Battle of Falkirk Muir
This project has now been brought to completion with a public launch on 20th January which was well
reported in the Falkirk Herald. Despite the snowy weather just over 40 people turned up to hear a
talk by Mike Nevin in the hall of Trinity Church, the unveiling of a plaque on the High Street to
young Glengarry who was accidentally shot there the day after the battle, and a guided walk around
the trail led by Geoff Bailey. The project has seen cooperation between Callendar Estates, the 1745
Association, the Battlefield Trust, Falkirk Community Trust and Falkirk Planning Department.
A future article in the magazine “History Scotland” is in the offing.
The 1745 Association also deposited its library in Callendar House to make them available for public use.
This venue was chosen because of its association with the battle and its ease of access.
This too was covered by the Falkirk Herald and picked up by a number of other newspapers.
On 13th January, with the help of the Edinburgh Archaeology Field Society and Peter Morris, a linear
array survey was carried out at Dumyat Drive to augment the earlier resistivity survey and confirmed
the location of the so-called “English Graves” where it is believed that the dead from the battle were buried.
Antonine Wall Walks
Geoff Bailey represented the Trust at a day seminar in the Engine Shed, Stirling, dealing with the use
of computer technology in interpreting the Antonine Wall. Feedback was provided concerning the use of
the “Go Roman” game produced by HES and trialled by FCT at Callendar House during the recent Roman exhibition.
The Antonine Wall Research Committee has also met and Geoff provided a number of written entries for the
synopsis dealing with our present state of knowledge and potential future directions.
On Sunday 25 March the annual fieldwalk took place at Mumrills resulting in a nice collection of Roman
pottery. There was an unusually good sample of mortaria made in southern England. The star find was
undoubtedly a finely crafted pale brown flint barbed and tanged arrowhead of the early Bronze Age dating
to around 2,000 BC. It is only 20mm long and took an eagle-eyed volunteer to spot it! It was found on
the site of the praetorium of the Roman fort. Naturally speculation than took place as to whether or not
it had belonged to the commanding officer of the fort who regarded it as an antique – the time separating
it from him is the same as that between him and us…
Work on this project by the volunteers is continuing and all the tokens have now been placed in alphabetical
order according to the parish of use; documentary references have been checked and images obtained for all
but 50. Kirk session records in the archives are being examined to glean first-hand information about the use
of such tokens in the local area.
The work on the spreadsheet of First World War soldiers from the Falkirk area continues. There are currently
25,500 sets of entries covering 12,900 individuals. Even before its completion it is being used as the starting
point for community projects in Grangemouth and Bo’ness (the latter having obtained lottery money to produce a
publication). It is also the starting part for a section of the Falkirk Family History Group (U3A) which is
looking at the effects of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 in the area.
The information on it includes rank, civilian occupation, medals, dates of death when relevant, address and relatives.
So, for example, it will be possible to find all those men and women who served from a particular village such as
Laurieston. One fact recently revealed was that within a year of the end of hostilities some ten men who had survived
the war in the trenches were killed in industrial accidents in the area! It is hoped to have the LIST on the FCT
website in readiness for the November commemorations this year. Here it can be used for family history research,
school projects and local history. One of the lunchtime talks in the next session is dedicated to this theme.
Lunch & brunch talks
The programme of talks for the 2018-19 season has been prepared and distributed. It covers a wide
variety of interesting local history topics and enhances connections with local societies who are
to deliver many of the talks.
With the poor weather the survey of local designed landscapes had to be put on hold until the summer,
though meetings with Scotland’s Garden & Landscape Heritage Society have continued and the launch of
their Stage II programme took place in Callendar House on 2nd May.
In the run up to the celebrations for James Watt’s invention of the separate condenser for the steam engine
there have been a number of meetings of an advisory group for Scotland. The main feature for Falkirk district
will be a virtual reconstruction by Historic Environment Scotland of James Watt’s workshop using material from
the National Science Museum. As part of the publicity for the overall programme of events – and for James Watt’s
Cottage in particular – Geoff was interviewed and a sound recording can now be found on the James Watt page.