Schools and Education
being one of the earliest civic and ecclesiastical foundations
in Scotland, it is but natural to assume that it had also educational
facilities at a very early period. It is probable that even
in prehistoric times, judging from the stone monuments in the
district that the Druid priests expounded and taught their doctrines
in Dunkeld; it being a capital of Mid Pictavia or Caledonia,
would be a natural centre of such learning.
schools were founded in Atholl and Strathtay by early missionaries,
but the educational history of Scotland is generally imputed
to have had its beginnings in the days of St. Columba, who first
founded schools in lona and elsewhere.
"Muintir Kailli-an-Find" or Collegiate Church, founded
by the Dalriadic Scots near Dunkeld about 600, would send apostles
or teachers all around. The establishment afterwards of a monastery,
and a church foundation about 800 would certainly make the beginnings
of a school in Dunkeld, for neophytes at least, as the church
was then the great agent of progress and civilisation, also
the repository of learning. The celebration of church services
required a certain degree of education only to he found within
the walls of such establishments. Music would be taught; the
Columban monks chanted their Psalms in a peculiar manner, generally
in the open air; this service of praise was even sometimes called
the "Dunkeld Litany." A knowledge of Latin was essential,
and the monks, in addition to copying the Scriptures and other
books, gave training in art. They also gave secular instruction
and taught many useful things.
of the Abbots of Dunkeld were noted men of learning, such as
St. Adamnan, the biographer of Columba; "Edelrade,"
Abbot of Dunkeld and Earl of Fife, a son of Malcolm IlL, encouraged
education to such a degree that in a document dated 1100, he
gave grants for the maintenance of learning to the Culdees in
Lochleven, where there was a famous library.
1127, although the Culdees lost their power, on the changing
of their Monastery into a Cathedral Church, the Bishops appointed
to the See of Dunkeld were mostly notable scholars, who, by
their example, gave an impetus to learning. There were amongst
others Thomas Lawder, who wrote the life of a predecessor, and
the famous Gavin Douglas.
Myln, writing in 1515, gives an account of a school founded
by the Chancellor of Dunkeld Cathedral, which may be regarded
as the precursor of the Royal School. He says "Mr
George Brown, a near relative of the Bishops.....in honour
of our Lady of Consolation, erected in the Church of St. George,
a scholastic chaplain and headmaster of a grammar school. The
church may expect many good grammatical scholars from this establishment
if kept up."
the Prebendary of Muckersie, another member of the Chapter of
Dunkeld, Myln tells that at his own charger he educated some
good men. So did another, Mr. Alexander Richardson, who "educated
promising young men at his own expense, some for monks, some
for priests, and others for the service of the quire as he found
they had a turn." Various officials are also commended
for their skill in grammar.
school established by Chancellor Brown in the Cathedral Chapel
of St. George may probably have been carried on until the Reformation,
when the Chapel fell in the destruction of the Cathedral. Seven
years afterwards, in 1567, King James VI. made a Grant for the
erection of a Grammar School at Dunkeld, and it was endowed
under a Royal Warrant of that date.
the Charter granted then, the King gave the Earl of Atholl and
his successors the patronage of the school.
of course, keeping pace with the varying educational requirements
of the nation, have taken place in the administration of grants
the Educational Endowments (Scotland) Act 1882, a scheme was
drawn up for the administration of the endowments known as the
Royal School of Dunkeld, hitherto held and administered under
a Royal Warrant, dated 2nd February 1567, and the Bishopric
Rents of Dunkeld, hitherto held and administered under a grant
by King William III., dated 29th February, 1696. This scheme
was approved by the Queen in Council, 15th October, 1889. A
governing body was then constituted called the Governors, consisting
of five persons, one of whom was His Grace, the Duke of Atholl,
another appointed by him, and the remaining three by the School
Boards of Caputh, Little Dunkeld, and Dunkeld and Dowally district.
During the many educational changes which have occurred, this
endowment has been retained. At one period, however, its withdrawal
was threatened by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, who
administer the Crown revenues. In conjunction with the Perthshire
Authority and the Dunkeld Parish Council, the Governors sought
legal advice. On the intimation that there was a legal claim
to this grant in perpetuity, the Commissioners agreed to continue
1696 grant by William III. was made with the consent of the
Lord Commissioners of his Treasury and Exchequer. The extract
from the report throws a light on the times: "Considering
how useful and necessary schools of learning are for instructing
all youth in the knowledge and practice of a religion, and for
introducing civilitie and policie and order, and that the rents
belonging to the late Bishops in our ancient Kingdome of Scotland,
and now fallen into our hands, are most propper to be applyed
for the ends and uses aforesaid ...... and that throw the neglect
and iniquity of times past schools have not been erected as
they ought to have been in the bounds of the Highlands of Perthshire
....... nor sufficient fees and allowances appointed for the
masters and teachers in the few schools that have been erected."
Hunters "Diocese of Dunkeld" there are several
allusions to the schools in the Presbytery, amongst them Dunkeld
and Little Dunkeld. Acts of Parliament passed in 1633 and 1641
regarding schools and maintenances for schoolmasters were not
obeyed in this Presbytery, any more than in any other parts
of Scotland, but after the Act of 1696 some efforts were made.
