by James E. Fargo, FSA Scot

Moulin was a busy and important iron-age Pictish settlement long before the Romans invaded Scotland. On the slopes above Moulin are the remaining traces of more than fifty circle huts where upwards of 2,000 people lived by hunting, fishing and very primitive farming. Moulin is located to the east about one mile uphill from Pitlochry.

The most familiar standing stone in Moulin is located in the field below Baledmund House where for many years, the Moulin Market was held. This stone is located a short walk northwest of the current Moulin Inn. The stone surely had a sacred association with druidical worship before the arrival of celtic Christianity. It was the custom for transactions made at the market between dealers to be confirmed by clasping hands at this stone. The Market was called ‘Feill Machalmaig' (the Market of Blessed Dear Colm). The church built there was the first celtic Christian church in Atholl. Colm, is a form of the name Columba (Colum Cille, ‘Dove of the Church') and St. Columba's church flourished at Dunkeld. It is not known whether St. Columba traveled twelve miles northward from Dunkeld to establish this church or whether St. Colman (one of his followers) did before dying in 676 AD. The current church building in Moulin bears a lintel stone with the date 1613. In the graveyard lies a massive flat stone with an engraved Crusader cross.

On August 12, 729, the great Battle of Blathviag was fought between the northern and southern Picts at Loch Broom, six miles northeast of Pitlochry. Drostan, king of Atholl and leader of the northern Picts was defeated and killed by Angus McFergus.

In 903 the Danes invaded Atholl and were defeated at Tulloch in Glenfernate by the Picts led by their "Ard-Feill" (head-chief). The victory and his death are remembered by the main valley being named Strathardle or Strath-ard-feill.

The Black Castle of Moulin was built around 1320 for Sir John Campbell of Lochow on lands given him by King Robert the Bruce. The lands had been held by David, Earl of Atholl, a relative of the Comyns and a supporter of the puppet-king Edward Balliol until his death in 1335. Robert the Bruce had disinherited this earl and given the earldom to his nephew and the castle was built for his safety and for the security of the loyal inhabitants from Balliol supporters. Campbell was killed in July 1333 at the Battle of Halidon Hill and being heirless, the estates reverted back to the Crown. The castle measures 76 by 80 feet and had a round turret at each of the four corners. It originally was in the midst of a shallow loch through which a stone causeway extended some 100 yards from the shore to the castle gate. In 1500 a devastating epidemic spread through the countryside. Believing that a messenger from the south had brought the plague, the local population attacked the castle with artillery and fire and killed the soldiers stationed there. The castle became a cairn for the dead rather than a refuge for the living.

Included in the parish of Moulin in 1649 were the estates of eleven Robertson landed proprietors (Faskally, Easter and Wester Strathloch, Ballagowan, Glenbrerachan, Kinnaird, Lettoch and others).

The third major battle in the history of Moulin parish occurred on July 27, 1689 when Bonnie Dundee's highland army defeated an English force of 4,000 led by General Mackay at Killiecrankie. The victorious highlanders chased the fleeing English down the pass, through Moulin and all the way to Dunkeld. Viscount Dundee (John Graham of Claverhouse) was mortally wounded at the moment of victory and died after the battle. This Jacobite Rising came to an early end.

After the defeat of the second Jacobite Rising (1715), the English government decided to open up the highlands for rapid movement of troops and material. Beginning in 1726 General George Wade recruited six companies of loyal highlanders to start building new roads through the highlands. In 1728, General Wade with 300 of these soldiers began building a new road below Moulin through what is now Pitlochry and passing above the Pass of Killiecrankie. He thus cut out Moulin and the high track over Craigower and the River Garry flowing through the vulnerable Killiecrankie pass.

In 1758 there were two licensed stills of 30 gallons each providing liquid refreshments to the local population and today the Edradour distillery just down the road from Moulin provides an excellent single malt scotch known throughout the world.

With the coming of the railway in the1800s, the people of Moulin continued moving down the hill. While Pitlochry has become a thriving tourist town, Moulin has remained small. In 2001, when my mother (Jean), son (Andrew) and I stayed at the Moulin Inn, we enjoyed walking the countryside and the conviviality of visiting the Inn's pub and meeting local folk with Duncan and Reid surnames and being the only visitors.

Cowan, Samuel, "Three Celtic Earldoms", 1909, pp 20-21.
Gordon, T. Crouther, "Beautiful Pitlochry", 1955, pp 14-35.
Robertson, J.A., "Earldom of Atholl", 1860, pp 33-34.