« AnteriorContinuar »
'' There's a leam fishing in St. Catherine's Dub,'' he would say, pointing to a deep gash in the rocks. "Lang syne, Eppie, a great Spanish barque— the St. Catherine by name—struck upon that reef. It was a ship of the great Armada, and it carried the admiral's flag. It went to the bottom wi' every sowl on board. They say that a great store o' gowd ;lies at the bottom o' the Dub—that was the clash of the country-side when I was a wean. But lang or ever the Armada sailed the Danes kent ilka landing-place alang the Heughs. They were wild folk, fearin' neither God nor man. Mony a farm-house they harried, and they burned the kirks, and spared neither mither nor maiden. But in the end a great battle was fought at the Ward,— it began in the dawnin' and lasted far on thro' the nieht,—and the saut-water thieves were forced back to their ships. It was a grand deliverance, and the Yerl built a kirk on the battlefield, for it was said that mair than mortal men took part in the fecht. That's an auld wife's story it may be ; but that the battle was won wi' God's help we may richtly beleeve. The kirk stood for a thousand years, and may be standin' yet; for ae wild winter nicht a mighty wind arose and blew for a week, so that no man could stand against it. When it ceased the kirk was gone—it had been owercassen by the sand; and indeed the sandbank itsel' may be seen to this day at the water o' Slains."
Some three or four miles from this spot, at the southern extremity of the parish of Longside, and about five miles to the south-west of Peterhead, is Cairn Catto, or The Battle Cairn. It was at one time of great extent, but has been greatly demolished by the use of the stones for dykes. It is a series of cists or stone tombs, many of which the present editor has seen open. Dr. Pratt thinks that the cairn is doubtless on some great battlefield, which seems to have been chosen with considerable skill. Taking the cairn, which is on apiece of level ground, with a gentle rise in the centre, as the point d'appui, the right towards' the north is flanked by an extensive
morass ; the front to the left is traversed by a narrow ravine called the Leaca Howe, extending to the left for several miles, which at that time must have been nearly impassable. The ground in front slopes gradually towards this ravine, becoming steep as it approaches its margin.
The south-western declivity is, or was, —for the plough has unsanctimoniously invaded this ancient battlefield,—covered with small mounds of stone and earth and circular rings, which evidently were the sites of the camp fires. Graves abound in all directions. A bleak hill rising beyond the glen is called Dun-a-cluach. In the hollow between is a huge block of granite, calculated to weigh from 60 to 70 tons. It is raised a little from the ground on a platform of supporting blocks. The editor was told by an old man in the neighbourhood that in his young days it was a Laggan or moving stone. It has, however, long since ceased to respond to any power that has attempted to prove its capacity in that respect. Our old friend said some herd laddies had jammed it with stones. At any rate it is not now a Laggan stone, but it is a splendid specimen of a boulder of red granite.
All around there are Camp faulds, Camp pits, Camp wells, a King's grave, a Silver cairn, Picts' houses, a subterranean vault, celts, flint arrowheads, etc. etc. "The Leaca Howe (Leaca=lech or leac, a stone; probably so named from the great stone in it, just referred to), having the hills of Cairn Catto and Dun-a-Cluach on its eastern margin, and the hills of Aldie on its western, had at a remote period been well stocked with trees, the trunks of which are still to be found at the bottom of the hollow. Extending northwards, this ravine had terminated in an extensive wood, now a bleak and barren waste, known as 'The Moss of Savoch of Longside.' Both sides of the ravine were, till a comparatively late date, covered with the vestiges of the terrible conflict which had taken place in its vicinity. The number of flint arrow and spear heads that have been picked up and the endless recurrence of tnmuli, may bo looked upon as the unwritten records of the battle, its remote date, and sanguinary character. Till very lately the mounds on the slopes of the hills to the east of the Howe might be counted by the hundred. They were of different sizes, varying from 6 to upwards of 20 feet in diameter, and were generally elevated above the surface of the field from 8 inches to a foot. Eighteen or twenty of these, in a south-westerly direction from the cairn, were apparently formed with great care, being accurately circular, flat on the top, 7 or 8 feet in diameter, and raised 6 or 8 inches above the surface. They were altogether of a different character from the ordinary mounds in the vicinity. For what purpose these were constructed it is difficult to imagine."
