Finella Burn

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Fenella, several localities in the SW and S of Kincardineshire. Strathfenella Hill, in the western vicinity of Fordoun village, is a crescent-shaped isolated ridge 3 miles long, and 1358 feet high. Fenella Strath, to the N of the hill, is a pleasant vale traversed by Luther Water. Fenella Castle, 1 mile W of Fettercairn village, is the vestige of an ancient structure, situated on an eminence, enclosed by an inner and an outer wall, and surrounded on three sides by a morass. Fenella Den, in St Cyrus parish, is traversed by a burn running to the North Esk river, making a cascade of 65 feet in fall, and crossed by two handsome bridges, one of the 120 feet high. All these take their name from Fenella, daughter of the Mormaer of Angus, and wife of the Mormaer of the Mearns, who in 994 is said to have slain King Kenneth III. at Fenella Castle, to revenge the death of her son. 'Not only Hector Boece,' says Dr Hill Burton, 'but the older and graver chroniclers, Fordun and Wyntoun, bring out this affair in a highly theatrical shape. We are to suppose that the victim has been lured in among the avenger's toils. He was led into a tower of the castle "quhilk was theiket with copper, and hewn with mani subtle mouldry of flowers and imageries, the work so curious that it exceeded all the stuff thereof." So says the translator of Boece. In the midst of the tower stood a brazen statue of the king himself, holding in his hand a golden apple studded with gems. "That image, " said the Lady Fenella, "is set up in honour of thee, to show the world how much I honour my king. The precious apple is intended for a gift for the king, who will honour his poor subject by taking it from the hand of the image." The touching of the apple set agoing certain machinery which discharged a hurdle of arrows into the king's body. The trick is copied from some of those attributed to the Vehmic tribunals. The picturesque district between Fettercairn and the sea is alive with traditions of Fenella and her witcheries ' (Hist. Scotl., i. 339, ed. 1876).

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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