Our Heritage

The Parish, the most eastern in the Presbytery of Perth and Kinross, comprises the villages of Woodside, Burrelton, Wolfhill and the hamlet of Cargill. The rivers Isla, Tay and the Keithick Burn form part of the boundaries.

In November 1991, Cargill Parish Church and Burrelton Church came together as Cargill/Burrelton Parish Church, so called because Cargill was the Parish/Mother church. The church is located in Woodside village which adjoins Burrelton.

The west door and porch were added in 1994 as fire regulations necessitated an exit at that part of the church. In 1995, the vestry was extended to include a disabled toilet and minister’s robing room.

The Russell Milne organ was so named as a token of respect for the late Russell Milne, a much-loved former organist.

Church for History

A short history of the church in cargill parish

by John Findlay

The history of chapels, as opposed to churches, in Cargill parish is fairly well documented. In the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, abbeys, which controlled large tracts of land, provided priests to minister to the inhabitants of these estates. Cargill was controlled by the Cupar Angus Abbey (founded 1165- destroyed 1559) and there was a chapel at Campsie Craig on the river Tay dedicated to St. Hunnand ( the alternative name of St. Adamnan, St Columba’s biographer). Here the Abbey had a grange fam and Abbot’s residence. There was also, in the 15th century, a subsequent chapel and well dedicated to St. Hunnand near where Newbigging Fam now stands. This building stood until the mid 20th century being used as a farm shed for about 200 hundred years. Another chapel, which was in use until about 1750, was built nearer to Stobhall caste. in 1578, a chapel with ornate ceiling was built into Stobhall by the Jacobite Drummond family. This private chapel has continued to hold Roman Catholic services until recently. 

By contrast, the actual date of a parish church being built at Cargill hamlet is difficult to establish. Archaeologists have identified the site of a medieval church in Cargill kirkyard and documents on the Barony of Cargill in 1195 mention a kirk at Cargill. Thus it can be assumed that a church building. referred to as the parish kirk, was already established by the end of the 12th century in the kirkyard. This kirkyard is now Cargill cemetery. How old this church was by 1195 is unknown. t may have been established prior to the founding of Cupar Angus Abbey but it was likely built between 1165 and 1195. Records show that the church building received major repairs in1754 and was described as “very old” in 1794. This building was replaced by a new building 100 yards to the south of the kirkyard in 1831. This building was sold at the union with Burrelton Parish Church in 1980.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, the power of the abbeys gradually decreased and in 1514 the Parish of Cargill was disjoined from Cupar Angus by the Bishop of Dunkeld. Until 1560 it would be serviced by priests with allegiance to Rome. With the Reformation in 1560, the church would become Episcopalian with ministers who had allegiance to the established Church of Scotland and the record of ministers was commenced. The conversion of the Church of Scotland to full Presbyterianism did not happen until early in the seventeenth century. having moved between various ecclesiastical disciplines as decreed by the Scottish monarch and or parliament of the time.

In the eighteenth century, the parish consisted of about 10 small settlements and hamlets scattered over its length and breadth, but mainly in the west towards the Tay. The only one of these remaining today is Wolfhill, earlier known as Upper Stobhall. The hamlet of Cargill remained the spiritual centre with the manse and church building being there. In1763 the village of Strelitz was built and lasted until the end of the century. In1812 Burrelton was established and in 1832 Woodside was commenced. The population density of the parish began to shift eastwards away from the Tay, making the site of the parish church inconvenient for the majority of the parishioners.

By the eighteenth century, schisms began to appear in the Church of Scotland and there was a secession movement in this parish, but the record of a secession church, the Burgher Church, does not appear until about 1820, when a church was built where the modern Burrelton Schoolhouse now stands. In 1877 the Manse became the old schoolhouse and the church stones were used to build the school. The Burgher Church had appointed their first minister in 1825, the first record of an ordained minister other than the parish minister serving in the parish.

1843 saw the Disruption of the Church of Scotland, when over a third of the ministers and a large proportion of members left the established church to form the Free Church. The Rev. Michael Stirling and some members left Cargill Parish Church to form Cargill Free Church and by 1845 had built a church and manse at Wolfhill. Because of opposition by local landowners, the Free Church was unable to acquire ground in Cargill Parish, so these were built in St Martins parish on the border with Cargill parish. There had already existed a previous free church, the Burgher Church, at Burrelton and Rev John Waddell and congregation stopped being associated with the established church to become Free once again. In 1855, Burrelton Free Church built a church and manse at Woodside.

