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



Hollywood had its Jurassic triumph, now your Society enjoys a Neolithic success. A hugely popular September field-walk on a Dunning farm turned up Neolithic trumps at the last minute (see page 2). Days later, the prehistoric theme continued as speaker Dr. James Grant began a fine talk by handing round a Neolithic axehead for all to see (now we know what to look for). The meeting then fast-forwarded into the electronic age to see the first of the "Village Vignettes" videos produced by the Society. The subject was "The Thorntree", topiary memorial to Dunning's burning in 1716. The first tree planted apparently lasted until 1936. The video features David Morris, donor of the last three replacement trees, and David Doig who recently clipped a Pitcairns Den hawthorn in double mushroom shape like the traditional Dunning Thorntree.

Other videos to be featured at DPHS meetings this season include "The Tattie Holidays", "The Butler's Son", "The Return of the P.O.W.", "The Evacuees" and hopefully, to tie together the Neolithic and the electronic, a video about archaeological field-walking. Janet Crow narrates, Lorne Wallace produces.


What do you get if you cross 75 people, 100 garden canes, 35,000 square metres of ploughed field and a sunny Saturday ? A successful field-walk !

On Saturday, 25th September, Dunning Parish Historical Society and Perth Museum and Art Gallery organised their first archaeological field-walk to look for evidence of early human settlement in the area and we are grateful to farmer Ian McLaren for his co-operation. Ian Philip kinldy allowed us to park at his farm and modifications to his fence allowed "loupin' ower" to the site.

Aerial photographs and crop marks had indicated a possible prehistoric settlement near Dunning and we were looking for evidence of this on the ground. We were really excited when a neolithic flint scraper and a piece of Neolithic or Bronze Age pottery were discovered during the search, as this means that the settlement can be dated more accurately - perhaps 2,500 B.C.

Mike King of Perth Museum and Art Gallery directed our walk, assisted by Rebecca Moloney, an expert on aerial photographs. A grid of 20 metre squares was set out by Mike, Albie Sinclair, Ian Philip and David Doig. Throughout the day we walked over these squares and picked up anything that had been "made or modified by man", placing our finds in bags marked according to the grid for later examination.

As well as the significant Neolithic and Bronze Age discoveries, other finds included pieces of clay pipes, ceramic toys, mediaeval pottery, pieces of glass and pottery from more recent centuries and other interesting finds. The items found are currently being cleaned and evaluated at the Museum and we await further information with interest. Shona Sinclair.


As war-clouds gathered during the last week of August, 1939, Glasgow children whose parents had agreed to the Evacuation Scheme were notified from schools involved that trains would leave on Saturday morning, 3rd September, for various destinations in the country.

Our government's plan was that parents should be given the option of sending their children out of the big cities to the comparative safety of the quiet countryside. This, after viewing the horrors shown in newsreel films of the indiscriminate bombing carried out by the Luftwaffe (German air force) on many Spanish homes, Guernica in particular, during the Civil War which raged there from 1936 to 1939. Great carnage was caused and a great many innocent civilians were killed or maimed. This had also happened in the thirties during the long war waged by Japan on China. If war should break out it was expected that Glasgow with her factories and shipyards would, along with other big British cities, be a prime target for enemy bombers.

On Friday, 1st September, German armies invaded Poland and two days later Great Britain, having received no reply to our demands that they withdraw, declared war against Germany. This was to honour a pact which we had made with our ally France to aid Poland should she suffer attack.

At 11 o'clock on the Sunday morning, as our Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain issued the Declaration of War I found myself with my two younger sisters and a few hundred other children awaiting the arrival of a train at Alexandra Park Station which would transport us to some as yet unknown destination. It was only as we embarked that we were told ours was Dunning. No one seemed to know exactly where this was (someone suggested this was somewhere up in the more remote regions of the Highlands!) We all felt we were taking a leap into the unknown.

As my father and mother bade their three youngest children a tearful farewell we clambered aboard, clutching our small suitcases. Attached to a loop of string suspended over our shoulders hung square cardboard boxes containing gas-masks. These had been issued to us a few weeks before at school, when we were instructed by visiting officials on Air Raid Precautions. It was feared by the authorities that the enemy might use poison gas as they had done during the Great War of 1914-18. We also had labels pinned to our lapels showing name and address.