The nine clear springs near by, known as the "Morris wells," now supply the town of Peterhead with water. These strange mystical unknown memorials of the past, mingle with the most practical utilitarianism of the present; and the modern march of improvement will ere long abolish these relics of an unknown story.
"That old camp's deserted round, Sir knight, you well might mark the round;
The Pictish race,
The whole of this part of the district of Buchan is covered with the relics and unwritten records of past ages. Lake villages, semi-fossil oaks of gigantic size, celts or battle - axes, flint knives, arrow-heads, lancets, the horns of animals long extinct, abound. A few points of interest have been indicated. There is much behind to attract the historical and the antiquarian explorer.
Returning from Peterhead to Maud, we now pursue
THE FRASERBURGH BRANCH.
This branch leaves the Aberdeen and Peterhead line at Maud Junction, and runs first north then east, skirting the south side of Mormond, and so again north to Fraserburgh—in all 16 miles.
The first station is
If miles from Maud.
"Brucklay Castle (Fordyce) is built on the north bank of the Ugie, the ground rising gently from the stream to the site. It is not known by whom or at what time the original portion of the castle was built. Though very plain and simple, it had a considerable degree of that beauty and character which most of the houses erected in Scotland during the last half of the 17th century possessed, arising chiefly from their loftiness and broken skyline, relieved by turrets and crow-steps on highly - pitched gables. A lofty central round tower containing the staircase was the principal feature of this castle. Considerable alterations and additions have been made at different times. In 1765 Mr. William Dingwall, and again in 1814 Mr. John Dingwall, enlarged the building, the latter adding two good-sized rooms and an entrance-hall on the eastern side, but without any regard to the style of the old castle. Again in 1849 Captain Dingwall Fordyce carried up the two new rooms (under the superintendence of Mr. Matthews of Aberdeen) to the height of three stories, and had the front broken by extending the entrancehall, and' projecting a porte cochere. The old circular staircase was removed and a new one erected in a square tower, carried up to the height of 75 feet, and terminated by a sort of keep on the top. The original style of the building was restored, and somewhat elaborated by the introduction of corbel turrets and dormer window heads." Further additions have more recently been made at the south-west corner and a handsome granite terrace added,
with steps leading to the flower-garden. The grounds are tastefully laid out, and enriched by a considerable sheet of water.
About a mile to (the west are the ruins of the castle of Fedderat (Brydges). "The earliest notice," says Dr. Pratt, "we can trace of Fedderat is in a charter given by Fergus, Earl of Buchan, to John, son of Uthred, who, at the beginning of the 13th century, seems to hare been the proprietor of Cruden and Slains. Some time between the years 1203 and 1214, Fergus gave to him in exchange for these lands the three Dauchs of Fedreth, namely, "Eister Ancheoch, Auchetherb, Auchethas, and Conwilter, together with the land of Ardindrach."
The Old Statistical'. Account says, "About two miles north from the church (New Deer) stands an old castle Fedderat, which appears;to have i been a place of considerable strength. It is surrounded partly by a fosse and partly by a morass, so that there could have been no access to it but by a causeway, which is still visible, and a drawbridge. Water, it seems, had been conveyed to it by means of pipes; for pieces of them have at different times been torn up by the plough."
The walk are of immense thickness, and the castle was probably six or seven stories high. It was long used as a quarry for building-stones, and some years ago a great part of it was secretly blown up with gunpowder, as Dr. Pratt says, "to the lasting disgrace of the sordid perpetrator."
There is a tradition attached to the castle, that Fedderat should never bo taken till the Wood of Fyvie came to the siege; and it is said that the soldiers who dislodged the Stuarts from Fyvie Castle, knowing that they had come on to Fedderat, cut down the wood at Fyvie and carried it with them, to aid them in the siege of the place.
4 miles from Brueklay.
