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lished, and hence he was designated Mess John by the people, and his well Mess John's Well.

"Under the pulpit at the old church of Aherdour a gravestone was discovered with this epitaph carved round the outer edges, 'Heir lies Johne Quhyt sum tym in Ardlahill quha decessit ye xi of Oc. 1590.'

"The church, now in ruins, is one of the oldest in the north of Scotland. 'Aberdour Church is dedicated to Saint Durstan. He was of the royal blood of Scotland; and being dedicated to religion from his childhood, was sent over to be bred under St. Colm in Ireland, quhare be became Abbot of Dalquhougle ; but leaving that country, he became a hermit, and returning home he built the church of Glenesk. His bones were kept in a stone chest at Aberdour, where they were conceived to work several cures.'

"The west gable of the church is still standing, in which there is a semicircular-headed window. Great part of the north and a small part of the south wall remain. A south aisle is also entire, but the roof is fast falling to decay. In the east wall there had been a narrow window, but whether circular-headed, pointed, or otherwise it is difficult to say. The font, which is octagonal, and in a tolerably good state of preservation, lies at the west end of the church, outside. The dimensions of the building externally had been about 69 feet by 21. The manse is close by. The new parish church is built about a mile distant from the old, at the top of the hill and near the village of New Aberdour," where there is also a very neat and elegant Free Church.

In the words of Dr. Stuart, "Amid the darkness which enshrouds those missionaries who imparted to the heathen tribes of Alba the blessings of the Christian faith, the form of St. Columba stands out with exceptional clearness; and the popular instinct has not erred which ascribes to him the largest share in the great work, and traces to his mission the most enduring results.

"The almost contemporary pages of

his biographer, St. Adamnan, enable us to realise to ourselves the system adopted by the great missionary in hi? enterprise. When he first took possession for Christ of the little island of Hy, which, under the name of Iona, was to become illustrious for all time from its association with him, he founded upon it a monastery, in conformity with the system that then prevailed, not only in the country of the Scots from which he came, but throughout Europe.

"Every fresh settlement which the saint effected as he pushed his Christian conquests, whether in the islands of the Hebrides or in the mainland countries of the northern Picts, consisted of a monastery for a body of clerics, from which they might disperse themselves in circuits among the surrounding tribes, returning to their home for shelter and mutual support.

"One of these monastic settlements was that of Deer in Buchan [already referred to], a district of Aberdeenshire projecting into the German Ocean from the most easterly point of Scotland; and the legend in the Book of the Gospels of this house preserves in traditional detail the circumstances which marked the infancy of the establishment.

"It represents the arrival at Aberdour, a sheltered bay on the rocky shores of Buchan, of St. Columba, accompanied by his pupil Drostan; but we are left to conjecture whether the strangers arrived by sea in one of the frail coracles so much in use by the saint and his followers, or were on a landward circuit through the northern districts.

"The mormaer or ruler of the district of Buchan, who seems to have been on the spot, made an offering to the clerics of the 'city' of Aberdour, with freedom from mormaer and toisech.

"There are reasons for believing that a considerable population was gathered in the country around the rocky coast of Aberdour and the red Dun (Dundarg), which overlooked its southern side ; and as we are frequently able to trace the progress of the Roman armies through places of dense population, when their 'Ways' were led amid the raths and abodes of the Britons, so we may infer from the numerous churches dedicated to Celtic saints throughout Scotland in sites of early settlement that the missionaries were attracted in their Christian warfare to these by the denseness of the neighbouring population. St. Columba, on his first mission to Pictland, sought out at once the royal seat of Brude, near Inverness, and he may have been led to the verge of Buchan by the presence of the chief and his followers at one of his places of residence.

"It is probable that the clerics tarried at Aberdour for a time and founded a monastery on the land which had been granted to them."— {Book ofDcir, Preface.)

In this extract Dr. Stuart refers to the fact that there are reasons for believing that a considerable population was gathered around the rocky coast of Aberdour; and in support of this he mentions in a note that "in the country, about a mile inland from the bay, numerous hut foundations have been discovered, some of them under a great depth of moss. In some parts of the moss, trees and roots have frequently been turned up, apparently the remains of an early forest."

