Search The Best Scottish Search Engine

Custom Search

Best Scottish Ancestry Research

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Best Scottish Tours Doune

The quaint little village of Doune has two claims to fame. The first is Doune Castle, probably the best preserved and best restored example of 14th century fortification in Scotland. The huge castle dominates the surrounding area from a defensive knoll above the River Teith. It has been a seat of the Stewart earls of Moray for nearly 400 years. At that time Doune township was huddled close by the castle walls. It was created a burgh in 1611 when a mercat cross was erected. A new, well-planned village was built later to the west and the cross moved to its present site in the main street about 1720.

In time Doune became a bustling market town, for it lay at the intersection of the two great droving routes from Glasgow to Inverness and Edinburgh to Fort William. The streets were filled with fierce Highlanders eager to buy shoes, sporrans and firearms, and from the latter trade comes Doune's other claim to fame.

A certain Thomas Caddell arrived here in 1646 and set up business as a gunsmith. He collected iron horseshoe nails after discovering that constant use converted them into steel. He beat handfuls of these nails into a metal plug. From this he produced a long steel ribbon, which was formed into a barrel and then into stock. The end result was a uniquely Scottish, all steel pistol some fourteen inches long that flowed in perfect symmetry from a ram's head butt to the slight flaring of the muzzle. The profuse embellishment of Caddell's pistols is a curious mixture of Oriental and Celtic design. The weapons were deadly accurate and made in pairs, without trigger guards, for the quick-tempered Highlanders, and were designed to take varying sizes of flint. Their fame spread, and high quality pistols with inlaid gold and silverwork were ordered by the nobility. The Dis-arming Act of 1747 forced the Doune gunsmiths, descended from Caddell's family and apprentices, to seek new markets on the Continent: their craftsmanship now reached its highest peak. A pair of engraved Doune pistols became the ultimate gift one monarch could give another. The finest pair of pistols, gold-inlaid and virtually priceless, is in the Armoury of Windsor Castle. It was a Doune pistol, sold to a Major Pitcairn, that reputedly fired the first shot in the American War of Independence. Pistol-making in Doune died out in 1798 because of the mass production of Birmingham imitations. Generations of pistol-makers lie buried in the ancient churchyard of Kilmadock to the west of the town. Best Scottish Tours of Doune.

No comments: