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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The last three months, we've had a pleasant succession of Society events, some of which turned up unexpected discoveries. Take the trip to Aberuthven following May's agm: our guide was local historian Dr. Joan Macintosh who showed us the ruins of St. Catton's church and issued a challenge. There was a special architectural feature on the inside wall of the church which her research indicated should be there but which she'd never been able to find. Could any of us locate it? Well, eventually the sharp eye of ex-plumber Jim Smith spotted it, not high on the wall as Joan's research had indicated but unexpectedly low to the ground. The reason? The rubble piled over the years inside the ruin had raised the floor level many feet. Earlier, in late March there'd been a Society-initiated archaeological fieldwalk, when we were looking for traces of an Iron Age fort on the Dun Knock next to Dunning. The morning's unexpected finds included a Stone Age axehead dating back 5,000 years (more on page 7. We also had a couple of other recent Society trips when for some of us the destinations were themselves unexpected finds: the castle on Loch Leven, the remarkable reconstructed crannog in Loch Tay, and Castle Menzies. And as we go to print, an Ochils fieldwalk is planned exploring Greenhill and old farm sites: who knows what pleasant experiences and what unexpected discoveries those walkers will report!


The first speaker of our sixth season is the archivist of the Rollo Clan Association, Mr. Cameron Rollo. He'll be addressing us in old St. Serf's Church, surrounded by memorials of the Dunning branch of the family, on Thursday evening, September 17/97 at 7:30 pm. He has given us permission to reprint this definitive explanation of how to pronounce the clan name.

Intimations of Immortality or What's in a Name?

by Rollo Collinson

It is said that the set who play polo
Do not like the name pronounced Rollo.
The articulation they follow
Is the East Coast, or upper crust, Rollo.

But those in the west (who go solo),
Are unused to other than Rollo,
To their ears the sound Rollo's as hollow
As a plaster cast bust of Apollo.

In times past, though, to make things more jolly,
The enunciation was Rolly,
Or Rawley, or Rollie, or Rawlock,
How's that for a load of old Rollocks?

Whichever locution you follow,
Be it Rook, Raul, Rolf, Rouleau or Rauleau,
Make sure that you never get so low
That you change it to Brown, or Portillo.


We're looking for somebody with scissors, a good eye for news, and time to scan the Courier and P.A. The DPHS has a good archive of Dunning-related news clippings (built up by the late Rita Laing) and we'd like someone willing to help continue it. Could it be you? Please, call Ian Philip at 684 269.


Line drawing 2.7kb

A year ago, the Dunning Parish Historical Society published its first booklet, a history of Dunning Golf Club written by of one of its oldest members, Mrs. Barbara Gordon. She had been associated with two of the three courses in the history of the Club. She wrote amusingly of the Club as she had known it as a little girl when her father was greenskeeper on the second course laid out on Pitcairns farm high above the village towards Path of Condie.

This spring Mrs. Gordon died at age eighty-five. Her passing was mercifully quick, and she left to mourn her four children, many grand-children and great-grandchildren and numerous other relatives and friends.

The Society is lucky that Mrs. Gordon had left us her memories in the booklet "In Full Swing", and fortunate too that her artistic collaborator Mary Thomson had graced the script with such lovely linocuts, as seen here. Copies of "In Full Swing" are still available, at £1, from Dunning Golf Club, village shops, or David Williams, Kirkstyle Square, PH2 0RR, 01764 684 232.
Golf Line drawing

Linocuts by Mary Thomson


George Dunn is one of our most far-flung postal members: his address is 3A Arnold Street, Ngorgotaha, Rotorua, New Zealand. He recently sent us this recollection of his early days in Dunning.

I am now 85 years old and have lived alone here for the last eight years since my wife died. My thoughts often return to bonny Dunning where I was brought up and have lots of happy memories of a dear old village. Although I was born in Auchterarder in 1911, I was brought to Dunning in my mother's arms soon after. My father James Dunn was sent to open a plumber's business in the village of behalf of his uncle Jimmy Jamieson and Sons of Auchterarder.

We lived in Upper Granco Street at that time and were very near the public park where we played and sledged a lot in the wintertime. I can always remember Pinder's Circus coming and putting their huge tent up in the park with all the side shows. Sometimes we were very disappointed when Mum didn't have the pennies to give us to see the circus show.

