Mary Queen of Scots and Loch Leven Castle

Mary Queen of Scots and Loch Leven Castle

January saw the opening of a new film about Mary Queen of Scots, and although I have yet still to go to the Playhouse in Perth to watch the film,  I thought I would write about a famous event involving Mary that took place in Perth and Kinross – the imprisonment of the queen at Loch Leven Castle.

Mary Queen of Scots is perhaps one of Scotland’s most tragic monarchs,  she was born in Linlithgow Palace on the 8th of December 1542.  Her father James V was not exactly over the moon when he was told of the birth of his daughter.  He was lying in his sick bed in Falkland Palace and upon receiving the news exclaimed rather sadly “it came wi a lass and it will gang wi a lass” he was referring to the Stewart or Stuart dynasty.   Mary’s father James died six days later on the 14th of December. 

The infant was crowned queen on the 9th of September 1543 she was less than a year old.  The King of England Henry VIII tried to persuade the Scottish nobility that the young queen should marry his son and when this was rejected he sent his armies into Scotland to force the issue.  This is referred to as the Rough Wooing, with Scotland being subjected to these English raids the queen was sent to France where she married the heir to the French throne in 1558.  The following year Mary’s husband was crowned Francois II of France.  The time in France was to be the happiest of her life, but it was not to last, for in 1560 the young French king died,  Mary was sent back to Scotland arriving in Leith in 1561.

Things were extremely difficult for her, she was a Catholic while most of her subjects including her nobility were Protestant.  Mary married her cousin Henry Stewart Lord Darnley in 1565, despite having a child together it was not a happy union.  Darnley was spoilt, immature and a womaniser.  He was manipulated into being involved in murdering Mary’s secretary David Rizzio, this crime was carried out in the queen’s chambers in Holyrood Palace.  Mary who was pregnant at the time never forgave her husband for his part in the murder.  Lord Darnley himself was to die in suspicious circumstances, while sick he was convalescing in a building called Kirk o Field in Edinburgh. 

One night while Mary was out celebrating a wedding Kirk o Field was blown up.  Darnley’s body was found outside in the grounds, he had been murdered.  The chief suspect in this assassination was Lord Bothwell, many people at the time also thought Mary herself had a hand in the killing of her husband.  Mary Queen of Scots then committed political suicide by marrying Lord Bothwell, this prompted a rebellion by her lords.  Mary was overthrown, she was taken into custody and them imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle.

Loch Leven castle sits on the biggest island on Loch Leven, it is owned by Historic Scotland and open to the public.  It is well worth a visit, especially on a nice day.  The castle was to be Mary’s prison for just over ten months arriving on the 17th of June 1567 and leaving on the morning of the 3rd of May 1568.  Imprisonment here was to be the low point of Mary’s time in Scotland, while held Mary miscarried twins that had been conceived with Lord Bothwell. Her jailers were The Douglases, a powerful family who had played a prominent role in Scotland’s history since the days of Robert the Bruce. 

Lady Douglas had been the mistress of the queen’s father King James V , she was the mother of James Stewart the Earl of Moray, Mary’s half brother, Moray was to become regent while Mary was locked up, running the country on behalf of the queen’s young son James VI.  The queen was confined to two rooms on the third floor of the tower.  Lady Douglas was to share a bedroom with the queen, so Mary had very little privacy.  She spent her long days walking in the garden or doing needlework. 

Her supporters on the outside were desperate to secure her freedom, they knew Mary’s life was in danger, her jailers had been told to kill Mary if an escape attempt was made by her followers.  Mary did make an effort to escape on one occasion a laundress had been brought to the castle and Mary who was up early swapped clothing with this woman. Covering her face, Mary made it down to the boat,  she was being rowed across the loch when one of the boatmen foiled the plan, he noticed how white, soft and smooth the ladies hands looked. 

A second attempt was to be successful, Mary was helped by one of her jailers he was Willie Douglas an eighteen-year-old youth who was captivated by the charismatic queen.  On the night of the 2nd of May, he managed to obtain the master key to the tower.  When the rest of the household were celebrating May Day with a masked ball, Willie made his way to the queen’s room.  Releasing the queen, they made their way to a boat and rowed across the loch to freedom.

