[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]
DUNIPACE, a parish in Stirlingshire, which has been conjoined with that of Larbert since about 1620. It is bounded on the north by the parish of St. Ninians; on the south by the Carron, which divides it from Denny and Falkirk parishes; on the west by the Carron, which again separates it from Denny, and by the parish of St. Ninians; and on the east by the parish of Larbert. It derives its name from two remarkable mounds in the eastern part of the parish. “The whole structure of these mounts,” says Mr. Nimmo, in his ‘History of Stirlingshire,’ “is of earth; but they are not both of the same form and dimensions. The more easterly one is perfectly round, resembling an oven, and about 50 feet in height. That it is an artificial work does not admit of the least doubt; but the same thing cannot be affirmed with equal certainty of the other, though it has generally been supposed to be so too. It bears no resemblance to the eastern one either in shape or size. At the foundation it is nearly of a triangular form; but the superstructure is quite irregular; nor does the height of it bear any proportion to the extent of the base. Buchanan calls the western mount the smaller, but his memory had quite failed him, for there are at least four times the quantity of earth in it that is in the other. Neither can we discern any appearance of the river’s having ever come so near as to wash away any part of it,1 as that historian affirms; though it is not improbable that considerable encroachments have been made upon it, which have greatly altered its original shape, as it affords an excellent kind of gravel for different uses. The mounts are now planted with firs, which, together with the parish-church of Dunipace, standing in the middle between them and the river running hard by, gives this valley a romantic appearance. The common account given of these mounts is, that they were erected as monuments of a peace concluded in that place betwixt the Romans and the Caledonians, and that their name partakes of the language of both people; Dun, signifying ‘hill’ in the ancient language of the country, and Pax ‘peace,’ in the language of Rome; the compound word Duni-pace, according to this etymology, signifies ‘hills of peace.’ If the concurring testimony of historians and antiquaries did not unite in giving this original to these mounts, we should be tempted to conjecture that they are sepulchral monuments. Human bones and urns had been discovered in earthen fabrics of a similar construction in many parts of the island; and the little mounts or barrows which are scattered in great numbers around Stonehenge, in Salisbury plain, are generally supposed to have been sepulchres of the ancient Britons.” This conjecture of the intelligent historian of Stirlingshire, with regard to the origin of the hills of Dunipace, is supported by his editor Mr. Stirling, who rejects the absurd, mongrel etymology of Buchanan, and states it as more probable that the word Dunipace is entirely Celtic in its origin. Duin-na-Bais in Gaelic, would signify, he mentions, ‘hills or tumuli of death.’ “Dunipace,” continues Mr. Nimmo, “is taken notice of in history as a place where important national causes have been decided, and that more than once, by great monarchs in person. The Roman Emperor Severus, accompanied by his sons Caracalla and Geta, is supposed to have here concluded a peace with the Caledonians. We find Edward the 1st of England, at Dunipace, upon the 14th October, 1301, when he signed a warrant to his plenipotentiaries, who were at that time in France, authorizing them to consent to a truce with the Scots, as a necessary preliminary towards a peace with their ally, the French king, between whom and Edward an obstinate war had long raged. At the chapel of this place, too, Robert Bruce and William Wallace are said to have had a second conference, the morning after the battle of Falkirk, which effectually opened the eyes of the former, to a just view of his own true interest, and that of his country. Until the bridge of Larbert was erected in the last century, the ordinary place of crossing the Carron seems to have been at Dunipace. No where else does the river offer a passage naturally so commodious and easy, the banks being generally steep and rugged. The numerous armies which frequently crossed this shire, appear to have taken their route that way, at least since the demolition of a Roman bridge which stood half-a-mile to the eastward.” [Nimmo’s ‘History of Stirlingshire,’ p. 68-73.] – A portion of the ancient Caledonian forest, known by the name of Torwood, still remains in this parish. An old oak tree of immense size, used to be pointed out here as having afforded a hiding-place to Sir William Wallace after his defeat in the north. Adjoining to this there is a square field, enclosed by a ditch, where Donald Cargill pronounced sentence of excommunication against Charles II., the Duke of Lauderdale, Sir George Mackenzie, the King’s advocate, and others. The population of Dunipace, in 1801, was 948; in 1831, 1,278. Assessed property, in 1815, £5,634. For ecclesiastical statistics, see LARBERT.
1 The writer of the Old Statistical Account seems to contradict this statement. He distinctly states that the course which the river had taken when it made the encroachment referred to by Buchanan, is still visible.