Miss Phillip and Miss Gray were our two teachers at the infant school at the bottom of the Dragon where we spent our first years in learning. Then it was off to the big school in Station Road where Baldy Kerr was the headmaster. He was a good teacher but stood no nonsense and used his large leather strap frequently. He carried it at all times in his jacket pocket. Our little hands tingled when we were on the receiving end of it. Sometimes we would complain to Dad if we felt that we had been unfairly punished, but we never got any sympathy from him as he always told us that if we didn't deserve it today "you will deserve it tomorrow".

I left school at thirteen and a half years old and went to work for D. Hogg and Son, Grocers in Tron Square. It was my job to deliver the papers around the village and I think that I knew every person in the village at that time. It was also my job to collect the grocery orders from the elderly people and deliver them. Mr. Hogg used to put a few free peppermints in each order.

One experience that I can well remember was a very stormy day when a gale was blowing. Lex Hogg had just changed his Royal Enfield motorbike and sidecar for a new Ford car and I always went with him to open farm gates and deliver messages.

On this particular day we had delivered groceries to Keltie Castle. The Honourable Bernard Rollo owned this in those days, 1926-27. We had one more delivery to make and that was to Baadhead farm. As we went up the road we saw a corn stack being blown over completely, blocking the road. The field at the side was saturated with rain, so there was no way past. We took the baskets of groceries out of the car and walked the remaining distance. We made our deliveries safely, collected fresh-made farm butter and a few dozen eggs and made our way down to the car hardly able to keep on our feet with the force of the wind. We were only about a hundred yards from the car when the corn stack which we had left it behind blew over and completely covered the car. We had no option but to walk back to the village. The Auchterarder Road was blocked in many places by fallen trees. We had to get over and under them as best we could. There were plenty of scrambled eggs for tea that night.

I left Hoggs' grocery shop in 1927 when I was able at the age of 16 to get an apprenticeship with David Wilson the joiner for five shillings per week. We did all kinds of joinery and carpentry work, including housebuilding and repairs, farm carts and wheelwrighting, and coffin making. I can remember the first coffin being made in the joiners' shop after I was apprenticed. The new boy had to be placed in the finished casket and the lid screwed down. (An eerie experience for a boy, but that cannot be far away for me now:. The next time that happens it will be for keeps.)

In 1931 when my apprenticeship ended I moved to Erroll where I worked for six months until the big depression came and I had to return to Dunning to be one of the unemployed. I scoured around Scotland on my motorbike looking for work, mostly to no avail, although I did get jobs of short duration like a few weeks. One job that my brother Jack and I contracted for was digging a trench two feet deep from the Station Road to Duncrub House so that my father could lay a new water main to the mansion. We earned the large sum of tenpence an hour for our effort.

By the end of 1934 I had had enough of unemployment and moved down to Birmingham to try my luck. I got a job practically straight away and stayed there for the next four and a half years. Owing to the war scare my job packed up early in 1939 and my wife and I decided to emigrate to New Zealand. We sailed from Tilbury mid-July and arrived in Auckland five weeks later on the 24th of August, just ten days before war was declared.

I have returned to Dunning eight times since I first came to New Zealand in 1939, my last visit being in 1995. There have been great changes in the village since first I left. Many new homes have been built and old ones renovated. But the biggest change is in the population, Nearly all my old school mates have gone. Many fell in the last was. It was a great shock to me to see their names on the memorial plaque on St. Serf's steeple and also on the War memorial. It made me very sad.

My own family was very fortunate as we were all spared and returned safely to our homes. Mr brother Jack went through the desert campaign and got to Cassino in Italy with the New Zealand Army. Younger brother Bill went throught the Burma campaign with the British Army. My sister Jessie, Jessie Lester who still resides in the village, was in the Royal Air Force at home, and I served for four and a half years with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in Guadalcanal in the Solomon Island here in the Pacific.

I have lots of happy memories of my young days in Dunning. Life was hard and we all had to work, berry-picking at Smithy Haugh on our summer holidays, and then three weeks potato gathering in our autumn holidays. Our family usually worked for old Willie Henderson at Muirhead tattie picking.

