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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A big reason for the Society's vitality is the volume of inspired ideas constantly coming from members (and others). Each year we seek ideas for coming programmes and each year's events list is an amalgam of suggestions from many members. For example it was an early committee member who first suggested we hold a traditional Scottish barn dance. It will finally happen July 26. The excellent idea for a coffee morning on a village childhood theme was inspired by last year's matrimonial theme success, one good idea producing another. Many ideas for the newsletter come from postal members: ideas for this issue came from members in Edinburgh and Ontario. Another far-away (some might call it far-out) idea starting overseas but added to by many others here is that of the proposed Website project described in this issue. We'll want to hear ideas from everywhere about that proposal if it goes ahead, just as we want your suggestions and loans of items for the displays at the village childhood coffee morning. And looking further ahead, our ex-evacuee members (who have come up with so many ideas already) perhaps have some suggestions for future events, like the 60th anniversary of their evacuation? Please use your committee members or any of the meetings as conduits to put forward your ideas: they are our lifeblood!


DPHS postal member Don Hepburn of Scarborough, Ontario, was born in Dunning. His family moved to Edinburgh when he was 3. Here's his vivid memory of one journey back to Dunning. Our thanks to Don for volunteering this wartime recollection.

At the commencement of World War Two, my family lived in Edinburgh. With the evacuation of children in full swing, Dunning was the place of choice for my brother and me, as we had lots of relatives there. However, it was decided to separate us, probably so that we could charm a wider selection of relatives.

My best recollection of the following incident is that I was in transit in the family car between Edinburgh and Dunning. That places this event very early in the war, as petrol restrictions were imposed shortly after the war started and the car was then taken out of service for some time. Our usual route to cross the River Forth was via Kincardine Bridge. For a reason which I cannot recall, on this occasion we went via Queensferry (there is now a bridge there).

We duly embarked on the ferry, which eventually proceeded over the river. About half way across the estuary, looking through the spans of the Forth Railway Bridge, we could see several aircraft heading our way, from the east. They were flying so low that one of them passed under the centre span of the bridge. As they continued over us they were identified as German, twin engine JU88 bombers. They then banked and turned back and proceeded to strafe the warships which were anchored in the river, off Rosyth. Eventually the warships, which realized they has been caught napping, responded indignantly, with a tremendous din, discharging a deluge of gunfire.

In the meantime, our very exposed ferry boat sailed along, under this malevolent barrage, with occasional shrapnel landing on the deck. While the ruckus was deafening, I do not recall any injuries on the ferry boat or to the combatants. We could see damage to property on the shoreline from the "friendly fire" of the warships, which were firing their big guns at the low flying aircraft. With this episode the war seemed very real and personal and afterwards, I was glad to be in the relatively safe hidden refuge of Dunning.


Golf Course Line drawing

The old golf course on Mains of Pitcairns, Dunning. A linocut by Mary Thomson

Four years ago our new Society published its first newsletter. It bore no date, no logo, no page numbers, but it got us started. The content was great: a local historical article never before published, a personal recollection of Dunning golf from 1919 written by Barbara Gordon. We made photocopies of the article and sold it for a while as a separate item. But things have changed, the golf club and the Society included, so recently we asked Mrs. Gordon to update her recollections. We also asked professional artist Mary Thomson, whom you may know as Dunning resident Mary Thow, if she would illustrate the updated material. She spent much time field-sketching the old and the new golf courses to prepare original linocuts which she has now very generously donated to the re-publication which we've titled "In Full Swing". This handsome booklet makes, if we do say so ourselves, a splendid new souvenir not just of golf but of Dunning itself. Sepia on cream, card-covered, 12 pages long, it's great for mailing. The price is £1.55 per copy. Please send your order & cheque to Bill Peebles, 19 Romangate, Dunning PH2 0SU


Last issue we reported on the formal hearings of two competing proposals to move the Dupplin Cross to shelter. The Dupplin Cross is a beautiful carved stone dating back to the early Scottish kingdom at least 1100 years ago. It presently stands in a field on Dupplin Estate near Forteviot village, and is showing increasing climatic deterioration. One application was to move the Cross to the new National Museum, the other to move it to within Forteviot Parish church.

The decision of the Secretary of State has now been made, and the decision is "no" to both applications. But the wording of the decision makes it of heightened interest to us in Dunning and Forteviot.

It was on May 3 that the Secretary of State announced the results of his Reporter's formal enquiries. The Reporter said that all parties agreed on the necessity to move the Cross to a protected location.

