last of a long line

Yesterday, a guy-dreich mist partially lifted, and I walked from the ruins of St Lolan’s church to ‘Christ’s Well’:

An ancient pathway that the A84 Stirling-Doune road followed.

The ruins of St Lolan’s church lie just a few hundred yards north of Blair Drummond Smiddy Farm Shop.

The church of St Lolan was granted to the abbey of Cambuskenneth sometime before 1200. By the 1800s any living recall of visiting St Lolan’s for worship escaped record.

In the graveyard of St Lolan’s is the burial vault of the Muschet family. Above the doorway to this vault an armorial panel, dated 1686, has been incorporated:

It was Dr John S Muschet M.D.  [1805-1886] who incorporated this ancient armorial plate into the ruins of St Lolans.  At one time the Muschets, who were the first barons of Kincardine, ‘occupied every farm’ in Menteith.

Dr John S Muschet was said to have been ‘exceedingly proud’ of his descent. He was to be the last male descendant of the family line. It has been recorded that Dr John S Muschet was ‘somewhat irascible’ in temper, and ‘uncompromising and severe’ with those who differed from him.  This story has survived as ‘illustrative’:

He had taken a lady friend to visit the tombs of his kindred in the eld burying-ground at Kincardine-in-Menteith, and the lady, thinking it a favourable opportunity to "draw" the old gentleman as to his intentions regarding the disposal of his estate, began to moralise on the brevity of life and its uncertainty. Her hints, however, could not induce the Doctor to gratify her curiosity, so she resolved to put the question direct. " And who's to get your money, Doctor? " Sharp came the Doctor's reply, "The Devil, madam!"

Dr John Saunders Muschet died 24 the October 1886. Intestate, his property fell to the Crown as ultima haeres.

Ultimus haeres (Latin for ultimate heir) is a concept in Scots law where if a person in Scotland who dies without leaving a will  and has no blood relative who can be easily traced, the estate is claimed by the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer on behalf of the Crown.

From St Lolan’s an old iron gateway invites travellers to walk onwards:

A well worn pathway, that skirts ploughed and productive fields, leads to a doorway. This doorway opens to an ancient woodland, in the middle of which, is a hidden monument:

This obelisk was raised by Henry Home, Lord Kames of Blair Drummond:

The inscription on the obelisk is still quite legible [as recorded by Peter Herbert 2019]:


Henry Home was a central figure in the Scottish Enlightenment.

I first learned of this obelisk from Peter Herbert’s Facebook page [that Sian, my wife, had shared with me]. I have travelled the A84 Stirling-Doune road since boyhood without once noticing this obelisk: [a line can be followed].

Two shadows in conversation:

To play this short film please click here or on the image above

The pathway from the obelisk leads onwards to Blair Dummond, which has in my lifetime, become a ‘Safari and Adventure Park’.

Short of reaching Blair Drummond, hidden in a wooden dell, is what may, or may not be, ‘Christ’s Well‘:

Footnote: A letter from my grandfather to his son John:

Bridge of Allan.

18th March 1970

My dear John,
It seems an age since I heard from you and we were all so pleased when Margaret got a picture-postcard from you – you certainly had a lot of ports of call, it must be quite wearing.

I was in Edinburgh yesterday and all were well. Peter had a bit of a cold, but was as wild as ever – he is a wild wee rogue – I have got a feeling Robert will be more mature, but I dare not say that to the Gordons!! Margaret is a wonderful mother, and she can keep them in order without much effort.

Your house is coming along slowly and is going to be quite a place when finished – I took along a decanter which belonged to my Grandfather McEwan, and which will be over a hundred years old, it is very nice and I am sure you will like it. I have taken quite a few things which were for you.

Dr Welsh is the only visitor we ever get, even the Minister has not been since before Christmas, he has been twice but was told I was out and not asked in – not that I enjoy his company – but a little kindness can be shown when he does call.

I see Blair Drummond has got the go ahead to make a Game Park and will open this summer – it will be quite an attraction and Lord Doune is having a veteran car Museum at Doune Lodge.

I do hope you are feeling fit and well. I hear you have been in touch with the Moffats from time to time. This is the big Rugby International at Murrayfield on Saturday – I think Scotland may win this game, but I would have liked to see Brian Summer in the team again, he can read a game and dictate the play as no one else can. I think Sharp (ex Dollar) now Edinburgh University will be in the running next season.

I enclose Helen’s letter which will interest you. Write soon and let me know how things go with you.

Fondest love,

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