Imagine for a moment Falkland without cars and modern shop fronts and visitors would easily find themselves transported back through the centuries to an ancient and beautiful village. It was with good reason that Falkland was made Scotland’s first conservation area in 1970: there are few other villages in the country quite so rich in wonderful old buildings.
And the most striking of them, without doubt, is Falkland Palace whose massive twin towered gatehouse and imposing south range dominate the centre of the village. Falkland Palace holds an important place in Scotland’s history. It was in Falkland Palace, in 1402 when the heir to the throne, David, the eldest son of Robert III, died while a prisoner of his uncle, the Duke of Albany. The Palace was also where James V died following the Battle of Solway Moss in 1542.
Across the street from the Palace stands two 17th houses, one of which bears the marriage lintel of Nicol Moncreiff and his bride and is dated 1610; the other has three decorated panels set into its front wall, one with the date 1607.
Falkland’s later fortunes were closely linked with the weaving of linen. In 1792 there were 231 weavers in the village, probably about a third of the population. Other buildings in the village reflect other phases of its history and other industries including brewing, linoleum and paper and packing production which have developed over the years. A walk around Falkland is a remarkable experience. The assembled buildings simply ooze a deep and genuine history that takes some beating. At times it is difficult to know where to look. There are no fewer than 28 listed buildings in the village and many cottages carry marriage lintels dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The centre of the village is dominated by the Palace Gatehouse but other fine buildings vie for attention. Close by stands Maspie House which was built in 1819 by Falkland’s Provost Francis Deas. In later years, Maspie House became the main Post Office and in 2014, it opened to the public once more as Maspie House Gallery. The terraced houses immediately to the west of the Palace gates, stand in the area that was once the Palace Green; two have marriage lintels from the 18th century and all three were purchased and restored by the National Trust for Scotland. There are narrow cobbled wynds that look wholly unchanged for hundreds of years and the Bruce Fountain, in the central market place, gurgles with fresh water from the Lomond Hills and in summer, is festooned with baskets of flowers.