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Close to the railway on the right, half a mile from the station, is Macbcth's Well; and a quarter of a mile further on, also on the right, is a very interesting earth-work called the "Peel Ring" or "Peel Bog." "This is undoubtedly one of the most perfect examples which time has left us of the fortifications of the 13th or 14th century. The circular earthen mound, rising nearly 15 feet above the adjoining level, and about 40 yards in diameter, is surrounded at a distance of upwards of 20 feet by an earthen dyke about 6 feet in height, and 10 or 12 in thickness. The object of the outer circumvallation was evidently to retain the water of the fosse or ditch which encircled the mound whereon the castle was raised. This fosse was supplied from the burn of Lumphanan, and the course for the water may still be traced." The ditch has been planted, and as the trees are now pretty high, the works are not so well seen. On the farm of Cairnbathy, a little to the south-west, is the brae of Strettan, where Macbeth, according to tradition, was wounded; and "Macbeth's Stone" remains to commemorate the event.
From Lumphanan the line goes southward.
miles from Lumphanan.
Desswood House, the residence of Alexander Davidson, Esq., lies on the other side of the finely-wooded hill seen from the railway, and overlooks the Dee. The road to it passes the Slog of Dess, a waterfall '' thought by many to be well worth seeing." The house commands "perhaps the most extensive and varied view of mountain, wood, and water, which is to be seen from any place on the banks of Dee."
A little beyond the station, the railway skirts the Loch of Aboyne, and to the north-west may be seen the turrets of Aboyne Castle (Marquis of Huntly) just peeping, from among the trees. No other view of it is obtained from the railway.
3 miles from Dess.
The village of Charlestown of Aboyne is a favourite resort of summer visitors. It is beautifully situated amidst woods of fir and other trees, which give it a little shelter and pretty appearance. It has grown much of late. Aboyne Castle, the seat of the "Marquis of Huntly, dates back to the 11th century. Restored in 1671, it has been much added to since then. The present marquis is a descendant of the old chiefs of the Gordons through a younger son of the Marquis of Huntly, who was executed during the troubles of 1649. The title of Marquis of Huntly, though merged in that of Duke of Gordon till 1836, reverted, on the death of the last duke, to the descendants of the second son of the executed marquis, who had been created Earl of Aboyne in his own right. The title of Duke of Gordon has been recreated in the person of the present Duke of Richmond and Gordon, the heir-female of the old Dukes of Gordon.
"In an oak plantation near the castle stands a very curious stone, shaped like a coffin, and having a cross carved upon it. The supposed history of this stone is as follows :—At one time bargains were not considered valid unless completed under the market cross, and this stone is supposed to have served the purpose of a market cross to an annual fair held near the Loch of Kinnord. In the heat of the Reformation, however, this cross was taken down and thrown into the loch, from whence in after years it was extricated and set up near the loch. Nobody taking any particular notice of it, a Donside laird had it conveyed to Donside, on hearing which the Earl of Aboyne immediately caused it to be returned, and afterwards, during the night time, had it transferred to its present situation. This gave rise to the supposition among the superstitious folk of those days that it had come there through the instrumentality of ghosts."
West of the village stands Huntly
Lodge, a good modern house, belonging to the Aboyne estate; and there are the other usual buildings of a small local town—such as churches, banks, and a public hall, with a reading-room, library, and billiard-room. To the north of the loch, which is about a mile to the east of the village, rises the hill of Mortlach, on the top of which is a monument to the late Marquis of Huntly.
