The historic location of the Battle of Killiecrankie can be found a few miles north of Pitlochry. It is now in the hands of the National Trust for Scotland, who have provided an Information Centre where visitors can view an audio-visual display of the battle.
The Soldier's Leap, in the pass below the Centre, is a formidable jump. It was here that Donald MacBean, in retreat of Mackay's forces was said to have leapt. On the way down to the Leap there is a viewpoint which earned commendation in Queen Victoria's diary after her visit in 1844.
There was a settlement in the area of Moulin prior to Bronze Age times. There is evidence of the Hut Circle remains, a number of Standing Stones in the immediate area and other circles of Stones nearby. Ptolomy refers to a settlement called Lindum, which is located very close to Pitlochry, mentioned in his earliest maps of Northern Europe.
The Golf Course has many of its Greens, Fairways and Tees named after past events, such as Queen Marys Rest and The Druids Stone. The Old North Road, a drovers road used to pass through the area of the present golf course. This road used to come North from Dunkeld following the higher ground, pass immediately behind the Moulin Inn, and then across to the pass of KillieKrankie and the Highlands beyond. Minor roads and tracks also crossed at Moulin, to head off East to Kirkmichael and west to Aberfeldy. The Parish of Moulin encompassed the whole area of Moulin and Pitlochry, but Pitlochry itself began to grow as early as 1745.
General Wade ran his new military road alongside the Rivers Tay and Tummel, where in previous times the ground had been far to wet to reliably allow the passage of animals, men and carts. This new road ran along the path of the present Pitlochry main street, and became the main road North until 1988, when the A9 was upgraded and many towns including Pitlochry were bypassed – thank goodness.
Moulin village had, of course, been bypassed as early as 1745 and was now a very quiet farming community. It was the arrival of the railway in the 1870’s that brought a new influx of visitors.
The area around Pitlochry was termed ‘Hydropathic’ to reflect the clear fresh air, untainted waters and generally excellent scenery and views. It was possible to travel from as far afield as Edinburgh and Glasgow in a few hours. Some people began to build homes in the town, reflecting their success in business and constructed to an excellent standard, most still standing in prime positions today.
The Pitlochry Hydro and the Atholl Palace were also built about this time but Moulin Inn, having been already in place for nearly 200 years was extended and became an Hotel. Many of the village people worked in the Hotel, its gardens and in the task of helping visitors move around.
Moulin was a staging post, keeping Horses and Carriages in the Coach House ready to take visitors across the moor to Kirkmichael or down to Perth, but the more usual task was a trip to the railway station to meet the latest train and the ever increasing stream of visitors. Motorists began to arrive in the 1920’s and a new set of visitors with them, with ever changing demands. The old Blacksmiths shop next to the Hotel evolved into a Motor Garage with petrol tanks and cars for hire, by 1970 this had been knocked down and the further extension of 10 en-suite bedrooms took its place. By now Moulin village had begun to expand with new houses being erected on the outskirts.
The one feature of the village which survived these times was the Moulin Kirk, though little of the original structure remains, due to at least 3 fires, the most recent in 1886. The churchyard has many interesting features such as paupers graves and a ‘Crusaders’ grave, lying flat but preserved through the centuries.
Today the Kirk is being reused as a Historical Pitlochry Centre after lying empty and unused since 1991, and is compiling many interesting items, artefacts, photographs and text, being placed on display for visitors to view. The full history of the village and surrounding area will ultimately be researched fully and displayed in the kirk along with a genealogy department to help trace the ancestry of past generations.
The growth of Pitlochry dates from about 1845, when Queen Victoria visited Blair Atholl. Sir James Clark, the royal physician, formed such a high opinion of the air and climate that he began to prescribe to his patients to holiday there.