The name Dunblane is sometimes said to mean "fort of Blane", commemorating an early saint (Old Irish Bláán) who flourished probably in the late 6th century. His main seat was originally Kingarth on the Isle of Bute. He or his followers may have founded a church at Dunblane - it is likely that the cult of Bláán came there with settlers from what is now Argyll in later centuries. The earliest spellings of the name Dunblane are of the form Dul Blaan, the first element being a Pictish word for 'water meadow, haugh' which was borrowed into Gaelic. This is more likely a name than 'fort of Blane', given that saints do not usually have forts, while we have parallels to Dul Blaan in such Scottish place-names such as Dalserf, Dalmarnock and Dalpatrick, all of which commemorate saints.
The earliest evidence for Christianity on the site are two cross-slabs of the 10th to 11th centuries which are preserved in the cathedral. Incorporated into the later medieval building, but originally free-standing, is an 11th-century bell-tower, whose height was increased in the 15th century. The nave and aisleless choir are 13th century. Dunblane did not have a rich or extensive medieval diocese (37 parishes), and the cathedral is relatively modest in scale, but its refined architecture is much admired, as is its setting overlooking the valley of the Allan Water. After the Reformation, the nave of the cathedral was abandoned and soon became roofless and used for burials. The choir was retained as the parish church. The nave was re-roofed and the cathedral provided with new furnishings by Robert Rowand Anderson between 1889 and 1893. During the boom years of the Hydropathy movement in the 19th century, Dunblane was the location of a successful hydropathic establishment (see photo below).
Dunblane is split into two Church of Scotland parishes: the cathedral and St Blane's Church. Dunblane Cathedral is remarkable in having retained more of its late-medieval choir stalls than any other Scottish church building (except King's College Chapel, Aberdeen), and also is noted for its organ. Further fragments of medieval woodwork from the cathedral are displayed in the town's museum, formerly the Cathedral Museum, situated nearby. Though still used as a parish church, the building is in the care of Historic Scotland. To the south of the cathedral are some stone vaults of medieval origin, which are the only remaining fragment of the bishop's palace. Adjacent to the cathedral, Scottish Churches House was (from the 1960s until its closure in 2011) a centre for ecumenical study and the former headquarters for Action of Churches Together in Scotland.
The town was a royal burgh and part of Perthshire until the 1975 abolition of Scottish counties. Dunblane refers to itself as a city, due to the presence of Dunblane Cathedral. However this status was never officially recognised.
In September 2004 the Dunblane Centre opened. This purpose-built youth, family, arts, sports and meeting facility was built using money from a consolidation of several funds which were created in the aftermath of the 1996 tragedy. It is now entirely self funding and is run by the Dunblane Youth and Sports Centre Trust (Charity No. SC027397), with a board of trustees from the community.
The town is served by Dunblane railway station.
Dunblane has three primary schools, one 5 - 18 school and one secondary school. Four of these are public. The remaining, Queen Victoria School, is a military boarding school. There are currently around two thousand pupils in schools in Dunblane.
Located on Doune Road, this two-storey building is situated in the heart of the residential area. The school has a public playing field (which is regularly used for extra-curricular activities and local clubs) and a public nursery attached. In 1996, the school was the scene of the Dunblane massacre, in which 17 people were killed by Thomas Hamilton before he committed suicide. It remains the deadliest massacre of children ever in the United Kingdom.
On its current site, in Smithy Loan, since 1850, St Mary's was established as a church school for poor children under the incumbency of the first rector of Saint Mary's Episcopal Church, Canon Henry Malcolm. Saint Mary's was a two teacher school until the 1970s. It was renovated and extended in 1997.
Built in 1996, the name of the school comes from Newton Farm, which goes back as far as the Charter of 1655 when Oliver Cromwell confirmed James Pearson of Kippenross as the owner. The streets that encircle the school, Newton Crescent and Ochiltree, named after the Bishop of Dunblane between 1429 and 1447, reflect the rich history in which the school is embedded.
Queen Victoria School is a co-educational boarding school for children of those in the British Armed Forces. It is situated roughly 1 mile (2 km) north of the town centre, in a secluded area overlooking the A9.
Queen Victoria School can trace its history back to around the start of the 20th century when the idea was first mooted of a school to commemorate those Scottish soldiers and sailors who fell in South Africa during the Boer Wars. The proposal was warmly received by Queen Victoria herself, and upon her death the following year, it was resolved that the School should serve the dual purpose of commemorating the dead servicemen as well as being a living memorial to the late Empress. To this end money was raised in a national effort which captivated the imagination of the Scottish public. For example, every Serviceman donated a day's pay, and an appeal for contributions from the Scottish workforce received a generous response. Work began in earnest, and Queen Victoria School was officially opened on 28 September 1908 by His Majesty King Edward VII.
The school's chapel is a notable example of Scottish medieval revival architecture, based on the 14th century Dominican (later parish) church of St Monans in Fife.
