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"So felt the men of the simple days,
The grand old men of long ago, When they chose this place as a place of prayer,
And bade their artless praises flow, From the midst of God's glories here below, Up to the glory that excelleth, To where the dear Redeemer dwelleth.
"But alas for the men of these selfish days!
They are dead to the pride of the past:
"And what hast thou seen in the old churchyard
To move thy spirit so?
Doth make thine anger glow?"
So sore a sight to see;
The pride of the north countree:
Till crash—it sinks to a heap of stones,
"Rouse thee, village of Gamerie, rouse thee,
Swear to protect every slate, every stone,— Sweeter ye'll sleep 'neath her sheltering wall.
Let her sit like a queen by your rock-girdled bay,
Prouder the place than a baron's hall.
"It was old and gray with years
When Elgin and Roslin were young; It had numbered full many an age
When Father Dante sung:— Ere Conrad of Hochstettin
'Built his noble heart in stone ;' Ere Bernard, the crusader,
Made the Moslem Empire groan—
Strode in blood on the Sussex strand, Your moss-mantled church in peacefulness rose
A light to our northern land.
"Through your fairy dells and dingles,
Where the breezes love to play, Tradition's echo tingles,
Telling of a fearful fray,
Telling of a dreadful day; A nation with a nation mingtes,
Hand to hand in fierce array.
"Over brine, over faem,
Through flood, through flame, The ravenous hordes of the Norsemen came
To ravage our Fatherland:
Over rock, over rill,
Over dale, over hill, On the wings of the wind flew our sires to fill
Every perch on the bold headland. Like a thunderstorm they fell on their foes, Hewing around them with death-dealing
The war I ween had a speedy close,
How the ravens were glutted with gore, And the church was garnished with trophief fell
'Jesu Maria, shield us well!'
"Three grim skulls of three Norse kings,
Grinning a grin of despair,
They stared with a stony stare.
"Rouse thee, village of Gamerie, rouse thee, Husbandmen, fishermen, villagers all;
Let her sit like a queen by your beautiful bay, Prouder the place than Holyrood-Hall;
Swear to protect every slate, every stone; Sweet be your sleep 'neath her sheltering wall."
The battlefield is on the summit of the cliff, 300 feet above the sea. There may still be seen there the vestiges of the old encampments, and the "bloody pots," surviving to tell the sad story of sanguinary conflict, where even historic records are dim and doubtful.
As you pass on some vitrified ruins boar the traditional name of Wallace Castle, then the Hill of Donn, mentioned in a charter of James V. 1528, then Castle of Cullen-of-Buchan, then Auldhaven, curious for remains of fortification-mounds, and quantities of flint arrow-heads found around, then Tarlair, Alacduff, Banff.
SECTION IX. THE DEESIDE RAILWAY.
Already it has been stated that this line, though forming part of the Great North of Scotland system, lies quite apart from all the rest of its routes, and traverses quite a different country. It extends from Aberdeen at the embouchure of the Dee, to Ballater on the upper reaches of that river, and is in length 434 miles. From Ballater to Braemar, which is the point all tourists should reach, the distance is 18 miles, and coaches run thither in connection with the railway. The route is along the valley of the Dee. The scenery here differs very materially from that of the Don and some of the other districts opened up by the other portions of the Great North Railway, and has been graphically differentiated in two separate distichs current in the locality. One of these tells us that
"Ae rood o' Don's worth twa o' Dee,
And the other runs
"The river Dee for fish and tree,
The whole course of the river is about 90 miles. The Dee is generally considered as commencing with five springs of limpid water issuing from amongst granite detritus on a declivity not far from the summit of a mountain called Braeriach, which is next neighbour to Ben-na-muic-Dhui and Cairntoul — the three forming the most elevated portion of the mountain land of Scotland, although but very slightly exceeding some other parts of it. The stream formed by these springs, two of which only are persistent, the rest being sometimes dried when there has
been protracted drought, proceeds towards the brink of a corrie more than 1000 feet deep, over the crags of which it descends in a stripe conspicuous by its whiteness from afar.
"The groove or narrow valley in which the Dee flows is, although a little tortuous, directed almost uniformly from the junction of the two principal sources, the Dee and the Geaullie, from west to east, and occupies nearly the middle line of the space of which it receives the waters. The tributary streams enter this groove very seldom at right angles, but generally in a direction considerably inclined eastward, and thus some of them, as the Gearn, the Muic, the Tanar, and the Feugh, have a course of from 10 to 20 miles.
"The streams that come from the granitic tracts to the north of the Dee, from Cairntoul to Morven, are all remarkable for their clearness and agreeable taste. Those from the southern side are usually more or less, sometimes conspicuously, tinged with brown. Still the river is remarkably limpid in its whole course, which may be estimated at about 90 miles. It descends from an elevation of 4000 feet, in a course of about 12 miles, to that of 1294 feet, in about 30 miles further to 780 feet, and in about 45 miles more to the sea. According to a statement given in the Statistical Account of Glen Muic Parish, its mean annual breadth there is estimated at about 210 feet, its mean depth at about 4 feet, its mean velocity at about 3 miles an hour, and its mean temporature at 40° to 42° Fahr."
