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The History of Stirlingshire
Chapter XV. Falkirk

That Falkirk is a town of some antiquity, as well as of historical note, cannot be doubted. Still, it is not unlike the "Reedham" referred to by Sarah Tytler in the "Huguenot Family" – an old-fashioned town, beautiful in its irregularity. In the High Street, every second house, or land, seems elbowing past its neighbour, and "birzing yont" to get a commanding situation.

During the reign of James III., the place was, for some time, occupied by the army of the discontented lords who had risen in rebellion against that monarch. His majesty intended to have attacked them here, or further east. They anticipated his purpose, however; and met him at Sauchieburn, where the conflict resulted in his defeat and death.

At Falkirk, the Solemn League and Covenant was subscribed with much solemnity. Relative to this measure, there is the following entry in the records of the kirk-session. "October 31st, 1643. It is ordained that on Sunday, when the Covenant shall be subscribed, the persons following shall attend the several parts of the kirk, viz.: - To attend the north aisle, Wastquarter and Patrick Grindlay; to attend the wast end of the kirk, John Monteath and John Wyse; to attend the east end, Walter Scott and Patrick Guidlat; to attend the wast loft, Alexander Watt and Hew Hall; to attend the east loft, Robert Burn and Patrick Guidlat."

The plague which broke out in Scotland, in 1645, raged with great virulence in this locality, and was supposed to have been introduced from Edinburgh. Those infected were confined to their houses by command of the kirk-session, and were not allowed to have any intercourse with their neighbours. The dead were buried in Graham’s Muir, each grave being covered with a flat stone, and the whole enclosed by a wall.

In 1600, Falkirk was created a burgh of barony; and in 1646, in the reign of Charles I., a burgh of regality – these charters being still on record. The boundaries thus fixed, were, however, indefinite; but the ancient burgh extended about 400 yards to the north of the present steeple; 350 yards to the south, 540 to the east; and 550 to the west.

The origin of burghs belongs entirely to the Romans. These municipal institutions were introduced by Numa, who, upon his accession, divided the rival factions of Sabines and Romans into various small societies, consisting of every profession and trade. Towards the close of the seventh century, the most important of the Italian cities united in a close and compact body, and formed themselves into communities to be ruled by magistrates of their own choosing. Ere long, the innovation found its way into France. Louis de Gros was the first in the front of this reform. He not only enfranchised the inhabitants of his own domain, and abolished all servitudes; but like wise constituted the people into guilds and corporations, to be governed by their own councillors. The great barons followed the example of their monarchs. In the course of a few years the practice was universal in France, and, spreading into Germany, was successively adopted in Spain, England, and Scotland. No doubt the great alterations which the Continental cities, in their internal government, underwent in those times, led to a re-modelling of our Scotch towns. In fact, the charters to our old Burghs are all dated about that period, and differ triflingly from those which passed abroad. Our town council corresponds exactly with their senate. Their consul is our provost; their praetors our bailies; their edile, our dean of guild; and their decurions, our councillors. From some of our old statues, we find that the term burgh was known in this country as far back as the beginning of the eleventh century; but the Leges Burgorum, or burgh laws, written or collected by a private lawyer, at the request of David I., were the constitution of the ancient burghs of Scotland. And here are a few specimens of their enactments and regulations: - That the magistrates and council in every burgh be not continued longer than a year; the old council to choose the new. Magistrates must be substantial burgesses, merchants, and indwellers within the burgh; and the best and worthiest inhabitants of the town. No stranger to continue in burgh above twenty-four hours. Provost and bailies to regulate what is taken by the innkeepers from travellers. Burgesses not keeping inns restrained from entertaining travellers, and travellers ordained to lodge in inns only, and not with their friends or acquaintances." These are random extracts, but from such samples the reader may form an idea of the stock.

The site of the High Street was feued out of the "Terrae de Fawkirc," by Lord Livingstone, to fifteen different proprietors, about the end of the fifteenth century, who began to build upon the rights they had acquired, and in a short time a new town arose, superior in extent, and in the style of its construction, to the old. On one of the original tenements being taken down, the date 1513 was discovered. The building was steep-roofed, and presented its notched gable to the street. In 1606, Sir Lewis Bellendean conveyed the lands of Falkirk to his brother-in-law, Alexander, seventh Lord Livingstone, who possessed the barony of Callendar; and ultimately, in keeping with the "lordship," we read that no person durst prosecute any calling in the town unless he had previously obtained leave from the lord of the manor, who granted him a sort of feudal charter, expede under his signature, and the sign and subscription manual of the clerk of the court of regality, which was called a burgess ticket.

