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Field-walking, what's that? Well, it's an archaeological research method that as been widely used in England, Orkney and the Borders but as far as Perthshire is concerned, is just really starting. It's a simple, non-disturbing method of finding out about our past and members of our Society have already taken their first tentative steps. More on page 2.

This Winter's programme included a fascinating talk on place names in the Ochils by Angus Watson of Forgandenny. As a follow-up Angus, who is writing a book on these place names, has generously agreed to share a few notes of local interest with readers of our Newsletters. Please see page 3.

A committee of Dunningites knowledgeable about computers (Felicity Martin, Morag Black, Alan Duff, Jim Slater, Colin Young) is currently examining some software programmes and computers to find the right purchases for the Society. Our object is to store, for easy access, the varied historical data dug up by members near and far. In this Newsletter we're grateful to out-of-village members for several interesting contributions.


On March 24 we heard about field-walking from Perth Museum archaeologist Mike King who showed us the type of artefacts that can be found on recently ploughed fields. These included bits of pottery, spindles, tools and other objects. Their discovery provides otherwise unobtainable evidence of previous inhabitants from neolithic to mediaeval times.

Mr. King illustrated how field-walking is organised. It's carried out in a systematic fashion, with no harm to soil structure or crops. Field-walking, combined with careful recording of where the discoveries are made, builds up invaluable information about the past in a long-settled place like Dunning.

One attraction of archaeological field-walking is that ordinary non-specialists (like us) can easily learn how to do it. It's also an activity in which young and old can participate as equals.

And it's fun! Recently three of our members, Ian Philip of Leadketty and Shona and Albie Sinclair of Quarry Road took part in a demonstration field-walk near Coupar Angus. Despite cold weather they came away enthusiastic about field- walking and amazed with what they found. They'll give us more details in the next Newsletter.

Mike King has agreed to work with us on our first local field-walking venture. These may necessarily be arranged at short notice, so please watch for further announcements (particularly in local shop-windows and in the Community News in the Friday Perthshire Advertiser). Or better still, if you'd like to be notified personally, please call now and leave your name with Albie and Shona Sinclair at 0764 684 566.


Angus Watson, who spoke to the Society (Jan. 28) about "Place names in the Ochils", prepared these. He's writing a book on Ochils place names and would welcome comments sent to him at Kildonan, Forgandenny, PH2 9HP.

Place names can sometimes give us a glimpse of the cast of mind of our ancestors. From the seventeenth century onwards there appears to have been increasing pressure on land in the Ochils so that by the later eighteenth century we find a good number of agricultural holdings have been created on less hospitable sites.

Our forebears sometimes reacted to this with characteristically pawky humour, giving wry Scots names to their holdings in defiance of a situation that they couldn't improve.

So we have WAKENWAE, ('Wak', 'damp', and 'Wae', 'wretched', 'sorrowful') now disappeared but represented by Waughhenwae Knowe, grid square 0012, Northeast of Baadhead. From farther afield in the Ochils we have KITTLENAKED (square 9004 in upper Glendevon). 'Kittle' here is probably 'difficult to deal with' and 'Naked', of land is 'barren', 'exposed'.

SKIRLBEAR (square 2217 S of Newburgh) is 'Skirl', meaning 'whistle' or 'shriek' of the wind. 'Bear' here is probably for 'bare'. The nearby SWEERIE (square 2317) is Scots for 'weary', 'reluctant'. WHAICK (square 8806 SW of Blackford) again refers to the whine or whistle of the wind. YEELD (square 9611 near Cloan) means 'sterile', 'unproductive', 'unprofitable'.

WHISTLEBARE and WINDYWELLS (grid square 0806 near Craigow), COLDHAME (square 8201 S of the Sheriffnuir Inn), CAULDHAME (square 9207 W of Glen Eagles) and HARDRIGG (square 1413 near Glenfarg) need no explanation!

BINZIAN, OS grid squares 0714 and 0713. This name is represented by the farm of (the) Binzean, the deserted settlement of Over Binzean, Binzean Mill, now a dwelling, and Binzean Burn which joins the May at GR 078140. This name comes from Gaelic 'Binnean' or 'Beinnean', a small hill, and in this case no doubt refers to the hill at GR 065140, for which I have no name (can anyone help ?), or perhaps to the spur of ground running from that hill down towards Binzean.

The pronunciation now is approximately 'Bingen' and the way it came about is interesting. Gaelic 'Binnean' is pronounced approximately 'Biniann' with the second 'i' as in the English 'million'. In early Scots spelling this sound represented by a letter known as 'yogh', which closely resembled handwritten 'z' in the current map spelling of Binzean as well as in a word like 'Capercailzie'.

But the same sound could also be represented in Scots by a 'y' or a 'g' and it looks as if it was one of these 'g' spellings that 'caught on', as it were, when folk were beginning to forget what sound these letters had once represented. A similar spelling pronunciation seems to account for the Scots pronunciation of the surname Menzies as 'Mingies', as this was 'de Meniers' when it first came to Scotland, with that same semi-vowel sound after the 'n'.