These particulars are from an unpublished book by the late Dr. William Macgillivray, printed for private circulation by the Queen. Before proceeding to details of the route, let us hear what the lato Dr. Joseph Robertson has said on Deeside.
"Those who hold that all the pleasure which scenery imparts to the beholder is derivable from associations, will at once admit the claims of Deeside to beauty, sublimity, and picturesqueness. But barring associations altogether, we are willing to stand up in defence of the Dee, and having seen most of the Scottish rivers, to maintain that it is superior to them all. Lest suspicion should hang over our evidence, we shall adduce the testimony of a gentleman who has seen perhaps more of the Highlands than any man alive—Dr. Macculloch—and who pronounces the following just, because high eulogium. 'The infant Dee [he never saw it] is a low and wild torrent without interest. It is not till near Mar Lodge [beyond which the Doctor never travelled], at the rapids, commonly called the Linn of Dee, that it begins to assume any beauty; but hence, as far as at least Banchory, it amply compensates for all former wants [it has none], being rivalled by none of our rivers, while it resembles few. While the structure of the landscape is marked by its magnificence of design, it is no less distinguished by its peculiarity. It is like nothing else. Neither the Tay nor the Spey offer the least resemblance to it. Yet the Dee,' says the quizzical Doctor, 'is unknown, except to the citizens of Aberdeen, who come here,' says he, 'to wash off the rust of the counter and the smoke of the shop.' Having spoken thus generally, the Doctor adverts to particularities. Of Braemar he says, 'Before reaching Castletown from the west, the valley presents many splendid landscapes. Whatever of richness the Straths formerly described (viz., the Straths of the Spey, the Tay, the Teith, the Forth, the Tummel, the Lyon, the Tilt, etc. etc.) may show, no,one of them displays anywhere that wildly alpine boundary, at once distant and lofty, which characterises the vale
scenery of the Dee. The river also winding through green meadows is everywhere skirted oy trees of various kinds which, whether solitary or in groups, cover the plain. As they rise from the steep acclivities of the hills, the oak and the ash give way to birch and fir, which continue upward to the very limit of vegetation in all the wildness of nature, succeeded by precipices and rocks, where a few stragglers are still seen adding ornament to their gray faces and deep hollows, and lightening the outline of the sky.' Invercauld he speaks of in terms of great rapture. 'At Invercauld the views are exceedingly fine. Among many which might be named, those on which Lochnagar on the one hand, and Beny-Bourd on the other, form the extreme distances, are perhaps the most striking. Finer mountain outlines cannot be imagined than those in which the former hill is implicated; so graceful in its pyramidal shape, and so beautifully contrasted and varied are all the lines and forms of the mountains out of which it rises king of all, while they seem to cluster round it as the monarch of all the surrounding country. In the middle ground are the rich valley and the windings of the Dee ; its dark fir woods sweeping along the sides of the hills, while the rocks and torrents and precipices and trees that surround us on all hands, vary the landscape till we are almost weary of pursuing it At one point, where the two-arched bridge of Dee becomes a main feature in the middle ground, the pictures are peculiarly complete and fine.' The Doctor proceeds to say that 'Abergeldie is peculiarly interesting, as are the vale and hill of Ballater. Aboyne yields to few places in the Highlands for magnificence and splendour.' In supplement to the Doctor's evidence we might call in the testimony of Lord Byron. The impressions which the highlands of Mar left on his wayward mind were singularly strong and never obliterated. Wherever he wandered his heart was in the Highlands. 'In Albania,' he says, 'the Albanese struck me forcibly by their resemblance to the Highlanders of Scotland; their dialect and their hardy habits all carried me back to Morven.' Elsewhere he says to the same effect, on the plain of Troy Ida only reminded him of Culbleen and Lochnagar. Hear James Hogg upon Glen Avon. 'There are many scenes among the Grampian deserts which amaze the traveller who ventures to explore them ; and in the most pathless wastes the most striking landscapes are often concealed. Glen Avon exceeds them all in what may be termed stern and sullen grandeur. It is indeed a sublime solitude, in which the principal feature is deformity; yet that deformity is mixed with lines of wild beauty, such as an extensive lake with its islets and bays, the straggling trees and the spots of shaded green, and altogether it is such a scene as man has rarely looked upon. I spent a summer day in visiting it. The hills x were clear of mist, yet the heavens were extremely dark—the effect upon the scene exceeded all description. My miud, during the whole day, experienced the same sort of sensation as if I had been in a dream, and on returning from the excursion, I did not wonder at the superstition of the neighbouring inhabitants, who believe it to be the summer haunt of innumerable tribes of fairies and many other spirits, some of whom seem to be the most fantastic, and to behave in the most eccentric manner of any I ever heard of. Though the glen is upwards of 20 miles in length, and of prodigious extent, it contains no human habitation. It lies in the west corner of Banffshire, in the very middle of the Grampiau Hills.' From the many articles, both in prose and verse, in which Christopher North has expressed his admiration of the Dee, take the following:—
u ' Hail to thy waters! softly flowing Dee!
And this farewell to Braemar.