Once free Mary gathered her support and raised an army, it was defeated at the Battle of Langside near Glasgow.  Mary Queen of Scots then fled to England where she sought the protection of her cousin Queen Elizabeth I of England.  Mary was implicated in a plot to kill the English queen and executed in 1587.

Article by Gary Knight

Winter break in Perthshire?

Winter break in Perthshire?

Feeling the post-Christmas blues?

Why not cheer yourself up by taking a break to Perthshire .

There are many great deals on accommodation at over this winter so come to enjoy all that Perth has to offer.

Perth is also only about an hour away from Glenshee ski resort. So if we get some snow this winter (fingers crossed) then Perth is the perfect place to come back to after a long day on the slopes.

If you fancy a unique experience than the Perth Riverside Light Nights are running from Jan 26 – Feb 10. 

Perth also has a wide range of local shops, cafes and restaurants to explore as well so you will never be bored. This would also be the perfect time to use a Perth card if you got one as a Christmas present. 

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Mercure – 1 night package offer

Book before the 17th February for stays between 8th to 18th February 2019.

Inspiring breaks in Perth this winter from only £135 per couple

Book up until 27th February 2019

Dinner, Bed and Breakfast

Available November, December, January & February (excludes some festive break dates, Scottish Shindig Breaks 18th & 25th and Valentines 17th February.

Scottish shindig break

Saturday 19th January or 26th January

Valentines Break

Available 16th February 2019.

Winter sparkles

Available till the 31st of January, the 1st till the 13th and 18th and 28th of February   

February break

Available from the 3rd till the 11th and 18th till the 28th of February.

Romantic night away

Available from the 14th till the 16th of February 

January break

Available till the 31st of January. (Tuesday to Friday only)

2 nights with dinner and breakfast.  

Available from the 1st of February till the 31st of March.   

2 Night Winter break 

Available before the 8th of February 

Bubbles and love (3-night stay)

1st to the 28th of February 

Wee winter adventures (3 Night midweek)

Available all of March.

Other hotels in Perth 

Royal George Hotel

The Royal George Hotel, Tay Street Perth PH1 5LD
Scotland

Leonardo Boutique Hotel Huntingtower Perth

Crieff Road, Perth, PH1 3JT

 

 

The Station Hotel

The Station Hotel, 1 Leonard Street, Perth PH2 8HE, UK

 

New County Hotel

22-30 County Pl, Perth PH2 8EE

Best Western Queens Hotel

Leonard St, Perth PH2 8HB

Complete list of accommodation in Perth 

Header image by @ekelly68541 (IG) — at Kinnoull Hill.

Get another bite of Perth and Kinross as Cake Fest returns

Get another bite of Perth and Kinross as Cake Fest returns

After a deliciously spectacular inaugural event in 2017, Cake Fest Perth and Kinross is back for a second ‘slice of the action’ in 2018 as part of the annual Winter Festival celebrations.

Bakers of all abilities, from beginner to expert, are again being invited to take up their wooden spoons and contribute to this year’s event, by reproducing their favourite building or place in Perth and Kinross in cake form. Each sculpture will then be placed on an edible map of the area, created throughout the day by Cake Fest head baker Simon Preston.

The grand unveiling of Cake Fest 2018 will take place on Sunday 18 November 2018 as part of the Perthshire Feast event in Mill Street and Horsecross Plaza. Once complete, and after an opportunity for the public to view the eyecatching cake map, it will then be sliced up and shared with festivalgoers.

New for this year, Cake Fest will feature a redesigned, larger map and will celebrate a range of local events and anniversaries, such as the 150th anniversary of Perthshire Rugby Club. Looking back even further into local history, the Cake Fest map will also be
inspired by an ancient tradition which was banned in 1577, when Perth bakers last paraded to celebrate St. Obert, the patron saint of their trade.

