Errol is a village which stands on a slight hill in the Carse of Gowrie, the low lying plain between the River Tay to the south and the Sidlaw Hills to the north. It is, after Longforgan, the second largest village in the Carse and stands almost mid way between Perth and Dundee.
Today's Errol is a remarkably pretty village. The highest point of its main street is at its south western end, and from here it descends crookedly and charmingly to the north east. Near the upper end of the street it broadens out to form The Cross, whose focal point is a fountain erected in 1899 to belatedly celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
The upper part of the fountain takes the form of a traditional mercat cross, and seems to refer to a story, apparently untrue, that Errol was made a burgh by King William I and so empowered to display a mercat cross and hold markets.
As the High Street descends in a series of curves, the buildings which line it are either grey and white harled or made of brick. The use, unusual in Scotland, of brick is because of the brickworks which operated at Incoonans, a mile north west of Errol, from the 1870s until it closed in 2008. A number of the buildings in the High Street have walls made of clay: also unusual and also because of the clay deposits in the area.
About mid way along the village on North Bank Dykes, which runs roughly parallel and to the north of the High Street, is Errol Parish Church. This was built between 1831 and 1833 by the architect James Gillespie Graham. The church was built on a grand scale and intended to seat 1,450 people. Its spiky tower dominates the surrounding low lying area and explains why the church is known as the Cathedral of the Carse. The site chosen for the church in 1830 was a new one. Its predecessor, built in 1765 and demolished when no longer needed, stood on the south side of the village on the site of the medieval church. The old churchyard still remains, and is home to a number of interesting gravestones and tombs. It also offers one of the few glimpses from the village of the River Tay, just over half a mile south east.
At the west end of Errol is Errol Park, a grand country house with a spectacular circular stable block. A mile to the north of Errol is Errol Station. Between 1847 and 1985 this was home to a railway station on the main Perth to Dundee. line. The line remains, but trains no longer stop and the old railway station is now a craft and coffee shop.
A mile to the east of the village is a disused airfield. RAF Errol opened in January 1943 with three runways in a triangular layout and six hangars. For the first year of its life it was used to train Soviet aircrew to fly aircraft they then ferried back to the Soviet Union, and it later continued to serve as a training base until its closure in 1948. Part of the airfield has since been turned into an industrial estate. Amongst the tenants is a company called Tayreed, who continue the ancient craft of harvesting reeds from the River Tay for use in thatched roofs.
Today's motorist driving from Perth to Dundee will probably use the dual carriageway A90, which passes nearly two miles to the north west of the village. This follows the line of the Carse of Gowrie turnpike road, first built in 1790. Until then travellers between Perth and Dundee used an older road which passed through Errol. The Carse Road, as it was known, gained a reputation as one of Scotland's most difficult and muddy coaching routes. Today the line of the old road through the Carse of Gowrie is followed by minor roads and makes a fascinating alternative to the A90.
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Errol In Fiction
The Danger of Life by Ken Lussey (10 May 2019).
It is late 1942. Bob Sutherland's first week in charge of Military Intelligence 11's operations in Scotland is not going smoothly.
An investigation into a murder at the Commando Basic Training Centre in the Highlands takes a dark turn that draws Bob in personally.
Bob visits Errol during his investigation.