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

DPHS Logo 17kb



Hooray! The Society is about to get its first permanent home. It's an office located in the old schoolhouse of the former "Infant School", the first building on the right as you go up the hill to the Dragon from Dunning. Yes, the office is already too small for our needs and will never accommodate all the belongings we've accumulated and kept carefully in several homes, but it's a start, and a safe secure one. As well as the office, we'll have use of an adjacent meeting room. The space is being generously leased from the Dunning Community Association, to whom many thanks for their long and patient efforts. Already work parties of members have started to fit up the office, and if you'd like to be involved please contact Colin Young 684 521.

We had hoped to report in this issue about the new home of the Dupplin Cross, which you'll recall was the subject of public hearings in early December. As we go to print, there has been no decision announced. But inside, we do report on the hearings and how Dunning and St. Serf's unexpectedly came to be involved in the discussions of whence this ancient and splendid Cross should be moved.


Despite the vicissitudes of the winter weather, the Society's evening presentations continue to be not only well worthwhile but well attended. (We always seem to underestimate the chairs needed and more have to be pulled out at the last minute.) It's also encouraging to see so many members and visitors attending from out of parish. One meeting we noted people from Blackford, Crieff, Auchterarder, Forgandenny, Forteviot, Abruthven, Perth and Fife. Author Ann Mitchell delivered a sparkling talk in January on hidden spots around Perthshire, Derek Hall of the Scottish Urban Archaeologial Trust told us in February of some recent digs and finds, and Society members Peter Duncan, Kirsty and David Doig and Grace and Alan McFarlane entertained us in varied fashions on Members' Night in March. We have been lucky indeed in the people who have been willing to speak and show slides, and to sing to us. Our grateful thanks to them all!

Sadly we must report the death in December of former evacuee and Society member Betty (Robertson) Laing who with husband Lucien attended both the 1994 Evacuee' Reunion and last summer's plaque unveiling. And Charlie and Rita Laing report the death at 74 of Kurt Dietrich, the gentle German whose memory-filled Dunning visit features in our "The Return of the P.O.W" video.

Considering our sound finances, your committee is recommending to May's agm no change in Society subs, which are for parish residents £1 for retired and children, £3 single, £5 family, and for non-parish residents £3 for U.K. and £7.50 overseas. There has been some confusion about retired people living outside the parish boundaries---note the rate is £3 to cover postal costs.

Archaeologists Mike King and Mark Hall await further expert analysis of the fieldwalk finds in Dunning the last 3 years, and expect some pleasant surprises. They'll report to us in the autumn and show what treasures our patient fieldwalkers have unearthed. Next season's speakers will also include Kenny Laing with slides and stories of that deceptive stream the Dunning Burn. Author Dr. Joan McIntosh of Auchterarder will lead us on a local exploration, and four local tradesman will tell about some of the now forgotten techniques of their trades as well as some of the funnier adventures they've enjoyed.


In the following pages, an explanation of how St. Serf's Church in Dunning unexpectedly became involved in the important decision on where the Dupplin Cross is to be relocated. Lorne Wallace recounts events.

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The east and north sides of the Dupplin Cross, from a 1903 drawing by Allen and Anderson.


In July 1993, an ancient monument called the Dupplin Cross near Forteviot village suddenly featured in Perth's local news.

People interested in local history knew of this handsomely carved stone. It dates back over a thousand years to when Kenneth McAlpine was Scotland's first king uniting Picts and Scots and Forteviot was an early Scottish capital. Magazine and guidebook articles explain that the two and a half metre high stone stands in an open field on the Dupplin Estate a kilometre and a half above Forteviot village. We also knew there was no public access to the Cross and trespassing was actively discouraged. Thus many local people including our members have never seen this famous and tantalisingly inaccessible stone.

Then in 1993 the newspapers reported that the National Museum under construction in Edinburgh was negotiating to move the Cross to the new museum as a major display. The Museum's argument was that the Cross in its exposed position had begun to deteriorate quite rapidly and should be moved to a protected environment such as the new Museum could provide. The same newspapers told us the move to Edinburgh was being opposed by a newly-formed Forteviot group, the Friends of the Dupplin Cross, which agreed the Cross should be provided with protection but believed that the Cross was an important part of local history and should remain locally.

As reported in our January 1994 newsletter, our DPHS committee discussed the matter. Noting that it was national policy set by Historic Scotland not to move monuments from their locations unless absolutely necessary, we indicated our support for the Friends of the Dupplin Cross, and invited the Rev. Colin Williamson, the group's secretary and minister at both Forteviot and Aberdalgie churches, to come and tell our Society what was happening.

At a DPHS meeting in Dunning School on December 1, 1994, Mr. Williamson reported in detail on the Friends' proposal to accommodate the Cross within Forteviot Church. Permissions had been obtained from the congregation, the Church of Scotland and planning authorities, with help from archaeologists and architects, to place the Cross in the front interior of Forteviot church. Our members listened sympathetically to the Friends' proposal.

