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One of the great things about cycling is that it gives you time to notice things that would be mere blurs when travelling by car. I am fascinated by the little pieces of history that can be found just off our highways. I hope that you will find this self-indulgent drivel interesting...


This page is dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Nan Walker, whose interest in the history of Kinross was inspirational.


Ages ago, when country folk died their bodies were buried in the consecrated of the Old Parish Church yard, which is by the loch at Kirkgate Park. Only executed criminals and "sinners" were buried in un-consecrated ground.

The coffins were carried by pall bearers and were naturally heavy, so the bearers had to take the weight off their shoulders and rest every now an then.

The Leckerstane is one of these places where the coffin rested on the weary journey to the church yard.

The stone can be found by turning off the A977 at Balado, passing the chicken farms and the "golf-ball" at RAF Balado Bridge. The stone will be on the right just before the junction.



Tucked away on the western slopes of Benarty, in Binn Wood can be found a really unusual sight. I do not remember all that much about the grave except to say that its recipient was a local farmer from Brackley and that he greatly loved Kinross-shire.
benarty grave
Benarty Grave

Burleigh castle

The castle, built in the 15th century has seen its share of misfortune. I'll quote from Nan Walkers Historical Guide to Kinross....

Robert, The 5th Lord Balfour, had a wild and tragic career. While still the young Master of Burleigh, he was sent abroad by his parents to forget a love affair with a local maiden; on his return he found her married to the schoolmaster of lnverkeithing whom he killed in a fit of jealousy. He was sentenced to prison at the High Court in Edinburgh but soon escaped by exchanging clothes with his sister. For some time he hid in an old tree near the castle (called Burleigh's hole) until he escaped to the Continent. He returned to take part in the ill-fated rising of 1715, and died leaving no heirs.

The castle ground are open to the public, a key is required to enter the buildings, there is no charge for entry.

Burleigh Castle
Burleigh Castle


Surveyors mark

Noticed this one on the road between the B9097 and Kinross, on the right after the junction for Hatchbank Road, carved onto an old stone gate post.

This is the benchmark symbol made by the Ordinance Survey surveyors in the days before GPS (Global Positioning Satellites) and aerial mapping.

The distances, angles and elevations would be measured on the ground and the information entered onto a map. The survey points would be marked with a benchmark symbol so the surveyors could use consistent points for their measurements.

These symbols can be found in all manner of places — one can be seen on the wall of the old Kinross County Buildings, opposite the Kirklands Garage. That one has an unusual lead and more precise horizontal datum mark.

gate post
benchmark symbol
The surveyors mark on the gatepost
The mark

Drinking fountains have gone out of fashion these days and it is refreshing to see an old one restored to its former glory. The restoration was part of a"Best kept village" initiative.

The drinking fountain

The Cleish Cross.

A Fragment of a stone cross was discovered near the village. The cross has been mounted on a steel frame and is displayed in the parish churchyard.

"The stone formed the centre piece of a free standing 13-14th century cross, found at Cleish in 1980 and may have had links with the Cleish chapel, which came under the care of Dunfermline Abbey in 1208."

A set of lamps on the gates to the church bears an inscription that they were switched on by the then MP for Kinross-shire, (Sir) Alec Douglas-Home (1903-1995). Followers of Modern History will realise that "old chalky" became Prime Minister in 1963 after the fall of the MacMillan Government and a life peer in 1974.(Isn't MS Encarta wonderful?)

cleish cross
The centre boss of the Celtic cross.

There is a curious inscription on the wall of the churchyard to the west of the cross. The oval stone proudly proclaims that, "All to the south of this belongs to Cleish Mill." Going by the style of the lettering I would estimate the date of this proclamation to be 18th century. I would love to know why it was necessary to have made this declaration.