There are different opinions as to the etymology of Falkirk. M. Bloeu writes: - "Falkirk prend so nom de sa situation esleve, car fal ou fil signifie un lieu eminent du mot grec phalos, templum; et kerk on kirk, que veut dire un circle, de grec kerkos; car ces anciens temples de Dieu estoient rond:" which shows he believed that Falkirk was derived from the Greek words "phalos" and "kerkos," alleging that fall or fell, signifying a lofty place, is derived from the former Greek word, "qui idem significat:" and kerk or kirk from the latter, which signifies circular, because the most ancient temples of the gods were round. Mr. Pinkerton thinks it Gothic, and in a list of analogous names in the various countries which have formerly been possessed by Goths, he finds Falkirk, and Falkenan, in Livonia, derived from the same source. Others supposed that it may have been derived from the Latin word "vallum," a wall, and the Saxon word "kirk." The etymology given by Bloeu has been described as fantastical. Pinkerton’s seems to be too far-fetched; and as regards the "vallum" and "kirk," we could hardly expect that the name would be a mixture of Latin and Saxon. With as great propriety we might say that Fal was derived from "val," part of the Pictish word "Penval" – the name given by the Picts to the eastern termination of the Vallum of Antoninus. But while we are not prepared to stand to any etymon in particular, the most plausible of the many derivations of the name is "Eglais bhreac," or the spotted church. It was so called in Gaelic; also "Eccles brae," the church on the brow, and "Eglais bhris," the broken church; or, to put the latter word properly, "Eglaise bhriade." It is stated in the Encyclopaedia Britannica that its original name was "Eglish-breckk," which signifies the speckled church. Buchanan translated it into Latin – "Varium Sacellum;" and in a charter dated 1240 the church is called "Ecclesia de Egillisbrek quae varia capella dicitur."

The early management of the town’s affairs was chiefly in connection with water and cleansing, and these matters were in the hands of a body called "Stint-masters," twenty-eight in number, for considerably over a century prior to 1859, when it was superseded by commissioners of police. That former body assessed the inhabitants annually in about 200 pounds, according to a rude method of guessing at the "means and substance" of the ratepayers. Another corporation, which has probably existed from the beginning of the sixteenth century, is the feuars, succeeding representatives of the fifteen from Lord Livingstone, and who still, through a committee annually elected, manage the property which attached to the original feus, now split up into small lots. Their yearly income is devoted to general purposes for the benefit of the town.

It was a period marked with extreme party spirit, while the Police and Improvements Bill lay at the mercy of public opinion. On Friday, 1st November, 1850, a considerable crowd of people met in the court-room, Bank Street, for the purpose of passing various resolutions condemnatory of the Act. One of these was to the following effect: - "That the Act 13 and 14 Vic., cap. 33, entituled an Act to make more effectual provision for regulating the police of towns and populous places in Scotland, and for paving, draining, cleansing, lighting, and improving the same, is unsuited to the parliamentary burgh of Falkirk, and if put in execution here would prove arbitrary and oppressive, and weigh heavy pecuniarily on the public; and that, moreover, it is calculated to create much local jealousy and expensive litigation, and therefore it ought to be condemned and rejected, and not adopted by the burgh of Falkirk." An hour prior to the meeting, a large body of workmen marched in procession through the streets to the music of a couple of instrumental bands, carrying at the same time banners and flags with certain stirring watchwords inscribed thereon: - "Taxation without representation is tyranny, and ought to be resisted." "No vote, no tax." "Let the Whigs of 1850 fulfil their promise of 1830." "The proletarians are determined to be free." "We will only support those who will support us in rejecting the Police Bill." When the polling day came, however, the friends of the Act mustered in now stinted style, far outnumbering its opponents; and it must be admitted that in the hands of intelligent and disinterested commissioners it has done good work, at least as a sanitary reformer. Mr. Thomas Kier, of Linns, was returned Provost under the new regime, and filled that office till November, 1867, when Mr. John Russel, of Mayfield, was elected in his stead, and who, in his turn, occupied the position till November, 1879, when he was succeeded by the present chief magistrate, Mr. Malcolm Cockburn. Under Mr. Russel’s guidance an immense stride was made in various improvements in and around Falkirk affecting the roads, drainage, and water supply. In recognition of these good services to his native town, that gentleman was entertained to a public dinner in 1877, and presented, at the same time, with a magnificent dessert service, to which there had been nearly one thousand subscribers.

