Parish of Fortingall

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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1791-99: Fortingal
1834-45: Fortingal

Fortingall, a hamlet and a large highland parish of Athole and Breadalbane districts, NW Perthshire. The hamlet stands, 400 feet above sea-level, 3 furlongs N of the left bank of the Lyon, 15/8. mile N of the lower waters of Loch Tay, and 8 miles W by S of Aberfeldy, under which it has a post office. Here is a good hotel; and fairs are held here on 9 Aug. o.s., and 6 and 7 Dec. The parish contains also Kinloch Rannoch village, 18 miles NNW of Fortingall by road, but only 8¾ as the crow flies, and Innerwick hamlet, 10¼ miles W; and it comprises two detached portions. The main body is bounded NE by Blair Athole, E by Dull, S by Kenmore and detached sections of Weem, Kenmore, and Killin, W by Glenorchy and Lismore in Argyllshire, NW and N by Kilmonivaig and Laggan in Inverness-shire. Its utmost length, from E to W, is 20¼ miles; its utmost breadth, from N to S, is 20¼ miles; and its area is 185,551 acres. The Bolfracks or eastern detached portion, lying 1 mile W by S of Aberfeldy, and measuring 43/8. by 1½ miles, is bounded N for 1 mile by the Tay, and on all other sides by detached sections of Logierait, Dul, and Weem. The larger south-western detached portion, containing Loch Lyon, has an utmost length and breadth of 7¼ and 63/8. miles, and is bounded E and SE by sections of Weem and Kenmore, on all other sides by Glenorchy parish in Argyllshire. The area of the whole is 204,3461/3. acres, or 319 square miles, of which 18,795¼ acres belong to the detached portions, and 76631/3. are water. In the south-western detached portion the river Lyon rises close to the Argyllshire border at 2400 feet above sea-level, and runs 4 miles northward to Loch Lyon (1¾ x ¼ mile; 1100 feet), below which it here has an east-bynortherly course of 2½ miles along the Kenmore and Weem border. Through Weem it continues 1 mile eastward, and then, entering the main body of Fortingall, winds 25¼ miles east-north-eastward and east-bynorthward, chiefly through the southern interior, but at three points tracing the southern boundary, till at length, where the Keltney joins it, and 1½ mile above its own confluence with the Tay, it passes off to Dull. Thus Fortingall claims all but 2½ miles of its entire course (36 miles), during which its chief affluent is Keltney Burn, rising at 2700 feet upon Carn Mairg, and hurrying 53/8. miles east-by-northward through the interior, then 3½ south-south-eastward along the boundary with Dull. Loch Laidon or Lydoch (5¼ miles x ½ mile; 924 feet), on desolate Rannoch Muir, belongs partly to Glenorchy, but mainly to Fortingall; from it the Gauir winds 7 miles eastward to the head of Loch Rannoch (93/8. miles x 5½ to 9 furl.; 668 feet). The river Tummel, issuing from the foot of Loch Rannoch, has here an eastward course of 61/8. miles, 33/8. thereof marking the southern boundary of the Lochgarry section of Logierait; and to Loch Rannoch, towards its head, the Ericht runs 55/8. miles south-south-eastward out of Loch Ericht (1153 feet), whose lower 7 miles are partly in Laggan but chiefly in Fortingall. Such, broadly, are the drainage features of this parish, which, lying all within the basin of the Tay, at the very heart of the Grampians, offers rich variety of highland landscape- soft valley and rugged glen, jagged ridge and soaring summit, with, westwards, mile on mile of moorland plateau. Along the Tummel the surface sinks to 600, along the Lyon to 350, feet above sea-level; and from E to W, the principal heights to the N of the Tummel, Loch Rannoch, the Gauir, and Loch Laidon, are Ben Mholach (2758 feet), Stob an Aonaich Mhoir (2805), *Ben Chumhann (2692), Ben Pharlagain (2836), *Sgur Gaibhre (3128), *Carn Dearg (3084), and *Cruach (2420); between Loch Rannoch and the Lyon, Meall Daill (2858), *Ben Creachan (3540), *Ben Achallader (3399), Ben Vannoch (3125), *Ben-aChaisteil (2897), *Creag Mhor (3305), and *Ben Heasgarnich (3530); in the eastern or Bolfracks section, *Craig Hill (845), Meall Mor (1626), and Meall Dun Dhomhnuill (2061). The Moor of Rannoch lies, in large measure, upon granite; elsewhere the rocks are principally quartzose, of Silurian age. Clay slate, of fissile character, appears in a hill above Fortingall hamlet and on the eastern side of Schiehallion. Good limestone is plentiful in the E; and several veins of marble, of varied hues occur in different parts. Rock crystals, spars, and pebbles of great variety and brilliancy are often found among the mountains; and a vein of lead ore in Glenlyon, seemingly of considerable richness, was worked for some time about the beginning of last century. The soil of the level strips along the vales is generally gravelly and dry; on the skirts and lower slopes of the hills, though cold, yields good enough pasturage; and on the higher acclivities is for the most part bleak and barren moor. Very little of the land is arable, an enormous proportion being either sheep-walk, grouse-moor, or deer-forest. Still, great improvements have been made within this century in the reclamation and enclosing of land, and in farmbuildings. Chief antiquities are an ancient Caledonian stone circle, near the parish church; a Roman camp between the hamlet and the Lyon, by Skene regarded as an outpost of the Emperor Severus beyond the Tay (208 a. d.); traces of fourteen wide circular forts; and the striking ruin of Garth Castle. This is separately noticed, as also are the chief mansions-Glenlyon House, Garth House, and Chestlill, near Fortingall hamlet; Meggernie Castle, above Innerwick; Rannoch Lodge, Finnart Lodge, and Croiscrag, at or towards the head of Loch Rannock; Dalchosnie, Dun Alastair, and Innerhadden, near Kinloch Rannoch; and Bol fracks, in the eastern detached portion. Thirteen proprietors hold each an annual value of more, and two of less, than £500. In the presbytery of Weem and synod of Perth and Stirling, this parish is ecclesiastically divided into Fortingall proper, Innerwick or Glenlyon, and Kinloch Rannoch-the first a living worth £207. Its church, at Fortingall hamlet, is a venerable building, containing 376 sittings; and in the churchyard, protected by iron rails, is the shattered torso of the famous yew-tree, supposed to be fully 3000 years old-' probably the oldest authentic specimen of vegetation in Europe.' In Pennant's day (1772) it measured no less than 56 feet in girth, but now there are only two fragments of the shell. These still put forth branches and leaves, and outside the enclosure is a vigorous scion, 36 feet high, and fully 150 years old. A Free church stands on the same bank of the Lyon, ½ mile E of the hamlet; and a new public school, with accommodation for 100 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 57, and a grant of £67. Other churches and schools are noticed under Glenlyon and Kinloch Rannoch. Valuation (1866) £17, 651, 14s. 1d., (1882) £21, 263, 14s. 2d. Pop. of civil parish (1801) 3875, (1831) 3067, (1861) 2181, (1871) 1766, (1881) 1690, of whom 1398 were Gaelic-speaking; of ecclesiastical parish (1871) 700, (1881) 616; of registration district (1881) 568.—Ord. Sur., shs. 55, 54, 46, 47, 1869-73.

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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