NEWSLETTER No 13 OCTOBER 1995
Like gardeners and sunbathers, Society members can look back at the spring and summer of 1995 with pleasure and a sense of accomplishment. There were smaller pleasant events like the field trip to Keltie and Baadhead led by Capt. Jamie Baker and David Doig, a visit from the Perth History group, a late-planned trip to an archaeological dig of a Roman Watchtower near Greenloaning, and the boat journey to Isle of May which this year went off well. There were some big events too. Some of our evacuee members led by George Boardman planned on their own a unique day of thanks to the village of Dunning, culminating in the unveiling of a plaque in Tron Square (more on page 2). And over 700 people attended the Society's hugely successful 'Village Images Old and New' exhibition of paintings, drawings and photos.The show was extended for 2 evenings and 1 extra day (11 days total) and could have been open much longer, with lots to see in the loans and donations of material by over 85 adults and 65 pupils. Yes, a summer of accomplishment!
This is a final reminder for '95-'96 membership renewals: please send now to 'Treasurer, DPHS' Bill Peebles, 10 Romangate, Dunning, Perths. PH2 0SU.
On Sunday, September 3, 1995, a group of people who had come to Dunning in dramatic circumstances several decades ago, many of whom are now our members after last year's Evacuees' Reunion, returned to the village to hold their own special commemoration service run jointly by the two local churches, and to unveil a plaque on the wall of St. Serf's kirkyard near the fountain in Tron Square. The plaque reads:
THIS PLAQUE IS DEDICATED TO THE VILLAGERS OF DUNNING FROM THE EVACUEES, MOSTLY FROM GLASGOW, OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR, 1939-1945. 'A WELCOME WAS MADE AND NOT FORGOTTEN' 3rd SEPTEMBER, 1995
In our next newsletter, we'll present extracts from the very moving services in which evacuees like Lily King, Ron Freeland and George Boardman took part along with villagers Christine Dickson and Jim Smith and ministers Morgan Phillips and Allan Roy. Here as a brief sample was part of Mr. Roy's opening prayer , referring to God's command to love our neighbours as we love ourselves:
We bless you that in every generation,
*More about this memorable evacuee event in our January newsletter.*
ANOTHER SKETCH BY KEN LAING OF DUNNING
Old Tollhouse at Blaeberry, Muckhart Road, Dunning, 1995
DUNNING AS IT WAS 230 YEARS AGO
The following isn't easy to read, because of the archaic language, but it's a very early manuscript which helps us imagine what Dunning once was compared with today. 'A Description of the Parish of Dunning in 1763' is taken from the 1906 edition of 'Geographical Collections Relating to Scotland made by Walter MacFarlane' edited by Sir Arthur Mitchell and reprinted here courtesy of the Scottish History Society.
The Paroch of Dunning in the shire of Perth, hath to the East the Paroch of Forteviot, to the south east a point of the Paroch of Forgandenny: to the South the Paroch of Orwell and shire of Kinrose, to the Southwest the Paroch of Glendovan and a part of the Paroch of Auchterarder, to the West and Northwest the Paroch of Aberuthven now united to the said Paroch of Auchterarder; and to the North and Northeast the Paroch of Findogask and a part of the Paroch of Forteviot foresaid, divided from this Paroch by the River Earn. The Paroch is so named from the church-village Dunning which is about six miles southwest from Perth and hath a pretty church and steeple (the steeple being about six stories high, so exactly built due East and West, that it indicates the hour of twelve, in a clear sunshine day as just as any sun-dyal) commonly said to have been built by the Picts in the 1st century, in the time of St. Servanus who was one of the first Propagators of Christianity in Scotland; yea, 'tis commonly reported this was the first church built in the countrey by the particular order of the said saint: for the fabrick of both church and steeple is among the best in the countrey being intirely both out side and inside of square stone, a row whereof both at the fore and backside of the church are prominent by the rest, whereon are carved several antiquated figures.
The Kings highway from all the West of Scotland by Sterling to the East-Bridge of Earn is thro Dunning, and from the North both Highlands and Lowland to the shire of Fife, and the several passages by boat over the Forth.
Dunning as to its form is oblong lying somewhat South and North but mostly, except a few houses, lyes to the South of the church 'tis built on a ground somewhat riseing to the South; hath about an hundred families in it, the houses are generally good countrey dwellings; it hath a large market place be west the church and school-house, which is a good slate-house two storie high.
Thro' the South east part of Dunning, runs an impetuous water, proceeding from the Ochills, which compose the South quarter of the Paroch, hath a stone-bridge consisting of two large arches, where it passes thro Dunning and falls into the river Earn at Innerdunning boat, a pretty sure passage over the said Earn.
