Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

Proceeding westward from Linlithgow, the traveller crosses the river Avon, when he enters Stirlingshire ; looking a little towards the south, he has a view of the lofty and beautiful aqueduct bridge for conveying the Union Canal across that river. After this, nothing interesting occurs until he reaches Callander House, (Forbes, Esq.) formerly the mansion-house of the Earls of Callander and Linlithgow. At this point, a commanding view is obtained of the fertile valley of the Carse of Falkirk. Half a mile in advance, and twentyfour miles from Edinburgh, is the town of

FALKIRK,

famous for its cattle markets called trysts, held thrice a-year, but more celebrated for its vestiges of antiquity, and the great battles which have been fought in its neighbourhood. At this place, therefore, we would recommend the tourist to make a short stay, that he may explore all the interesting scenes in its vicinity.

The view from the hill of Falkirk, immediately behind the town, Mr Bruce, the Abyssinian traveller, declared, was not exceeded for extent, grandeur, and variety, by any that he had met with in his vels Here the eye takes in a great portion of the Ochil Hills, forming part of that mountainous ridge which commences on the shores of the German Ocean, near the mouth of the Tay, and extends to the banks of the Clyde. In an opening in the chain for the passage of the Forth, are seen several detached rocks or crags, on the highest of which stands Stirling Castle, whose antiquated towers and venerable battlements are easily distinguished in a clear atmosphere. Beyond it, the eye, gliding over the vale of Monteith, discovers afar off the stupendous Grampians, whose dark and irregular summits look proudly down upon the smaller green hills in their front, along which the varied tints of sun and shade are successively flitting. Amidst this lofty group the conic summit of Benledi rises conspicuous over those of Benvoirlich and others; and farther to the west, beyond the infant Forth, is the towering summit of Benlomond. Looking northward there is seen at one glance, the rich and extensive valley of the Carse, thickly studded with villages and scattered dwellings, the comfortable abodes of trade and industry ; the majestic Forth, with the towns of Culross, Kincardine, Clackmannan, and Alloa, on the opposite shore; and, receding from it, the finely cutivated country, reaching to the foot of the Ochils. Immediately beneath is Falkirk, and, beyond it, the celebrated Carron Works, distinguished by the thick volumes of smoke perpetually ascending from its furnaces. At the farthest extremity of the valley, on the shores of the Forth, the masts of the shipping point out the harbour of Grangemouth; and, lower down, on that point of land where the river disappears from the sight, is seen that of Borrowstowness.

North of the vale will be observed a tract of ground, clothed with woods and plantations, and amongst them a number of elegant houses. The eastmost of these is. that of the Earl of Dunmore; and successively extending westward, are Stenhouse, belonging to Sir William Bruce; Kinnaird, the patrimony of the Abyssinian traveller ; Carron Hall, (Dundas, Esq.) and Carron Park, (Cadell, Esq.); and on the eminence, directly in front, is the village of Larbert, conspicuous for a new Gothic church, and Larbert House, the seat of Sir Gilbert Stirling, Bart.

The hill of Falkirk itself is remarkable for being the position to which Sir William Wallace, with his division of the Scottish army, retired on the eve of the battle of Falkirk, fought in this neighbourhood in 1298, between the Scots and English. A stone, called Wal

