The Stone of Witchcraft
Old Ruins on Pitcastle
A Place Steeped in Scottish Lore...
No one can be absolutely certain when the first dwelling place was built on the site now known as Pitcastle, however because of the excellent position on the hill overlooking the entire Strathtay valley, it is a perfect lookout site. We believe that there was a house of some sort here in the early 1700’s, if not before.
We assume the land was held by the Crown at some point around 1800 and that it belonged to the Campbells of Glenlyon (a predecessor being Captain Robert Campbell of the Glencoe Massacre). Maps of 1783 and 1862 then describe the present site of the Mansion house as “Croft of Pitcastle”, a large farming complex. Furthermore, what is now Dunros (off the main drive) was another farm, “Mains of Pitcastle”. In the latter part of the 1800’s, the Estate was acquired by Guthrie Lornie of Birnam, who reconstructed the house in “Scotch Baronial” style.
In 1919, the estate was bought by John N. Kyd, (on retiring from his jute interest in Dundee) who further improved the estate with running water and electric light by a hydro-electric scheme, to all the house. He also built additional houses and the two High Lochs in part to provide work during The Depression. He was a noted collector of clocks and Scottish paintings. Of his paintings, a number passed into the Burrell Collection, and some of the MacTaggart Seascapes in the National Gallery in Edinburgh once hung at Pitcastle. The Estate remained with the Kyd family until 1989.
Some intriguing features and facts on the estate include:
- The Stone of Witchcraft (Clach-na-Buidseachd) above Middleton. The cup-marked stone is Neolithic in origin and was used for unsavory practices in the ancient past. Anyone who touches the stone brings on the “evil curse”. Be warned!
- Ruins of St. Mary’s Chapel above Tullypowrie, of which only the cross-incised stone still stands - there was once a well that was reputed to cure whooping cough.
- The two Duns of Middleton and Ballenduim, once sites of Pictish forts, or “homesteads”.
- The ruins of the village of Brae of Tullypowrie which was inhabited until about 1860 when its water supplies ran dry. It consisted of about seven houses and in its heyday it is reputed that nineteen plumes of smoke were seen rising from the houses.
- Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army on the final retreat terminating at Culloden, came down the Strath from dis Amulree and Aberfeldy. Discarded weapons have been found in the area.
- Pitcastle is in the Church Parish of Logierait, where there has been a Church since 650 A.D. Logierait was also the place of Justice and there was a famous Gallows tree in the village. Rob Roy Macgregor was once held prisoner there awaiting trial, but escaped – thanks to the friends he had in time of need!