After the train left our tears soon dried and we settled down among our friends and found we were all very excited about the prospect of the great adventure which lay ahead. Each compartment on the train held in addition to the children a teacher or a lady-helper to keep us in order. As well as children from our own school, Haghill Primary, there must have been children from other schools in the Dennistoun area of Glasgow as I seem to remember a few stops at stations on the way, when groups of children would disembark with their teachers. At the end of a long, long journey (or so it seemed to us) we eventually reached Dunning Station where two or three buses awaited to transport us the final two miles to the village. There a roll-call took place as we all marched into the school hall where we found that a thoughtful headmaster (Mr. Benzies) had organised a hot drink with plenty of buns and cakes for all.

The evacuees then all lined up in the hall while many members of Dunning's population passed along the line choosing the child, or children, they had agreed to take into their homes. In doing so I would suggest that these good people deserved commendation, as it must have been difficult for them to accept complete wee strangers from the city to live in their homes for an unforseeable length of time into the future. A few of these local people were farmers and I recall one burly "man of the soil" calling out that he wanted six boys! He chose the six biggest lads he could find amongst us. I expect he would find plenty for them to do on his farm. My next-door neighbour and pal from back home (George Boardman) was one of the six who set off with Mr. Scott of Easter Clevage Farm.

Although I was over 12 years old I was a rather small slightly-built lad but was still "big brother" to my two younger sisters, Margaret (aged 8) and Lily(aged 5) who clung tightly to my hands. I was determined not to lose sight of them and had promised my mother and father to take good care of them. As the number of children in the hall grew less it had begun to look as if we would be last to be chosen. I do remember Mr. Benzies in earnest conversation with a kindly-looking lady and telling her that he would not relish the idea of splitting up our little family group. Mrs. Agnes Hurry (for she it was) had come prepared to accept one or at most two little girls. She already had a little girl of her own (Nancy). By now I think we were about the last children left of the whole party of evacuees who had arrived in Dunning (my estimate would be around eighty to one hundred) and the dear lady, in the kindness of her heart - which had possibly melted at the sight of our pathetic little group - agreed to take the three of us.

I wonder what was in her thoughts as she led us across the village square to her home. What would her husband (David) say when she arrived with 3 additions to the family, including a boy ? After the initial shock (as it must have been for him) and to his eternal credit, her good man accepted us into his home and gave us a lovely warm welcome. One who seemed genuinely delighted to meet us was little Nancy whom I remember as a bouncy, bubbly 3 year old who was always full of fun and who was to prove a grand companion for my sisters, and for myself, in the months ahead.

We were introduced to Grandpa Hurry, an elderly gentleman with a large grey walrus moustache. We were just a little bit afraid of him at first, but our initial apprehension soon evaporated as we got to know the old gentleman better. (His photograph, as a handsome young man, can be seen on the back cover of "A Village of Crossroads and Characters"). Another gentleman we met that evening and whom we took to right away thanks to his warm friendly personality was Grandpa Letham, Mrs. Hurry's father. He was a quiet, kindly soul with a grand sense of humour and was a greatly loved member of the family. Like Grandpa Hurry, he also was a widower and, if my memory serves me correctly, lived in a house in the Muckhart Road and was looked after, I believe, by his housekeeper Harriet. This lady also helped as a shop assistant in the family grocery which was an integral part of the family house situated beneath the living quarters.

But Mrs. Hurry's newly acquired family was not yet fully complete! Back in Glasgow, after our train had pulled out, two rather distraught mothers ( Mrs. Boardman and our own mother) could not forgive themselves for letting their children be whisked off into the unknown. On reflection I think this was perhaps understandable, considering that Mrs. B.'s George was her only surviving son while we three comprised the greater part of the Freeland family. After some heart-rending decisions my father and Mr. Boardman agreed to allow their wives to board the next evacuee train which had pulled in to fill up after ours had left. This they were allowed to do but the authorities insisted that they "sign on" as voluntary helpers with the evacuees. My own father was left not quite alone but with my older sister Jean, who was a "big girl" of 15 and who had recently started on her first job and did not therefore qualify as an evacuee.

Much to the dismay of the two mothers, the children they were accompanying were from some other school and were not bound for Dunning. They found themselves disembarked at Bridge of Allan station and then bussed with the children to a large school at Blair Drummond. There they assisted in allocation duties. After this task was completed they asked if there was any possibility of transferring to Dunning to help with the evacuees there. This was agreed to and a kind gentleman who was en route for Perth offered them a lift in his car. This was readily accepted and eventually they found themselves set down at the Broom of Dalreoch, from where they were directed to the village. After the long trudge of 2 1/2 miles they finally arrived at the schoolhouse at around 9.30 p.m., tired out following the long day full of traumatic experiences. Mr. Benzies was able to tell them where their children had been placed. It was too late for Mrs. Boardman to set out for the farm where George had been taken but accommodation was arranged for her in the village that evening.

