Dunning Parish Historical Society in Perthshire Scotland has local Dunning history data including dunning village census and grave yard geneaology records Dunning history society logo text

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In an autumn of well-arranged, well-attended events (an archaeological fieldwalk on Ian Philip's farm, a coffee morning displaying some of John R. Crow's fine collection of old Dunning postcards, a visit to the new Bell Library, splendid talks by writer Rennie McOwan, Forteviot minister Colin Williamson and archaeologist Rebecca Moloney) there were a couple of unexpected and happy developments for the Society.

To see someone rewarded whose accomplishments have gone unrecognized brings an unexpected pleasure. So it was a delight when David Doig of Dunning was chosen by the Friends of the Ochils as the first ever winner of that organization's award for outstanding public service. 65 year old David's work as an unsung trailblazer was one of two nominations put forward by the Dunning Parish Historical Society; the other being the work of a team of Society members recording the tombstone inscriptions at St. Serf's. A total of eight entries was considered, and the tough competition included outstanding groups and individuals from south of the Ochils. More details on page 4.

The other unexpected development occurred following the September 25th fieldwalk near Dunning when one of the objects which was found on this walk, a flint scraper, was identified as probably the oldest man-made artefact ever discovered in Perthshire. It has been dated as perhaps 8,000 years old. More on page 11.


Following last September's Evacuees' Reunion, there are several matters to report. One sad piece of news was the death in the autumn of former evacuee John Laird of Culloden who attended the Reunion. Over many years John and his wife Anne had been regular visitors to the village, maintaining friendships here. Our Society extends to Anne and the family its heartfelt condolences.

As a first step to commemorate Dunning's evacuees, the Society committee has contributed to the dubbing of 75 copies of our Society-produced video 'The Evacuees' available for immediate distribution to Perth and Kinross primary schools. (Other copies are also available for members. See page 10).

A second step to honour the evacuees, suggested by the great success of the school visits on September 2 last, was to invite evacuees to send us written recollections of their experiences. The intention is to publish these collected memories for local schoolchildren to read in years to come. We're glad to report a number of recollections have already arrived, and more are hoped for.

One long letter came from Mrs. F.M. Burke, the former Miss Orma Campbell, who lives in Yandina, Australia. In part it reads: 'The idea of combining all information about this early war period is I think an excellent one, and I feel sure there will be many recollections forthcoming. I was one of the teachers on that first evacuation from Haghill School. During that 'phoney war' period when nothing seemed to happen, one can hardly blame parents in Glasgow missing their children and bringing them home. It was that rather than a desire on the children's part to return, as many 'had never had it so good'. By November '39 a majority of pupils had drifted back. I too returned to Glasgow. One colleague, Jenny Todd, then Latto, stayed on in Dunning until June 1940. She now lives in Dollar. I also correspond with another colleague, Miss Sydney Barr, who left Dunning about the same time as I did, and now lives in Glasgow. We three very much enjoyed our Dunning stay and often in letters mention our time there, a happy period in spite of the sadness of war.'

We look forward to hearing more from evacuees, just a page or two of what each recalls of this extraordinary period of their lives.


Line drawing 36.6kb

Ken Laing recently drew the above sketch for Mrs. Patricia Tweddle of Clinton, Ontario, who is descended from Walter Philip, a Dunning resident who died about 1868. Mr. Philip's verse on the history of the aged thorn tree appeared as follows in the 1906 edition of James Wilson's history of Dunning.

So they three hundred Highlanders did bring
To put in force the edict of the King,
From Braco, Crieff and Comrie they came,
And other parts, to set the town on flame.
Then Abruthven, Muthill and Blackford also,
In fire and smoke up in the air did go,
Dunning and Auchterarder shared their fate.
* * * *
A thorn tree from Pitcairn's Den
For a memorial was planted then,
And that no evil might the tree befall,
It was protected by a circular wall.
And every year the night before the fair,
The Baron's workmen do with skilful care
Trim and preserve its bowl-inverted form
And single stem, which long has stood the storm.
Long may it live to tell to future days
What Dunning suffered from the rebel ways.