The stone can be seen to the left as you enter the churchyard on the western wall.

boundary stone
The boundary stone


Dalqueich is no more than a handful of houses and yet it has this relic from WW2. This is a socket for a wartime road block which formed part of the defences of nearby RAF Balado Bridge.
dalqueich socket
Wartime road block

Gairney Bank

This next wee bit is about religion. Very few people actually stand up for what they believe in, with your job, your stipend (income), your house and your beliefs on the line. What happened in Scotland was unique, both ministers and congregations rebelled against their own church and the "God given" right of a land owner to appoint a minister of their choice

Quoting from "A Historical Guide to the County of Kinross."

"Some 3 miles south of Kinross on the B.966 road is an obelisk erected in 1883 to commemorate the formation in 1733 of the first Secession Church. Its members, who met in an inn or cottage close by, wanted to have the right to appoint their own ministers instead of having to accept the nominees of the local patrons or Lairds. Soldiers had been brought to Kinross Kirk to force the congregation to open up the church for the induction of the Patron's nominee. The Rev. Ebenezer Erskine, a famous preacher and freethinker, who had been minister at Portmoak Parish, came from Stirling to meet the protesters here at Gairneybridge, and together they formed the first Secession congregation. The Secession Movement for freedom in worship spread throughout Scotland, and by 1765 there were 120 churches with 100,000 members altogether."

A stones thrown from the monument, on the wall of a former farm building is a small plaque erected to perpetuate the memory of Michael Bruce, The Gentle Poet of Loch Leven, 1746 - 1767. Bruce, the son of a Kinnesswood weaver became a poet of note and died at an early age.
gairney monument
gairney plaque
The Gairney Bridge monument
Michael Bruce taught school here
I found this on the same wall as the Michael Bruce plaque, I have been passing this spot for years and never knew that this modern day surveyors benchmark plate was there. This type of plaque is usually found on the now defunct, white triangulation "trig" points that still dot the country side and skylines.
A "modern day" surveyors mark


In 1975, the old county of Kinross was assimilated into Tayside Region, and forever losing its identity as the second smallest county in Scotland, becoming part of a bigger embarrassment!

This is the last of the old Kinross county road signs welcoming you into the county, in this instance as you crossed the bridge from Kelty (Fife) into Keltybridge.

Kinross sp
The last County of Kinross signpost


The Old Merkit Cross

The Old Merkit (or Market) Cross used to stand in the middle of the road outside what is the town hall. The coming of the motor car necessitated it being moved and if memory serves me right, it was rediscovered in a quarry near Milnathort.

The cross was placed in Sandgate Park, beside the old A90(now the B996), Great North Road, and mounted on a plinth. The old town "jougs" hung from the cross, the iron collar fell off and only the chain remains.

Markit cross
The Old Merkit Cross

This building was was once the old tollbooth until it was improved in 1771 when Robert Adam, the famous architect and M.P. for Kinross-shire decorated the front at his own expense.
The building continued in use as a jail until 1826, when the new County Buildings were built further along the High Street.

The last Provost of Kinross was the late Mr. McBain, whose house still carries the traditional street lamp with the Kinross coat of arms painted onto he glass.

tollbooth provost McBains house
The Old Tolbooth Provost McBain's House

On the wall of the old library, (which was killed by the neglect of Tayside Region and Perth & Kinross Council,)is a plaque to a little known part of World War II. I do not know much more than the Poles were here, some of them settled in Kinross after the war.

"To the citizens of Kinross, Milnathort, Kelty in gratitude for the hospitality received by Polish Tank Training Centre, 1942 - 1948."

polish memorial
The Polish memorial
The old parish church yard is situated beside the loch at the far end of the Kirkgate Park. The Bruce family vault is situated in the grounds itself, while the Montgomery family (the current owners of Kinross House) have their burial ground on their side of the boundary wall and is not accessible to the public.
Bruce vault Castle Island
Bruce family vault The view towards Castle Island

Robert Burns-Begg,grand-nephew of the poet Robert Burns and Sherrif Clerk of Kinross-shire, born at the school house, 1st May 1833, died at the Beild Kinross, 19th August 1900.

Robert Burns-Begg was a noted local historian and general good guy about the shire. His memorial can be seen in the old churchyard, Kirkgate Park, overlooking the loch.

