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Perth & Kinross

Plea from Birnam Games chieftain after loss of cherished heirloom

February 24 2017

The chieftain of Birnam Highland Games has made a passionate plea for help after misplacing a cherished family heirloom. Regular visitors to the popular games will be familiar with Thomas Steuart Fothringham’s bonnet and distinctive silver cap badge. It represents the ‘Dancing Beastie’, which is the crest of the Fothringham name, and has been passed down from generation to generation. Unfortunately the badge came loose after Mr Fothringham, of Murthly Castle, attended a funeral service at the Kirk in Little Dunkeld in January. He has offered a small reward for its safe return. “Every year I wear the badge in my capacity as Chieftain of the Birnam Highland Games,” he said. “It was also worn by my father and probably by my great-grandfather when they were Chieftain. “My great-grandfather became Chieftain of the Games in 1891 and served as Chieftain for 45 years. “It is of great sentimental value to me and I am offering a reward of £100 to anyone who finds and returns the badge.” Mr Fothringham believes the badge was lost either near Little Dunkeld Kirk, near the Birnam Hotel, in the car park of Perth Royal Infirmary or in the car park of Gloagburn Farm Shop. The silver badge is about two inches high and has a simple clasp at the back.


Notorious Dundee murderer prepares to go back on trial

February 3 2018

Celebrated television historian Dan Snow believes Saturday’s recreation of the murder trial of notorious killer William Bury will be “absolutely fascinating”. He and his crew will film the proceedings at Dundee Sheriff Court for a documentary that will be screened later in the year. Fifteen readers of The Courier have been selected to form the jury for a special reconvening of the High Court of 1889. They will be presented with the same medical evidence used to convict Bury of the brutal slaying of his wife, Ellen, in the flat they shared at 112 Princes Street in Dundee. Experts at his trial gave wildly contrasting versions of what might have happened, suggesting suicide and post-mortem disfiguring to a vicious slaying, with the medical evidence causing significant confusion. Nonetheless, William Henry Bury was convicted and sentenced to death, achieving immortality as the last man to be hanged in Dunde. Were that not enough, he made a confession to police officers to have been “Jack the Ripper” and has ever since been linked to “Ripper” lore. Forensic anthropologist Dame Sue Black and her team at Dundee University have been given permission to recreate part of the trial in court 1 at Dundee Sheriff Court. The volunteer panel of jurors will be joined by some of Scotland’s brightest young trainee lawyers, with a Dundee University legal team prosecuting and Aberdeen counterparts defending the accused. They will do so under the guidance of two of the country’s top legal minds, in Alex Prentice QC and Dorothy Bain QC respectively. The trial will take place in front of Lord Hugh Matthews, a Senator of the College of Justice and a judge of Scotland’s Supreme Courts. Ahead of the trial, Dan Snow said: “We are so excited to see the outcome of CSI Dundee. “A retrial in the same courtroom of the man who might have been The Ripper, but with all the techniques of modern science, will be absolutely fascinating.” His director for HistoryHitTV, Nathan Williams, is no stranger to working with Professor Black, having collaborated with her last year on the exhumation of Simon Fraser – the last man beheaded at the Tower of London. He said: “When Sue mentioned that she was going to be re-staging a trail of the last man to be hanged in Dundee I knew we had to be involved. “The fact that William Bury is also a possible suspect for the Jack the Ripper murders made the story even more thrilling. “I have no idea what's going to happen during the trial, but I know it will be gripping and gruesome. “It's wonderful to be able to bring it to a larger audience via HistoryHit TV so that people around the world will be able to witness this unique event.” The Courier will be covering every moment of the trial, tweeting live from the court room and presenting a full report in Monday’s edition.