--Walter Philip, Dunning.


The Friends of the Ochils, a conservation group created a year ago, numbers 300 members mostly from the well-populated south side of the Ochil Hills. To celebrate its first birthday, the Friends had set up an annual award 'to be given to the individual or group which has done most to promote conservation or enhancement of the environment, study and research in the Ochils area, and improvement of access'. There were eight nominations in total, and at November's presentation ceremony, Friends of the Ochils awards committee chairman Roy Ramage reported that the standard of entries was impressively high and so the competition had been very keen.

The unanimous winner, however, was David Doig of Newton of Pitcairns, Dunning, for his work in establishing and maintaining a trail system in Dunning Parish. He was one of two entries submitted by the Dunning Parish Historical Society. The other was the Society's own team of members (Ken and Greta Laing, Peter and Alma Duncan, Isobel Barnett, Ian and Katie Lambie, Nan Ross, Janet, Louise and Catherine Crowe) who had undertaken the recording of all the gravestone inscriptions in St. Serf's kirkyard. The Society team, like all the other nominations which so pleased the judges, received a 'Highly Commended Certificate'.

David, attending the Friends of the Ochils awards ceremony in Alloa with his wife Kirsty, was presented with a silver quaich (plus a miniature to keep) and a cash award. In his speech of thanks, David modestly pointed out the irony of how in his early life as an agricultural fencer and drainer he had sometimes been required to rip up hedges and otherwise alter the landscape and here he was now being honoured for conservation of the environment.

The nomination had described David as 'The Unsung Trailblazer'. It spoke of how for several years he has worked voluntarily on the construction and maintenance of a lengthy footpath in a wild and beautiful part of Dunning Parish not too far from the village. There had never been any previous public mention of his work, out of respect for the landowner's wishes not to advertise the trail, though access by the public has always been graciously permitted and the path has become a favourite walk of villagers.

The trail is a good example of the thorough and quiet way in which Davie Doig works for his community, often as in this case on a project conceived and undertaken by himself. First there was the clearing and then the maintenance of the footpath. Then there was the auxiliary equipment provided to it (at his own expense, it should be added). At intervals he has built and installed benches. On trees along the trail, he has set up nesting boxes to attract birds. The two new pairs of wire-crossings he strung up are a traditional local method of crossing the burn in winter when it is in spate: the steep terrain means the path sometimes switches to the other bank, and the wires enable the walker to cross the burn stepping on one wire, grasping the other. He also recreated (a major task completed with help from two other local men) an historic footbridge, the Tory Brig. which had been swept away by the rampaging burn. He also reinforced the trail where it is in danger of crumbling away and has built in long flights of steps at the path's steepest points.

But David Doig has provided the community with many other services. As a keen naturalist, he has conducted many natural history outings. An excellent photographer, he gives slide shows on nature and history subjects. He has shot for the Society archives rare old photographs loaned to the Society by members. He has also done much work preparing and photographing for presentations by others, most recently for the talk on the Dupplin Cross by Colin Williamson, and for a Dunning Parish Historical Society event coming up in the spring featuring our honourary vice-president Malcolm Graeme and his exploration of his roots as the last of the famous Graemes of Garvock.

One fascinating project David has carried out, entirely on his own initiative, has been to create outside the village a replica of the old topiary thorntree which has long been a symbol of the burning of Dunning by Jacobite troops in 1716.

David Doig's field skills acquired over years of building fences and laying drains have recently put to another community use: in helping to organize and lay out archaeological fieldwalks being conducted in Dunning and other parts of Perthshire by amateur and professional archaeologists, in which the Society has played a useful part.

At 65 years old, David is still full of energy and ready for new projects, He's an active member of nature, camera, gardening and history clubs and will undoubtedly continue to make major contributions through these organizations. But since he's a strongly independent individual with a great sense of community service, only he knows exactly what his next trailblazing effort will be.