As I grew up my interest was in trout fishing, and I would walk miles over the hills fishing the May, Pairnie and Dunning Burns, also the River Earn for sea trout and salmon. The village dances were wonderful. We danced the Scotch reels, waltz, and fox trot for six hours practically non-stop. The hall was usually packed and we were all very happy.

I must stop now as I have rambled on for too long. Your newsletters are great and I enjoy reading everything in them. I trust the DPHS goes from strength to strength. All the very best to everyone back home in bonny Dunning.

-George Dunn

P.S. Enclosed is my subscription renewal, plus a £100 donation for your new computer which I am sure will be a great asset to store all information on.

Note from the DPHS committee: We send our grateful thanks to Mr. Dunn for his reminiscences and for his generous donation. And this is an appropriate place to pass along our thanks too to the several other individuals who have so very kindly supported our Website project.


At the DPHS agm May 24, chair Ian Philip, vice-chair Liz Fletcher, secretary Patricia Wallace and Bill Peebles were re-elected, with committee members Mytle Potter, Felicity Martin, Peter Duncan, Alan McFarlane, Simon Warren, David Williams, Jim Smith and, newly-elected, Ted Dorsett.


Line drawing of Flints

Sketches by Fraser Stewart

On March 29, 70 people from Tayside and Fife fieldwalkers group and the DPHS searched for traces of an Iron Age fort, found some, and also came up with artefacts from an even earlier period, the Neolithic. Several flint tool chips, and most dramatic of all, a stone axehead, were discovered.

Cropmarks in the field on the Dun Knock at the edge of Dunning most years reveal exactly where the ramparts of the Iron Age fort were once located. This year the field surface was nicely weathered having been ploughed by owner Angus Howie who kindly held off further work to permit the walk. Mike King, North East Fife Museums, and Mark Hall, Perth Museum, led the walk. Near the cropmark area, the group was excited to find fragments of vitrified stone which had melted at high temperatures. Perhaps this happened, the archaeologists speculated, when the wooden ramparts of the Iron Age fort were burnt. Other artefacts dating to the time of the fort were also found.

The additional discovery of neolithic flint tool chips and the stone axehead on the Dun Knock extends significantly the area of known neolithic settlement in the Dunning area. Later in the day the fieldwalkers went back to Ian Philip's field at Leadketty walked three previous times and found more flints. All material found is now at Perth Museum awaiting further analysis.


Whether you're an incomer, a native or a distant connection, you may have wondered what life was like in Dunning back in the olden days. In the Statistical Accounts of 1842, local minister the Rev. Dr. James Russell wrote the following description of the Parish of Dunning.


Boundaries and extent.--The parish of Dunning is bounded on the east by Forteviot; on the west by Auchterarder, on the south by Fossaway; and on the north by Gask. It measures about 7 miles from north to south and 4 from east to west which, were the surface level, would gie an extent of 28 square miles. About one-third of the whole is situated among the Ochil hills.

Name.-- There are 2 suppositions entertained regarding the origin of its name: one, that it is from the Gaelic term Dun, a hill or fort, the other that it is derived from Douncha, an abbot of Dunkeld, who is said to have fallen here in battle in the year 964.

Hydrography.--The inhabitants enjoy an abundant supply of excellent spring water. The rivulet, called Dunning Burn, rises among the Ochil hills, and after a rather rapid descent over a bed of gravel, falls into the Earn. In the western division of the parish, upon the property of Lord Rollo, is a lake called the "White Moss", covering about eleven acres of ground. It rests upon a bed of moss and gravel, contains a variety of small fish and abounds with wild duck.

Soil.--The soil along the banks of the Earn is light and sandy; in other parts, it consists of clay or gravel; and the Ochils afford excellent pasturage for sheep.

Plantations.--There are many plantations in this parish, varying in extent from three to twenty acres. These consist chiefly of oak, fir, ash, elm and poplar. In the garden of Duncrub, the seat of Lord Rollo, is an old spruce, planted in 1707.. According to a measurement taken in the month of March 1838, its height is 79 feet, circumference of the trunk at the ground 23 feet; do. at 3 feet grom the ground, 11 feet, 10 inches; diameter of the circle of ground covered by its branches, 60 feet.