We also go back directly upon the history of the political contests in connection with the Falkirk District of Burghs. In December, 1832 – the first parliamentary session after the passing of the Reform Bill – Gillon of Wallhouse and Murray of Dunmore were the competing candidates; when the former was placed at the head of the poll by a majority of 153. Then, in 1841, Mr. William Baird of Gartsherrie opposed Mr. Gillon, and was victoriously returned by a majority of 51. In 1846, Lincoln and Wilson were in the field; when the former, a man of decided intellectual mark and senatorial accomplishments, was elected by a majority of 11. In 1851, the candidates were Baird and Loch; when the former won the day without a struggle, and kept his place until 1857, when he was unseated by the late Mr. James Merry. At the following general election, Mr. Merry, however, was somewhat dangerously opposed by Sir Frederick Halliday, who, hailing from the Carlton Club, had been a member of the Supreme Court of India, and more recently Deputy-Governor of Bengal. In his electoral address, Sir Frederick certainly showed himself capable of grasping an idea – a man of undoubted earnestness and practical insight. The present member for the burghs is Mr. John Ramsay of Kildalton, and for the county Mr. J.C. Bolton of Carbrook, both of whom are Liberals.

With a prosperous state of trade, the local population here, for the last decade, has been greatly on the increase. In 1750, the population of the whole parish was 3,875. By 1830, the numbers were 12,649. In 1832, the boundaries of the burgh were considerably extended and definitely determined by the Reform Act, at which period its inhabitants numbered about 8,500. At the last census, in 1871, the population of the parliamentary burgh itself was 9,547, and on the lowest calculation it must now be over 12,000. In 1873-4, the valuation of the burgh was only 23,487 pounds, and in 1876-7, it had increased to 29,811 pounds – the half of which increase was in the immediately preceding year; but so briskly have building operations been carried on, during the last twelve months or more, that an additional increase of 3000 pounds may be confidently expected in the valuation roll. As a further example of the importance which Falkirk is obtaining, it may be mentioned that the Excise Department of London and Edinburgh have lately transferred the Excise Office from Linlithgow to this town. Premises, with suitable accommodation, have been taken in Bank Street; and there can be no doubt that the removal westwards will be found more central and convenient, both by the public and the Revenue. The present turn-over per annum is considerably beyond half-a-million.

On account of the influx of population, the demand for dwelling-houses has recently far exceeded the supply; and, had it not been for the operations of local building societies, serious evils must have resulted from overcrowding. One society, consisting almost entirely of the operative class, has been the means of forming three new streets off Graham’s Road, where most of the houses are semi-detached cottages with gardens, and are the property of the members. Another private building company has conferred a great boon on the town by feuing a field which was formerly the parish church glebe, and erecting upon it houses and shops of a superior sort. The small estate of Forganhall, too, was lately bought for 3,810 pounds, the intention of the purchaser being to feu out the property in lots suitable for workmen’s dwellings. But the most striking of recent buildings for domestic life are to be seen southwards. The Arnothill is already almost covered with villas and cottages. One of these latter – designed, along with several others, by a young local architect – deserves special notice. From its mansured roof, what would simply be an attic with a part of the ceiling sloping on each side, is in this structure a fine square room about ten feet high. This result is obtained by the roof being raised at a gentle angle to a height of about eleven feet, when it becomes a flat square surface, and is surrounded with an ornamental cresting. Another novelty in connection with Mr. Roberts’ houses is the introduction of electric bells. Two palatial buildings have also been erected here from plans by Mr. T.B. M’Fadzean of Edinburgh, one of which is the property of Mr. Melville. Further west the hill lies Mayfield, which, with its grounds sloping south and sparkling aquarium, looks quite tropical. Here the eye is utterly bewildered with the emerald beauty of the velvety sward and the brilliant blooms of the surrounding slopes and parterres. Trees, shrubs, and flowers of the most varied kind, and drawn from remote regions of the globe, are grouped so as to yield the largest amount of pleasure to the eye. In his conservatory, Mr. Russel has also a rare assortment of cordylines, maratas, orchids, dracoenas, and tree ferns. One of these latter, the Assophila australis, has already reached a height of fully thirty feet. In out-of-the-way corners are likewise seen beautiful sedums and saxifrages, forming a lovely setting for the larger growing varieties of Exhinocactus and Echeverias, which the gardener has dotted and massed, as the habit of the plant suggested, with an effect altogether indescribable.

