Walter Scott’s Fair City Trail


Walter Scott’s Fair City Trail is a historical walk through the city of Perth. Inspired by Sir Walter Scott’s 1828 Waverley novel The Fair Maid of Perth, the trail incorporates the medieval streets, landmarks and places of interest featured in the novel.

The trail will be available as a printed publication and online with an interactive map and audio guide.

Some of the features/stopping points will include:

Albert Close:

Albert Close is an old passageway that runs between George Street and Skinnergate named after the Albert Inn (part of which sat over the close that ran to Skinnergate) itself associated with the nearby statue of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha (the Prince Consort – spouse of Queen Victoria). A plaque fixed to the wall that stands within Albert Close describes the wall as being a portion of old city wall. This is unlikely: the town council demolished the city gates in 1764 and two years later removed the last section of the above ground city wall. It is more likely that the foundations of the wall in Albert Close formed part of the original medieval city wall.

Atholl Street:

The first performance in Scotland of a dramatisation of The Fair Maid of Perth was that of C. Bass, lessee of the Theatre Royal, Atholl Street. The play ran for nine nights (with a break after the first five) starting on Tuesday 23 September 1828. It is recorded that a capacity crowd attended the opening night of the play, which was deemed a rip-roaring success. Attempting to see the play, a small boy who clambered onto the roof of the theatre ended up putting his foot through the ceiling’s plaster work. Despite the commotion caused by this accident, the play went ahead. Built by public subscription, the Theatre Royal opened its doors in August 1820 and closed in 1845. The Italian violin virtuoso Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840) performed at the theatre in 1831. The Theatre Royal building is today occupied by Deans@Lets Eat restaurant. A notable feature of Bass’s production was the costume used by the actor Macgregor in his role of Oliver Proudfute. The Glover Incorporation of Perth having taken a keen interest in the play, lent the theatre a sword-dance dress identical to that used in a version of the hilt-and-point dance performed (on a special stage set upon the River Tay) before Charles I during his trip to Scotland in 1633 to receive the Crown of Scotland. Perth Museum & Art Gallery is today home to that costume. Made of fawn-coloured silk, the tunic is decorated with trappings of red and green satin and 252 small circular bells arranged into 21 sets of twelve bells mounted on leather strips made to affix to various parts of the dancer’s body. The costume has been used for royal visitations including the visit of Queen Victoria to Perth in 1842 and the marriage of the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra in 1863. The Convenor’s Court of Perth attended the play during its first run, followed by the leadership of the other Perth incorporations.

The Convenor’s Court, in existence from at least 1365 was a forum for the Perth incorporations through which matters of trade and town governance could be discussed. Whilst the Theatre Royal production opened a mere four months after the publication of The Fair Maid of Perth, it was not the first dramatisation of the novel. Six weeks after coming into print (23 June 1828), The Fair Maid of Perth was performed at the Royal Coburg Theatre, London. (The Royal Coburg Theatre is today known as the Old Vic.) A modern memorial on Atholl Street acknowledges the Battle of the Clans (see North Inch).

Baxter’s Vennel:

Baxter’s Vennel is one of the six Church vennels that led to the medieval St John’s Kirk. The Baker Incorporation of Perth, in operation from at least 1600, maintained their hall in the vennel. Members of the incorporation were required to use the mills of Perth for the grinding of grain. This form of servitude (thirlage) ensured the continued existence of mills within the city. A number of granaries were built close to the mills by the incorporation in the late eighteenth century. (Baxter is an obsolete term for a baker.)

Blackfriars Street:

A plaque on the corner of Blackfriars Street and Atholl Street recalls the history of the Dominican friary that once stood nearby:

‘Near to this spot stood the Blackfriars Monastery founded in 1231 by King Alexander II. From the Monastery gardens, King Robert III viewed the Battle of the Clans fought on the North Inch in 1396. King James I of Scotland (1394-1437) was murdered within the Monastery on 20th February 1437.’

Considered the most important of Perth’s religious houses, the Dominican friary (dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St Dominic), which had been the seat of parliaments and home to the Scottish sovereigns passed away in 1559. (The Order of St Dominic (Friars Preachers or Black Friars) was founded in 1215.) Surrounding the friary on all sides were gardens extending to the North Inch and encompassing what today is now occupied by the Georgian new town developments of Atholl Crescent, Atholl Place, Blackfriars Street, and Rose Terrace. From the balconies of a summerhouse known as the ‘Gilten Arbour’, which stood within the friary gardens, King Robert III watched the Battle of the Clans. The ‘Gilten Arbour’ has been described as being richly decorated in allegorical and astronomical gilt designs symbolising the seasons, the various virtues and vices, and the signs of the Zodiac. Plans existed in 1837 to restore what remained of the friary garden, but did not come to fruition. Before the establishment of the friary, the most important building in this area had been the castle of Perth frequently used by the Scottish monarchy. Washed away by floods c1210, the ruins of the castle remained in situ for many years.