Our Society, along with the Perth history group, Perth Museum, Tayside and Fife Archaeological Council and several other local and regional groups wrote to the body responsible for preservation, Historic Scotland, expressing our opposition to the Cross being moved to Edinburgh. In late December, 1994, the Scottish Office announced it was unwilling to approve the proposal to move the Cross to Edinburgh, made jointly by the Cross's owner the Dupplin Trust (Lord Forteviot is a trustee), and by the National Museums .

The Trust and Museum asked for a further discussion of the matter, and a meeting of interested parties was held in the Scottish Office in March, 1995. Kirsty and David Doig attended to present our Sociey's support for the Friends' proposal to move the Cross to Forteviot Church.

The Scottish Office after some deliberation decided that a public inquiry into the matter should be held. Both proposals would be considered together: the application by the Dupplin Trust and the Museum to move the Cross to the new Museum in Edinburgh, and the application by the Friends of the Dupplin Cross to move it inside Forteviot Church. The inquiry was scheduled for Perth on December 12th 1995.


Just a few days before the inquiry was to be held, the Society and other groups scheduled to testify received a copy of a letter. It was sent to the Rev. Colin Williamson and the Friends of the Dupplin Cross from Historic Scotland's principal inspector of ancient monuments, Dr.Richard Fawcett.

Dr. Fawcett's letter stated that the Secretary of State had asked to hear all possible options for a long-term solution to the Cross. "One idea...recently raised here is that an alternative local home for the Cross might be offered at the Inquiry in view of the objections to Forteviot by the owners of the Cross, the Trustees of Dupplin Estate. The suggestion has been made that the church which Historic Scoland looks after in Dunning might be one possibility."

Historic Scotland "took the medieval church at Dunning into our care some years ago, and the work of conserving it is now nearing completion. Although we had not initially wished to alter the furnishings in any way, it has been suggested that space could be found for the Cross by removing some of the pews in the aisle that was added to the north of the church in 1810..."

Historic Scotland's letter continued "...While Dunning would certainly not be as 'local' as Forteviot, placing the Cross there would mean that, if Forteviot is not deemed suitable, it is still kept within a sheltered environment not too far from its historic setting. Location in Dunning would also have the advantage that a more spacious setting could be provided than at Forteviot in view of the fact that sufficiency of space is of concern to those who argue that it should be removed to Edinburgh."


It was clear from the start that interest in the inquiry was high. Too small a room had been booked in the Salutation Hotel in Perth. The beginning of the hearing was delayed while many more chairs were added for the spectators crowding the room. As well as press, expert witnesses, and representatives of the applicants, there were Forteviot residents, archaeologists, planners, the local councillor-elect, several representatives of both Perth and Auchterarder history groups and eight members of the Dunning Parish Historical Society.

At tables facing each other were on one side Lord Forteviot and Dupplin estate factor Murray Smith for the Dupplin Trust and three representatives from the National Museums, and on the other side the Rev. Colin Williamson and the Friends' lawyer Donald McDonald and next to them representatives of Historic Scotland including a lawyer. The Scottish Office Reporter John Grainger sat alone at the front.

Lord Forteviot testified that he was concerned about the deteriorating state of the Cross. Though as a local person he sympathised with the desire to keep the Cross locally, he felt the plans as submitted by the Friends for moving the Cross to Forteviot Church were incomplete and financially uncertain and had come to him late. He believed the transfer of ownership of the Cross to the National Museums of Scotland provided a permanent arrangement for preserving the Cross and ensuring that it would be kept safe and available for public display in perpetuity. In answer to questions he acknowledged that the Dupplin Trust's offer to pass ownership to an approved institution in lieu of inheritance tax had been accepted by the Treasury subject to consent, but he added the Trust had indicated a willingness to move the Cross before the tax question was raised.The lawyers questioning him then suggested that this tax arrangement might also apply if the cross is moved to a local location.

National Museum curator Dr. Michael Spearman spoke of how the Museum had become aware of the condition of the Cross when its staff visited the site in 1990 to make a replica cast of the Cross for an exhibition. He testified that it would cost £56,000 to move the Cross from its site, and £16,000 for a replica to be retained locally. He emphasized the importance of moving the Cross to a stable indoor environment if it was not to deteriorate further. Museum director Mark Jones indicated that putting the Cross in Forteviot Church might expose it to damp and further deterioration. Moving it to the new Museum would also make the Cross much more accessible, and he noted the new Museum is expecting more than a million visitors a year.

