The Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group welcomes you to the western gateway to the Patrick Matthew Memorial Trail. This stake is placed in the Carse of Bloom Community Garden, a new addition to the villages and a place of relax and recharge your batteries as you ‘blaze the Matthew’s trail’!
As you sit and relax, let us share the heritage of the Carse of Gowrie and how Patrick Matthew’s legacy was inspired by his forefathers and the folk who made the Carse into the diverse rural area it is today.
The Carse of Gowrie’s fruit growing heritage dates back 800 years, when French monks settled here, and planted fruit trees they had brought with them. By the 19th century, this area’s seed stock predominantly sourced the colonised world. One Carse orchard contained 10,000 trees (just one original tree remains today) was created by Patrick Mathew, a silvi-arable farmer, reformist politician, businessman, forester, orchardist, fruit hybridizer and author, whose books focused on maintaining the naval timber for shipping and on advising how best to colonialize the so-called “new World”.
In the mid-1800’s the Carse and Perthshire were premier apple growing areas in Britain, making apple growing big business. This included the cultivation of heritage varieties like the Lass O’Gowrie, a juicy cooking apple, and the Bloody Ploughman (see photographs below). The Bloody Ploughman, is a dark red with white flesh with pink stains. Named after a ploughman who was caught stealing the apples and shot by a gamekeeper.
Photograph (left) Bloody Ploughman, Photograph (centre) Bloody Ploughman and Photograph (right) Lass O’Gowrie. Photograph references found at end
To give an idea of the apple business, in 1845, Longforgan, alone, made £500 from orchard revenue (fig 1), which relates to over £57,000 today.
Fig. 1 Produce of Longforgan Parish, 1845 Hayes, 2007.
In creating the largest Carse orchard on record of 10,000 trees, Mathew was optimising mid-19th century farming trends. Matthew (Hayes, 2007). He is responsible for introducing fruit tress to New Zealand and was the first person to bring giant redwood trees to the UK, specifically to the Carse from America in 1853.
The most significant fact, is that through orchard management Matthew discovered the process of natural selection, publishing it in his book ‘On Naval Timber and Arboriculture in 1831, 28 years prior to Darwin (1859), yet struggled to gain recognition from the scientific establishment and still does today (Sutton, 2017).
The Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group has been working with Matthew’s descendants and Dr Mike Sutton, a leading expert on who read and cited Matthew’s (1831) book and the original ideas in it pre-1859, to develop a memorial project. This work has been paralleled by the Junior Carsonians (JC’s), the pupils from the six Carse Primary Schools, totaling about 1000 children, who have worked collectively in exploring Matthew’s legacy.
Since March 2015 the Junior Carsonians undertook the following aspects of Patrick Matthew, 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.
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.
The JC project logo illustrates the rich heritage of the Carse, the soft fruit, the fruit trees, the redwood trees and the six Primary Schools who work together on heritage and climate change projects across the academic year.
Pupils at Abernyte School, 2017
The logowas created by Aberbyte School and which will become badges for the JC’s during the Patrick Mathew Memorial Project. Aberynte also created a timeline of Patrick’s life and other events taking place in a national and international context. They brought the timeline up to present time, making it 4 metres long
Pupils at Abernyte School, 2017
This aspect of the overall work of the JCs set the context for the life and times of Patrick Matthew. They also updated a 3D Matthew family tree sculpture showing the generations of the Gourdiehill Matthew Family their association with orchards