Welcome to Aberfeldy
Aberfeldy is a small town which lies in the heart of the Perthshire Highlands, on the southern shore of Britain's most powerful watercourse, the River Tay, about three miles downstream from Loch Tay. The town's name is derived from Abair Pheallaig: mouth of the Pheallaig Burn. It is this burn, a delightful array of indigenous animal and plant life, and particularly the Falls of Moness and the birch trees of Aberfeldy which inspired Robert Burns to write the song that has immortalised the town: ‘The Birks of Aberfeldy' (birks: birch trees):“The braes ascend like lofty wa's,
The foaming stream deep roaring fa's,
O'erhung wi' fragrant spreading shaws
The Birks of Aberfeldy"
by Robert Burns (1759-1796
While the first hunter gatherers most likely came to the area over 8,000 years ago, it is not until the Iron Age that dwellings became sufficiently substantial so that traces could survive to provide clues into the lifestyles of their inhabitants. Archaeological investigations at Loch Tay have provided a wealth of evidence about these Iron Age settlers. The remains of 18 crannogs (an ancient form of loch dwelling which started to appear in Scotland and Ireland from around 3000 BC) have been discovered in the loch. From this evidence, the ‘Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology' has been able to reconstruct an early Iron Age crannog, which now welcomes visitors on Loch Tay. This unique reconstruction provides a fascinating insight into early Iron Age Scotland.
River Tay at Aberfeldy
The town of Aberfeldy itself began life as a number of small farming hamlets along the side of the Pheallaig Burn. In the mid 18th century a period of expansion led the hamlets to grow together; it was then that the name Aberfeldy came to refer to the new town that was emerging. This growth was stimulated by the arrival of a new road in 1733, a project instigated by General George Wade as part of a government policy aimed at pacifying the Highlands, whose people largely remained loyal to the deposed Stewart dynasty. As part of the road building project Wade commissioned the construction of the Tay Bridge at Aberfeldy. The architect was William Adam, father of the famous Robert Adam. This magnificent bridge, 400 feet in length and supported by five arches, is still used to this day. It was beside Tay Bridge that The Black Watch, Scotland's most senior regiment, was first constituted, c.1740. The Black Watch Monument marks the spot.
The industrial revolution may have touched Aberfeldy lightly, but it made its mark. The town has a cotton mill which dates to 1799, in 1865 the railway arrived, followed by a gas works, which was used for lighting the town. Aberfeldy Water Mill is still in use today, grinding oatmeal for the local distillery. The town has a long connection with whisky distillation; originally produced illegally by locals, the first official distillery arrived in the mid 19th century. Aberfeldy Distillery was built in 1896 and now provides a visitors centre, Dewar's World of Whisky.
Aberfeldy is a delightful little town. With ancient loch dwellings and medieval castles within a stone's throw and an charming local history, the town is a perfect location for appreciating the Perthshire Highlands. Meanwhile, those who seek more adventure can climb one of the nearby mountains, such as Ben Lawers, play on Aberfeldy's golf course, or enjoy the watersports available on Loch Tay.