ST. NINIANS - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)]

"ST. NINIANS, (or Eccles) a parish in the county of Stirling, Scotland. It is an extensive parish, originally called Eccles, occupying part of the valleys of the Forth and Clyde in the central district of Stirlingshire. Its greatest length from E. to W. is 13 miles, and its greatest breadth 8. It is bounded on the E. by the parish of Airth, on the W. by Fintry and Gargunnock, on the S. by Denny, Dunipace, Kilsyth, and Larbert, and, on the N., by the parish of Stirling and the banks of the Forth. It contains a suburb of the burgh of Stirling, the quoad sacra parishes and villages of Bannockburn and Plean, the post town of St. Ninian's, and the villages of Auchinbowie, Bellfield, Cambusbarron, Charteris-Hall, Greenyards, Newhouse, Torbrex, and Whins of Milton. The surface of the parish, like that of the adjacent districts, is divided into the carse, dry-field, and muir lands. The carse, which comprises all the low lands in the E. by the "links of Forth," was, until a recent period, a flatmorassy wilderness, being only a few feet above the level of the sea, but is now one expanse of rich luxuriance, producing abundant crops. The dry-field district adjoins the carse, rising abruptly towards the S. and W. It is chiefly undulating, and is enclosed and well cultivated. The muirland comprises the remainder of the parish, extending from the dry-field to the western boundary, and consists chiefly of hilly moorland, with some excellent pasture in the southern part. The principal summits are Dundaff, Craigannet, and Earl's Hill, which form the eastern extremity of the Lennox range, and attain an elevation of about 1000 feet above the sea level. There are also a minor range of basaltic columnar hills branching off as spurs towards the Stirling heights, and connecting the Lennox and Ochil hills. It is thought that the Royal Forest of Dundaff once covered the high lands, as they are still called by the inhabitants the "Lands of Dundaf" The parish is watered by the rivers Forth and Bannock, besides the Touch, Earl's-Burn, Carron-Water, and numerous other trout streams, falling into the Forth and Clyde. On the southern border is the moorland lake of Loch Coulter, about 2 miles in circumference, abounding with perch, peel, and eels. This lake is remarkable for its volcanic properties, the surface of the water having suddenly fallen 12 feet at the Lisbon earthquake in 1755, and, ten years afterwards, when the shock of an earthquake was felt in this part of the country, a stone, weighing nearly a ton, was thrown out some yards on its bank. Two cascades, called Auchentillen's-sprout and Gilmour's-linn, occur in this parish, the former on the Carronwater, and the latter on Touch-burn. The soil, as well as the surface of the carne, dryfield, and muirland districts, differ vastly in character. In the first the alluvial soil is 20 feet deep, resting on a layer of moss, sand, or shale, with sandstone and carboniferous rocks beneath. The dryfield rests entirely on rocks of the carboniferous formation, comprising a coalfield of great value, which has been extensively worked at Bannockburn, Auchinbowie, Greenyards, and Plean, producing about 60,000 tons of coal a-year. The prevailing rocks in the muirland district are columnar trap, with underlying strata of sandstone, clayslate, mountain limestone, and shale, which occasionally crop out. Sandstone is extensively quarried at Blackcraig, Catscraig, and Craigbeg, and, in other parts of the parish, freestone, ironstone, and limestone are found. The parish is traversed by the Scottish Central railway, which has a station at Bannockburn, and by the Forth and Clyde railway, also by the roads from Stirling to Airth, Falkirk, Glasgow, and Balfron. The village of St. Ninian's is comprised within the parliamentary boundaries of Stirling, and is almost connected with that borough by the straggling villages of Newhouse and Bellfield, which skirt the great south road from Stirling. Many of the houses are old and curiously carved, some of considerable antiquity, but others with the tools of the tradesmen, to whom they originally belonged. Extensive manufactures of curtains, carpets, and woollens, have long been carried on in several parts of the parish, particularly at Bannockburn, St. Ninian's, and Cambusbarron. There are likewise several tanneries, nail making establishments, brick and tile works, malting-houses, a brewery, and distilleries, though this last industry is not so extensively carried on as formerly. There are two small shipping wharves in the parish, one at Fallin, chiefly used for lime and coal, and the other at Throsk, from which bricks and tiles are exported. The parish of St. Ninian's is in the presbytery of Stirling and synod of Perth and Stirling, and in the patronage of the heads of families. The minister's stipend is £345 38., and glebe valued at £30. The parish church was built in 1750. There are besides two chapels-of-ease, respectively at Bannockburn and at Plean, also two Free churches and two United Presbyterian churches, at St. Ninian's and at Bannockburn. There are eighteen non-parochial schools, some partially endowed, and several public libraries. The ancient church, called Kirk-amuir, situated about 6 miles to the S.W. of the present parish church, has long been in ruins, having been blown up by the Highlanders in 1746. It has now disappeared entirely, except the burial ground, which is still in use. There were besides anciently three other places of worship in the parish, now extinct, viz: St. Mary's chapel at Skeok, a chapel at St. Ninian's well, whence the present name of the parish is derived, and a chapel at Cambusbarron. The most notable event connected with this parish was the celebrated battle of Bannockburn, memorials of which exist at Randolph Field, where are the Standing Stones, and near the village of St. Ninian's, the Bore Stone, in which Bruce planted his standard; also at the Bloody Fold, and at Ingram's Crook. There were also fought within this parish two other battles of great note, viz: that of Stirling, in 1297, at Torwor, and that of Sauchieburn, on the 11th June, 1488, at Little Canglour, near Beaton's Mill, where James III. was murdered the same day. It was also the headquarters of the Pretender in 1745 and 1746. The principal antiquities are the Roman road from Camelon to Brechin, on the line of which are five small camps or stations, the castle of Sir John the Grĉme (who fell at Falkirk) at Muirland, the house of Sauchie, now in ruins, Bruce's castle at Carnock, a square tower at Plean mill, now used as a quarry, several cairns or tumuli, and numerous remains of rude fortifications, breastworks, camps, and artificial hills. The dukes of Montrose, who trace kindred with Sir John Graham, the companion of Sir William Wallace, take their second title of Viscount Dundaff from the lands of Dundaff. Several persons of celebrity have been born in this parish, as Dr. Henry the historian, Miss Hamilton, the authoress of the "Cottagers of Glenburnie," and Mr. Harvey, the painter. Two annual cattle fairs are held, one at Newmarket, the other at Broxbrae, in the neighbourhood of Bannockburn."

