be “tilting at the ring”.

The jousting demonstration will run both days with overall ‘winner’ receiving the Queen’s favour the MQoS Festival Shield.

 

Music

The Gorns

Traditional Scottish music typical of the time period will be played throughout the festival In the Belhaven tent. The Gorms are an exciting act coming to in the Belhaven Tent for the Mary Queen of Scots Festival and will be playing a large range of Scottish Folk music hits.  Other acts to appear in the Belhaven Tent over the weekend include The Cognac TwinsCalum Baird and Ruth Gillies. Definitely worth a watch!

To  accompany the great traditional music, a blend of debates and talks from a range of guest speakers will also be hosted in the Belhaven tent .

 

 

 

The Wee White Dug

The Wee White Dug

Casper aka the Wee White Dug will be joining festival goers on Saturday 2nd September, and is hoping for an audience with the queen and maybe even a selfie if he’s lucky. Casper recently spent an enjoyable morning with Thomas from Visit Dunfermline, exploring the historic centre of Dunfermline.  He’s looking forward to visiting Kinross to find out more about Scotland’s most iconic queen, and the time she spent in captivity at Loch Leven Castle. Casper is the star of BBC featured, Scottish travel blog ‘Scotland with the Wee White Dug‘.  Written by his history geek Mum Sam, the blog follows Casper as he travels around Scotland.

 

 

Programme Details

 

Morning Programme

In the morning we will spend some time thinking and talking about Mary Queen of Scots.

Genealogy talk – Join us as one of Scotland’s top Genealogists gives us an insight into tracing your past.

Discussion – Some healthy and good natured debate about Mary, her reputation, her influence and, of course, her story.

 

Afternoon Programme

Throughout the afternoon there will be an amazing array of music, with lively trad and folk bands with some of Scotland’s best musicians and fantastic local, acoustic acts.

Children’s Entertainment
Alongside the amazing activities in the Encampments we will have face painting, games, arts & crafts and storytelling. Children will enjoy tales from Scottish folklore and history.

Food & Drink
Our fantastic sponsor Belhaven will be on site providing an excellent selection of ales and beers alongside a spirits, wine and non-alcoholic offerings.

There will be a great selection of hot and cold food offerings available on the day, don’t worry, we’ll tell you who will be coming before then event so you can plan your eating schedule!

Market
There will also be a quality retail village offering Scottish food and drink produce and quality gifts made by Scottish crafters, with ‘meet the maker’ opportunities as well as specialty Mary Queen of Scots branded merchandise available.

Don’t miss out!

This action packed weekend is a must see event for anyone interested in Mary Queen of Scots – and all aspects of medieval history. With such a large variety of entertainment being displayed there really is something for everyone. And best of all its totally free to attend!

To register your interest in the festival and keep up to date with the latest news, simply sign up to the Facebook event.

The Carpow Logboat included in 25 Objects That Shaped Scotland’s History

The Carpow Logboat included in 25 Objects That Shaped Scotland’s History

The Carpow Logboat joins 25 objects that shaped Scotland’s history

From a Roman distance slab to a medieval football, Antarctic goggles to a dancing fiddle – VisitScotland has today (20 July) revealed the top 25 objects that have shaped Scotland’s history in a stunning new e-book.

The list has been unveiled on International Chess Day (20 July) as a special nod to the most famous chess pieces in history – the Lewis Chessmen  – who feature at number 9 on the date ordered list. 

Compiled by an expert panel for the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, the 25 objects cover over 5000 years of Scottish history and the length and breadth of the country from Shetland to Dumfries and Galloway. 

The objects were chosen based on chronological and geographic spread alongside their individual interesting stories. The final 25 were chosen by a panel that included representatives from Historic Environment Scotland, National Museums of Scotland, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and VisitScotland.

VisitScotland hopes that visitors will go on a trail this summer to discover as many of the objects as possible and in turn discover more about Scotland’s fascinating past.

The oldest object in the list is a barbed harpoon point (originally found in the Macarthur Cave, Oban) that dates back to the Middle Stone Age, and is one of the earliest instruments used to hunt and fish in Scotland.

The most modern in the list is Dolly the Sheep – the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell – who is currently housed at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and celebrated her 20th anniversary in 2016.

More unusual objects on the list include the Orkney Venus – the earliest known depiction of the female human form – which dates from the Neolithic period and was uncovered at the Links of Noltland on the Orkney island of Westray in 2009.

A violin which ignited Robert Burns’ rebellious streak, revealing more about the great Bard’s personality is another object that makes the final cut.  The Gregg Violin was owned by Burns’ dance teacher, William Gregg. In around 1779, Robert Burns started taking dancing lessons and wrote that he hoped these new skills would ‘give my manners a brush’, but it was most likely an act of rebellion because his father did not approve of such seemingly sinful behaviour.

