CULTOQUHEY, Crieff, Perthshire - Scotland.

Detail from a drawing (original watercolour) by J. McOmie, dated 1792.

"According to the only picture that has been found, this was a small compact house with wings, to modern ideas, far too small for the families that were reared within its walls; but until recently the standards of comfort in Scotland were primitive ... The household staff would be crowded into a couple of attics and the children packed like sardines in small bedrooms at night ..." From "The Maxtones of Cultoquhey" by E. Maxtone Graham.

There have been at least three houses at Cultoquhey. A "fortalice and tower" is mentioned in a charter of 1545. Then the house here illustrated was built (perhaps in the 17th century - a drawing of an old model cut out of paper makes it look older than McOmie's drawing) and was occupied until 1830, when it was pulled down on the foolish advice of Robert Graham of Redgorton, "to get rid of all taxes". The present big house of Cultoquhey (now an hotel) was built between 1822 and about 1830 on a nearby site. (Robert Maxtone Graham scripsit)

During the 1930s, Margaret Ethel Blair Oliphant wrote: "The estate lies about three miles to the east of the town of Crieff at the gate of the Highlands, between the Ochil and Grampian Hills. The name signifies in Gaelic, "At the back of the snowdrift".

Never losing or gaining an acre and in unbroken descent from father to son, the Maxtones lived and died at Cultoquhey for 600 years. Robert de Maxtone had a charter of the lands dated 1410, but that the family held the estates from an earlier date is proved by mention of them in other charters. Robert Maxtone of Coltoquhey fell at (the battle of) Flodden in 1513.


A quaint tradition is still quoted regarding Mungo Maxtone, the 10th Laird.


Coltoquhey was a small estate, surrounded by the much larger properties of Monzie, Drummond Castle, Balgowan and Abercairney. These estates belonged to Perthshire families representing powerful and predatory interests in the county with which he felt unequal to contend.

Every day he climbed the hill which rises at the back of the house at Cultoquhey, from whence he could see the surrounding estates. There, he offered up a litany for protection from these neighbours.
From the greed o' the Campbells,
From the ire o' the Drummonds,
From the pride o' the Grahams,
From the wind o' the Murrays,
Good Lord deliver us.

The old house of Cultoquhey was pulled down at the beginning of the 19th century. The present house, a hundred yards to the west of the old site, was built in the days of Anthony Maxtone.

The house commands a fine view to the south across Strathearn to the Ochils and on the west to the Knock of Crieff, the wooded height which will always be remembered as the scene of the death of Kate Niven, the witch of Monzie, the last witch to be burned in Scotland. The story is well-known and can be found in all histories of Perthshire. The dying Kate's prophecies, curses and blessings have been strangely fulfilled in the families and fortunes of those who witnessed her end. But the prophecy made concerning the Maxtones has not yet found fulfillment - that on the day a "gleg-eyed" laird was born a treasure should be found at Cultoquhey."

Cultoquhey was sold by the 16th Laird in 1955.

Colour photograph adapted
(and corrected courtesy of Rob Maxtone Graham of Auchindinny House, Penicuik, Scotland)
from former promotional material for the hotel. (currently - March 2001 - for sale)
Black and white Cultoquhey drawings by Ethel Maxtone Graham
Maxtone Graham family

Burke's Landed Gentry - ScotlandMAXTONE GRAHAM FORMERLY OF CULTOQUHEY - Burke's Landed Gentry (Scotland) - View the Maxtone Graham entry. The article found there was created for the newly published (web-based) Burke's Landed Gentry (Scotland) Family Homepages - courtesy of Nina Hugill. Further family photographs appear there with the permission of Robert Maxtone Graham.