St Serf’s – Dunning, Perth and Kinross

If it hadn’t been such a dreich weekend we would have driven to the Japanese Garden at Cowden as it has just opened for the new season and I imagine that the cherry trees will be at their best now. We went there last September for the first time and the autumn colour of the acers was lovely and we promised ourselves we’d go there again in the spring. If the weather cheers up this week we will go there.

Anyway, thinking about that reminded me that I never did get around to writing a blogpost about the village of Dunning which we stopped off at on the way to Cowden – so here goes!

Although I’m not at all religious I do love old churches and St Serf’s in Dunning is certainly old. It dates from around 1200 but it isn’t in use as a church now, it’s looked after by Historic Environment Scotland and is open to vistors.
St Serf's , Dunning

Inside the church is really dark and like all such churches it has been extended and mucked about with over the centuries, but it does house a very fine stone cross – the Dupplin Cross which dates from around 800 and is dedicated to one of the last kings of Pictland – King Constantine, son of Fergus. Presumably the decoration on the front is of the king on his horse.
Dupplin Stone cross

The carving on it is still in great condition considering that until 1999 it was outside. As you can see there’s a man playing a harp , he’s thought to be King David. This is the side of the stone.
Dupplin Stone Cross, Dunning

Dupplin Stone, Dunning

St Serf window, Dunning

You can read about the church here.

There’s not much nore of interest in the village of Dunning, but there is a pretty wee burn near the church.
Dunning Burn

Someone has put a lot of effort into the garden below.
Dunning garden, Perth and Kinross

The house beow is called Straw House for some reason. It’s very Scottish and solid looking, it has wee windows so it might not be too difficult to heat – or maybe that’s me just being optimistic on the owner’s behalf! This house is apparently the only house which survived the Jacobean burning of the village in 1716.
Straw House , Dunning, Perth and Kinross

It seems that we missed quite a lot on our quick trip to Dunning on our way to the Japanse Garden. When we do go back there we’ll have to look for the memorial to a witch burnt at the stake in 1657 and a bit of a Roman encampment.

Abernethy, in Perth and Kinross

Abernethy in Perth and Kinross is a fairly ancient place as you can see from the Pictish tower in the photo below. Sadly that white van on the right was there for the duration of our visit.

Abernethy  Round Tower 1

We climbed all the way to the top of the tower. It has a modern metal spiral staircase which ends in a ladder leading to the top of the tower and you go up to it through a hatch. It’s not for the faint-hearted as it’s a very long way up – and down! Sir Walter Scott actually mentions this tower in his book The Antiquary. You can see more photos of the tower here. I was surprised to see a set of ‘jougs’ attached to the stonework. It’s a metal sort of dog collar on the end of a chain that was fitted around the neck of any naughty locals who were thought to be in need of punishment.

Abernethy  View 1

You get a good view of the surrounding area from the top though. You can just about see the Rivers Tay/Earn at Carpow from there and that is where a 3,000 year old logboat was discovered buried in mud a few years ago. The boat was originally preserved and on display in Perth Museum but is has been moved to Edinburgh now. You can see it here.

Abernethy  View 2

Of course the confluence of two rivers has always been seen as being a magical place by our ancestors but I love that the Romans also decided that Carpow would be a good place to set up a camp about a thousand years later.

Abernethy is a teeny wee village with just one shop but it has an interesting graveyard and if you visit then make sure that you pay a visit to the museum which has varied exhibits and particularly a lot of information on what went on in Abernethy during the wars. It was one of those places that was ‘taken by storm’ by the Polish Free Army, as one old lady friend of mine said of her home town of Kelso. All those clicking heels and bowing to kiss hands meant that any local men still living in the place didn’t get a look in. I imagine it was much the same in Abernethy.

The museum is run by very friendly and helpful volunteers.

The River Tay

River Tay

One of the first things we did when Peggy got here was to take her to visit the author and farmer James Oswald at his very remote farm on the edge of Fife. The yellow patches which you can see in the photos are fields of oilseed rape, a very lucrative crop for the farmers but seen close up they can be painful on the eyes and on a hot day (if we get any) the smell is rather overpoweringly sweet.

River Tay

These photos are of the view which he gets from the new house which he is having built. It’s a lovely area but so remote that we thought we had somehow taken a wrong turning as he lives miles down a farm track, right on the edge of Fife. As it happens the view over the nearby River Tay is of Perthshire or Perth and Kinross as I think they are calling it nowadays. Our youngest son lives in that part of Perthshire, where the scenery is much more beautiful than anything in Fife, in my opinion.

River Tay and Fife farmland

If you want to see some of the animals in James Oswald’s farm you can look at this post I did earlier.

Ancient Doocot at Elcho, Perth and Kinross

Elcho

I was beginning to think that we must have taken a wrong turning when we were trying to find Elcho Castle, but eventually we reached this ancient dovecote or doocot as we say in Scotland. The doocot would have been used for pigeons to nest in in the castle’s heyday, an important source of meat for the inhabitants.

Elcho

I said in my earlier Elcho post here that you have to drive through a working farmyard to reach the castle and it’s just by the doocot, this sort of millpond is just across the road and as you can see there’s a barn in the background. There are a few wee cottages there too, it looks an idyllic place to live but it’s incredibly isolated and I think they must be cut off in bad winters.

Elcho

But to have a burn running through my garden like this one I wouldn’t mind living in a doocot, not that anyone does live in this one but I’m sure you could get some light into the place somehow nowadays. It’s like something out of a fairy tale, it would be almost as good as living in a lighthouse – something which I’ve always fancied!