Archaeologist Professor Allcock backed up the contention by Mr. Jones that the Cross was of national rather than local importance, dating back to the birth of Scotland as a nation. "It is not a statement about Forteviot, Strathearn or Perthshire, it is a statement about the whole kingdom and its foundation," Professor Allcock said. His own research at Forteviot led him to believe that the Cross had probably been erected by King Constantine, ruler of the Picts and later of the Scots. He added that the Cross belonged with the Forteviot Arch, an archeological relic acquired by the Museum years ago, and the two should be displayed together.

It was soon obvious the enquiry would continue at least one more day. The presentation of the case for moving the Cross to Edinburgh had been presented at length by the Museum applicants. Their last witness finished quite late in the afternoon and national reporters left to meet their deadlines. The Friends of the Dupplin Cross were asked if they wished to begin, and so the final presentation on this first day came from the Rev. Colin Williamson.

Mr. Williamson said his local group contends the Cross "which clearly relates to events and personalities in the valley should be allowed to remain in its home environment...Carried away from its location to the sterile and necessarily artificial environment, there is a sense in which the Dupplin Cross would die". He followed these impassioned words with an explanation of how the Cross would be placed in the east end of Forteviot Church, and how access would be available to visitors. He then had to answer a stream of questions from the Museum representatives. Asked how the move to Forteviot Church would be financed, he replied that the Friends had found an anonymous source which would guarantee the entire amount if no other grants were available. This apparently failed to convince his questioners. He also answered several questions about how secure the Cross would be in the church (he had pointed out that quotes for security systems had been asked for), about the heating and lighting of the church, and about how the Friends would provide interpretative material for visitors.

Although Mr. Williamson had answers for everything he was asked, this tough questioning followed a day of clear and forceful testimony for the Museum's application. It left the impression with more than one observer that the Friends of the Cross had their work cut out for them next day if they wished to win their case.


Next morning the Friends of the Dupplin Cross called a series of witnesses, including a clergyman from Ruthwell Church, Dumfriesshire. There an ancient cross had many years before been moved inside the church for protection, and he declared that security and accessibility had never posed any problems.

Another early witness was Clare Williams, vice-chair of the Tayside and Fife Archaeological Committee, who stressed the location of the Cross in its present environment lends to the stone an essential part of its historic meaning. TAFAC does not agree "that a monument considered to be of national importance should require to be moved to a central location by a national institution". Her statement was echoed later in the day by the Council for Scottish Archaeologists, representing the majority of the profession in Scotland, which was strongly opposed to moving the Cross to Edinburgh.

Two local people gave eloquent testimony for keeping the Cross in the area. Kirsty Doig, representing our Society, spoke of the long Christian tradition of Strathearn valley people which the Cross symbolises, in a continuity from the time of Kenneth McAlpine to today's Association of Earn Valley Churches. "It is more than an extremely interesting and important carved stone. It belongs to Strathearn, as Strathearn belongs to this stone." With today's technology, the Museum could provide an excellent replica for its display. She recalled her childhood passion for steam engine classifications, first going to see working models of trains in the National Museum, then the excitement of identifying real engines from Waverley Bridge. Similarly, visitors seeing a replica cross in the Museum would be drawn to Strathearn to see the real Cross in its context.

Then, speaking without notes, David "Taff" Jeffrey of Invermay presented his views as a member of the Friends of the Cross. He said that the Dupplin Cross seen in a museum would have little significance. "People would say, 'that's lovely' and keep walking. The stone would be much more appreciated and at home in Forteviot Church". He acknowledged the responsibility his small group would take on in looking after the stone, but his group would do it properly and with the guidance of experts like those of Historic Scotland.

In the afternoon, it was Historic Scotland's turn to call witnesses.

Principal inspector Dr. Richard Fawcett reiterated the policy of Historic Scotland: (a) that stones that have to be moved should normally stay locally, (b) that when stones have to be moved consideration should be given to their relocation within an existing local structure (taking into account the long-term stability and access to such a structure) and (c) that stones should be moved to remote locations like museums only as a last resort.

Dr. Fawcett said that in August 1995 Historic Scotland officials met two trustees of the Dupplin Trust. They discussed "the possibility of St. Serf's Church, Dunning, which is in State care, being acceptable to the Trust as a suitable long term home for the Cross. The Dupplin Trust have since said they still wish the Cross to be moved to the Museum in Edinburgh".

St. Serf's is about three and a half miles from the present location of the Cross. Dr. Fawcett pointed out the church already houses one early cross slab. If approved as a home for the Dupplin Cross, a display area could be created on the north side of the church. "St. Serf's would furnish a long-term home for the Cross not far from its original location, with its conservation needs looked after by Historic Scotland, who have as much expertise in the conservation of such stones as any other body in Scotland".

Dr. Fawcett mentioned that another possible location would be Perth Museum, which already holds the cross slab from St. Madoes and which is prepared to make a home for the Dupplin Cross.