37 „ „ Aberdeen.
is a village prettily situated on the banks of the North Ugie or Blackwater, at
the western foot of Mormond. Mor. mond is a heather-clad hill rising at its highest point to 769 feet. On the southwestern brow of this hill there is the figure of a horse cut out in the turf, occupying a space of nearly half-an-acre, and filled in with white quartz, of which the hill is composed. On the corresponding south-eastern slope is the figure of a stag similarly cut out. Above the white horse, on the apex of the western brow, are the ruins of a hunting lodge. "An epigraph still legible on a stone in the building is indicative, as every Aberdonian will understand, of the 'stark love and kindness' with which the builder, a former laird of Strichen, was wont to entertain his brother sportsmen in this mooriand mansion.
'' In this Hunter's Lodge
It appears that Rob Gib was jester to Charles II; that once the king asked, "What serve you me for?" to which he replied, "For stark love and kindness. In troublous times Aberdonians who adhered to the exiled family adopted "Rob Gib" as the equivalent of loyal and true." Now it is simply a toast of friendship, and means —
"Glad to meet, sorry to part,
Before Strichen had a parish church of its own the people had to cross the hill of Mormond to Rathen, and the footpath is still traceable. There is a cairn still called "the resting cairn," where on thje occasion of funerals they rested the coffin before climbing the hill. It lies between Duncalzie and the Hunt Stone.
Strichen House (Baird) was built by Lord Lovat in 1821. It is of modern Greek architecture. Within the grounds north-west of the house are or were the remains of a so-called Druid circle. Between two upright stones lies a large boulder, said to have been once a rocking stone. It rocks no more.
A very remarkable waterspout occurred on Mormond in July 1789. "It happened," says Dr. Pratt, "about five o'clock in the morning. The farmers of Techmuiry, Hatton and Forrest, on their way to the Corbie Hill near Kirkton of Philorth for sea sand, found on their return the bridges swept away, and the brooks converted into raging torrents which they were unable to cross. My informant, who was then a lad of fourteen, had the curiosity, along with multitudes far and near, to inspect the cavities in the hill, some of which were 18 or 20 feet deep. Peats were cut not only in the haughs of Rora, but at Inverugie, from immense solid masses of moss carried down by the torrent." A local poet says :—
"It took the peats to Peterhead,
Strichen House and the greater part of the parish was the ancient possession of the Frasers of Strichen, now represented by Lord Lovat. Not long ago the lands were sold to George Baird, one of the partners of the Gartsherrie Ironworks, in whose family they still remain.
Leaving Strichen, the line skirts the south base of Mormond.
is a mere local station. Any one desirous to ascend the hill will do it most conveniently from Strichen, but the east point may be reached more shortly from this.
miles from Mormond.
This is the station for several important Houses. Craigellie (Milne) is near the station. Further to the east is Crimonmogate (Bannerman). Finely situated on a wooded hill facing the south is Cairness (Gordon), an extensive and magnificent Grecian mansion built by General Gordon from designs by Playfair, and said to have cost £25,000.
Between the station and the sea lies the Loch of Strabeg, a sheet of water covering some 550 acres. At its east end there is a small circular hill called
the Castle Hill. It was once the sito of a castle of the Comyns. The New Statistical Account says: — "The famous Cummine, Earl of Buchan, had a seat here; but after his defeat at Inverurie by King Robert Bruce this castle fell into ruins. By the blowing of the light sand in the neighbourhood, which happens during every gale of wind, it is now covered with a deep soil and produces crops of grain and grass. In. Fordoun's Chronicle, after mention of this defeat, it is narrated that' Bruce pursued Cummine to Turriff and afterwards destroyed by fire his whole earldom of Buchan,' which may in some measure account for the marks of fire frequently discernible on tho large trees dug out of the moss."