Perth & Kinross

First exploration of ancient seat of Celtic power begins

September 12 2017

The possibility of discovering evidence a Celtic chieftain once ruled from on high above Dunkeld is a tantalising one. A few feet of earth above the site known as King’s Seat may be all that separates archaeology teams from an array of artefacts. No excavation has ever been undertaken at the Fort of the Caledonians – which gave the town its name – and it had been overgrown for decades. Experts and the first of a number of teams of volunteers of all ages have begun the task of exploring the hill fort. An initial two-week dig – led by Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust in partnership with Dunkeld and Birnam Historical Society – is part of a wider three-year project. It aims to increase knowledge of what the trust calls “a mysterious and unstudied site” while also gaining a greater understanding of the impact vegetation has had. The site has long been seen as one of Perthshire’s great unexplored fortifications, making the dig an exciting prospect for all involved. An examination was made of the site by the respected archaeologist RW Feachan, who wrote extensively on the Iron Age hill forts of northern Britain. Though his own efforts were cursory, he was moved to describe it as “a most promising site likely to produce artefacts”. It is the second major dig undertaken in recent years, with an excavation of another ancient seat of power, at Moredun Top on Moncrieffe Hill, providing ample evidence of its importance. Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust’s Sarah Malone said: “The hill fort of King’s Seat is situated on a prominent hill on a major bend in the River Tay. “With such a dominating position, it is not just a dramatic geographical feature in the landscape but a fascinating location for human activity in the past. “We’re hoping to help reveal more about the intangible heritage of the hillfort and its surrounding environs.” The team has already been busy with place name research, further vegetation clearance and a topographic survey, with a huge number of volunteers taking part. More have signed-up to take part in the dig and local schools are also getting involved in the project, which forms part of the Perth and Kinross Archaeology Year 2017. Outreach officer Gavin Lindsay said: “The King’s Seat Community Archaeology Project is a fantastic way to encourage younger generations to take and active interest in the past and learn more about their incredible local heritage. “Archaeology isn’t part of the national curriculum so it is really important to get the message across, not just through visiting schools and telling them about archaeology but by teaching them new transferrable skills and getting them out of the classroom and into trenches to discover their past at the trowel’s edge.” The project will run for three years. Visit the project webpage at www.pkht.org.uk for more information.


Dundee University developing city’s next generation of games designers

June 18 2016

Those of a certain generation will have memories of the beginnings of computing studies at primary and secondary school. They will include classmates gathered around a BBC, challenging themselves with a text adventure or calculating the trajectory to enable two tanks, constructed from blocky sprites, to shoot at each other across a destructible landscape. Stepping into secondary school, computing may have meant creating simple programmes on a computer system such as the Nimbus – and even that beyond the abilities of some. Those primary pupils who visited the heart of Dundee University’s technology centre on Friday, however, were challenged to create an entire computer game. That staggering shift in sophistication is an indication of just how much computing studies have developed and how accessible the previously arcane world of coding has become. It is also an indication of just how vital computing science and technology has become to Scotland, to Dundee in particular and to the workforce of the future. https://twitter.com/LouiseE_Foreman/status/743835412649615360 Dundee boasts some of the brightest talents in the burgeoning sector, which is worth millions to the city’s economy, and as it grows, more and more bright young people will be needed. Thanks to a link-up between Dundee University and Dundee City Council preparation is starting with pupils as young as 11 and 12. More than 60 primary seven pupils from 15 primary schools were invited to take part in a Games Jam at the university, where they were invited to put their fledgling coding skills to the test. https://twitter.com/DIgital_H2L2/status/743855900755173376 The challenge was to create a game to showcase their abilities and take on some of the health and wellbeing challenges facing society – such as smoking, bullying and substance misuse. At the same time, university lecturers and representatives from local games companies helped the pupils gain a greater understanding of the connections between their work in the classroom and the city’s computer games and digital industries. https://twitter.com/codeclubscot/status/743834099740196864 Councillor Stewart Hunter said the link-up with the university – whose graduates comprise a significant proportion of Dundee games industry and wider digital industry – had been “an extremely exciting opportunity”. He said: “It is vital that the young people of Dundee are equipped with the skills necessary for the digital industry, both for themselves and for the city. “This challenge tested their creativity and problem solving as they designed, coded and finally played their games.” The university’s head of undergraduate computing studies, Dr Karen Petrie, added: “Computing Science is an important discipline both for the economy nationally and more locally for the games community. “It is great to see young people exploring this exciting discipline.”