This village with the greater part of the paroch belongs to The Right Honourable the Lord Rollo Chief of the name, whose Mansion house called Duncrub, is distant from Dunning about a quarter of a mile betwixt straight and Northwest, 'tis a stately old structure of a considerable height, situate on a plain levell ground, decored with a pleasant orchard and gardine to the south, West and North, having a small rivulet passing thro' it on the South side of the house; To the South and West of the orchard and gardine there are several parks of trees especially of Firr, as also several meadows all well watered, there being two burns proceeding from the Ochells running thro' them: yea, the parks and meadows are so levell that these burns may almost be brought to water any of them. The entry to the house is to the East by a broad avenue planted on each side with severall rows of ash and firr trees: both these burns foresaid joined together at a small distance to the south of the said house run thro' the said avenue, where there is a stone bridge levell with the ground on both sides.
In the said Lord Rollo's property there are mosses: one of them about a quarter of a mile to the straight south of Duncrub house is a pretty good moss, but for the most part, of difficult access, by reason of water, but is drainable. At the west end of this moss, there is an artificial Knoll commonly said to have been a buriall place of the Picts: which has been verified a few years hence in finding thro' digging, stone coffins, joints of mens bodies rings and peices of old money. 'Tis current here that there was a garrison of the Picts, yea the vestiges thereof are yet to be seen, about half a mile south from that burial place, on the top of an hill with a round top resembling a suggar loaff, from whence there is a true prospect all Strath-Earn over: The military of this fort either killed by the enemy, or dying otherwise were interr'd in the said burial place.
This moss is called Bell's Moss and the hill where the fort is Castle Law is surrounded with a Fossee and Rampard, about twelf foot thick, within which ther's an artifical deep well, all which are to be seen to this day, the proprietor the Lord Rollo out of his respect to these antiquities is just going to beautifie it with firr, which will make it the most curious and most beautifull thing in the country, it being so high that it overlooks all Strath Earne, it has been one of the strongest forts the Picts had on their frontiers. Its remarkable likewise they had every mile or two miles at most of the Oachall hills, which were their Boundaries, fortified after this manner only upon the Northside, and the hills they so fortified run from Striveling Bridge the farthest west, to Gair Bridge of St. Andrews the Eastmost pairt, they keep the south side of Strathearn and northside of Fife. In the same paroch a litle above Clavage and in his ground there's ane other fort tho not strong where there has been some Pictish weapons found by the country people in making their truff.
Another moss is in the Ochells, and is very serviceable to the people there 'tis commonly called Coo's Moss.
In the said Lordship about two miles to the South West of Dunning, where this Paroch meets with that of Auchterarder, there is an High Craig commonly called Craig-Rossie a safe receptacle and nursery for foxes and reavens, where there is good diversion to be had in hunting the fox to the north of the Craig in the low ground at a small distance. There is another artifical knoll, evidently raised and gathered together by mens hands resembling a Ship: whether this has been a work of the Picts or Romans, is not well known: however 'tis rather thought to have been a work of the Romans, it having to this day a Roman name Terraenavis answering exactly to its form: 'tis commonly called here, the words being but a little changed Terrnavie.
About a quarter mile to the North East of Dunning on the way to Perth, also in the said Lordship in a levell Muir, there is a Trench capable to contain several thousands of men, this trench is said to have been cast up by a party detached from the Grand Camp at Duplin commanded by the Earle of Marr Viceroy, in the time of the minority of David Bruce, when Edward Baliol invaded Scotland for his pretensions to the Crown; for Baliol having cross'd the Forth by boat came straight in thro' the Ochells, and the army encamped at Duplin to stop his march to Scoone, whither his career was to be crowned, thought proper to lay this party in ambuscade in order to annoy him on his march or at least, (if not able to fight) to divert him and then fly behind the Earn and advertise the loyal army encamped at Duplin as said is.
The said Lord Rollo has the priviledge of two Fairs and a weekly market in Dunning: one of these fairs holds yearly two days, the thirteenth and fourteenth of October and is called Findoch Fair probably dedicated to Findochus who was a Scotish King in the first century: there having been a vast confluence and gathering of people at this fair in the days of old, proceeded the saying as throng as Findoch fair. a Proverb very notour all the countrey over, and adapted to signify any throng and frequent meeting: The other fair holds yearly on the ninth of June, in which are exposed all vendibles such as sheeps, lambs, merchant ware &c.
