Scotland is a country, part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides; the Kingdom of Scotland emerged as an independent sovereign state in the Early Middle Ages and continued to exist until 1707. By inheritance in 1603, James VI, King of Scots, became King of England and King of Ireland, thus forming a personal union of the three kingdoms. Scotland subsequently entered into a political union with the Kingdom of England on 1 May 1707 to create the new Kingdom of Great Britain; the union created a new Parliament of Great Britain, which succeeded both the Parliament of Scotland and the Parliament of England. In 1801, the Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland enacted a political union to create a United Kingdom.
The majority of Ireland subsequently seceded from the UK in 1922. Within Scotland, the monarchy of the United Kingdom has continued to use a variety of styles and other royal symbols of statehood specific to the pre-union Kingdom of Scotland; the legal system within Scotland has remained separate from those of England and Wales and Northern Ireland. The continued existence of legal, educational and other institutions distinct from those in the remainder of the UK have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and national identity since the 1707 union with England; the Scottish Parliament, a unicameral legislature comprising 129 members, was established in 1999 and has authority over those areas of domestic policy which have been devolved by the United Kingdom Parliament. The head of the Scottish Government, the executive of the devolved legislature, is the First Minister of Scotland. Scotland is represented in the UK House of Commons by 59 MPs and in the European Parliament by 6 MEPs.
Scotland is a member of the British–Irish Council, sends five members of the Scottish Parliament to the British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly. Scotland is divided into councils. Glasgow City is the largest subdivision in Scotland in terms of population, with Highland being the largest in terms of area. "Scotland" comes from the Latin name for the Gaels. From the ninth century, the meaning of Scotia shifted to designate Gaelic Scotland and by the eleventh century the name was being used to refer to the core territory of the Kingdom of Alba in what is now east-central Scotland; the use of the words Scots and Scotland to encompass most of what is now Scotland became common in the Late Middle Ages, as the Kingdom of Alba expanded and came to encompass various peoples of diverse origins. Repeated glaciations, which covered the entire land mass of modern Scotland, destroyed any traces of human habitation that may have existed before the Mesolithic period, it is believed the first post-glacial groups of hunter-gatherers arrived in Scotland around 12,800 years ago, as the ice sheet retreated after the last glaciation.
At the time, Scotland was covered in forests, had more bog-land, the main form of transport was by water. These settlers began building the first known permanent houses on Scottish soil around 9,500 years ago, the first villages around 6,000 years ago; the well-preserved village of Skara Brae on the mainland of Orkney dates from this period. Neolithic habitation and ritual sites are common and well preserved in the Northern Isles and Western Isles, where a lack of trees led to most structures being built of local stone. Evidence of sophisticated pre-Christian belief systems is demonstrated by sites such as the Callanish Stones on Lewis and the Maes Howe on Orkney, which were built in the third millennium BCE; the first written reference to Scotland was in 320 BC by Greek sailor Pytheas, who called the northern tip of Britain "Orcas", the source of the name of the Orkney islands. During the first millennium BCE, the society changed to a chiefdom model, as consolidation of settlement led to the concentration of wealth and underground stores of surplus food.
The first Roman incursion into Scotland occurred in 79 AD. After the Roman victory, Roman forts were set along the Gask Ridge close to the Highland line, but by three years after the battle, the Roman armies had withdrawn to the Southern Uplands; the Romans erected Hadrian's Wall in northern England and the Limes Britannicus became the northern border of the Roman Empire. The Roman influence on the southern part of the country was considerable, they introduced Christianity to Scotland. Beginning in the sixth century, the area, now Scotland was divided into three areas: Pictland, a patchwork of small lordships in central Scotland; these societies were based on the family unit and had sharp divisions in wealth, although the vast majority were poor and worked full-time in subsistence agriculture. The Picts kept slaves through the ninth century. Gaelic influence over Pictland and Northumbria was facilitated by the large number of Gaelic-speaking clerics working as missionaries. Operating in the sixth ce
Peter Paul Rubens
Sir Peter Paul Rubens was a Flemish artist. He is considered the most influential artist of Flemish Baroque tradition. Rubens's charged compositions reference erudite aspects of classical and Christian history, his unique and immensely popular Baroque style emphasized movement and sensuality, which followed the immediate, dramatic artistic style promoted in the Counter-Reformation. Rubens specialized in making altarpieces, portraits and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects. In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat, knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England. Rubens was a prolific artist; the catalogue of his works by Michael Jaffé lists 1,403 pieces, excluding numerous copies made in his workshop. His commissioned works were "history paintings", which included religious and mythological subjects, hunt scenes.