Dundee man admits brutal assault on partner

August 4 2016

A Dundee man has admitted smashing his partner's head off a wall and sink in a brutal attack following a night out in the pub. Troy McRae kicked down a locked bathroom door to get to Sarah Marshall. He shattered a glass panel and then tore the door from its hinges to lay hands on her. Dundee Sheriff Court heard he seized her by her neck and threw her against a wall, causing her head to bounce off it. He then threw her to the ground, causing her to strike her head off a sink. McRae only stopped when friends intervened, leaving Ms Marshall to slump to the floor. Moments later, as her assailant left the house, she collapsed in the hallway and paramedics were called. McRae's rampage continued in the street outside, where he assaulted a neighbour who had come to investigate the disturbance. The court heard the accused and his victim had known each other for around a year but had been in a relationship for little more than four weeks. They had been out drinking at a local pub when the incident began in June last year. When they began to argue at the Brig o' Tay pub in Newport, his partner and her friends left to return to her home. McRae joined them ten minutes later, angry and agitated and refusing to be calmed. He threw one of his partner's friends on to a sofa and then picked up a coffee table and smashed it against a wall. When he then retired to a bedroom, Ms Marshall locked herself in a bathroom and ran a bath. Matters escalated when McRae came knocking at the door. The court heard that his victim had sustained a swollen left eye in the assault that followed and she told paramedics she had lost consciousness, though she did not require hospitalisation. Solicitor George Donnelly reserved the right to offer a plea in mitigation until McRae returns for sentencing. He did, however, offer some comments on the level of injury, which were accepted by The Crown. The solicitor said: "An ambulance man stated that when he checked over the complainer there were no obvious injuries. "He could not tell if Ms Marshall had been assaulted. "There was also no medical evidence that there had been a gap in consciousness." He added that his client was a first offender and that there was nothing in his previous relationships to suggest that he had behaved in such a manner before. The court heard that the pair's relationship had continued since the assault — despite a bail condition preventing them from having contact. Police officers discovered McRae at Ms Marshall's home on one occasion as they carried out a "welfare check". They could see the couple together through a window though, after opening the door to them, Ms Marshall told them she was alone. McRae was found hiding under her bed. Mr Donnelly pointed out that as the couple had a child together, born in April 2016, there had clearly been at least one further breach of bail that had gone unnoticed. "As the Americans say, 'you do the math'," he said. He added McRae's partner was keen to see the bail conditions removed so they could be together and to enable him to support the child. McRae, 28, of Whitehall Gardens in Dundee, pleaded guilty to three charges of assault and one of behaving in a threatening and abusive manner at an address in Newport-on-Tay on May 29 and 30 last year and a breach of bail conditions on June 9, 2015. Sheriff Alastair Brown said: "The allegations to which you have pleaded guilty seem to describe a rather serious assault. "I accept that the ambulance paramedic did not see injuries but to kick off in this way is troubling." Sentence was deferred until September 12.

Perth & Kinross

Sword borne into battle at Culloden by Bonnie Prince Charlie to go on display in Perth

