Observations on the County or Sheriffdom of Perth 1783 …….

One if the most interesting early maps of this area is James Stobie’s Map of Perthshire and Clackmannan of 1783. The scale of an inch to the mile is sufficiently detailed to show individual parish boundaries, farm names, roads etc.

If you zoom into the Loch Tay area, you can see the 11 crofts that together made up Fernan (as it was then), from Lagfern (towards Lawers in the west), through Tommantymore, Ballemeanoch, Ballinarn, Corrycherrow, Tyanloan, Boreland, Croftinaloin and Stronfearn, to Kinyellans in the east (near Duneaves).

A contemporary survey (1769) of the Breadalbane Estates lying on the north and south sides of Loch Tay provides some details of these crofts. In places the survey refers to the crofts as farms, but it also refers to them as the ‘ towns of Fernan’ which gives an indication of their likely size, some housing several generations of different families.

Going back to James Stobie’s map, he includes some ‘Observations’ about the different areas in the County of Perth at that time – mainly geographical and economic – but he becomes quite poetic when describing the area we now know as Highland Perthshire.

“The Highland Country, viewed from an eminence, appears a wild and barren Tract, swelled with almost inaccefsible Mountains, but these are only to conceal from view those populous, beautiful and romantic Vallies which lye betwixt them, decorated with the Seats of their Proprietors. The Air is pure & wholesome, so that Agues are seldom known & the inhabitants live to a great age.

The County abounds with Game, as Black game, Grous, Ptarmigan, Partridges, Snipes, Plovers, Woodcocks, Roebucks, Stags, Hares, Rabbits, &c. Eagles, Kites, Hawks, Foxes, Badgers and Otters are also numerous. In the Lakes and Rivers are Pikes, Pearch, Eels, Salmon and Trout and Pearl Mufsels.”

James Stobie 1783

We can count ourselves lucky that this very Eden that he describes is still so recognisable today, nearly 240 years later.

Back to Work

Slowly, slowly, we’ve eased out of Lockdown and are now slipping into Autumn.  As restrictions have eased, those who were on furlough have been able to restart their jobs.

The Scottish Crannog Centre re-opened at the beginning of August, with safety precautions for staff and visitors alike, which meant that Graham and Jason and the rest of the Crannog team could get back to work, masks and all.  And they look pretty happy about it………

Graham commented: “It has been great to get back to work albeit with the challenges faced by working during a pandemic. The Crannog has been praised by many people as being the most Covid-aware place they have been to. Wearing masks on Crannog tours is interesting as you cannot really gauge people’s reactions, but the feedback so far has been incredible.

There is a comparison to be made between then and now in that, every winter, the people of the Crannog would go into a lockdown protecting themselves from the threats of predators and the ravages of winter – as opposed to staying at home watching Netflix and rearranging cupboards.”

The Crannog has taken on 5 Apprentices, and over the next year they will be working towards a Scottish Vocational Qualification while learning all about life on a crannog. 

Apprentice Izzie learns the skill of drop spinning from Jason.

For some it was back to work, for others it was back to volunteering, and when a touch of the USA – in the form of the Drive-in-Movies – came to Wades Park in Aberfeldy, Peter was able to resume his duties as a cinema steward – except this time he was stewarding cars into their spaces – and sanitising, sanitising, sanitising everything, including the loos.

A big perk for the volunteer stewards is that they get to watch the film, in between carrying out their duties.  However, Peter quickly discovered that at the drive-in, the soundtrack is relayed through car radios – so if you’re on duty (ie not in a car) then you are effectively watching a silent movie. 

Happily, an old transistor radio was produced by one of the other stewards and quickly tuned to the right wavelength.  Not exactly Dolby sound, but better than trying to lip read for 90 minutes.

Book Club

Linda writes:

The book reviewed in July was Conclave by Robert Harris. Previously, many of the group had not read any books by this author and some also had thought that the subject wouldn’t appeal. However, the general consensus was that it was impressively well researched, informative, enjoyable and an engaging-a page turner!  

Initially some found it confusing, with so many characters and so much description, but as the main characters developed it was easier to follow. Behind the locked doors of the Sistine chapel we followed 72 hours of mounting tension as the election of a new pope was revealed.

It took us into the process of papal elections beyond the familiar indications of black or white smoke and enlightened us as to how the Conclave operates. There were similarities with political elections, in that there were rival factions supporting various papal candidates. The strategies employed by potential candidates before and during the conclave was reminiscent of the Whips Office in the House of Commons. There was intrigue, mounting tension, underhand plotting and ambitious manoeuvring. The digging up of past misdemeanours by the front runners shows how the past can catch up with you.

At a face to face book club session, this book would have probably lead our group discussion down numerous paths as there were lots of issues to explore. 
Many didn’t see the final twists coming although some of the clues were clearly there. Apart from being a great story, the reader gains some real insights into the Vatican and the workings of the Conclave. 

Here are some more reading and watching suggestions from book club members:


On the same theme as our August book are two films about the Catholic church: 

  • The Two Popes with Anthony Hopkins and Jonathon Pryce Netflix 2019.
  • Spotlight 2015, named after the Boston Globe’s investigative journalist team uncovering child abuse committed by 83 RC parish priests in the Boston area.


