Balquhidder Parish, Perthshire, Scotland
Written and Researched by Margaret Odrowaz- Sypniewska, B.F.A.


The early pronounciation of this place name was "balpudder," a Pictish name. Balquhidder (bal-hw-idder) parish is located in the county of Perth (Perthshire). Balquhidder is part of the Trossach, which, in the 17th century, were Gaelic-speaking. Gaelic is the language spoken by the Celtic people. Baluquidder is 9 miles from Killin, and 20 miles from Callender. St Angus was Balquidder's saint. Balquhidder's kirk (church) was located at the foot of a glen (valley) with a charming waterfall. The newer church was made of stone in 1853. The older kirk sits besides. The older church was erected in 1631. The old church is the site of the grave of Rob Roy (d. 1734).

The town of Killin was one of the main strongholds of Clan Campbell, one of the most ancient clans of Scotland. Finlarig at Killin was one of their castles.

The town of Callendar has several archaeological sites. In the summer of 2001 an early Neolithic (Stone Age) site was excavated on the Claish farm. The first farming communities were thought to be established around 4000 B.C. At Auchenlaich Farm, to the east of Callander, is Scotland's largest chambered cairn (320M). Several Iron Age forts are to be seen at Dunmore (or Taranduin), west of Callander, and at Auchenlaich and Torrie farms to the east.

St Kessog, a disciple of Columba of Iona, preached and taught in this area in the sixth century AD. In the 16th century, the land around Callander belonged to the Livingstones of Callendar Park near Falkirk. They had a tower house or keep on the south bank of the river Teith beside the former Parish Church manse (minister's house). Callander, as part of the Duke of Perth’s estate, supported Prince Charles Edward Stuart, and after the defeat at Culloden in 1746, the estate was forfeited and run by government commissioners. The original village was where Bridgend is now, but then a plan by the Duke of Perth, dated 1739, was used as a basis for the layout of the new town of Callander in the 1770s – this was the first planned rural town in Scotland, with its spacious Square and broad Main Street. The Parish church was moved at this time from its site near Tom na Chessaig to its present position in the north square, now named ‘Ancaster Square’ after the successor the the Duke of Perth, the Earl of Ancaster.


The land, near Killin, was originally owned by the Norman Menzies family. Menzies or De Maners were an early branch of the house of Manners in Scotland, which still bears the ancient arms. The Menzies were baronets. They came from Mayneris, near Rouen. Their original home was called Mesniers. Richard de Manieres/Mayneris came to England in 1066, with William the Conqueror. He was the father of Tirel de Manieres. Tirel and Helias de St. Saen, another noble, were devoted to William Clito, the disposed heir of Robert II of Normandy, and the legitimate heir to the throne. They lost their estates and suffered extreme sufferings on William's behalf. On his death bed, William Clito recommended Tirel and Helias to his uncle, King Henry I, "Beauclerk," who reigned from 1100-1135. Robert was the son of Hugh Manieres and grandson of William Clito. Robert owned part of a fee of Northumberland in 1165.


Richard I, Duke of Normandy(d. 966)
Gunnor of Denmark
Richard II, Duke of Normandy (d. 1026)
Judith of Brittany
Robert I, "the Devil", Duke of Normany (d. 1035)
Herleve of Falaise
William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy and King of England (1025-1100)
Robert "Curthose," Duke of Normandy (1054-1134)
Sibylla of Conversans
William the Clito, Count of Flanders (1101-1128)
was the nephew of King Henry I (r. 1100-1135).
Hugh Manieres
Robert Manieres

Sir Robert de Meyners was Chamberlain of Scotland in 1249, by patronage of Alexander II (1214-1249) of the House of Dunkeld. Alexander was the son of William the Lion (1165-1214). In 1592, the early history of the Menzies family was destroyed during a fire in their first castle at Weems. Finlarig Castle was built in 1629, by Black Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy. The castle consisted of two square towers. Today the the castle is largely in ruin. The cellars and kitchen can still be noted. Parliament was summoned to be held at Finlarig Castle in 1651 but only three members of parliament actually turned up!


Black Duncan (a Campbell) was a member of Parliament and used this connection to help him in his many endeavors.

Rob Roy MacGregor was thought to have stayed in the castle in 1713. As with many British castles, there are some legends. One was regarding a pit at Firlarig Castle where nobles were beheaded, while commoners were hanged on a nearby oak tree. The pit was a cistern that had dried up. This branch of the Campbell Clan became the Earls of Breadalbane.

The Campbells acquired their lands mainly through guile and by use of the legal process, largely with the support of some of Scotland's kings. It was the Campbells who hounded the MacGregors, the McEwans, and the McNabs to the verge of extinction.


The name of this parish of Balquhidder is from the Gaelic. Balquhidder parish is about 18 miles in length and about 6 miles in width. The coutryside is composed of valleys and hills, level lands, and deep glens. The principal mountains are Benvorlich, Benchroin, Benvane, Binean, Benchoin, and Bentallachan.

Robert the Bruce was reputed to have concealed himself here, in Balquhidder, after the battle of Dalrey. The river Balvag winds through the parish with two bridges crossing over it. The river Balair also is found, but it is more a stream except in the rainy season, when it overflows its banks. Lochs (lakes) in the area around Balguhidder are Loch Voil, Loch Doine, and parts of Loch Lubnaig and Loch Earn. In the 19th century there were many woods of birch, alder, ash, and mountain ash/rowan. There are landscaping growths of spruce firs and larch-trees. The soil in the lower lands were fertile in this parish. There are hills for pastures and many nice meadows. The Braes of Balquhidder and Balquhidder Glen with Lock Voil have magnificent scenery.