Meanwhile in the Hurry household the children were all busy "scrubbing down" and preparing for bed. Supper was over except for Grandpa Hurry, who was still finishing off his bowl of pease-brose which he partook of every evening. The ringing of the front doorbell took Mrs. Hurry downstairs, wondering who could be calling so late (approaching 10 p.m.). I'll never forget the feeling of astonishment and elation when we heard her in conversation with someone whose voice we knew and loved so well.

You can imagine the reunion which then took place. After some discussion Mr and Mrs Hurry agreed to allow us the use of their two attic bedrooms until such time as we could perhaps find some accommodation of our own. It was to be quite a few months into the new year before this came about and in the meantime we were accepted almost as members of this family, living in extremely comfortable surroundings with plenty of good wholesome food, and treated with great kindness and consideration. My sister Lily and I (being the only survivors of our family who lived there) will be forever indebted to dear Mrs Hurry and her family.

Thus ended the first day of our sojourn in the village which was to last for six long years, with only a few visits to our own home back in the city during that period. I myself left Dunning for service in the R.A.F. and did not return to Glasgow until 1948, almost 9 years after leaving there on that fateful Sunday morning!

Ron Freeland, Culloden (TO BE CONTINUED)


....... may be our treasure ! The Society are looking for things of historical interest to be displayed in a Museum for a Day at our Victorian Coffee Morning on Saturday, 6th November.

Things we would be interested in could include old letters and photographs, objects dug up in gardens like coins, bits of pottery, unidentifiable objects, old agricultural implements, anything to do with the weaving trade or other trades, old shops, pieces of pottery with dates - anything you have which is old and connected with Dunning. Even if they cannot all be displayed on this occasion, we are very keen to learn of their existence and ownership in the village for possible use at future events. Please contact Albie Sinclair for information or offers of objects - Ashgrove, Quarry Road, Newton of Pitcairns, Dunning. Telephone - 684566 (evenings and weekends)


by Angus Watson, Forgandenny

The overwhelming majority of our placenames, when they were first coined, were pretty straightforward and referred to fairly obvious characteristics such as the position, appearance or ownership of the site, to animals, birds or vegetation to be found nearby, and so on. So originally "Garvock" was most probably Gaelic "Gairbheach", place of roughness (the same derivation as the Garioch in Aberdeenshire), Dalreoch was Gaelic "Dail Riabhach", brindled meadowland, and Clevage, which derives from Gaelic "Claidheamh", sword, probably meant "land won by the sword".

Yet over the centuries relatively straightforward names like these have come to seem obscure, even mysterious. The simple and obvious reason in the case of the examples just quoted - and many like them - is that the language in which they were coined ceased to be spoken in the area concerned. In our part of the world Gaelic ceased to be the language of everyday speech some time in the14th century and within a few generations the sense of Gaelic names was lost. As it happens "Garvock" and "Dalreoch" have not changed beyond recognition. The "-ock" of "Garvock" is one of the forms regularily adopted in Scots for the Gaelic ending "-ach", and the "bh" of "Riabhach" (pronounced "v") is in a weak position bewteen two vowels and it is not surprising that it drops out in Scots. So these two names illustrate the tendency of placenames to follow standard patterns of development in the language in which they are used and to undergo the same kind of changes as other words in that language.

But at the same time placenames are subjected to a kind of pressure for change, namely analogy, not undergone to the same extent by other types of words. When you think about it, placenames often do their job without meaning anything. We cheerfully talk about Balquhandy without needing to know what it"means", and if we decided to call Dunning, Forteviot amd Forgandenny "A", "B" and "C" respectively they would still be adequately indentified and distinguished from each other. But communities seem to have always had a desire to make placenames "mean" something. If a name becomes obscure a more or less conscious process will sometimes take place to move it little by little towards a word or words that make sense in the language spoken by the community. So early forms of "Clevage" link it convincingly to Gaelic "Claidheamh", sword, but by the later 17th century forms like "Clevedge" and "Clevadge" have become more and more common and I would suggest that this is by analogy with the common Scots and English ending "-age" and words such as "Cleavage".