The Presbytery reports in 1707 that there are schools at Dunkeld,
Douly, Caputh, and other centres. In 1716, it was reported that
in Little Dunkeld, Caputh and other parishes, there was no salary
for a schoolmaster according to law.
the Endowment Grant of 1696, educational matters in Dunkeld
could not have been altogether satisfactory, for in a Memorial
of 1716 to the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge,
the Dunkeld Presbytery, stating their opinion as to the educational
requirements in the Highlands of Atholl, make the following
suggestion with regard to Dunkeld: "The toun of Dunkeld,
situate at the foot of the Highlands, where there is good accommodation
for schollars, would be a most proper place for gentlemen and
others in the Highlands, for ane nigh to send their children
to be educated and well instructed in Latine, Greek, Arithmetick,
which for the present has no legal sallary, in regaird there
are little arable lands circumjacent. So that there being nothing
but houses and gardens in the said toun no competency hitherto
could be obtained for a schoolmaster from the inhabitants; wherefore
it is our humble opinion that were there a fixed schoolmaster
with due encouragement there, if it were but to the value of
twintie pound sterling, and five pound sterling for an under
teacher, it would tend much not only to the advantage of the
said Highlands, but also to that of many parts of the low country
appears as if such a salary ought to have been forthcoming.
In the deed of the foundation of the Royal School, 1567, reference
is made to various prebends, and the sums payable yearly from
them for the support of the schoolmaster is quoted in Hunters
"Diocese." The chaplainry of Invar was charged with
payment of £10, others with £4, and so on. Before
the Reformation it was stated that some of this money, with
£4 of the rental of the hospituim of the Bishop of Dunkeld
in Perth had been applied to the support of certain boys called
"blew freiris," who served in the Cathedral choir.
the Statistical Account of Dunkeld, 1798, the Grammar School
is mentioned with the salary of the schoolmaster as £34
sterling, dues payable to the Chaplain of St. Ninians,
and an official dwelling-house. These dues were 20 merks Scots,
2 bolls of coal and 2 dozen of poultry. From the circumstance
of the Rector of the Royal School thus receiving dues payable
to a chaplain, he also received the title of Chaplain of St.
Ninians. This chapel, built in 1420, had been endowed
out of the rents of Mucklari.
the burning of Dunkeld in 1689, the school building was, of
course, destroyed, but the scholars were accommodated for some
time in another attached to the east gable of the Cathedral,
which still shows the marks. For a considerable period afterwards
the Royal School was held in a building facing the Tay, in Cathedral
Street, but in 1891 another change took place, and this building
ceased to be the Royal School, becoming in later days the headquarters
of the Scottish Horse regiment.
House, opposite the Fountain, where the Market Cross once stood,
was converted into school buildings, and became the Dunkeld
Royal School. It was an old, roomy house, once an inn, but a
private house when brought into school use.
Dunkeld Royal School has therefore had a long and honourable
history; and as an educational centre, it may be seen that Dunkeld
occupied a place of importance in the county. Until railway
facilities opened up the country, giving easy access to larger
towns in the south, this school gave good education to the sons
of many of the ancient Highland families, and scholars travelled
a list of the Schoolmasters of Dunkeld, 1659-1686, given by
Hunter, one is "Mr. Andrew Malloch," who had been
a "Doctor of the Grammar School of Perth," whilst
another, Mr. James Ross, was, on leaving Dunkeld, appointed
Master of the Grammar School at Perth. He was succeeded by Alexander
Robertson, who afterwards entered the ministry. Robertson was
designated preacher at Little Dunkeld in 1684, but still retained
his office of schoolmaster at Dunkeld; then was fully admitted
minister of Little Dunkeld two years after. These masters figured
largely in the law deeds of that period as witnesses. One, Andrew
Creichtoun, is designated as Schoolmaster of the Grammar School
in Dunkeld, 1648.
Stone, schoolmaster in Dunkeld in the next century, contributed
his quota to the Ossianic translations. He is mentioned in Browns
history of the Highlands as a. native of Fife, who had acquired
a knowledge of the Gaelic language during some years residence
in Dunkeld, where he kept a school. He was the third person
who collected several of the ancient poems of the Highlands,
and the first who called attention to their beauty in a letter
from Dunkeld addressed to the "Author of the Scots Magazine."
This letter is quoted in full in the `History' as displaying
considerable talent." In 1752, Stone contributed to the
Scots Magazine an English version of Bishop Douglas Prologue
to the Twelfth Book of the AEneid, "A Morning in May."
In 1756, his rhyming translation of a Gaelic poem appeared in
another number of the Scots Magazine.
literary Rector was Dr. MacCulloch, who flourished in the beginning
of the 19th century and whose "Course of Reading"
was long popular in schools throughout Scotland. He published
"The Highland and Western Isles" with "Guides
to Perthshire and Dunkeld." These were elaborate works,
and contain very fine descriptive writing. He entered the ministry,
and went to Greenock.