He painted portraits of friends, self-portraits, in life painted several landscapes. Rubens designed prints, as well as his own house, he oversaw the ephemeral decorations of the royal entry into Antwerp by the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria in 1635. His drawings are predominantly forceful and without great detail, he made great use of oil sketches as preparatory studies. He was one of the last major artists to make consistent use of wooden panels as a support medium for large works, but he used canvas as well when the work needed to be sent a long distance. For altarpieces he sometimes painted on slate to reduce reflection problems. Rubens was born in the city of Siegen to Maria Pypelincks, he was named in honour of Saint Paul, because he was born on their solemnity. His father, a Calvinist, mother fled Antwerp for Cologne in 1568, after increased religious turmoil and persecution of Protestants during the rule of the Habsburg Netherlands by the Duke of Alba. Jan Rubens became the legal adviser of Anna of Saxony, the second wife of William I of Orange, settled at her court in Siegen in 1570, fathering her daughter Christine, born in 1571.
Following Jan Rubens's imprisonment for the affair, Peter Paul Rubens was born in 1577. The family returned to Cologne the next year. In 1589, two years after his father's death, Rubens moved with his mother Maria Pypelincks to Antwerp, where he was raised as a Catholic. Religion figured prominently in much of his work, Rubens became one of the leading voices of the Catholic Counter-Reformation style of painting. In Antwerp, Rubens received a Renaissance humanist education, studying Latin and classical literature. By fourteen he began his artistic apprenticeship with Tobias Verhaeght. Subsequently, he studied under two of the city's leading painters of the time, the late Mannerist artists Adam van Noort and Otto van Veen. Much of his earliest training involved copying earlier artists' works, such as woodcuts by Hans Holbein the Younger and Marcantonio Raimondi's engravings after Raphael. Rubens completed his education in 1598, at which time he entered the Guild of St. Luke as an independent master.
In 1600 Rubens travelled to Italy. He stopped first in Venice, where he saw paintings by Titian and Tintoretto, before settling in Mantua at the court of Duke Vincenzo I Gonzaga; the colouring and compositions of Veronese and Tintoretto had an immediate effect on Rubens's painting, his mature style was profoundly influenced by Titian. With financial support from the Duke, Rubens travelled to Rome by way of Florence in 1601. There, he copied works of the Italian masters; the Hellenistic sculpture Laocoön and His Sons was influential on him, as was the art of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. He was influenced by the recent naturalistic paintings by Caravaggio. Rubens made a copy of Caravaggio's Entombment of Christ and recommended his patron, the Duke of Mantua, to purchase The Death of the Virgin. After his return to Antwerp he was instrumental in the acquisition of The Madonna of the Rosary for the St. Paul's Church in Antwerp. During this first stay in Rome, Rubens completed his first altarpiece commission, St. Helena with the True Cross for the Roman church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.