The same process of analogy can be seen when the Gaelic name "Cuilte" is re-interpreted as "Kilts" (in Dunning Parish Register in 1738) and later, from about the mid-19th century, as "Quilts"; or when the probable original Gaelic "Gascan", a wee spur of ground, is re-interpreted as "Casken" Hill ( OS square 0111), no doubt by analogy with "Cask". The Pictish-Gaelic hybrid "Petmady" (AD1360), which could be either "portion (of land) of the dog, fox, wolf", or "portion (of land) of the sons of Dith", comes down to us re-interpreted as "Pitmeadow".

Changes of a different kind, more deliberate this time, affects some Scots names as recorded on maps. Up to the early 18th century Scots names were unselfconsciously recorded in their Scots forms, as is only to be expected. But as the 18th century draws on, as we reach the times when elocution teachers could make a good living trying to rid the urban middle classes of their Scots accents and when lists of Scotticisms to avoid were in all good bookshops, we see Scots forms being modified to the more "genteel" English. "Cockersfauld", square 0210, becomes "Cockersfold", "Roughfald Slap", square 0710, becomes "Roughfoldslap", "Craigheid", square 0403, becomes "Craighead", "Turf Muir", square 0706, becomes "Turf Moor", and so on. It is unlikely that the more "genteel" forms of the mapmakers had the slightest effect on what folk actually said, for it's only since the advent of mass literacy that map versions of names have tended more and more to be regarded as the "correct" mapmakers have gone back to recording Scots names in their Scots forms, suggesting a healthy return of confidence in the vernacular.

The most drastic kind of change occurs when a placename is simply replaced by a new one. "Arniedike" and "Westerdele" appear to have become "Easter" and"Wester Balquhandy" some time after 1783. The farm of Culteuchar above Forgandenny, square 0815, was "Brander" until the end of the 18th century - the earlier Culteuchar was a little way to the East. For a time they were"Easter" and "Wester Culteuchar", then "Culteuchar" and "Old Culteuchar", until the latter was eventually abandoned. In cases like these, the change occurs when a farm is absorbed by a larger holding. When Ayton at the mouth of Glenfarg took its new name in the 18th century the change was for other reasons. Perhaps it was felt that the previous name was taken on for the wrong connotations. Not surprising really as the previous name was "Potty".

Copyright 1993 Angus Watson


Out-of-town readers needn't feel excluded when we refer to Village Vignettes videos. In future, we hope to make copies of the videos available, at very reasonable cost. To help us plan the economics of this, we'd welcome hearing from anyone, locally and outwith the village, who might be interested in buying copies. Cost will depend on volume, and what video system is used where you reside. Please let us know if you are interested. (And please keep the manuscripts for this newsletter coming too. We are delighted to hear all your recollections of Dunning as it was.)


Saturday Nov 6 "Victorian" coffee morning plus "Museum for a Day" Dunning Primary School 10 a.m.

Saturday Dec 4 Christmas Ceilidh Dunning Village Hall 7.30 p.m.

Thursday Jan 13 "Dunning's Forgotten Churches" Illustrated talk by Kirsty Doig plus Village Vignettes video. Primary School 7.30 p.m.

Wednesday Feb 16 "Past Precedents, Present Problems" Alastair Lawson of the Rights of Way Association. Plus another premiere of a Village Vignettes video. Dunning Primary School 7.30 p.m.

Thursday Mar 24 Member's night. Talks and videos by members including a look at 93's most dramatic village event. School 7.30 p.m.

Sunday Apr 24 Historical Country Walk led by David Doig. Meet at Doig's, Glenview, top of Newton of Pitcairns. 10 a.m. Bring lunch.

April/May History field trips to Crofts and Fields near Dunning. Dates and places to be announced closer to the events.

Sunday May 8 Field trip at invitation of Clackmannan history group to visit Alloa and district. Convoy will leave from St. Serf's at 10 a.m. Bring a packed lunch.

Saturday May 21 Our '94 Annual General Meeting to be held in St. Serf's Church (hopefully, otherwise in Primary School) at 2 p.m. Our guest speaker and tour leader, author and authority on Scottish graveyards, Mrs. Betty Willsher of St. Andrews.

Back to Previous Page Return to Index On to Next Page
blank menubutton


Home St Serf's What's Available Members' Pages Crossroads and Characters History Now
Events Evacuees Favourite Links Dunning Surname Graveyard Survey Parish Census