Historical Events and Antiquities.--Colonel Miller, in a paper published in the fourth volume of the "Archaerolgia Scotica", places the scene of the battle of Mons Gropius between the Ochil and the Lomond Hills; and assuming Caerpow as the site of the city Victoria, founded by Agricola, and Castle Law at Colteucher, as Lindum, he traces a line of forts along the northern base of the Ochils to Ardoch; and from thence to the wall of Antoninus; these he is inclined to attribute to Agricola, as a protection on the north to his newly acquired territory. Three of these forts are in the parish of Dunning, namely, Ardargie, Rossie Law (called by Colonel Miller, Garrison Law), and Ternavie. The latter resembles the hull of a ship inverted; hence, as is commonly supposed its name (terrae navis). Remains of ancient armour, with a great quantity of human bones, were dug up a few years ago, a little to the east of Ternavie, upon the farms of Rossie. Of these, two helmets, a small hatchet of yellow metal, and a finger ring, are preserved in Duncrub House.

Subsequently to the time of the Romans, the parish must have often been the theatre of strife and bloodshed, from its proximity to Forteviot, the Pictish capital. There are vestiges of several camps and fortifications besides those already mentioned, and the discovery of urns and stone coffins is a matter of frequent occurrence, but whether these are Roman or Pictish, it is impossible to determine, as the natives practised the Roman mode of sepulture, long after these invaders had left the country.

The family of Lord Rollo is in possession of three banners: one measuring two feet two inches square, that belonged to a body of Perth militia, at the Revolution of 1688 (which date it bears), commanded by the Lord Rollo of that period; another that was wont to be unfurled at the head of a troop of horse, commanded and maintained by Lord Rollo, for the protection of the country in troublous times. It exhibits the figures of two armed men on horseback, with the family motto, "La fortune passe partout", measures 4 feet 7 inches by 1 foot 8 inches, and is without a date; to the third there attaches an importance, derived from historical associations, which will render it an object of interest so long as that hallowed fire of patriotism and piety which has burned with so pure a flame on many a hard contested field, shall continue to glow in the breasts of Scotsmen. This banner once waved over the heads of the Covenanters, and it beheld their discomfiture at the battle of Bothwell Bridge. There, standard and standard bearer were both captured by the Honourable Major Archibald Rollo, second son of Lord Rollo. It has been perforated in seven places by musket-balls, and has the following words inscribed upon it in gold letters "Covenant, For Religion, Crown, and Kingdoms". It measures 2 feet in length by 1 foot 10 inches in breadth.

The Earl of Marr, after the battle of Sheriffmuir, 12th November 1715, withdrew his army into Angus, burning down as far as Perth, all the villages on his line of march, in order to retard the advance of the Royalist forces. Dunning, situated at the distance of twelve miles from the scene of action, was accordingly burnt to the ground, with the exception of one house, said to have bee occupied by a miller. This man, by setting fire to wet straw within, induced the Highlanders to believe that the work of demolition was already begun. They accordingly abandoned it, as they conceived, to inevitable destruction. This house, or rather one erected upon its site, is still pointed out to strangers as an object of interest. The inhabitants, actuated by the same feelings that prompted the citizens of London to erect "the monument" after the great fire in 1666, planted a thorn tree to commemorate the destruction of their village. This venerable thorn, although it has now braved the storms of a hundred and twenty-three winters, and has stood the silent witness of more than one change in the entire population of the village, still promises fair to protract to a green old age, and hand down the tale of its origin to other generations that have not yet appeared on the stage of time.

The following two entries occur in the session record of Dunning: the first dated nearly two months before the battle of Sheriffmuir, the latter about a year subsequent to it:

"September 18, 1715, There was no sermon this day and several Sabbaths following, on account of the commotions that wre in the country, by reason of Marr's unnatural Rebellion.

"October 2, 1716. Transmitted to the session of Dunning from Mr. William Mitchell, minister at Edinburgh, and Mr. William Hamilton, Professor of Divinity there, L. 18 Sterling, as part of the donation of a charitable person for the relief of such (as being well affected to the present Government) were brought to straits by their suffering in the late Rebellion."