Regarding these huts Dr. Findlater has written:—"Beginning about a mile inland, there is a tract of undulating moorland, and there are, or rather were until recently, numerous remains of hut foundations, called by the inhabitants to this day 'Pechts' Houses.' These Pechts are thought of as beings of another race, having something of the supernatural about them. In one place we remember whole rows of foundations ; and on one side of the group a mound or dyke might be traced for some way, as if the settlement had been surrounded with a rampart. All the foundations were of the same shape and size — circular, and 32 feet in diameter, with the door to the southeast. The walls had been of smallish surface stones, mixed with earth or clay. The ruins were mostly overgrown with heather, but there was always a green spot in the middle,

which, when dug into, showed traces of having been the hearth. The only way we can conceive the huts to have been roofed would be by poles resting on the low walls and converging towards an upright post in the middle; but the aspect of the country suggests the difficulty—Whence came the timber? There is not at present within sight of the place anything nearer a tree than, perhaps, a bourtree bush in the corner of a kailyard. But bleak and bare as the region is now, there is evidence that parts of it at least were at one time well wooded. The Pict village we are describing stood on a low terrace, and at the foot of the slope to the south of it begins a level peatmoss of considerable extent. The moss is from four to ten or more feet deep, and the lower stratum of it consists in many parts of decayed wood so soft and compact as to cut into peats— 'stickly' peats giving twice the light and heat of the ordinary kind. As a proof that this is not a case of driftwood, but that it grew where it now rots, we distinctly remember an oak stump of considerable diameter, still in situ; it protruded some inches above the surface, just where the brae dipped into the moss, and had its roots spreading all round. When our Pictish settlement, then, was a scene of life, the bottom ground below' it was a wellwooded valley; and if the heroic Apostle himself visited it, which it is pleasing to think not improbable, he might see stately oaks—in which we are told he delighted—where nothing now raises its head higher than a bush of heather or rushes.

"About a quarter of a mile from the spot we have been speaking of, and at a rather higher elevation, an isolated Pecht's house was 60 years ago (18201830) laid bare in casting peats, where the moss was 6 feet deep. We were quite familiar with this relic at one time, when the peat-bank had receded from it some 30 yards ; but we do not recollect that the sight of it excited any wonder or speculation as to how or when it came there. A few years ago (previous to 1870) we revisited the spot: the peat bank was gone, and the whole flat hill-top was a tilled field that had just been laid down in grass; yet the circular mound was still traceable, 11 paces wide, and with the door to the southeast, like the rest.

"Did the Teutonic invasions of the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries desolate this once well-peopled tract, and leave it to become a moor?"

The present editor visited this spot. All traces of the huts have disappeared, with one exception. The late William Dingwall Fordyce, Esq., of Brucklay, the proprietor of Aberdour, caused one of the hut-foundations to be enclosed and preserved; the enclosure was planted with trees, which is most erroneously supposed to be the best way of securing preservation. The trees had so overgrown the ancient relic that it was left almost entirely to imagination to conceive what or where it was; it was there among the trees, that was all.

Beyond Aberdour comes, first, Pennan, with its Red Head, then Troup, and again beyond it Gamrie, or Mohr Head, a series of magnificent cliffs, the examination of which is full of interest. The Bed Head rises to the height of some 300 feet. The Tor of Troup is one of the most noted places in Buchan. "It is a rugged mass of broken hills, forming a cluster of remarkably wild glens, rich to exuberance in plants and flowers—a very garden of delights to the botanist. Tangled brushwood and magnificent trees are the alternating features; the former with its underwood twisted into the most grotesque and unimaginable forms. This group of glens forms altogether a scene of inconceivable beauty, well worthy of a pilgrimage. . . . Between the house and the sea the ground rises high. Here is the Battery Green, in the vicinity of which is Hell's Lum, a ghastly opening on the slope of the hill of about 60 feet by 40, and of a depth of about 40 or 50 feet. From this hole to the sea there is a subterranean passage nearly a hundred yards in length, along which, on the occasion of a storm, the spray is forced with great fury till it finds its escape by the lum (chimney) in the shape of dense smoke. Facilis descensus —the crater may easily be descended,

and the view along the passage to the sea will well repay the labour."

