Places of Interest, Shierglas

By James Irvine Robertson

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estling sadly beneath the quarry on the south side of the A9 opposite Blair Atholl is the mansion house of Stewarts of Shierglas. Built about 1720 this is a typical example of the type of dwelling built by the lairds in the eighteenth century. The east gable has collapsed since 1990. In 1765, the laird went to market at Moulin. In the evening he supped in the inn with his brother-in-law, the Stewart laird of Bonskeid. This man was locally feared and disliked since he forced his tenants and others to join the army so that he could take the bounty money. During the evening an altercation erupted between the two men who were almost certainly drunk. Shierglas was said to be eating cheese using his dirk and cut himself on the lip. Enraged by the laughter of the others, he lashed out and caught his brother-in-law beneath the chin and killed him.

It was believed that the ghost of a murdered man would haunt his assassin unless he paid homage at the victim's burial. Shierglas watched the funeral procession from the hillside before fleeing to Holland with his family to escape facing trial for murder. There he joined the Scots brigade of the Prince of Orange. Eventually he was pardoned, returned home and the families were reconciled. The killer's daughter was in the congregation at Blair Atholl when her son-in-law, the Rev Alexander Irvine, preached to Queen Victoria when she visited Blair in 1844. He chose as his text 'Ye are the salt of the earth.' Lady Charlotte Canning, a lady in waiting, reported that her Majesty did not enjoy the service.