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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Out of the Society's last 3 months have come fascinating speculations about the community's past and future. In a lively meeting on Hallowe'en, Andy Wightman, author of the book "Who Owns Scotland", described the feudal and secretive nature of Scottish landholding as he saw it, sparking some sharp questions from the audience. He also offered his thoughts about the form landowning might take in future.

We dipped into a nostalgic mode for our coffee morning/afternoon on a Village Childhood theme, with a great display of games, costumes, toys and photos from the village's past, generously loaned by villagers.

Then, on Nov. 28, archaeologists Mark Hall and Mike King brought us an analysis of the finds made in 3 years of fieldwalking at Leadketty. We already knew the flints found were from the Mesolithic as well as the (later) Neolithic period and were perhaps the oldest man-made artefacts ever found in Perthshire. The analysis just arrived from an English expert suggests the Mesolithic finds, going back to circa 8,000 B.C., may have come not only from wandering hunters but perhaps from a Mesolithic settlement. (Also new Royal Commission aerial photos of cropmarks show further structures just across the burn from Leadketty). That's exciting speculation about the origins of settlement here in Dunning, and it cries out for further investigation on site.


Copies of the Society's latest video production "An Introduction to Dunning, Perthshire" coupled with the booklet "In Full Swing" have sold extremely well. David Williams, the man who handled distribution of this special Christmas offer (£6.95 for members), says almost all 100 copies of the video were quickly snapped up. If you missed out, you're asked to please leave your name with David at 01764 684 232 just in case there's a copy left or there's demand enough to justify a second run. We have copies of "In Full Swing" available, plus souvenir bookmarks of Dunning illustrated by Albie Sinclair.
A reply isn't expected until spring to our application for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Commission to support a historic Website in Dunning. Meantime, your committee is also seeking other alternatives for the financing of the Website. In addition to the more than £12,000 already accumulated locally, we continue to receive generous contributions from members.
Speaking of contributions, may we say thanks to members and non-members who continue to pass us photographs, documents, information and relics. We are delighted with the thoughtfulness and kindness of people who thus want to preserve historical items for the village. Thanks to each of you!
The second book of old photographs of Auchterarder compiled by our May 24 AGM speaker, Dr. Joan Macintosh, has just been published.
If you've wondered why you haven't heard more about the Society office in the Old Schoolhouse which was mentioned in an earlier newsletter, it's because there have been funding problems for our prospective landlord, the Dunning Community Association. The Association held an AGM on December 5 and hopes to resolve its difficulties. Meantime your Society, in need of considerable space to consolidate our growing collections and to provide room for Society activities, is also investigating renting premises at the "new" schoolhouse next to Dunning Primary School.

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At our March meeting, we'll hear of those extraordinary features of the Scottish landscape, standing stones. These sketches by Dunning's Kenny Laing are examples to be found not far away. To the left is the familiar stone just to the north of Dunning along the old "road to Leadketty", dating to the Battle of Dupplin. Below is Balmanno Hill rocking stone, south of Bridge of Earn.
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This Standing Stone is to be found at Castleton near Dollar.

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These sketches by Kenny Laing were drawn as illustrations for Angus Watson's book "The Ochils. Placenames, History, Tradition" published by Perth and Kinross District Libraries, 1995. Copies of the book are still available from the Auchterarder or Bell Libraries and also from the Dunning Parish Historical Society.


The following description of the village of Dunning appeared in the 1929 Centenary edition of the Perthshire Advertiser, and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the Perthshire Advertiser. We thought you'd enjoy reading about how Dunning appeared to somebody looking at the previous century from the perspective of the nineteen-twenties. The author is not named.

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This was one of the illustrations to the 1929 P.A. article. The caption read "Margaret Kettles, the old bellwoman, was a picturesque figure in Dunning village life. For many years she went round to give news of moment. She was the last of her type".

We sat on the window of his shop; and in his short sleeves, puffing away at his clay pipe, he chatted of old times and changes in the village. About 60 years ago, the population of the village was over 2000. Now it is a little over 1000. At that time there were about 500 hand-loom weavers, an intelligent, hard-working, worthy class, and in the best of times an average wage of 12s was considered good pay.