This extraordinary ravine afforded a night's shelter on one occasion to Edward, the Banff naturalist. "His sleeping place was a very wild one ; it was no other than Hell's Lum. He knew the place well; he had entered it both from the sea side and from the land side. He had been in it in storm and calm, in clouds and sunshine ; and now he was about to spend the night in it. The weather was, however, calm ; the sea was like a sheet of glass, so that he had little fear of getting a wetting during his few hours' stay. While in the Lum he was at the back of the cliffs, and in close proximity with the breeding-places |of myriads of seafowl. It was now the busiest part of the season. The birds had been very clamorous during the day, but as night came on their clamour ceased ; with the exception of a few screams—while, perhaps, the birds were being displaced in their nests—the night was silent, though Edward kept awake and listened for nearly the whole time.

'' But with the first glimmerings of daylight, and just as he was beginning to move and to creep out of the pit, Edward thought that he heard some of the birds beginning to whimper and yawn as if ready for another day's work; and by the time he had rounded Oovie Head he beheld the cliffs alive, and the multitude of sea-birds again in full operation."—(Smiles.)

Mot far from Hell's Lum there is another subterranean passage called The Needle Eye. It runs quite through the head, and is about 150 yards long, but so narrow that it is with difficulty that a person can make his way through it. At the north end it opens into a cave of about 150 feet long, 30 broad, and 20 high; the whole of this cavern is supported by huge columns of rock, forming a very impressive scene as you emerge into it from the narrow passage.

All along this coast there is a succession of wild lofty rocks to seaward, and deep ravines, or dens, as they are called here, running inland. One of these, of great depth and narrowness, is Braco Pen, and as we skirt the 'hill to the westward of it we descend by a winding path to the village' of Gardenstone, or Gamrie, built on the margin of the Moray Firth at the base of a steep hill. The winding road is little short of a mile, though the direct distance is probably not more than one-sixth of that length. We descend from terrace to terrace, and look down almost into the very chimneys of the houses below. The whole scene is remarkably striking. The houses are built on ledges, and in recesses of the cliff. The lower and older part of the village is close upon the sea.

Dr. Pratt says:—"What a scene presented itself from the windows (of the Ironsides Inn). Perched on a sort of plateau some 10 or 12 feet above the sea-level, we had a full view of the broad expanse of the Moray Firth; a little to the left the Mohr Head, a stupendous cliff rising abruptly from the sea, and casting its deep shadow across the sleeping waters of the rockbound bay. On the near shoulder of this bluff headland, and in the 'glack' of the hill half-way up its rugged sides, the old church of Gamrie stands, where it has stood for eight centuries and a half in desolate objectiveness. Such a sight as this is neither to be seen with indifference nor easily forgotten."

'' The view," says Smiles, '' from the heights of Gamrie on a summer evening is exceedingly fine. The sea ripples beneath you. Far away it is as smooth as glass. During the herring season the fishing boats shoot out from the rocky dill's in which the harbours are formed. Underneath are the fishing boats of Gardenstone, to the right those of Crovie. Eastward you observe the immense fleet of Fraserburgh vessels, about a thousand in number, creeping out to sea. Westward are the fisting boats of Macduff, of Banff, Whitehills, Portsoy, Cullcn, Sandend, Findochtie, and the Buckies, all making their appearance by degrees. The whole horizon becomes covered with fleets of fishing boats. Across the Moray Firth in the far distance the Caithness Mountains are relieved against the evening sky. The hills of Morven and the Maiden's Pap are distinctly visible. The sun as it descends throws a gleam

of molten gold across the bosom of the Firth. A few minutes more and the sun goes down, leaving the toilers of the sea to pursue their labours amidst the darkness of the night.

"Gamrie Head is locally called Mohr Head (i.e. Big Head). The bay of Gamrie is a picturesque indentation of the coast, effected by the long operation of water upon rocks of unequal solidity. The hills, which descend to the coast, are composed of hard grauwacke, in which is deeply inlaid a detached strip of mouldering old red sandstone. The waves of the German Ocean, by perpetual lashing against the coast, have washed out the sandstone and left the little bay of Gamrie, the solid grauwacke standing out in bold promontories—Mohr Head on the one side and Crovie Head on the other...

"Eastward of Troup Head the scenery continues of the same character. The fishing village of Pennan, like Gardenstone, lies at the foot of a ledge of precipitous rocks, and is enclosed by a little creek or bay. From the summit of the Red Head of Pennan the indentations of the coast are seen to Kinnaird's Head in the east, and to the Bin Hill of Cullen in the west."