lace's stone, upon Wallace's ridge, marks out the spot which his division occupied. In the Scottish camp a contest for pre-eminence arose between the principal leaders, Wallace, Comyn, and Sir John Stewart, which ended, it is said, in Wallace and Comyn successively withdrawing their troops, and the advance of the English commanded by their warlike monarch Edward the First. Such is the common tradition; but certain it is, that violent dissensions did prevail in the Scottish army: it is thought, however, by the most judicious historians, that, if Wallace did retire with his division, it must have been on the day preceding the battle, and that, repenting of the measure, with his troops, he rejoined the division commanded by Stewart, and took part in the engagement. The scene of this sanguinary battle, so disastrous to Scotland, lies about half way between Falkirk and the river Carron. The English advanced from the heights south of Callendar wood ; and as the Scots stood upon the defensive, the battle must have raged near the village of Mungal, by Mungalbog, behind which the Scots were posted. Adjoining to Mungalbog, there is a piece of ground called Graham's Muir, where Wallace's brave companion and friend, Sir John Graham, fell; and at the east end of the bog, almost on the spot where a draw-bridge over the Canal is erected, is Brainsford, where Brainjay, the English knight Templar, was slain. Sir John Stewart, and Sir John Graham, both fell fighting bravely, and were buried in the church-yard of Falkirk. Over the grave of the latter hero a number of tombstones have been successively placed by the patriotic affection of his countrymen, as the inscriptions upon the former one were obliterated. The st was erected by the late William Graham of Airth, Esq. and bears the following inscription :

с

Mente manuqe potens, et Vallæ fidus Achates,
Condilur hic Gramus, bello interfectus ab Anglis,

xii. Julii anno 1298.
Here lies Sir John the Grame, baith wight and wise,
Ane of the chiefs who rescuit Scotland thrice ;
Ane better knight not to the world was lent,
Nor was gude Grame of truth and hardiment.

Not far from the tomb of Sir John Graham, lie the remains of Sir John Stewart of Bonkill, over which is placed a stone without an inscription. He was brother to the Steward of Scotland, from whom the Royal Family of Stewart descended.

According to another tradition, Wallace, on the evening after the battle of Falkirk, had an interview with young Bruce, then with the English army, upon the banks of the Carron, and urged him into that path of patriotic ambition which afterwards he so successfully pursued. But the fact of young Bruce having been in the action, has been questioned upon very satisfactory grounds; and it is probable, that the rude annalists of an after age had mistaken the presence of the elder Bruce for that of his son. Be this as it may,

Wallace, after the engagement, threw himself with his remaining followers into the forest of Torwood, which is the woody height seen about four miles in front of Falkirk.

The moor of Falkirk, upon the side of the hill of that name, and immediately behind the town, was, in 1746, the scene of an engagement between the king's troops, under General Hawley, and the Highland army, commanded by the Pretender. Never was grosser incapacity displayed than upon this occasion by the royalist general. He was at Callendar House, to which, it is said, he had been treacherously invited by the Earl of Kilmarnock and his Countess, the former of whom had secretly espoused the cause of the Pretender) when the advance of the Highlanders was announced; they had crossed the Carron before Hawley's troops stood to arms; their van had gained the top of the hill before his cavalry could be brought up; and, to crown all, his artillery, either through cowardice or carelessness, was left sticking in the mud, in a hollow path betwixt the summit of the hill and Bantaskine House, which stands on a height to the northward. The Highlanders, descending from the hill, drove back the cavalry upon the infantry, who were thrown into confusion, when a total rout ensued.

Upon the banks of the Carron, in the parish of Larbert, once stood the celebrated building, called by those in the neighbourhood Arthur's Oven, the origin of which has been the subject of much antiquarian discussion. It was a round building, open at the top like the Pantheon at Rome, but of far inferior workmanship and dimensions. Its height was twenty-two feet; and its diameter in the inside nineteen feet and a-half. In the time of Boece, its area within was surrounded by stone seats; and on the south there was an altar. Buchanan calls it Templum Termini, thus adopting the opinion of many antiquaries, that it was a temple erected to the god Terminus by Agricola, on his fixing here the boundaries of the Roman empire. Will it be believed that this precious relic of antiquity was demolished by its late proprietor, Sir Michael Bruce, who constructed a wretched mill-dam out of its materials ? A flood of the river Carron visited the sacrilegious proceeding with proper retribution, by sweeping it away!

The Carron Iron Works, on the river Carron, two miles north-west from Falkirk, are interesting objects of attention, and admission for strangers to see these works is now readily obtained.

In this neighbourhood is the parish of Dunipace, supposed to have derived its name from two artificial mounts, of a conical form, and sixty feet in perpendicular height, situated near to the church. Dun is a

« AnteriorContinuar »