The Carpow Logboat

A major project led by the Trust over 10 years, to excavate, recover, conserve and display a 3,000 year old log-boat from the Tay estuary. The results, presented in an award-winning monograph, led to the innovative Loch Tay logboat experiment.

In 2006 the Trust excavated and recovered a unique Late Bronze Age logboat from the Tay estuary near Perth. From discovery of the boat in 2001, the project took over 10 years to complete and resulted in two major publications and exhibition of the vessel in Perth Museum and Art Gallery. The Trust led a partnership including CFA Archaeology Ltd, local marine engineering firm Moorings and Marine Services, and both the National Museums of Scotland and Perth Museum and Art Gallery.

 

Excavation and recovery of the 9m waterlogged boat from the inter-tidal zone of the mighty Tay was logistically challenging and conservation and study of the vessel at the National Museums of Scotland identified fixtures and fittings, damage, wear, and even tool-marks from socketted axes and moss caulking used to make a boat water-tight.

Dating to around 1000 BC, Carpow is one of the best preserved prehistoric log-boats from Britain, the second oldest boat known from Scotland. To find out more, read one of our award-winning publications on the boat, which use extensive illustrations to tell the story of the discovery, excavation, conservation, but also how this remarkable find has contributed to our understanding of Bronze Age life in Scotland.

The City of Perth Salute

The City of Perth Salute

The City of Perth Salute

The City of Perth Salute returns for its 3rd year to Perth city centre. International artistes will join local bands in the City of Perth Parade from the South Inch to the North Inch, along Tay Street culminating in an arena performance.

Our own local Perth & District Pipe Band will, of course, be part of the parade bringing their own colourful and joyful display to the occasion.

This is a FREE event.

No booking is required.

Please bring along your own seating. After the performance join us for boating on the Tay and all the great City Centre attractions.

Perth Medieval Fayre

Perth Medieval Fayre

Celebrate Perth’s ancient roots with an exciting day of free events and activities in the city centre.

 

Traditional Skills

Watch and try your hand at a range of skills including:  Hand and wheel spinning, loom weaving and live metal casting from Threads in Time; Medieval woodcarving from Scottish Woodland Skills Centre;  Pottery from Hudson Clay Potters; Smithyy from Wordsmithcrafts; • tempura paints, heraldry shields, and calligraphy from School of Ancient Crafts;  Medieval minecraft in Perth Museum & Art Gallery;  Medieval-themed puppet making with Clyde Built Puppets.

 

Entertainment

Medieval music, weapons and armour, and traditional crime and punishment demonstrations from the Knights of Moneymusk.  Music and dance from ensemble Gaita.  Medieval encampment from the Company of St Margaret.  Medieval Methil offer a living history

of Scotland through education, display and archaeology experiences.  Music from tribal drum and pipe band Clanadonia.  History and horror tours through medieval Perth.  Face-painting, street entertainers and more.

Refreshments 

Arbroath Smokies from Iain Spink.

Spit roast from Highland Spit Roasts.

Mead from The Rookery.

Party Box Events offering food and drink, along with their ever popular photo box.

Crannogs, Celts and Crafts: Great Summer Events!

Crannogs, Celts and Crafts: Great Summer Events!

The Iron Age team at the Scottish Crannog Centre continues celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with two super upcoming events.

The first is their Iron Age Gourmet Day on July 20th, featuring mouthwatering tasters inspired by discoveries underwater at the 2500 year old site of Oakbank Crannog in Loch Tay. The amazing well-preserved evidence included butter in a wooden dish, cherries with the fruit still attached, intact nuts, grains and seeds, and abundant plant and bone remains that allow the team to create complete menus. Visitors can watch meat and fish cook over open fires or simmer in a pit, and bake their own handmade rolls in clay ovens. Forget paleo; go Iron Age! There will be plenty of other activities as well for those who are not so focused on food, including a sandbox with ‘hidden treasures’.

Then, watch out for the biggest event of the year, The Celts Are Coming! on August 5th and 6th. This prehistoric extravaganza takes place at the Forestry Commission picnic site of Dalerb, by Kenmore, and features a living history fair with many re-enactors and craft workers, a marketplace and a range of great and unusual activities for all ages including ‘wee-enactors’. Watch molten bronze turn into a sword, see iron ore forged into metal, make an ancient urn, turn hides into leather and then head for the Iron Age games. Test your archery and spear-throwing skills, paddle dugout canoes and see who can run fastest in the water or pull hardest in the tug-o-waterwar! Definitely a good idea to bring a change of clothes, then! Don’t worry about getting hungry; there will be a fabulous hog roast and other catering available as well.