Rubens travelled to Spain on a diplomatic mission in 1603, delivering gifts from the Gonzagas to the court of Philip III. While there, he studied the extensive collections of Raphael and Titian, collected by Philip II, he painted an equestrian portrait of the Duke of Lerma during his stay that demonstrates the influence of works like Titian's Charles V at Mühlberg. This journey marked the first of many during his career that combined diplomacy, he returned to Italy in 1604, where he remained for the next four years, first in Mantua and in Genoa and Rome. In Genoa, Rubens painted numerous portraits, such as the Marchesa Brigida Spinola-Doria, the portrait of Maria di Antonio Serra Pallavicini, in a style that influenced paintings by Anthony van Dyck, Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough, he began a book illustrating the palaces in the city, published in 1622 as Palazzi di Genova. From 1606 to 1608, he was in Rome. During this period Rubens received, with the assistance of Cardinal Jacopo Serra, his most important commission to
Thomas Dundas, 1st Baron Dundas
Thomas Dundas, 1st Baron Dundas FRS, known as Sir Thomas Dundas, 2nd Baronet from 1781 to 1794, was a British politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1763 to 1794, after which he was raised to the peerage as Baron Dundas. He was responsible for commissioning the Charlotte Dundas, the world's "first practical steamboat". Dundas was the only son of Sir Lawrence Dundas, 1st Baronet, the "Nabob of the North". Following education at Eton and St. Andrews University he did the Grand Tour became Member of Parliament for Richmond, 1763–1768 for Stirlingshire, 1768–1794, he was elevated to the peerage as Baron Dundas of Aske in August 1794, was Lord Lieutenant and Vice Admiral of Orkney and Shetland, Councillor of state to the Prince of Wales, President of the Society of Scottish Antiquaries and Colonel of the North York Militia. He acquired Marske Hall in North Yorkshire in 1762 after the death of Sir William Lowther, 3rd Baronet, he succeeded his father as 2nd Baronet in 1781, inheriting Aske Hall in North Yorkshire.
Dundas followed his father in having an interest in Grangemouth and in the Forth and Clyde Canal, under construction from 1768 to 1790, he would have been aware of the 1789 trials on the canal of Patrick Miller of Dalswinton's double-hulled paddle boat powered with a steam engine fitted by William Symington. In 1800 Dundas, as Governor of the Forth and Clyde Canal Company, engaged Symington to design a steam tug on the lines of a failed attempt by Captain John Schank for the Bridgewater Canal. At a meeting of the canal company's directors on 5 June 1800 Dundas "produced a model of a boat by Captain Schank to be worked by a steam engine by Mr Symington", it was agreed this should be put in hand; the boat was built to Symington's design. It had successful trials on the River Carron in June 1801 and further trials towing sloops from the river Forth up the Carron and thence along the Forth and Clyde Canal; the other proprietors of the canal were concerned about wave damage to the canal banks, the Committee decided that the boat would "by no means answer the purpose".
Symington had proposals for an improved boat which were presented in the form of a model, shown to Lord Dundas, of the boat which would become famous as the Charlotte Dundas, named in honour of one of his Lordship's daughters. One account states that Lord Dundas had advised Symington to prepare the model and bring it to his Lordship in London, where Symington was introduced to the Duke of Bridgewater, enthusiastic enough to order eight boats of similar construction for his canal; the Duke of Bridgewater died a few days before the first sailing, nothing came of this order. Lord Dundas and some of his relatives and friends were on board for the first sailing of the boat on the canal in 1803, but despite the success of the Charlotte Dundas fears of erosion of the banks prevailed, the trials were ended leaving Symington out-of-pocket. Dundas died in 1820, he had married Lady Charlotte FitzWilliam, the daughter of William FitzWilliam, 3rd Earl FitzWilliam, on 24 May 1764 and they had 14 children: Lawrence Dundas, 1st Earl of Zetland Anne Dundas Thomas Dundas Lt-Col.