In 1929, the Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland united, resulting in Cargill Parish Church in the west and Burrelton Parish Church in the east of the parish of Cargill. Some families resident in the Burrelton area remained faithful to the auld kirk and still worshipped at Cargill. This situation continued until 1980. In the meantime, Cargill Parish Church had linked with St Martins Parish Church and Burrelton Parish Church had linked with Collace Parish Church. 

In 1979, at the death of Rev John Honey, minister at Cargill since 1933, Cargill Church broke the linkage with St Martins and opted to unite with Burrelton Church. On 20th November 1980 the parish had one congregation again, Cargill-Burrelton Parish Church. The church and manse at Cargill were sold, the buildings at Woodside becoming the church and manse. This reflected the population shift eastwards over the centuries.

Historical Detail - the parish of cargill

by The Reverend John Adamson Honey

Physical Basis

The parish is situated in the beautiful valley of Strathmore and is bounded on the north by the river Isla, on the west and north west by the river Tay, on the south by the parish of St Martin’s, on the southeast by the parish of Collace, on the east by the parish of Kettins and on the north-east by the parish of Coupar Angus. It stretches for over four miles from its northern to its southern boundary and for almost six miles from east to west. The ground rises steeply from the river Tay for over a mile and thereafter forms a plain over four miles in breadth which reaches the foot of the Sidlaw Hills. The soil varies from heavy clay in the lower part of the parish to a light gravel near the hills. On the intervening plain it is for the most part loamy and in a few places tends to be moorland. 


The name of this parish is said to be of Celtic origin and to be derived from ‘caer’ a village and ‘cill’ a place of worship or burial. Little trace is left of what was in olden times a large village. The Charters of the Abbey of Coupar Angus contain several references to it under such various forms of the name as Kergile, Kergille, Kerregille and Kergule. Campsie and Stobhall Castle are worthy of special mention because of their historical interest. A monastic settlement was established at Campsie on a rock beside Campsie Linn by the monks of Coupar Angus who erected a chapel which they dedicated to Saint Hunnand.

This establishment seems to have reached the height of its prosperity early in the fourteenth century. Troublous[sic] times later overtook the monastery at Coupar Angus and when it came to an end towards the end of the sixteenth century.

Campsie and its chapel were allowed to fall into decay. Little trace of the chapel now remains. Before passing from Campsie, we must recall that Sir Walter Scott made it the retreat of Catherine Glover, the Fair Maid of Perth, after the death of the Duke of Rothesay at Falkland Palace in 1401. A short distance up the bank of the river from Campsie is Stobhall Castle. The name suggests that there once was a fortified castle on the site of one of the present buildings, but of this there is no certainty. What is to be seen now is a group of three separate buildings consisting of a chapel, laundry and a dower house. The chapel building bears the date 1578. The dower house was built by the second Earl of Perth about the middle of the following century and has recently been renovated as has also the chapel building by the present earl to whom the buildings were handed over in 1953 by the Earl of Ancaster when he sold most of the farms to the tenants. It is a source of great satisfaction to the community that an Earl of Perth has again taken up residence in the ancient home of the Drummonds which has been inhabited by others almost since the father of Clementina Sara Drummond took up residence at Drummond Castle in the parish of Muthill towards the end of the eighteenth century. She inherited the Drummond estates including Stobhall on her father’s death. She married Peter Drummond Burrel, who became Lord Willoughby D’Eresby. They and their descendants, the Earls of Ancaster, lived at Drummond Castle, but carefully maintained the buildings at Stobhall, the chapel with its elaborate painted ceiling and the dower house with its many decorative features. Both these buildings are of considerable historical interest and their restoration by the Earl of Perth has assured their continued usefulness.

To the west of Gallowhill there was once a stone with the figures of the sun and the moon engraved upon it, but it was buried over a hundred years ago and has not since been discovered. Around this moonstone was a large circle of stones. Nearby, Alexander Fergusson, for over 50 years schoolmaster at Newbigging prior to his death in 1906, found several stones with ‘cup and ring’ markings probably of an even earlier date than that of the circle. About three miles upriver from Stobhall are traces of a Roman camp which, together with a second camp at Meikleour, formed an outpost of the legionary fortress at Inehtuthill in Caputh parish.


The population of the parish reached its peak figure of 1,647 by the year 1861l. During the century since, it has gradually declined to 1,215 in 1961.

This decline has taken pace in the rural part of the parish, while there has been an influx of people to the villages of Burrelton and Woodside. It may be observed that before 1820 the old villages of Gallowhill, Hatton,  Soutarhouses, Woodend, Whitefield and Legartlaw had well nigh vanished. Strelitz, the building of which began in 1773 to provide houses for 80 pensioners discharged from the army at the end of the Seven Years War, did not long survive as a village. Most of the crofts, of which there was at one time a large number, have been incorporated in the larger farms, but about 20 years ago the Board of Agriculture established over 20 small holdings in the eastern part of the parish at Kinnochtry and on the estate of Lintrose. The smallholders have engaged in dairying, poultry keeping and raspberry growing with remarkable success.