Copyright, 1993, Angus Watson


(We're again indebted to Mr. Henry Campbell of Toronto, who has written us several letters of reminiscences about the Dunning of his early years.)

Perhaps I am piling too much on you too soon but I think I ought to let you have as much history, etc. without delay because at my age (93) my stay on earth could end very suddenly. So without further ado I will acquaint you with two items which may be of interest to you.

A little over 80 years ago Bob Hepburn and I were wandering around Steel End. We were often up around there and usually when we decided to go home we would cross the burn and walk north with the the burn on our left and hit the Bridge of Earn road at Haughend. But on this particular day we decided to walk home with the burn on our right for some distance then to avoid Pitcairn House to head left through the wood and thence to the Red Sea and the Dunnock. I can't remember how far we had gone from the burn crossing but I don't think it was very far when I stepped on a pile of leaves in what looked like a small dent in the ground. To my surprise I found myself in a hole about 2 feet deep and being quite small I had to clamber out on my hands and knees. But while doing so I got the idea that it was a man made hole and I said to Bob "Why would anyone dig a hole here?" To be very brief I called Bob's attention to the fact that the hole was part of a circular trench. Then he said there is another trench alongside this one and over there is what looks like the remains of a building. Then he said "I'll bet this was once a Roman Fort". After talking about it for a while we came to the conclusion that there was nobody we knew who could or would do anything about our discovery. We decided to keep quiet.


Further to your last newsletter (and the letter from Mrs. Catherine Robb) I would like to say a few words about Jean Simm and Toddle Bonnie. One day Toddle Bonnie was trying to coax a small child to walk towards her and said "come noo, toddle bonnie". From then on she was known as Toddle Bonnie. Jean Simm was noted for her way of adding confusion to arguments or debates by her cronies by announcing "It pends on stances". She was always keen on getting a job at the threshing. As soon as she heard that the threshing machine had arrived at a nearby farm she was walking around hoping to run in to Dixon who did the hiring. Jean was always afraid that Maggie and Liz Murray would see him first and maybe beat her out of a job. She was heard to mutter "Oh, they Murrays, they are buggars for the mull".

I would like to add a few words about John McLellan. Now there was an honest hard working man who without any fanfare or noticeable appreciation tolled that big bell at 8 a.m. (not 6) and 8 p.m. for many years, every day calling the faithful to church and when requested he rang the small bell 12 times at a funeral. He was also the gravedigger. The fact that he attended to all these matters for many years and never missed a day shows remarkable dedication and tenacity. Changed days. Nobody will ever duplicate the record set by John McLellan. This is my tribute to a man I knew and respected.

(MILESTONE FOUND. As a result of an earlier letter from Mr. Campbell, David McArthur hunted for the milestone at Milady's Wood, and found it. Mr. Campbell will be relieved it hasn't been broken up or dumped into the sea.)


I am 71 years old, a seventh-generation American Belsches, descended from James Belsches who emigrated from Scotland about 1750 to Surry County,Virginia. James was descended from Alexander Belsches, who was the first of the Belsches name to own Invermay the estate near Dunning. I have long been interested in the genealogy of the Belsches family and was quite elated to be able to make a trip to Scotland this past August, when I had an opportunity to visit Invermay and Green of Invermay and even to ride through Dunning twice!

I relate Village Forteviot and Kirk Forteviot to my ancestors inasmuch as Alexander Belsches, referred to above, and his grandson, gave to Kirk Forteviot certain items of communion silver in 1859. I was most fortunate to be able to see them and to photograph the silver items. Further, my wife and I attended a Sunday morning service in Kirk Forteviot. Altogether, it was a great experience that I shall always treasure.

James Belsches named his home in Surry County "Invermay". I have not been able to locate James' original home and I think it must no longer exist. I am pleased that I long ago named my own home in Hopewell "Invermay", before I had visited Scotland. However, it was not until my visit that I learned the "why" of the name. I found that "Inver" referred to the mouth of a river, but I could find no trace of anything named "May"....until I stopped at the Post Office in Bridge of Earn to inquire after Invermay and found out about the stream, the Waters of May. Needless to say we photographed that, too!

drawing of plane


(The following extracts from letters written to Dunning from South Africa 50 years ago. The writer is one George Johnstone Dougall, a "character" by all accounts who went to South Africa from Dunning as a young man and who died there in 1959. He is writing to John Dougall of Newton of Pitcairns. Copies of these letters were recently sent to us by the writer's son, George Dougall, of Durban.)

December 1953. While sitting here quietly at home waiting to "go" into town, I thought I would drop you a line and let you know that I do think of the old Country and especially the old village and the people there.

Now then. What about all the various families of "Dougall" ? The "Dougalls" down the "Haugh". We get Willie Dougall the Carrier, a very tall lanky kind-hearted fellow. Then along the Bridge of Earn Road lived the Miss Dougalls who used to hold religious Sunday School, Plymouth Brethren of some sect, Cockatoo next to Howie's Pub. Then David Dougall the Merchant and his family of girls and one boy. Now we come to grandfather (Aeneas) Dougall's twin Black Jack of Ash Grove, who died 19th October 1854 which will be 100 years shortly. He had only one son Aeneas born February 1st 1830 and who died before Grandfather (also Aeneas) Dougall.

