Clackmannanshire - An Unexplored Territory
Clackmannanshire is the smallest County of Scotland. It lies between Perthshire in the north and river Forth in the south. On the east and west lie Stirling and Fife respectively. The Ochil hills mark the north border of Clackmannan. These hills are well cultivated and have also been providing for pasturage for a long time. The valley of river Devon is being capitalized for the production of coal while the towns of Alloa and Tillicoultry are famous for their woolen mufflers.
Clackmannanshire, the odd name has intrigued many who know a little about this county. It derives its name from the “Clack” meaning Stone of ‘Mannan’, which was an old whinstone boulder named so in order to pay homage to Celtic God Manau. Life started around it in south and it was then moved in 1833 to Clackmannan, and henceforth the name.
Though many people have heard of this small scarcely populated county, very few have been able to visit this place, and even from among those who have visited it few have been able to appreciate its mysterious beauty. The absence of proper signposts makes it difficult to find a way deep into the town and to find places worth visiting.
Clackmannan boasted of a harbor on the tidal stretch of Devon River and which extended up to Forth River. It was due to this port that Clackmannanshire flourished during its early times. However now, the port doesn’t exist at all and the township is far away from the River Black Denon. The port of Clackmannan silted away and at the same time neighboring Alloa witnessed a fast paced growth. This is the reason why in 1822, Clackmannanshire had to renounce its county and Alloa became the county town.
Clackmannan is designed in a very simple manner. In the lower reaches there is a long main street and there’s a high street which leads you to the beautiful Parish church. Keep on going and you’ll find an upward spine which reaches a summit on which stands a grand castle. This castle is popular as the Clackmannan tower and the summit is known as King’s Seat Hill. The tower was built in the beginning of 13th century by David II, which was later on sold in 1359, to art lover Robert Bruce who was his relative. The view is lovely and one can see the whole town from there. The tower is 5 stories high and the use of golden stone in it, enhances its magnificence.
The Bruce family also constructed a huge mansion beside the Clackmannan tower, in the 1500s. Unfortunately, after the death of the last member of the Bruce family, the mansion was demolished. It is believed that there were a number of such mansions which were fine specimens of architecture of that era, some of which have been recycled into the Parish church, built in 1815. Due to improper mining techniques employed, a part of the Clackmannan tower collapsed around 1948. This also made it lean. The damage has since been repaired and appreciable restoration work has been done. The tower is not available for full public access right now.
The top of Main Street has the market place which is the liveliest place of Clackmannan. The remains of Tolbooth can be found in the Main Street. Tolbooth was constructed in 1592 which amazingly served three purposes; it was a court, prison and also an administrative center though now you can only find the belfry tower.
Clackmannan holds in its heart a lot of mysteries and puzzles of how civilization entered, flourished and survived here.
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