November 3 2016

Rescued from the mud and peat that contributed to the downfall of the Jacobite cause at Culloden in 1746 the small shield could have been one of a number borne by the brave Scots. It was one of a wealth of arms left littering the moor by the fallen and those who fled the last battle fought on British soil. On closer inspection, however, it was a staggering work of craftsmanship, the head of Medusa as its finely sculpted centrepiece, and in fact belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie himself. Dropped as the would-be monarch fled, it was rescued by Jacobite colonel Ewan MacPherson of Cluny and remained in his family until the twentieth century. Also recovered was Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s intricately decorated sword, though it was taken as a spoil of war and presented to the Government commander, William Duke of Cumberland. The items are thought to have been gifted to the Prince while he resided within the exiled Stuart court in Rome by James Drummond, 3rd Duke of Perth, who was a committed supporter of the Jacobite cause. Now the items have returned to Perth as part of a display at Perth Museum and Gallery where they can be seen until February 25, 2017. The targe – or Highland shield – and sword are touring in advance of the opening of a major Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, in whose collection they now rest. The Perth display will also feature Jacobite objects and archival material from the collections and archive of Perth and Kinross Council, which are cared for by Culture Perth and Kinross. As well as highlighting the role of Perthshire in the Jacobite uprisings, it will explore the figure of James Drummond, who came to be a leading Jacobite. Raised near Crieff, the Duke became lieutenant-general of the Highland army and participated in the Jacobite victory at the Battle of Prestonpans before marching into England and laying siege to Carlisle Castle in 1745. Also making one of its first public appearances will be “The Battle of Culloden”, a recently acquired mid-18th century manuscript poem narrating the musings of Prince Charles Edward Stuart and fictitious conversations between The Duke of Perth, Lady Weem, The Duke of Cumberland and Major James Lockhart following the Jacobite's brutal defeat on Culloden field. Jenny Kinnear, Collections and Programming Manager at Culture Perth and Kinross said:"We are delighted to present this new acquisition to our Jacobite collection. “For the first time this beautifully preserved manuscript will be made available to the public. “We hope that its presence, alongside these items of local significance, will generate much thought-provoking interest from our visitors". The Gifts for a Jacobite Prince Exhibition forms part of a season of commemorative exhibitions and events, entitled Perth and Kinross Remembers. It will feature five separate exhibitions that look at war in different ways, from the weapons of the First World War to the Battle of the Somme and the making of the film War Horse.


Sheriff challenges road rage woman to knit her way out of prison

July 12 2016

A road rage woman who punched a motorist across the face has been told her only hope of avoiding prison is to prove she is an expert knitter. Amanda McCabe from Dundee is said to have tailed her victim, Claire Smith, for several miles before boxing her in, hauling open her driver's side door and punching her across the face. At Dundee Sheriff Court, McCabe claimed the apparent pursuit was a simple coincidence, as she was a “keen knitter” and planned to visit a specialist wool shop near to where the assault took place. On hearing that, Sheriff Rafferty laid down a challenge - one that he said could be the difference between liberty and prison. He told McCabe she would return to court on December 14 with "multiple knitted items" capable of being sold in a charity shop and raising money for good causes. Put on the spot, she claimed she could knit a jumper in two-to-three-days at a cost of £6 to £7. Depute Fiscal John Adams said Ms Smith and a friend had been driving along the Kingsway when the accused entered from a slip road. "Ms Smith was not very impressed with the accused's driving and made her feelings known," he said. "Unfortunately this led to the accused following Ms Smith for around five to ten minutes, from the Kingsway to Cardean Street." When Ms Smith, feeling under pressure, took a wrong turn and entered a car park to perform a U-turn, McCabe pounced. She boxed-in her road rival's car and leapt from her drivers' seat before opening her door and punching her once on the right side of her face. Ms Smith was left with a red mark but did not require medical attention. The court heard that McCabe had a previous criminal record but no convictions for violence and nothing within the past decade. She is a keen knitter and a nearby specialist wool shop was her destination Solicitor Jim Laverty told the court: "She is utterly ashamed of herself and says that it was simply a loss of control. "As for following the complainer, she indicates that Cardean Street was her intended journey's end. "She is a keen knitter and a nearby specialist wool shop was her destination, but unfortunately this was the same direction in which the complainer preceded her." Sheriff Rafferty told McCabe: "This was a quite shocking incident. "You went in the same direction as your victim, at the very least, and then went to her car door and assaulted her, though I accept that it was out of character. "If you are a skilled knitter then I am sure that you could produce some goods for charity. "You will bring to court several items that you have knitted that you are prepared to donate to a charity shop. "It will not be a meagre amount. You have committed a serious offence. "You have committed serious offences but you have a chance to do something useful with your time. Take this chance." McCabe, of Maplewood Drive, admitted assaulting Claire Smith in Cardean Street on January 8 this year by punching her on the head. Sentence was deferred until December for her to be of good behaviour and to produce the knitted items requested by the court. There have been many strange orders made in courts across the world over the years. Here we have a look at some of the more offbeat rulings.

