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Tour Perthshire

Perthshire, now part of Tayside Region, is by any standards one of the truly great old counties of Scotland. In size it was the fourth largest of the old counties in Scotland, comprising 1,595,804 acres. But size is not everything; and despite having no extremely large city, it has a much larger population than the other Scots counties which top it in size, Inverness, Argyll and Ross and Cromarty. Yet it has no industrial area, apart from the town of Perth itself. It has its great mountain tracts, of course, including some of the most famous scenery in the United Kingdom; but there is an enormous amount of fertile, populous countryside, far more, probably, than is generally realised, its great green straits, or wide open valleys, its especial pride. Contrary, therefore, to frequent pronouncements, the true glory of Perthshire is not its hills and lochs, however fine, for in these it can be excelled by Argyll and Inverness-shire, Ross or perhaps Sutherland; it is in its magnificent, age-old settled lowlands, its characterful small towns and its unnumbered villages. Especially the latter. Here are, probably, more ancient and interesting small communities than anywhere else in Scotland. And these communities are unfortunately generally bypassed by the typical traveler.

Basically, Perthshire is the basin and catchment area of the great River Tay; although the south-west section, or Menteith (more properly Monteith) as its name suggests, is the mounth of the Teith, principal tributary of the Forth. But in the main, Perthshire's innumerable and often splendid rivers reach the sea via the silver Tay. The county has another basic feature--the great Highland Fault, which runs across Scotland from the Gareloch to the Tay, most of it in Perthshire. This, because in general it marks the division between Highlands and Lowlands, is important. The old county, therefore, has a split personality.

Owing to its great size and ancient lineage, Perthshire has always been split up into large sub-provinces, with very pronounced characteristics and identities of their own, mainly themselves ancient earldoms, Menteith, Atholl, Strathearn, Gowrie, Breadalbane, each with its own subdivisions. These, all themselves mighty areas, are the very stuff of Scotland's story, an integral and vital part of Scotland's exciting past. Perthshire is, in fact, a historically exciting county. Here, indeed, the past can be studied at its earliest, as far as Scotland is concerned, better than most; for it so happened that into Perthshire, Strathearn in especial, came the early Christian missionaries of the Irish Celtic Church, via Iona, the Brethren of Columba, to set up their cells and churches in these lovely valleys. The greatest concentration of early Celtic Church sites are here; also a large number of those quite extraordinary Pictish sculptured stones, with their symbols, things of splendid beauty and workmanship, full of as yet unsolved mystery, which so give the lie to the folly that the Picts were a race of savages, painting their bodies and going about half naked. Quite clearly these Pictish ancestors of ours, whom the Celtic Church missionaries Christianised, were a highly developed and artistic people, with unique culture. Perthshire is where they can best be studied, probably.

Each town, village and parish of the county is dealt with covered in this site as are the ancient divisions of Perthshire, including Menteith, Strathearn, Gowrie, Atholl, and Breadalbane. Sir Walter Scott, that fervent Borderer, yet said: "If an intelligent stranger were asked to describe the most varied and most beautiful province in Scotland, it is probable that he would name the County of Perth." The present day visitor would find no fault with that statement.

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