Special Places

Niel Gow's Oak

Niel Gow was born in 1727 and from an early age showed a rare musical talent. He was famous in his day and with the patronage of the Duke of Atholl, became much in demand in society; an account book at Blair Castle contains his signature for wages of £5 a year in the 1770 and 1780s. He lived on a croft in Inver, near Dunkeld all his life and on the nearby banks of the Tay where a large oak tree grew, he would often sit playing his fiddle while the Duke of Atholl sat on the opposite bank enjoying the music, the water making a perfect sounding board.

Local folklore says many of Scotland’s best loved strathspeys and reels were played and composed beneath this tree and today there is a bench there with words carved on it from the song ‘Niel Gow’s Apprentice’ by Michael Marra and dedicated to local musician, Dougie Maclean.

A portrait of Niel by Henry Raeburn hangs in the Ballroom at Blair Castle beside his fiddle, a reminder of the great friendship between the crofter and the Duke. On his death aged 80 in 1807 he was buried in the local graveyard at Little Dunkeld with a plain marble stone as a memorial. This stone suffered from the ravages of the weather so much that in 1986 the Niel Gow Memorial Trust was formed to have the original stone placed in the Dunkeld Cathedral Chapterhouse and a new one replacing it in the Kirkyard.


Pitcure copyright Gordon Hatton and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.


Printed Information:

Nearest Town: Dunkeld
Nearest Postcode: PH8 0HX

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This entry was added by: Highland Perthshire Limited