The Hon. William Lawrence Dundas, died in Santo Domingo the Hon. Charles Lawrence Dundas, married Lady Caroline Beauclerk, daughter of Aubrey Beauclerk, 5th Duke of St Albans the Hon. Margaret Dundas, married Archibald Spiers the Hon. Charlotte Dundas, married Rev. William Wharton the Hon. and Rev. Thomas Lawrence Dundas the Hon. Frances Laura Dundas, married Robert Chaloner R-Adm; the Hon. George Heneage Lawrence Dundas Maj-Gen; the Hon. Sir Robert Lawrence Dundas Dorothy Dundas the Hon. Mary Dundas, married Charles FitzWilliam, 5th Earl FitzWilliam the Hon. Isabella Dundas, married John Charles Ramsden Steamboat Paddle steamer William Symington William Symington, inventor of steam navigation Individual Record Dundas Thomas Zetland Estates
Aelbert Jacobsz Cuyp was one of the leading Dutch Golden Age painters, producing landscapes. The most famous of a family of painters, the pupil of his father Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp, he is known for his large views of Dutch riverside scenes in a golden early morning or late afternoon light. Cuyp was born in Dordrecht on October 20, 1620, died there on November 15, 1691. Known as the Dutch equivalent of Claude Lorrain, he inherited a considerable fortune, his family were all artists, with his uncle Benjamin and grandfather Gerrit being stained glass cartoon designers. Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp, his father, was a portraitist. Cuyp's father was his first teacher and they collaborated on many paintings throughout his lifetime; the amount of biographical information regarding Aelbert Cuyp is tremendously limited. Arnold Houbraken, a noted historian of Dutch Golden Age paintings and the sole authority on Cuyp for the hundred years following his death, paints a thin biographical picture, his period of activity as a painter is traditionally limited to the two decades between 1639 and 1660, fitting directly within the accepted limits of the Dutch Golden Age's most significant period, 1640–1665.
He is known to have been married to Cornelia Bosman in 1658, a date coinciding so directly with the end of his productivity as a painter that it has been accepted that his marriage played some sort of role in the end of his artistic career. The year after his marriage Cuyp became the deacon of the reformed church. Houbraken recalled that Cuyp was a devout Calvinist and the fact that when he died, there were no paintings of other artists found in his home; the development of Aelbert Cuyp, trained as a landscape painter, may be sketched in three phases based on the painters who most influenced him during that time and the subsequent artistic characteristics that are apparent in his paintings. Cuyp learned tone from the exceptionally prolific Jan van Goyen, light from Jan Both and form from his father, Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp. Cuyp's "van Goyen phase" can be placed in the early 1640s. Cuyp first encountered a painting by van Goyen in 1640 when van Goyen was, as Stephen Reiss points out "at the height of powers."
This is noticeable in the comparison between two of Cuyp's landscape paintings inscribed 1639 where no properly formed style is apparent and the landscape backgrounds he painted two years for two of his father's group portraits that are distinctly van Goyenesque. Cuyp took from van Goyen the straw yellow and light brown tones that are so apparent in his Dunes and the broken brush technique very noticeable in that same work; this technique, a precursor to impressionism, is noted for the short brush strokes where the colors are not blended smoothly. In Cuyp's River Scene, Two Men Conversing both of these van Goyen-influenced stylistic elements are noticeable The next phase in the development of Cuyp's amalgamated style is due to the influence of Jan Both. In the mid-1640s Both, a native and resident of Utrecht, had just returned to his hometown from a trip to Rome, it is around this same time. In Rome, Both had developed a new style of composition due, at least in part, to his interaction with Claude Lorrain.
This new style was focused on changing the direction of light in the painting. Instead of the light being placed at right angles in relation to the line of vision, Both started moving it to a diagonal position from the back of the picture. In this new form of lighting, the artist faced the sun less contre-jour. Both, subsequently Cuyp, used the advantages of this new lighting style to alter the sense of depth and luminosity possible in a painting. To make notice of these new capabilities, much use was made of elongated shadows. Cuyp was one of the first Dutch painters to appreciate this new leap forward in style and while his own Both-inspired phase was quite short he did, more than any other contemporary Dutch artist, maximize the full chromatic scale for sunsets and sunrises. Cuyp's third stylistic phase is based on the influence of his father. While it is assumed that the younger Cuyp did work with his father to develop rudimentary talents, Aelbert became more focused on landscape paintings while Jacob was a portrait painter by profession.
As has been mentioned and as will be explained in depth below, there are pieces where Aelbert provided the landscape background for his father's portraits. What is meant by stating that Aelbert learned form from his father is that his eventual transition from a landscape painter to the involvement of foreground figures is attributed to his interaction with his father Jacob; the evidence for Aelbert's evolution to foreground figure painter is in the production of some paintings from 1645–50 featuring foreground animals that do not fit with Jacob's style. Adding to the confusion that is, Aelbert's stylistic development and the problem of attribution is of course the fact that Jacob's style was not stagnant either, their converging styles make it difficult to understand the influences each had on the other, although it is clear enough to say that Aelbert started representing large scale forms and placing animals as the focus of his paintings. Sunlight in his paintings rakes across the panel, accentuating small bits of detail in the golden light.