Fed by pupils from the three public primary schools in Dunblane, as well as some of those from Bridge of Allan, Doune, Stirling, and the surrounding areas, this school has a roster of roughly 750 pupils and sixty teachers. The present building is located at the top of Old Doune Road and was completed in November 2007. It spans three storeys and includes some features such as an art rooftop, theatre, fitness suite, dance studio and pupil lounges. The school also has an all-weather pitch and large playing field. However, the school is notable for its lack of a centralised lending library, which was abolished after the retirement of the school librarian and the room converted as an S6 study area and computer room.
The 2007 building was built on the old school's playing fields, and the previous campus being sold for public development. The building was one of the first Public-Private Partnership projects in the Stirling Council area, and so effectively a prototype, meaning it was built with such drawbacks as inadequate catering facilities, and was the only Stirling school built without a swimming pool.
In 2013 the school was listed in the top ten performing schools of Scotland relating to academic achievement, with well over three quarters of its roll progressing to higher education. It has a large extra-curricular base, including the Make A Difference Group (MAD), a highly effective charity committee. The school has also hosted a number of international sports people, including ex-Scotland footballer Callum Davidson and, in tennis, the Murray brothers, Andy and Jamie. It was also the school of 2009's winner of the Miss Scotland crown, Katharine Brown.
The town has seen rapid growth in recent years. The old town centre retains a number of historic buildings in addition to the cathedral, including the 17th century Leighton Library, the oldest private library in Scotland open to the public (on selected days in summer). A well-preserved late medieval town-house nearby (which was probably built as the manse of the Dean of the medieval cathedral) houses a local history museum (open in the summer; free entry). A modern extension has recently been completed within its interior courtyard to provide additional exhibition space and allow disabled access.
The north side of the town is dominated by the Dunblane Hydro Hotel, currently owned by the Hilton Hotel Group and operated under the Doubletree brand. The Victorian building sits in wooded grounds on the top of a steep and wide grass slope. Dating from late Victorian times it has been redeveloped and extended several times but still retains its main building relatively intact. It originally housed extensive spa and therapeutic bath facilities (Like the other Scottish "Hydros", such as Crieff and Peebles).
Since the early 1970s the town has grown extensively and is now regarded as a highly sought-after commuter town due to its excellent road and rail links to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth and nearby Stirling. This, coupled with the fact that the local high school consistently turns out some of the best results from a state school in Scotland, means that the town is not only sought-after by commuters but also by families of school-age children. How much of the school's performance is affected by the population bias, which is largely made up of middle class commuters, is subjective. Dunblane is close to the University of Stirling's campus at Bridge of Allan, and is a popular location for academics.
The rapid expansion of the town, expedited by the bypass completion of 1990, has led to a large increase in local car usage, resulting in considerable parking problems. For a town of its size, Dunblane has something of a shortage of local amenities, such as no public swimming pool or tennis court and only two supermarkets.
Over the course of 6 years, a small group of young local boys and their parents raised money to build a skatepark in the Laighills. The skatepark was completed on 23 February 2007 and has already been visited by Death skateboard team and by the Vans UK Tour.
In October 2007 a new church building was completed for Dunblane Christian Fellowship, sited opposite the railway station. Equally important is that Dunblane is at the northern end of both the Network Rail Edinburgh-Glasgow rail electrification project.
Japanese Wagyu beef in now being raised in Dunblane.
On 13 March 1996 Thomas Watt Hamilton, aged 43, who had briefly been a Scout leader, but had been ousted within months by the Scout Association over five years previously, shot dead 16 children and their teacher, Gwen Mayor, in Dunblane Primary School's gymnasium before killing himself. He used his licensed weapons and ammunition.
There is a memorial to the 17 victims in the local cemetery and a cenotaph in the cathedral. The funds raised in the aftermath of the tragedy have been used to build a new community centre for the town. Following the incident, the government passed legislation banning ownership of all handguns—firearms under 60 centimetres (23.6 in) in overall length, in Great Britain.
Tennis players Jamie Murray and Andy Murray were in the school at the time of the massacre.Elish Angiolini, Lord Advocate
Fiona Brown, football player
Frankie Brown, football player
Katharine Brown, beauty pageant winner
Andrew Butchart, athlete
Gary Caldwell, football player
Steven Caldwell, football player
Alex Christie, football player
Keith Cochrane, businessman
Ali Collins, tennis player
Lee Collins, football player
Callum Davidson, football player
Mark "Markydooda" Exton, professional gamer
Tommy Gemmell, football player
James Gillespie Graham, architect
James Huffam, recipient of the Victoria Cross
Johnny McGuire, football player
Kevin McKenzie, rugby player
Dougie MacLean, musician
David McGirr, former MD of Matheson McLaren & Co.
Andy Murray, tennis player
Jamie Murray, tennis player
Judy Murray, tennis player/coach
Kit Napier, football player
George Robertson, politician
Andy Robin, wrestler
Chris Sawyer, computer game developer
Winnie Shaw, tennis player
Sir Reo Stakis, hotel magnate
Steven Turnbull, rugby player
John Mcclymont, Street brawler
Owen Marshall, Fatty