Statistical Account of Dunkeld tells that a Sunday School was
founded in 1789 by Jane, Duchess of Atholl. There were fees
for this, paid partly by the Duchess and partly by parents.
One of the rules was that the pupils had to walk in regular
order on Sunday with the master to church, where they were allotted
seats. A public examination was also held of this Sunday School.
This same Duchess founded a "Female School," where
sewing and tambouring (a species of embroidery) were chiefly
taught. However, a lesson in English was read daily. The mistress
here also was paid partly by the Duchess and partly by parents.
originally the Royal School numbered amongst its pupils girls
as well as boys, the custom had fallen into disuse, probably
because of the establishment of such Female Schools and also
for want of space. A GirlsIndustrial School was erected
by the Duchess of Atholl at her own expense in 1853. A plain
but good education was given there, although at first a very
large portion of time was devoted to industrial work, the pupils
being supplied with yellow calico aprons trimmed with red braid
for that purpose. Another feature, too, of the school was that
for a number of years it was regarded as almost a church school,
and pupils of Free Church parentage, though not refused admittance,
were debarred from certain privileges, such as becoming pupil
teachers. A more enlightened policy, however, soon prevailed,
and the school was largely attended and appreciated. The last
teacher was Miss Illingworth, a lady of powerful personality,
long remembered as an excellent teacher. In 1898, on the death
of the Duchess Dowager of Atholl, in whom Dunkeld lost a friend,
the Girls Industrial School was merged into the Royal
School, where the old scholastic reputation is fully maintained.
The present Rector is Mr Henry Crombie, M.A.
1910, an interesting event, forming a. link in the Empire chain,
occurred in the school history. This was an exchange of flags
with the Dunkeld State School, Victoria, Australia. Across the
sea the Dunkeld Royal School sent the Union Jack "in a
casket designed by a Dunkeld boy (William Campbell Borrie),
and made by an old Dunkeld boy (Hugh Robertson) from an old
Dunkeld tree." This old Dunkeld tree was one of the parent
larches which was cut down in 1908, and the wood for the casket
was gifted by the Duke of Atholl. In return the school children
of Dunkeld, in Australia, sent the Australian flag in a polished
Higher Grade department was instituted in 1907 and has justified
its existence. That the pupils, too, have nobly fulfilled the
school motto, "Forward with Honour," given by the
present Rector, is evinced by the School Memorial, unveiled
in 1922 by the Lady Helen Tod, for those who fell in the Great
War. This artistic and beautiful memorial was designed by William
Campbell Borrie, L.R.C.P., and SE., a former pupil of the school,
who also composed the verse graven on it beginning,
France enfolds thee to her breast."
are thirty-two names upon the Memorial. The memorial was erected
by public subscription, mainly through the efforts of the present
Rector, supported by the various members of the staff, former
pupils, and a standing committee of three, viz., Misses E. Stewart,
J. Bruce and F. Macdonald.
Perthshire Education Authority have it in view to close this
school and erect a combined school for Dunkeld and Birnam, near
the Cross Roads, Little Dunkeld, not far from which there was,
in former days, the Parochial School. This latter was closed
on the passing of the Scotch Education Act in 1872, and the
pupils transferred to Torwood, Birnam, where the Free Church
School was held. Both schools were thus united.
schools there were in Dunkeld - ladies schools, Gaelic
schools, Dame schoolsthose latter principally for infants.
The memory of one of these is still green. It was in, or near,
the Cross Wynd, and the teacher, Isabella Robertson, is best
remembered by the soubriquet given her by irreverent pupils,
Tibby Toddles. She taught all her pupils in one room out of
one Book, the Bible. Occasionally, the Shorter Catechism might
be used. She required to fear no Inspector and studied her own
ideas of pronunciation. For long, her pupils were recognised
by words such as se-pul-chre or Cap-er-naum, and when a very
hard word appeared her comment was, "Thats Latin,
dawtie, pass on." A beautiful and touching description
of this old lady and her pupils is found in James Stewarts
sketch, "Eppie Broon," and as an example of ordinary
education in the early days of the 19th century the poem is
worthy of quotation.
a woman, o threescore and ten,
owre a bit staff wi a pike at the en!
a sow-backit mutch and an auld-fashioned goon,
theres something before you like wee Eppie Broon.
fends frae the swirls o povertys shock
skuilin the bairns o hard-workin fock.
weekly, uncawkit, as Monday comes roon
tippence sent wi them for auld Eppie Broon.
times at your wairin, oh, spend a half-oor
see a her scholars ranged roon on her floor,
kingies and queenies, her tots and her cocks,
bizzin an bummin like bees in a box.
Curly Mary is puzzled at D,
gleg little Janet is scratchin at E,
Charlies a hero, an braks a the toon
forrit at izzit, wi auld Eppie Broon.
a class for the Bible, the Carritch, the Psalms,
dux is preferred to a seat near the jambs.
aboots read aloudsome hae to spell
than Eppie can weel dae hersel.
oh, how delighted the wee totums stand
she tells o the joys o a heavenly land.
no wrang to say that our Maker looks doon
a smile a approval on auld Eppie Broon."
schools are things of the past, but they, too, had an honourable
an Ancient City
to Dunkeld History