Perth, Scotland

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<tr><td style="width: 50%;">Gaelic:</td><td>Peairt</td></tr> <tr><td style="width: 50%;">Scots:</td><td>Perth (archaically St John's Toun)</td></tr>
OS grid reference: NO115235
Population: 43,450
Council area: Perth and Kinross
Constituent country:Scotland
Sovereign state:United Kingdom
Police force: Tayside Police
Lieutenancy area: Perth and Kinross
Former county: Perthshire
Post office and telephone
Post town: PERTH
Postal district: PH1-PH3; PH14
Dialling code: 01738
Scottish Parliament: Perth
Mid Scotland and Fife
UK Parliament: Ochil and South Perthshire, Perth and North Perthshire
European Parliament: Scotland
Image:Flag of Scotland.svg

The Royal Burgh of Perth (Peairt in Scottish Gaelic) is a large burgh in central Scotland. Sitting on the banks of the River Tay, it is the administrative headquarters of Perth and Kinross council. Perth was the historic capital of the Kingdom of Scotland, as well as being the county town of the former county of Perthshire.

The name Perth has hence been used for a number other settlements around the world. The most notable of these is Perth, Western Australia - named such at the wish of Sir George Murray, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, who was born in Perth and represented it in the House of Commons. Perth is popularly referred to as The Fair City, although it is no longer officially considered a city due to a recent redefinition of city status in the United Kingdom (see City status below).


[edit] Name

The name Perth derives from a Pictish word for wood or copse, and links the town to the Picts described by the Romans, who subsequently joined with the Scots to form the kingdom of Alba which later became known as Scotland. During much of the medieval period the town was known as "St Johnstone", or "St John's Toun", a name still preserved in the town's football and cricket teams, then the older name "Perth" was successfully revived.

However, Perth was previously known to the Romans as Bertha, from the Celtic 'Aber The' meaning mouth of the Tay.

[edit] History

Finds in and around Perth show that it was occupied by the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers who arrived in the area more than 8,000 years ago.<ref name=pkht>culture and archaeology : Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust : Archaeology Section - Overview</ref> Nearby Neolithic standing stones and circles followed the introduction of farming from about 4,000 BC, and a remarkably well preserved Bronze age log boat dated to around 1000 BC was found in the mudflats of the River Tay at Carpow to the east of Perth.<ref>culture and archaeology : Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust : Archaeology Section - Carpow Log Boat, A 3,000-year-old voyage of discovery, Iris logboat, water trough or...?</ref> Carpow was also the site of a Roman legionary fortress.<ref>Romans in Scotland - Carpow Roman Fort</ref>

[edit] Early medieval period

Perth's Pictish name, and some archaeological evidence, indicate that there must have been a settlement here from earlier times, probably at a point where a river crossing or crossings coincided with a slightly raised natural mound on the west bank of the Tay (which at Perth flows north-south), thus giving some protection for settlement from the frequent flooding. The presence of Scone two miles northeast, a royal centre of Alba from at least the reign of Kenneth I mac Ailpín (843-58), later the site of the major Augustinian abbey of the same name founded by Alexander I (1107-24), will have enhanced Perth's early importance. It was for long the effective 'capital' of Scotland, due to the frequent residence of the royal court. It was at Scone Abbey that the Stone of Destiny was kept, and on it the Kings of Scots were crowned down to Alexander III (1249-86).

[edit] 12th and 13th centuries

King David I (1124-53) granted burgh status to the town in the early 12th century, and documents from this time refer to the status of the kirk there. Many of the records taken from this time were the result of the arrival of the Dominicans or Blackfriars whose House was established by Alexander II (1214-49) in 1231. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Perth was one of the richest trading burghs in the kingdom (along with such towns as Berwick, Aberdeen and Roxburgh), residence of numerous craftsmen, organised into guilds (eg the Hammermen [metalworkers] or Glovers). There was probably some decline in prosperity during the numerous wars of the 14th century. The town also carried out an extensive trade with the Continent, and examples of foreign luxury goods have been recovered from excavations within the town (eg Spanish silk, fine pottery from France; wine will also have been a major import, not least for the use of the Church). The main destinations were France, the Low Countries and the Baltic. Medieval crafts are still remembered in some of the town's old street names, eg Skinnergate, Cutlog Vennel.