There are three villages in the parish at the present time Burrelton, Woodside and Wolfhill. Burrelton is situated n the eastern part of the parish on the main road from Perth to Coupar Angus. It came into existence in 1812 when the process of converting the small crofts into large farms began in consequence of a steep rise in the value of land. Most of the crofters took advantage of a generous offer of feus by the laird of Stobhall, Peter Burrel, who had married the proprietrix of the estate, Clementina Sara Drummond. In recent years the size of the village has been increased by county council housing schemes and its amenities have been enhanced by the provision of a plentiful water supply and by the introduction of electricity and gas. It is well provided with recreational facilities which include a public hall and a park with a bowling green and tennis courts. This park was given to the residents of Burrelton, Woodside and district by John Gray, one of the founders of the firm J. and J. Gray of Dundee and is therefore called Gray Park. The attractive village of Woodside adjoins the east end of Burrelton and was founded in 1832 by Thomas Ross, a member of the family of Ross of Balgersho to which estate the land belonged. The school which he erected no longer exists but he provided a site for the church which now serves the community of Burrelton and Woodside.

Wolfhill is a much older village than either Burrelton or Woodside and is situated in the south-west of the parish about four miles from the old village of Cargill. Its inhabitants are mainly engaged in the cultivation of fruít crops as the land is well suited for raspberry and strawberry growing. The county council has recently erected a few Dorran bouses for agricultural workers, but the lack of an adequate sewerage scheme has retarded the further development of the village.

However, it possesses a good water supply, electricity and a small public hall given to the people of the district by the late Sir Ernest Moon of Balhomie, near Cargill, in memory of those from the parish who fell in the First World War.


Cargill Church was re-built in 1831. It stands near the river Tay at the north west extremity of the parish. Though inconveniently situated for most of parishioners, it has the advantage of being the only church between Perth and Blairgowrie situated near the main Perth to Blairgowrie road. In 1932 the congregation of Cargill Parish Church and the congregation of the former Cargill United Free Church at Wolfhill were united. Because of the cost of repairing Wolfhill Church, it was closed in 1948. The united congregation at Cargill agreed to a linking arrangement with the congregation of St Martin’s parish in 1958.

Burrelton Church, situated in Woodside, was built in 1855. There was originally a congregation of the Burgher denomination in Burrelton. It eventually became associated with the Church of Scotland but entered the Free Church at the Disruption in 1843. On the Union of the Church of Scotland with the United Free Church in 1929, the congregation of Burrelton again became a congregation of the Church of Scotland and to the charge at Burrelton the Presbytery of Perth assigned the Burrelton and Woodside area of the old parish.


There are two primary schools in the parish, one at Burrelton and the other at Newbigging which is situated between Cargill and Wolfhill. There are three teachers in Burrelton School and two in Newbigging. The number of scholars attending both schools has considerably decreased in recent years, partly in consequence of depopulation in the agricultural area of the parish but largely because families are for the most part smaller than they used to be.


Agricuture is the most important industry in the parish. The land is mostly arable and it produces rich pasture and heavy cereal and root crops.

It bas been greatly enriched in recent years by the application of fertilizers. Large herds of cattle are to be seen grazing on the fields of luscious grass in spring and summer. The main crops used to be wheat, oats, potatoes and turnips, but in the past few years the acreage in barley and potatoes has risen very considerably and less wheat and oats have been grown. As the tractor has replaced horses on most of the farms, oats are no longer required for horse Feeding and wheat straw is not now needed for covering potato pits because sheds have been built for the storage of potatoes. This is one explanation of the fall in the acreage of wheat and oats.

On most farms cattle are kept indoors in winter and turnips are still being grown in large quantities for feeding purposes. Probably the greatest change that has taken place in the local method of farming in recent years has been the introduction of combine-harvesters and potato-lifting machines for harvesting.

Farm mechanisation has resulted in fewer people being employed on the farm with a consequent drop in the rural population.

The stretches of the river Tay, which form the west and north-west boundaries of the parish are popular resorts for salmon and trout fishing. During a limited period of the year the Tay Salmon Fisheries Board net the river at Campsie.

Nearby the river forms what is known as Campsie Linn by flowing over a basaltic dike which extends for several miles to the east and west of the river. Some years ago the Forestry Commission planted trees on a portion of moorland near Strelitz as part of its Haliburton Forest scheme.