Meanwhile, there will also be special activities at the Scottish Crannog Centre in addition to the usual wood- and stone-working and fire-making without matches and an Iron Age trail for visitors to follow between the two sites. The best priced tickets are combination ones, providing entry into both the Centre and the Celts Fair for great value and simply the best family days out, ever! For advance ticketing to avoid the queues, please visit www.crannog.co.uk and keep checking back for updates and the full programme. You can also ring 01887 830583 or email the team at info@crannog.co.uk.

The event runs both days from 10:30 to about 5pm and is supported by Perth & Kinross Council and the Rural Perth & Kinross LEADER Programme 2014-2020: The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.

Soldiers of Killiecrankie Festival

Soldiers of Killiecrankie Festival

This 30th and 31st of July 2017 sees Perthshire host the Soldiers of Killiecrankie Festival. Once more, musket fire will echo through the surrounding hills as re-enactors from around the UK recreate the Battle of Killiecrankie, giving visitors an authentic experience of the sights, sounds and smells of the past.  Information of this can be found at www.soldiersofkilliecrankie.co.uk.

The battle of Killiecrankie was the first battle of the Jacobite wars and originated in the religious troubles of King James VII of Scotland and II of England, who was a Catholic while most of his subjects were Protestant. The Protestant majority knew that by the time the King was in his fifties he still had no male heir to the throne. The next in line to the crown was the king’s eldest daughter Mary who was a Protestant and married to Prince William of Orange.  So the Protestant nobility were hoping that on the King’s death, Mary would restore their faith to the crown.  But in 1688 the Queen had a baby boy who was also to be called James. It became clear that this young prince would be brought up a Catholic, so the Protestants pledged to support Prince William of Orange if he were to invade and take the throne.    

William landed with an army of 10,000 and King James, lacking support, fled to France.   One of King James’s most loyal supporters was John Graham, Viscount Dundee, known better to folk music enthusiasts as “Bonnie Dundee”.   Graham had been on his way south to support the King when he heard James was in France, so he turned around and made his way back to Scotland where he raised the Royal Standard for King James.  He then made his way into the Highlands and gathered an army some 2,000 strong.  

The Scottish Parliament who supported William and Mary sent an army into the Highlands to confront these Jacobites  (from the Latin for James, signifying a supporter of James). This government army was 4,000 strong and commanded by General MacKay of Scourie.  Mackay’s red-coated soldiers moved through the narrow pass of Killiecrankie, between modern Pitlochry and Blair Atholl.  

When the government troops left the pass the General was horrified to see the whole of Graham’s army on the high ground to the right.  The Government army had to turn around to face this threat, leaving Mackay with his enemy on the heights and his retreat blocked by the River Garry behind him.

Graham waited throughout the long summer day on the 27th of July 1689, and when the sun was low in the sky he ordered his clansmen to charge.  The highlanders tore down the hill each man screaming his clan slogan. The terrified redcoats, many from overseas, were totally unfamiliar with this style of warfare, the Highland Charge, where your foe tries to get as close to you as quickly as possible.  They were more accustomed to the pitched battles of the European continent where you stood in lines trading shots at a distance.     

 

The slope the clansman were charging down was terraced and the Jacobites kept coming into and disappearing from view, so the Government troops only managed to fire one volley of shots before the highlanders were amongst them, hacking, stabbing and slashing with claymore, broadsword, Lochaber axe and dirk. The redcoats had been ordered to fix bayonets, these were plug bayonets that fitted into the muzzle of the musket. This meant the musket could not be fired and could only be used as a sort of short pike, a huge disadvantage against the highlander’s broadsword and targe (highland shield). After the Battle of Killiecrankie this changed and government troops would use a bayonet that fitted to the side of the barrel, meaning the gun could still be used. It was carnage and those redcoats who didn’t turn around and flee were cut down.   But this Jacobite victory came at a high cost as late on, with the battle already won John Graham was killed, either shot under the arm as he waved his cavalry forward (the Jacobite account), or shot up the backside as he bent down to drink some water after the fighting was over (the Government account).  

Today there is a visitor centre that offers a good description of the battle and a pleasant walk along the pass of Killiecrankie.  You can visit the soldier’s leap where a redcoat called Donald McBane leapt 18ft across the river to escape pursuing Highlanders and also the Balfour Stone which marks the spot where a Government Officer, Brigadier Barthold Balfour of the Dutch Brigade, was killed when he stopped running and squared up to chasing clansman before being hacked to death.  

More from Perth City

Perth’s History and Heritage Pass

Perth’s History and Heritage Pass

Perth’s History and Heritage Pass

The Black Watch Castle and Museum and Scone Palace have launched a joint ticket – Perth’s History and Heritage Pass.

 

It is great value for visitors giving a combined 20% discount on admission and includes access to The Black Watch Story Tour.

