The Parish


The Village of Kippen, otherwise known as the "Kingdom of Kippen" is situated on an eminence overlooking the Valley of the Forth, and commands upwards of thirty miles of landscape view. Within three minutes' walk of the Cross of Kippen, on the road to Music Hall, and about thirty yards from the first house in that hamlet, is to be found one of the most extensive and beautiful views in Great Britain. On the right, rising like towers in the valley, we have the three crags, viz., Craigforth, Abbey Craig, and Stirling Castle; in the distance, Dumyat and the Ochil Range; and sweeping towards the left, the wild heaths of Uam Var, Ben Voirlich, Bed Ledi, Ben A'an, the rugged cliffs of Ben Venue, Ben More, and Ben Lomond; while lying spread out at our feet is the Carse of Stirling, which merges into and includes the Vale of Menteith.

The scene, as far as the eye can reach, is classic. There are associations of thrilling historic interest connected with the district, while Sir Walter Scott has added creations to it of romance and song which will never die.


Scotland was divided into parishes during the twelfth century. The parish of Kippen lies chiefly in Stirlingshire, but in different places is intersected by portions of Perthshire, which run across it from north to south for nearly a third part of the parish. The boundaries of the County, especially in this parish, are somewhat perplexing and eccentric, showing something like a zig-zag, or forked appearance. An insulated portion of Perthshire, about two miles long and half-a-mile broad, embraces a part of the village. A portion of the Manse, e.g., the kitchen part, is in Perthshire, the remainder being in Stirlingshire, thus enabling the dinner to be cooked in Perthshire and partaken of in Stirlingshire. The greatest length of the parish is about eight miles, and its breadth from two to five miles. The river Forth is the boundary on the north, dividing it from the parishes of Port of Menteith, Norrieston, Kilmadock, and Kincardine. On the west, Kippen marches with the parish of Drymen; on the south with Balfron; and on the east, the burn of Boquhan forms the boundary between it and Gargunnock. Descending from the rock of Ballochleam (Gaelic em>Beallach-leum  signifies "the gorge-leap;" Beallach is an upland gorge or rising pass) the burn meets with the red sandstone, through which it has opened a passage, and wrought its soft materials into a number of curious forms resembling the wells and cauldrons of the Devon. After running through the beautiful and picturesque Glen Boquhan, equalled only by the Trossachs, and through which the proprietor has made extensive and agreeable walks, the burn discharges itself into the Forth at the Ford of Frew, and forms the natural boundary of the parish in the south and east.

Name of Parish

In old records Kippen is sometimes spelt Kippan, Kippene, Kippone, Kyppane. The derivation of the name, given in the old "Statistical Account," from Ceap, English cape, meaning a headland or promontory, is likely enough, as it describes pretty well the appearance of the parish, jutting out into the carse land below. At the same time, it might be derived from the Gaelic Ciopan (pronounced Kippan), which means the stumps or roots of trees, and in that case it would refer to the remains of the forest which undoubtedly at an early period covered both the high and low lands of the parish. To support this derivation, we have places in this and neighbouring parishes, such as Kep or Keppoch, which obviously means the "field of the stumps," and, more distinctly still, Kepdarroch, "the field of the stumps of oak trees." Inverkip, in Renfrewshire, is explained by Colonel Robertson, in his "Gaelic Topography," as "the confluence of the roots of stumps."


The Parish of Kippen was sub-divided into eleven Baronies or properties, belonging to gentlemen entitled to call themselves Barons. Regarding the origin of the title Baron there have been differences of opinion. Derivations of the word have been sought for in the Celtic, Teutonic, and Hebrew languages, but it would appear that the term Baron was introduced by the Normans into this country, which points, therefore, to a conclusion favourable to a Romanee origin. From an early period Barons were distinguished as greater and lesser, and, according to old Scotch law, the greater Barons had certain rights relative to and direct from the King himself, which were confirmed by Crown Charters. These rights embraced not merely civil but criminal jurisdiction, to which all the people or inhabitants of the particular Baronies were amenable. The lesser Barons held their lands from the greater by a tenure of military service, and it was to the lesser Barons that the eleven gentlemen in this district belonged. Modern legislation has, however, obstructed the exercise of Baronial rights: indeed, by the 20th Act of George II. the rights of Baronies became obsolete, although by a subsequent Act, in the reign of George III., they were permitted for the encouragement of fisheries on the sea coast.