Canal Street:

At the eastern end of Canal Street lies Greyfriars Burial Ground encompassing land that formed part of the Observant Franciscan friary (dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St Francis) established by Laurence 1st Lord Oliphant (d1500) in 1460. The Franciscans (Friars Minor or Grey Friars) maintained their friary in Perth until its destruction during the Protestant Reformation. After the burial grounds around St John’s Kirk reached capacity, Greyfriars became the principal cemetery for Perth (1580-1849). It has been suggested that Sir Water Scott sourced names for The Fair Maid of Perth from gravestones within the cemetery. During the English Civil Wars/Wars of the Three Kingdoms of the mid seventeenth century Perth was occupied by the army of Oliver Cromwell (1651-2) and the burial ground was ransacked to provide building materials for the construction of a large military citadel. The citadel, destroyed a few years after its construction, was built on land now occupied by the South Inch car park.

Castle Gable:

Many of the properties that once stood in the Castle Gable area (north of the Skinnergate) were demolished as part of slum clearances. The land later used for the construction of Perth Museum & Art Gallery. It is at a house in Castle Gable that the apothecary Henbane Dwinning practised his healing arts.

Curfew Row:

Curfew Row developed as a suburb associated with tanning and malting outside the city defences at a time not much earlier than Scott’s setting of The Fair Maid of Perth – the first known suburb of any Scottish town or city. Archaeological excavations in 1999 unearthed tanning tanks and ovens. Curfew Row is likely to have been more expansive than its current 75 metre length and included the dwellings of many glovers, the Skinners’ Yards, and access to the substantial lands beyond the city walls owned by The Glover Incorporation of Perth. The popular explanation for the street’s name claims that it is derived from the custom of sounding a curfew in its proximity to secure the city gates at night. No evidence has been found to confirm this story and it has been suggested by a local historian that given that the existence of a curfew bell at St John’s Kirk, another one in proximity would seem unlikely. Indeed, Scott himself provides some evidence of this:

‘In the mean time the bell of St John’s church alarmed, amongst others, the inhabitants of Curfew Street.’

Curfew Row as such does not appear in Scott’s novel where there is mention of Curfew Street. It is not clear whether today’s Curfew Row is the Curfew Street of the novel.

Flesher’s Vennel:

Flesher’s Vennel which links South Street to South St John’s Place receives its designation from the former meat (later butter and meal) market constructed in front of St John’s Kirk and is associated with The Flesher Incorporation of Perth.

George Street:

Number 42 George Street is the headquarters of The Guildry Incorporation of Perth. In the medieval period, the incorporation maintained trading standards within the royal burgh and ensured that all merchants complied with guildry regulations. This included no sale of goods on Sunday nor hoarding food during times of famine. The first Dean of Guild was elected in the early fifteenth century to preside over the Guild Court, a mercantile body which dealt with disputes between traders and collected fines for breaches of the trading laws. The Dean was also responsible for implementing Acts of Parliament and other orders from central government as they affected the guilds. After 1560, the Guildry Incorporation gave active support to the minister at St John’s Kirk and contributed to the salary of the Church’s reader. They also paid a pension to their chaplain. Guildry members were expected to play an active role in church life and if they did not they were fined. Guildry pews. The first floor flat at 42 George Street is home to The Guildry Incorporation archives; guild courts are sometimes held there. The Dean of Guild Court later came to deal with matters of neighbourhood and gave power to the magistrates of the burgh to deal with housing issues.

Perth Museum & Art Gallery at the northern end of George Street is home to a number of acquisitions relating to Walter Scott. These include The Glover Incorporation of Perth sword-dance dress (see Atholl Street) as well as a bust of Walter Scott in his middle years. After the death of Scott (1832), the Perth Literary & Antiquarian Society of which Scott was a member held a dinner in his honour at the Royal George Hotel, George Street. At that dinner it was agreed to raise money by public subscription for the erection of a suitable memorial at Perth Museum: a white marble bust by the Edinburgh sculptor Sir John Steel R.S.A.

