1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Perthshire

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PERTHSHIRE, an inland county of Scotland, bounded N. by the shires of Inverness and Aberdeen; E. by Forfarshire; S.E. by the Firth of Tay and the counties of Fife and Kinross, S by the shires of Clackmannan and Stirling; S.W. by the counties of Stirling and Dumbarton; W. by Argyllshire and N.W. by Inverness-shire. It is the fourth largest county in Scotland, having an area of 1,595,774 acres, or 2493.4 sq. m., including the island of Mugdrum in the Firth of Tay. By far the greater part of the county is mountainous. Including the hills on the confines of Inverness-shire and Argyllshire, there are at least fifty mountains exceeding 3000 ft. in height. Of these the most familiar are Ben Lawers (3984 ft.) near Loch Tay, Ben More (3843) east of Crianlarich, Ben Lui (3708) on the Argyllshire border, Schiehallion (3547) south of Loch Rannoch, Ben Vannoch (3125) west of Loch Lyon, and Ben Chonzie (3048) near the head of Glen Almond. Of the immense number of hills of lesser altitude there may be mentioned four that have been popularized by the Lady of the Lake—Ben Ledi (2875) and Uam Var (2179) near Callander, and Ben Venue (2393) and Ben A'an (1750), guardians of the Trossachs. The Ochils divide Perthshire from the shires of Clackmannan, Kinross and Fife. The chief stream is the Tay, which rises on the Argyllshire frontier and discharges into the North Sea off Buddon Ness, after a course of 117 m., being thus the longest river in Scotland. Its head-waters are the Fillan and Dochart, and among its affluents are, on the right, the Bran, Almond and Earn and, on the left, the Lyon, Tummel, rising in Argyllshire and receiving the Garry on its left, and Isla. The Earn flows out of Loch Earn and enters the Firth of Tay 6 1/2 m. below Perth. The Forth, the principal natural boundary of the shire on the south, properly belongs to Stirlingshire, in which it rises, but its leading left-hand affluents are Perthshire rivers, namely, the Teith, the Goodie, issuing from the lake of Menteith, and the Allan, rising in the Ochils near Sheriffmuir. All the lakes are narrow, scarcely one exceeding a mile in width. Loch Ericht, belonging partly to Inverness-shire, is 14 1/2 m. long. Loch Tay (14 1/2 m. long), situated about the centre, is the largest lake in the county. In the south are the series of lakes which the Lady of the Lake has rendered famous—Loch Vennachar (4 1/2 m. long), Loch Achray (1 1/4 m. long), Loch Katrine (about 8 m. long); to the west of Aberfoyle is Loch Ard (3 m. long) and to the east Lake Menteith (1 1/2 m. long). Nearly all the glens possess striking natural features, among them, from south to north, being Glens Artney, Almond, Dochart, Ogle, Lochay, Lyon, Garry, Shee, Bruar and Tilt, while the Trossachs, Killiecrankie, Birnam and Leny are the loveliest passes in the Highlands. The low-lying country is represented mainly by Strathmore, Strath Gartney, Strathallan, noted for its annual “gathering” or games, Strathearn, Strath Bran, Strath Tay and Strath Fillan, but more particularly by the fertile alluvial belts of the Carse of Gowrie, on the northern shore of the Firth of Tay, and the Carse of Stirling. The Moor of Rannoch on the borders of Argyllshire is a sterile boulder-strewn waste, and Flanders Moss, to the south-east of Lake Menteith, is a vast boggy tract, which is, however, being gradually reclaimed and brought under cultivation.

