Port Of Monteith

   PORT OF MONTEITH, a parish, in the county of Perth, 9½ miles (W.) from Doune; containing, with the villages of Gartmore, Ruskie, and Tomachar, 1446 inhabitants. This place, which is of considerable antiquity, appears to have derived its appellation of Port from its position near a point on the east side of the lake of Inchmahome, which point is thought to have been the chief landing place of the earls of Monteith and the priors of Inchmahome, of whom the former had their baronial seat, and the latter their convent, here. An establishment of Culdees seems to have existed at a very early period, on the principal island in the lake of Inchmahome, or St. Columba; and this, in the time of Edgar, is supposed to have been superseded by a convent of Augustine monks, for whom, in 1238, Walter Cumin, earl of Monteith, obtained licence to erect a church, of which there are still some remains. The village of Port was made a burgh of barony by James III., in 1446. In 1547, the priory of Inchmahome became for some time the seat of the Scottish court. After the battle of Pinkie the Earl of Arran conveyed the Princess Mary, subsequently Queen of Scots, to this place for her greater safety; and here, with the queen-mother, she remained till the removal of the court to Dumbarton Castle, there to await the arrival of the fleet which eventually conveyed her to France. The remains of the priory, which are in tolerable preservation, consist chiefly of the nave and choir of the church, with a portion of the tower; the western entrance is almost entire; and the side walls of the choir, with the eastern window, though blocked up with modern rubble-work, are still in a good state. Not far from the centre of the choir is the beautiful monument of Walter Stewart, earl of Monteith, and his countess; and near it, a monument to Sir John Drummond, of inferior workmanship. There are also portions of the conventual buildings, to the south of the church, consisting of the refectory, kitchen, and dormitory.
   The parish, including a portion of that of Lany, suppressed in 1615, is about nine miles in extreme length from east to west, and about six miles in average breadth. One-half of the lands are mountainous moor and peat-moss, and a considerable part is occupied by lakes of considerable extent, leaving but a comparatively small portion for agricultural purposes. The surface of the northern district is mountainous, forming part of the Grampian range, of which the highest point, Craig-Dhu, or "Black Craig," has an elevation of nearly 2000 feet; and to the east is another mountain, called by the Highlanders Craig-Dhereag, or "the Red Craig," of which the highest point has an elevation of 1600 feet. Upon the south side of this eminence, for about a quarter of a mile, great masses of rock which have fallen from it lie in detached heaps of rugged form, and partly overgrown with ivy. From the base a copious stream of limpid water issues even in the driest seasons; and within 300 feet of the summit is a lake half a mile in circumference, called Loch-an-Falloch, or "the hidden lake," whence a streamlet flows into Loch Vennachar, by which the parish is bounded on the north. Loch Inchmahome, the principal lake in the parish, is situated at the base of the mountains, and is about five miles in circumference, varying in different parts from forty-two to eighty-three feet in depth. The island of Inchmahome, on which are the ruins of the priory, is about five acres in extent, and thickly wooded; the trees are chiefly chesnut of great age and in a state of decay, interspersed with ash, oak, and plane, and a profusion of underwood, among which the venerable ruins are seen with beautiful effect. On the islet of Talla, which is also clothed with wood, are the picturesque remains of the castle of the earls of Monteith. The lake abounds with perch, trout, pike, and eels; and previously to the erection of some mills on the stream Guidie, or Goodie, which issues from it, and flows into the river Forth, salmon were often found in it. Loch Ruskie, to the south of Craig-Dhereag, is about a mile in circumference, and has a small island on which are the ruins of a mansion belonging to Sir John Monteith, commissioner of Edward I. of England; and to the west of Loch Inchmahome is Loch Macinrie, or "the lake of the King's Son," from which a rivulet flows into the Forth.
   The soil is various. The most extensive of the mosses are those of Moss Flanders and Gartur, and the Talla moss; the first of these has been for some years under a process, by its proprietor, David Erskine, Esq., of Cardross, for clearing off the peat by cuts of water into the Forth, and converting the moss into a rich alluvial soil. In other parts the soil is more or less fertile, and along the Forth is a considerable tract of carse land. A large number of sheep, principally of the black-faced breed, are fed in the pastures; the cattle are a mixture between the Highland and Lowland breeds. The plantations, which are chiefly of modern growth, are generally in a thriving state; and in different parts of the parish are some trees of stately growth. The hills are mostly of conglomerate rock and limestone; some of the latter is of a blueish colour, streaked with white, and of good quality for working into mantel-pieces. In the open district is sandstone of a grey colour, and of compact texture, well adapted for pavements. The rateable annual value of the parish amounts to £8100. Cardross, the seat of Mr. Erskine, is a spacious and handsome mansion finely situated. Rednock House, the seat of General Graham Stirling, is a stately mansion to which additions have been made within the last few years, and is seated in an extensive park, which has been greatly improved, embellished with two sheets of water, and richly planted. Gartmore and Leitchtown are also handsome residences; and on the lands of Drunkie, Mrs. Eastmont has recently erected a mansion commanding a fine view of Loch Vennachar and the adjacent district. The village of Gartmore stands pleasantly on the road from Stirling to Inversnaid, and has a rural appearance. A fair is held annually; and there were formerly several others, but they have been discontinued. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Dunblane and synod of Perth and Stirling: the minister's stipend is £269. 16. 9., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £8 per annum; patron, Mr. Erskine. The parish church is a neat plain structure, containing 380 sittings; and a church was built by subscription, in 1790, at Gartmore, to which a quoad sacra parish was till recently annexed. The parochial school is attended by about sixty children; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with a house and garden, and the fees average £15. There are three other schools in remote parts of the parish, one of which has for some time regularly received from William Campbell, Esq., of Glasgow, a native of this parish, £10 per annum as a salary for the master. In the vicinity of Loch Ruskie are some mineral springs, which are in considerable repute, but the water of which has not been accurately analyzed.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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