Between the village of Gardenstone and the old church of Gamrie, on the Mohr Head, there intervenes a deep glen, the steep sides of which rise to a height of 150 or 200 feet. After crossing the mouth of this gorge, we pass along its western verge for a time and then bend to the right '' through a mazy confusion of wild roses and other flowering shrubs," and so reach the old church, standing on a sort of plateau or shelf of the hill, overlooking the bay and the village far below. On a lintel of a walled-up arch in the west gable is this inscription :—" This church was built in 1004"—211 years before Magna Charts.

The length of the church (Pratt) is about 90 feet; the chancel, which possibly formed the whole length of the original church, is about 24 feet The walls of this part of the church have been raised to the height of those of the nave, having been originally Sect. VIII.

THE OLD CHURCH OF GAMRIE.

145

about four feet lower. The nave swells out about half a foot on each side, making the whole width a foot greater than the chancel. The entrance to the church is by a' low doorway with a very depressed arch on the south side. In the east wall, to the north of where the altar once stood, there is an aumbry; and in the north wall the credence. South of the altar place in the east wall, and nearly on a level with the aumbry, is a small tablet in good preservation placed by '' Honorabilis Vir, Patricius Barclay, Dux de Tolly, &c. Ann. D.M.M." qui", quadrage septimo." Above this tablet is a niche, in which there had probably been an effigy, but it is no longer there. In the north wall of the nave are three holes, formerly filled with human skulls. They are no longer there, but the present editor's father told him they remained in his day, and he had seen them. They were said to have been the skulls of Danes killed in battle here. In Macfarlane's MS. Geographical Collections, mention is made of a battle with the Danes at this place: "In Gamry was a battle of Danes upon a very high promontory called The Bloody Pots to this day." The Statistical Account says:—"On the precipice or brow of the hill above the Kirk of Gamrie, at the east end of one of the most level and extensive plains in Buchan, are a number of vestiges of encampments, which at this day are called by the name of The Bleedy Pots or Bloody Pits."

Abercromby,in his "Martial Atchievements," says—"After the battle of Aberlemmo, where the Scots were victorious, of those that remained of the Danes . . . some few found means to get to the sea-side and regain their ships, with design to sail about to the coast of Murray, where they were sure of being made welcome by their friends, as yet in possession of that country; but a tempest arising, they were miserably tost to and fro for several days, and at length cast upon the coasts of Buchan, where they durst not venture to make a descent, and yet could not, by reason of the contrary winds, put forward as they designed. They chose to

ly at anchor till the wind should alter. But they lay so long that their provisions being exhausted, and famine pressing hard upon them, about 500 of the most daring resolved to land, and either to die bravely or to purchase the necessaries of life. They did both; for, in the first place, they found out and mastered large herds of cattle, but as they drove them to the sea the Thane of Buchan, one Mernane, with a multitude of the country people, got betwixt them and their ships, and so cut off their retreat. Upon this they withdrew to a little but exceeding steep hill near Gemry, and from the top of it threw down stones upon the foremost that offered to dislodge them; and by this means defended themselves for a long time, like men in despair, with that resolution that allayed the heat of the assailants. But Mernan' reassured the drooping courage of hU men, and they at length got up to the enemy, and without mercy put every one of them to the sword: and Danish bones are still to be seen here, as at Barry in Angus."

The legend of this '' old old " church has been thus told by Professor Geddes of King's College, Aberdeen University.

THE OLD CHURCH OP GAMRIE. "Hast seen the old lone churchyard,

The churchyard by the sea,
High on the edge of a wind-swept ledge,

And it looks o'er Gamerie?"
"I've seen the old lone churchyard,

The churchyard by the sea,
And oh for a voice and a tongue to tell

The thoughts that it raises in me!
No sweeter scene among all the sights

That dwell in my memory. "Half up the ribs of a bold giant hill,

That washes his feet in the sea, And looks like a king o'er the watery world,

Lo ! a patch of greenery. Westward and northward the crags rise high,

To shield it from injury, And there looking down on the beautiful bay,

Is the churchyard of Gamerie: Oh ! well do I love the sweet, sweet slopes,

Where it sleepeth solemnly. "How it thrills me to stand by the mossed tombstones,

And gaze on the billows below,
As its silvery ripple rolls on the sand,

Or breaks on the rocks with its murmuring
snow;

And then to look up to the sea of air,

Peopled with cloudlets floating fair— Oh who would not feel that a God is there!

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