- CLUNIE, a parish, in the county of Perth, 5 miles (W. by S.) from Blairgowrie; containing 763 inhabitants. This place, which is of remote antiquity, is distinguished as the scene of a battle between the Caledonians and the Romans under Agricola. In a field near the Hill of Gourdie, are still remaining several mounds, in a parallel direction, separated by trenches of equal length, called the "Steeds Stalls;" and here the advanced guard of the Caledonian army was posted to watch the movements of the Roman army, which was encamped on the plains of Inchtuthill, about two miles to the south. There are also, in several places, numerous cairns and tumuli, which are generally supposed to have been raised over the bodies of those who fell in the engagement. On the summit of an eminence to the west of Loch Clunie, called the Castle Hill, are some vestiges of a very ancient structure, said to have been a summer palace of Kenneth Mc Alpine, King of the Scots. He conquered the Picts, and united the two kingdoms, the respective boundaries of which are pointed out by two immense heaps of stones, one in the north-west, and the other in the north-east of the parish. The barony anciently belonged to the see of Dunkeld; and about the commencement of the sixteenth century, an episcopal palace was erected on an island in Loch Clunie, by Bishop Brown, who died in 1514. This, together with the barony, now the property of the Earl of Airlie, was granted by Bishop Crichton, about the time of the Reformation, to his brother, Sir Robert Crichton, of Elliock Castle, in the county of Dumfries, whose son, the Admirable Crichton, is supposed to have been born at this place.The parish, which is intersected by an intervening portion of that of Caputh, is about nine miles in length, and four in extreme breadth, and is supposed to contain about 8000 acres, of which nearly 3000 are arable, and the remainder moss, heath, and mountain pasture. The surface is mountainous, interspersed with considerable tracts of low ground, watered by numerous small streams. The highest of the mountains is Benachally, which, in a clear state of the atmosphere, commands extensive and beautifully varied prospects; on the north side are the remains of the forest of Clunie, said to have been a royal forest, and at its base is the loch of Benachally, about a mile in length, and half a mile broad. Higher up among the hills is the small lake of Lochnachat, which, like the former, abounds with excellent trout; and about four miles to the south is the beautiful Loch Clunie, about two miles and a half in circumference, and eighty-four feet in extreme depth. In it are found trout from two to ten pounds in weight, pike from twelve to twenty-four pounds, and perch and eels of large size and excellent quality. Near the western shore of this lake is the island on which the ancient palace was built, the walls of which are nine feet in thickness; it is in good preservation, and occasionally the residence of the Earl of Airlie. The island, which is a fine verdant plain, embellished with plantations, among which are some trees of venerable growth, is mostly artificial; and in addition to the palace, now Clunie Castle, are the site and some slight remains of an ancient chapel.The soil is various, and, though light and gravelly in many parts, produces abundant crops of oats, barley, and wheat, with peas and potatoes of excellent quality; the system of agriculture is improved. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5706. The plantations have been greatly increased in extent, and are generally thriving; they consist chiefly of larch, and spruce and Scotch firs, and many of the lands previously covered with heath and furze, are now embellished with well-grown trees. Limestone is found on the lands of Gourdie, and is wrought for manure, there are also some quarries of freestone and slate. Forneth, a seat in the parish, on the north-west bank of Loch Clunie, is beautifully situated on an eminence, at the base of which the Lunan flows into the lake. Gourdie is a spacious mansion, on high ground a little to the south of the lake, commanding a rich prospect over the surrounding country. Williamsburgh is the only village of any importance; the inhabitants are partly employed in hand-loom weaving during the winter. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Dunkeld and synod of Perth and Stirling. The minister's stipend is £173, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £6 per annum; patrons, the Duke of Atholl and the Earl of Airlie, alternately. The church, erected in 1840, at the expense of the heritors, is a handsome structure in the later English style, with an embattled tower crowned by turrets at the angles, and contains 600 sittings. A place of worship has been erected in connexion with the Free Church. The parochial school is attended by about forty children; the master has a salary of £34, with a house, and an allowance in lieu of garden. There is a parochial library, supported by subscription. On the eastern acclivity of the mountain of Benachally, is a large cavern called the Drop, from the roof of which water is perpetually dropping; and at the base of the mountain, is a sepulchral cairn, to the south of which are numerous smaller cairns. To the north of a hill named Stanley Know, is some rising ground called Gallow Drum; and near the glebe land is another, styled Gibbet Know: both are supposed to have been places of execution during the feudal times.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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