HISTORY AND HERITAGE

Early Meigle

There are a number of artefacts, primarily earthworks and standing stones, which seem to be prehistoric and suggest that Meigle has been inhabited for millennia. There are two in the grounds of Belmont Castle, Macbeth’s Stone and Seward’s Stone. Seward (also known as Siward or Sigurd) was an earl of Northumbria who brought an army into Scotland and defeated Macbeth at the “Battle of the Seven Sleepers" or the "Battle of Dunsinane". The two ancient mounds on the Belmont Estate, Belliduff’s  Cairn and Duff’s Knowe also reflect the Macbeth theme through the “Duff” of MacDuff.

The most well-known mound is that of “Vanora’s” grave in the Meigle Churchyard which is said to relate to Guinevere of Arthurian legend.  The Arthurian link also extends to Arthurstone, where a large standing stone was blown up for stone to build the Arthurbank farmhouse.

Meigle was an important settlement for the Picts and the Meigle Museum, together with St Vigeans Museum near Arbroath, houses some of the finest carved Pictish stones outside the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. A Pictish burial site was discovered at nearby Bankhead of Kinloch and it was excavated in 2012.

Rae Taylor. 31st March 2021

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Carvings on the stone designated Meigle 2

Drawing in pencil by David Easton

The Romans in Meigle

A quarter of a mile to the north of Meigle where the Kirriemuir road crosses the Dean Water are traces of the Roman Fort of Cardean, built c.AD 84 and later abandoned before the end of the first century. 

 

Cardean was one part of a line of forts and watchtowers stretching from Drumquhassle near Loch Lomond to Stracathro near Brechin, centered on the legionary fortress of Inchtuthil near Dunkeld. 

 

These forts, which were built by troops under the command of the Roman General Gnaeus Julius Agricola, were intended as frontier from which the invading army hoped to pacify the local tribes.  Although the Romans went on to reach the shores of the Moray Firth, well to the north, they later retreated south to create new frontiers marked by Hadrian’s Wall, built in AD 122 and the Antonine Wall built in AD 142. 

 

The site of the fort at Cardean is now a cultivated field with nothing obvious to see above ground.  However it is possible to see the outline of the fort clearly during dry weather in cropmarks. 

Christopher Dingwall.  30 October 2020

The Meigle Land Owners

The lands of Meigle were held by the de Miggel family from c.1200 until 1404 when they passed to the Lindsays, who were the Earls of Crawford, a later Earl of Crawford becoming the first Duke of Montrose. Fullerton Castle, which once stood near to the Meigle Care Home, was constructed by the Lindsays.  However, their lands then passed to the Lyons of Glamis.

By the mid-1800s, the major landowners were:

- Patrick Murray of Simprim, the illegitimate son of Lord Ellibank who had bought Meigle House and the Arthurstone and Cardean Estates. Patrick Murray inherited inherited his father’s estate but not the title and he was responsible for the building of the now demolished Cardean House and much of Arthurstone House. He was an eccentric antiquarian who was a friend of Sir Walter Scott.

- Lord Wharncliffe, the descendent of Lord Mackenzie of Rosemarkie who bought the Belmont Estate, then known as Kirkhill, in the late 1600s. Around 1861, Lord Wharncliffe added Drumkilbo to his estate when he bought it from the Nairnes of Drumkilbo.

- The Kinlochs of Kinloch, who owned the Kinloch Estate which included much of Meigle village. Although George Kinloch, the “Radical Laird” and first MP for Dundee, forfeited his estates, they were regained by his son, who was made the first Baronet Kinloch of Kinloch in 1873.

In the late 1800s, the Cox family, the jute manufacturers of Dundee who operated the huge Camperdown Works in Lochee, bought both the Drumkilbo and Cardean Estates.

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Rae Taylor. 31st March 2021

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A History of Ardler

Ardler is a small village in the middle of Strathmore, approximately halfway between nearby Meigle and the market town of Coupar Angus. 

 

The village was the brainchild of local landowner George Kinloch, who was elected as Liberal MP for Dundee following the Scottish Reform Act 1832, but who died before the village was founded in 1835.  Kinloch, who was chairman of the Dundee and Newtyle Railway Company, planned to build the village on his land where it was crossed by an extension of the railway from Newtyle to Coupar Angus. 

 

Originally conceived as a linen weavers’ village, Ardler failed to grow as the mechanisation of the textile industry saw production move first to water-powered mills in Blairgowrie, and later to steam powered factories in Dundee.

 

For around fifty years the village was known as Washington, but this name fell out of use c.1880 after the railway station was moved across the county boundary and named Ardler after the neighbouring farms. 