Bakers taking part can choose a landmark they love to be temporarily immortalised in cake or select from a list which includes:

Available Plots 

Perth City Hall
Perth Racecourse
Perth College
Perth Museum and Art Gallery
Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery
Ossian’s Hall
Taymouth Castle
Smeatons Bridge
Blair Castle and Hercules Garden
Dunkeld Cathedral
The Gleneagles Hotel
Pitlochry Theatre
Queen’s Bridge
General Wades Bridge and the Black Watch Monument
Atholl Palace Hotel
Enchanted Forest
Perth Leisure Pool
Perth Cenotaph
Perth Grammar School
Black Watch Castle & Museum
St John’s Kirk

Taken Plots

Crannog Centre
Huntingtower Castle
Mcdairmid Football Stadium
Kinnoull Hill Tower
A K Bell Library
Perth Concert Hall
Methven Castle
Playhouse Cinema
Bridge of Earn Institute
Beatrix Potter Garden
Pitlochry Dam and Visitor Centre
Fergusson Gallery
North Inch
Cultybraggan POW Camp
Bell’s Sports Centre
Scone Palace
Balado Golf Ball
Crieff Hydro
St. Matthew’s
Innerpeffary Library
Loch Leven Castle
Birnam Oak
South Inch
St Paul’s
Blackcraig Bridgehouse

Kinross House
Drummond Castle
Elcho Castle
Glenturret (Famous Grouse) Distillery
Glenshee

 

 

If you don’t have a Gmail account, please just email your Name, Phone numebr and the building you would like to bake to simon@cakefest.org.uk

A Day at the Black Watch Museum

A Day at the Black Watch Museum

The Black Watch Museum in Balhousie Castle in Perth is a must for anyone interested in military history. The museum has been situated in the castle since the early 1960’s, and it is packed with historical artifacts from this proud old regiment.

The museum is currently running an exhibition entitled “There But Not There”. This is a fascinating presentation on some of the men lost to us during the First World War, in which nearly 9,000 Black Watch soldiers perished, and thousands more would have suffered both terrible physical and psychological wounds. The “There But Not There” exhibition has positioned around the museum life-size perspex images of a handful of these casualties with information about who they were and tales on their life and how they met their
death. There is an exhibition of artifacts that belonged soldiers fighting in the war that have been donated by their families. A very moving booklet accompanies the presentation, but perhaps the most poignant display is the outline of a life-size soldier, this can be seen as you enter the museum grounds from the car park. I have to admit I am biased as my great grandad fought in the Battle of the Somme while serving in the Black Watch. The There but Not There display can be seen at the museum until the 11th of November – Armistice Day.

There is much more to see at the Black Watch Museum. As you enter the first section takes the visitor back to the origins of the regiment which was formed when the government were struggling to control the Highlands. It was a time of civil war as the Jacobites sought to restore the exiled Stuart King’s to their lost throne. To help police the highlands and keep an eye on the Jacobite clans the government raised six companies in 1725. In 1739 another four companies were recruited, and they became the 43rd Regiment of Foot. It was first mustered at Aberfeldy in 1740, and by the river, in Aberfeldy, a distinct monument stands to commemorate this event.

The museum tells of the part played by the Black Watch at the Battle of Fontenoy in May 1745, despite the battle being a defeat for the British. The Black Watch fought so gallantly that a French officer described them as “Highland Furies”.  The regiment was sent to fight in the American War of Independence by this time it had been renumbered to the 42nd and titled the 42nd Highland Regiment of Foot, and in America, they fought with distinction.  The museum has an excellent section on the wars against Napoleons French with many weapons and uniforms on display.

As you can imagine World War One plays a significant part in the exhibition.  With many notable attractions on display.  A kilt belonging to Captain William Debnam McLaren Stewart from the Comrie area in Perthshire who was killed at the Battle of the Somme on the 25th of September 1916 is on display.  On this kilt traces of mud from the battlefield can still be seen. Captain Stewart features in the “There But Not There” commemoration.

The exhibition then goes onto the Second World War, I was fascinated by a “Tommy Helmet”.   It had been discarded by a Scottish soldier serving in the 51st Highland Division in France in 1940.  The 51st were ordered to surrender after acting as a rear guard thus allowing thousands of British and French soldiers to escape the advancing Germans and depart from the beaches of Dunkirk back to Britain to fight again.  This helmet was found in the sea at St Valery-en-Caux in 1990. For me it made an impressive display piece, I could not help wondering just who ditched this helmet and what happened to this man?

There are opportunities for the kids to dress up in uniforms and a chance to colour in with tables pens and paper provided.  So the Black Watch Museum is a thoughtful and humbling day out for all the family, I would recommend you try to take in the “There But Not There” exhibition before it ends on the 11th of November 2018.