The following are the names of the eleven Baronies within the parish: Glentirran, Dasher or Deshour, Shirgarton, Broich, Arnmanuel, Arnbeg, Arnmore, Arnfinlay, Garden, Buchlyvie, and Arnprior.

Placenames of the Parish

IT is generally accepted that, in giving names to places, our forefathers obviously endeavoured to express the nature of the situation and its most prominent features, its shape or its size, its relative position, high or low, in mountain or valley, the climate or the vegetation by which it was surrounded. We have in the names of places in the parish, therefore, descriptions or verbal pictures of the object. With this general fact before us, let us glance at the etymology of some of the names:

Boquhan: Gaelic Mocuan, plain of the sea or ocean. It might also be from the Gaelic Both, meaning a "house" or "dwelling;" and Gaelic Càn; Scots kane; English rent or tribute: hence Boquhan would be the place where the tribute was received or kept. Mr. Johnston, in his "Place-Names of Stirlingshire," suggests Bothbhan, the Gaelic for "white house," which is also possible.

Drum: Gaelic Drom, a ridge.

Gribbloch: Corruption of Garbhlach, the rough place - rugged country, or rough and warm, lying to the sun. It is said that Gribbloch was a favourite place of meeting in Covenanting times. There is a watershed on the lands of Gribbloch, a portion of the water going to the eastern, another to the western ocean.

Loch Leggan: The lake in the small hollow.

Balgair: Gaelic Bal, contracted from Baile, originally a home, a toun, or farm; the second part, "gair," may be the Gaelic gearr, short, hence "short-town" or "farm; " or it may be Bal-a-gabhair, meaning "the goat-farm."

Castlehill: The upper part of the village of Kippen is known by the name of Castlehill. Ages ago a castle stood midway in the Burn Loan, on the south side, about thirty yards from the roadway - the Castle of the "Kingdom" - hence the name Castlehill.

Oxhill: may have reference to the manner in which our forefathers sometimes computed pieces of land, calling thirteen or fourteen acres an ox gang.

Spittal: There are many places named Spittal throughout the county, the name being derived from Hospital. Spittal means of the Templars, and hospitals were attached to the religious houses in the Middle Ages. The first of the Spittals was a son of Sir Maurice Buchanan of Buchanan, in the time of Alexander III. Having entered the Order of Knights Hospitallers, he was called in the Scots dialect Spittal.

Causewayhead: French, Chaussée, the head or termination of the Roman Road.

Cauldhame: Cold, bleak place. The erection of the houses dates from the beginning of the nineteenth century, but the place was known as Cauldhame before the houses were built.

Music Hall: Long the residence of the piper or fiddler, first called Piper's Hall, afterwards Music Hall. In ancient times every village in Scotland had its piper, who was employed not only on festive occasions, but during the season of harvest, to play behind the reapers. Hamilton, in his "Elegy on the Piper of Kilbarchan," alludes to the practice: "Or wha will cause our shearers shear, Wha will bend up the braes of Weir."

Glentirran: The glen of the small fort, not unlikely referring to what we know as the Keir Hill of Glentirran. It may refer to the fortification up the shoulder of the hill, south-west from the Keir Hill, circular in form, with a number of trees growing within the space; but more probably it is Gleann Tighearn, the Chiefs Glen, as it was here where the chief Baron lived.

Dasher: from Gaelic Deas, "south," having a southern exposure, and ar or air, "field," more properly a "battlefield;" hence "Southfield" or "South battlefield." In old charters the lands along the north shore of Loch Tay, which thus lie to the south, are called Disher.

Shirgarton: The last part of the word is certainly Gart or Gort (old English, Garth, modern English, Garden), which originally signifies corn, and then an enclosed or tilled field. Shir (Gaelic, Siar) is west, so that Shirgarton would mean the west field. As terms of direction are relative, it would probably be thus called Westfield, in relation to Dasher. Gortan is the Teutonic Gort, with the Gaelic denomination, an, but in its Gaelic form it does not mean an "enclosure," but a "green sward," hence Shirgarton will mean "West-green."

Broich: Gaelic Braigh; Scottice, brae, a bank, or acclivity. In front of the old house of Broich there was a fosse or ditch.

Arnmanuel: The word Arn, Gaelic Earran, which occurs so often as a portion of names in the parish, means a section or division of land. As most of the lands with names so beginning lie along the slope of the hill side, and parallel, or contiguous to each other, they may have been portions of a territory which was originally all under the same superiority, possibly the ecclesiastical authority of Inchmahome, and for services rendered, or for other sufficient reasons, granted to vassals of the Priory. Manuel is probably a corrupted form of a personal name.

