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Visit and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:

Dundee, City of Dundee, stands on a hill-side on the North bank of the Firth of Tay just far enough up the estuary to provide an anchorage safely sheltered from the eastern winds of the North Sea.

The city can boast of great antiquity, having been in existence at the time of the Roman invasion, and the surrounding district shows many remains of Roman camp sites. In A.D. 834 it was the headquarters from which Kenneth MacAlpine set out to conquer the Picts and so become the first King of the Scots. As he returned to Dundee after the battle, we can assume that he regarded the town as his capital.

Dundee's geographical situation made it a strategic point of defence for central Scotland, and it suffered much in the many affrays between the Scots and the English in the years before the Union of the Crowns. Its history can be largely epitomized in the story of its oldest standing structure, the Tower of St Mary's, locally known as the Old Steeple. The tower, now part of the City Churches, was built in the mid-l5th century as the West wall of the great pre-Reformation Church of the Blessed Virgin, an ecclesiastical foundation dating back to 1198. It was built, under the blessing of a Papal Bull, by David, Earl of Huntingdon, brother of King William the Lion, and was dedicated to that knight's patron saint, St Mary.

Although many buildings have risen and fallen, and much blood has been shed, the site has remained consecrated all these years, and it is still occupied by the parish church of Dundee.

Earl David's Church took a long time to build, and it was hardly completed when, in 1296, Edward I of England, the Hammer of the Scots, drove his armies north to Dundee, sacked the town, set fire to the church, and left nothing but rubble on the holy site of St Mary's. Once again the masons chipped, the sawyers sawed, and the craftsmen added their embellishments; but in 1385 an English army once again marched over the Border and burnt and pillaged the town. This time it took longer for Dundee to recover; but faith was strong, and it was in this rebuilding that the Church of Our Lady of Dundee took on its most magnificent form it was now (about 1450 to 1480) that the great West wall and tower were built. This church survived for a century, but in 1547 an English fleet sailed into the Firth of Tay, and after a long siege the city was sacked and its church once more destroyed.

It was thus to a smoking ruin, with only the choir and altar standing at one end and the high tower at the other, that the Reformation came in Dundee, and there was little papal splendour left for the reformers to tear down. But again Dundee accepted the new faith, and the church was rebuilt, this time to house more than one congregation.

These frequent sackings were not due to any particular local antagonism; rather, they grew out of the fact that Dundee was a convenient turning-point for the English invaders, and, to impress their might upon the whole Scottish nation, they caused as much havoc as possible before retracing their steps.

But, even after the Union of the Crowns, trouble continued, for Dundee got involved with the second last of the Stuart kings, Charles II, and in 1651 Cromwell dispatched General Monk with a force of 4,000 men to deal with the situation. This proved to be Dundee's greatest blow, because, expecting to be safe within the sanctuary of the church, the Council removed all the city's valuables to the Old Steeple. Monk's army quickly sacked the city, gathered all the valuable old books from the church library, and set fire to them round the tower, sprinkling the blaze with water to smoke out the defenders.

Dundee is a city best looked up to or down upon, and the best points of vantage from which to be introduced to it are from the River Tay, which sweeps past its doorstep, or from the top of its own little eminence of the Law Hill, once its dramatic back-cloth and now a central park.

The river view may be obtained from the two-mile railway bridge (one of the longest bridges in Europe); or from the new road bridge. From mid-stream it will be seen that the city is built in terraces round the slope of a 572-ft hill of volcanic origin, Dundee's Law. Viewed from this angle, the less pleasing factories are lost in the foreshore, and the lasting picture is of a mosaic rising from the sparkle of the river to the green of the conical hill-top.

On a day of good visibility, the prospect from the top of this Law Hill has been compared favourably with the view overlooking the Bay of Naples. To the East you can see the curve of Broughty Ferry Bay running out to its ancient castle, and farther off the sandy spit of Buddon Ness jutting out to form the North shoulder of the firth. Across the river the wood-piles of Tayport catch the eye, and above its little harbour it is easy to pick out the full sweep of St Andrew's Bay. The ribbon of the railway bridge, with its graceful curve on to the city shore, has always impressed the visitor, and now, with two bridges, the vista is unique. To the West and North sit the first rolling slopes of the Sidlaw Hills, and away beyond them rises the mass of the Grampians with peaks and landmarks too numerous to mention.

There has always been some doubt as to whether the sobriquet “Bonnie Dundee” was originally applied to the city or to the romantic John Graham of Claverhouse, but, with a glimpse of sunshine and a fresh east breeze, there is much to be said for applying it to the douce city that sprawls along the north bank of the Firth of Tay.

Nearby towns: Arbroath, Blairgowrie, Carnoustie, Coupar Angus, Cupar, Forfar, Kirriemuir, Newport-On-Tay, Perth, St. Andrews, Tayport

Nearby villages: Arnhall, Balmerino, Balmullo, Bridgefoot, Broughty Ferry, Broughty Ferry, Dronley, Guardbridge, Invergowrie, Invergowrie, Kilmany, Kirkton of Auchterhouse, Leuchars, Liff, Liff, Logie, Longforgan, Lundie, Luthrie, Monifieth, Monikie, Muirhead, Murroes, Newtyle, Tealing, West Ferry, Wormit

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