"BANNOCKBURN, a village and quoad sacra parish in the parish of St. Ninians, in the county of Stirling, Scotland, 3 miles to the S. of Stirling. It is a station on the Scottish Central railway. The village is situated in a glen on the banks of a small stream which has given name to the village, among the braes that slope up from the Firth of Forth, into which the Bannockburn falls. The village lies on the high road from Stirling to Falkirk and Edinburgh, and has a thriving trade. The manufacture of tartans, carpets, and other, woollen articles is carried or. to a considerable extent., There are several tan-yards. Bannockburn has a place in history as the scene of the great and decisive battle between the Scotch under Bruce and the English led by Edward II., on the 24th of July 1314, in which the English were defeated with immense loss, and Scottish independence was established. Memorials of that fierce struggle abound in the neighbourhood. There is the Bored Stone in which the Bruce set up his standard; Randal's Field, the scene of a skirmish on the eve of Bannockburn; Ingram's Crook, named after an English commander, and Gillies' Hill, where Bruce had placed the baggage and camp followers. Within a mile is Sauchie-burn, where James III. was defeated in 1488."

"CAMBUS BARRON, a village in the parish of St. Ninians, in the county of Stirling, Scotland, 1½ mile S. W. of Stirling. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in wool spinning and tartan shawl weaving."

"CHARTERS HALL, a hamlet in the parish of St. Ninians, in the county of Stirling, Scotland, 3 miles S. of Stirling. It is situated near the river Bannock."

"DAMHEAD OF THEEK, a hamlet in the parish of St. Ninians, in the county of Stirling, Scotland. It is situated in the carse of Stirling, half-way between the town of St. Ninian's and the village of Airth."

"MILTON OF WHINS, a village in the parish of St. Ninians, county Stirling, Scotland. It is situated on the Scottish Central railway near Bannockburn and Beaton's Mill. It was here that James III. was murdered after his defeat at the battle of Sauchieburn in 1448."

"MUIRTON, a village in the parish of St. Ninians, county Stirling, Scotland, 4 miles S.E. of Stirling. It is situated near the line of the Scottish Central railway, and Bannockburn Water, which falls into the Forth below Stirling."

"NEWHOUSE, a village in the parish of St. Ninians, county Stirling, Scotland. It adjoins the N. end of St. Ninian's village. There are also numerous private residences of this name in all parts of England."

"PLEAN, a quoad sacra parish in the parish of St. Ninians, county Stirling, Scotland, 5 miles S.E. of Sterling."

"PLEAN MUIR, a village in the parish of St. Ninians, county Stirling, 4 miles S. by E. of Stirling. It is situated near the "Links of Forth," and has an extensive colliery."

"SAUCHIEBURN, a spot in the parish of St. Ninians, county Stirling, Scotland, about 4 miles S. of Stirling. It is situated near Bannockburn Water, and is famous in history as the place where James III. of Scotland was defeated by his rebellious barons, and slain the same day at Milltown."

"TORBREX, a village in the parish of St. Ninians, county Stirling, Scotland, near Bannockburn."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]