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Clackmannan, Clackmannanshire

Historical Description

CLACKMANNAN, the county town, and a parish, in the county of CLACKMANNAN, 2 miles (E. S. E.) from Alloa, containing 5145 inhabitants, of whom 1077 are in the town. This place, the name of which, in the Gaelic language, signifies "the church town of Annan", anciently belonged to the Annandale family, of whom the last heiress, Agnes, conveyed it by marriage to the ancestor of the royal family of Bruce, on his first settling in Scotland, in the twelfth century. The Tower of Clackmannan is said to have been built by King Robert Bruce, on the site of the baronial residence of the family, soon after his accession to the throne; and it appears to have been the residence of several of his successors, kings of Scotland, till 1330, when it was granted by David II. to his kinsman, Robert Bruce, first lord of Clackmannan. The lordship continued in the possession of the descendants of that family, till the male line became extinct by the death of Henry Bruce, the last lord, in 1772, after which, on the decease of his lady, the lands became divided among various proprietors.

The TOWN is beautifully situated on an eminence rising gently from the Forth to a height of 190 feet, and chiefly consists of one street. In the centre are the remains of the ancient tollbooth, of which only the steeple is standing; the gaol and court-house formerly attached are now in ruins, and a county-hall has lately been erected to the north of the town, though the courts are held, and the public business transacted, at Alloa. The houses are irregularly built, and of very mean appearance; in addition to those in the principal street are several rows of cottages, mostly inhabited by persons employed in the collieries. There are two public subscription libraries. Several of the inhabitants are engaged in various handicraft trades, and there are numerous shops for different wares; but from the proximity of Alloa, very little business is transacted. Two markets are held yearly, and there is a post-office subordinate to that of Alloa: facility of intercourse is afforded by good roads, by the Stirling and Dunfermline railway, and by the steamers that ply between Granton Pier and Stirling, which call at Alloa, and at Kincardine in the parish of Tulliallan.

The PARISH is bounded on the south-west by the river Forth for about two miles and a half, and thence stretches towards the river Devon, by which it is bounded on the north. It is nearly six miles in length, and comprises an area of about 8000 acres, of which 6000 are arable and pasture, 1700 woodland and plantations, and the remainder waste. For more than a mile from the bank of the Forth the surface is level carse land, beyond which it rises in gentle undulations to the vale through which the Black Devon flows, and thence, more precipitously, to the vale of the Devon. The Black Devon has its source in the hills of the parish of Saline, on the east, and, after sweeping round the western base of the hill on which the Tower of Clackmannan is situated, flows into the Forth about two miles from the town. The Forth is about one mile in breadth opposite the parish, having been considerably contracted by an embankment, by which a considerable portion of land has been gained from it. Though various, and resting chiefly on a cold tilly subsoil, the soil is not unfertile; the chief crops are oats, barley, wheat, turnips, and potatoes. The system of husbandry has been improved under the auspices of the Clackmannanshire Agricultural Society; the lands have been well drained and partly inclosed, and the farmhouses and offices are generally substantial and commodious. The cattle are mostly of a mixed description, but there are also several of the Teeswater, and many of the Ayrshire breed. The annual value of real property in the parish is £13,704. The plantations are principally oak, larch, and Scotch and spruce firs; they are well managed, and in a thriving state.

The SUBSTRATA are ironstone and coal, which are very abundant, and sandstone, of which there are several quarries. The coal-field contains eleven workable seams, varying from two to nine feet in thickness, and the lowest of which is found at a depth of 110 fathoms; the most important collieries are those of the Clackmannan, the Devon, and the Alloa Companies. The seams principally wrought are, the upper and under five feet, the nine feet, and the three-and-a-half feet seams, which are all of the best quality; and the upper two feet seam, which is found only in the northern part of the parish. The upper five, the nine, and two feet seams are wrought by the Devon Company, chiefly for their smelting-works; and the others, by the Clackmannan and Alloa Companies. In the aggregate the quantity raised daily is about 500 tons, of which 200 are consumed in the parish, and the remainder conveyed by tramroads from the mines, to be shipped to various parts of Scotland, for which purpose facility is afforded by the harbour or Kennetpans, and the construction of extensively-projecting piers, at the mouth of the Black Devon. The collieries give employment to about 700 men. The Devon Company's iron-works in the parish are situated on the banks of the river Devon, and employ three furnaces, for the making of pig-iron, of which about 6000 tons are annually produced; and connected with the works is an extensive foundry, in which large quantities of cast-iron goods are made. At Kilbagie is a distillery, which has been long established, but at present no operations are carried on. The buildings occupy an area of nearly seven acres, inclosed with a high wall, and for their supply with grain 850 acres of land were formerly expressly cultivated. The works were carried on upon a very extensive scale, and 700 cattle were fed upon the premises; the whisky was chiefly for the London market. There is also a distillery near the town, upon a smaller scale, chiefly for the home market. A large brick and tile work has been established, and there are three saw-mills, the machinery of which is propelled by water.

The principal mansions in the parish are, Schaw Park, a spacious ancient house, containing many handsome apartments, and finely situated in grounds tastefully embellished; Kennet House, situated on rising ground, overlooking the Forth; Aberdona, in a beautifully secluded spot; Brueefield, Kennetpans, commanding a fine view of the Forth; and Kilbagie, pleasantly situated about a mile from the river. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Stirling, synod of Perth and Stirling. The minister's stipend is £284, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £16 per anuum; patron, the Earl of Zetland. Clackmannan church, erected about the year 1820, is a handsome structure, with a tower of lofty elevation, and contains 1300 sittings. An additional church has been erected in the north-west district of the parish, which contains 620 sittings. There is a place of worship in the town for the United Presbyterian Synod. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, in addition to the fees. The ancient Tower of Clackmannan is still tolerably entire; it is eighty feet high, containing several apartments, and from the summit, to which is an ascent by a spiral staircase, a truly interesting prospect is obtained. On the banks of the Devon are the remains of Sauchie Tower, formerly the seat of the Cathcart family, and now the property of the Earl of Mansfield; this tower is in a still better state of preservation than that of Clackmannan.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis


Online maps of Clackmannan are available from a number of sites:

Postal districtFK10