Perth & Kinross

Finding the First World War’s fallen soldiers

January 9 2017

For families across Scotland it started with a simple telegram and photograph bearing the worst possible news — a loved one had fallen in combat. To many, they were all that was left to remember the fathers and sons lost and as a result they became treasured items. Vitally, the official documents bore details of where the soldiers had been lost during the full horror of the First World War. As the war ended, the families would use the information within the documents to try and contact the War Office so that they could visit the graves once peace had been declared. Those important letters were the subject of a poignant talk entitled “My Son Tom” at The Black Watch Castle and Museum, where archivist Richard McKenzie introduced to his audience the idea behind the creation of the Graves Registration Unit. The talk was inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s poem “My Boy Jack” which was about his son, John Kipling, who was killed on the Western Front in 1915. With so many dead and dying all over the world, the War Office realised early on in the war that very soon there would be a problem keeping track of the thousands of graves. As a consequence they were delighted when Fabian Ware, an ambulance officer, came forward with the idea of a registration unit to record where the dead were buried. By May 1916, the newly created Graves Registration Unit was already managing 50,000 graves. At the same time as sending members of the team to record the locations of fresh graves, the GRU also found itself the focus for the grieving families left at home. As a result the remit for the unit expanded and they started to send out official communications to the families informing them where the grave was located and a photograph of it. Amidst the tumult and horror of war, however, matters were far from simple and many families found that the small solace offered by the telegram was only temporary. Richard said: “Often desperate and understandably keen to visit the site of their loved ones grave so that they may mourn properly, the families were often left stunned and even outraged when they received information back to tell them that the grave could no longer be found. “For many this is where it ended, but for some, a lost grave was simply not good enough. “How could a government be so callous as to simply state that the grave cannot be found, when it was their loved one who died to support those men in office? “For these people finding their son’s grave became something of a crusade and they spoke with anyone that would listen to try and get their loved one found. “This, in essence, was the final tragedy of The Great War.”

Perth & Kinross

Search for missing pensioner focuses on Campsie area after police find 88-year-old’s car

February 2 2017

Specialist search teams have spent a third fruitless day searching for missing Perthshire pensioner James Morton. The discovery of the 88-year-old’s car by the banks of the River Tay focused attention on the fast flowing water. Police and civilian mountain rescue teams and water rescue trained firefighters joined a dog unit to scour the water and banks for sign of the retired farmer. Though a helicopter scoured miles of river from Guildtown to the estuary south of Perth earlier this week, land and water searches have continued to focus on the Campsie area. Away from the river, police officers have continued to make inquiries with family, friends and neighbours. They also continue to seek information from anyone who may have seen the 88-year-old in the hours before his disappearance. Mr Morton, of Oakbank Place in Guildtown, was last seen at his home in the village at around 8.30pm on Tuesday. The retired farmer is a well-liked and respected member of the community, which has been offering support to his family in the toughest of times. Police Scotland said: “Concerns are increasing for the welfare of James, who was last seen at around 8.30am on Tuesday January 31. “Officers can confirm that his car, a Silver Peugeot 207 registration KN62VML, was traced near the River Tay in the area of Campsie, by Guildtown. “Searches have been focused in that area.” Mr Morton is 5’10, with receding grey hair and when last seen was wearing a light coloured cloth cap, red and white checked shirt, navy blue jumper, a brown anorak, grey trousers and boots. He walks with the aid of a walking stick and may have had this with him. Anyone who may have seen a man matching his description is asked to call officers on 101. Search activities will continue today. Searches were carried out last month for missing Perth man Iain Guthrie after the 20-year-old disappeared from his home in the city. Family and friends have been working to keep the 20-year-old’s profile high, though they have all but given up hope of good news. Mr Guthrie was reported missing at the same time the alarm was raised that someone was in distress in the River Tay close to the Queens Bridge in Perth on the evening on December 19.