 

Tickets can be bought at either Scone Palace or The Black Watch Castle and Museum. We would be delighted if you can share with your customers who are looking to sample some of Perth’s heritage.

 

http://www.theblackwatch.co.uk/

https://scone-palace.co.uk/

The Battle of the Clans – Perth 1396

The Battle of the Clans – Perth 1396

The Battle of the Clans – Perth 1396

Local social historian Gary Knight, in his first blog for the Perth City website, shares with us the dramatic Battle of the Clans.

The clans in the highlands of Scotland were an unruly lot. They were constantly feuding with their neighbours and regularly raiding into the low fertile lands of Moray, Perthshire, Angus, Aberdeenshire, and Stirlingshire. The king’s laws meant very little to this warlike, tribal society. In 1396, things were so bad between Clan Chattan and Clan Kay, who were forever raiding each other’s lands, stealing livestock, and burning down houses, that King Robert III sent an army north to deal with the problem. The commander of this army knew it was likely that when he marched into the mountains, his forces were in danger of being ambushed by the men of Chattan or Kay – or perhaps both clans would unite. The outcome could be the massacre of the royal army.

So, he came up with a plan and sent messengers to speak to the two warring clans with a proposal. This was a chance to sort out the problem in one day, sparing countless lives. The commander of the king’s army suggested that the two clans each send thirty men to Perth for a fight to the death on the city’s North Inch. The clan chiefs agreed and when the king heard of this plan, he was so delighted, he decided he and his court would come to Perth to watch the spectacle.

A large brightly coloured pavilion was put up for the royal party and benches were laid out for the people of Perth to sit on. The crowd waited expectedly in the warm summer sun as the skirl of the bagpipes drew closer and closer. Then dozens of kilted warriors took up position on the inch in front of the king’s pavilion. As the two clans lined up, a referee counted the men on both sides, but a problem was found. Although Clan Kay had thirty men, Clan Chattan had only twenty-nine. They must have miscounted before they left or lost a man on the way to Perth. Royal heralds walked amongst the crowd holding up a gold coin for anyone who would take up arms and fight for Clan Chattan. The city population murmured amongst themselves and fidgeted as the king, looking on like a Roman Caesar in the Colosseum, waited patiently. Just as it seemed no one would take up the offer of gold and Clan Chattan would have to forfeit the contest, a voice boomed from the benches: “I Sir Herald will take that coin and fight for Clan Chattan!”

The voice belonged to the city blacksmith, a giant of a man, strong and powerful. His name was Henry, better known as Hal o’ the Wynd. Hal was given a sword and took up his place amongst the Chattan clansmen.

The king gave the signal to start and arrows were fired between the two sides. Then the men, screaming their clan slogans in Gaelic, charged into the affray. The sunlight danced on sword and axe blades as they cut through the air, slicing into flesh and bone. The green grass became crimson red and sticky from the flow of blood as the screams of the wounded echoed around the inch. The referee called a halt to the battle and the two sides parted. Sweating, panting men, soaked in blood, gulped at the water given to them and used it to wash blood from slippery hands. They likely used their few minutes of rest to glance around, looking for friends or kinsmen, counting how many were still alive compared to the enemy. Wounds were quickly patched up with strips of torn cloth before the signal to fight came again.

The Chattan’s and Kay’s got stuck into each other once more. As the two sides slogged it out, it became clear that Clan Chattan were gaining the upper hand and in the end, all but one of Clan Kay perished. The sole surviving Kay jumped into the River Tay and swam to safety. Hal o’ the Wynd was said to have fought bravely. He was permitted to keep the gold coin and earned his place in Scottish history.

* Some accounts say the Battle of the Clans was fought between Clan Chattan and Clan Cameron.

Gary Knight started his journey as a storyteller and tour guide nearly twenty years ago, specialising in dark Stories from Scotland’s history with his own company, ‘History and Horror Tours’. He has many alter-egos from different periods of history, from Grave robber to Jacobite Officer and can often be found playing the roll of Perth’s executioner, Sandy Dow, up and down the country at
historical events (with wife, Lynne, playing the hapless victim).

His varied repertoire includes working on events with Mercat Tours Edinburgh, Traquair House, Historic Scotland, Ghost Events Scotland, Scone Palace, Jedburgh Castle Jail, Blair Castle, Gleneagles Hotel and the Crieff Hydro Hotel. He can also be credited with starting ‘The Haunted Castle Tour’, the first official storytelling tour
round Castle Menzies, near Aberfeldy. The tours ran for 5yrs and were extremely popular, creating a great amount of revenue and publicity, partly through various appearances on radio and television! Gary is currently creating his first blog and has just finished writing his first book, ‘Not So Fair a City, dark stories from Perth’s past’, which will be printed by Perth based publisher, Tippermuir Books, this summer.

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