Burns-Begg memorial
Burns-Begg memorial

Loch Leven Castle

Mary Queen of Scots, slept here! Indeed she was imprisoned here, until she was smuggled across the loch in the dead of night.

This was probably the biggest single thing that has ever happened in the town in its entire history.

You can visit the Castle, (Easter to the end of September) by catching the ferry from the Fishery Centre. The charge for the ferry is included in the entrance fee for the castle.

Loch Leven Castle


Drinking Fountain

Been passing through the hamlet for years and I have just noticed the remains of a drinking fountain with an unusual inscription. All the plumbing has been stripped out of the fountain and flowers planted instead.

fountain detail
The Maryburgh fountain
Keep the pavement dry.... and remember to put the toilet seat down when you have finished.


You would not know it to look at it now, but there was an important railway junction here at Mawcarse. The railway lines came into Kinross from Crook of Devon and Kelty, united for a short spell and split to go to Ladybank and Perth at Mawcarse Junction.

This wartime pill box guarded the approach by road from the east, which was where the German advance was expected to come from.... the lessons of the Maginot Line were quickly forgotten!

The entrance is on the western side of the pillbox, shielded by a brick wall. There should be a concrete roof, presumably this was removed as it could have been a danger to traffic.

pill box pillbox inside
Mawcarse Pill-box The view from the pillbox looking eastwards


One name on a war memorial...

"13707000 Flight Sergeant George Thomson RAF Volunteer Reserve, 9 Squadron, Bomber Command (Deceased).

"This morning was the Wireless Operator on a Lancaster aircraft which attacked the Dortmund - Ems Canal in daylight on 1st January 1945. The bombs had just been released when a heavy shell hit the aircraft in front of the mid-upper turret. Fire broke out and dense smoke filled the fuselage. The nose of the aircraft was then hit an in rush of air, clearing the smoke, revealed a scene of utter devastation.

Most of the perspex screen of the nose compartment had been shot away, gaping holes had been torn in the canopy above the pilots head, the inter-com. wiring had been severed, and there was a large hole in the floor of the aircraft. Bedding and other equipment were badly damaged or alight; one engine on fire.

"F/S Thomson saw that the gunner in the blazing mid-upper turret was unconscious. Without hesitation he went down the fuselage into the fire and exploding ammunition. He pulled the gunner from his turret and edging his way round the hole in the floor, carried him away from the flames. With his bare hands he extinguished the gunners burning clothing. He himself sustained serious burns on his face, hands and legs.
"F/S Thomson then noticed that the rear gunners' turret was also on fire. Despite his own severe injuries he moved painfully to the rear of the fuselage where he found the rear gunner with his clothing alight overcome by fumes and flames. A second time F/S Thomson braved the flames. With great difficulty he extracted the helpless gunner and carried him clear. Again, he used his bare hands, already burnt, to beat out flames on a comrades clothing.

"F/S Thomson by now almost exhausted , felt that his duty was not yet done. He must report the fate of the crew to the captain. He made the perilous journey back through the burning fuselage, clinging to the sides with his burnt hands to get across the hole in the floor. The flow of cold air caused him intense pain and frost bite developed. So pitiful was his condition that his captain failed to recognise him.

Still his only concern was for the two gunners he had left in the rear of the aircraft. He was given such attention as was possible until a landing was made some 40 minutes later.

"When the aircraft was hit F/S Thomson might have devoted his efforts to quelling the fire and so have contributed to his own safety. He preferred to go through the fire and succour his comrades. He knew that he would then be in no position to hear or heed any order which might be given to abandon the aircraft. He hazarded his own life in order to save the lives of others. Young in years and experience, his actions were those of a veteran.

"Three weeks later F/S Thomson died of his injuries. One of the gunners unfortunately died, but the other owes his life to the superb gallantry of F/S Thomson whose single courage and self sacrifice will ever be an inspiration to the service."