In the 1970s/1980s the former Palace Bar in George Street operated under the name Hal o’ the Wynd.

High Street: Medieval Perth maintained two principal streets: the North High Street (today simply known as the High Street) and the South High Street (modern day South Street). The similarity of name causes some confusion in The Fair Maid of Perth. North High Street ended at the North Shore Harbour with its merchant quays by the River Tay and provided access to many of the Burgh of Perth’s key administrative buildings and functions: the Perth Chambers, the burgh strongroom with its seal, records, and charters, and the city’s pillory and Mercat Cross. Destroyed by Cromwellian troops during their occupation of Perth in 1651-2, the original Mercat Cross (possibly a small chapel like construction) sat sandwiched between the Kirkgate (to its south) and the Skinnergate (to its north). By 1669 the cross had been replaced by one designed by Robert Mylne (Master Mason to the Crown of Scotland) and erected in honour of the coronation of King Charles II (1630-1685). In 1765 it became necessary to remove the Mercat Cross to facilitate the flow of traffic along the High Street. The position of the Mercat Cross is today marked by a circular figure on the pedestrianised street. A fortified gate, the East Port, guarded the entrance to the High Street and access to the timber bridge across the River Tay. The bridge is recorded as swept away by floods in 1621. Close to the gate stood the Chapel of the Virgin (Our Lady’s Chapel) linked to the river by a flight of stairs known as Our Lady’s Stairs. In near proximity to the Perth & Kinross Council complex at the eastern end (south side) of the High Street (where it meets Tay Street) a circular marker in the middle of the carriageway indicates the location of the pillory stone, which was used for punishments in medieval Perth and as late as the end of the eighteenth century. The stone that formed of the pillar to which prisoners were attached by irons was removed in 1889 and past to the safekeeping of Perth Museum & Art Gallery (then the Literary & Antiquarian Museum).

On the opposite side of the High Street is the former Council Hall. The hall is decorated with seven stained-glass (painted) panels fronting the High Street depicting King Robert III, Simon Glover, Catharine Glover, Henry Gow, Lord Provost Sir Patrick Charteris, the Duke of Rothesay, and Louise the glee maiden. The three-light window comprising Catharine Glover, Simon Glover, and Henry Gow was presented by Lord Provost Charles Graham Sidey whose daughter Isabella (later Mrs W. G. H. Carmichael of Bon Accord, Glasgow Road) sat for the Fair Maid; the window comprising King Robert III and Sir Patrick Charteris was presented by Lord Provost Kirkwood Hewat; the window comprising the glee maiden and the Duke of Rothesay was presented by Lord Provost Thomas Richardson. The chamber also includes a stained-glass window illustrating Robert the Bruce defeating the English garrison at Perth in 1311. This window was presented by the Pullar family of Perth (owners of J. Pullar & Sons Limited, dyers and dry-cleaners) in memory of Lord Provost John Pullar. It is in Perth’s council hall that Scott has King Robert III take his conference with Albany, Douglas, March, Prior Anselm of the Dominicans, and Rothesay. Here on St Valentine’s Eve, the deadly feuding of Clan Chattan and Clan Quhele was considered and the plan to end the feud by chivalric combat was agreed.

A bronze statue by Graham Ibbetson (1992) of the Fair Maid of Perth sits at the eastern end of the pedestrianised High Street. A pub, the Rob Roy Inn, traded in the High Street decades past. At the western end of the High Street sits Perth Theatre where in September 1932 the company performed an adaptation of The Fair Maid of Perth by William S. Heggie as part of the city’s celebration of the centenary of the death of Walter Scott.

A public house known as the Hammermen Tavern traded in the High Street between 1907 and 1950. A painted stone plaque associated with the tavern bearing amongst other images a golden anvil is in the possession of Perth Museum & Art Gallery. Perth’s former Guild Hall is situated at Number 102-106 High Street and is commemorated by signage:

’The first Guild Hall was built when the ground was purchased in 1722. This hall lasted precariously until 1906, when the Management Committee of the day decided to demolish it and erect a new hall on the site. The foundation stone was laid in 1907 by reigning Dean of Guild James Barlas. The hall was officially opened on 29th August 1908 and it served as the focal point for all the Guild’s activities until 1988 when as a result of damage sustained during neighbouring building works the hall was beyond economic repair and it was sold for development.’

