From Stanley Parish Steeple

A Poetic History Review



(1)  Upon the Steeple's top we stand 

And gaze with musing eyes around us.

Here in the heart of our dear land

The Spirit of the Past has found us.

Historic scenes on every side

Are whispering of Scotland's glory;

We feel our beings fill with pride

As reading o'er her ancient story.

With organ roar the river swells

It's anthem up the brae before us.

In deathless tones it speaks and tells

The history of the land that bore us.

It saw the Roman eagles fly

When Rome trod o'er the world its master.

And heard arise from earth to sky

The sounds of doom and fell disaster.

(2)  O'er yonder Cambusmichael stands

The name alone to man and woman

Speaks of the fierce and powering hands

They came and went and Scotland stood

Unconquered by their bloody Beagles;

It saw them come and go, the rude

And serried Legions, with their eagles.

Rome now sits, 'mong her seven hills,

Amid her ruins, old and hoary;

Mayhap her once wild spirit thrills

When brooding o'er her ancient story.

She sees an Empire spreading far

O'er lands undreamt of in her grandeur,

And knows that in peace or war

Britain obeys the Great Commander,

And carries with her where she goes

The message He to man hath given----

Warm hearts to friends, goodwill to foes!

Teach them the Christian's way to heaven.

Tay heard the Norsemen's battle shriek

And saw their raven grimly flying

O'er blazing homes, with bloody beak,

And croaking o'er the dead and dying;

(3)  O'er Thistle Brig it watched them cross

To smite our sires.  It watched them driven

Firm beaten back o'er moor and moss.

And heard their death groans rise to heaven.

The Thistle is our emblem yet;

It gave our fearless fathers warning

That Scandinavian hordes were met

For battle that far distant morning.

Adown the past the echo comes

Of that fell strife, when battling freemen

Struck for their land, their hearths, their homes,

Their children and defenceless women!

(4)  From Luncarty's historic field,

In fancy we can hear war's thunder.

And see the gleam of helm and shield, 

And admiration, awe and wonder

Fill mind and heart when gazing down,

We watch a sturdy ploughman smiting

Both friend and foe with fearless frown,

Shouting, cursing, striving, fighting,

To stem defeat and victory bring

To Scotland's ranks with grand endeavour,

And at the feet of Scotland's king

He laid a wreath 'twill last for ever!

Stout John de Luce - his name is still

On every Scottish heart engraven;

It permeates each plain and hill

That once were swept by Norway's raven.

The spirit of the land we see

And looking from his eyes in glory---

The spirit that has made us free

And wrote our stirring battle story!

The Norsemen sweep the seas no more---

We tamed their pride and took their places;

Over their shores our flags wave over

The Viking never set their faces

Our argosy from deck to keel

Their holds with merchandise are teeming;

Above the waves they rock and reel;

The wondering Norsemen look on dreaming

And with our peace hath victories won

Not with an eagle yet nor raven.

From rising to the setting sun

Britain's meteor flag is waving.

Hark to the shout upon the blast

Again auld Scotland meets her foemen;

The storm of battle thunders past

Above the heads of England's yeoman

St George's banner proudly flies

The swords of mail-clad knights are gleaming.

And curses deep and battle cries

Awake the Tay from out its dreaming.

(5)  Inchbervis stands upon its banks---

Its massive walls can still recall us

Of marshalled men and serried ranks,

Of those who fought with Bruce and Wallace!

And further up the river side

(6)  Kinclaven Castle towers in grandeur,

Its ruined walls will still stir our pride,

And move our thoughts to where'er we wander.

Stern freemen fought for freedom then;

War's marks are round where'er we turn;

We tread amidst those hero men,

And fight with them at Bannockburn.

Proud England!  Now she treads our land,

And friendly faces smile upon her;

With open heart and open hand

We tread with her the place of honour---

The path that leads to kindly deeds,

To free and generous emulation,

And spread afar the fruitful seeds 

Of trade, that makes a mighty nation.