Much of the town, including its royal castle (on or near the site of the present Perth Museum and Art Gallery), was destroyed by a flood of the Tay in 1210, one of many that have afflicted Perth over the centuries. William I (1142-1214) restored Perth's burgh status, while it remained as the nominal capital of Scotland.

[edit] 14th century: English occupation

King Edward I of England brought his armies to Perth in 1296 where the town, with only a ditch for defence and little fortification, fell quickly. Stronger fortifications were quickly implemented by the English, and plans to wall the town took shape in 1304. They remained standing until Robert the Bruce's recapture of Perth in 1313. He ordered the defences destroyed.

In 1332, the pretender Edward Balliol, son of John Balliol, invaded to claim the throne of Scotland with the backing of Edward III of England. Robert the Bruce had died three years previously, and the regent of his infant son David II fell quickly at the hands of Balliol's army at Musselburgh. Balliol took Perth and the throne in September, and the Scottish Civil War ensued. Balliol himself was driven out quickly, only to return the next year. His deposition was only made complete in 1336; his supporters were eventually driven from Perth in 1339. As part of a plan to make Perth a permanent English base within Scotland, Edward III forced six monasteries in Perthshire and Fife to pay for the construction of massive stone defensive walls, towers and fortified gates around the town (1336). These followed roughly the lines of present day Albert Close, Mill Street, South Methven Street, Charterhouse Lane and Canal Street (these streets evolved from a lane around the inside of the walls). The town lade, which was led off the River Almond (Scotland) in an artificial channel to power the burgh mills, formed an additional line of defence around the walls. The walls were pierced by several ports or gates, whose names are still remembered: the Red Brig Port (end of Skinnergate), Turret Brig Port (end of High Street), Southgait Port (end of South Street) and the Spey Port (end of Speygate). There was probably also a minor gate leading to Curfew Row. These defences were the strongest of any town in Scotland in the Middle Ages. Though still largely complete at the time of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, they began to be demolished from the second half of the 18th century, and there are now no visible remains, at least above ground. The last tower, called the Monk's Tower (corner of Tay Street and Canal Street) was demolished about 1810.

[edit] Late 14th and 15th century

During the Middle Ages, Perth's only parish church was the Burgh Kirk of St. John the Baptist. With the town centre dominated by this huge building, Perth is frequently referred to as 'Sanct John's Toun of Perth' (or variants) in old documents. The local football team is still St Johnstone. The present church, though of much earlier origins, was constructed from the 15th century onwards. Though much altered, its tower and lead-clad spire continue to dominate the Perth skyline. The Church has lost its medieval south porch and sacristy, and the north transept was shortened during the course of the 19th century during street-widening. The building was split into three congregations (the East, West and Middle Kirks), divided by internal walls, after the Reformation, and was only returned to its medieval proportions in the 1920s by Sir Robert Lorimer, who restored the building as a war-memorial for those soldiers from Perthshire who had fallen in the Great War. Despite the damage done to the Church during and after the Reformation, it contains the largest collection of medieval bells still in their original building in Great Britain. Another rare treasure, a unique survival in Scotland, is a 15th century brass candelabrum, imported from the Low Countries. The survival of this object is all the more remarkable as it includes a statuette of the Virgin Mary. St. John's Kirk also had the finest collection of post-Reformation church plate in Scotland (now housed permanently in Perth Museum and Art Gallery).

