Literature

Sir Walter Scott       

Sir Walter Scott’s Statue on the South Inch was erected as a token of appreciation for his setting a novel in Perth. The Statue was originally at the foot of the High Street before being moved to its current position.

Sir Walter made a series of visits to Perth and Perthshire where he derived his inspiration to write the novel “The Fair Maid of Perth”. The story is based on events involving the “Battle of the Clans”. To give the tale an air of authenticity he then nominated particular dwellings as the homes of the principal characters.

There was an old tale in Perth that when Scott’s dog Maida heard the bells of St. Johns strike midnight on Hogmanay, Sir Walter went for a drink at a public house close to the Kirk. The story had two major flaws, one the pub would have been closed, due to the licencing laws at that time and secondly stone dogs are notoriously hard of hearing. Maida went missing in 2016 (when it turned out that she had just gone for repairs) and again in 2020 (presumed to be theft). Police have so far failed to recapture her.

The Battle of the Clans

The staging of the battle of the clans in 1396 on the North Inch was an attempt by King Robert III t to find a solution to a long running feud between Clan Chatton and Clan Kay.

Thirty warriors from each clan were to do battle to resolve the dispute.

One of Clan Chattan’s men fled before the battle began and Hal O The Wynd was drafted in to even up the numbers. Clan Chattan were victorious in no small part due to the efforts of Hal O the Wynd.

Probably better than having entire clans doing battle but still pretty sickening.

Fair Maid’s House

The house was chosen by Sir Walter Scott as the home of Catherine Glover, the heroine in “The Fair Maid of Perth”. Scott had been shown round the oldest parts of Perth in his search for an authentic setting for his novel. In a similar fashion to his choice of the Hal O The Wynd house the story pre-dates the buildings.

As reported on the nearby information board, parts of the structure are medieval although the building has been renovated on at least two occasions. It now stands on North Port behind Perth Concert Hall.

Hal O the Wynd House

The naming of this building is entirely due to Sir Walter Scott. He named the house in Mill Wynd on a visit to Perth to find material to provide an apparently authentic background for his novel ”Fair Maid of Perth”.

The building dates from 1774, so clearly did not exist in the time of Hal O the Wynd. It was originally used as a warehouse and factory. (Hunter, T., Perth Weavers and Weavers, 1936, p91 & p48)

Scott similarly attributed the Fair Maid’s House to the Glover Family

The legendary figure of Hal O The Wynd, whose actual name was believed to be Henry Wynd, or as the Highlanders called him “Gow Chrom” meaning the “bandy-legged smith, was said to have taken part in the Battle of the Clans in 1396. (Sir Walter Scott, Rob Roy, Penguin 1995 f.note P315)

Hal O The Wynd was a powerful local blacksmith/armourer who was drafted into the  army of Clan Chattan when one of their number absconded. He is said to have made a major contribution to the victory of Clan Chattan.  (Marshall T. H., The History of Perth: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time, 1849 pp33-34)

Bowerswell House

Bowerswell was the home of the Gray family whose daughter Effie Gray was married initially to John Ruskin, the influential art critic. Following her divorce, she married the pre-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millias.

There are reproductions of some of Ruskin’s paintings with explanatory text in the dining room which is occasionally open to the public on Doors Open Days.

Kinnoull Church Graveyard

The headstone for George Gray Millias, the son of Sir John Everett Millias Bart. P.R.A. and his wife Effie Chalmers Gray is situated within this graveyard.

Effie Gray is also recorded on the headstone. She was the first wife of John Ruskin.

The graveyard also contains a number of old gravestones showing various crafts and occupations. There is a particularly large stone depicting a Ferryman, signifying his importance to the city.

Ruskin House

There is a plaque in Rose Terrace recording the home of Mrs. Richardson, an aunt of John Ruskin, the influential art critic.Ruskin describes spending  boyhood holidays in Perth. (Praeterita,1885-1889, Ruskin. J. pp53-60. Rupert Hart-Davies, London, 1949)

There was a further house he visited on the east side of the river. No plaque found as yet.

John Buchan House

Born in Perth where his father was a minister John Buchan became an author, best known for his novels “The Thirty-Nine Steps” and “Greenmantle”.

He was member of Parliament for the Combined Scottish Universities. Later he was created Lord Tweedsmuir when appointed Governor  General of Canada.

John Buchan At Perth  Railway Station  

John Buchan is remembered in two identical plaques created by Kenny Munro. There is also a bust of John Buchan.

Soutar House

William Soutar was a well-known and respected Scottish poet. He suffered from chronic inflammatory arthritis from the age of 26. He became bed-ridden from that point until his death from tuberculosis in 1943.

He is particularly remembered for a series of poems, or epigrams as he called them, written in the Scots dialect.

He is closely associated with the works of Hugh MacDiarmid.