The Loch of Strabeg has no apparent outlet to the sea. It is to a large extent formed by the sand which has drifted across the mouth of the burn, through which there is a constant filtering of the water; and it is said that in 1817 the water was four feet higher than in 1840. Previous to 1720 vessels of small burden could enter the loch. But about that time the opening was silted up by a gale blowing a neighbouring hill of sand into it. Attempts were made towards the close of the last century to drain the loch, but without success; and it is doubtful how far, even if the scheme had succeeded, it would have repaid the cost. The loch abounds with trout, both red and yellow, with perch, fresh-water flounders, and also eels of immense size.
The Parish Church of Lonmay used to be at the village of St. Combs (St. Columba). In 1608 it was removed to the more central spot it now occupies near the south-east entrance to Cairness. Close beside it there is an Episcopalian Chapel.
There is a Druidical circle at Newark in Crimonmogate.
2£ miles from Lonmay.
From this station the ruins of the Castle of Inverallochy may be seen to the eastward. They are somewhat extensive, but bare and desolate. It belonged to the Comyns. There is no date to the building and no reliable information about it. It is said that in the latter end of the last century a stone was discovered in the vicinity, which had obviously been placed over the entrance to the castle. It bore the sculptured arms of the Comyns, with the following legend :—
"I, Jurdan Comyn, indwaller here,
11 miles from Bathen.
14i „ „ Maud.
45l » ,, Aberdeen, is a private station for the use of Lord Saltoun and his visitors at Philorth.
To Lord Saltoun the present editor is greatly indebted for the following interesting notes.
After passing Rathen Station the line crosses a small burn, the Water of Philorth, and on the right hand is seen a picturesque ruin, "Cairnbulg Castle," anciently called "The Manor-House of Philorth." The square tower or keep is very old; there is no record of its being built extant, but it was probably erected by the Comyns, Earls of Buchan, about the beginning of the 13th century. The lower part of the castle was built by Alexander Fraser, laird of Philorth, during the earlier half of the 16th century.
It is situated on a knoll on the right bank of the stream, and there are traces of a moat having surrounded it. Before the general use of cannon it must have been a very strong place, for the ground is flat on every side except the south, and of old must have formed extensive marshes; while the hill on the south is not near enough to allow any of the engines then used in warfare to command it.
The castle continued to be the manorhouse of Philorth until 1570, when Sir Alexander Fraserof Philorth, the grandson of the laird above mentioned, built the castle and founded the town of Fraserburgh, and, transferring his residence to that place, in 1613 sold the
lands of Cairnbulg and others, with the old manor-house, which then became known as Cairnbulg Castle ; and having passed through many hands, it is now the property of Wm. Duthie, Esq.
About half a mile to the left of tht line, but concealed by woods, lies the present house of Philorth. The olde? portion was built in 1666 by Alexandei Fraser, afterwards tenth Lord Saltoun, the grandson of the founder of Fraserburgh, and some additions have been recently made in 1873 by the present Lord Saltoun. It is in the old Scottish style, without much pretension to architectural beauty.
The barony of Philorth, anciently of very much greater extent, and including lands in various parts of Aberdeenshire, formed in the earliest historical times part of the earldom of Buchan, and as such was held by the great Comyn family, Earls of Buchan, during the 13th century. Upon the overthrow of that great race by Robert Bruce in 1307-8 one-half of the earldom of Buchan was granted to John, brother of Hugh, Earl of Ross, on his marriage with Margaret Comyn, daughter of the Earl of Buchan, and the barony of Philorth was a part of that half. They had no children, but the Earls of Ross seem to have retained the half earldom until 1370, when David II. forced William, then Earl of Ross, and his brother Hugh (to whom the Earl had given a portion of the lands, and among them Philorth) to resign it; and upon this resignation the king granted the lands composing it to his favourite, Sir Walter de Leslie, a younger son of the famous Sir Andrew de Leslie by his wife Mary de Abernethy, who had married Euphemia, elder daughter of William, Earl of Ross, against her father's will.
In 1375 Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie and Durris, grandson of Sir Alexander Fraser, the friend and brother-in-law of King Robert I., and chamberlain of Scotland 1319 - 26, married Johanna, younger daughter of William, Earl of Ross, and in obedience to the charter of the earldom of P,oss from David II., which forbade partition between the sisters, received