There is a fine suspension bridge over the Dee at Aboyne, and here, running south-west, the Glen of the Tanar branches off from the valley of the Dee. It is a highly picturesque and lovely glen, and will well repay a visit . "Several years ago the forest of Glentanner was let to William Cunliffe Brooks, Esq., M.P. for East Cheshire, a gentleman of great enterprise and of a most benevolent disposition; and since Mr. Brooks has come to reside in the glen, a wonderful transformation has taken place on the district. To fully describe all the improvements which have been made by this gentleman, a whole volume would be required. They begin at the very entrance of the glen, near Aboyne suspension bridge, and are carried on all through the glen. But upon and around the House of Glentanner the greatestimprovements have taken place. The grounds are laid out with excellent taste, several lovely lakes have been formed, while comfortable houses have been erected for the accommodation of the servants, stables for the horses, and other cattle houses. If one of the old smugglers were to get a peep at the scene of his exploits of fifty years ago, be would fail to identify the present bonny glen with that of his day. The value of this estate has been considerably increased by the system of drainage which has been so extensively introduced; and, indeed, it has been found by this extension of pasturage the far-famed venison of Glentanner has by no means deteriorated in quality, though the deer are now debarred from a favourite food of theirs,—the turnips of the surrounding fanners,—by the erection of substantial wire fencing, which effectually checks their preda
tory habits. After passing Glentanner House, the road is private." At the head of the deer forest of Glentanner is Mount Keen, 3077 feet in height.
From Aboyne is one of the roads into the district of Cromar, in which lies the village of Tarland, belonging to the Earl of Aberdeen, and where he has a lodge. "Donside may be reached in this direction, either by Castle of Corse to Alford, or by Migvie to Colquhonny. One of the finest views of the Deeside hills is that which bursts unexpectedly on the vision of the traveller from Alford to Tarland, at the Slack of Terrylodge, near Corse. At the church of Migvie there is a remarkable sculptural stone monument, and near it a Pict's House or Weem. There are good inns at Tarland and Alford, and at Colquhonny and Lonach in Strathdon. The fine residences, Newe Castle (Sir C. Forbes, Bart.), Inverarnan (General Forbes), etc., are near Colquhonny." The highest summit in the neighbourhood of Tarland is Morven, 2880 feet, round, and somewhat fiat in outline, but commanding a fine view. The Queen in her "Leaves," September 19, 1859, says: "The view is more magnificent than can be described, so large, and yet so near everything seemed, and such seas of mountains with blue lights, and the colour so wonderfully beautiful."
Morven lies north-west of Dinnet and between it and us is Culbleen.
4^ miles from Aboyne. 87 „ „ Aberdeen.
From Aboyne to Dinnet the railway runs through a flat heathy muir, called the Muir of Dinnet, which stretches away to Culbleen on the north, with Morven rising behind it. These Culbleen slopes were the scene of a battle in 1335 between David Bruce and the Earl of Athole, and the cairns in the neighbourhood, which are numerous, are said to cover the slain. In the face of the mountain is a small gully, at the entrance to which (a short distance from the road) is a very singular hollow or caldron, scooped out by the action of torrents stirring round stones and pebbles. It is called the Burn of the Vat. Says M'Gillivray (private volume)—"In this place the rocks are about 60 feet high on one side, lower on the other. A mass of rock blocks up the fissure, leaving on one side a small passage for the brook, and on the other a small aperture from 2^ to 4 feet broad, and about 9 feet high. The water, in floods, is thus impeded, and accumulates in the fissure, where by its swirl it has scooped out the lower part of the rock on either side in the form of a concavity like half the top of a dome. The breadth is 24 yards below, but only 16 above. On the floor of one side is a greensward, including daisies and some other common plants, with a few tufts of ferns. On the rocks are a few trees, a considerable quantity of Epilobium angustifolium, Aspidium Filix-mas, Athyrium Filix-femina, Polypodium dryopteris, and Cystopteris fragilis" (p. 40).
"On the north-west of the Moor of Dinnet (Robertson) lies Loch Kinnord, betwixt two hills called Muckle Kinnord and Little Kinnord. It is said that King Malcolm Canmore had on the westermost island of the loch a castle, palace, or seat, and in the eastermost a prison; and further, that these islands were artificially built, of which there can be little doubt, the various piles whereon they are built being visible to this day. It is said also that there is a causeway joining one of the islands to the land, but that the water of the loch, having risen since these times, now covers this causeway. Whether Malcolm Canmore had in reality his castle here or not, I cannot say, but one thing is clear from George Buchanan's Scottish History, as well as from Andrew Wyntoun's Chronicles, that here a castle there was when the great battle of Culbleen was fought near this same loch in King David Brace's time. At the end of the causeway there was, as is said, on the land a chapel, in or near which was found the stone [St. Macbricha's Cross, of the Ordnance Survey] removed to the neighbourhood of Aboyne Castle. Near Loch Kinnord (to the
north) is another smaller loch called Loch Dawain or Davan. It is probable that Kinnord is a corruption of Canmore." It is called by M'Gillivray Loch Ceannor, who says of it that it ia "a rather beautiful small lake, fringed with natural wood, and having in it a little round green island tufted with some trees, and a smaller bare island. It produces an abundant vegetation of aquatic plants, including several of botanical interest, and is surrounded with heathy ground, continuous with the Moor of Dinnet" (page 41).