Medieval Perth had many other ecclesiastical buildings, including the houses of the Dominicans (Blackfriars), Observantine Franciscans (Greyfriars) and Scotland's only Carthusian Priory, or Charterhouse. A little to the west of the town was the house of the Carmelites or Whitefriars, at Tullilum (corner of Jeanfield Road and Riggs Road). Also at Tullilum was a manor or tower-house of the bishops of Dunkeld. The bishops also owned a house within the burgh itself, at the corner of South Street and Watergate. Other ecclesiastical foundations included the hospitals (with associated chapels) of St. Anne (between South Street and St. John's Place), St. Paul (corner of Newrow and High Street), St. Catherine (location uncertain) and, a little south of the town, St. Mary Magdalene. There were also a number of chapels: St. Mary's (at the east end of High Street, by the end of the medieval bridge), St. Laurence's (at the Horse Cross) and Our Lady of Loretto (Loretto Court). None of these buildings survive above ground, though parts of the buildings of the Blackfriars and Whitefriars have been recovered archaeologically, as has a probable part of the graveyard of St. Laurence's Chapel. In the medieval period, Perth was part of the diocese of St Andrews.

1396 brought the theatre of trial by combat to Perth. The Battle of the Clans pitted Clan Quhele against Clan Chattan, each thirty strong, at the town's North Inch. This 'tournament' (actually an attempt to resolve a disruptive Highland feud) took place under the gaze of King Robert III (1390-1406) and his court, who watched the spectacle from the Gilten Arbour, a garden attached to the House of the Blackfriars. Although records vary, Clan Chattan is understood to have won the battle, with the last of their opponents fleeing to safety across the Tay. This combat is a central incident in Sir Walter Scott's novel The Fair Maid of Perth.

The House of the Dominicans or Blackfriars, established by King Alexander II in 1231, was paying host to King James I in 1437 when rebel nobleman forced entry to the building in the middle of the night. The Friary lay outwith the town walls and was defended only by a ditch. Robert Graham proceeded to stab the King to death; the Queen, Joan Beaufort, and her children escaped to Edinburgh. Perhaps as a direct result, James was the last king to command from a throne at Perth; the capital was moved to Edinburgh in the mid 1450s. James I was buried in Perth in the Carthusian Priory he had founded in 1429. This priory was also the last resting place of Joan Beaufort and Margaret Tudor, Queens of Scotland.

[edit] 16th century

While political and religious strife engulfed England in the mid-16th century, John Knox began the Scottish Reformation from grass-roots level with a sermon against 'idolatry' in the burgh kirk of St. John the Baptist in 1559. An inflamed mob quickly destroyed the altars in the Kirk, then attacked the Houses of the Greyfriars and Blackfriars, and the Carthusian Priory. Scone Abbey was sacked shortly afterwards. The regent of infant Mary Queen of Scots, her mother Marie de Guise, was successful in quelling the rioting but presbyterianism in Perth remained strong.

There are no visible remains of the pre-Reformation religious houses of Perth, though their approximate locations are perpetuated in modern street-names.

[edit] 17th and 18th centuries

Charles II was crowned at Scone, traditional site of the investiture of Kings of Scots, in 1651. However, within a year, Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentarians, fresh from victory in the English Civil War, came to Perth. Cromwell established a fortified citadel on the South Inch (a large park south of the town) in 1652, one of five built around Scotland at this time to overawe and hold down the country. Perth's hospital, bridge and several dozen houses were demolished to provide building materials for this fort. Even graveslabs from the Greyfriars cemetery were used. It was given to the town in 1661 not long after Cromwell's death, and began almost immediately to be dismantled. The ditch, originally filled with water from the Tay, was still traceable in the late 18th century, but there are now no visible remains. The restoration of Charles II was not without incident, and with the Act of Settlement, came the Jacobite uprisings, to which Perth was supportive. The town was occupied by Jacobite supporters thrice in total (1689, 1715 and 1745).