Article by Gary Knight

Perth’s Festival of Yarn Returns This Weekend

Perth’s Festival of Yarn Returns This Weekend

Nominated earlier this year for the Best UK Knitting Show/Event 2017/18 in the prestigious British Knitting and Crochet Awards, Perth Festival of Yarn returns to it’s home, the Dewars Centre, Perth, on 8 and 9 September for it’s third annual celebration.


This year Perth Festival of Yarn has expanded to a two-day celebration in the Fair City, however, it’s purpose remains the same; bringing boutique independent businesses, sheep-farmers and those that practice the fibre arts together to celebrate the best in textile artistry through a large marketplace, with classes and lectures to inspire.

 

Festival Director, Eva Christie, and her team are excited to be welcoming festival-goers from 17 different countries this year to an abundant yarn and fibre marketplace boasting almost 80 vendors from across the UK as well as from France, Germany, Spain and Greece.

 

Classes will be led by internationally respected tutors including Karie Westermann and Janice Anderson, and the 2018 Keynote Lecture will be delivered by Fiona Wemyss of The Wemyss School of Needlework which dates back to the 17th Century.  Event sponsors, The Knitter Magazine, will be in The Knitter Podcast Lounge where festival-goers can meet their favourite textile crafting bloggers and podcasters throughout the weekend.

 

Advance tickets are available from www.perthfestivalofyarn.uk until 8pm on Tuesday 4 September. Day entry tickets will be available on the door priced at £12.00 (accompanied under-16s) free.

The Famous Grouse Pre-Season Challenge | Glasgow Warriors V Harlequins

The Famous Grouse Pre-Season Challenge | Glasgow Warriors V Harlequins

The Famous Grouse Pre-Season Challenge | Glasgow Warriors V Harlequins

Glasgow Warriors will play English Premiership giants Harlequins in Perth in August.

‘The Famous Grouse Pre-Season Challenge’, in association with Perth & Kinross Council, will be held at Perthshire RFC’s North Inch ground in a 5,000 capacity arena on Saturday 18 August.

The match is being sponsored by The Famous Grouse and will be part of a huge weekend of activity in the city, with the rugby arena also being used for other events.

Aviva Premiership champions in 2012, Harlequins have a squad packed full of international players, such as England’s Danny Care, British & Irish Lion Kyle Sinckler and former Scotland winger Tim Visser.

The London club last played the Warriors in 2016 when Harlequins edged a pre-season victory 22-17 at the Twickenham Stoop.

Categories and Match Ticket Pricing

Match Ticket prices now includes all fees.

  • ADULT Any match ticket purchaser not eligible for the below category
  • U18 Aged 18 or under as of 1 September 2018. Proof of age must be available upon request.

Match tickets for The Famous Grouse Pre-Season Challenge will be priced as follows:

Buy Your Tickets

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there dedicated parking?

There is no dedicated parking for this event. Please use one of the long stay car parks in the city centre. Please not parking for this event is not available at Bell’s Sports Centre.

How far is the event from the train/bus Station?

The North Inch is a 15-minute walk away

Is there any standing at the event?

There is a stadium with seating and also standing space at the event

Will there be refreshments at the event?

Perthshire Rugby are providing the bar and food provision for this event.

Can tickets be bought on the day?

A limited number of tickets will be available for cash purchases only.

Is the North Inch Golf Club still open?

Yes the golf course is open as normal

 

Stories and Legends of Kinclaven Castle

Stories and Legends of Kinclaven Castle

Grahame Church Blair Castle

Kinclaven Castle sits where the Rivers Isla and Tay converge about 12 miles north of Perth between the Fair City and Blairgowrie.  Now a ruin, forgotten, tired and silent its stories lost in the midst of time.   But if the crumbling stonework could speak then what a story it would tell for the castle’s tales and legends give us an indication of its lost importance.

Malcolm Canmore is thought to have built the castle in the 11th century and his queen, Margaret later Saint Margaret received the homage of the Celtic magnates at Kinclaven Castle. The citadel was a favourite of Alexander III  and while he was staying there in 1264 a carriage of wine was taken to supply the royal guest and his escort.