King Edward Street:

Edward VII memorial. In the roundels above are the insignia of the guilds that comprise Perth’s Guildry Incorporations: Wrights, Glovers, Weavers, Baxters, Cordiners, Hammermen, Fleshers and Tailors.The shaft of the cross is topped by a unicorn holding a shield, and carrying a bronze flagstaff and saltire.

King Street:

A begrimed and damaged freestone statue mounted on a square-plan stone plinth of 1845 is situated at the King Street (northern) entranceway to the South Inch. The grade C listed memorial was made by a local firm of mason sculptors – Cochrane Brothers – who were also responsible for the statue of Lord Provost Hay Marshall (Perth Museum & Art Gallery). John, James, and David Cochrane were Perth-born artisans who emigrated to Canada in the mid 1840s where they produced marble and stone sculptures of worth. The King Street statue depicts a toga swathed Sir Walter Scott standing by a broken column; his faithful deerhound Maida by his side. It is inscribed:

‘Sir Walter Scott Baronet, 1771-1832.’

The statue bought by Perth town council for £10 in 1845 stood at the River Tay (eastern) end of the High Street until its relocation to the South Inch in 1877.

Kinnoull Hill:

Kinnoull Hill (c222 metres above sea level) lies east of the River Tay close to the centre of Perth. The view from the hill’s summit takes in the River Tay and the Carse of Gowrie; a view that has been likened to that of the Rhine Valley. Scott has Father Clement and Catharine Glover employ Kinnoull Hill as a place for religious discussion and inspiration.

Meal Vennel:

Meal Vennel was a medieval north-south route way that linked South Street and High Street. The vennel received its designation from its association with an important store for oatmeal and other milled foodstuffs – Perth Meal Girnal – which stood at its northern end. With the construction of St John’s Shopping Centre (completed in 1988) the vennel found itself incorporated into this retail complex. Meal Vennel is home to Oliver Proudfute, Scott’s unfortunate bonnet maker who, mistaken for Henry Gow, is brutally murdered.

Mill Wynd and South Methven Street:

Mill Wynd originated as a medieval route way linking the High Street to the city’s mills. The modern street was laid out in the 1790s along the western boundary of medieval Perth. South Methven Street includes an access route (pend) to Mill Wynd. Here is a building used by Scott as the model for the house and workshop of Henry Gow (Hal o’ the Wynd). The former home and premises of Scott’s hero no longer exists. What remains is part of an early eighteenth century Flemish styled harled mansion altered during the development of the Clydesdale Bank branch that lies principally on South Methven Street. Today only the gable end of the mansion is visible. Number 26 South Methven Street was once the location of the Hal o’ the Wynd Bar, a public house adorned with a small statue of Henry Gow – an empty alcove now indicating its former presence. The Bee Bar is situated at Number 30 and the two bars were likely amalgamated.

North Inch:

In The Fair Maid of Perth, Scott immortalises an actual historical event recalled as the Battle of the Clans and about which very little is known for certain. The Exchequer Rolls of the time detail the expenditure for the construction of a stockade within which the judicial contest took place: expenditure of £14 2s 11d for ‘wood, iron, and making the enclosure for sixty persons fighting the Inch of Perth.’ Historical sources disagree as to the battle casualties some suggesting as few as seven survived, others eleven. In Scott’s novel, the battle, a resolution of a long-running feud under the right of judicial combat between Clan Chattan and Clan Quhele, takes place on Palm Sunday 28 September 1396 within an especially constructed wooden and iron stockade on the North Inch. Each clan elects 30 men plus a piper and a standard-bearer for each side to fight without quarter until one side is victorious. King Robert III and Queen Anabella Drummond (c. 1350-1401), view the fight from a nearby garden of the Dominican friary. Clan Chattan is victorious and only one man of Clan Quhele survives. He escapes by swimming across the River Tay. For many years, a bore stone believed to mark the site of the Battle of the Clans lay in the centre of the North Inch directly across from the Old Academy building in Rose Terrace. In all likelihood the bore stone was a flag base used for the standard of troops mustering or camped on the North Inch (in and after the later seventeenth century).

The Battle of the Clans is central to the plot of The Fair Maid of Perth, so much so that in an early draft of the novel Scott used the title, The North Inch of Perth. In 1932 as part of the centenary celebrations a reenactment of the Battle of the Clans was performed on the North Inch. Another reenactment of the battle took place in June 1949 during a Historical Pageant at Muirton Park, the cast comprising local drama groups and the fighters being supplied by soldiers from the Black Watch Regiment barracked in Perth.