In large, atmospheric panoramas of the countryside, the highlights on a blade of meadow grass, the mane of a tranquil horse, the horn of a dairy cow reclining by a stream, or th
Johan Joseph Zoffany, RA was a German neoclassical painter, active in England and India. His works appear in many prominent British collections such as the National Gallery, the Tate Gallery and in the Royal Collection, as well as institutions in Europe, the United States and Australia, his name is sometimes spelled Zauffelij. Of noble Hungarian and Bohemian origin, Johan Zoffany was born near Frankfurt on 13 March 1733, the son of a cabinet maker and architect in the court of Alexander Ferdinand, 3rd Prince of Thurn and Taxis, he undertook an initial period of study in a sculptor's workshop in Ellwangen in the 1740s and at Regensburg with the artist Martin Speer. In 1750, he travelled to Rome. In autumn 1760 he arrived in England finding work with the clockmaker Stephen Rimbault, painting vignettes for his clocks. By 1764 he was enjoying the patronage of the royal family, King George III and Queen Charlotte, for his charmingly informal scenes such as Queen Charlotte and Her Two Eldest Children, in which the queen is shown at her toilette, with her eldest children, inside Buckingham House, another, with her children and her brothers.
He was popular with the Austrian Imperial family and in 1776 was created "Baron" by the Empress Maria Theresa. Johan Zoffany was a Freemason and was initiated into the Craft on 19 December 1763 at The Old King's Lodge No 28. A founding member of the new Royal Academy in 1768, Zoffany enjoyed great popularity for his society and theatrical portraits, painting many prominent actors and actresses, in particular David Garrick, the most famous actor of his day – Garrick as Hamlet and Garrick as King Lear – in costume, he was a master of what has been called the "theatrical conversation piece", a sub-set of the "conversation piece" genre that arose with the middle classes in the 18th century. Zoffany has been described by one critic as "the real creator and master of this genre". In the part of his life, Zoffany was known for producing huge paintings with large casts of people and works of art, all recognizable by their contemporaries. In paintings like The Tribuna of the Uffizi he carried this fidelity to an extreme degree: the Tribuna was displayed in the cluttered 18th-century manner, but Zoffany added to the sense of clutter by having other works brought into the small octagonal gallery space from other parts of the Uffizi.
Zoffany spent the years 1783 to early 1789 in India, where he painted portraits including the Governor-General of Bengal, Warren Hastings, the Nawab Wazir of Oudh, Asaf-ud-Daula. In the usual way, he sired several children by an Indian mistress, or ‘uppa-patni’. Returning to England, he was shipwrecked off the Andaman Islands; the survivors held a lottery. William Dalrymple describes Zoffany as having been "the first and last Royal Academician to have become a cannibal". Around the age of 27, Zoffany married the daughter of a court official in Würzburg, she returned to Germany within a decade or so. Zoffany left for Florence in 1772, followed by young Mary Thomas, the daughter of a London glovemaker, carrying his first child. Whether they married in Europe is uncertain, though Zoffany's portrait, Mary Thomas, the Artist’s second wife, c1781-82, shows her wearing a wedding ring. Following the death of his first wife in 1805, Zoffany married ‘Mary Thomas … Spinster’ in accordance with Church of England rites.
Zoffany and Mary Thomas had five children, including a son who died tragically in infancy, four daughters. Their second daughter, Cecilia was involved in a well-publicised child custody case in Guernsey in 1825. Zoffany died at his home at Strand-on-the-Green on 11 November 1810, he is buried in the churchyard of Kew. The painters Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Kirby are coincidentally buried nearby. Despite the high-profile the artist enjoyed in his day, as court painter in London and Vienna, Zoffany has, until recently, been curiously overlooked by art historical literature. In 1920, Lady Victoria Manners and Dr. G. C. Williamson published John Zoffany, R. A. his life and works. 1735–1810 – the first in-depth study of the artist and his work printed at some cost, in a limited edition of 500 copies. In 1966, Oliver Millar published Zoffany and his Tribuna – the expanded and illustrated notes of a lecture given at the Courtauld in 1964, on Zoffany's celebrated Uffizi group-portrait now in the Royal Collection.
