UK Genealogy Archives logo

Gargunnock, Stirlingshire

Historical Description

GARGUNNOCK, a parish, in the county of Stirling, 6 miles (W.) from Stirling; containing 803 inhabitants, of whom 319 are in the village. This place, anciently called Gargownno, is supposed to have derived its name from the Celtic words Caer-guineach, signifying "a pointed or conical fortress"; a building answering to this description, called the Peel of Gargunnock, being situated near the north-eastern extremity of the locality. The parish is skirted on the south by the Lennox hills, which form its boundary in that direction, and on the north by the river Forth. It is six miles in length, and four in breadth, comprising 9668 acres, of which 5332 are under cultivation, 3762 in natural pasture, and 574 wood and plantations. The hills rise 1400 feet above the level of the sea, commanding from their summits one of the most extensive, varied, and beautiful views in the country; and from these higher grounds the whole of the lands slope northwards, terminating in the plain reaching to the Forth. The river is here about sixty feet broad and twelve deep, and contains large quantities of pike, eels, perch, trout, and salmon: the two last, however, from the casting of moss into the stream, are not so numerous as formerly. In addition to the Forth with its picturesque meanderings, and besides the many springs in the parish, which afford a constant supply of excellent water, there are several burns running in various directions, of which those of Leckie, Gargunnock, and Boquhan abound in fine trout, and the vicinity of the last is enriched by a glen of its own name, so beautifully wild and romantic as to produce a very striking effect on the mind of the spectator. Cascades are to be seen in different places, enlivening the mountain ravines; and besides almost every description of wild animals and birds usually found in the country, the district is remarkable for its roe-deer, which breed in the glens in great numbers.

The lands may be portioned into three distinct kinds, moor, dry-field, and carse, the soils of which vary considerably. The first of these tracts, on which sheep and black-cattle are pastured in summer, is a wet gravel and clay; the dry-field for the most part sandy and clayey, with a little loam; and the last-named district a deep rich clayey earth, resting on a subsoil principally of blue clay. Below this blue clay, about ten feet from the surface, is a layer of sea- shells, which is indeed found throughout the whole strath of Monteith, extending twenty miles in length and between three and four in breadth, and is considered a certain indication of this part of the country having originally formed a portion of the bed of the ocean. Afterwards, this extensive tract was overgrown with wood, called, in the time of the Romans, the Caledonian forest, and cut down by that people in the beginning of the third century. On the dry-field portion, oats, barley, hay, and green crops constitute the chief produce; while wheat, beans, oats, barley, and hay are grown on the carse land. The sheep are in general the black-faced, and Ayrshire cattle and Clydesdale horses are reared; many swine, also, are bred, some of which are small, but others very large. Great attention is paid to husbandry, and a rotation of crops is regularly followed: draining has been extensively practised, particularly the improved method by wedge-drains, to the great advantage of the soil; and good farm-houses and offices, with excellent fences, have been raised. Roads have been also constructed in different directions; and these various improvements, with numerous others, have increased the price of land within the last forty or fifty years to double its former amount: the annual value of real property in the parish is now £6856. The rocks in the hills consist of whinstone; and those in the dry-land portion, of red and white sandstone, of each of which there are quarries. Limestone is found in great abundance under the white sandstone; veins of spar exist near the hills, and it is confidently asserted that coal might be obtained on the estate of Gargunnock. Peat is plentiful on parts of the Lennox range, and is sometimes cut; but the principal fuel in use is coal brought from Bannockburn, nine miles distant. The natural wood comprises oak, ash, birch, and willow; the plantations consist principally of Scotch and silver fir, elm, larch, and plane.

The oldest mansion is that of Gargunnock; the next in date is the seat of Boquhan, built about the beginning of the present century, and the barony of which name was formerly possessed by the Grahams. Leckie is a still more modern structure, in imitation of the old English baronial residence; it is surrounded by beautiful grounds, and commands a fine view of the strath of Monteith. Meiklewood was erected recently by Colonel Graham, to whom the parish is indebted for a handsome suspension-bridge built over the Forth, at his own cost, about seventeen years since, near the line of the Dumbarton road, and also for a new road, two miles long, running from the bridge to the great road from Stirling to Callander; by which, excellent means of communication have been opened through a highly interesting tract of country. The village, which is in the barony of Gargunnock, stands on a declivity near the church, and commands a richly-diversified prospect of the surrounding district. Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Stirling, synod of Perth and Stirling, and in the patronage of Sir Francis Walker Drummond, Bart. The minister's stipend is £150, of which about a sixth part is received from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe of seven acres, valued at £15. 10. per annum. Gargunnock church was built in 1774, and is a plain building with three galleries, the whole containing 500 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial schoolmaster receives a salary of £25. 13., and £11 fees, with a small glebe. There is a subscription library; and the parish has two charitable bequests, one of £260, and the other of £365. A farmers' club was instituted in 1796 by General Campbell of Boquhan, and in 1807 he enriched it by a bequest of £500, since which time £100 have been left for the same object by Laird Kay: eleven parishes are entitled to the benefit of it, namely, Gargunnock, Stirling, St. Ninian's, Kippen, Fintry, Balfron, Killearn, Drymen, Port of Monteith, Kincardine, and Kilmadock. At the burn of Boquhan are two chalybeate springs, which are considered of great efficacy, though not much frequented. Keir-hill, the top of which measures about 140 yards in circumference, was a fortified station in the thirteenth century; and the Peel of Gargunnock, situated on an eminence near the Forth, and surrounded by a rampart and ditch, once gave protection to the English till they were dislodged by Sir William Wallace, who occupied Keir-hill, just mentioned.

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