About half a mile Southwest from Dunning is the mansion house of John Drummond of Kelty: this is a very strong old fashioned house, of a pretty height and largeness, being without doubt, made use of in the days of old for a fort to the countrey, by reason of the vast thickness of its walls, and good situation being built at the foot of a precipice of the Ochells and inaccessible on all sides except the north: tis furnished with a deal of gunholes on all sides very proper for defence in case of a storming. It has a wood to the South and West of it, but especially to the South growing on a very rising ground and ragged precipices: The entry is to the North thro a large tract of good arable ground all the way to Dunning: It is very well served of water, there being two burns running by it, one of the south and another on the Northside, joining together very near the gate. These two burns so join'd make one of the burns formerly mentioned which run by the Lord Rollo's House.
A little to the West of this house, there are the vestiges of a Trench commonly thought to have been cast up by the Romans when blocking up that house, in order to dislodge a party of the Picts, who had fled thither for shelter from that conquering enemey when they were over running this countrey: Yea in latter times Montrose the Great in his way to Muckart and Dullar, thought proper to cantone sometime in and about this Trench.
About a quarter of a mile to the South east of Dunnin is the Mansionhouse of David Graeme of Pittcairns: this is a house of a modern fashion three storie high, and very conspicuous at the foot of the Ochells being built on a rising ground. It was built by the said David's father, the old house having been turned ruinous by antiquity: tis surrounded by a plott of trees resembling a grove, making a great dash to the countrey about.
About a short mile to the East of Dunning is the Mansion house of James Graeme of Garvock. this is also a house of a modern fashion, three storie high, situate in a plain levell ground at the confluence of two burns, one running Northward at a small distance to the East of it, and the other running east thro' the Gardine on the north side of the house. The entry to it is on the East side, there being a pleasant green between the gate of the house and one of the burns foresaid. There is a pleasant well prospering wood, to the South and West of the house, growing on a levell spot of ground, which makes this among the pleasantest dwellings in the countrey.
The dwelling house of old was at the Southeast point of the wood, having been a strong tower built on a precipice at the west side of the burn which runs down by the East side of the present house: it had three deep ditches round about it filled with water from the said burn, which made it almost impregnable: The vestiges of this Tour and Ditch about are yet very evident; the place is yet called the Hall Tower herein dwelt of old Widd Willie Graeme, they then term'd him, being so called by reason of his resolution and Boldness whereby he struck a terror on the countrey about and by the strenth of this fort defied all attacks of enemies for at that time laws neither having been well established nor put in execution by superior powers, gentlemen in those were obliged to defend their possessions by strong holds and force of arms.
Besides the Barony of Garvock the said James Graeme has another Barrony in the Paroch called Kippon, which was conquest by his ffather: this Barrony lies a little be south Dunning for the most part, and two rooms thereof on the south borders of the paroch among the Ochells: these rooms are called the Ridge and Craigbakie. There is a notably high hill belonging to the Ridge called Innerdownie hill: off the top of which one in a clear day will see Edinburgh, the shires of Lothian the coast touns in Fife, Dundee and a great part of the shire of Anguse.
About a mile and a quarter East from Dunning near the river Earn is the Mansion house of James Mercer of Clavage: this is also an house of a modern fashion, three storie high at the foot of the Ochells having a good dash at a distance.
About a mile to the north of Dunning near the river Earn is the Mansion house of Robert Stewart of Innerdunning situate in a plain levell and fertile ground at the east side of the water of Duning, at a small distance from where it runs into Earn.
About two short mile almost northwest from Dunning there is a very sure passage by boat over Earn, called Dalreoch Boat on a very public way: this boat and Barony of Dalreoch belongs to Mungo Haldane of Gleneagles, only the boat and broom are fewed.
In fine, Dunning is almost the centricall place of the paroch; for from it the west border, as also the North are two miles distant, the East a mile and half and the south about three miles: tis a pretty large and populous countrey paroch, having in it upwards of 1200 examinable persons. finis
Collected by the School Master of the Paroch William Hepburn.
Regretfully we announce the death July 1/95 of the Society's honorary vice-president, Dr. Malcolm Graeme, last of the male line of the Graemes of Garvock. His ashes have been scattered at the Graeme family mausoleum on Garvock Farm. Our deepest sympathies go to his widow Dr. Pat Graeme, and our thanks for his time with us.
TATTIE LIFTING IN THE EARLY 1900'S
by the late Henry Campbell of Toronto
Readers of previous issues will recall the salty reminiscences of Henry Campbell, a one-time Dunning resident who emigrated to Canada but maintained contact with his native village until his death. On August 19, 1995, Mrs. Rita Laing, his longtime correspondent, unveiled a bench on the village green with a plaque reading 'In memory of Harry Lawson Campbell, 1900-1994, formerly of Dunning 'Aye Dear Tae His Heart'. Donated by Chris Hill, Toronto Canada.' We had on hand this last timely article by Mr. Campbell, written in October, 1993.
