Perth Timeline

The following is a brief outline of the Perth timeline from the time of the Roman occupation of Scotland to the 19th century.

83: Romans built 'Bertha', a fort at the confluence of the Rivers Tay and Almond some two miles from the present city centre.

846: Kenneth MacAlpine established Scone, two miles north-east of Perth, as the first capital of Scotland.

900: The Battle of the Danes took place at Luncarty, a few miles north of Perth. It is said that the Viking invaders were defeated when a local peasant armed only with a plough yoke rallied the Scots at a critical moment.

1100: Perth first enters the historical record in the early 1100s when it is recorded as the burgh of Perth in documents concerning Church matters.

1153: A Lade constructed to bring water to the mills.

1210: The River Tay flooded and destroyed most of the early town, which was situated a little north of the present town centre. The wooden bridge which then spanned the river was also destroyed in the flood. However the town recovered and King William the Lion made it a royal burgh.

1231: The Dominican Friary was the most important of Perth's many religious houses. Founded in this year, it was a frequent royal residence and meeting place of Parliament, but achieved unhappy notoriety in 1437 as the scene of the murder of James I. In later years, relations between the friary and the burgh were increasingly strained, as seen in the ludicrous Friars' Pot incident of 1543, when the friars' dinner was stolen from their kitchen and paraded through the streets.

1293: King Edward laid claim to Scotland, removing the Stone of Destiny.

1304: The English king ordered that stone walls be built around Perth.

1313: The Scots re-captured Perth and destroyed these walls to prevent the English occupying Perth again.

1336: City wall re-forified by Robert the Bruce parts still survive today).

1396: The battle of the clans - Battle of the Inch -. There are different versions of what happened. Two clans or federations of clans were feuding and the king, Robert III, asked them to settle their differences by choosing 30 champions who would fight each other. The two sides fought on North Inch. One side, the Mackays, were left with just one survivor who fled by swimming across the Tay.

1429: King James I founded the Charterhouse or Carthusian monastery in Perth for a prior and 12 monks. This was the first and only Carthusian Monastery founded in Scotland and James' intention seems to have been to encourage the reformation of religious life in Scotland and to develop a new, royal Mausoleum. The name of the Perth house was the "Vale of Virtue".

1473: King James I was assassinated by nobles in Perth. In January the King and Queen were staying in the black friary. At midnight rebels led by Robert Graham broke into his rooms and stabbed him 16 times. The Queen and her children escaped to Edinburgh.

1512: Like all towns in those days Perth suffered from outbreaks of plague.

1544: 6 people were executed in Perth for heresy.

1559: The best known incident to take place at St John's Kirk was John Knox's sermon against idolatry, preached on 11th May of this year. Some of the congregation (Knox called them "the rascal multitude") took him at his word, stoned the priest, stripped the church of all its fittings and ornaments, then ran to the Greyfriars, Blackfriars and Charterhouse monasteries and stripped them down to bare walls.(street names still exist like Whitefriars, Blackfriars and Greyfriars).

1569: Perth receives charter from James VI and the provision for a hospital for the poor - King JamesVI Hospital.

1584: Like all towns in those days Perth suffered from outbreaks of plague. It lasted two years this time.

1600: In 1600 came the Gowrie conspiracy. According to King James VI he was hunting at Falkland when the Earl of Gowrie's brother, Alexander Ruthven asked him to come to Gowrie House. Ruthven supposedly told the king that they had a man with a container of foreign coins at the house. The king eventually went with a group of companions. The king was led to a room in a turret by Ruthven who then locked the door. According to the king, Ruthven then threatened him with a dagger. Ruthven left the room and locked the door. Meanwhile the king’s companions were told that the king had left and they were about to leave as well. However the king opened a window and called for help. The king’s companions rushed to the room and killed Ruthven. The Earl of Gowrie then rushed to the scene with his servants and in the ensuing fight he was killed. It is believed by many that the conspiracy was stage managed by the king to get rid of a family he disliked.

1608: Like all towns in those days Perth suffered from outbreaks of plague.

1616: A new bridge was built across the Tay, but it only lasted for 5 years. It was destroyed by severe storms and flooding.

1629: This building in Curfew Row is the oldest surviving house in Perth, and is of course fancifully linked to Catherine Glover, the heroine of Sir Walter Scott's novel The Fair Maid of Perth. Parts of the building are genuinely medieval, and in 1629 it was bought by the Glover Incorporation, but was much restored in 1893-4 and later. The Glovers were a very important trade in Perth, and their motto 'Grace and Peace' is carved over the door.

1644: The royalist Marquis of Montrose captured Perth after he won the battle of Tippermuir.

1645: Like all towns in those days Perth suffered from outbreaks of plague. However each time the plague struck the town recovered and it continued to slowly grow larger.


1651: Charles II was crowned king at Scone. However in August of that year an English army captured Perth.

1661: Cromwell built a fort on South Inch in 1651, but it was demolished.

1669: New hospital built, the remains have been restored at top end of South Street.

18th Century: The arcaded building next to the Fair Maid's House was originally the stables of Lord John Murray's 18th-century townhouse. The stable lay derelict for many years, but was restored in the 1980s as solicitors' offices. Lord John Murray, a Hanoverian general, was a younger brother of Lord George Murray, the Jacobite general of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745-6. Both were sons of the first Duke of Atholl. George died in exile after the failure of the 1745 Rising. John managed to stay out of it altogether, despite being MP for Perthshire (1734-1761), as his military duties kept him in Europe at the time.

1771: Smeaton's new stone bridge built. This is known today as Perth Bridge built. It still remains today.

1809: South Street bridge built over the River Tay.

1850: St Ninians Episcopal Cathedral was built.

1863: Perth railway bridge was built to replace a wooden structure built 14 years earlier. It was designed by the Caledonian Railway Company to carry the single track of the Perth - Dundee line.

1900: Victoria Bridge built. This was replaced by the Queens Bridge in 1960.

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