Arnbeg: The small portion.

Arnmore: The large portion.

Arnprior: The Priors portion.

Arnfinlay: Here might also be included

Arngibbon: Both Finlay and Gibbon being not unlikely proper names. Gibbon, at any rate, in its patronymic form of McGibbon, is a name still common amongst us.

Garden: If we hold to the use of the letter G in Garden, then the same root gart occurs here as in Shirgarton, and the termination indicates a diminutive form, and correlates with Gartmore, Garden being the smaller, and Gartmore the larger enclosed and cultivated field. But the original spelling of Garden was Carden, and, better still and more complete, Cardun, which altered the case entirely. There can be no doubt about the meaning. The word is Calhair-divna (pronounced Card(y)en), which means "the fort of defence or shelter." Carden is the spelling used in the old Acts of Parliament. The prefix Car is generally the Brythonic Cathair (t is silent) meaning a "seat" or "fort;" hence Cathairdun would be equivalent to the English Castlehill. There is a Carden in Peebles-shire, and another in Fife. Then we have Carnock, Carbeth, Cardross, etc.

We now come to the last barony,

Buchlyvie: In his "History of Stirlingshire," the Rev. William Nimmo suggests ball-cladb-beheth, "the field of the burying ground," but this theory is doubtful, and in the absence of tradition there is much difficulty in getting at the etymology of this name. It may mean "the bog beside the birches;" or, if there is any tradition surviving associating the place with an ancient battle, it may be Buaidh Chlaidhcamh, i.e., "the victory of the sword." There is no doubt whatever that, not merely in urns, but also in certain knolls in Buchlyvie, human remains have been found in large numbers, and this might well point to the latter conclusion as the correct interpretation. But a lively imagination may even trace in the word Buchlyvie a root which means poor or needy, and thus recall the rhyme and the poverty of the place which Sir Walter Scott describes in "Rob Roy"

"Ye Baron o' Buchlyvie,
May the foul fiend drive ye,
And a' to pieces rive ye,
For building sic a toun,
Where there's neither horse meat,
Nor man's meat, nor chair to sit doom"

It may also be Both-Chliabhaich (pronounced "Buchleevich"), meaning "the wicker-work house," a kind of which there were not a few in the old days.


The population of the parish in

Year Population
1793 1,777
1801 1,722
1811 1,893
1821 2,029
1831 2,085
1851 1,892
1861 1,736
1871 1,568
1891 1,486
1901 1,456

The population of the village in 1901 was 356.

Rateable Valuation

The valuation of the parish, taken in 1777, was £5,194 2s. 10d.

In 1902 the valuation of the entire parish was as follows:

In Stirlingshire:
Eastern Division £3,664 19s 5d
Western Division £3,423 17s 3d
Railways   £916   0s 0d
In Perthshire:
Central Division £4,311 19s 8d
Railways    £935   0s 0d
Total valuation of parish £13,251   6s 4d   

By the order of the Boundary Commissioners, dated 5th August, 1890, that part of the Parish of Kippen which formed part of the County of Perth ceased to be part of that county on the 15th day of May, 1891. The whole of the Parish of Kippen is now in Stirlingshire for all purposes except Parliamentary, parishioners residing in that portion which forms part of the County of Perth still retaining the privilege of voting for a member of Parliament for West Perthshire.


The following tabular statement shows the acreage of the parish, with the number of acres under cultivation, in pasture, and wood.

Acres Tillage Pasture Wood
6,342 1,420 4,360 562

Parish Cemetary

The "Kingdom" has the distinction of being the only parish in Western Stirlingshire provided with a cemetery. Owing to no proper plan or chart being kept of the old graveyard adjoining the village, complaints became numerous regarding interments made therein, and in 1893 a public meeting of the parishioners was convened to consider what steps should be taken to remedy the grievance. Ultimately it was resolved to present a petition to the Sheriff of Stirling to have the old graveyard closed, subject to certain conditions, and subsequently a cemetery, available to the whole parish, was formed on the southern slope of the hill close to the Keir Hill of Drum, about a mile from the village. This new cemetery was opened for interments in 1895, at a cost of £1,400, the Parish Council levying an assessment of 1d. per pound on all owners and occupiers of lands and heritages to defray the cost.