Loch Kinnord is famous for its richness in prehistoric relics. The following account of some of these is from the last edition (1878) of Brown's "New Deeside Guide," a little work which was really written by the late Dr. Joseph Robertson, of the Register House, Edinburgh, himself referred to in the quotation :—
"From the middle of the last century, down to a very recent date, few localities on Deeside, or even in the North of Scotland, have yielded to the researches of antiquaries so many and so varied relics of prehistoric man as the district around Loch Kinnord. The last finds of this nature obtained from the lake occurred in 1857, when, among other relics, a large canoe was recovered. It measured 22£ feet in length, hewn out of a single log of oak. This canoe was exhibited at the meeting of the British Association held in Aberdeen in 1859, and attracted considerable attention. The late Dr. Joseph Robertson then read a paper before the archaeological section, descriptive of ancient Scottish canoes, and the localities in which they were generally found. The substance of this and other papers on kindred subjects by Dr. Robertson was afterwards published, with much additional information, by Dr. Stuart [now too, alas! the late] in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries (vol. iv.), where a very full account of Scottish erannogs and all that pertained to them may be found. Among these ancient lake dwellings Loch Kinnord occupies a prominent place. Indeed, with the exception of Dowalton Loch, in Wigtownshire, Dr. Stuart seems to consider Loch Kinnord as the best specimen of such habitations to be found in this country.
"From a careful examination of the various articles found in crannogs, both he and Dr. Robertson had come to the conclusion that canoes might confidently be looked for in lakes containing artificial islands. When, therefore, the canoe above referred to was found in Loch Kinnord, it was considered a very satisfactory confirmation of the conclusion at which they had arrived; but it was thought that the antiquarian treasures of the place had been nearly exhausted by the search then (1857) made. Later, however, some unlooked-for relics were obtained from the bottom of the lake. This excited further investigation, and a young man, Mr. John Simpson, of Mickle Kinnord, detected among the mud what he believed to ibe another canoe. He took means to mark the spot, and to acquaint the Marquis of Huntly with the nature of the discovery he had made. The season was then too far advanced for attempting to recover it from its watery bed, but Lord Huntly embraced the earliest opportunity that presented itself to arrange for the recovery of this curious relic of early times.
"Accordingly, on Tuesday, the 10th of August 1875, a large number of his servants and tenants met by appointment of his Lordship on the shores of the loch, all intent and eager to enter on the work of exploration. The presence also of Lady Huntly, who accompanied the Marquis, did much to inspire ardour into the party, as well as to grace the occasion. The weather was all that could be desired, warm and calm, with now and then a light breeze, just sufficient to fill the sails of his Lordship's yacht, which, under the management of Mr. John Milne, showed her sailing powers to great advantage.
"After fixing the hauling gear to the canoe, the position of which had previously been marked, some of the party in sailing about discovered what turned out to be a second canoe. A rope was likewise attached to this other.
