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St Fillans is situated at the east end of Loch Earn in Perthshire, the greater part of the village being on the north side of the road at the point where the River Earn leaves the loch on its winding journey eastward past Comrie and Crieff.
The village consists of a few older cottages (late 18th c.) plus a variety of later buildings, a pleasant mixture of mainly attractive buildings which create a charming appearance overall.
The local golf course is at Dundurn just over the little bridge at the east end of the village.
To the north of St Fillans lies the scenic mountainous area between Loch Earn and Loch Tay. The highland boundary fault created this wonderful range of hills so popular with walkers. To the south is yet another range of hills including Ben Vorlich, and a little further west, Stuc a Chroin.
Original village was called Port of Lochearn consisting of some thatched cottages and smallholdings. In the early 19th c Drummond Estates, the landowners, developed the village and fues out (rented out) land for new homes and summer homes for city families. The village became known as St Fillans about this time due to its association with St Fillan the Leper who reputedly had his cell on Dundurn hill.
Below the Dunfillan Hill east of the golf course is the ancient chapel of St Fillan the Leper.
This was probably the parish church until about 1560 (reformation). An inscribed stone at the east end of the chapel lists all the members of the Stewarts of Ardvorlich family who have been interred there since 1585. The inscription may be read here.
Stewarts of Ardvorlich
The Stewarts moved to Ardvorlich in the 16th century and Dundarn has been their burial ground since then.
By the lochside on the south loch road stands a strange stone resembling a gravestone. It bears the inscription 'This stone marks the place of interment of Major James Stewart afterwards removed to the family vault at Dundurn died about 1660'.
The chief of the Clan Stewart had made many enemies, but always managed to avoid them. He died peacefully in bed but his enemies, possibly Grahams or MacGregors heard of his death,and, furious at having been cheated of their revenge swore to desecrate his body on its way to burial at St Fillans.
The funeral procession, having left the Stewart home at Ardvorlich house further down the road, then a track and much higher up the hillside at that time, were forewarned and buried their chief in a shallow grave down the hillside close to Lochearn where he was left for several years until more peaceful times. He was then dug up to be safely buried in the proper place. This stone marks the spot where his body was hidden.
A few miles further west is the driveway to Ardvorlich house, then an old bridge.
Beside this bridge is another old stone inscribed 'Near this spot were buried the bodies of 7 McDonalds of GlenCoe killed when attempting to harry Ardvorlich House AD1620'.
Seven MacDonalds from Glencoe raided Ardvorlich when the Stewart men were away, but were killed when the Stewarts returned unexpectedly. The MacDonalds were buried without ceremony. The stone marks the spot where their bones were found when this road was being built.
The Neishes of Neish Island
In the 17th century this island - then known as 'Isle of Morell' - was the home of the clan Neish, a sept of the MacGregors. They had a reputation for plunder!
One Christmas, a party of McNabs from Killin were intercepted by the Neishes as they returned to their home in Killin with provisions.
The McNab chief was told of the incident and planned revenge. The Neishes owned the only boat on Loch Earn and as they kept the boat on the island they felt quite safe. McNab told his 12 sons to carry a boat over the hill from Loch Tay to Loch Earn for use in a night time assault on Neish Island. The Neishes were caught in their sleep and with the exception of 2 children were wiped out and their castle laid waste.
The McNabs then set out to return the boat to Loch Tay, but tired on the way and abandoned the boat on the hillside where it was apparently still to be seen well into the 20th century.