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Perth, Scotland

Perth, otherwise known as The Fair City, is situated on the banks of the River Tay, in the Scottish Lowlands.

The city's population is about 55,000. Perth is the administrative centre for Perth and Kinross, the local government area which has replaced the historic counties of Perthshire and Kinross-shire.

Perth's old centre is dominated by the 14th century former St John's Cathedral (Perth was once known as St John's Town of Perth, from which the football club's name of St Johnstone is derived), now the High Kirk of the Church of Scotland.

The museum and library are typically grand Victorian buildings: most of the rest of the centre is devoted to shopping.

The centre used to be ringed by a canal: no trace is left though the course is obvious from a glance at the street map.

To the North and South of the centre are the two main parks, the North Inch and South Inch. The river Tay forms the eastern boundary of the town centre.

There is a ring of Victorian development around the centre, mainly large villas and tenements. Further out are 20th century developments such as Hunters Crescent, Muirton, Letham and North Muirton.

There are 3 non-denominational High Schools, a Catholic High School and a Further Education College.

The very tall Friarton Bridge (built 1980s) carries a motorway across the Tay to the East of the City. There is a harbour, but this is now little used. The city was an important rail junction. The station, an impressive Scottish Baronial structure, still survives with regular services to destinations throughout Scotland. There is no airport with regular services nearer than Edinburgh.

Tourist attractions include Branklyn Gardens, and Kinnoull Hill which offers fine views across the Tay.

Industry includes distilling (Bells and Dewars Whisky) and glassmaking as well as high tech industries, as well as services such as insurance. Agriculture is also important, the city being surrounded by fertile land. Raspberries and other soft fruit are the chief crop.

St Johnstone football club's ground was formerly Muirton Park: this was demolished to make way for a supermarket, which paid for a new ground at McDiarmid Park.


The city was founded in prehistoric times. Evidence of occupation dating back to around 7000BC has been discovered in the shape of a hut and a midden, as well as that of a canoe hollowed out of a pine tree.

The name Perth appears to originate in the Pictish word, for a wood or copse. The Romans certainly had a fortified outpost in the area which they called Bertha during Pictish times although it is unclear how closely this was linked to the settlement at the time.

In 846, Kenneth MacAlpine established Scone, two miles north-east of Perth, as the first capital of Scotland.

The Battle of the Danes took place in 900 at Luncarty, a few miles north of Perth. It is said that the Viking invaders were defeated when a local peasant armed only with a plough yoke rallied the Scots at a critical moment.

Perth first enters the historical record in the early 1100s when it is recorded as the burgh of Perth in documents concerning Church matters.

In 1210, the River Tay flooded and destroyed most of the early town, which was situated a little north of the present town centre. The wooden bridge which then spanned the river was also destroyed in the flood. A new town was built, and granted the status of a royal burgh by William the Lion. The city remained the capital of Scotland until 1452.

In 1296 Perth was occupied by English troops during Edward I's invasion of Scotland. During this time it was fortified and walls were built. The burgh was not recaptured by the Scots until 1313 when it finally fell to Robert the Bruce. As a result of successive English invasions during the next hundred years, the city changed hands a few more times.

In 1396, Perth was the scene of one of the final trials by combat to take place in Europe. This event took the form of a pitched battle between teams of around thirty men each, representing Clan Chattan and Clan Kay on the North Inch in front of the King, Robert III. Clan Chattan is thought to have won but only twelve men survived from the original sixty. The event became known as The Battle of the Clans.

In 1437 James I was murdered while staying in at the Blackfriars Monastery in Perth.

In 1559 John Knox started the Scottish Protestant reformation with a sermon in Perth. The townspeople were sympathetic to his views and the sermon was immediately followed by riots during which the all monastic property in the area was destroyed, including Scone Abbey, former home of the Stone of Destiny. Mary of Guise, mother of and Regent for the young Queen Mary sent troops to put down the riots. Although she was successful in restoring order, Perth remained a stronghold of Presbyterianism from then on.

After a short siege in 1651, the city fell to Cromwell, who destroyed almost all the buildings in the city. His troops used materials from the ruins to construct a citadel next to the River Tay at the South Inch.

The Jacobites occupied Perth during the uprisings of 1689, 1715 and 1745.

In the 19th Century, the rich agricultural lands around Perth contributed to the town's wealth and growth. The coming of the railway in the late 1800s also played a part in the expansion of the city, as the station was an important hub for the Scottish rail network.

See History of Scotland for more history and context.