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. Where the fertile clay was exposed people farmed in a rudimentary, subsistence fashion, 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, peat removal and agricultural methods designed to produce surplus.  These tended to displace 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 the Main Street (or King’s Highway”)  So the village grew from perhaps just a cluster of houses adjacent to the Gargunnock Burn, to about 90 houses towards the end of the century, mainly single storey and thatched.   That number of houses remained largely unchanged until the 1930s, by which time many of them were ruinous.  Those that were not were certainly far behind modern standards of hygiene, with many dry toilets or ones connected to rudimentary septic tanks in gardens up to the mid  1950s.

Thereafter the laying of public sewers, the redevelopment of part of the Main Street by the local authority, the renovation of older properties with the help of generous improvement grants and an increase in new-build houses either individually or as private schemes has increased the number of dwellings to its present level of 314 in the village plus another 70 or so in the outlying parish.

Gargunnock Book

Apart from brief references to the village in various Gazetteers throughout the years there has been only one proper book on the village ever published, and an excellent one it is too.  Its author, Ian McCallum BEM, came here to live 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.

He is no longer here but is still involved in military genealogy and conducts battlefield tours, having been all over Europe including Gallipoli, Italy and further afield to Egypt. Currently there is talk of a documentary film on footballers and the Great War, but it’s early days yet.

His latest book, entitled “The Celtic, Glasgow Irish and the Great War,” has just appeared, the first of a series he says.  Remaining copies of the Gargunnock book are still available from him at

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 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) but with 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 found recently that it had been serialised in the old Gargunnock Quarterly 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.