with the view of dragging it also ashore. Lord Huntly now took the direction of operations, and with such skill and care that both canoes were brought to land without the slightest damage. This is the more remarkable, because they were both deeply embedded in the mud, and the strain on the ropes was frequently as much as half-a-dozen strong men could exert through a powerful windlass. One of these canoes measures 30 feet 2 inches in length, and 3 feet 6 inches in breadth near the middle ; the other is rather broader, but scarcely so long. As relics of our prehistoric age, perhaps nothing of more interest and importance has been brought to light for many a day on Deeside; and it is only just to Lord Huntly to mention that, while he deserves well of archaeological science for the trouble and care he has taken to recover these interesting remains of a long-forgotten period, he merits also the thanks of the numerous parties who visit this pleasant spot in allowing the canoes to remain for some time on the shores of the lake over which, many long ages ago, they served the purposes of industry or warfare, or perhaps both. It is to be hoped that no one will abuse his Lordship's kindness by injuring them in any way. The timber is, owing to its great age, very brittle; and visitors should be careful not to handle any portion of it roughly, and by no means to attempt to strike it with any weapon. We have reason to believe that Lord Huntly intends to have the canoes photographed, that an accurate representation of them as they were brought ashore may be obtained and preserved; but this should not prevent the Society of Antiquaries from immediately requesting his Lordship to allow them to send an artist to have them sketched and lithographed.
"To conclude the operations of the day, and as expression of the honour done to the occasion by the interest taken in the proceedings by Lady Huntly, Mr. Duthie, who happened to be present, came forward and in name of the company said,—' It is customary when a vessel is launched to bestow upon it, with due ceremony, a suitable name. It is quite as proper on this occasion to do so when the vessel is brought to land. I hope the noble lady who has done us the honour to countenance the bringing ashore of this ancient craft will forgive me if I take the liberty of naming it after her!'
"Later in the evening two immense oak beams were recovered from the site of the old drawbridge which connected the Castle Island with the land. One of these measures 37 feet in length by 154 inches broad, and 12£ inches deep. Two other similar beams were hauled ashore next evening."
Directly south from Loch Kinnord, and on the opposite side of the river on a knoll, are the ruins of Dee Castle, a seat of the Gordons in old times, when it was called Candecaill, or "Head of the Wood." The only portion of the old castle remaining is part of a wall, which now forms the gable of a modern house, the lower part of which is used as a Romish chapel, and the upper as a dwelling-house.
Leaving Dinnet, we have Culbleen and Morven on the right, both mentioned by Lord Byron in the following beautiful poem; he lived, when a youth at the Grammar School of Aberdeen, at Ballatrich, on the opposite side of the river:—
When I roved a young Highlander o'er the dark heath, And climbed thy steep summit, O Morven of snow!
To gaze on the torrents that thundered beneath,
Or the mist of the tempest that gathered below,
Untutored by science, a stranger to fear, And rude as the rocks where my infancy grew,
No feeling save one to my bosom was dear; Need I say, my sweet Mary, 'twas centred in you?
Yet it could not be love, for I knew not the name;
What passion can dwell in the heart of a child?
But still I perceive an emotion the same, As I felt when a boy, on the crag-covered wild;
One image alone on my bosom impressed,
I loved my bleak regions, nor panted for new; And few were my wants, for my wishes were blessed,
And pure were my thoughts, for my soul was with you.
I arose with the dawn, with my dog and my
From mountain to mountain I bounded
I breasted the billows of Dee's rushing tide,
At eve, on my heath-covered couch of repose,
And warm to the skies my devotion arose,
I left my bleak home, and my visions are gone,
As the last of my race I must wither alone, And delight but in days I have witnessed before:
Ah! splendour has raised, but embittered my lot;
More dear were the scenes which my infancy
Though my hopes may have failed, yet they
When I see some dark hill point its crest to
I think of the rocks that o'ershadow Cul-
When I see the soft blue of a love-speaking eye,
scene;' When haply some light waving locks I bchold,
That faintly resemble my Mary's in hue,
Yet the day shall arrive when the mountains
Shall rise to my sight in their mantles of snow:
But while these soar above me, unchanged as before,
Will Mary be there to receive me—ah, no I Adieu, then, ye hills, where my childhood was bredl
Thou swift flowing Dee, to thy waters adieu! No home in the forest shall shelter my head,— Ah 1 Mary, what home could be mine but with you?
99. Cambus O'May.
2J miles from Dinnet. 39J „ Aberdeen.
Here it may be said that the Dee emerges from the Highlands by a narrow pass. The hills on the north side of the line from Culbleen to Cambus O'May and along the northern side of the plain of Ballater to Craigendarroch are granitic, and immediately above the station important quarries have been opened, where blocks of large size are obtained. The stone here is of a