Gargunnock Village History  .....and other things


12000 years ago ice, more than a kilometre thick, covered the area and the weight of it depressed the land below sea level.  As it melted and retreated the sea came in and covered the valley (whale bones have been found near the village)  Relieved of its over-burden the land gradually rose again, the sea retreated, forests grew and were cut down and peat accumulated up to 5 metres thick in places in the form of island bogs. Where the fertile clay was exposed people farmed in a rudimentary, subsistence fashion, scattered  across the land, living where they worked, but producing little surplus and ever vulnerable to famine, pestilence or poor weather.  

Then along came new ideas in land management designed to improve profitability.  Peat removal, better drainage and improved agricultural methods, tools and eventually machinery all contributed to the creation of surpluses.  These improvements also tended to favour the formation of larger farms at the expense of small ones which displaced many people from the land into small settlements. In the early 1700s, to accommodate thisGargunnock 1862 with Feus.pdf the Laird of Gargunnock, Sir James Campbell, made available strips of land (feus) on either side of what is now the Main Street (or King’s Highway”) Many of these people were tradesmen or day labourers servicing the bigger farms.

So the village grew from perhaps just a cluster of houses adjacent to the Gargunnock Burn, until it contained about 90 houses at the end of the century as original feus became sub-divided and built on, mainly single storey and thatched. (See adjacent feus map)   That number of houses remained largely unchanged right through to the 1930s, by which time many of them were ruinous. Those that were not were certainly far behind modern standards of hygiene, many with dry toilets or ones connected to rudimentary septic tanks in gardens up to the mid 1950s. Clean piped water rather than that drawn from garden wells was only available from 1910 due to the exceptional benificence of the local minister, Rev Robert Stevenson.

Thereafter the laying of public sewers in the 1950s, the redevelopment of part of the Main Street by the local authority, the renovation of older properties with the help of generous improvement grants in the 1960s and an increase in new-build houses either individually or as private schemes on land essentially released by Miss Stirling of Gargunnock Estate, or on the Glebe by the Church of Scotland, has increased the number of dwellings to its present level of c309 in the village plus another 70 or so in the outlying parish.  Relaxation in planning laws appears to have generated a recent boom in single dwellings or small developments throughout the carse also.

Gargunnock Book

Apart from references to the village in various Gazetteers throughout the years there has been only one book on the village ever published, and an excellent one it is too.  Its author, Ian McCallum BEM, came here to live for a few years in Trelawney Cottage in the Square (formerly The Guest House), around the millennium.  An ex-army man he became a professional genealogist which led to him researching the history of his own house which in turn developed into a history of the village.

It is to Ian that we now appreciate the history of the development of the village and the immediately surrounding area i.e. the Parish of Gargunnock, encompassing mainly the estates of Gargunnock, Leckie & Boquhan.  Before 2000 we were largely ignorant of the fact that the village had been manufactured over a relatively short period of 65 years during the 18th century.

Copies of the Gargunnock book are still available from Amazon meantime.

Duncan McNeil Talk.pdf

Duncan McNeil’s Talk on Gargunnock Parish thro’ the Ages

The chap on the left is Duncan McNeil who spent all of his life working for Gargunnock Estate as did his father, Dugald, before him.

In 1947 Duncan gave a talk in the then newly created church hall in Station Road about Gargunnock Parish.  His talk was based on the two available Statistical Accounts for Gargunnock Parish (the third wasn’t published till 1960) supplemented by his own unique view of the current community and some of the characters in it.

I found his hand-written script in Stirling Archives and although that would normally mean that I couldn’t publish it here I also discovered that it had been serialised in the old Gargunnock Quarterly way back so was already in the public domain.

It is well worth a read in advance of a study of the three full Statistical Accounts contained elsewhere on this site.

Just click on the photo to view or download it for reading offline.