'The Same But Different'

by Angus Watson, Collingwood, Forgandenny

In this batch of notes I take a look at four weel-kent places around the district whose names have for a long time had two or more different forms existing side by side.

Late Green, OS Square 0308 at the head of the May Valley, has for several hundred years had the variants 'Late Green', 'Lead Green' and 'Leat Green'. But the earliest written form of the name I have is 'Ladegraven', from 1428, and I have found no form with '-grene' or 'green', ie without the 'v', before 1488. This suggests that the name originally did not include Scots/English 'Green' at all. In fact the 1428 form is a representation of an earlier Gaelic name. 'Led-' is for Gaelic 'Leathad', a hill-slope; the site of course is on such a slope. The second part is more problematical. The 'v' would probably represent a Gaelic spelling 'mh' or 'bh', pronounced like Scots/English 'v'. The only Gaelic word I know that might fit here is 'Griomhan', sometimes used for temporary stacks of corn or peat, so the whole name might mean 'stacks slope'.

Our three long-standing variants can be seen as three slightly different ways of rendering that Gaelic name as it became incomprehensible after Gaelic ceased to be spoken here. In all three variants the now meaningless 'greven' was reinterpreted as 'Green'. 'Leat' and 'Lead' stay reasonably close to the pronunciation of 'Leathad', which would be something like 'Leahot', with the vowel sounds as in 'Zealot' and the 'h' rather weak. 'Late Green' goes a step further and reinterprets the first syllable. As many of you will know, the local explanation of 'Late Green' is that the site is green later in the year than other spots. Did this fact prompt the reinterpretation of the name in the first place? Or did someone think of the explanation only after the name developed to that form? We will probably never know. But we can see that 'Late Green' is both based on the sounds of the earlier Gaelic name, and is a new name, meaning something different and describing the site in a new way.

Broadheadfold, OS sq 0410, between Blaeberry Toll and the May. Alongside the versions containing '-head' there is a set of versions without it: 'Bradiesfauld', 'Brydiesfauld' and 'Broadiesfauld' all occur regularly through the centuries during which I have this name on record, from 1650 onwards. Sometimes they take the forms 'Bride's Fauld' and 'Broad's Fauld', sometimes they seem to be understood as containing surnames, as if they were 'Brady's Fauld', 'Bridie's Fauld' and 'Brodie's Fauld'. Very confusing to us, but it looks as if our ancestors could cope quite happily with a name that was constantly shifting, as long as it kept the same basic shape, in this case 'Br--d---fauld'.

Myrehaugh is in sq 0105, East of the Muckhart Road near Earnieside. This name occurs consistently as 'Marhauch' or 'Marhaugh' from 1542 until the mid-18th century, after which 'Marhaugh', 'Moorhaugh'/'Muirhaugh' and 'Myrehaugh' all occur from time to time. In this case then, a form of the name was securely established for at least two centuries, but at that point a need was felt to reinterpret it. 'Mar-' may of course have been from the surname 'Mar(r)', but whatever it signified, the relevance seems to have been forgotten and alternatives emerged which were felt to make more sense. And once again our forebears don't seem to have been unduly troubled by a lack of standardization.

Midge Mill, sq 0309, is also known as 'Maidsmill' and 'Mids Mill'. The earliest form I have is 'Midge-milne', from 1671. The first appearance of 'Mids Mill' in the records I've seen dates from 1783, and my first reference to 'Maidsmill' is from the Ordnance Survey Name Books c1860, where in fact the surveyors have recorded all three of these alternative names from their informants. The fairly local sources, such as Rent Books and Valuation Rolls, plump for 'Midge Mill' every time, and this is not only the oldest but also by far the most common version I have come across. On the other hand I don't think this entitles us to say that the other two are 'wrong' or less good as names. It might be that 'Mids' and 'Maids' arose from a mis-hearing or misunderstanding of 'Midge' at some stage (is it a midgey spot?). But once a name has come into being and gained some currency with local people, we can try to analyze it from the historical or linguistic point of view but we can't really make value judgments about it. We may each have our own personal preference, sometimes passionately so, but that's a different matter!


