now part of Tayside Region, is by any standards one of the truly
great old counties of Scotland. In size it was the fourth largest
of the old counties in Scotland, comprising 1,595,804 acres. But
size is not everything; and despite having no extremely large city,
it has a much larger population than the other Scots counties which
top it in size, Inverness, Argyll and Ross and Cromarty. Yet it
has no industrial area, apart from the town of Perth itself. It
has its great mountain tracts, of course, including some of the
most famous scenery in the United Kingdom; but there is an enormous
amount of fertile, populous countryside, far more, probably, than
is generally realised, its great green straits, or wide open valleys,
its especial pride. Contrary, therefore, to frequent pronouncements,
the true glory of Perthshire is not its hills and lochs, however
fine, for in these it can be excelled by Argyll and Inverness-shire,
Ross or perhaps Sutherland; it is in its magnificent, age-old settled
lowlands, its characterful small towns and its unnumbered villages.
Especially the latter. Here are, probably, more ancient and interesting
small communities than anywhere else in Scotland. And these communities
are unfortunately generally bypassed by the typical traveler.
Basically, Perthshire is the basin and catchment area of the great
River Tay; although the south-west section, or Menteith (more properly
Monteith) as its name suggests, is the mounth of the Teith, principal
tributary of the Forth. But in the main, Perthshire's innumerable
and often splendid rivers reach the sea via the silver Tay. The
county has another basic feature--the great Highland Fault, which
runs across Scotland from the Gareloch to the Tay, most of it in
Perthshire. This, because in general it marks the division between
Highlands and Lowlands, is important. The old county, therefore,
has a split personality.
Owing to its great size and ancient lineage, Perthshire has always
been split up into large sub-provinces, with very pronounced characteristics
and identities of their own, mainly themselves ancient earldoms,
Menteith, Atholl, Strathearn, Gowrie, Breadalbane, each with its
own subdivisions. These, all themselves mighty areas, are the very
stuff of Scotland's story, an integral and vital part of Scotland's
exciting past. Perthshire is, in fact, a historically exciting county.
Here, indeed, the past can be studied at its earliest, as far as
Scotland is concerned, better than most; for it so happened that
into Perthshire, Strathearn in especial, came the early Christian
missionaries of the Irish Celtic Church, via Iona, the Brethren
of Columba, to set up their cells and churches in these lovely valleys.
The greatest concentration of early Celtic Church sites are here;
also a large number of those quite extraordinary Pictish sculptured
stones, with their symbols, things of splendid beauty and workmanship,
full of as yet unsolved mystery, which so give the lie to the folly
that the Picts were a race of savages, painting their bodies and
going about half naked. Quite clearly these Pictish ancestors of
ours, whom the Celtic Church missionaries Christianised, were a
highly developed and artistic people, with unique culture. Perthshire
is where they can best be studied, probably.
Each town, village and parish of the county is dealt with covered
in this site as are the ancient divisions of Perthshire, including
Menteith, Strathearn, Gowrie, Atholl, and Breadalbane. Sir Walter
Scott, that fervent Borderer, yet said: "If an intelligent stranger
were asked to describe the most varied and most beautiful province
in Scotland, it is probable that he would name the County of Perth."
The present day visitor would find no fault with that statement.
you would like to visit this area independently, or as part of a
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