Perthshire Scotland > Towns > Crieff Guide > Crieff History

Crieff - Drummond Castle GardensCrieff is derived from craobh, the Gaelic for "among the trees" and began to be seen in documents dating from the 12thC and was granted its Charter in 1218.

We have only glimpses of life in these times from documents but the town had a mill by 1444. Drummond Castle, 4 kms south of Crieff, was founded in 1491 by Sir John Drummond under license from James IV.

Powerful local families fought each other. In 1511 in the old church of Monzievaird just west of the town, 'many' Murrays along with their families were burnt when Drummonds and Campbells set the building alight.

By mid 17thC a road existed south to Dunblane and the River Earn was probably first bridged around 1660. In 1672 Crieff became a burgh of barony. The town held the country's most important cattle market and was famous for hanging lawless Highlanders! Rob Roy Macgregor visited the town on many occasions, often to sell cattle.

In 1716 Jacobites burnt the town on their way back from the battle of Sheriffmuir.

The huge cattle sales continued to take place. In 1723 30,000 cattle sold at one great fair with many driven south 800km to Smithfield in London.

Around 1730 a military road was driven from Tummel Bridge in the north and in 1742 the road was further improved to take carriages north via the Sma' Glen.

In 1731 James Drummond, 3rd Duke of Perth, laid out the town's central James Square and establishing a textile industry with a flax factory.

Bonnie Prince Charlie held his last war council in the Drummond Arms Hotel before he was finally defeated at Culloden in 1746.

After 1746 Rebellion the Drummond estates were forfeited to the Crown until 1784. The Commissioners who were in charge continued to develop Crieff as an industrial centre based on tanning and bleaching. In 1748 there were no less than 5 breweries and a paper making factory was opened in 1763. In 1775 Glenturret Distillery opened.

Although cattle markets continued, the huge sale held each October, the Tryst, moved to Falkirk in 1770.

The town was involved in the cotton industry - yarn was bought in Glasgow, garments woven locally and returned for sale. In 1770 the hand-loom weavers organised themselves into a Society and in 1786 a Weaver's Hall was erected in Commissioner Street.

Mains gas became available in the town from 1842, the same year that Queen Victoria visited. The railway arrived in 1856 and mains water was laid from 1872. The Hydro Hotel was built in 1868. In 1922 the Crieff Electric Supply Company began generating and provided some electric lighting locally.

The fifties saw the last cattle markets. An event which marked the end of centuries of 'trysts'. In 1951 the last passenger trains ran from Perth. Rail buses operated for a while but in 1964 the line closed completely.

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