River Fillan

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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Fillan, a stream of Killin parish, W Perthshire, rising, at an altitude of 2980 feet, on the northern side of Benloy (3708 feet), close to the Argyllshire border. Thence it winds 11¼ miles east-north-eastward and east-south-eastward, past Dalree and Crianlarich, along a glen called from it Strathfillan, till it falls into the head of Loch Dochart, or rather expands into that loch, being thus the remotest head-stream of the river Tay. It is followed along all its lower course by the Callander and Oban railway. Within ¼ mile of its left bank, and 2¾ miles SSE of Tyndrum, stand the ruins of an Austin priory church, dedicated in 1314 to St Fillan by Robert Bruce as a thank-offering for the victory of Bannockburn. The square-shaped ' Bell of St Fillan, ' of cast bronze, with double-headed dragonesque handle, lay on a gravestone here till 1798, when it was stolen by an English traveller. In 1869 it was restored to Scotland, and now is deposited in the Edinburgh Antiquarian Museum, where also now is the quigrach or silver head of St Fillan's crozier, carried to Canada in 1818, and returned by its hereditary keeper, Mr Alex. Dewar, to Scotland in 1877. This bell used to be rung during that curious superstitious rite- a kind of forerunner of the Spiritualists' rope-trick-according to which lunatics were brought to the neighbouring ' Holy Pool of Fillan,' and plunged in its waters just before sunset, then bound hand and foot, and left all night in the ruins beside what was known as ' St Fillan's Tomb.' If in the morning they were found still bound, the case was abandoned as hopeless; but if the knots were untied, it.was deemed the merciful work of the saint, and the sufferers were quit for ever of their malady. Of St Fillan himself very little is known, except that he belonged to the close of the 5th century, is called an lobar (' the leper '), was a disciple of Ailbe in Emly, and in the Irish calendar is said to have been of Rath Erenn in Alban, or ' the fort of the Earn in Scotland.' Some hagiologists, however, maintain that this leprous saint of Strathearn was distinct from him of Strathfillan, whom they assign to a century later.—Ord. Sur., sh. 46, 1872.

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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