In 1297 Scotland was at war with the might of England, things did not start well with the Scots army being defeated at the Battle of Dunbar and the capture and forced exile of John I King of Scots in 1296.  William Wallace and Andrew de Moray were fighting back and would shatter an English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge on 11th September 1297.

Before Wallace’s success at Stirling, he was hiding in Methven woods a vast wooded area to the west of Perth.  Wallace had heard that 90 mounted troops were to be sent from Perth to reinforce Kinclaven Castle, which was being held by the English. Wallace decided to ambush the English cavalry detachment.  Wallace and his men lay in wait as the horsemen travelled north from Perth as they passed the Scots pounced, in a running battle around 60 of the riders were slain.  The other 30 managed to get to the castle with the Scottish attackers hot in pursuit.   Wallace’s men gained entry into Kinclaven Castle, and in the fighting, all the English were massacred including the women.  Whether this act of slaughter happened is open to question, it might be English propaganda, or perhaps it was done as a response to Edward I of England ordering the inhabitants of Scotland’s busiest port Berwick upon Tweed killed after he captured the town in 1296. In the fighting, Wallace slew the castle commander Sir James Butler and then destroyed the castle.  The English rebuilt the Kinclaven, and it changed hands several times during the war, Edward II of England visited the castle and stayed for a few nights while on campaigning in the area.

A legend from before Wallace ’s attack states that the man who killed the rebel leader Simon de Montford at the Battle of Evesham in 1265 was a member of the castle garrison.  This Knight was playing around with some of the young maidens in the castle retinue.  He then went down to the river to wash mud from his hands, one of the young women crept up behind him and playfully pushed him into the river, he took this in good humour and laughingly splashed his prankster with water.   Perhaps he was struck by cramp in the cold river or was caught in an undercurrent he soon got into difficulties.  His young son standing on the riverbank dived into the river to save his struggling father.  Tragically both father and son were swept to their deaths.

A legend from before Wallace ’s attack states that the man who killed the rebel leader Simon de Montford at the Battle of Evesham in 1265 was a member of the castle garrison.  This Knight was playing around with some of the young maidens in the castle retinue.  He then went down to the river to wash mud from his hands, one of the young women crept up behind him and playfully pushed him into the river, he took this in good humour and laughingly splashed his prankster with water.   Perhaps he was struck by cramp in the cold river or was caught in an undercurrent he soon got into difficulties.  His young son standing on the riverbank dived into the river to save his struggling father.  Tragically both father and son were swept to their deaths.

The Scotsman newspaper on the 2nd of August 1933 tells of a local song sung by the woman gathering the cattle that remembers this sad drowning.

I’ll be drooned in Isla water,

I’ll be found in Isla stream,

Bonnie Babbie me forsaken,

Oh hoo will I win hame?

 

The weary dree came in ma mou,

I’ll drink it a’ or I gang hame,

Bonnie Babbie me forsaken,

Oh hoo will I win hame?

Another legend that took place downstream at Cargill and it involves a local lass, called Jeanie Low.

David Drummond was a butler and page nearby at Stobhall Castle, he and Jeanie who lived across the river were courting, and talk of marriage was in the air.  Then to Jeanie’s dismay, David ended the relationship, for he had met another fair young maiden.   He would row his boat across the river in the evening to meet his new paramour, and return at dawn.  Jeanie understandably was heartbroken, and unable to move on with her life.  Seeing her former lover with someone new must have ripped at Jeanie’s heart and slowly corrupted her thoughts.  She knew what time David left to cross the Tay and when he returned.  She waited until David was visiting his new sweetheart, Jeanie made her way to where the boat was moored, and she jumped into the small vessel.  She had brought a brace and bit (an old hand drill for our younger readers), and she drilled seven holes into the bottom of the boat.  Jeanie then hid in some nearby bushes.

John Graham Memorial

Before long David returned to the boat, he jumped into it and without a care in the world used one of the oars to push himself out into the river.   It was dark, and he was out in the middle of the river before he realised that the boat was taking in water.  Frantically he tried to bail out the continues flow of water assailing the bottom of the vessel.  But Jeanie had drilled all the holes as far apart as possible making David’s task futile.  Jeanie watched the desperate struggle on the river and saw her former fiancé sink to his doom into the fast flowing and merciless River Tay.