The final Historic Scotland witness was Ingval Maxwell, an architect who is that organization's director of technical conservation, research and education. He first gave detailed evidence explaining the dangers of continued exposure of the Cross to the elements. He then examined the options.

First, he examined the pros and cons of putting a specially built enclosure on site. He rejected this option as unrealistic because of the hillside location and the need to move the stone anyway to reset it in a damp-proof membrane.

Second, speaking of the Forteviot Church option, Mr. Maxwell felt that with modifications to the proposal of the Friends of the Dupplin Cross, such as changing the radiators and lighting, Forteviot Church would provide "a good, stable internal environment" for the Cross.

Third, should it not be possible to reach agreement on the Forteviot Church move, he believed the next best alternative would be to house the Cross in St. Serf's, Dunning. He noted the interior volume of St. Serf's is such that "a stable environment could be created if heating were to be installed. And as a monument in the care of Historic Scotland, St. Serf's future well-being is assured."

Fourth, of the National Museum location, Mr. Maxwell said the Museum's revised proposal putting the Cross in the main hall shows the Cross awkwardly placed, at an orientation with no obvious reference to its space, and with the slewed alignment hinting at its location as an afterthought. "If displayed in this manner, almost two thirds of the cross shaft will be beyond comfortable viewing for many."

The inquiry then concluded in late afternoon with a brief round of summations by the parties. There was a dramatic surprise in store. Lord Forteviot, the National Museum and Historic Scotland essentially repeated their main arguments. But lawyer Donald McDonald speaking for the Friends of the Dupplin Cross suggested that the Reporter should turn down the applications both from the National Museum and from the Friends of the Dupplin Cross!

That astonishing recommendation was more fully explained in a letter of December 14/95 from the Rev. Colin Williamson to the Friends' supporters: "It was never the purpose of Friends to "acquire the Dupplin Cross" for Forteviot Church...although we adhere to the belief ...that that would be something wonderful and appropriate...The primary purpose...has been to oppose the cultural imperialism of a museum whose main object, we are convinced, is to carry away a trophy to enhance their new building in Edinburgh. The life of the Cross is in our valley. Elsewhere it dies.

"Friends accept the dilemma of the owners of the Cross. We recognize their desire to ensure its best care for the future and their reservations about the provision we could make. We are amateurs, truly those who love the Cross, but we face the greater resources of those who have determined to take it away. We have heard with satisfaction the owners' sympathy for local retention. We believe that this is still possible, not least in the light of the recently proposed alternative which has not been laid before the Secretay of State. This is the suggestion that the Dupplin Cross might be housed within St. Serf's Church. The building at Dunning is within sight of the hill where the Cross stands, and is in the care of Historic Scotland.

"For these reasons we made our recommendations that both applications be refused, passionately adhering to our belief that the Dupplin Cross should remain in the valley and believing that together we may yet find a true and satisfactory home for it." Thus Mr. Williamson explained the Friends' stand.

So now what will happen? If the decision of the Secretary of State is for the National Museum, there's an end to the matter. If the decision is for Forteviot Church then could that proposal be altered to meet the objections and needs expressed by the owners of the Cross, Lord Forteviot and the Dupplin Trust? What other proposal would the Trust consider? St. Serf's? Or another perhaps totally different alternative? We wait to see.


Saturday, April 20/96 10 am departure from Tron Square. Coach trip to the beautiful palace and mediaeval gardens at Culross and to Dunfermline for a tour of the old Abbey, a visit to the grave of Robert the Bruce and high tea which is included in the cost of £10 for members, £12 non-members. Please book asap by calling Shona Sinclair 01764 684 566.

Sunday, April 28 2 pm Visit to Dunning by members of Kinross Historical Society. Tea after. Our members are invited to come and host.

Thursday, May 16 7:30 pm, Village Hall. The annual general meeting and election of committee will be followed by an illustrated demonstration of how we can use the rich resources of the county archives at A.K. Bell Library to find out more about our community, our homes, our ancestors. The speaker is our always helpful district archivist Steve Connelly.

Friday, July 26 A traditional Scottish Barn Dance! Thanks to the generosity and hospitality of Ian Philip, our first-ever Society barn dance will be held at Ian's Leadketty holding near the village, with music by the Lomond Ceilidh Band, starting at 9 pm. Tickets are £3 and are on sale in advance from Colin Young 684 521, Bill Peebles 684 782 and village shops.

Saturday., Aug. 31 Meet at Tron Square, 10 am. A visit to see the Dupplin Cross in its historic setting on Dupplin Estate. More details in our July newsletter and from Colin Young 684 521.

September, St. Serf's Church Another meeting in the old church, this time with an unusual subject. Date and details in our next newsletter.

Saturday, November 2, 10 am, Village Hall. Coffee morning on a Childhood Theme. Following last autumn's hugely successful Matrimonial event, this year we'll feature mementoes and photos of village infants, past and present.

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