NB. This information is copied from the records in the Public Record Office, Kew, London. I can not explain the difference in the spelling of his surname.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission — George Thompson VC.For Valour

Long before the advent of public water supplies the towns people drew their water from the nearest source, the people of Milnathort drew theirs from the Queich Burn, which runs through the town on its way to Loch Leven.

Tucked in beside the North Street bridge is a set of well-worn steps down to the burn providing a rare insight into this long forgotten daily ritual.

milnathort steps
The steps down to the Queich

All that is left of the Reid Memorial school, built in 1895, is the old school bell, which was mounted on a plinth following the schools' demolition. The bell can be seen to the right just off the A91, Stirling Road heading west.

school bell
School bell


These two standing stones sit in a field near Orwell Farm on the Milnathort to Kinnesswood Road.

Cremated human remains were found under the stone on the left when it fell down in the 1970s. One source dated the remains to be around 2000 BC. No mention is made of the existence of other stones or if they ever formed a circle.

Standing stanes
Orwell Standing stones


This monument, is on a back road between the B996 Kinross to Kelty Road (the former Great North Road & A90) and Ballingry. At first glance it is a strange place to site a memorial except that it was situated on what was the main route north from Edinburgh before road improvements in the late 1800s and it also "improved the view" from nearby Blairadam House, home of the Adam Family a very notable dynasty of Scottish architects.

The queen and her entourage were on their way north from Edinburgh, they crossed from the port of Leith by ferry, landing at Kinghorn, then as usual made their way inland to turn north, to go through Kinross and Glenfarg to Perth. The Earl of Rothes intended on capturing the Queen, to presumably make her see his kind of sense, however she was warned in advance and missed the trap.

During the "Enlightenment" when it was the vogue to romanticise about history, the Adam family erected this monument in the form of a land-bridge, panels on the bridge depict the incident in verse. Today, the transcription of the event can be read from two plaques under the archway, as the original stone inscriptions are badly eroded.

The Paren Well, from which this monument takes it name can be found a short distance down the farm track opposite the monument, on the left hand side before the old railway. I was prevented from taking a picture of the well due to the high grass and cow pats.

The parenwell
The monument.


The Well

The waters from this well are reputed to have curative properties, King Robert the Bruce is said to have been cured of Leprosy by drinking the water from this well.

At one time Scotlandwell was an important monastic centre, the monks ran a hospital from which the patients were administered the spring water as part of their treatment. The Dryside Road was an important highway for the monks and pilgrims, linking Scotlandwell with St. Andrews. Today the Dryside Road prematurely ends at Wester Balgeddie and nothing remains of the monastery.

The natural spring water can be seen bubbling up from the ground, indeed it must have some properties as the coins in the water do not tarnish... I wonder if it any good for curing punctures?

Beside the Well is the "steamie" or communal wash house, which still has the brick works for holding the cauldron for boiling up the laundry. It is not open to the public, nor was it coin-operated.

Michel Bruce, the local poet was born in Portmoak Parish and is buried in the churchyard of the Portmoak Parish Church.

the well
the well
The well at Scotlandwell
The drinking fountain, 1858 style
the steamie Bruce Grave
The steamie
Bruce Gravestone

This stone marks the site of an ancient Culdee place of worship and of an hospital and chapel erected by Bishop Malvcism and consecrated by Bishop De Bernham, 2nd October 1244 as the Egglisia hospitalis de fonte scote.

In this burial ground, Mr Ebineezer Erskine laid the remains of his mother, wife and four children while minister of Portmoak from 1703 to 1731.

Ebineezer Erskine went on to become a founder of the Secession Church.

Erskine Lair burial lair
The Erskine lairs A burial lair and memorial stone


What remains of the old parish church of Tulibole lies almost forgotten amongst the bracken. The foundations, a handful of gravestones and a monument are all that remain of this church.

The parish of Tulibole is reputed to be the oldest in Scotland. The church and the parish's demise came when it was amalgamated with the nearby Fossoway Parish.

In the background is the remains of the church.

Tulibole church
All that remains of Tulibole Church

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