  • My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.
  • The Silent Sleep by Robert Graves
  • Circe by Madeline Miller. A modern reimagining of the witch from The Odyssey into a fascinating heroine who won’t be bossed about. Very readable. 
  • Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner. The fascinating autobiography of a lost world. The long-suffering widow of Colin Tennant( of Mustique fame). She was lady -in -waiting  and friend to Princess Margaret. A very resilient woman! 
  • Tall Tales and Wee Stories by Billy Connolly. Full of his stage routines, and his ‘wee stories’. If you like him (and are not bothered by his colourful language! ) you will enjoy this book. 

In August, we will review Becoming by Michelle Obama described as “An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.’

Guest Blog – Perth & Kinross Remembers.

Perth & Kinross Remembers has been set up to preserve the First World War memorial work undertaken by local community groups and individuals during the commemorative period (2014-2018) and make the work accessible for future generations by creating a Legacy Collection.

A few weeks ago, the FVA provided the Perth & Kinross Remembers project with copies of the information and pictures we gathered together whilst researching the 8 men named on Fearnan’s War Memorial. We also provided information about our Poppy Project that resulted in over 900 knitted by the Fearnan community both at home and abroad.

Glasgow Tramways Battalion. Duncan Mathieson of Fearnan is 3rd from left, back row.
Picture Courtesy of Marilyn Ward

As a result, we were asked to write a Guest Blog for their site, and this appeared in August. You can read it here: https://www.culturepk.org.uk/archive-local-family-history/projects/perth-and-kinross-remembers/blog/remembering-fearnans-fallen/

Beware of the ASDA Scam

ASDA is used by quite a few people in our area, so be warned that there is another fraudulent promotion on social media that has been reported this week – this time, women born in October are being offered a ‘free ASDA gift card worth £1,000 if they complete a survey on Facebook. Clicking on the link leads to a fake ASDA website which asks for personal and banking details.

ASDA have confirmed that the promotion is not genuine.

Neighbourhood Watch Scotland offer the following advice:

  • Be wary of surveys or competitions on social media which ask for personal details – think carefully about what information you are putting online. You don’t know who is accessing the information you enter and what they could use it for;
  • Read the terms and conditions before entering any competition – many fraudulent prize draws or offers do not list basic terms and conditions such as deadline dates or details on how winners will be selected; 
  • Check the spelling and grammar in the post. Fake surveys/competitions often contain small mistakes and unusual wording;
  • Before taking part in a survey/competition which is supposedly being run by a well known company or big brand, look at their official website or social media channels to see if it is genuine.

Report scams to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000. If you have been the victim of fraud, report it to Police Scotland on 101.

Anti-Social Behaviour

After Lockdown started to ease, Loch Tay became a ‘hot spot’ for dirty camping – the inconsiderate and, some might say, uncivilised cousin of wild camping.  Instead of respecting the countryside, dirty campers not only make a complete mess of the site they have chosen to spend the night in, they leave behind anything they can’t be bothered packing up – tents, chairs, lilos, empty bottles and cans, food packaging and other rubbish and waste, including human waste.  All left for somebody else to clear up. (Thank you, Stuart!).

As a result, there has been extra police activity in the area and over busy periods, such as weekends, joint visits have been co-ordinated by Scottish Fire and Rescue staff, Countryside Rangers and Community Wardens.  If communities have further information to assist, they are asked by these services to contact the Council’s Safer Communities Team on SCT@pkc.gov.uk

There are also other forms of anti-social behaviour by noisy groups who fail to respect the tranquil nature of the village and the right of residents and other holiday visitors to enjoy that tranquillity. If there are problems with unreasonable noise or trespass, the police have asked us to feed back concerns as they happen, by phoning 101 so that they can attend at the time of the complaint.

We know that people are often reluctant to complain, but if we don’t complain, we can’t get things put right. Another way to register inappropriate or anti-social behaviour is by using the police service’s Contact Us email at https://www.scotland.police.uk/secureforms/contact/ 

If the problem is emanating from Boreland, the Duty Manager’s number is 07368 414455 although you may just have to leave a message.

Bloomin’ Marvellous!

Let’s finish on a happy note!  Going back to that wonderful description of the landscape around us from 240 years ago at the beginning of this Blog, here’s an up-to-date representation of it through these a-ma-zing pics of the heather on the hills and moorlands around us, shared by Peter.

Copyrights. Unless otherwise stated, the copyright of each image on this blog is owned by the person who took or made the image. The copyright of all text is held in each instance by the person who wrote it.

About Fearnan Village Association

Fearnan Village Association was formed in 2007 to provide a means through which those who live in the village can come together to discuss and respond to issues of importance to the village, particularly those that will have an impact on our quality of life. We also organise social events, such as the very popular Pudding Night in February, Strawberry TeaZ in July, and other events and coffee mornings throughout the year.
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1 Response to Observations on the County or Sheriffdom of Perth 1783 …….

  1. micaih says:

    Beautiful pictures.Many thanks

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