Chief Land-owners.--The chief land-owners are Lord Rollo; Robert Graeme, Esq. of Garvock; John Pitcairns, Esq. of Pitcairns; Lord Airlie; and Alexander Belshes, Esq. of Invermay. The descent of the family of Rollo of Duncrub can be traced back in a direct line for a period of 1000 years, and can number at least one alliance by marriage with the royal family of France. The limits of this work will only permit a reference to a few of the names that occur in this long line of ancestors.

Family of Rollo.--Eric Rollo, the Dane, established himself in Normandy about the year 800; a lineal descendant of whom having conquered the country from the Crown of France, and married the King's daughter, became first Duke of Normandy. Pasing over several generations of this family, we come to William Duke of Normandy, commonly styled the Conqueror, who became King of England in 1066. Eric de Rollo, a descendant of a collateral branch of the first Duke, accompanied the Conqueror to England, in capacity of secretary; a portrait of whom, taken in the 98th year of his age, is preserved in Duncrub House. Richard de Rollo, a son or grandson of the latter, came to Scotland during the reign of David I, by whom he was graciously received, and who conferred on him houses and lands about Edinburgh and elsewhere. He then settled in Perthshire, where the family, having obtained successive grants of land from the Crown, have remained ever since.

Next issue, Part Two of this 1842 Statistical Account of Dunning Parish.
Click here to read it.


Final shooting and editing of the Society video "Tales of the Tradesmen" is now underway. Most of the material was taped at a March session in the Village Hall with Betty Bridgeford interviewing veteran tradesmen Hector Whytock, Jim Smith, Tom Hoey, Bill Clark, John Crow and Derick Phillips. The edited version should be ready later this year. We'll keep you informed.

Do you remember a scene in last year's video "An Introduction to Dunning" when DPHS committee members Felicity Martin and Ian Philip consult with 3 young Dunningites, Malcolm Kinross, Sarah Ritchie and Laura Stewart about the proposed DPHS Website? Well, Malcolm has just completed designing an original Dunning Historical computer quiz. The quiz game (divided into three separate quizzes for adults, young adults and children) was done as a Perth High School project. Malcolm very kindly tailored the quiz for our Website. It took 3 months hard work, and the results, as we hope you'll see before too long, are first-class. The Society is very grateful to Malcolm for this fine gift of labour and talent, and wish him all success as he begins electronic engineering studies at Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University this autumn.

Member Bob Palmer, whose video camera has been a witness to many village events the past few years, is preparing a special presentation for us which should bring back many memories. We're hoping it will be ready for an evening show early in 1998.


Friday evening,, July 18, 8:00 pm Traditional Scottish barn dance, at Ian Philip's Leadketty farm, with a barbecue, music by Dundee's Ken Stewart Duo, a raffle and a lively time if last year's sell-out dance was any indicator. So let's be having you! Tickets £3.00 from Dunning shops or Bill Peebles at 01764 684 782.

Saturday & Sunday, August 23-24. Floral Festival. Saturday, as Scotland marks the anniversary of its saints, pilgrims will cross the Ochils to St. Serf's Church, Dunning, to mark our saint's anniversary. The DPHS and other community groups are decorating St. Serf's to honour the occasion, and the public is invited to the two day show. On Sunday Dunning's wartime evacuees are especially invited to come, then to gather together for tea at 3 in the Hall.

Thursday evening, September 11, 7:30 pm, St. Serf's Church. For about 700 years the Rollos have been a prominent Dunning family. In the setting of a church where they were conspicuous members, Rollo Clan archivist Cameron Rollo will relate family stories.

Thursday, October 23, 7:30 pm, Village Hall. Highland Dress is the subject of a well-honed demonstration by Murray S. Blair, member of the Kinross Historical Society and Past President of the Old Glagow Club.

Saturday, November 8, 10 am Village Hall. Another themed coffee morning with Village Sports the subject of the historical exhibits. Loan of exhibits will gratefully be accepted the previous evening at the Hall. The exhibit will be open Saturday until 3 pm.

Thursday, November 20, 7:30 pm, Village Hall. Ken Murdoch has had a fascinating life, and tonight he tells us of a recent and ongoing project, his rebuilding of Methven Castle in which he and his wife live. (In the spring when weather improves we'll pay a follow-up visit to the Castle).

Coming up in the new year: Dunning Houses with Stories to Tell, videos made and yet to be made, and much much more.

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