But there are several other elegant mansions and villas lying serenely in the back-ground. In Arnotdale, many handsome shrubs and trees are again artistically set throughout the grounds. These include the golden yew, the delicate Wellingtonia, the weeping gean, with its drooping foliage and snow-white blooms; the gorgeous rhododendron plant, and the golden-tressed laburnum. On the south lawn, however, there is, perhaps rarest of all, an old Scotch yew, which was transplanted into the Arnotdale grounds from Mungalhead, some sixteen years ago. Kilns, the residence of Mr. John Gair, is another very handsome house, with is charming frontage of sward; and in the pride of the rose and rhododendron seasons, its terraces revel in a perfect blaze of bloom. Bantaskine, too, has its own peculiar attractions. Delightful is the walk along the avenue to the mansion. Among the ornamental trees, thick and umbrageous, are magnificent specimens of the chestnut, plane, and larch. Three years ago, this old estate, than which a finer, for its extent, lies not within the bounds of Scotland, was purchased from General Haggart by Mr. Alexander M’Lean of Glasgow; but, last year, it became the property of Provost Wilson of Govan. Near the house – externally a plain, yet substantial edifice – there is an old yew, which measures 70 yards in circumference. South Bankastine, which belongs to Mr. John Wilson, is a picturesque estate, splendidly situated about 600 feet above the level of the sea, and now quite hid by the trees of the intervening dell. The view got from the handsome tower of the mansion is surpassingly grand, embracing, as it does, the whole of the historic and magnificent basin which stretches beyond the Forth to the Ochils. Outside the immediate foreground, in which Falkirk smokes serenely, we have Grangemouth, with its airy array of masts; Carron ironworks, blazing high and bauld; Larbert viaduct, kirk, and village; and to the west, the Campsie and Denny hills, now mottled with the gay and innocent riot of sunshine and shadow. The Ochils, majestically girdling all, and striped even in midsummer with "Lady Alva’s Web," are also in the distance; with the kingly "Ben," towering with sun-kissed peak above Demyat, Ben-Cleugh, Ben-Ledi, and Ben-Voirlich.

Of late several important and imposing public buildings have been erected in the town. Passing, with a word, the National Bank and jail, two elegant establishments of the Scottish baronial order, there are the burgh buildings, which were begun in 1876. These offices are also Scottish baronial in style, and pains have been taken to produce a bold and effective exterior without any unnecessary ornament or lavish expenditure. A prominent feature of the erection is a mansard roof on the south-east tower, surmounted by a highly-ornamental cresting and terminals, with arched stays and flag-staff. The height to the top of the terminal is 60 feet; and the entire frontage, on New Market Street, 42 feet. The court-room is 36 feet long by 21 1/2 feet wide, and 19 feet high. On the other side of the passage is the council-room, 27 feet in length by 19 in breadth; and its principal window is a large oriel supported on a column. The amount of the contract was about 3,000 pounds. A sheriff-court was first opened here in 1834, for the parishes of Falkirk, Polmont, Muiravonside, Slamannan, Larbert, Bothkennar, and Airth.

Directly opposite the above buildings is the Town Hall – a reconstruction of the Corn Exchange, which was erected by the feuars in 1859. On 6th June, 1879, the memorial stone of this building was laid, with all the stir and show of a general holiday, by Mr. William H. Burns. It is in the Italian style of architecture, and measures in the interior 87 feet by 44 feet. Entrance is obtained from the east by a covered passage and spacious vestibule, in which are stairs leading to the galleries above. On either side of the vestibule are waiting rooms, with lavatories, &c. The principal entrance, however, is situated on the centre of the front elevation. The upper part of the hall measures 94 feet by 65 feet. The ceiling is divided in panels, with ornamental centre flower, and the roof supported on cast-iron columns. It is altogether a handsome and commodious building, and is seated for upwards of 1,600. The cost was over 5,000 pounds. Still the public have the use of the hall without one penny of debt, so far as the burgh is concerned. One reason for its erection was that in consequence of the town being under the Police Act, all necessary improvements are carried into effect by general assessment, and the feuars may be said to have no other outlet for expenditure of their funds.