To use up the rest of the space your generous editor allows me I'll mention a name about which Mr. and Mrs. George Ritchie kindly gave me information some time ago. Sillywinny Wood, sq 0613 near Montalt and Condie, appears on the 1860 OS map. It is explained locally as being named for a woman who went mad because she found the spot too isolated. Mrs. Ritchie also tells me that some folk call the place 'Sallywinny Wood'. Now the Book of Seisins for Perthshire, 1826, had 'the farms of Condiemains and Condie Mill and the Grass Parks of Lillywinny'. There are a number of cases in the Ochils where the sole survivor of a whole complex of names is the name of a wood, and it looks as if our wood too has been named from a 'lost' holding, which in this case was earlier 'Lillywinny'. 'Sillywinny' and Sallywinny' thus appear to be later reinterpretations.

Sadly all this spoils a good story about Silly Winny who couldn't thole the solitude!

Copyright 1994 Angus Watson


Over the last two years we have published several letters from Mr. Henry Campbell of Toronto. Born in Dunning in 1900, he moved to Canada as a young man but made several return trips to his birthplace. On June 11, 1994, Mr. Campbell died. Here are some last excerpts of letters he had sent to the Society.

Dunning's Water. It is common knowledge that every village, town and city has to have a water supply and of course Dunning is no exception. In the dim past several centuries ago it's very likely the early inhabitants had no hesitation in drawing water from the little old burn for domestic use. To prove that they did, I call your attention to the burn between the bridge and Howie's Lynn and nearer the bridge you will notice one or two stone steps leading down to the water's edge. This was there so that women could get right down to the edge of the burn where the water was fairly deep to fill their buckets.

By the way there is a garage at the end of the bridge which has no right to be there because it has covered some stone steps which led to a footpath so that boys could get to the Lynn where there were always a number of trout to be caught. That garage is blocking an ancient right of way and ought to be removed. And while I am at it, at the other end of the bridge I couldn't get down to Bobby's Lynn because some dumox had blocked a passage down to the burn with a number of posts. That also was an old right of way.

Back to the subject. As the village grew, the demand for more convenient water grew and in due course a water supply was installed. This consisted of no less that 24 outside wells scattered throughout the village. The water was taken from the burn through an intake pipe a few yards beyond the Tory Bridge thence into a shed right at the bridge. By the early 1900's more than three quarters of the houses had inside water. There is no doubt in my mind that the village was established because of its proximity to a good water supply and the fact that it was the first place of level ground available with easy access to the burn and still in touch with all the roads.

When the burn is low you may notice that the flow has ceased and sometimes flowing backwards a little. Our theory as children was that this happens due to the effect of the ocean tide.

One thing has always puzzled me. Smiddie Haugh which flows into the Earn has carp in it, yet Dunning Burn which also flows into the Earn not far away never has any carp.

--Toronto, 1993

Dunning Prepares for the Great War. Prior to the outbreak of war in 1914 Dunning though it didn't know it was getting ready. There was the Boys Brigade, a group of young lads armed with wooden rifles who marched up and down in the old football field at the Crofts. They had no uniform but a little pillbox hat which sat on top of their little hard heads, held in place with a chin strap. As the hats were all the same size and could sit on top of any size head this saved the bother and expense of supplying various sizes of hats. They also had a couple of belts and a little pouch, but what it was for I don't know. Shortly after the outbreak of war the Brigade was disbanded. All of the lads wound up in the army.

Another group preparing for war was known as the Territorials. They had regular army uniforms, kilts and rifles and at the outbreak of war the Black Watch swallowed them. I can't recall ever having seen them drilling and the only two who I know fought for years with the Black Watch were Tom Gow and Davie Scott.

Another military group was known as the Scottish Horse because it was a cavalry unit. Because horses were used the men were mostly farmers or anyone who could borrow a horse. They drilled in the field opposite Pitcairn House. Few ever saw them or cared. It wasn't long before the army grabbed the horses and the Scottish Horse was only a memory.