This was followed by Johan Zoffany, 1733–1810, Mary Webster's short but authoritative illustrated guide for the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London. In December 2009, Penelope Treadwell published the first full biography, Johan Zoffany: Artist and Adventurer, Paul Holberton Publis
Dundas House is a Neoclassical building in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is located in the city's first New Town; the building was completed in 1774 as a private town house for Sir Lawrence Dundas by the architect Sir William Chambers. Much altered internally and extended over the years, today it is the registered office of the Royal Bank of Scotland, it is protected as a category A listed building; when the town council made plans for a New Town drawn up by James Craig in 1767, the site of Dundas House was shown as a proposed church, St. Andrew's, acting as a counterpart to St. George's Church on what became Charlotte Square; the two were separated by the New Town itself laid out on a formal grid centred on George Street along which the two churches were to face each other. Sir Lawrence Dundas saw the layout and decided the church site would make a good location for a prestigious town mansion, in 1768 he acquired the land, he invited designs from the architects John Carr and James Byres, but their proposals were not adopted.
Dundas turned to Sir William Chambers who drew up plans for the mansion in early 1771. The designs were agreed, soon afterwards construction began on the house; the building was completed by January 1774. In 1780 Hugo Arnot described the building as "incomparably the handsomest townhouse we saw"; the proposed St Andrew's Church was subsequently built at a less prominent site at 13 George Street. Lord Dundas died in 1781 and his son inherited the house. Having no great desire to live here he sold the house to the government and it became a Customs House. At this stage it gained the royal coat of arms in its pediment. Dundas House was acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1825; the interior was altered in 1825 and 1828 in 1836 by William Burn. Much of these alterations were removed by John Dick Peddie in 1857 when a banking hall with a distinctive pierced dome was added to the rear of the existing house. In 1834, a statue of John Hope, 4th Earl of Hopetoun, who had served as Governor of the Bank 1820–23, was placed in the garden in front of Dundas House.
The statue was commissioned in 1824 by the City of Edinburgh from the sculptor Thomas Campbell as a centrepiece for Charlotte Square at the west end of the New Town, but was removed to its current location. In 1972 the 19th century banking screens and counters were removed and replaced by white marble counters. Dundas House is a free-standing house designed in the Palladian style, it was modelled on Roger Morris's 1729 Palladian villa Marble Hill House in Twickenham, London but is much grander. The house is built of cream sandstone ashlar, weathered to light grey, from Ravelston Quarry some three miles to the west, it is fronted with a set of Corinthian pilasters supporting a large central pediment. The house is faced with ashlar with a rusticated ground floor; the large, opulent banking hall, added by Peddie in 1857, is covered by a large circular blue dome, pierced by 5 tiers of star-shaped gold-rimmed coffered skylights radiating out from the central oculus which diminish in size towards the centre, representing the firmament.
An illustration of this star pattern featured on Royal Bank of Scotland's "Islay" series of banknotes which were in circulation 1987–2016. In plans unveiled by the International Music and Performing Arts Charitable Trust Scotland in 2017, a new concert hall called the Impact Centre will be built behind Dundas House, replacing a block of banking offices, built in the 1960s. Dundas House will be retained as a bank branch, accessible to the public. Banknotes of Scotland Edinburgh Bank — BBC Nationwide
Falkirk is a large town in the Central Lowlands of Scotland within the county of Stirlingshire. It lies in the Forth Valley, 23.3 miles north-west of Edinburgh and 20.5 miles north-east of Glasgow. Falkirk had a resident population of 32,422 at the 2001 UK Census; the population of the town had risen to 34,570 according to a 2008 estimate, making it the 20th most populous settlement in Scotland. Falkirk is the main town and administrative centre of the Falkirk council area, which has an overall population of 156,800 and inholds the nearby towns of Grangemouth, Bo'ness, Denny and Stenhousemuir; the town is at the junction of the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals, a location which proved key to its growth as a centre of heavy industry during the Industrial Revolution. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Falkirk was at the centre of the iron and steel industry, underpinned by the Carron Company in nearby Carron; the company was responsible for making carronades for the Royal Navy and manufactured pillar boxes.
