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Roman Bridge
Ploughing Teams, Drummondhall
Birnam Hill: P McLennan
Lingering Autumn: Millais
Murthly Falls: Paul McLennan
Murthly Crossroads
Station Road
Peacock Cottage, Gellyburn

Murthly History Group

The story so far . . .

There is a want of a written, illustrated history of Murthly.

Murthly has no published record, barring a pamphlet produced by enterprising pupils at Ardoch primary schoool to mark the Millennium. They drew upon an earlier, unpublished manuscript written by Mrs Anne Wilks in the early 1960s. It was finding a dog-eared, coffee-stained samizdat copy, barely 30 pages long, that set the ball rolling, prompting formation of Murthly History Group. Another very helpful piece of early research was the folder, mainly on the Asylum and Druids Park, assembled by the late Stanley Trelease.  Leslie Fraser of West Stormont Historical Society was also generous with time, advice and access to his files.

And yet . . . Such characters . . . Such stories . . .

Of mysterious Picts and a forgotten religious settlement that might have been the original Murthly — Mor-tullach:  tenant farmers struggling to tame the Muir of Thorn:  the laird’s son who became a Jesuit and, some say, converted a Protestant queen:  the ruthless way in which the Stewarts acquired the castle:  the Hospital — a laird's bequestthe Jacobite laird whose B&B cost £10,000:  weavers and cottars turned off the land to make way for bonny trees:  the laird who imported American bison for his Buffalo Park, and antelope for his Deer Chase:  his artist who painted the Wild West from a studio in Rohallion Lodgethe mysterious Indiansan ambitious widow who married a younger man and managed three farmsthe Waterloo veteransan early winner of the Victoria Cross:  the couple who lost three sons in the Great War:  the family descended from a survivor of the Glencoe massacre:  the dwarf who rode a white mule:  the giant who eloped with an heiress from the castle:  a Roman arch — and dance hall — deep in the woods:  Millais' favourite landscapes:  the lunatic asylum that was the social heart of the village:  the wife who ran a shebeen while her husband was off to war:  the emigrant who found gold:  a minister’s sectarian blackmail:  unchancy fires for people loaded with debt:  secret bomb dumps of WW2:  the mysteriously incomplete stone circle.

A parish just hoaching wi' stories . . . 

(Hoaching — Scottish local historians jargon. Sorry.)

Fur trappers and Indians in the Old West The Greeting by Alfred Jacob Miller. Featuring Capt. William Stewart in the Rockies with the Mountain Men.

Cataloguing an archive . . .

To pick up a metaphor from the Murthly man who emigrated to farm in South Africa, and struck gold with his plough. He had easy wins in the beginning, speculated there was a mother lode deeper down, but only dogged persistence proved him right. So too with researching Murthly’s history. Easily productive at first, gleaning from old books and newspapers. Interesting tales but second-hand, error strewn; gossip rather than history. 

 There was a richer seam, however. Over 60 packing cases in a room in the castle, crammed with documents, letters, leases and ledgers, maps and plans. But from four Stewart estates: Airntully, Murthly, Strathbraan and Grandtully. And all jumbled up without a hint of sequence or chronology. As if filled with the removal van on a double yellow line . . . and a warden hovering. 

maps and documents Interim stage in cataloguing the archive

Proof of concept . . .

It has taken time but the Murthly and Strathbraan material is now catalogued and shelved. A working archive: let the research begin.

Proof of concept, as it were, can be seen in the blog, “Parsing a Postcard”, where archive material combined with research in other places (all listed in Sources) brought out the rich story behind an enigmatic early 20th century postcard. 

horses and carriages lined up at Murthly Inn Promoting horse and carriage hire from Murthly Inn
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