Historical Dunning

Dunning Thorntree Square

The following represents Historical Dunning, a small village in Perthshire. The villages was set ablaze in the late afternoon of 28th January 1716 by a contingent of Highlanders led by Lord George Murray. The firestorm created by the arson attack was so extreme that only one house, the Straw House, survived the flames. According to a traditional tale, the owner of that house, by burning damp straw, tricked Murray's men into believing that her house was already ablaze. A few months after the destruction of their town the people of Dunning erected a Thorn Tree as a memorial. The tree flourished until 1936 when it was felled by a fierce storm The present tree in Dunning's Thorntree Square is the fourth tree planted since 1716.

Historical Dunning also has an Iron Age fort, a 1st century AD Roman camp and the 12th century Norman Tower of St Serf, where St Serf is said to have slain a dragon. The area also boasts the magnificent nine-foot Dupplin Celtic Cross.

Roman Marching Camp
Kincladie Wood
NGRef: NO023152
OSMap: LR58

First mentioned in 1723 by an anonymous Scottish antiquarian, first suspected of Roman origins by O.G.S. Crawford in 1949, and confirmed from the air by J.K. St. Joseph in 1969, almost the entire circuit of this very large camp has been traced or may be conjectured. Its plan is almost square, the south-east corner lies beneath a housing-estate on the outskirts of Dunning, the majority of the south side lies obscured beneath trees, and much of the east side is overlain by a road which nevertheless preserves its line. A long section of the northern rampart is preserved within Kincladie Wood, known to locals as My Lady’s Wood or Mi Lady’s Wood, along with a small portion of the titulum defensive outwork which once protected a gateway in the western sector of this side, now mostly destroyed by the modern road. There is a gateway with titulum in the southern rampart opposite that on the edge of the woods to the north, also two more, placed centrally in the west and east defences, that on the east being fronted by a traverse or titulum. There is no evidence for the suspected second (eastern) gateways in the north and south sides, neither for a central gate in the east side, all archaeology being obscured by modern roads or trees. The defensive ditch at the west gateway was examined in 1992 and found to be about 11½ ft. wide by just under 5 ft. deep (3.5 x 1.5 m). This camp is remarkably similar in size and shape to the camp at Carey, Abernethy, only 10 miles to the east. Historical Dunning boasts an impressive Norman steeple of St Serf's Church which still dominates the village. The church is first mentioned in a Charter of Inchaffray Abbey dated 1219, but the remains of an old doorway in the north wall are suggestive of the existance of a much older church. The steeple is also of an older date, probably mid-12th century. The handsome pointed arch between church and steeple was probably introduced when that older church was replaced. The medievil church with its open-beam, high pitched roof existed until 1811, when it was reconstructed and enlarged as seen today. An ancient stone, standing at the base of the tower and bearing the designs of a Celtic cross and figuration, points to an even earlier church on the site - perhaps back in the days of St Serf himself. The graveyard surrounding the church is of great interest with many old stones, some dating back to the early 17th century. Some carry symbols of the old trade and craft guilds to signify the occupation of the person interred. Near the roadside, a mile to the west of the village, stands the monument to Maggie Wall "burnt here - as a witch - 1657".There is no record of any trial, conviction or sentence, although these were usually diligently recorded. It may be that she was one of the many unfortunate souls, improperly condemned in those fearful, suspicious times. As it is unusual to have a memorial to a witch, particularly one with a cross, it may have been erected as a mark of shame and repentance by those responsible.

The older houses in Dunning date from the 18th late century. In 1790, John, the 8th Baron Rollo, whose family first arrived at Duncrub in the 14th century, instigated the re-planning and re-building of the village; all houses having to be of stone with slated roofs.

Dunning was involved mainly in the weaving industry and by the 1850's the population had reached 2,200. The collapse of the weaving industry due to centralisation in large industrial mills, the enclosures and joining of small farmsteads, the by-passing of historical Dunning by the main Stirling-Perth route and the coming of the railway in 1847 all contributed to the demise of the village as an important trading centre; the important annual market eventually being moved to Perth.

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