Where the birthplace and home of the
tempest is found; Farewell ye red torrents all foaming and
Farewell to your dreamy and desolate sound.
Tho' o'er flood, field, and mountain my
wanderings be wide, Back, still back, to Braemar faithful fancy
And the beauty of Kelvin—the grandeur of Clyde,
Shall but deepen my sigh for the banks of the Dee.'
And that other glorious song beginning,
"' Look, oh look, from the bower !—'tis the
beautiful hour, When the sunbeams are broad ere they
sink in the sea; Look, oh look, from the bower!—for an
amethyst shower, Of glory and grandeur is gemming the
"We think everybody must be by this time satisfied that the Dee is the first of all Scottish rivers, and that the Deeside Highlands are the finest of all the Highlands. If there be any yet sceptical, here are Pennant, Cordiner, Sutherland, Taylor, Mrs. Grant, Robson, Skene Keith, Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, and a whole string of et ceteras, not to mention tourists and gazetteers without number, from all of whom we could go on quoting to the last page of our number. Sed ohe jam satis. Another point, moreover, upon which we suppose everybody has now made up his mind, is that the Deeside hills are the highest in Britain—that Ben Nevis is several feet lower than Ben Mac-Dhui, and that Cairngorm, Benna-Bourd, Ben Avon, and Braeriach outtop Ben Lomond, Ben Arthur, Sehihallion, and Snowdon by the head and shoulders. This is a mere matter of figures and admits of easy probation, and so referring the reader to the table of heights and mountains in the Trigonometrical Survey, we leave it."
Proceeding now to an examination of the line, the first station we come to is
2 miles from Aberdeen.
Ruthrieston is still in the suburbs of Aberdeen. Down below is the bridge over the Dee of seven arches, begun by Bishop Elphinstone about the year 1500, and finished by his successor Bishop Gavin Dunbar. Directly south from the station and on the opposite side of the river is Banchory House, where, on the occasion of the visit of the British Association to Aberdeen in 1859, John Thomson, Esq., the then owner, received Prince Albert. A fine residence and a beautiful spot, it is now the property of John Stewart, Esq.
This was the scene in 1589 of the rebellion of one of James VI.'s turbulent nobles, and half a century later (1639) Montrose rested here before he entered Aberdeen and gave it up to plunder. Near it was once the castle of Pitfoddels, on the.brink of the river, of which no remains now exist. On this property many neat villas have been lately built, such as Morkeu, Woodbank, Wellwood, Balnergarth, Norwood Hall, Drumgarth, Inchgarth, etc.
2 miles from Ruthrieston.
Around this station a village of suburban residences is springing up. A foot-bridge across the Dee at this point, leading to Banchory-Devenick, was built by Dr. Morrison, a late minister of the parish, who also left a stun of money to keep it in repair. Near Cults House (late G. Sherra Gibb, Esq.) are three cairns of considerable size. Not far from them, in the centre of a stone circle of some 18 feet diameter, were found two stone coffins containing bones.
1$ miles from Cults.
Between these two stations we see on the opposite side of the river Ardo (A. M. Ogston, Esq.),; Heathcot, a hydropathic establishment; Shannaburn (John Reid, Esq.), and next to it the Roman Catholic College of Blairs. It was endowed by the late Mr. Menzies of Pitfoddels, and was opened in 1829. It contains a valuable library, and remarkable portraits of Queen Mary and Cardinal Beaton. On this side of the river is Edgehill (John Webster, Esq., M. P.) and other residences, and Murtle
House on a prominent bluff, around the foot of which the river makes a graceful sweep. It commands a splendid view. The den of Murtle lies to the north of the station.
1 mile from Murtle.
Opposite this station, on the south bank of the river, is Kingcausie, once the property of the Irvines of Drum, and latterly that of John Irvine Boswell, Esq., now belonging to Arthur Irvine Fortescue, Esq. In the grounds is the Corbie Linn, rich in rare botanic plants. "The Corbie Den in Maryculter, which is a little picturesque rent in the rock, with a brook, a cascade, and a deep pool, is remarkable for containing Paris quadrifolia, Asperula odorata, Sanicula europsea, Epilobium angustifolium, Ranunculus auricoinus, Trollius europaeus, Pyrola minor, Mylampyrum pratense, Geranium sylvaticum, Rubus saxatilis, Brachypodium sylvaticum, Aspidium lobatum, Polypodium Dryopteris, P. Phsegopteris, Hookeria lucens, and many other plants."
1J miles from Milltimber.
Between Milltimber and Culter, and between the railway and the river, is Camphill, and to the north of the railway Culter House, which is said to have been '' built by one Sir Alexander Cumming in Queen Mary's days, a very extravagant and haughty man, and who, as report goes, had his horse shod at the Queen's marriage with silver shoes, and so lightly fastened on, that when he made the beast to caracole the shoes fell off and were picked up by the mob. The coat of arms of this haughty knight is now to be seen in the front of the house, but much defaced, and not easily to be deciphered." At the station the railway crosses the Den of Culter, a little way up which are paper mills. They are [situated in a very romantic glen. To the south and on the south side of the river is the Roman camp of Norman Dikes, held by