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Cateran Ecomuseum

A Spin Along the Ericht

A thriving centre of innovation in Tayside’s textile history.

The area around Blairgowrie & Rattray has evidence of human settlement that goes back to Neolithic times. The Romans reached here, there are remains of an important legionary fort at Inchtuthil dating from the decade 80-90 AD, and Pictish remains are in abundance.

More recent history finds Blairgowrie being made a burgh of Barony in 1634 by King Charles I, which allowed weekly markets to be held. By the mid 1700’s the construction of one the great military roads to Inverness, built by the British Government as part of an attempt to bring order to the areas that had risen up in the Jacobite rebellion of 1715, had begun putting the town firmly on the map.

Huge expansion then took place in the 19th century as a result of the many textile mills which were built along the River Ericht, all now closed. By 1870 there were 12 mills along the river employing around 2,500 people, mostly women, and the population had increased from 400 in the 1700’s to nearly 5,000.

Soft fruit growing, mainly raspberries and strawberries developed in the 20th century and became a very important part of the town’s economy, which it still is today.

Properly known as the Burgh of Blairgowrie and Rattray, the two formerly independent settlements, situated on the west and east banks of the Ericht respectively, were united in 1929.

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