The new National Museum being built in Edinburgh wanted the Cross as an important feature of its entrance. The Reporter said the joint application by the Museum and the Dupplin Trust, owners of the Cross, was impressive. The fundamental objection to it, however, was that it removed the Cross from its original locality, and the official policy of the government formulated by Historic Scotland is that, if at all possible, scheduled monuments shall be kept in situ or at least close by in the area. The Reporter therefore concluded that the Museum move should only be permitted if there was no location in the vicinity of Forteviot which would meet "conservation, security and access" requirements.

The second application from the Friends of the Dupplin Cross to move the Cross inside Forteviot Church was not, in the Reporter's opinion, a proposal "which had reached the stage at which it could safely be approved". He accepted that Forteviot Church could provide the security, environmental control and accessibility required, but had reservations about the rather cramped display arrangements and wrote of the need for more detailled consideration to be given to the costs and funding.

A third unofficial option not ruled on had been put into play just before the the hearings by Historic Scotland, which suggested St. Serf's in Dunning as a possible relocation site, one which was already in Historic Scotland's care.

The Reporter said it seemed to him that if a local solution could be found "which could confidently be expected to satisfy the necessary criteria for a resaonable period of time--say 20 years or so", then that local solution should be accepted. It seemed to him that either the Forteviot Church or the St. Serf's, Dunning, options could be reviewed before the winter of '96-'97, given the amount of work already carried out. If agreement couldn't reached between the owners of the Cross (The Dupplin Trust) and Historic Scotland in 6 months, the Reporter felt, then consent should be given to move the Cross to the National Museum.

The Secretary of State agreed with most of the Reporter's remarks, except for the recommendation that if neither a Forteviot and Dunning relocation could be agreed on in six months, then the Cross should go to the new National Museum. The Secretary of State "does not consider that it would be competent for him to adopt this part of the recommendation since to do so would fetter his discretion to consider the matter afresh in the event of new or amended applications". So the Secretary unconditionally turns down both applications, a decision which is final but which can be appealed to the Court of Session within six weeks of May 3.

Subsequently, the Friends of the Dupplin Cross announced that they are seeking to meet with the owners of the Cross, the Dupplin Trust, and with Historic Scotland, with a view to considering an improved proposal by the Friends of the Dupplin Cross for the Forteviot Church location.

We in the Dunning Parish Historical Society had said in our submission to the hearings that we support local relocation of the Cross, and that Forteviot Church being closer should take priority over St. Serf's. That is still the position held by the Society, but naturally we watch developments keenly.

The initiative now lies with the Dupplin Trust to accept the invitation to meet the Friends of the Dupplin Cross and Historic Scotland. Your Historical Society, the Dunning Community Council and residents of both Forteviot and Dunning await that next step.



Ian Robertson lives in Burlington, Ontario and this article was suggested by his cousin Betty Robertson, an Edinburgh member of the DPHS

I feel it an honour being asked to write some recollections of various visits I have made to Dunning over the years.

Although I have headed this "An Outsider's Reminiscences" perhaps this should be "A Distant Relative's reminiscences" because after all, blood is thicker than water.

My name is Ian Robertson and the family relationship with Dunning came about from Jock and Ann Robertson (nee Philp) who were my aunt and uncle. Jock was my father's youngest brother. In addition to this, my paternal grandparents John and Mary Hope Robertson were residents of Thorn Tree Court in Dunning during their retirement years. Our family tree also shows that John (or Jake as he was known) was born in Dunning in 1871, moved away at some later time to East Linton and then returned to Dunning upon his retirement.

Having laid claim to a family relationship with Dunning, my first visit to the village was in 1938, the year in which the British Empire Exhibition was held in Glasgow. My friend and I were on a cycling holiday and the Exhibition was the main attraction, but we decided to take a few days off and make our way to Dunning. We would both be about 16 years of age at the time and even at that tender age we were very impressed with the welcome we received and the hospitality shown to us. We spent most of our short visit with my relatives, but we did manage to see some of the surrounding countryside and even took part in a fox hunt as beaters on some land along the road to Auchterarder. Our return trip to Glasgow is one that I remember because of the poor weather and the journey through the "Yetts of Muckhart and Rumblin' Brig"!

My second visit occurred under very different circumstances and took place in mid-1942. At that time I had recently completed my basic training under the National Services Act and had with the rest of the squad been posted to the 138 Field Regiment R.A. who, so far as we could ascertain, were stationed "somewhere in Scotland". Imagine the surprise I got when we arrived in Dunning.

The Regiment had been there for a few weeks and our arrival made up the complement. We were transported from the station to the village, where we were marched to several different locations in Dunning to pick up bedding, palliasses etc. Loaded with bits and pieces, we turned the corner and suddenly the first person I saw was Jake, leaning on his walking stick and sitting on the edge of the Robertson Tea Room window. He was as surprised as I was.

Having received all that we could carry we were marched to the park on the Auchterarder Road where we were put into Nissen huts, our home whilst we were in Dunning. We did a lot of field training including route marches, and as a signaller along with a few more lads I had a work place in a spot just up from the bake shop (handy for visits to the tearoom for scotch rolls). We knew we were preparing for overseas duty, so we made the most of our free time in the village. I can even recall going to a whist drive in the Church Hall, where the competition was fierce. Woe betide you if you played the wrong card! Our Battery was also volunteered to help pick potatoes on a farm outside Dunning and if memory serves me correctly, it was called "Findy", but I have an idea it wasn't spelt like that (Ed.: Findony.) That was a back-breaking job, but the rewards at lunchtime were worth it. There were large milk churns filled with a light brown ale, and sandwiches. It made you wonder if the war was still on. We managed to see some of the beautiful countryside and we were very sorry to leave in September 1942. I met some wonderful people, many of them whose names I can't remember, but I do recall fishing with Jock and the local constable Finlay Morrison who lived in the local lock up on Station Road. There were the Whytocks, Jock and Lisa, the Laings, the Philps etc. It was great to see old friends and relatives again and I can't help but comment on the ribbing that my cousin Irene and her cat had to put up with. I can recall being referred to as as "awfie fella" on more than one occasion.

We left Dunning and travelled to Glasgow where coincidentally we were billeted at Bellahouston Park which was the site of the 1938 British Empire Exhibition. The park was being used as an Army transit camp. From here we went to Greenock where we sailed for North Africa in October. Unfortunately my association with the regiment and all my friends came to an end in March 1943 when I was taken prisoner of war.

My subsequent visit to Dunning was in 1946 while I was on repatriation leave and this was a sort of convalescent holiday. Although some eight years had elapsed since my first visit and a war had intervened, I felt quite at home and certainly didn't feel an outsider. As I did some country runs with the baker's vans I saw very few changes in the landscape and surrounding countryside. However several familiar faces were missing. Both my grandparents had passed away as had Jock, and the bakery, the shop and the tearoom were being run in an efficient manner by Ann Robertson. Her brother Dougie Philp arrived home from a Japanese P.O.W. camp while I was there and Finlay Morrison the policeman had moved to somewhere else in Perthshire. Even though there were some changes, I enjoyed my stay very much.

I thought that visit would have been my last one, but in 1977 some nearly 20 years since emigrating to Canada with my wife and family, Margaret and I returned to Great Britain for a holiday. The friends we were staying with took us on a trip to Scotland and we managed to squeeze in a trip through Dunning to see Ann Robertson, but unfortunately for us she was visiting her daughter in England. It certainly brought back a lot of memories as we made our way to Perth.

Last summer, my daughter and grandson had a chance to spend a few hours in Dunning. As my daughter shares my interest in the Robertson history, we have spent many hours discussing my time in Dunning. Seeing Dunning through her eyes and hearing their perception of the area gave me a chance to relive my time there.

As I sit some 3000 miles away and think of those happy days 58 years ago, I wonder what changes in Dunning I would see now.

Ian Robertson would be delighted to hear from any contemporaries or other readers. His address is:
16-3125 Pinemeadow Drive, Burlington, Ontario Canada L7M 3T7


At the May 16 AGM, Colin Young made reference in his chairman's report to a proposed project which the Society's committee is considering. It involves that bewildering concept the Internet, and undoubtedly many at the meeting didn't quite comprehend what is being investigated, although there was no objection to the project being developed.

This then is an initial attempt to explain what the committee is working on. Please don't worry if you don't follow this layman's explanation, for, there will be a Society meeting in St. Serf's on September 17 at which time, hopefully, all aspects of the project will be explained and all your questions can be answered.

As you know, the Society owns a computer, on which this newsletter is processed, for example. The idea we originally had was to put some of the historical material which the Society is gathering into "digital" form, that is, to store it in the computer for easy access. Some of that work has been begun: for example, the survey of gravestone inscriptions in St. Serf's is now on computer disc.

This idea of storing material on computer certainly seems to be the way to go, and we hope to put it into a form which will be instantly findable in future.

The trouble is, while our one computer is an excellent tool, it is limited to use by one person at a time, no matter how much good stuff is stored in it. And if it's being used to put in material, it can't be used at the same time by somebody searching for data like an old photo or a family history fact.

So, along came the suggestion from a computer professional overseas: why not make all the material collected by your Society available at any time by putting it on one powerful computer, called a Website, which could be accessed anytime from anywhere by using this much-talked-about thing called the Internet. All the material we choose to store on this powerful computer could at the same time be made available in Dunning, for use by pupils in the school and by local residents and visitors using simple-to-operate work stations. Are you with us so far?