In its schools, Falkirk is quite abreast of the age. The education afforded at the chief of these – where the accommodation is not less excellent than the teachers are efficient – is sound, liberal, and enlightened, and would do credit to towns with greater pretensions. Six years ago, the School Board of the burgh was called into existence under the Education Acts of 1872, and it has been of great service in providing sample means of instruction for the younger "bairns." The schools under this board are four in number, viz., the Southern, the Central, the Northern, and the Bainsford schools. Here the late Dr. David Middleton, chief of H.M. Inspectors of Schools for Scotland, held the position of classical master for several years. We are silent over the yet fresh grave of this large-hearted and manly rector.

In September, 1878, a new Science and Art School was opened in Park Street by the Earl of Rosebery. The erection, which was first proposed and energetically pushed forward by Major Nimmo, is of a plain Italian style, two storeys in height, and is entered by a large arched door, surmounted by a pediment, and supported by two columns. The various rooms are well fitted up, and are altogether admirably adapted for their intended purpose.

Several churches have also been erected recently in the northern district of the burgh. The first is called the Grahamston Quoad Sacra Church. The South U.P. body have likewise built, in Graham’s Road, an edifice which forms one of the finest architectural features of the place. The memorial stone was laid by Sir Peter Coats, of Auchendrane, on 20th September, 1878; and the house opened for public worship, by the Rev. Principal Cairns, D.D., on 3rd July, 1879. In the centre of the front elevation there is an arched projecting door, at the sides of which are columns with carved capitals and bases. Above this doorway is a large three-light ornamental arched window, with quatrefoil and circular openings at the top, and finely carved stone panels in the lower portion. On each side of this window there is a single-light arch-headed window. The upper or south side of the front wall is ornamented by a spire, square at the base, and rises to a height of 110 feet, being of an octagonal shape above the eaves of the church. The spire has eight square panels of quatrefoil design, and also carved projecting grotesques at the angle of the octagon. The side elevation, which faces Galloway Street, has five two-light arch-headed windows, and a side door leading to the area of the church. The back wall has two double-light arched pulpit windows, and a circular light trefoil opening, filled with stained glass. The church which, in the meantime, has only an end gallery, accommodates 600 persons.

The foundation-stone of a new Free Church was also laid on the lands of Gairdoch, at the east side of Bainsford, on 9th July, 1879. The style adopted is Gothic, having a frontage of 48 1/2 feet. The interior of the building measures 60 feet by 44 feet, with spacious vestibule, to which there are three entrances. It is seated at present for 450, but provision is made for galleries, which can be erected at any future period.

Regarding the Parish Church, and its tower of mediaeval times, much might be said. The old kirk, as we are told, was composed of patches of architecture, belonging to different periods; while the stones of its oldest portion seemed, from their blackened appearance, to have formerly had place in some fire-consumed buildings. These, in all probability, were part of the remains of ancient Camelon; that old Pictish city having, as is supposed, been destroyed by fire. We read, too, that, in 1166, Richard, bishop of St. Andrews, made a grant, by charter, of the kirk, varia capella, and all contiguous land belonging to him, to the church of Holyrood and the canons serving God there, for a stone of wax (unam petram cerae) yearly from the said lands. The present building, however, is totally without architectural pretensions; and, in spite of its Gothic windows, now pictorially filled, has a look of grim melancholy. It dates, moreover, no further back than 1811, the year in which the old edifice, originally founded by Malcolm III. (or Canmore, from Cean more, a great head), was razed to the ground. And in the course of that demolition, a most interesting relic was discovered in the debris, in the shape of a slab of white marble, about a foot square, bearing two inscriptions – one in memory of the thane, Robert Graham, the brave chieftain who first broke through the Roman Wall in this neighbourhood, and gave the rampart the local title of "Graham’s Dyke." The lettering ran thus: - "Fvneratvs Hic Dezn Rob. Graham Ille Evervs Vall. Severvs A C D 15 Fergvsivs II., R. Sco." The other inscription related to the foundation of the monastery, and had the date of Arabic numerals, a mode of notation which was introduced into Europe by the Saracens of Spain, but which was little known till the beginning of the fourteenth century. "Fvndatvs Malcm III. Rex Scotia A.M. + 1057." The A. and M., immediately before the date, are no doubt the initials of Ave Maria, and the commencement of a prayer to the Virgin that she would bless and prosper the monastery.

