The oldest traces of people
in Perthshire are of burial mounds, standing stones and circles from 3000BC.
Given the widespread traces of these people the population of Strathearn
must have been significant, however little is known about them.
Around 1000BC the first Celts
known as Caledonians arrived. They came into recorded history by making none
too friendly contact with the forces of the Roman Empire in 84AD.
A great battle took place
at Mons Grampius possibly somewhere in Strathearn. The Romans claim to have
won this battle but only their version of events remains. Across the southern
edge of Strathearn they then built a number of forts (Bertha, Fendoch, Strageath
and Ardoch) connected by a line of watchtowers and fortlets. This appears
to be the first Roman linear frontier (40 years earlier than Hadrian's Wall).
Clearly the Romans considered the Caledonians to the northern side of Strathearn
a significant threat. The Romans withdrew after a short time.
Hadrian's great stone Wall, 170km+ to the south, was constructed 122-8.
In the 140's they returned
to Strathearn to rebuild at least some of the fortifications and stayed some
20 years. Comparatively large amounts of Roman coinage and luxury goods found
their way into Strathearn during this period. The Romans came back a third
time under the personal command of the emperor Severus. Their main base was
at Carpow east of Perth on the Tay. Two years later he pulled out and died
in York in 211.
From this period stems the
roots of why the island of Britain came to be divided into two Kingdoms -
the south became a regular fully Romanized province of the Roman Empire,
the north did not. With the decline of Rome the south became 'easy pickings'
for Anglo-Saxon invaders, the north did not.
In the Sma' Glen a large stone
is said to mark the grave of Ossian, the legendary Celtic bard who lived
around 300AD. His tales of heroic times in Celtic past are an indecipherable
mix of myth, legend and history. Napoleon Boneparte carried a translation
of Ossian's works with him on his campaigns and is said to have much enjoyed
the stirring tales of ancient Celtic warrior chieftains.
St. Fillan came from Ireland in 520 and began to convert the Picts to
Christianity. He set up his base on the 200M natural fortress of Dundurn
near present day St. Fillans. In 683 Scots fought Picts in a battle
Forteviot, in Strathearn,
was once the capital of the Pictish Kingdom of Fortrenn.
In the little village of Fowlis
Wester, 6km east of Crieff, is the restored 13thC
Church of St Bean. He was grandson
of the King of Leinster, Ireland, and preached in this area in the 8thC.
There has been a church on this site since those times.