There was something about Grandfather which I have never been able to ferret out. But this I know. He used to go down the Haugh near to where the Dunning Burn joins the Earn and spend one day a year fasting and sitting among the nettles where the remains of his peoples' home was. Heighham I think or a name like that. That was in memory of his folks. Grandfather was a little above the ordinary labourer and was fairly well educated which few were in those days. He was also a Reader and Seller of Books and travelled along the Caledonian Canal which was new then. What his brother was I don't quite know. But he must have had money (to have) a country house built in the Quarry Road.

Now then if you know any more about the Dougalls of Dunning, I shall be glad to hear from you.

One of Gran's brothers, Jimmie, was found in a snowdrift near the Long Drum. But Gran did not like to talk about it. My Mother told me this.

April 1953. Well, no doubt Charlie Laing's death removed one of the Dunning Worthies. I can remember him when I was a boy at school, he serving behind Hoggs' counter. Also on New Year's concerts singing the comic songs that used to go down well with us country folks......

.... Then there was old Mr. McLaren the Free Church minister (White Top I believe they used to call him, why I believe was that he had a walking stick with a white top). I rather liked the old chap and remember when he got a bit excited and overcome in his sermons his false teeth used to slip badly. Dear old McLaren and Mrs. McLaren. She was a dainty little body and used to wish the New Year by me.

Lots of interesting places near Dunning. Garvock House, where I spent 2 years of my boyhood (working) in the garden. The romance of the place where our Prince Charlie slept. I have been often in the bedroom. It has a very low ceiling and outside of the window it had a white rose bush which was supposed to be planted by him.

The 45 did not entice the Dougalls out. But I believe they were in the 15 Rebellion. However I don't blame them as Bruce did the dirty on the family and his greatest opposition came from them...

I remember Lady Rollo at prize-giving and also her cutting the ribbon to set the clock going in the steeple. Father had the job to drill the hole through the thick walls for the shaft for the hands. Year 1887. Jubilee Year.

Going back to Garvock do you remember "Squire Graham". He used to drink a bit. He was, now that I think of him, not a bad sort. As you must remember when he gave all of us school kids a new penny. It must have been the Queen's 1887 Jubilee. I remember him giving the school kids a picnic at Garvock, and later on coming out a bit drunk and scaring the life out of us children and the older folks with a naked sword.

Extracts from letters by George Johnstone Dougall, written from South Africa in 1953. Copies of the letters, photographs and a map he drew of the early Dragon are in the Society's archives, available for inspection. There is also a sound interview with the writer's son, George Dougall, when he visited Dunning last year.


* The Society has now grown to the point where the executive has been considering some kind of clubrooms to be used for research work, small meetings and for archive and equipment storage. At a public meeting in Dunning earlier this year, Tayside Region indicated that the Old Schoolhouse Newton of Pitcairns might be available on reasonable terms of lease to Dunning Community Association, which in turn would sub-let to groups like ours. We indicated our interest and await Tayside and the Community Assoc.

* The resignation of Mrs. Jill Parr from the Society executive has been accepted with regrets by the committee. Jill's husband has been transferred and the family is moving away shortly.

* To fill the vacancy until the A.G.M. the executive committee appointed Mrs. Finella Wilson who has kindly agreed to assist by editing the Newsletter in the future. And continued thank to publisher Colin Young!

* Would you, dear reader, be interested in transcribing copies of old 1881 Census returns for a nationwide census computerisation programme? Several of our Dunning members, including Peggy Smith, Isobel Barnett, Nan Ross and Lorne Wallace, are presently engaged in this interesting voluntary task which chiefly involves detective work in figuring out what the original census forms say, and then printing it accurately and clearly on another form. To find out more, please call Isobel Barnett at 0764 684 437.

* Ann Myles and Laura Stewart have kindly agreed to be our collectors of ephemera: shop posters, flyers, etc.. Many thanks to them for volunteering!


Sunday April 25 Hill-walking for History. A leisurely walk to one or two of the historic small holdings near Dunning to examine what remains and to map and make records for the future. For more details call Colin Young at 684 521 (evenings). Meet at Dunning Primary School at 10 a.m. and please bring suitable fieldwear and a lunch.

Thursday May 27 A combination of the Society's Annual General Meeting and a report on Dunning's Roman Camp by the the University of Edinburgh team which excavated part of the camp last Autumn. For this occasion only, the meeting is being held in the Village Hall at 7.30 p.m.. The public are welcome !

Anytime A local field-walk. Please see page 2.

The next Newsletter will be issued in June and will include a list of the events scheduled for the Autumn. Among the events being considered for next Autumn's programme are an evening about "The Tattie Holidays", another coffee morning with an historical twist, a field trip to be hosted by a nearby historical society, plus other talks and slide presentations.

And one unusual idea that's still to be considered: a "Dunning Museum For A Day". This would make use of some of the items that many of you have been donating or lending to the Society. More of that later. And thank you for the photos and historical objects received so far. Please keep us in mind as you clean out that shed or attic!

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