Geology.—The Highland portion of this county is built up of a great series of schists and metamorphosed rocks grouped as “Dalradian” or Eastern schists. The general direction of the strike of these rocks is W.S.W.—E.N.E. They are cut off from the Old Red Sandstone, which occupies most of the remainder of the county, by the great fault which traverses the county somewhat to the north of Aberfoyle and Crieff. But for some distance north and east of Crieff the boundary between these two formations is an unconformable one. In the neighbourhood of the fault line the Highland schists are less metamorphosed than they are farther north; about Comrie and Callander they consist of shales, greywackes and igneous rocks with radiolarian cherts and black shales that are suggestive of the rocks of Arenig age in south Scotland. At Aberfoyle, Comrie and Dunkeld roofing slates are worked and massive limestones occur in Glen Tilt, Pitlochry, Callander, Blair Atholl, Loch Rannoch and other places. A gritty series comes on above the slates and is well seen capping the summit of Ben Vorlich. A great variety of schists form the bulk of the series; but granite masses appear in their midst as at Loch Rannoch, Loch Ericht and Glen Tilt, and there are numerous acid and intermediate dikes which are themselves traversed by later basaltic dikes. The Old Red Sandstone consists in the lower portion mainly of coarse volcanic agglomerates and lava flows followed by conglomerates, sandstones and marls. The lowest beds are exposed along the crest of the Ochil Hills which like the Sidlaw Hills are anticlinal in structure, while between the Ochils and the Highland fault the rocks are folded into syncline; near the fault they become very steeply inclined and even inverted, and it is interesting also to note that the sediments become coarser as the fault is approached. The Upper Old Red Sandstone is well exposed near the Bridge of Earn and it extends beneath the marine platform of the Carse of Gowrie. The rocks are mainly red sandstones and marls, let down between two parallel east and west faults but between the Bridge of Earn and Forgandenny, west of the tract, they are seen to rest unconformable upon the lower division. Small outliers of Carboniferous rocks (lower) occur on the north of the Ochils. The marks of ice action left by the Glacial epoch are abundant and striking in Perthshire; moraines are common in the Highland glens, as those at the head of the Glengarry on borders of Loch Katrine; ice-scratched surfaces are found on the Sidlaw Hills, the Ochils, Kinnoull Hill and elsewhere; and erratic blocks of stone, such as “Samson's Putting Stone,” a mass of Highland schist resting on a hill of Old Red Sandstone near Coilantogle, are widely distributed. Old high level marine beaches form terraces far up several of the larger streams and the Carse of Gowrie, as already indicated, is formed by the beach at the 50-ft. level. The gravel cones poured out at the mouths of many of the glens which open on the south of the Ochils on to the 100-ft. or 50-ft beaches are often the site of villages.

Climate and Agriculture.—The mountainous territory is extremely wet, the rainfall for the year varying from 93 in. in Glengyle at the head of the Loch Katrine to 37 in. at Pitlochry and 23 in. at Perth. Winter and autumn are the rainiest seasons. The temperature is remarkably constant everywhere, averaging 47° F. for the year, January being the coldest month (36.5° F.) and July the hottest (59° F.). Only a little more than one-fifth of the total area is under cultivation, and of this nearly one-third is in permanent pasture, while in addition there are about 930,000 acres of hill pasturage. The arable land is chiefly in the drier regions of the east and south-east, the soil for the most part being fertile. Light soils prevail in the lower undulating districts; clay and alluvial land occur in the Carse of Gowrie, the Carse of Stirling and the lower reach of Strathearn below and above Bridge of Earn. The best heavy carse land is very rich and productive, but requires to be thoroughly worked, limed and manured, being well adapted for wheat. A considerable area is occupied by orchards, the light quick soil of Tayside and the upper districts of Menteith being admirably fitted for apples. The number of holdings is slightly in excess of 5000 and of these the majority are under 50 acres each, chiefly in the Highland valleys and near the villages and small towns. Of rain, oats is the predominating crop, but barley and wheat are also grown. Two-thirds of the area devoted to green crops is occupied by turnips, the rest by potatoes. Most of the horses raised, chiefly Clydesdales, are used solely for agricultural purposes. Altough dairy-farming is not an important industry, a large number of cows, principally Ayrshires, are kept on the lowland farms, the herds of the straths and mountain pastures being most usually West Highlands or Kyloes. Perthshire, next to Argyllshire, still carries the heaviest flocks in Scotland. Blackfaced is the principal breed in the Grampians, but there is also a large number of Cheviots and South Downs, and Leicesters are common on the lower runs. Only one-seventeenth of the surface is under wood. This is well up to the proportion of the other Scottish counties, but compares unfavourably with the conditions existing in 1812, when 203,880 acres were under wood, of which 61,164 were planted and 142,716 natural. In Breadalbane and Menteith there are remains of the ancient Caledonian forest. Perthshire affords exceptional facilities for sport with rod and gun. The lochs and rivers abound with salmon and trout, while hardly any of the streams have suffered pollution from industries or manufactures. The deer forests, exceeding 100,000 acres in area, are frequented by red deer and roe deer, and on the extensive moors and in the woods are found grouse, pheasants, partridge, capercailzie, woodcock, ptarmigan and hares.

