St Fillan's Mill

(Faolan's Mill, Killin Water Mill, Old Mill, Breadalbane Folklore Centre)

St Fillan's Mill, Killin
©2021 Gazetteer for Scotland

St Fillan's Mill, Killin

Located immediately to the north of the Falls of Dochart in Killin, Stirling Council Area, the current St. Fillan's Mill (or Faolan's Mill, also known as Killin Water Mill or the Old Mill) was constructed c.1840 by John Campbell, the 2nd Marquis of Breadalbane (1796 - 1862). This substantial three-storey T-plan structure is now B-listed. The building would once have incorporated an area for grain storage on the top floor, with machinery and grinding stones on the first floor, and access to a kiln for drying the grain. It represents the last of a succession of grain mills which operated here back to ancient times, the first thought to have been the work of St. Fillan himself around 750 AD. Traditionally the mill does not turn on St. Fillan's Day (20th January, or 9th January on the old Julian calendar) for fear of disaster should the Saint not be held in respect. It was described as a tweed mill in 1910 when it was taken over by the Wilson family and water-power was discontinued. This family continued to weave wool into cloth here until the 1960s and the building was then used for a time as a shop for their woollen garments.

Having fallen into disrepair in the 1970s, the building was purchased by Stirling District Council in 1988 and refurbished from 1989 in partnership with Killin Heritage Society, supported by Loch Lomond, Stirling & Trossachs Tourist Board and Forth Valley Development Agency. It opened as the Breadalbane Folklore Centre in 1994, with a Tourist Information Centre on the ground floor. The 4.9-m (16-foot) mid-breast shot mill wheel was replaced in 2008 but, suffering financial problems, the Centre closed at the end of 2011. Still owned by the local authority, it reopened in 2013 through the efforts of local volunteers and the Killin and Ardeonaig Trust, providing a focus for the community and a resource for visitors. A community space on the first floor accommodates lectures, discussion groups, storytelling and other activities.

St. Fillan's Mill is also associated with a set of healing stones that are said to have been blessed by the Saint. These comprise eight water-worn stones from the size of modest pebbles to larger cobbles. They were once kept in a niche in the wall of the mill, with a new niche created with each rebuilding of the mill. The straw on which they lie is traditionally changed every 5th of January, which corresponds to the date of Christmas Eve on the Julian Calendar.

Volunteers at the mill welcome visitors and offer advice on activities and things to see in the area, as well as discussing elements of local history. The keys to the island of Inchbuie, the burial ground of the MacNab chieftains, can be borrowed and there is a small shop. Information is available on the life of St. Fillan and the legends of Breadalbane, with information boards describing the healing stones, along with replicas of his crosier and bell.

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