Jeanie was never to recover from this act of murderous desperation, as it never brought any release to her heartache, quite the opposite, as the dark shadow of madness replaced David as her lifelong companion.

A note of caution, if you visit Kinclaven Castle.  There is nowhere to park on the narrow road, I had to park about half a mile up the road and walk the perilous verge down to the castle site

If you like this story and others that I publish here, you might want to read my stories on my blog at historyandhorrorofscotland or take one of our ghost tours running every Wednesday night at Cultybraggan Camp in Comrie. Info on our Facebook page at Haunted POW Camp Tour Cultybraggan.

A Musings Special: Mini Tour de Perthshire

A Musings Special: Mini Tour de Perthshire

Early in June we were scheduled to be taking part in our self-proclaimed Nutty Tandemers Club Hebridean Way challenge. But sadly personal circumstances resulted in that adventure having to be postponed.

But my dynamic crew did manage to meet up with good tandeming friends John and Jane – who have their own Travelling in Tandem blog – for a couple of days for a mini Tour de Perthshire.

John and Jane – dubbed Team JayJay for the trip – kindly re-organised their holiday schedule in light of the postponement of the HebWay trip. Plan B saw them book a few nights at a local caravan park in Perth to allow us to meet up again for a couple of rides.

Spartan Race 2018

Spartan Race 2018

Do you fancy taking on a physical challenge with a bit of a difference this year? How does an endurance event requiring you to wade through muddy bogs, scale slippery 8-foot ramps, clamber up 25-foot-high cargo nets, leap over fire and more, sound to you?

Well if that has peaked your interest then you’ll be delighted to hear that one of Britain’s biggest sporting series, Spartan Race, is coming to Perth in 2018. Combining running with fun and challenging obstacles, this physical and mental test was completed by over a million people across 30 countries last year, making it the world’s leading obstacle course racing series.

The Perth event will be the only one in Scotland this year, and will take place on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th September. Designed to cater for all fitness levels, there are three main types of Spartan Race; Sprint (5km+), a Super (12km+), and a Beast (22km+). There is also a race for the little ones, and the Spartans Kids Race is for children aged between 4 and 13 over a 1.5km course.

For beginners, the Sprint race is recommended and with over 20 obstacles to overcome on the course it’s a firm favourite with both new and experienced Spartan racers. It takes an average runner around an hour and a half to complete a Spartan Sprint and each one has its own unique challenges and character. For those who have more experience in endurance events, the Super or Beast races may be more appealing.

The Perth race will kick off in the city centre with runners making their way through crowd-lined streets before they head out onto the hilly trails of Kinnoull Hill and Deuchny Woods. It’s a picturesque route with stunning views over the city and the River Tay, although you may be more focused on the obstacles ahead of you than the views behind you! Spartan Sprint is an accessible challenge; even if you’re overweight, or if you have never run before, it’s something that anyone can do.

General Manager of Spartan Race UK, Sam Lansdale, is looking forward to bringing the series to Perth and hopes as many of the local community get involved as possible.

“It’s always a pleasure to host events in Scotland,” Sam said, “in areas both of such natural and man-made beauty. Racers will find themselves drawn in by the atmosphere of the landscape. We have an event that will test mental strength, endurance, grit and perseverance. The scenery will boost enjoyment and inspire everyone to get to that finish line even faster.

“A big part of our race is about community and pushing yourself to achieve something more than you think you can. It’s about resetting your frame of reference, from wanting to sit on the couch all day long, eating junk food to going outdoors for a ten minute jog. That’s your initial step on the ladder to completing your first Spartan Sprint.

“We have mums, dads, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and many others taking part who are maybe just looking for a new kind of fitness challenge. The Spartan Sprint is an accessible challenge; even if you’re overweight, or if you have never run before, it’s something that anyone can do.”

The sport of obstacle racing is booming as a worldwide craze and attracts millions of runners and keep-fit enthusiasts who are perhaps tired of the more traditional endurance events. Contrary to the misconception that the sport is dominated by men, 40 percent of the Spartan Race participants are women. Obstacles are kept top secret until race day in order to surprise the runners, so you can do as much research as you like but you won’t know what to expect until you see an obstacle mid-race!