With the advent of power machinery, employment decreased and weaving gradually died out. Many took themselves to other occupation and emigration.

Now the clack of the shuttle is no longer heard in the village, which is much to be regretted as it has altered the character of old Dunning life. There were no picture houses, bowls or tennis in those days, but curling in winter, debating societies and quoits. The last-named has entirely died out. There were poets among those old folks. John Phillip and Willie Horn supplied the village with rhymes. Concerts were much in vogue, only the local talent taking part, there being much rivalry between the singers.

The village in those days had 13 public houses, the principal one being the Commercial Hotel, which supplied the others, yet drunkenness was not a habit with the villagers. It is also recorded that the parish contained three corn mills, a flour mill, a sawmill, a wool mill, two malt mills, a distillery, and a brewery, all of which has disappeared. For many years after the weaving had died out, the houses remained empty; now they have been renovated and made habitable, and all are occupied.

Politics ran high, the weavers being nearly all Radicals, but there were no voters under a rental of £14. On voting days the Tories from the surrounding area gave the village a wide berth when going to Bridge of Earn to vote, some skirting the hills and others crossing the burn by the bridge, now known as the Tory Bridge, about a quarter of a mile from the village.

An interesting figure in the village was old Margaret Kettles, the bell woman. For many long years she went round ringing her bell announcing different events: "Mr. ---- would be killing a pig, to be sold at 6d a pound", and so forth. A great event in village history was the introduction of water in 1872. Prior to that date the inhabitants had to get water from springs or scoop it out of the burn. The source of supply is a pool in the burn, known as Willie Dun's Damhead, about a mile from the village.

The old clocks in the church tower, previous to the present, came from Stirling Castle, and faced east and west only. Many of the old church ministers who wrought changes to the village are still remembered--the Rev. Dr. Gloag, the Rev. Dr. Wilson and the Rev. Dr. Thompson. Mr. Thompson, who is still alive, introduced in his services the standing up during the singing of hymns and kneeling during prayer, which gave offence to an old farmer of Pitcairns, who insisted on sitting, and threatened to leave the kirk. When the organ was introduced, he was asked what he was going to do now. "Ah, weel," he said, "I hae swallowed a guid many things since Dr. Thompson came, and I's just hae to swallow the organ too!"

The old United Presbyterian Church is owned and utilised by the Freemasons' Lodge, St. John's, Dunning, 174, while the old Free Disruption Church is occupied as a garage by our enterprising townsman, Mr. Peter Stevens. The United Free Church, the most attractive ecclesiastical structure in Lower Strathearn, was built by the late Sir John Wilson, Bart., Kippen, and the late Peter White, Esq. The foundation stone was laid by Lady Wilson in 1908, and was opened by the late Rev. Dr. Alexander Whyte, Edinburgh.

The Dunning minister who occupies the foremost place for length of service was the Rev. Duncan M'Laren, who was ordained in 1849, and died in 1901. His ministry covered the long period of 52 years, and it is evident from the way in which he is referred to that he spent his working day to useful purpose. The ministry of his successor, Rev. Mr. Clazy, covered only a few short years, but it was full of promise. After Mr. Clazy's death in 1907, the question of union between the Free and United Presbyterian Church was raised, and the Rev. Thomas Watt, who was ordained in 1882, and had already passed his semi-Jubilee as a minister of the latter Church, resolved to resign in order to facilitate union with the Free Church in 1908. The United Presbyterian manse is now owned and occupied by the Rev. Thomas Watt.

Over 40 years ago the bowlers used to play in the old quarry on the Auchterarder road, but through the generosity of the late Lord Rollo, a piece of ground on the Station Road was given free for a bowling green and tennis court. The golf course is of recent acquisition, and lies a little out of the village on the slopes of the Ochils.

The flower shows, which were held for many long years in the Duncrub Estate, came to a termination at the beginning of the war. The Highland Games are a great event with the villagers, and the pipers' band, headed by Angus Howie, marching through the village to stirring music, brings every one to their doors. A marked change has been the late institution of the Choral Society, which, in the few years of its existence, had done some wonderful work in producing many of Gilbert and Sullivan's operas, and fostering the love of good music.