The past is gone - then let it go

Buried beneath its bloody story;

We've had the banded world cur foe---

The world our friend were greater glory!

(7)  See Stanley House, it stands below

Its once proud walls are now untrodden,

They have a weary tale of woe

To tell us of yon dark Culloden,

When Highland hearts were stilled in death,

And Highland brands were bent and broken.

From here they trod to yon grim heath---

This rugged stone can give us token.

There, deeply cut we see a name

Initialled - 'tis a race of daring

Who cut it there - we read of fame

Within the letters, Lord John Nairne!

Our Highand hearts have swept since then

O'er other lands in blood and thunder;

Their comrades, England's merry men,

At once the world's dread and wonder.

Still more, the spreading scene has more

To tell us, for the place is teeming

With memories of the time of yore

To rouse to life our wakeful dreaming.

(8)   Drumbeth's broad field before us spreads;

Macduff, Macbeth have met in battle

With Malcolm Canmore at their head

We hear their swords and ail-coats rattle; 

O'er Thistle Brig the tryant flies

To shelter him in lone Dunsinnan.

Behind his foes victorious cries

Proclaim his end is now beginning.

Lo! yonder Birnam wood comes down.

Above the brows of warriors borne.

Macbeth he notes with gloomy frown,

And cries aloud in furious scorn---

"Ring bell, blow wind, come ruin, come rack,

Ye witches three, I bid, avaunt thee;

We'll die with harness on our back;

No man of woman born can daunt me;

I dare death's worst - Lay on, Macduff." 

He flings his bloody shield before him---

"Cursed he who first cries 'Hold, enough'!"

Then death's dark shadow darkened o'er him.

(9)  Stobhall's lone hold now claims our thought

Our mild King Robert now wanders therein;

We see not now a battle spot,

We thrill not now at deeds of daring

Sung to fair Annabella Drummond,

And whispering memories bid us bear

To Scotland's throne the lady summoned

But aye these bonnie woods will hold

Her heart wherever she may wander;

She hears the tale that never grows old

Around her rising' mid her grandeur.

The swelling sound of Campsie Linn

Still thrills her heart with emotion

It beats with every throb within

Her bosom with love's sweet devotion.

What flying figure meets our gaze.

Rushing through the woods despairing.

Ah.  Conacher, by devious ways

Fate has met thee:  grim unsparing,

From yonder bloody Inch behind

Horror comes where'er thou'rt rushing

You hear their groans upon the wind,

And see the faithful's red blood gushing

"One blow for us" they dying moan,

"Who gave our lives to guard our Chieftain;

One blow for us, but one by one"---

But far away the sounds are driftin';

He sees respite for all his woes

In yonder river onward rolling;

He sees escape from earthly foes,

He hears the Chapel's death-knell tolling;

Into the foam with arms outspread,

Into the breast of the great river;

It's pitying waves close o'er his head,

And Conacher is gone for ever.

Ho look around;  on every side,

On every side auld Scotland's story

Is written deep.  We gaze in pride,

And dream of her undying glory.

The City Fair in distance looms;

Beside it rises Scone's proud Palace,

Where kingly monuments and tombs

Uprose long ere the days of Wallace.

Kings were crowned within its walls

Long ere First Edward robbed our nation

And carried to Westminster halls

The Stone that watched each Coronation,

And kings are crowned upon it still---

The Stone of Destiny!  Wherever

It lies, o'er moor and moss and hill,

Our Scottish blood will rule for ever--

So said the phrophecy---and yes,

Its truth has swept adown the ages

And wonder-watched 'twill be for aye

By earnest saints and seers and sages!

In Scotland's heart today we stand

And look with glowing eyes around us

Upon our bonnie mountain land

Where smiling peace at last has found us.