Edinample (Euda-am-Pillidh) is one old castle located in this parish. The castle was home to the Marquess of Breadalbane (a Campbell). Situated on the south side of Loch Earn. By the 17th century, Sir John Murray was the master of Balquhidder and Strathyre and relative prosperity was their general condition. All that changes with the series of Jacobite rebellions in support of the Stewart line. After this they were exiled.

Edanample Castle was originally built by Black Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy (1550-1631) in the 16th Century, possibly on the site of an earlier building. Sir Duncan Campbell, seventh Knight of Glenorchy, was known as Black Duncan of the Cowl. He became a knight on May 18, 1590. He was a member of Parliament and Hereditary Sheriff of Perthshire for life. Edanample castle was originally on Macgregor lands, until their demise.

There are many legends associated with Edinample Castle:

Extended in both the 18th and early 20th century, Castle Edinample was unoccupied. Then it was restored in the late 1970's.


Loch Lomond and Balquhidder were known as "Rob Roy Country." Rob Roy MacGregor (1671-1734) is Balquhidder’s most famous resident. He was the son of MacGregor of Glengyle, but he was forced to assume his mother's name (Campbell), when the MacGregors were being executed. The MacGregors were descended through the hereditary Abbots of Glendocharts, a descent which might be the reason for their war cry: "Royal is my Race." Rob acquired his name "Roy" early in life because of his thick, dark red, curly hair. He was a grazier who raided cattle and farmed. He took protection money from neighbors to safeguard their herds, and surviving papers reveal him as an intelligent and educated man. The stone over Rob Roy MacGregor’s grave is a very old one. It is thought that his tombstone might have been part of a much older family member's. His wife, Helen MacGregor, is said to be buried near him, as are two of his four sons. The ancestral MacGregor Clan's burial ground is at Inchcailloch, off Balmaha, in Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Rob Roy was not a vulgar robber. He was kind and generous to the poor, and believed himself to be justified in the revenge which he took on the rich. He was by no means cruel as the English might like us to portray him. He had a certain grace and dignity of manner which impressed those who came in contact with him. Personally, he is described as being strong, with broad shoulders, and very long arms. He was a gentlemen to be sure, who saw many injustices in his world. Rob was a Jacobite, and in the rebellion of 1715, he joined forces with the deposed Stuarts at Sheriffmuir. Rob Roy MacGregor lived his last years in Balquhidder. Rob's gravestone says: "MacGregor Despite Them." There are three flat stones with the names of Rob and his family. Rob's date of death was December 28, 1734. The stone has a sword roughly carved upon it.


MacGregor's cairn was the site of a murder. A MacGregor was murdered by a neighbor in 1780. They were cutting hay and had some angry words between them. The other man attacked MacGregor with a scythe and killed him. MacGregor's cairn is the stop where this event occurred.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s (1850-1894) novels Kidnapped (1886) and Catriona remind us of Balquhidder, since his novel mention this place. He was a Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer.


The parish of Balquhidder is located in the presbytery of Dunblane and the synod of Perth and Sterling. The church is located in the center of the parish and held about 425 people in the 19th century. The Stewart kings were said to have played cards in the Old Kirk of Balquhidder. Queen Victoria also has a visitor to this location.

The families of McLaren and Leney fought here. The clan had a Manse Rock up from the churchyard. This rock was at the foot of Creag an Tuirc. The clan MacLaren rallied to this spot in response to the call of the Fiery Cross. The Maclaurins (their early clan name) acquired the district of Balquhidder as early as the 9th century, and occupied it for several hundred years until ousted by the MacGregors. In 1558, the MacGregors killed the McLaren clan chief.


Sir John MacGregor Murray, Bart. was a noted Gaelic scholar from this area. He collected old Gaelic script and songs of the ancient Bards. He was also a colonel in the British army. He and his brother Alexander MacGregor Murray are both buried in the family vault in this parish.


This area had many Jacobites (Catholics who tried to get the Stewarts back on the throne). Glen Buckie, located on the south side of Balquhidder Glen, was where one of their last battles was fought (in 1745). Dr. Archie Cameron returned to Scotland (after exile) with hopes of raising support to oust King George II. He was capured in Balquhidder Glen and was taken to London, England to be hanged. Dr. Archie Cameron was the last Jacobite to be killed for treason.


There are some old upright stone ruins here called Puidrac. Puidreag is located 0.5 km eastwards from the village of Balquhidder. The history of these stones is not known. Puidreag Plantation, a woodland park, is now at the site of the ancient rocks, and is maintained by the Woodland Trust.


The McLaurin/McLaren is a clan of ancient descent. Balquhidder and Strathearn are known as the country of this clan. In 1296, Maurice of Tiree, Conan of Balquhidder was found on Edward I's rolls. The stones were the location of one of the battles between the McLarens and the Leney. The mausoleum of the MacLaren chiefs is set in a grove of rowan trees off the glen road to Balquhidder.

Balquhidder is considered one of the best places to live near Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National park.

My own Lawson family is a member of the McLaren Clan.


Bruce, Duncan A. The Scottish 100. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 2000.

Osmand, Donald. The Perthshire Book. Edinburgh: Birlinn Publishers, Inc., 2000.

Shaw, Carl P. Famous Scots. Glasgow: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995.

Topographical Dictionaries: Lewis's Gazetteers of England, Ireland, and Scotland. FTM CD#270, Broderbund, 1999.

The Norman People , a compelation from various sources. Baltimore, MD.: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1999.

Wilson, Rev. John Marius (editor). The Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland. London: A Fullarton & Co., 504.

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