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Balquhidder Church.
Balquhidder Church.

Balquhidder (Scottish Gaelic: Both Chuidir) is a small village in the Stirling council area of Scotland. It is overlooked by the dramatic mountain terrain of the Braes of Balquhidder, at the head of Loch Voil. Balquhidder Glen is also popular for fishing, nature watching and walking. Above the village, Creag an Tuirc is a fine viewpoint, well worth the short climb.

Balquhidder railway station is now closed.

The MacLarens acquired the district as early as the 9th century and occupied it for several hundred years until ousted by the MacGregors, a neighbouring clan, who had repeatedly raided their lands, and in 1558 slew the chief and many of his followers. Balquhidder was the scene of some of the exploits of Rob Roy, who died there in 1734. The local kirkyard is his final resting place, his grave marked with the appropriately defiant motto 'MacGregor Despite Them'. He lies with the remains of his wife and two sons, the graves marked by three flat stones. One of these is contemporary, but the remaining two are re-used medieval grave monuments.

St Angus, who may have been a monk from Dunblane, came to Balquhidder Glen in the 8th or 9th century and recognised what the Celts called a "thin place" where the boundary between Earth and Heaven was close. He knelt and blessed the glen at the spot where the house "Beannach Aonghais" (Gaelic 'blessing of Angus') now stands and built a stone oratory at Kirkton, where he spent the rest of his life. Angus may have brought Christianity to Balquhidder but there was already a long tradition of Pagan worship.

Behind the present kirk is Tom nan Angeae, the hill of fire, where until the 19th century hearth fires were renewed at Beltane and Samhain to encourage ancient gods to bring warmth to the land. Angus was buried at the foot of this hill and a flagstone laid over him which stands today in the present church. This stone, formerly in the floor of the medieval church, has a crudely incised figure of a priest holding a chalice. The carving is probably late medieval in date.

There are some foundations of the east end of the small medieval parish church of Balquhidder around the grave of Rob Roy and his family (which seem deliberately to have been buried at the site of its altar). A few metres to the west are the roofless ruins of this building's 17th century seccessor. The present church, built on a new site to the north of the ancient graveyard, is of 19th century date. As well as the slab attributed to St. Angus, the ancient, primitive font, probably of early medieval origin, is preserved in this building. There is a display on the history of Balquhidder in the church, which is open to the public during the summer, when there is also a programme of evening concerts in the building.

Glen Buckie, now a quiet backwater on the south side of Balquhidder Glen was the scene of one of the last acts of the 1745 rising. Dr Archie Cameron had returned to Scotland in the early 1750's hoping to raise support for a possible last-ditch coup against George II. He was captured in the glen, and was later hanged in London, the last Jacobite to be killed for treason.

The Reverend Robert Kirk, who translated parts of the Gaelic Bible and wrote The Secret Commonwealth, also lived here for several years from 1664.

Balquhidder is consistently voted "Best place to live in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park" because of its lively local community, good communications, and relatively low level of tourist development.

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Coordinates: 56°21'N, 4°22'W


(Source: Wikipedia)
 
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