©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland


A town in the Clackmannanshire parish of Clackmannan, Clackmannan is situated to the north of the River Forth, 2 miles (3 km) southeast of Alloa. Dominated by its church and tower, the settlement lies on a ridge that rises out of the surrounding carse land. At the centre of the town stands the stone or 'Clack' that gives the place its name. Thought to have been sacred to the pre-Christian sea-god Mannan, the stone has been moved from its original site. Adjacent to the stone is the ancient Mercat Cross and a bell tower, all that remains of the Tolbooth built in 1592.

The parish church, said to have been founded in the 5th Century by St. Serf, was rebuilt to a design by James Gillespie Graham in 1815 and on the King's Seat Hill stands Clackmannan Tower which has a commanding view over the Forth Estuary. Occupying a strategic site, the fortified tower was built in the 12th century to serve as one of a number of royal residences for King Malcolm IV.

In the late 14th century the tower was given to the Bruces who built the present structure and extended it in the 16th and 17th centuries. In a later mansionhouse occupied by the Bruce family until 1791, but later demolished, Mrs Bruce of Clackmannan, the last laird's widow, is said to have 'knighted' Robert Burns in 1787 with the sword of King Robert the Bruce. Amongst other favoured guests, she is also said to have dubbed the lexicographer the Rev. John Jamieson, editor of the Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language. Clackmannan was the county town of Clackmannanshire until 1822 when it was superseded by the faster growing Alloa. The merchant and minor poet, William Burns (b.1825), was born in Clackmannan.

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