Industries.—The shire is famous for its dyeing and bleaching works, which are situated in Perth and its vicinity; but, apart from these, there are flax and jute mills at Rattray and cotton mills at Stanley, Deanston and Crieff; woollens, linen, jute and tartans are woven at Dunblane, Alyth, Blairgowrie, Coupar-Angus, Auchterarder and Crieff; tanning is carrie on at Blackford, Coupar-Angus and Crieff; there are breweries and distilleries at various places, as at Auchterarder and Logierait; granite, freestone, limestone and slate are quarried at different centres; and there are sawmills and flour-mills.

Communications.—The Caledonian railway main line to Aberdeen enters the county near Dunblane and runs in a north-easterly direction via Perth. At Crieff junction it sends off a branch to Crieff and at Perth branches to Dundee and Lochearnhead. The Stirling to Oban line of the same company crosses the shire from Dunblane to Tyndrum. The Highland railway runs northwards from Perth, and has a branch at Ballinluig to Aberfeldy. Branches of the North British railway reach Perth from Mawcarse in Kinross-shire and Ladybank in Fifeshire; part of the branch from Buchlyvie on the Forth and Clyde line runs to Aberfoyle, and the West Highland railway skirts the extreme west of the shire. At several points coaches supplement the rail. In the tourist season steamers ply on Loch Tay and Loch Katrine, and there is a service on the Tay between Perth and Dundee.

Population and Administration.—In 1891 the population amounted to 122,185 and in 1901 to 123,283, or 49 persons to the sq. m. The rate of increase was the smallest of any Scottish county for the decade. In 1901 there were 78 persons speaking Gaelic only and 11,446 Gaelic and English. The chief towns are Perth (pop. 32,873), Crieff (5208), Blairgowrie (3378), Dunblane (2516), Auchterarder (2276), Coupar-Angus (2064), Rattiay (2019). Among lesser centres may be mentioned Aberfeldy (1508), a favourite resort on the Tay, well known for the falls of Moness, mentioned in Robert Burns's song “The Birks of Aberfeldy”; Abernethy (623), the seat of an early bishopric, retaining one of the three ancient round towers in Scotland, Alyth (1965); Callander (1458); Comrie (1118), a holiday resort on the Earn; Pitlochry (1541); and Stanley (1035), on the Tay. Of old the county was divided into hereditary jurisdictions, which were abolished in 1748, and in 1795 the county was divided into districts for administrative purposes, a system which obtained until 1889, when county and district councils were established. The sheriffdom is divided into an eastern and western district, the seat of the one being Perth and the other Dunblane. For parliamentary purposes the county is also divided into an eastern and a western division, and the city of Perth returns a member. The shire is under school-board jurisdiction, and there are secondary schools at Perth and Crieff, and Trinity College in Glen Almond is a well-known public school on the English model.