In the Parish of Dunning every autumn, the school board would order the school closed for a period of 3 weeks. Of course this wasn't intended for the scholars to have a good time playing football and other games, but for the very serious business of helping the local farmers to harvest their potatoes. As soon as the schools were closed the farmers would invade the village looking for workers. This is where you had to be very careful if you wanted to get as much work as possible. For example it paid to keep alert to see what farmers were making the best offer: the wages were always the same but the length of time employed varied. I always found the farmers very honest, though some of them were accused of knocking 15 minutes or so off the lunch hour and adding a bit when it was time to quit. In those days nobody had a watch so we had no idea of time exactly.
I worked for the MacInroys of Baldinnes for a number of years and enjoyed it. The MacInroys were always pleasant and agreeable and didn't drive the workers too hard and when the end came they paid up promptly. Westwoods of Rossie Bank and Harts of Garvock were two other farmers who grew a lot of potatoes and always needed a lot of workers. A number of farms managed to gather in the tatties just using the farm employees and their families.
During this period of the year the weather varied greatly. Some years it was pleasant and warm, other years there would be white frost everywhere and very cold. However we kept on, no matter what the weather, because we needed the money, otherwise there would be no new boots and clothes for the coming winter. People nowadays don't know what real poverty is. If they did they would pack the Kirk on a Sunday and thank the Good Lord for showering prosperity on them.
Without further ado I will try and describe as clearly as possible how a field of spuds would be lifted. Before the real work started the farmer had walked the length of the field counting his steps. If the rows were 300 yards long he would reason that he would require about 20 Lifters each one getting a Bit of 20 yards. This came about because the workers were divided into two groups, one group manning the east side of the field and the other group the west. The farmer would pace off 20 yards in the centre of the field and stick in the ground a stick or a branch of a tree so that the lifters would know where to start and finish. Where there were a number of children they would get a half Bit.
The farmers knew by long experience that if there weren't enough lifters the Diggers, drawn usually by two horses, would be slowed considerably and it would take too long to do a field and thus be more costly. And to have too many workers would also be more costly, so you may be sure the farmers had given a lot of thought to each field. When all of us had been given our Bit, the horse-drawn Digger would start down say the east side, go round the end of the field and come up the West side. A part of the Digger loosened the earth at the base of the Row while another part with a propellor device scattered the spuds over an area of 3 or 4 feet. The worker then placed his basket, called a Creel, between his feet and proceeded to fill it. When it was full the worker would empty it in a nearby Skull.
The Skulls were about 3 feet by 2 feet and about 7 inches deep. Usually there would be 4 or 5 of them to a Bit, but sometimes less depending on the size of the crop. While the Digger was going up and down, the Skulls were being emptied into several carts which went around picking up the contents of the Skulls for transfer to the Pits, the piles in which the tatties were stored until needed.
Undoubtedly tattie harvesting today is more efficient and requires fewer people. The sad part is that the children miss the old Tattie Lifting Holidays, three weeks out in the fresh air with lots of fun and of course an opportunity to earn enough to buy winter clothers, boots, etc. We were all aware that money was scarce and it was our duty to earn as much as possible.
Around Dunning, there were some farmers who didn't need any villagers because they sold their fields to potato merchants, and as they had no machinery or horses they used the next best thing, squads of Irish women. They were like the swallows, you didn't see them coming or going. They kept to themselves and had very little to do with outsiders. They always wore shawls to cover their heads and the upper parts of their bodies, and for good reason, because frequently it was wet and cold. Where they lived and how they were fed nobody seemed to know or care. One group lived in a small house behind Rita Laing's place on The Granco, or at least in that area. Some of them lived on the farms and slept in the haylofts.
Their method of lifting Tatties was very simple: one dug them up with a Grape and another lifted the exposed Tatties. This may seem to be a slow tedious method but it was surprisingly fast.
There was always considerable speculation as to why some farmers used this method of disposing of their crops. For instance, it was said that it was a quick and sure way of obtaining much needed cash, or it relieved them of a lot of work and worry and they were afraid because of their poor relations with the villagers that they wouldn't be able to get anyone to lift the tatties. Anyway, there isn't any doubt that some of them were not very popular and had the reputation of being mean and unfriendly and hard to please.
H.L. Campbell, Toronto, Oct 25, 1993.
NEXT ISSUE: WRITER STEVE MCGRAIL SPECULATES ABOUT MAGGIE WALL AND DUNNING'S FAMOUS MONUMENT TO HER.
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