Now I know you'll want to stop at this point and cry out, how on earth can a wee Society like ours afford to even think of such a project, which must cost many thousands of pounds.

Well, the first thing is that we've been promised a couple of sizeable donations to start the funding. The rest of the costs we would hope to obtain from grants obtained from organizations like the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Are we serious? Yes! Although there are some examples in the U.S. and Canada of smaller communities like ours setting up a Website, we think we have the initiative and talent and could obtain the expertise to make this one of the first village Websites in the U.K.

A subcommittee has been set up with Liz Fletcher, Jane Rigby, Felicity Martin, Colin Young, Simon Warren, Ian Philip, Lorne Wallace with help from Steve Partridge. They'll be the people reporting to you on September 17 in the meeting at St. Serf's. By then they'll have worked out the details of our proposal and have completed applications for the additional funding required.

If you're not required to come up with any money, does this have anything at all to do with you?

Well, yes, in many ways. It's going to be a means by which much historical data which you contribute can be stored for the future. It's going to help you do family or house/farm research. If you're a pupil it's going to be an invaluable aid for local history research.

Take an example: do you remember that wonderful Village Images show of old photos and art which we held a year ago, when we spent almost two weeks poring over those delightful old pictures which had been loaned to us temporarily? By storing loaned photos and records on the master computer, we'll be able to have the equivalent of a Village Images show all year round! A permanent record. too.

And if you're a member outside Dunning, even overseas, and can get access to an Internet connection, you can be in touch with Dunning doing all kinds of research for the price of a local call? Interested? Well, then please watch for further reports in this Newsletter, or come to the meeting on September 17 in St. Serf's, or give a call to or button-hole one of your committee members and ask them for an explanation or an update!

Line drawing 4.3kb

From "In Full Swing": tea, sausage roll & cakes. Linocut by Mary Thomson


The front page article about the wealth of ideas coming from members certainly applies to those members of the committee who served this past year and have now stepped down. Shona and Albie Sinclair, Finella Wilson, Kirsty and David Doig, Sheena Proff, the late Nancy Hurry, each of them have added richly to the organization with their inspirations and with their enthusiasm and hard work. And many thanks to Colin Young whose eloquent chairmanship led us smoothly through last year's events. Colin continues on the committee with new chair Ian Philip, treasurer Bill Peebles, Myrtle Potter, Grace and Alan McFarlane and Lorne Wallace. Newly joining them are vice-chair Elizabeth Fletcher, secretary Patricia Wallace, Jim Smith, Simon Warren, Felicity Martin, Peter Duncan, and David Williams.
We are still looking to complete our publication of Evacuee reminiscences which Lorne Wallace has underway. If you still have an item you'd like to contribute to this, please get in touch with him at 01764 684 581.
Memberships are now due, same rates as last year: £7.50 overseas, £3 postal U.K. outside Dunning, and in parish, £5 family, £3 single, £1 senior & junior. Please send to Bill Peebles, 10 Romangate, Dunning PH2 0SU. Thanks!


Friday, July 26 A traditional Scottish Barn Dance! Thanks to the kindness of Ian Philip, our first-ever Society barn dance will be held at Ian's Leadketty farm near the village, with music by the popular Lomond Ceilidh Band, starting at 9 pm. Great chance to meet old friends! Tickets £3 on sale in advance from shops, DPHS Committee members or call Bill Peebles 01764 684 682.

Saturday., Aug. 31 A visit to see the Dupplin Cross in its historic setting on Dupplin Estate, and to visit Forteviot Church. Meet at Tron Square at 10 am. Details from Colin Young 684 521.

Thursday, September 19, 7:30 pm, St. Serf's Church Another meeting in the old church, this time with an update on the Dupplin Cross move, and details of the Society's proposal to establish a "Website" data base for kirkyard inscriptions and much more!

Thursday, October 31, 7:30 pm Village Hall. Who Owns Scotland? Author of this fascinating and controversial new book, Andy Wightman, tells us of his research for the subject, and what he found.

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. If you have an item you're willing to lend, please contact Alan and Grace McFarlane 684 376.

Thursday, November 28, 7:30 am, Village Hall. "Leadketty As it Used To Be". For three successive years archaeological fieldwalkers have scratched the surface of Dunning fields, and their finds have now been examined by outside experts. Mark Hall and Mike King hold a show and tell session.

Coming up: "A Photographic Look at Dunning Burn", "Tradesmen's Tall Tales", "Romancing the Stones", our '97 coach trip, an inter-club visit, and an AGM with a built-in trip and tea party!

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