The Wayfarer - Big tales from a small shire

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I wander the countryside looking for interesting facts to provide tales to hold your attention. It is with interest that I find Kinross-shire although small in size covering a mere 82 square miles has a history which may grab your attention.

The shire is situated south of Perth with the county town Kinross, sitting beside Loch Leven the largest lowland loch.

This small area has produced two famous Members of Parliament, Robert Adam the architect who designed Culzean Castle amongst many others, and Sir Alec Douglas-Home who is the only Prime Minister to resign from the Lords in order to contest and win the by-election for Kinross.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home was the 14th Earl of Home before renouncing his title, he was also the last Prime Minister to be personally chosen by the Monarch. A very nice man who seemed too honest to be a politician. Lochlevan Castle situated on one of the many islands on the loch was the prison for the heavily pregnant Mary Queen of Scots who was accused along with Earl of Bothwell for the murder of Lord Darnley . Whilst a prisoner Mary gave birth to twins who were both still born.

This was a severe blow to her and she was encouraged to abdicate in favour of her infant son James.

After several attempts to escape she managed to do so with the help of an admirer, of which she had many, in the form of 16 year old Willie Douglas a pageboy, who was the illegitimate son of Sir William Douglas.

One night over dinner he pocketed the keys to the castle with which he assisted Mary’s escape afterwards throwing the keys into the loch.

Mary was met outside the castle by George Douglas, another admirer and a troop of loyal soldiers who took her to Lord Seton’s Nidric Castle in the Lothians.

Some years later the loch was partially drained and a rusty set of door keys were recovered, the very same keys that were dropped into the loch by young Willie Douglas.

The keys are now on display at Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott.

Kinross was known as a sleepy market town which has become even sleepier since it was by-passed by the M90 an act which has attracted commuters from both Glasgow and Edinburgh to this quiet peaceful resort. So when you next pass through this small sleepy county remember that it has an interesting part to play in the history of Scotland.

See you next week.