In the lobby, or porch, of the church lie four life-size figures cut out in freestone. A pair rest on each of the two substantial pedestals of stone, erected on the east and west sides of the main entrance. There is the following inscription on the monument to the right as we enter the church: - "These effigies, believed to be memorials of the earliest feudal lords of Callendar, originally lay in the south transcept of the church. In 1810, when the church was rebuilt, that transept being taken down, these figures remained exposed to weather and to injury from the feet of passengers, until April, 1852, when they were placed on this monument by William Forbes, who, as proprietor of the estates of Callendar, feels himself called on to protect from further injury these memorials of the former barons." In the vestibule there is also a monument to the Rev. John Brown Paterson, M.A., who was minister of the church from February, 1830, till June, 1835. In the centre of the memorial there is some beautifully carved marble work; while at the side of the altar, over which droop the leaves of a few branches, stands a full-size figure, pleasantly but pensively looking down on the profile of the deceased. Mr. Paterson, who was born on 29th June, 1804, died of fever on 29th June, 1835. He was the author of a prize essay on the "National character of the Athenians," and his "Select literary and religious remains" were published, accompanied by a memoir, in 1837. Attached to the north-east corner of the church is an antique fabric as the burial-place of the noble house of Dundas, now represented by the Earl of Zetland. Close by the east gate of the graveyard, too, may be seen the tomb, now sadly dilapidated, of the old laird of Abbotshaugh. It contains a long inscription, purporting that it is erected to the memory of Patrick Muirhead, of Rashiehill, in 1723. Rashiehill was rather a considerable man in his day, and, like a number of the neighbouring gentry, had his residence at the east end of the town, where "Rashiehill Close" still preserves his name.

Like the oak which Tennyson found garrulously given – "a babbler in the land," the wells of Falkirk furnish many an interesting story. The old cross well, which was built by the Earl of Callendar, must have been a somewhat imposing ornament. A "lion," from whose mouth ran a plentiful supply of water, faced the street; while another, on the apex of the building, bore a shield with the family arms. Here on one occasion, when riding the fairs of Falkirk – the tenure by which the vassals of Callendar held their feus – the Earl drew up the pageant, and with a "quaich" of the well water, drank a bumper to the local wives and "bairns." Close by the base of the steeple, or old prison at the cross, stands an admirable representation in stone of Wellington at the head of a noble and actionful steed. Remarkable genius and fidelity are displayed in the general execution of this massive memorial of Britain’s Duke. As in all similar equestrian works, the horse, of course, is the most striking object represented; but the figure of the renowned warrior, wrought out in martial uniform, when caught eventually by the eye, alike charms and impresses with its careful and masterly workmanship.

Then there is Christ’s well, or what is now called Greenhorn’s well, to which flocks of invalids were wont to resort, in the olden times, for the virtue of its medicinal waters. And its situation, before utilitarian demands bereft it of its sylvan shade, was exceedingly picturesque. The well lay in a little nook thickly covered with bushes and wildflowers; while the streamlet which flowed from its copious fountain sported and sang down a miniature glen. On the 12th June, 1628, a number of persons, it would appear, were brought up before the kirk-session on the charge of going to Christ’s well – now a small trough of water at the base of a stone dyke – on the Sundays of May "to seek their health." The record says: - "and it is statute and ordained that if any person or persons be found superstitiously and idolatrously, after this, to have passed in pilgrimage to Christ’s well, on the Sundays of May, to seek their health, they shall repent in sacco and linen three several Sabbaths, and pay twenty lib., toties quoties, for ilk fault; and if they cannot pay it, the bailies shall be recommended to put them in ward, and to be fed on bread and water for aucht days." The Minister’s well, which is still to be found in a circular recess at the foot of the old glebe, has associations even more sacred in its history, having been the consecrated fountain from which the monks of the eleventh century drew their supplies of "pure water." Of Marion’s well, there is scant record. According to tradition, it got its name from Marion Livingstone – a nun of the house of Callendar, who, in the performance of the sacerdotal vow which kept her from the world, visited the well at intervals, and used its soft waters as a pediluvium. The original well, which was built round with stone, stood at the bottom of the Cladden’s Brae, on the bank of the East Burn.

The town motto is – "Better meddle wi’ the deil, than the bairns o’ Falkirk." Another version of the same – "Touch ane, touch a’."

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