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April 7th 1528

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The Earl of Atholl sucks up

The idea of keeping up with the Jones or impressing the neighbours no doubt goes back into the mists of antiquity. But as far as impressing the Stewarts, in this case King James 4th , the show put on by the Earl of Atholl would take a lot of beating.

Sir David Lindsay describes the occasion. “The Earl of Atholl hearing of the King’s coming, made great provision for him in all things pertaining to a prince so that he was as well served and eased as he had been in his own palace in Edinburgh. For I heard say, this noble Earl gart make a curious palace to the King, to his Mother and to the Ambassador (from the Pope) where they were so honourably eased and lodged as they had been in England, France, Italy or Spain. There was builded in the midst of a fair meadow a fair palace of green timber, woven with green birks, that were green both under and above, which was fashioned in four quarters, and in every quarter a round like a block house which was lofted and joisted three house height; the floors laid with green turfs and meadow flowers. Further, there were two great rounds on either side of the gate and a great portcullis of tree falling down as it were a barrace gate with a great drawbridge and foussie (ditch) sixteen feet deep and thirty feet broad.#

This palace was hung with fine tapestry and arrasses of silk and dighted with fine glass windows in all directions. Further this Earl gart make such provision for the King, his Mother and the Ambassador that they had all manner of meats, drinks and delicates that were to be gotten at that time in all Scotland. Ale, beer, wine, both white and claret, malvoisie, muscatel, hippocras and aqua vitae. Further there were meats, wheat bread and gingerbread; with fleshes beef, mutton, lamb, veal, venison, goose gryce (a sucking pig), capon, rabbit, crane, swan, partridge, plover, duck, drake, brisselcock (a kind of game bird) and paunies (peacock) blackcock, moorfowl and capercaillies and also the foussie about the palace was fukk od salmom, trout perch, pike, eel and all other kinds of delicate fishes that could be gotten in fresh waters all ready for the banquet. Syne there were proper stewards, cunning bakers, excellent cooks and pottingars with confections and drugs for their deserts; and the halls and chambers were prepared with costly bedding, vessels and napery, according for a king, so that he wanted none of his orders more than he had been at home in his own palace.

The King remained in this wilderness at the hunting the space of three days and nights and I heard men say it cost the Earl of Atholl every day in expenses a thousand pounds.

It is said at this time there were slain thirty score of hart and hind with other small beasts such as roe and roebuck, wolf, fox and wild cat.” 

The Earl of Atholl was at it again some thirty five years later organising a hunt in Glen Tilt for the entertainment of Mary Queen of Scots. On that day were killed some three hundred and sixty deer, with five wolves and some roes. Also two or three Highlanders who were crushed to death by a stampede of the deer.

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