Gargunnock lies at the foot of the Gargunnock Hills some six miles west of Stirling. It was built on land high enough to keep the village clear of the broad marshes of the Blairdrummond Moss which occupied the Forth Valley to the north through much of history.
Gargunnock was large enough to be chartered as a burgh in 1677, though few other details of its early life have survived. The oldest building in the area is the four storey tower house dating back to the late 1500s that lies at the heart of Gargunnock House, half a mile east of today's village.
The original tower house was greatly extended over the following centuries, and most of what is on view today dates back to these later extensions. Some say that the 1500s tower house incorporated parts of a still earlier castle. The earliest fortification in the area was the Gargunnock Peel (tower) which William Wallace captured from the English in about 1300. This stood on a site a few hundred yards north of Gargunnock House, adjacent to the confluence of the Gargunnock Burn and the River Forth.
Originally the old Stirling. to Dumbarton military road ran through the village, but around 1800 the steep Main Street gradient was bypassed by what is now known as Leckie Road. As a result the Main Street became the cul-de-sac it is today. And today's main road, the A811, now completely bypasses Gargunnock to the north.
Its centre is dominated by the village Square with a fine collection of buildings from the 1700s, two of which were once inns, with one later becoming a basket factory. The three storey Gargunnock Inn lies in the Main Street, a short distance away over the old bridge dating back to the 1600s.
On steeply rising ground on the east side of the burn is Gargunnock Parish Church, rebuilt in 1774 from a church erected in 1626, itself a replacement for an earlier ruinous structure. The church is a traditional T-plan kirk whose exterior stone walls would originally have been harled (rendered). External stairs are built against all three "arms" of the church to give access to internal galleries.
One external detail is fascinating. The east and west gables are topped off by decorative finials said to come from the earlier church. These are usually described as representing a cross on the east gable and a crescent on the west gable. Perhaps, but it has to be said that the finial on the west gable looks much more like a pair of horns than the crescent it is meant to represent: you can't help wondering whether the mason was paid less than promised and this was his way of getting even.
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