Though Dunning has lost its weaving trade, its mills and breweries, it is still a prosperous, clean, tidy village, and deserves to be better known to holiday-makers.

The following photograph also appeared with the above article from the 1929 Centennial Edition of the Perthshire Advertiser. It was headed "Village Notables".

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The caption read "Two of the village notables in which Dunning has been rich. Mr. David Hogg, the grocer, and Dr. Donaldson, well-known personalities. are enjoying a crack in the sunshine. -- Our thanks to the P.A. for permission to reprint the above.


If you've ever dug a garden in Dunning and come across interesting bits and pieces which you suspected were very old, you'll be interested in hearing about the experience of Society members Albie and Shona Sinclair. They found a couple of flints in their garden on Quarry Road recently and took them to Perth Museum for analysis. Sure enough they turned out to be from Mesolithic times. Perhaps 10, 000 years old. By the way, we'll be telling you more in our next newsletter about that report to Perth Museum on the Leadketty Mesolithic finds.


A report from chair Ian Philip

In our October newsletter, we told you about your committee's discovery that a deal was being struck secretly to move the Dupplin Cross. The proposal was to move it on a "temporary basis" from Dupplin Estate to the new museum being built in Edinburgh "until a local home could be decided on". There had been no consultation with local people, even though both the Friends of the Dupplin Cross and our Society had asked for such consultation in accordance with the Secretary of State's decisions.

Our members at a September 19 meeting in St. Serf's expressed their belief that a promise to return the Cross locally would never be honoured, and urged the committee to take immediate action to prevent such a deal. Accordingly, I wrote to the Secretary of State politely expressing our shock that a deal was being struck which went totally against his already expressed wishes to find a local home for the Cross. We invited him to come to a media conference in St. Serf's and Forteviot Churches on September 24 to hear our views and those of the Friends of the Dupplin Cross.

The media conference was well-attended by newspapers, television and radio journalists, by our M.P Roseanna Cunningham, Perth & Kinross Councillor Janet Law, by a representative of the Tayside and Fife Archaeological Committee, as well as a spokesman for the National Museums and Mr. Frank Lawrie of Historic Scotland. The Secretary of State was unable to attend. The meeting moved from St. Serf's (proposed earlier by Historic Scotland as an alternative local home for the Cross) to Forteviot Church, which had been supported at the December '95 inquiry as the best local destination for the Cross by representatives of most of the archaeolgoists of Scotland, by Historic Scotland, and by other local and national groups and individuals. M.P. Roseanna Cunningham and Councillor Janet Law expressed their support for the local solution, and I expressed our Society's preference for Forteviot, with St. Serf's a secondary option.

The message was put across clearly in the media: the local people still supported the local solution of Forteviot Church.

At the September 24th conference, which ended with a visit to the Cross itself, Mr. Frank Lawrie, Director of Heritage Policy for Historic Scotland, stated that we were back at the start of the Scheduled Monument process again. It was quite clear to us, however, reading the considerations of the Secretary of State for Scotland and his acceptance of the conclusions of the reporter of the inquiry, that a local solution is the preferred option. This is also in accordance with Historic Scotland's national guidelines.

Accordingly, the Dunning Parish Historical Socety, the Friends of the Dupplin Cross and the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust decided to band together, with the support of Perth and Kinross Council and the Perth Museum and Art Gallery, to submit an application for scheduled monument consent to move the Dupplin Cross and place it in Forteviot Church.

We announced at another press conference on October 4, attended by the media and by Councillor Janet Law, that the application would be based on that previously made by the Friends of the Dupplin Cross, and would take full note of the technical and financial objections raised at the December '95 inquiry.

Of the financial arrangements, I told the newspaper and television journalists at the press conference: "Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust has confirmed its grant of £5,500 to help relocate the Cross to Forteviot Church. Neil Rose, a businessman from Vancouver, Washington, U.S.A., can now be revealed as the hitherto anonymous benefactor who is prepared to fund personally any balance not financed locally. Mr. Rose had family connections in the Forteviot area and although he had wished no publicity he has agreed to this announcement in order to expedite our application".

