The Castle dates from 1420 and is situated on a 50 foot high island, on what was once an area of marshy land adjoining the River Tay. A monastic community was based here until 1560, when Peter Hay modified and enlarged the existing tower and fortalice in 1575. Since 1661, Megginch has been the home of the Drummond family.
Patrick Matthew enjoyed a close relationship with the Drummond family. They were not only closely geographically linked but also friends and neighbours with common interests in forestry and orchards. They were members of the same curling team – Patrick Matthew was a contemporary of John Murray Drummond (1803 – 1889). Thus we are able to walk in the footsteps of Patrick Matthew when we visit Megginch Castle– its grounds and orchard.
Megginch provides a unique insight into the horticultural work of Patrick Matthew. Here you can see two of the first Giant Redwoods (Sequoiadendron Giganteum) to be grown and planted from see in Britain in 1853. The seeds were sent to Patrick by his son John, also a botanist who had gone to California to the gold fields in 1851. He collected the seeds from the Calavares Grove. Recent DNA sampling has shown that the trees had the same parent located in the Calavres Grove (Peggy Edwards 2017). The parent tree was recorded to have a diameter of 34 feet at the base, and a height of 290 feet. Unfortunately, the tree was cut down to ascertain its age, which was calculated to be some 1800 years.
The photograph below shows how well one of the trees in Megginch has grown.
There were approximately ten Junior Carsonians around the tree! This photograph illustrates the size and perspective of these trees and in lifespan terms of the Giant Sequoias this is a relatively young tree. Earlier this year, a new Redwood sapling was planted in the grounds by the Junior Carsonians and Catherine Drummond Herdman as part of the Patrick Matthew Memorial Project. The new tree had been successfully propagated by John Lamont, a Carse resident. The legacy of Patrick Matthew continues in the Carse and new generations are able to experience first hand the skills required to grow these magnificent trees
Megginch Castle’s orchard has an extensive collection of fruit trees – 380 cider apple varitiies and 40 Scottish apple and pear varieties. The orchard has recently been awarded National Collection status. The ancient orchard of Megginch was famous for the Bloody Ploughman variety. The orchard has approximately 1000 trees and once again a perspective on the size of the Gourdiehill Orchard can be surmised with its 10,000 trees. Patrick Matthew’s favourite apple variety was the Scarlet Golden Pippin.
The Errol Primary School Junior Carsonians undertook an interview with Catherine Drummond Herdman. They asked about the special relationship the two families had.
They were able to see firsthand a curling stone and one of the curling competition trophies.
Junior Carsonians Since March 2015 the Junior Carsonians undertook the following aspects of Patrick Matthew’s life and his descendants. Although given the area through discussion, the response is very much that of their own making with support by staff in the schools and sources provided by members of the Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group. They also were able to access information from members of their local community.
The display is very much their own work and involved
Researching primary and secondary sources
Using technology to download images
Accessing information given by experts in the field
Discussion with peers and staff
All of the work undertaken by the JCs is shared in a range of ways with the wider audience of the their school community – displays, talks, presentations at assemblies and discussion with peers. Abernyte School produced the project’s logo
Pupils at Abernyte School, 2017
The work is set within the context of Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes and Skills for Learning and Skills for Life. The JC’s collective work, is being presented at the Junior Carsonian Exhibition during the Patrick Matthew Memorial Weekend at Errol Village Hall – Saturday 30th September – 1st October 10am-4pm.
This project was hosted by the Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Photographs: Photograph 1. Megginch Castle. Catherine Drummond Herdman Photograph 2: Measuring the Redwood Tree in Megginch Estate. Photograph taken by Coral Bell Photograph 3: Planting the Redwood sapling in Megginch Estate. Photograph taken by Coral Bell
References: Matthew P. (1829). Some Accounts of Fruit grown in Gourdiehill - Memoirs of the Caledonian Society. Vol 4, Edinburgh
The piece of the puzzle for QR 2 (Megginch) in the Patrick Matthew Trail is LOLLIPOP.