An ancient burgh, situated in the valley of the Allan Water 6 miles (9.5 km) north of Stirling, Dunblane is said to have been founded in 602 AD by the Celtic missionary St. Blane who lived on the Dun, or hill fort, behind the town. After St. Blane's death in 640 AD, Dunblane became a stronghold of the old Celtic church whose clergy began to build the cathedral tower that forms the lower storeys of the building erected much later in the 13th century.
The town developed at a crossing on the Allan Water, reaching a peak of prosperity in 1500 when King James IV gave it the status of a city. After the Reformation landowners took back land that had been held by the church and starved of funds the cathedral became ruinous. At the same time, the town declined to the level of a weaving village. During the 19th century Dunblane's fortunes were revived when it became a noted tourist resort and between 1889 and 1893 the cathedral was renovated.
The Cathedral Museum which houses religious relics and the Leighton Library, was founded by Robert Leighton, Bishop of Dunblane (1611-84), and is the oldest private library in Scotland. The Darn Walk (Daurinn or Water Road), a riverside walk, links Dunblane with Bridge of Allan and a walk in the opposite direction extends to the Laighills Park. Ochlochy Park, a former common grazing to the east of the Perth Road, was gifted to Dunblane in 1942. In 1996, the country was shocked when sixteen children and their teacher were gunned down in Dunblane Primary School.
In addition to craft trades the town has sporting facilities that include tennis, squash, bowling, fishing, riding and an 18-hole golf course. Born in Dunblane were architect James Gillespie Graham (1776 - 1855) and tennis star Sir Andrew Murray (b.1987), whose gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics is commemorated by a gold-painted pillar box on Dunblane High Street.