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History of Dull and Weem Parish

Parish Of Weem 

The parish of Weem is curiously scattered over North Perthshire in pockets of land which vary In size from small to large. This came about as the Menzies of Weem acquired lands and considerable influence in Breadalbane during the 14th century, so that the parish of today is still intermixed with those of Logierait, Dull, Fortingall, Kenmore and Killin.

Parts of the parish lie along the Rivers Tay, Lyon, Dochart and Lochay and on Loch Tay-side part of the parish lies on the slopes of Ben Lawers. Agriculture over the centuries has been the main industry in the parish. Although obviously mainly a stock-rearing area in the hills it also includes arable cropping in the richer, more fertile plain of the 'Appin of Weem' or 'Appin na Meneris' which stretches from Weem to Fortingall.

The early Christians came from the West to Dull

Christianity became established in Ireland in the 5th century. The arrival of Saint Columba on lona in 563AD and the subsequent rise in importance of lona as a great Celtic monastery gave a great boost to the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland with numerous early saints travelling east through the glens, establishing many churches and monasteries in the land. Dull is particularly connected with Saint Adamnan, also known as Eonan. Irish born, he became the 9th Abbot of lona around 704AD and had requested that, after his death, his body was to be carried east and, wheresoever the first 'withy' broke, there he was to be buried. This wish was carried out and the first 'withy' was said to have broken at Dull and there he was laid to rest. A community grew up around the chapel built at his grave site and a monastery and college thrived there. Its endowments are said to have been transferred to Saint Andrew's University when it was founded.

The Cross of Dull and Saint David's Well

Dull became a sanctuary where refuge under the protection of the church could be sought. The boundaries of this sanctuary were marked by 4 large stone crosses. One of those crosses still stands in the middle of Dull village and two are now in Saint Cuthbert's church (the Menzies mausoleum) for safe-keeping. Close to the present church at Dull is another reminder of far-off days - Eonans (Adamnan's) Well. Saint Cuthbert, while a monk at Melrose in 655AD, "came to a town called Dull and dwelt as a hermit in a steep and wooded hill at Doilweme about 2 miles distant. Here he brought from the hard rock a fountain or well of water, in which he used to immerse himself and spend the night in prayer to God". Hence the name Weem, derived from 'Uaimh' the Gaelic for 'cave'. Today, behind this church on a rocky ledge on the hillside, is a spring which flows into a basin or bath hewn from the rock. Beside it, for centuries, lay a stone slab with a tall cross carved on it. This is now housed in Saint Cuthbert's church (the Menzies mausoleum) which was built in 1438 at the same time as the 'Place of Weem' - the original castle of the Clan Menzies. The well, also known as St. David's Welt, is ascribed to Sir David Menzies who, in 1440, tiring of 'worldly things', used the place as a retreat and handed over his estate to his son John.


In 2008 a new cross was carved onto the rock on the west entrance to the well.










The Weem Church Gaelic Bible

The policy of the Church towards Gaelic had for a long time been one of suppression. Whenever a proposal for the translation of the Bible into Gaelic was brought forward, it was met with bitter opposition. This rash attitude was challenged in 1688 to show that the language, spoken by 200,000 persons, could not be totally destroyed. Various proposals had been made, such as the introduction of English-speaking colonists into the Highlands and of sending Highland children into the Lowlands. James Kirkwood, born 1660 at Dunbar and educated at Edinburgh University, was, for a time, resident chaplain to the 1st Earl of Breadalbane. Kirkwood went south to Bedfordshire but never forgot the ignorance and illiterate conditions of the Highland people. He became friends with Robert Boyle whose attention had been directed to a similar state of affairs in Ireland. Boyle informed him that he had 500 Bibles in 'Irish character' for the use of the Irish people who did not understand English and offered a few of those Bibles to send to Scotland. Translated by William Bedell, it is known as the 'Bedell Bible'.

At first 12 copies were dispatched and then later another 200 - one for each Highland Parish. Kirkwood wrote to Robert Kirk - minister at Balquhidder - and told him of Boyle's gift. Nine copies were sent to Alexander Comrie of Kenmore for the Presbytery of Dunkeld and five of these still survive. Weem church still has one of those five original Gaelic Bibles.

When ministers in the Highlands discovered the benefit of those Irish pulpit Bibles, they expressed a desire for a small Bible in Roman character. Encouraged by Kirkwood, and with the financial help from Boyle, Robert Kirk produced such a Bible in 1690. Three thousand copies were circulated in the Highlands along with 1000 copies of a New Testament section. In 1733, James Stuart became assistant minister at Weem and, in 1737, became minister at Killin. His reputation as a preacher and Gaelic scholar was well known and he was asked to translate the Bible into Gaelic. In 176610,000 copies of Stuart's Gaelic New Testament were printed. John Stuart, son of James, was also a Gaelic scholar and a distinguished botanist. He was, for a short time, minister of Weem and became minister of Luss in 1777. He was given the enormous taskof translating the Old Testament into Gaelic which he completed in 1801.


The Ministers Of Weem

Up until the late 1960's  the minister of Weem had to be a Gaelic Speaker. This picture shows the induction of Rev. Ian Maclellan in May 1924. This picture also shows Weem Church elders and many of the local ministers

The group photograph taken on the day of his induction shows from left to right;

Front Row: Provost Hogg (Irvine), Rev. Harry Rankin (Irvine), Rev. William Campbell (Fortingall), Rev. Charles Hutchison (Aberfeldy), Rev. W. Drummond (Glenlyon), Rev. Ian MacLellan (Weem), Rev. A. Muirhead (Kinloch Rannoch), Rev. W.A. Macfarlane (Dull), Mr. Laing (Killiechassie) and Mr. Andrew Reid (Aberfeldy).

Second Row: Mr. Thomson (Irvine), Mr. John McDonald (Aberfeldy), Rev. Dewar (Amulree), David Stewart (Upper Borlick), Alex Munro (Aberfeldy), William McLeish (Weem), Rev. W. Killin (Kenmore). Mr. Leslie (Dirgarve), Duncan Cameron (Upper Borlick) and Robert Connol (Castle Menzies



The Menzies of Weem

The Menzies Family had been loyal supporters of King Robert the Bruce and had acquired lands and considerable influence in Breadalbane during the 14th century. The Old Kirk of Weem, situated a short distance to the west of the present church, was built by David Menzies and dedicated to Saint Cuthbert. It probably dates from 1488 and was used as a place of worship until 1839, when it became the Menzies Mausoleum.




A new church was built some 300 yards to the east and was in use until 1921, when it became the Clan Menzies Meeting Hall, then a Home Guard Centre during World War 11 and subsequently was redeveloped as a private residence.





The Present Church

The church was built in 1875 by Sir Robert Menzies of Menzies as Saint David's Episcopal Church for the Menzies family. After the death of the last of the Menzies of Weem line in 1918 and the break up of the estate, the church was acquired by the Church of Scotland as the new Parish Church. The stained glass windows are dedicated in memory of members of the Menzies family. Until 1965 all Parish Ministers of Weem were required to be Gaelic-speakers. In 1965, the Parishes of Weem and Dull were united. Services were held in both churches each Sunday until early in the 1980's. Dull church was sold in 1989 to the Scottish Knights Templar and has subsequently been re-sold and acquired privately.

In 1981 the congregation of Dull & Weem was linked with Fortingall and Glenlyon but in 1989 this link was broken and a linkage was formed with Aberfeldy and Amulree. This was changed with the appointment of the Rev. Neil Glover in late 2017 and the linkage is now with Aberfeldy and Grandtully Logerait and Strathtay.

During the construction of the MacDonald Room and Vestry in 1993/94, the old well of Weem was rediscovered and has now been fully restored and can be seen at the rear of the present church building.



Dull & Weem Guild

The Guild was formed in 1972, Formerly there was a 'work party' but no Guild. Meetings are held monthly from October to March and the Guild, with some 18 members, plays an active part in the life of the church.


Here is a photo of the Work party taken in 1926 outside the Old Church entrance

Back Row         Mrs. Leslie, Miss Smith

Front Row         Mrs. Russell, Mrs. MacLellan, Miss Robertson, Miss Munro, Mrs. Duncan, Mrs. Reid, Mrs Morgan

Music in Weem Church

The organ in use today is the original instrument, designed, built and installed in June 1875 - for the princely sum of E366.9/-d - by J.W. Walker & Sons of London, now based in Suffolk. In November 1876, additional musical stops were added at a cost of some £63.9.8d.

This fine historic instrument of the late 19lh century, with Swell and Great manuals and full Pedal board, has a tracker and coupler action throughout and involves approximately 850 separate movements. However, this mechanical action creates a heavy feel to the keyboard and as a consequence,considerable pressure is required in the playing of the keys. At the time of installation, the organ air bellows were hand-pumped - a capability still available to this day - although in the mid-1900's an electrically driven air pump was installed to power the bellows, thus making life a lot easier for some church members.

The organ underwent a major refurbishment in 1994 and with twice-yearly tuning, the instrument is well maintained and we hope that you will enjoy the sounds that are possible from this 'small', but historic pipe organ.

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