Crieff is a market town in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. It lies on the A85 road between Perth and Crianlarich and also lies on the A822 between Greenloaning and Aberfeldy.
Crieff has developed into a hub for tourism. Tourist attractions include the Caithness Glass Visitor Centre and Glenturret Distillery. Innerpeffray Library (established c. 1680), Scotland’s oldest lending library, is also nearby. St. Mary’s Chapel, adjacent to the library, dates from 1508. Both the library and chapel are open to the public: the library is run by a charitable trust, the chapel is in the care of Historic Scotland.
For a number of centuries Highlanders came south to Crieff to sell their black cattle whose meat and hides were avidly sought by the growing urban populations in Lowland Scotland and the north of England. The town acted as a gathering point or tryst for the Michaelmas cattle sale held each year and the surrounding fields and hillsides were black with the tens of thousands of cattle – some from as far away as Caithness and the Outer Hebrides.
Rob Roy MacGregor visited Crieff on many occasions, often to sell cattle. ‘Rob Roy’s outlaw son’ was pursued through the streets of Crieff by soldiers and killed. In the second week of October 1714 the Highlanders gathered in Crieff for the October Tryst. By day Crieff was full of soldiers and government spies. Just after midnight, Rob Roy and his men marched to Crieff Town Square and rang the town bell. In front of the gathering crowd they sang Jacobite songs and drank a good many loyal toasts to their uncrowned King James VIII.
In 1716, 350 Highlanders returning from the Battle of Sheriffmuir burned most of Crieff to the ground. In 1731, James Drummond, 3rd Duke of Perth, laid out the town’s central James Square and established a textile industry with a flax factory. In February 1746 the Jacobite army was quartered in and around the town with Prince Charles Edward Stuart holding his final war council in the old Drummond Arms Inn in James Square. He also had his horse shod in the blacksmith’s in King Street. Later in the month he reviewed his troops in front of Ferntower House, on what is today the Crieff Golf Course.
In the nineteenth century Crieff became a fashionable destination for tourists visiting the Highlands and as a country retreat for wealthy businessmen from Edinburgh, Glasgow and beyond. Many such visitors attended the hydropathic establishment, Crieff Hypopathic Establishment there, now Crieff Hydro which opened in 1868, and remains in operation. Crieff still functions as a tourist centre, and the large villas stand as testaments to its use by wealthy city-dwellers.
Crieff was once served by Crieff railway station. The station was opened in 1856 by the Crieff Junction Railway, but was closed in 1964 by British Railways as part of the Beeching Axe.