(11) The Grampians, Ochils, Sidlaws keep

Grim ward and silent do their duty

O'er fertile plains that peaceful sleep

Enfolded in the arms of beauty

And while time pulls its ceaseless course

They aye will stand as rugged warders

To stay and stem tyrannic force

Should battle ever cross our borders;

But ne'er again we hope and trust,

Will battle's cry be heard above us.

The mail-clad knights are mouldering dust

Their memories only now can move us 

We give them creed of praise who fought

And won the freedom that we cherish

A freedom that their bravery has brought

Has now its home in our parish.

(12) Go watch the spinning spindles spin

The fleshing of the weavers shuttle

Our hearts uplift, out spirits real

In glad and glorious elation;

Not mail-clad force, but factory wheels

Are now the guardians of our nation.

Great child of Peace, where commerce reigns

Alike are broken sword and sabre

And healthful vigour finds the veins

Of those who have their meed of labour.

Strong Labour's throne beneath we see

The force that keeps the village moving;

Our home's the world's epitome;

Hating, envying, helping, loving,

Good and evil mixed - What, though?

It only proves that we are human.

Our own dear Stanley there below

Holds in its heart - yea, this we know--

True-hearted men and kindly women!

Such are the sights and thoughts that come

Upon our minds, ye Stanley people,

When looking down upon our home

From off the village Auld Kirk Steeple.


James Ferguson ("Nisbet Noble")    Stanley circa 1890



1. The ordnance survey holds that the centre of Scotland lies somewhere between Aberfeldy and Scone;  hence Stanley may be said to be in the heart of Scotland.

2.  "Cambusmichael" the camp of Michael, is situated on the south side of the Tay opposite Stanley Mills.

3.  "Thistle Brig" lies half a mile below the village.  It is a trap-rock which at one time stretched across the river.  Part was blown up to permit the passage of rafts of trees previous to the advent of railways.  It got its name and our country its emblem owing to a heedless Norseman trampling barefooted upon a thistle while the Norsemen were crossing to attack the Scottish camp.  His savage curse alarmed our waiting forefathers and they arose in their might  and smote their foemen hip and thigh.

4.  Luncarty's historic field lies halfway between Stanley and Perth.  The stone on which John de Luce sat after the battle can be pointed out.  The Strath around speaks loudly of blood and battle as Red-gor(e)to(w)n, Battle-by, Mony-die, Denmarkfield etc.

5.  Inchbervis is at the back of Stanley House.  Its massive walls, 8ft thick, and the remains of a moat around it, bespeaks of strength and storm.

6. The remains of Kinclaven Castle stands on the bank of the river about three miles to the north.  It was taken and burnt by Wallace and later rebuilt.

7.  "Stanley House" - once Nairne House - burned a few years ago and has many a tale to tell of Charlie and his times.  The ill-fated Prince had a narrow escape from capture by Cumberland's dragoons. He escaped out of a window carrying with him important papers.  On the border of the gravel pathway between the house and the river a  rude stone lies with the following letters and figures rudely carved upon it;  L.I.N., 16th June 1742.  They are very suggestive. as we take the letters to mean Lord John Nairne while the date is four years before Culloden.

8.  Drumbeth field borders the village to the west.  It is said to be a field of battle between the forces of Malcolm Canmore, Macduff and Macbeth and lies halfway between the hills of Birnam and Dunsinnan.

9. "Stobhall Castle" where King Robert Third wooed and won his bride, fair Annabella Drummond, is wood embowered a little beyond the Linn of Campsie.

10. Campsie Linn immortalised by Sir Walter Scott in "The Fair Maid of Perth" is about a mile to the east of the village.

11. The "Grampians, Ochils, Sidlaws," surround Stanley with a mountain chain.  The village is in a basin almost equi-distant  from the three ranges of hills.

12. Stanley Mills, erected in 1784, and the village itself built at the same time, lie just below our vantage ground from the steeple.  The village and the mills have had their dreich days, but under the energetic management of  Messrs Sandeman both are now in a high state of prosperity


Thanks to Doctor Andrew Thomson for allowing me to scan the original document.