Dunkeld Town Historic Trail
The Dunkeld Town Historic Trail starts at Dunkeld Cathedral
gates taking you through the restored Dunkeld town centre through
to Stanley hill (all within the town and a short walk).
Dunkeld the town - as previously mentioned
(in the Dunkeld Cathedral Historic Trail walk) the town of
Dunkeld was built around the Cathedral but was burnt to the ground
during the Battle of Dunkeld. Instead of rebuilding the town on the
old site the Dukes of Atholl rather enjoyed the open view of the
Cathedral that they now had from Dunkeld House, so decided to
rebuild the town over here where it is today. This is the reason
why the cathedral is in this attractive park like setting and the
town is separate from it.
Dunkeld has seen many
changes both good and bad. It was once a major market town,
strategically located at the gateway to the Highlands. In the 18 th
century it was a centre for the shoe trade, exporting as far as
Europe. But with the advent of the industrial revolution and the
opening of the railway to the north, the town went into decline and
many people moved away to the larger cities in the south.
By the late nineteen forties the town centre was in a sorry
state of decline and decay. The National Trust for Scotland (NTS)
took over many of the buildings (they now administer 20 houses and
2 shops) and together with Perth and Kinross Council began a major
restoration project. This was completed in the late nineteen
fifties and has been maintained by these bodies since that
The first building to look for is the Rectory,
it is of medieval origin and the oldest building in Dunkeld. It is one of the
few buildings to have survived the Battle of Dunkeld
Now walk down Cathedral Street - No 19,
the Deans House, This was the Treasures House, (before he
moved to Downing Street.)
Number 9 was the childhood home of Alexander
Mackenzie who became the first Liberal Prime Minister of
You will see the NTS small shields above the doors most of the
properties indicating they are owned by the NTS
ElI Shop - At the corner just as you enter the
square you will find the ElI Shop - it is the NTS shop in
Dunkeld, originally a hospice. The name ElI comes from a weaver's
measure, about one metre. This is the ElI or measure on the outside
wall. It is well worth while having a look around the
Dunkeld town square or Cross in the past was
the centre of town life being the market place where people came to
buy and sell produce. Today it still hosts a number of events
through the year. The main ones being at Easter and Christmas. The
square got the name, The Cross, from the large cross that was
erected here. This was removed in 1866 by the 6th Duke of Atholl
and in its place erected the Atholl Memorial fountain that we see
Culloden House - On the south side of the
square is Culloden House where Robert Burns stayed in 1787 on his
tour of the Highlands. It was later the Scottish Horse Regimental
Castle Cleirach - On the left here is Castle
Cleirach which was the home to the Clerk of the Court and next to
it is the Duchess Anne building. This was a girl's
school started by Anne the wife of the 6th Duke. Today it is a
church hall used for charity events.
Situated on the north side of the Cross is the local VIC
(Visit Scotland Information Centre), go past the VIC and through to
St Ninians Wynd Gardens.
St Ninians Wynd Gardens are attractively
restored area, the site of many things including the gas works. This recent restoration
was completed in 1982 and adds this quiet, attractive courtyard
garden to Dunkeld's heritage portfolio.
The two buildings on the north side are, on the left is the
Bakehouse Cottage and on the right the Old Smiddy.
Now walk to the left to Stanley Hill
- Stanley Hill, it is a natural hill and was
once part of the gardens of Dunkeld House (which was built near
here but has since been pulled down).
In 1730 the Duke of Atholl had Stanley Hill landscaped to
give a fortified appearance and even had canons installed to give
the impression of a military fort. There is also a large ice-house
dug into the side of the hill to serve as the fridge for Dunkeld
House, this can still be seen today.
Today Stanley Hill is part of a public park.
Dunkeld has many excellent shops many run by sole traders offering
goods that you will find no where else, also a choice of Dunkeld
restaurants and cafes.