Zoom into Clackmannanshire

Collated by Charlotte James Robertson. 

This time in our ‘Zoom into…’ series the spotlight is on Clackmannanshire. Affectionately known as ‘The Wee County’ it is mainland Scotland’s smallest council area by population. Clackmannanshire borders the council areas of Stirling, Fife, and Perth & Kinross. The town of Clackmannan was the county town up until 1822 when Alloa became the main administrative centre. The county has been known for its agriculture, textile manufacturing, breweries and glassworks.  

While it is often abbreviated to Clacks, the county’s interesting name points to the rich history of the area. Clackmannan, which means stone of Mannan, takes its name from the Celtic sea deity Manua. The standing stone of Mannan, from which the area derives its name, can still be seen in the centre of the town of Clackmannan.  

Alloa was the ancestral seat of the Erskines of Mar, who built Alloa Tower where Mary, Queen of Scots and her son, James VI, both spent part of their childhoods. John Erskine, the 6th Earl of Mar, is well known for leading the 1715 Jacobite uprising. 

Where to find local collections:  

Clackmannanshire Archives, Local History & Local Studies Collections  https://www.clacks.gov.uk/culture/localhistory/

ClacksPast  http://www.calmview.eu/ClacksPast/CalmView/

Non-fiction Book: 

Collections towards a history of the county of Clackmannan by William D. Bruce, circa 1868. https://digital.nls.uk/histories-of-scottish-families/archive/94948510#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=5&xywh=129%2C151%2C3247%2C2669  


Alloa, circa 1930. General views of livestock show and agriculture in Alloa. https://movingimage.nls.uk/film/6549 

Manuscript collection: 

Minute-book of the chapmen of the shires of Stirling and Clackmannan, 1726-1816. https://manuscripts.nls.uk/repositories/2/archival_objects/23493

Diary of James Johnstone of Alva House, 1820-1876.  https://manuscripts.nls.uk/repositories/2/resources/11752


A mapp of Clackmannan Shire by John Adair, circa 1681. https://maps.nls.uk/view/00001012

Plan of the town of Alloa from an actual survey by John Wood, 1825. https://maps.nls.uk/view/74400002

Map of the county of Clackmannanshire as politically extended: from actual survey during the years 1847-48 by R.S. Michie, 1848. https://maps.nls.uk/view/216442845

Perth and Clackmannan Sheet CXXXIII.SE (includes: Alloa; Alva), 1901. https://maps.nls.uk/view/75498088

An e-resource: 

The Scotsman, 1817 – 1950.  https://search-proquest-com.nls.idm.oclc.org/hnpscotsman/historicalnews/fromDatabasesLayer?accountid=12801

A range of articles about Clackmannanshire feature in this e-resource, for example: Feminine Strike at Alva, 1860. This article reports that ‘This new feature in strikes has taken place at Alva, a manufacturing village in Scotland… The women take the lead in a startling way.’  https://search-proquest-com.nls.idm.oclc.org/hnpscotsman/docview/488344267/92590AC2154B4785PQ/12?accountid=12801

A business: 

‘Fire in Alloa Brewery.’ The Scotsman, 1910. Newspaper article reporting a fire at the Thistle Brewery in Alloa. https://search-proquest-com.nls.idm.oclc.org/hnpscotsman/docview/488841749/16AEDDF9E29C438EPQ/4?accountid=12801

Alloa Adverts, 1939. Cinema adverts for various commercial establishments in the Alloa area including the County Laundry, Logie & Co. (ladies’ wear), S.D. Cargill (newsagents) and the Royal Oak Hotel. https://movingimage-onsite.nls.uk/film/0865

A person

John Erskine, 6th earl of Mar (1675-1732), nicknamed ‘Bobbing John,’ was born in Alloa.  My Lord, I met the King at Tetteresso Tuesday was sennight, where he stay’d till Fryday… Erskine’s account of meeting Charles Edward Stuart, 1716. http://find.gale.com/ecco/retrieve.do?sort=Author&inPS=true&prodId=ECCO&userGroupName=nlibscot&tabID=T001&bookId=1108001400&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchId=R1&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm&contentSet=ECCOArticles&showLOI=&docId=CW3306000414&docLevel=FASCIMILE&workId=CW106000414&relevancePageBatch=CW106000414&retrieveFormat=MULTIPAGE_DOCUMENT&callistoContentSet=ECLL&docPage=article&hilite=y

Paper on the Mar Peerage. Read before the Alloa Society of Natural Science and Archaeology by Rev. Arthur Hallen, 1875. https://digital.nls.uk/histories-of-scottish-families/archive/94943818#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=8&xywh=2229%2C984%2C2922%2C2402 

Portrait of John Erskine [from The Jacobite prints and broadsides online collection]: https://digital.nls.uk/jacobite-prints-and-broadsides/archive/75240401#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=552&xywh=-172%2C-200%2C2842%2C3982 

A song or piece of music: 

Variety Momentscirca 1935-1940  https://movingimage-onsite.nls.uk/film/0581  

‘Alloa House’ in Dale’s Collection of Sixty Favourite Scotch Songs1794. [From the Glen Collection of printed music] https://digital.nls.uk/special-collections-of-printed-music/archive/105808854  

Mythical Creatures: 

Sifan – a sea monster similar to the Loch Ness Monster. A “Monster” Near Alloa. Article in The Scotsman by Stuart R. Bruce, 1938. https://search.proquest.com/hnpscotsman/docview/490162217/5451658524504F8FPQ/129?accountid=12801  

Manannán mac Lir – shape shifting deity of the sea from which Clackmannanshire gets its name, sometimes depicted as a horse. Visit the library to find out more from The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore by Patricia Monaghan, 2004.  https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/sbbkgr/44NLS_ALMA21581208900004341

A Photograph: 

Ordnance Survey: AirPhoto Mosaics of Scotland, 1944-1950. Sheet NS 89 S.E.  (Clackmannanshire). https://maps.nls.uk/view/75221403  

Something about the county town: 

The Alloa illustrated family almanac, district directory and general register for the county of Clackmannan, 1887.   https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/sbbkgr/44NLS_ALMA21447376650004341

A small place: 

Town of Dollar – Parliamentary Papers concerning the management of endowments for Dollar Academy, 1958. https://parlipapers.proquest.com/parlipapers/result/pqpdocumentview?accountid=12801&groupid=100088&pgId=eb63eb47-60c0-42c5-aefe-cbb4f2f3d2b1 

Further reading: 

The Clackmannanshire advertiser and Alloa journal of news, politics, literature, and local occurrences, 1851-1859. Local newspaper. https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/50dplo/44NLS_ALMA21516668520004341

Alloa Tower and the Erskines of Mar by A. S. Bailey, 1996. https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/sbbkgr/44NLS_ALMA21472640560004341

Our war: Clackmannanshire & Stirlingshire during the Second World War. Contributions from Clackmannanshire Council, Museum and Heritage Service, Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, 2006. https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/sbbkgr/44NLS_ALMA21472640560004341