[edit] Late 18th century to present

In 1760, Perth Academy was founded, and major industry came to the town, now with a population of 15,000. Linen, leather, bleached products and whisky were its major exports, although the town had been a key port for centuries. In 1804, Thomas Dick received an invitation from local patrons to act as teacher in the Secession school at Methven that led to a ten year's residence there for him. The school was distinguished by efforts on his part towards popular improvement, including a zealous promotion of the study of science, the foundation of a people's library, and what was substantially a mechanic's institute. Under the name Literary and Philosophical Societies, adapted to the middling and lower ranks of the community, the extesion of such establishments was recommended by him in five papers published in the Monthly Magazine in 1814. The Perth Royal Infirmary was built in 1814, although the town remained unsanitary for decades including a cholera epidemic in the 1830s. Piped water and gas became available in the 1820s, and electricity in 1901.

Despite being a garrison town and major developments, social and industrial, during the First World War, Perth remainded relatively unchanged according to Dr Bill Harding in his study of the effects of the war on the people of Perth published in On Flows the Tay: Perth and the First World War. (2000).

Given its location, Perth was perfectly placed to become a key transport centre with the coming of the railways. The first railway station in Perth was built in 1848. Horse-drawn carriage became popular in the 1890s although they were quickly replaced by electric trams.

[edit] Transport

[edit] Car

Perth remains a key transport hub for journeys by car and rail throughout Scotland. The M90 motorway runs south from the town to Edinburgh; the A9 road connects it to Stirling and Glasgow in the south west and Inverness in the north. Other major roads in the city include the A85 to Crieff and Crianlarich, the A93 to Blairgowrie, the A94 to Coupar Angus and Forfar and the A90 to Dundee and Aberdeen.

The town itself was bypassed to the South and East by the M90 in the 1970s and to the west by the A9 in the 1980s.

The M90, A9 and A93 all meet at Broxden Junction, one of the busiest and most important road junctions in Scotland.

The final part of the M90 included the construction of the Friarton Bridge in 1978 to facilitate travel to Dundee and Aberdeen to the east of the town, finally removing inter-city traffic from the town centre and is the most northerly piece of the UK's motorway system.

[edit] Rail

Perth railway station has regular services to Fife, Edinburgh Waverley via the Forth Bridge, east to Dundee and Aberdeen, and south to Glasgow Queen Street. There are two direct trains per day to London, one operated by GNER to King's Cross (from Inverness), while the Caledonian Sleeper runs overnight to Euston.

[edit] Bus

Bus travel is plentiful in the city. Local buses are run by Stagecoach Group; inter-city bus travel is made from Leonard Street bus station and connects to most major destinations in Scotland. The Megabus service is centred on Broxden Junction (several miles outside the town centre) and runs direct buses to Scotland's largest cities plus Manchester and London. In addition, there is a park and ride service from the services at Broxden to the city centre.

[edit] Air

Perth has a small airport. Perth Airport is located at New Scone, 7 km north east of Perth. There are no commercial flights out of this airport, but it is used by private aircraft and for pilot training. The nearest major commercial airport is Edinburgh Airport, although Dundee Airport, which is only 20 minutes drive from Perth, offers daily flights to London City Airport as well as charter, engineering and training facilities.

[edit] Politics

Perth is within the Perth and Kinross council area, the Perth Scottish Parliament constituency, the Mid Scotland and Fife electoral region of the Scottish Parliament (at Holyrood), and the Perth and North Perthshire United Kingdom Parliament constituency (at (Westminster).

The Perth Scottish Parliament (or Holyrood) constituency is one of nine within the Mid Scotland and Fife electoral region. Each constituency elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) by the first past the post system of election, and the region elects seven additional members to produce a form of proportional representation.

The Perth and North Perthshire United Kingdom Parliament (or Westminster) constituency elects on Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom by the first past the post system.

The Holyrood constituency was created in 1999, for the first election to the Scottish Parliament, with the boundaries of the Perth Westminster constituency. The Perth Westminster constituency was abolished in 2005, when a new set of Westminster constituencies, including Perth and North Perthshire, was introduced.