Perth’s 63 Tay Street named Scottish Restaurant of the Year

May 10 2017

Two rosettes within months of opening his 63 Tay Street restaurant in Perth showed Graeme Pallister he was on the right track. His dedication to local and honest food has won over diners ever since and has now taken him to the pinnacle of the industry, with the title of 2017 Scottish Restaurant of the Year. Graeme joined his wife Fiona on stage at the Scottish Food Awards, watched by many of his peers. They had already seen the chef and his team collect the title of Perth’s top restaurant – one of a number of awards claimed by Tayside destinations on a night of stunning success for the region. Dundee was particularly well represented with Castlehill and the Tayberry each taking home two prizes. Graeme admitted it had come as a “wonderful surprise” to find out that 63 Tay Street was to be the recipient of the night’s biggest award. He said: "I was delighted for the team when we won best restaurant in Perth earlier in the evening but to win Scottish restaurant of the year was a complete surprise. “My wife Fiona and I were in compete shock and it took a few seconds to register we had won. I am so very happy for all of our team and regular customers as without them we would be in no position to receive such an honour." Castlehill Restaurant was named Dundee Restaurant of the Year and City Restaurant Champion, while the city’s Bridgeview Station was named Bistro of the Year. The title of Fife Restaurant of the Year was awarded to The Cellar at Anstruther, while Perthshire Restaurant of the Year went to The Rooftop Restaurant at Knock Castle, Crieff. The Grange Inn was named St Andrews Restaurant of the Year. For those looking to take away rather than dine-in, the awards gave a hearty recommendation to Auchterarder’s Corbie and Cheip, which was named Deli of the Year. The business opened in 2015 on the town’s High Street and has proved a real hit, offering top produce from small-scale producers – both local and international – as well as fine coffees and fine wines. Awards: Breakfast Destination 2017: Mhor84 Hotel, Lochearnhead and the Craigmhor Lodge, Pitlochry. Fast Real Food Destination: Real Foods Café, Tyndrum. Bar Food Destination: Fisherman’s Bar, East Haugh Hotel, Pitlochry. Bistro of the Year: Bridgeview Station Restaurant, Dundee. New Bar of the Year: The Fifty-Five Bar and Grill, The Royal Hotel Bridge of Allan. Deli of the Year: Corbie and Cheip, Auchterarder. Gold Medal Award – Game: East Haugh Country House, Pitlochry. Gold Medal Award – Ethical: The Atholl Arms, Dunkeld. Gold Medal Award – Cake: KitschnBake, Newport on Tay. Hospitality Award: Killiecrankie Hotel, by Pitlochry. Flavours of Scotland Medal: Tayberry Restaurant, Broughty Ferry. The Flavours of Scotland Award: The Cellar, Anstruther. Hotel/B&B Food and Drink Awards: Balbirnie House Hotel, Markinch, Fife. Fife Restaurant of the Year: The Cellar, Anstruther. Perthshire Restaurant of the Year: The Rooftop Restaurant at Knock Castle, Crieff. Dundee Restaurant of the Year: Castlehill Restaurant. Perth Restaurant of the Year: 63 Tay Street. St Andrews Restaurant of the Year: The Grange Inn. The City Restaurant Champion: Castlehill Restaurant. Contemporary Restaurant of the Year: The Tayberry, Broughty Ferry. Restaurant of the Year 2017: 63 Tay Street, Perth.