is situated at the south east of Strathearn in Perthshire. St Serf's
church in the centre of the village was rebuilt in the 19th century but
the tower is early medieval (12th century) with two-light arched
Anglo-Saxon windows like Muthill Church. Like so many Strathearn villages,
Dunning was burnt after the Battle of Sheriffmuir by the retreating
Jacobite army. However the village retains it's earlier pattern with later
buildings (18-19thC) gathered around the church. A standing stone outside
the village is said to mark the site of the Battle of Duncrub in 964AD. A
local woman, Maggie Wall, was burnt as a witch in 1657 and a monument
commemorates this sad event.
of St. Serf, Dunning
The church of St. Serf,
Dunning was first mentioned in 1219. It came under the Abbey of Inchaffrey
(near Madderty) which was founded by Earl Gilbert of Strathearn and
witnessed by Anechal, Thane of Dunning and founder of the surname
"Dunning". There is no mention of the church in the 1200
document, but a Charter of Confirmation dated 1219 includes St. Serf at
Dunning (Ecclesiam Sancti Servani de Dunnyne). It can therefore be
established that the church was finished and running by 1219.
The present tower was probably started in the mid 12th century, and a
single storey medieval church with nave and chancel built on to it. There
was probably an older church or chapel on the site because of the remains
of an older doorway (Saxon style) on the North wall. The medieval church
had a high pitched, open beamed roof (see outline visible on tower) with
arches between tower/nave and nave/chancel (see plan on session house
door). The altar would be at the East end of the chancel - all churches
were built on an East-West orientation with the altar in the East.
The church remained in that
form until some time after the Reformation. In 1687 a gallery was placed
over what had been the chancel and altar (the laird's gallery). The date
can be seen above the doorway at the head of the stairs on the East wall.
The initials are of Lord Andrew Rollo and Lady Margaret Balfour, his wife
and daughter of the 3rd. Lord Burleigh. The altar or pulpit would have
been moved to the West beside the tower.
In the early 1700's the
minister complained that the church was too small and estimates were
produced to enlarge the church by "building an aisle at the back of
it 33 ft long, 18 ft broad and 18 ft high". The complaint continued
into the 1800's. In the 1780/90's Lord Rollo had a John Bell, Land
Surveyor in Edinburgh, lay out plans for a new village as Dunning had been
burnt to the ground by the Jacobites in 1716. There were, therefore, many
masons working in the village rebuilding houses and the opportunity was
taken to enlarge the church.
The South wall was taken down
and re-erected 3 feet further out. The result can be seen by looking at
the gable on the East wall which shows that the South roof is much longer
than the North roof, and the doorway at the head of the stairs is no
longer in the centre of the wall. At the same time a new aisle was made in
the North wall and the single storey building converted to two storeys
although the new roof was not as steeply pitched as the old roof.
Galleries were made on the West and North sides. On the East wall can be
seen the line of the original gable, about 3 feet in from the roof line.
On the North wall, to the East of the extension, the roof corbels can be
seen and the new stonework added to raise the roof.
On the extension itself it is
possible to pick out the stones that had been taken out of the old wall
and re-used on the new part. The North wall, to the West of the extension,
has not been altered.
The tower is of Norman architecture. The archway between the tower/nave
and the one which was removed during alterations and which had been
between the nave/chancel are Norman-Early English (some may say Gothic
which a term covering the 12th to 16th centuries). The massive pillars are
of Norman style, while the pointed arch with its toothed and scalloped
ornamentation is Early English. The transition period between the two
styles is from 1190 onwards, depending on the area. This ties in with the
date of the church.
An entry in the Gazetteer of
Scotland 1883 states "In course of recent repairs a fine Norman arch
between the tower and the interior of the church, which had been
barbarously bricked up and disfigured, was reopened and restored".
Repairs were carried out in
the mid 1800's and the stone floors taken up. This led to the discovery of
the Pictish Stone which can be seen at the base of the tower, an
indication of the presence of early Christian settlement on the site. This
is an unusual stone having a typical Pictish/Celtic cross on the upper
part and half a cross at the bottom. Examination of the entwined rope
sculpture on the edge shows that the stone has been split at some time
during its history. The stone dates from 900 A.D.
The small bell which strikes
the half hour and was the toll bell, has an inscription in Dutch
"John of Rotterdam made me in 1526". The larger bell was
presented in 1825 by Major Mark Howard Drummond of Keltie in token of his
attachment to his native parish and of his zeal to promote
"religious, industrious and early habits amongst the
parishioners". This replaced an earlier bell rung to destruction in
1773 on the production of a son for Lord Rollo. This bell was also Dutch
of 1681 with a Latin inscription "This bell calls sinners to the
Gospel, it to Christ and He to Heaven".
kindly supplied by Scot Travel