 

From small beginnings as an extension to the Dundee and Newtyle Railway in 1837, the railway passing through the village became part of the London Midland Scottish Railway’s main line linking London Euston with Aberdeen.

Christopher Dingwall.  30 October 2020

Politics in the Street Names 

In Dundee’s Albert Square is a life-size statue of George Kinloch, the man behind the creation of the village of Ardler, formerly known as Washington.  Kinloch became Dundee’s Liberal member of Parliament following the Great Reform Act 1832, sometimes known as the Representation of the People Act, having espoused the cause of Parliamentary reform some years earlier, a cause which earned him the nick-name the ‘Radical Laird’. 

 

Although Kinloch died shortly after taking his seat in Parliament, the street names in Ardler give us a clue as to the inspiration behind his politics.  The WASHIE BRAE preserves the name Washington, commemorating the American president GEORGE WASHINGTON, while that of FRANKLIN STREET commemorates diplomat Benjamin Franklin, co-signatory of the American Declaration of Independence.  WALLACE STREET is named after William Wallace, C13th Scottish patriot and freedom fighter, while BENTHAM STREET pays tribute to C18th social philosopher Jeremy Bentham.  CARTWRIGHT PLACE commemorates the prominent C18th Social Reformer Major John Cartwright, while the one unbuilt street HAMPDEN PLACE was named after John Hampden, nicknamed ‘Father of the People’ for his support Cromwell’s protectorate and for the supremacy of Parliament over the Crown in the mid-C17th.    

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Christopher Dingwall.  30 October 2020

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Railway History

It has been more than 50 years since express trains from London used to flash through Ardler Station on their way north to Aberdeen. 

 

However, it was more than 180 years ago in 1837 that the first trains ran through the village when the Dundee and Newtyle Railway, Scotland’s first passenger railway, was extended to Coupar Angus.  For the first few years trains were horse-drawn, and there is even a record of carriages being fitted with sails to make use of the wind.  What had begun as a small branch line was soon swept up in a series of amalgamations which ended up with the line through Ardler becoming part of the main line from London Euston to Aberdeen. 

 

Ardler Junction was the scene of a major accident in July 1948 when a London bound express collided with a local train on its way from Dundee to Blairgowrie.  Following the closure of the main line goods trains continued to run from Perth to Forfar until the 1980s.  A stretch of the railway line survives, and has become part of Perthshire’s Core Path Network.

Christopher Dingwall.  30 October 2020

The War Memorials of Meigle and Ardler

Ardler War Memorial

Ardler War Memorial may be the first public war memorial of the Great War erected in Scotland. It was formally dedicated on 19 January 1919 but it was built in March/April 1918, while the War was still in progress.

The Memorial is 18 feet high, built of Camperdown stone and consists of a cross resting on an octagonal pedestal. The names on the Memorial are now badly weathered but, beside the Memorial, there is now a marble memorial tablet, which was originally within the, now closed, Ardler Parish Church.

 

The central face of the Memorial is inscribed with the text “To the Glory of God and in Memory of the Fallen in the Great War 1914 – 1919*; 1939-1945; Lord Have Mercy”. The faces on either side now commemorate 12 men who fell in the First World War, but there were only 10 names on the Memorial when it was first erected. The names of 2 men from the Second World War were also added to these faces and their names also appear on the marble plaque. However, a thirteenth casualty of the First World War from the village also appears on the plaque.

However, on one of the other faces, the name of an airman from the village, who was killed in the conflict in Afghanistan in 2006, has been added.

* Although the conflict ended with the Armistice of 11 November 1918, the state of war was only rescinded with the Treaty of Versailles on 20 June 1919

Rae Taylor.  31 March 2021

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Meigle War Memorial

The Meigle War Memorial is located at the entrance to Victory Park on Ardler Road in Meigle. It was designed by the Dundee architectural practice of John Bruce and Sons (later Bruce, Son & Morton) and was built in 1921. It consists of a round headed arch of hammer-dressed stone under a tiled “bonnet” or “reverse-gambrel” roof. This is a roof with the pitch divided into a steep slope above a shallower slope. The arch is bordered on each side by recessed, curved stone bench seats. On each side of the gateway entrance to the arch is a marble memorial panel.

The plans for a War Memorial in Meigle were developed by a Committee, chaired by George Tasker of Arnbog Farm. The Memorial was unveiled on 1st October 1921 by the Duke of Atholl.

Rae Taylor.  31 March 2021

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The Unveilling of Meigle War Memorial on