North Port:

Situated in North Port on the corner of Blackfriars Wynd, the Fair Maid’s House is the oldest secular building in Perth. There has been a house on this site since at least as long ago as 1475, in which year it passed into the hands of John & Isabella Frew from the owners of the land, the Dominican friary. The area has long-time and close associations with The Glover Incorporation of Perth and the House bears, on a lintel, the motto of the Incorporation:

Grace and Peace’.

We do not know the precise date on which The Glover Incorporation of Perth acquired what became known as the Glovers’ Hall from the successors of the Frew family, but an examination of the relevant documents reveals that it was at some time between 1619 and 1622. There is some doubt whether the hall used by The Glover Incorporation for the next two centuries is the same building as that which existed in 1475. The likeliest explanation, supported by recent archaeological investigations, is that it had been at least partially reconstructed. In October 1758 the Glovers received an offer to buy it from Lord John Murray, who owned the adjacent property. The sale, however, did not take place; this was also the outcome of a further offer, in 1786, from a Mrs Miller. Although in 1786, The Glover Incorporation had built a new hall in George Street, the old hall remained in their ownership until, in May 1829, it was purchased by John Miller, a solicitor who had formerly been their Clerk. After passing, briefly, through the hands of James Condie, another solicitor, it was bought back by the Glovers in 1858 – probably because it had now been made famous by Scott’s novel. The house was, however, by then in very poor condition – a state from which it was rescued in 1890, when it was again sold, this time to William Japp of Alyth, a solicitor and the town’s Chief Magistrate. Japp set out to rebuild it, his reconstruction being intended to make the house resemble Scott’s fictional descriptions and included the enclosing of the original external staircase. In 1899 the final change of ownership took place when it was sold to the town council.

Throughout the twentieth century it was put to a wide variety of purposes until the 2010-11 redevelopment for the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS), which preserved the historic character of the house and, whilst introducing modern additions, ensured that the Fair Maid’s House has a long future. The RSGS development, which is open to visitors, takes in the adjacent Lord John Murray’s House. A plaque on that building recalls:

‘Site of Town House occupied from 1755 to 1787 by Lord John Murray, M.P. for Perthshire, 1734-81, and appointed General of H.M. Forces in 1770 A.D.’

In The Fair Maid of Perth the ground floor of the house is occupied by Simon Glover’s workshop, thefloor above the living quarters, and above that the loft where Conachar lived. At one time, a dirling pin, one of two still in existence in Scotland formed part of the handle of the entrance door to the stairway. It is now in safekeeping. Its former location can be seen on the door indicated by indentation and marking.

Perth Bridge and the River Tay:

The current bridge at the end of George Street – Perth Bridge/Smeaton’s Bridge – was built in 1771. An earlier bridge stood some 50 yards from the end of the High Street.

St Ann’s Lane:

On 22 June 1818, a dramatisation of Walter Scott’s novel Rob Roy was produced at the Old Grammar School Theatre in St Ann’s Lane just three months after its first ever production at Covent Garden Royal Theatre, London. The Old Grammar School Theatre operated from 1810 to 1819. St Ann’s Chapel and Hospital (dedicated to the mother of the Virgin Mary, St Anne) stood on the eastern side of the St Ann’s Lane. The chapel was destroyed by a mob in 1559; the hospital survived and continued to operate until 1586.

St John’s Place:

St John’s Kirk (by St John’s Place) is one of the earliest stone built churches in Scotland and the oldest building in Perth. Archaeological evidence suggests the presence of a church dedicated to St John the Baptist in Perth as early as the end of the tenth century. In 1126, King David I (1083-1153) granted the revenues of the church to the Benedictine Abbey of Dunfermline. St John’s Kirk is the resting place of the heart of King Alexander III (1241-1286) and played a central role in the early part of the Scottish Protestant Reformation. It was here on 11 May 1559 that the Protestant reformer John Knox preached his infamous sermon against idolatry that led to the smashing of the church’s altars and the destruction of Perth’s religious houses and monasteries. Scott locates the trial by ‘Bier Right,’ the attempt to find the murderer of the bonnet maker Oliver Proudfute, in St John’s Kirk. In attendance at the trial were King Robert III and his court.

St Leonard’s Bank:

St Leonard’s Bank received its name from the medieval priory that stood nearby. A plaque at the southern end of St Leonard’s Bank details the history of this religious house.