After the war had been raging for a year or two another group of warriors was recruited known as the Volunteers. After the first call all the men 50 and over eager to fight for their country assembled in the Crofts field and after considerable confusion managed to get into a column of four and started to march up and down in the middle of the field where the grass was short due to the frequent football games. However, their instructor made the fatal mistake of marching them well into the long grass which happened to be heavy because of a recent rain. Well it wasn't long before the entire platoon had cold wet feet. Very few of them showed up for the next parade.

However the movement grew rapidly. Farm workers and some other workers were needed to produce all kinds of food and keep things as normal as possible and for that they had to join the Volunteers. Also young lads like the late Jim Crow and myself were welcomed. We had regular army unifroms, belt and bayonet and a heavy Ross rifle. We used to drill in the Hall. One Sunday we marched to the Rifle Range. We were allowed 5 shots each. I never heard the result. I think that the shooting of the entire squad wasn't very good. In the building which runs from the bridge up to Howie's Lynn the top floor was used as a rifle range. To show how bad some of the shooting was, one night one of the braves hit the light which hung two feet above the target.

The Volunteers received very little training but if needed they could have been used to guard bridges, railways and all kinds of things. I remember James Crow had a photo of the Dunning and Forteviot squads taken at Invermay House with its owner Mr. Fraser seated in the front row. I think he was a Captain but only a figurehead. (Note: this photo appears as #58 in 'A Village of Crossroads and Characters').

Dunning had another arm of the law in the persons of the Special Constables. What their duties were I don't know. Perhaps it was formed to make these elderly gents feel they were helping the war effort. The Rev. Dr. Watt photographed them in front of the Police Station. Somebody must have a copy. (Editor: Does anybody?)

--Henry Campbell, Toronto, 1993


The Society has produced a series of video programmes on historical subjects with a Dunning slant. A limited number of VHS copies (PAL format on half-hour tapes) is now available for purchase. The regular retail price is £9.99. Members' price is £7.99, including U.K. postage.

The titles include:
  1. THE EVACUEES (shorter version) and THE RETURN OF THE P.O.W.
  2. THE EVACUEES (longer version)
We'll also take orders for THE THORNTREE and THE BUTLER'S SON

THE EVACUEES A return to Dunning by a former city evacuee plus interviews with others evacuated to Dunning (the longer version features more interviews).
THE RETURN OF THE P.O.W. 46 years after he was interned in Dunning, a former German prisoner of war comes back to meet old village friends.
THE TATTIE HOLIDAYS Dunning pupils get a taste of tattie-howking as it was, and we visit old-timers who recall when school closed for the annual tattie-lifting.
TATTIE MEMORIES Members of the Society get on stage in a live-to-tape session to tell their personal yarns about tattie-lifting.

THE PATIENT ART OF FIELDWALKING Archaeological fieldwalking is explained by the example of a Dunning Parish fieldwalk on Ian McLaren's farm.
THE THORNTREE tells about the ups and downs of Dunning's famous emblem.
THE BUTLER'S SON John Stockley recalls life 'downstairs' at Kippen House.

Please address orders/enquiries to the Society c/o L.F., Granco House, Lower Granco St., Dunning PH2 0SQ or call 0764 684 581. Please make out cheques to the Dunning Parish Historical Society.


On our first Society co-sponsored fieldwalk a year ago, a fragment of Neolithic pottery was the choicest object found by the walkers on Baldinnes farm. This year, on Ian Philip's Leadketty Holding next door to Baldinnes, ideal conditions of a well-weathered field and no glare from the sun helped the 60 searchers to find over 50 pieces of worked flint. All of the pieces were small but very significant, bearing out the aerial survey results which indicated a Neolithic/Bronze Age agriculture-based settlement flourished here approximately 3 to 5 thousand years ago, just a half mile from the present day village of Dunning.

Then, when the flints were given closer expert scrutiny in Edinburgh, they were found to include a scraper dating back to the Mesolithic period which preceded the Neolithic. In other words, it could date back to 6,000 B.C. or earlier, and belonged to a pre-agricultural period of hunter-gatherers. Mike King, formerly Perth Museum archaeologist and now curator of North East Fife Museum based in Cupar, is the person who has pioneered archaeological fieldwalking in this area and he again headed this walk. He says that to his knowledge this scraper is the oldest man-made artefact ever found in Perthshire.

Shona and Albie Sinclair, Ian Philip and David Doig were among the local arrangers of the walk. Rebecca Moloney of The Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland also played a key role, and spoke to us December 1st about the finds. With two fieldwalks under our belts, the Society expects this year to arrange a fieldwalk on its own initiative with hopefully lots of outside participation, as well as taking part in fieldwalks held by the new Tayside & Fife fieldwalking club sparked by Mr. King. Since our next walk may be organized on short notice to take advantage of field availability, anyone interested in being notified is asked to give their names now to Mrs. Shona Sinclair, Ashgrove, Quarry Road, Dunning PH2 0SL (tel 0764 684 566).


Our neighbouring parish of Forteviot is threatened with the loss of one of its most famous antiquities, the Dupplin Cross. Forteviot was the first Scottish capital, and the Cross is believed to be an 1100 year old relic marking the reign of Kenneth McAlpine, first Scottish king. Present plans are to move the carved cross from its outdoor position on the Dupplin Estate to the new National Museum under construction in Edinburgh. But on December 1st we heard in detail about Forteviot's dramatic campaign to keep the cross in the parish, by moving it inside Forteviot Church. The Rev. Colin Williamson, minister of Aberdalgie, Dupplin and Forteviot spoke on behalf of the Friends of the Dupplin Cross and gave eloquent arguments for placing the cross in the church. He brought the news that complete private funding has been found to so install it. A final decision on locating the Cross will probably be made after public hearings. On your behalf, the Dunning Parish Historical Society committee has already indicated support for keeping the Cross in the local area.


Thurs., Jan. 12/95 7:30 pm, Dunning Primary School.'Tall Towers, Tall Tales'. Our leading local historian Ken Laing returns to entertain us with slides and stories about some famous Strathearn structures. Kenny promises to unveil discreetly a few mysteries about St. Serf's and similar towers of the area.

Thurs., Feb. 9 7:30 pm, Dunning School. 'Farm Film Night', rare and riveting old movie footage on historic farming and gardening brought to us by the travelling projector of the Scottish Film Archives of Glasgow, an unusual evening which will fascinate farmers and villagers alike.

Thurs., Mar. 2 7:30 pm, Dunning School. Video Night With All the Local Stars! We had planned to have another video-making session but because of technical problems we'll instead present three videos produced by the Society, two of which have never been shown before. 'Memories of the Tatties' was recorded last season before a live audience with local people recalling experiences as tattie howkers. 'The Patient Art of Fieldwalking' depicts the first archaeological fieldwalk participated in by Society members, on Ian McLaren's farm. And you'll see a streamlined version of an earlier Village Vignette,

Thurs., Apr. 6 7:30 pm, Village Hall. A famous family from Dunning's past, the Graemes of Garvock lived in our parish for many centuries. The last of this male line, Dr. Malcolm Graeme, is now our honourary v.p. Thanks to David Doig's camera, we'll accompany Dr. Graeme on a visit to Garvock, Keltie and other places associated with the Graemes. You'll see parts of Dunning you've never seen before.

Sun., Apr. 23 A History Adventure coach tour to points beyond Perthshire. At the January 12 meeting you'll be asked for your ideas on destinations.

Thurs., May 18 7:30 pm, Dunning School. Our Annual General Meeting with speaker Dr. Sheila Douglas of Perth, a folklorist whose fascinating presentation will blend legends, local history and music.

Please watch for short notice of a local fieldwalk. To place your name on the notification list please call Shona Sinclair 0764 684 566.

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