[edit] Economy

Image:Perth High Street.jpg
The pedestrianised High Street in Perth.

Despite the downfall of the whisky distilleries, who have long since been sold off and moved away from the town, Perth has remained a centre for doing business. New high-tech industry has moved in, and the commercial impact has remained as major services including insurance and banking, have come to the town. Amongst the largest employers are Norwich Union, the Bank of Scotland and Scottish and Southern Energy.

Much of the day-to-day business is still done in the town centre. There is a major shopping centre development, the St. John's Centre, and the major High Street has a large selection of outlets from major businesses; however, much of the centre retains a historic atmosphere and many local businesses continue to locate there in stark contrast to the shopping arcades of Glasgow or Edinburgh.

[edit] Sport

St Johnstone F.C. is the town's football club. They were previously based at Muirton Park, but their current stadium is McDiarmid Park in the west of the town. It played host to the first rugby union international played north of the Central Belt when Scotland played Japan there in 2004. McDiarmid Park was also home to the now defunct Caledonian Reds rugby union team.

There is a large sports complex, Bell's Sports Centre, to the northwest of the city centre, as well as Perth Leisure Pool to the west of the railway station on the Glasgow Road.

Perthshire Rugby Football Club is the town's rugby union side, and are based at the North Inch next to Bell's Sports Centre. They currently play in the BT Premiership Division Three for rugby union in Scotland.

Perth Racecourse is located within the grounds of Scone Palace, holding regular horse racing meetings.

[edit] Art and music

Perth Museum and Art Gallery is the town museum, and is one of the oldest provincial museums in Scotland. The Fergusson Gallery housed in the former waterworks, contains the major collection of the works of the artist J.D. Fergusson.

The Perth Festival is an annual collection of art, theatre, opera and classical music events in the city. The 2005 event ran from May 19 to May 29.

In September 2005, the new 1600-seat Horsecross concert hall opened atop the former Horsecross Market. The state of the art construction cost around £20 million, mostly donated as part of the UK millennium celebrations.

[edit] Tourism

Eastern outskirts of Perth viewed from Craigie Hill. The River Tay and Friarton Bridge are both visible

Perth has a number of popular architectural and historical attractions, most notably Scone Palace and St. John's Kirk. It is also the centre of the regimental Black Watch, whose museum is located inside Balhousie Castle. The Castle, of medieval origins, and the seat of the Eviot family, was extensively altered and enlarged in the 19th century, and retains little of its original character.

Branklyn Gardens by the Dundee Road is a world-renowned garden, its centerpiece being its collection of Himalayan blue poppies (National Trust for Scotland; entrance charge).

The major green areas in the city are the North and South Inch parks, which together with the Riverside Park, better known as the Middle Inch, form three quarters of a ring around the city centre. Kinnoull Hill and Craigie Hill, well provided with forest walks, give spectacular views of the city

Two Historic Scotland properties within a short distance of the town are Huntingtower Castle, former seat of the Earls of Gowrie (open all year; entrance charge), and Elcho Castle, former seat of the Wemyss family (open in summer; entrance charge). Both are excellent examples of late medieval Scottish tower-houses, and are popular sites for weddings.

[edit] City status

The classic definition of Perth has been as a city, and traditional documentation confirms that this has been true since time immemorial. However, in the late 1990s, the UK government and the Scottish Executive re-examined the definition of a city and produced a list of approved cities, from which Perth was omitted. It is now considered to be a "former city", a similar definition to that of Brechin or Elgin.

[edit] Twin towns

[edit] Gallery

[edit] Notes


[edit] External links

cs:Perth (Skotsko) da:Perth (Skotland) de:Perth (Schottland) fr:Perth (Écosse) gd:Peairt nl:Perth (Schotland) no:Perth (Skottland) pl:Perth (miasto w Szkocji) ru:Перт (город, Шотландия) sv:Perth, Skottland

Perth, Scotland

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