‘In this vicinity stood the Priory, Hospital & Chapel of St Leonard founded before 1296 – gifted by James I to the Prior and Convent of the Charterhouse in 1429 – suppressed in 1434.’

The remains of the priory lie below St Leonard’s Bridge under the railway sidings (just west of Platform 4). The priory’s lands took in Priory Place and ran up to the Craigie Burn. Archaeological finds in this area include human remains, a brooch enclosed in a full size stone cist, medieval pottery, and a portion of daub. Elizabeth Dunbar daughter of the Earl of March, who appears as a character in The Fair Maid of Perth was around the turn of the fourteenth century Prioress of St Leonard’s.

Scott Street:

Originally laid out in 1803, Scott Street, named after Sir Walter Scott, was constructed in thelater nineteenth century. The first section, from Canal Street to South Street dates from c1877; the corner block with South Street has a date plaque of 1889. In 1893-5 further work extended the street as New Scott Street to the High Street.

Skinnergate: Skinnergate was once home to the premises and homes of members of The Glover Incorporation of Perth whose craft practices gave the street its name.

South Street:

South Street was the second main street of medieval Perth. Several narrow vennels maintain communication between High Street and South Street. The street was known in the medieval period as the Shoe Gait after the shoemakers’ market held there on a Friday.

Watergate:

Watergate is the oldest street in Perth being the site of the city’s earliest settlements. For many centuries Watergate was one of the principal thoroughfares of the city. It linked St John’s Kirk, the High Street, and South Street. Its name originally, Water Gait, is derived from its proximity to the River Tay. Until the turn of the sixteenth century the city’s nobility and wealthy merchants had their homes here. Today the earliest surviving buildings date from the eighteenth century. Brennan’s Bar (the main entrance of which lies in St John Street) was known in the mid to later nineteenth century as the Sir Walter Scott Tavern. The hereditary Lord High Constable and Knight Marischal of Scotland (the Earl of Errol), employed as a character by Scott in The Fair Maid of Perth had his home on the western side of the southern end of the Watergate. Number 23 Watergate features the ornamental Wrights’ Door, a gift to The Wright Incorporation from the Masons’ Guild that once used the hall. A number of pieces of furniture belonging to The Wright Incorporation are housed in Perth Museum & Art Gallery. The Jacobite Army of Prince Charles Edward Stuart used the Wright’s Hall as a hospital during their occupations of Perth in the 1745-6 rising.

York Place: Perth & Kinross Council Archive at the AK Bell Library, York Place is home to several acquisitions associated with The Fair Maid of Perth. These include materials relating to theatrical productions of The Fair Maid of Perth by William C. Heggie (1932) and Ian Watt Smith (1967) – both performed at Perth Theatre. Opposite the library (on the corner of Caledonian Road) stands the former Waverley Hotel. John Buchan, writer, politician, soldier, and WW1 intelligence officer was born at 20 York Place, the then Manse of the Knox Free Church, South Street on 26 August 1875. There is a commemorative plaque on the front of this villa that acknowledges Buchan’s elevation to Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfield in the County of Oxford before his appointment as the thirty-fifth Governor General of Canada. Buchan admired Walter Scott and there are many elements of commonality between the two writers, the most important of which is the drawing upon the Scottish landscape as the backdrop for their storytelling. As a writer, Buchan penned more than a hundred books. It is for the still popular The Thirty-nine Steps and Greenmantle that Buchan is best remembered. Buchan wrote three books on Scott: Some Notes on Sir Walter Scott (1924); The Man and the Book: Sir Walter Scott (1925); and a biography published at the centenary of Scott’s death, Sir Walter Scott 1771-1832 (1932). ‘

The centenary of the death of Sir Walter Scott is my excuse for the recutting of some of the lines of Lockhart’s imperishable memorial, and for an attempt at a valuation of the man and his work after a lapse of a hundred years. It is a book which I was bound one day or other to write, for I have had the fortune to be born and bred under the shadow of the great tradition.’

John Buchan, Preface to ‘Sir Walter Scott 1771-1832’.

On 29 September 1933, John Buchan was made a Freeman of the city of Perth. At the award ceremony in Perth City Hall, Buchan spoke both of his affection for the town of his birth and for Walter Scott’s description of the medieval burgh.

‘I am one of yourselves … My notion of Perth was drawn wholly from Sir Walter Scott, and it seemed to me a magical place which must confer a unique distinction upon its natives.’

Learn more about Walter Scott’s Fair City: