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Dunipace, Stirlingshire

Historical Description

DUNIPACE, a parish, ecclesiastically united to the parish of Larbert, in the county of Stirling, 4 miles (W. by N.) from Falkirk; containing, with the villages of Herbertshire, Denovan, and Torwood, 1578 inhabitants, of whom 562 are in the rural districts. The name, of Celtic origin, is derived from two mounds, by some writers supposed to signify "the Hills of Peace", and by others "the Hills of Death". Dunipace is of remote antiquity, and has been the scene of numerous important events, the last of which was the signature, on one of these hills, of a treaty of peace by Edward I. of England in 1301. The place is bounded on the south by the river Carron, and is of triangular form, comprising about 5800 acres, of which 4800 are arable, 630 woodland and plantations, and the remainder moor, moss, and waste. Its surface towards the west rises to an elevation of 600 feet above the Forth; towards the east it terminates in the Carse of Stirling; and in addition to the artificial mounds from which the parish takes its name, and which are about sixty feet in height, there was formerly another, about two miles to the west, having an elevation of forty feet, but which has been entirely removed within the last few years. The soil is generally light and dry, with some tracts of clay: the crops are, wheat, which has been lately introduced and grows well, barley, oats, turnips, and potatoes; and a large proportion of the surface is in pasture. The cattle are mostly of small size, as best adapted to the land, whether for feeding or for the dairy; the farms are of moderate extent, and under good management. A farmers' society was established in 1839, for the encouragement of agriculture and the improvement of the breed of cattle; and a ploughing-match and a cattle-show are held yearly, when prizes are awarded to the successful competitors. The annual value of real property in the parish is £7594.

The plantations are generally thriving; and there are considerable remains of the ancient forest of Torwood, where, till within the last thirty or forty years, was a stately oak, in the hollow trunk of which, twelve feet in diameter, the celebrated Wallace and his companions occasionally held meetings, to concert measures for rescuing their country from the tyranny of Edward I. of England. Herbertshire Castle, a very ancient structure of unknown date, supposed to have been originally a royal hunting-seat, is beautifully situated on the north bank of the Carron, in an extensive demesne, richly wooded, and tastefully laid out in walks commanding much picturesque scenery. Dunipace House, a handsome modern mansion, is finely situated near the site of the old church; and Quarter House, also a good residence, is sheltered by thriving plantations. Carbrook House is romantically situated within a short distance of Torwood Castle, from the woods of which it derives much additional beauty to its scenery. Facility of communication with Falkirk and other towns in the vicinity is afforded by excellent roads. Abridge of three arches was erected in 1828, to replace one of inconvenient construction which had become insecure from its antiquity; and there is a handsome bridge leading to Dunipace House, built over the river Carron, a little below the ancient ford, in the year 1824. The Scottish Central railway also presents facility of intercourse. For ecclesiastical purposes the parish, which about the year 1620 was united to that of Larbert, is within the bounds of the presbytery of Stirling, synod of Perth and Stirling. The minister, who officiates in both places, has a total stipend of £272, with a good manse in Larbert, and a glebe, the common property of the two parishes, valued at £26. 10. per annum; patron, the Crown. Dunipace old church was taken down from apprehension of insecurity, and the present church erected on a site about a mile and a half to the west, in 1834, at a cost of £2500; it is a handsome structure in the later English style, with a square embattled tower, and contains 604 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school is attended by about sixty children; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the fees average £15. William Simpson, Esq., of Plean, bequeathed £500 to the Kirk Session for the benefit of the poor. There are some remains of Torwood Castle to the west of the turnpike-road leading from Falkirk to Stirling. The history of this structure, which is surrounded by the remains of the ancient Caledonian forest, is involved in much obscurity; the lands attached to it were purchased from one of the Lords Forrester by the late Thomas Dundas, Esq., grandfather of Colonel Dundas, of Carron Hall, the present proprietor.

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