I added "We welcome the statement on television of Dr. Spearman, Curator, Department of Archaeology, National Museums Service, that the Museum has no intention of acquiring the Cross permanently. It makes no sense to us to move the Cross to Edinburgh temporarily. The solution lies here in Forteviot Church. Other local options have not been explored in any depth but simply thrown in as suggestions. We have notified by letter the Dupplin Trust and Historic Scotland of our intentions to apply for the move to Forteviot Church, and we have requested that they meet soon with the local groups to help rescue and secure a local future for the Dupplin Cross".

Again the media conference was well-reported (although one TV station got rather carried away and announced that "the local people have won the battle to keep the Cross". This of course is far from true, since the application has to be prepared and accepted.)

However, we feel that we are taking with our partners a positive step which will meet the requirements of local retention and protection of the Dupplin Cross, to the satisfaction of the majority of parties concerned. The detailed application for scheduled monument approval to move the Cross to Forteviot Church, including revised architectural drawings, will be prepared soon when the size of the base of the Cross is ascertained by archaeologists.


Life is a chance affair, and you never know when you're going to coincide with someone from your past. For example, member Stella Clinton tells of her husband Mike reading a recent DPHS newsletter. Mike came across an article by Ian Robertson of Burlington, Ontario, who mentioned he had served with the army in North Africa. Mike, who worked with the merchant navy on convoy duty all during the war, decided to take a chance and get in touch with Ian. Sure enough they'd been in the same convoy, on adjacent ships.

Two of our members recently visited Durban, South Africa. They went to a bar with some recently-met acquaintances and a woman came and sat next to them. "Where are you from?" she asked. "Dunning, Scotland". "Oh", she said matter-of-factly, "my grandfather came from Dunning." She turned out to be a descendant of one of Dunning's best-known families, the Dougalls, and a hitherto unknown relative of three of our members, Mary and Rita Dougall and Morna Lochtie. (She kindly sent the DPHS copies of ancestral photos!)


Notice is hereby given to all members of a general meeting to be held at 7:30 pm, March 20, 1997, preceding our programme on standing stones. The purpose of this meeting is the following proposal from your committee: that memberships for 1996-97 shall continue to August 31, 1997. Thereafter subscriptions shall be due annually on September 1.


Thursday, January 16, 7:30 pm, Village Hall. "Water Under the Bridge". Dunning Burn at this time of year is very much in villagers' minds, for in spate it can be a real hazard. But over the years it has also served as a sustainer of life: water source, wildlife haven, industrial site, playground, supplier of food. Ken Laing gives us a slide tour of Dunning Burn through space and time.

Thursday, February 20, 7:30 pm, Village Hall. "The Tradesmen Tell Tales" Dunning tradesmen, some retired, provide us with stories of their trades as practised over the years. Betty Bridgeford chairs the live videotaping session, with participants Hector Whytock, Jim Crow, Jim Smith, Derick Phillips and Charlie Laing.

Thursday, March 20, 7:30 pm, Village Hall. General Meeting (see p. 11). Then "Romancing the Stones": 3 admirers of those mysterious monuments called standing stones tell of their love for ancient landmarks. David Jeffery, Invermay, and retired Perth photographers David and Dorothy Greenhill are the speakers.

Sunday afternoon, April 20. An inter-club visit to Kinross. Last year members of Kinross-shire Historical Society were our guests in a tour of Dunning and at a song-recording session by Grace and Alan McFarlane. This year we go to Kinross for either (depending on the weather) a trip to the island on Loch Leven where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned, or an indoor entertainment in Kinross itself. Further details in April's newsletter.

Saturday, May 24. At 2 pm, we gather for the business portion of our AGM at the Village Hall. Then we travel by shared cars to Aberuthven to visit some ancient ruins, with guide Dr. Joan Macintosh. Finally we're invited to Dr. Macintosh's historic old house and garden in Auchterarder for afternoon tea.

Coming up: A coach trip in June, plus other summer events including a presentation about Dunning's famous Rollo family.

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