Where is Auchterarder?
Auchterarder is a town in Perthshire in Central Scotland, 14 miles south west of the city of Perth. This lovely village has the longest main street in Scotland, which runs for over a mile, thus giving it the nickname ‘Lang Toon’. Auchterarder is home to the world-famous 5-star Gleneagles Hotel, Golf and Spa Resort, which includes three fantastic golf courses and a myriad of fun activities for its guests and visitors to enjoy.
The Surrounding Area
Auchterarder is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland. Looking across from the steep sided glens of the Ochil Hills across the broad Strath or wide valley of the River Earn, Auchterarder is set amongst some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery. There are rolling fields and woodlands that head south towards Glen Eagles (derived from Gaelic meaning church or pass). It is the natural beauty of this area and the spectacular views that were the inspiration for Gleneagles Hotel which was built in 1924. The area has a plethora of challenging golf courses including Whitemoss, Aberuthven and Dunning as well as the famous golfing experiences on offer at Gleneagles Hotel itself.
Connections between Stirling and Perth were improved in 1983 when the main road (A9) bypassed Auchterarder and Aberuthen. In July 2005, UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, hosted the G8 summit of world leaders at Gleneagles Hotel. The town continues to grow and currently has over 5000 inhabitants and many small businesses based around its high street.
Where does the Name ‘Auchterarder’ come from?
The name “Auchterarder” derives from the Gaelic words uachdar, ard, and dobhar; meaning ‘well-watered place on a high ridge.’ The motto of the town is ‘A city set on a hill cannot be hid’ which is part of the association’s logo.
The History of Auchterarder
The history of Auchterarder goes back many centuries. The medieval Church of St Mechessock of Ochterardouer was granted to the monastery of Inchaffray in 1200. It was one of the churches given to the monastery by Gilbert, Earl of Strathearn, on the occasion of its refoundation as an Augustinian priory and in memory of the Strathearn’s first-born son, Gilchrist. All that is left of the priory today is a mound of earth and some walls.
In the Middle Ages, Auchterarder was famous for its ‘100 drawbridges’, a description of the many narrow walkways leading from the road level across wide gutters to the doorsteps of houses. During the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1716, Auchterarder was burnt to the ground by the Jacobite Army as they retreated back to Perth. The battle took place on 13th November 1715 between the Jacobite Army of James II (VII of Scotland) and the Hanoverian Army of George I. The Jacobites had as many as 8000 – 1200 men while the Hanoverian Army was about a third of this at around 3500 men. Auchterarder was rebuilt soon after the battle but it remained small as it wasn’t on any of the important military roads that were being built in Perthshire.
In 1834 the parish of Auchterarder was the scene of one of the first disputes that gave rise to the Disruption of 1843 when the church congregation refused to accept the minister nominated by the land owner. The controversy over the selection of the parish minister would eventually ultimately lead to the 1843 schism within the Church of Scotland. The remains of the old parish church – the tower – were renovated in 2000. Auchterarder became one of the first towns in Scotland to build its own independent Free Church, indeed appearing to pre-empt the Disruption so that it was completed in 1843 as soon as the Free Church formally came into existence.
The town gained Royal Burgh status back in 1200 although today, little of the original Burgh remains and most development took place after the 18th Century. Auchterarder is now a well visited stop for those travelling from and to Highland Perthshire and is known for the quality of its variety and quality of its small cafes and shops.
Industry in Auctherarder
From 1760-1780 linen weaving, a dye works and a paper mill were established in the town and the railway arrived in 1848. The new Auchterarder town then became an important element of the growing handloom industry and thus a thriving textile town. Its ruined castle, Auchterarder Castle, was said to be the hunting lodge of Malcolm III in the 11th century. Edward I is thought to have stayed there in 1296 during his invasion of Scotland. In 1328, Robert the Bruce gave the town of Auchterarder to the Montifex family, who later passed it on to the Drummonds as part of a dowry.
Historical places to visit near Auchterarder
There are many historical places of interest to visit throughout the Auchterarder District. Pictish forts, Roman roads, Celtic chapels and Benedictine abbeys can all be found nearby. For those book lovers, Innerpeffray Library is Scotland’s oldest surviving public library and well worth a visit. The small village of Braco, just 20 minutes drive from Auchterarder, is close to the ancient Ardoch Roman Camp which guards the approach to the Antonine Wall. Before you arrive at Braco, you will find Tullibardine Chapel which is a fine example of a 15th Century church. At Dunning there is a 12th Century Norman tower, St Serf Church which stands out in this small but charming village. A monument to Maggie Wall, who was supposedly burnt at the stake in 1657 for being a witch is also to be found nearby.
The City of Perth is only 14 miles away and has Georgian buildings, museums, galleries, shops and cafes to explore as well.