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Lang Toon History

Auchterarder probably owes its origin to King Malcolm Ceannmor (1052-93) whose love of hunting brought him to Strathearn from Dunfermline. Here,he built a castle of which 9ft thick walls still remain. 'Kingswells' at the north end of the town is where his farm lay.

The town remained a favourite royal seat and, by 1200, Auchterarder achieved the status of Royal Burgh. The town was isolated from the main medieval north-south routes along the coast or by the sea. Yet its location between two key Royal bases - Stirling and Perth - meant that it featured significantly in centuries of Scottish history. 

 One claim to fame was that it became a centre of the chain-mail industry in Scotland, making armour for royal armies, which may be why the surname of 'Mailer' is still a local family name.

There was wealth in the area under royal patronage. The Abbey of Inchaffray, founded by the Earl of Strathearn was endowed by him in 1200 with the lands and church of St. MacKessock in Auchterarder.

In 1227 Alexander II conferred the teinds (tithes) of the town on the same Abbey. The town by this time was the chief Burgh and seat of the Sheriffdom of Strathearn, with a Common Seal and representation in Parliament. Edward I of England rested in Auchterarder Castle during one invasion of Scotland. 
 

In 1323 King Robert the Bruce conferred lands here upon one of his barons, but confirmed the liberties of the church and burgesses. During the Reformation Mary of Lorraine, widow of James V and mother of Mary Queen of Scots, was encamped here when the Lords of the Congregation came from Perth to force her to sign the Treaty of Auchterarder granting Freedom of Worship to her subjects. Her daughter, Mary Queen of Scots, asked only that she be allowed to practice her own faith in the privacy of her chapel at Holyrood. 

 By 1707 when the Union of the Scottish and English Parliaments took place the town had gone into decline. Unable to pay its dues, it lost its privileges as a Royal Burgh. Worse followed in the Jacobite Rising of 1715. When the Battle of Sheriffmuir was fought on the great moors nine miles south west of the town in November 1715. The Jacobite leader, the Earl of Mar, was forced to fall back on Perth. In his retreat he destroyed all food and shelter for the pursuing armies and Auchterarder, like other villages on the route, was laid waste. 

In the severe winter of 1715-16, a very large proportion of the people of Auchterarder died of cold and starvation. The rebuilding of the town during the 18th century was slow. The Crown Commissioners, appointed to look after the "Forfeited Estates" and to pay out compensation, were still doing so some sixty years later. The level of compensation to householders was at a fraction of the claims being made. However, the improved state of agriculture during the period had an influence on the town which, as nowadays, reflected the prosperity of the surrounding district. 

Commerce benefited and local industries were mainly based on the produce of the land. It was a market place and, above all, an important weaving centre. There was an outhouse or shed to the rear of almost every home in the town which housed a weaving loom. In 1850 the first weaving mill was built in the town at Castleton to employ hand weavers. A new site for the mill was found in 1872 by the waters of the Ruthven. By the 1900s, some 500 people were employed at the mill using power looms, thus putting an end to the local cottage industry of hand weaving. 

In those days Auchterarder was known, even in Europe, as the 'Town of the 100 drawbridges'. These so called 'drawbridges' were narrow bridges leading from the higher level of the road across wide gutters to the doorsteps of the houses. They kept feet dry and, when removed, could discourage intruders. 

The town figured prominently in the religious turbulence of the 18th & 19th centuries. The Presbytery's 'Auchterarder Creed' gave rise to the Secession Church of 1732 and the Church of
the Disruption is still represented by a Tower built from the stones of the old Kincardine Castle, the home of James Graham - Marquis of Montrose. 
 

The coming of the railways in 1846 and a network of good roads encouraged prosperity in the 19th century. It was not until 1951 that Auchterarder again became a Royal Burgh, more than 200 years after losing its privileges. Even then it was a short-lived honour. In 1975 the reorganisation of local government meant that Auchterarder became part of Perth and District - while Perthshire itself came under Tayside Regional Council. 

If you think the spelling of AUCHTERARDER is difficult try its older forms:- 

Ochteraider; Outread; Uthrardor; Ochterarder; Oughterdoner; Uchterardour; Uchtirardour; Auchterardour; Eochterardeour

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