History.—In 83 Agricola explored the lands beyond the Forth and in the following year penetrated to the Grampians, defeating the Caledonians under Galgacus with great slaughter. The site of this battle is conjectured by William Forbes Skene to have been near Meikleour, south of Blairgowrie, but other writers have referred it to Dalginross, near Comrie; to Ardoch (where there are the most perfect remains of a Roman encampment in the British Isles); and even as far north as Raedykes, near Stonehaven in Kincardineshire. The Romans did not pursue their victory, and the Picts were left undisturbed for a considerable period. At this time, according to Ptolemy, the territory now known as Perthshire was occupied by three tribes—the Damnonii, the Venicones and the Vacomagi. The Damnonii held Menteith, Strathearn and Fothrif (the western part of modern Fife and Kinross), with Alauna (Allan), just above Stirling, Lindum (Ardoch) and Victoria (believed by some authorities to be Lochore in Fifeshire, and by others to be Perth city), as their chief towns. The Venicones inhabited north-western Fife and the adjoining tract of Perthshire, with Orrea (probably Abernethy) as their chief town and a station at Ardargie. The Vacomagi dwelt in the Highland region, with stations at Inchtuthil (a peninsula in the Tay above Kinclaven) and Banatia (Buchanty on the Almond). The growing lawlessness of the southern Picts and their frequent raids in the more settled country in the south at last compelled the attention of the emperor Severus. He arrived in Britain in 208, but though he led a strong army to the shores of the Moray Firth, he was unable effectually to subdue the tribesmen. The road he constructed ran from Stirling to Ardoch (where there are notable remains) and thence by Strageath, near Muthill, where it branched north-westwards to Dalginross and Buchanty, and north eastwards to Perth and so to the Grampians. When the Romans finally withdrew from Britain, the Picts established their capital first at Abernethy and then at Forteviot. Abernethy was the centre of the Celtic church after the conversion of the natives by Ninian, Palladius and other missionaries in the 5th and 6th centuries. On the burning of Forteviot by the Norsemen in the 8th century, the seat of Pictish government was removed to Scone. In the latter half of the 9th century Dunkeld—to which Kenneth Macalpine had brought some of the relics of Columba from Iona—became the scene of monastic activity, the abbot succeeding to the position of the abbot of Iona, and exercising great influence for nearly a hundred years. The Danes periodically harried the land, but a crushing defeat at Luncarty in 961 put an end to their inroads in this quarter. In 1054 Macbeth was defeated at Dunsinane by Siward, earl of Northumberland, who had invaded Scotland in the interest of his kinsman, Duncan's son, who, on the death of the usurper three years later, ascended the throne as Malcolm III., called Canmore. With Malcolm's accession the Celtic rule of the monarchy of Scone came to an end. Nevertheless, the Scottish sovereigns (excepting James II., James III. and Mary) continued to be crowned at Scone, which also retained the position of capital until the beginning of the 12th century, when it was displaced by Perth. From the time of Alexander I. (d. 1124), therefore, the history of the shire is merged in that of the county town, with the exception of such isolated incidents as the removal of the Coronation Stone from Scone to Westminster in 1296, the defeat of Robert Bruce at Methven in 1306, the battle of Dupplin in 1332, the victory of Dundee at Killiecrankie in 1689 and the indecisive contest at Sheriffmuir in 1715. Among archaeological remains may be mentioned the hill-fort on Dunsinane; the ship-barrow of the vikings at Rattray, weems (or earth-houses) in the parishes of Monzie, Alyth and Bendochy; the witch-stone near Cairnbeddie, one of the numerous spots where Macbeth is alleged to have met the witches, but probably a sepulchral memorial of some forgotten battle; standing stones near Pitlochry, and an extraordinary assemblage of sculptured stones at Meigle.

Bibliography.—Robertson, Comitatus de Atholiae (Edinburgh, 1860); P. R. Drummond, Perthshire in Bygone Days (London, 1879); Marshall, Historic Scenes of Perthshire (Perth, 1880), Beveridge, Perthshire-on-Forth (2 vols, London, 1885); R. B. Cunninghame-Grahame, Notes on the District of Menteith (London, 1895); Hutchison, The Lake of Menteith (Stirling, 1899).