Within the last fifty years, heavy industry has waned, the economy relies on retail and tourism. Despite this, Falkirk remains the home of many international companies like Alexander Dennis. Falkirk has a long association with the publishing industry; the company now known as Johnston Press was established in the town in 1846. The company, now based in Edinburgh, produces the Falkirk Herald, the largest selling weekly newspaper in Scotland. Attractions in and around Falkirk include the Falkirk Wheel, The Helix, The Kelpies, Callendar House and Park and remnants of the Antonine Wall. In a 2011 poll conducted by STV, it was voted as Scotland's most beautiful town, ahead of Perth and Stirling in second and third place respectively. An Eaglais Bhreac is a derivative formed from the Scottish Gaelic cognate of the first recorded name Ecclesbrith from the Brittonic for "speckled church" referring to a church building built of many-coloured stones; the Scottish Gaelic name was translated into Scots as Fawkirk later amended to the modern English name of Falkirk.
The Latin name Varia Capella has the same meaning. Falkirk Old Parish Church stands on the site of the medieval church, which may have been founded as early as the 7th century; the Antonine Wall, which stretches across the centre of Scotland, passed through the town and remnants of it can be seen at Callendar Park. Similar to Hadrian's Wall but built of turf rather than stone so less of it has survived, it marked the northern frontier of the Roman Empire between the Firth of Forth and Firth of Clyde during the AD 140s. Much of the best evidence of Roman occupation in Scotland has been found in Falkirk, including a large hoard of Roman coins and a cloth of tartan, thought to be the oldest recorded. A Roman fort was confirmed to be found by Geoff Bailey in the Pleasance area of Falkirk in 1991. A Roman themed park at Callendar House was awarded lottery funding to help raise awareness of the wall. In the 18th century the area was the cradle of Scotlands's Industrial Revolution, becoming the earliest major centre of the iron-casting industry.
James Watt cast some of the beams for his early steam engine designs at the Carron Iron Works in 1765. The area was at the forefront of canal construction when the Forth and Clyde Canal opened in 1790; the Union Canal provided a link to Edinburgh and early railway development followed in the 1830s and 1840s. The canals led to the town's growth. Through time, trunk roads and motorways followed the same canal corridors through the Falkirk area, linking the town with the rest of Scotland. Many companies set up work in Falkirk due to its expansion. A large brickworks was set up at this time, owned by the Howie family. During the 19th century, Falkirk became the first town in Great Britain to have a automated system of street lighting and implemented by a local firm, Thomas Laurie & Co Ltd. Two important battles have taken place at Falkirk: The Battle of Falkirk fought on 22 July 1298, saw the defeat of William Wallace by King Edward I of England; the Battle of Falkirk Muir took place on 17 January 1746, the Jacobites under Charles Edward Stuart defeated a government army commanded by Lieutenant General Henry Hawley.
In terms of local government the town sits at the heart of Falkirk Council area, one of the 32 unitary authorities of Scotland formed by the Local Government etc Act 1994. The headquarters of the council are located in the Municipal Buildings, adjacent to Falkirk Town Hall, on West Bridge Street in the centre of town; the Council has been led by an SNP minority since 2017. The current Leader of the Council is Cllr Cecil Meiklejohn. Falkirk is located within the Scottish parliamentary constituency of Falkirk West which elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament under the first past the post system; the current MSP is Michael Matheson, who won the seat at the 2007 Scottish Parliament General Election. The previous MSP, Dennis Canavan, who sat as an Independent, was elected with the largest majority in the Scottish parliament representing Falkirk's electorate's displeasure with New Labour, but stepped down in 2007 for family reasons. Canavan, who announced in an open letter to his constituents in January 2007, that he was stepping down from representative politics at the Scottish Parliament election, 2007 had been an MSP or MP for the area for over 30 years.
The constituency of Falkirk West sits in the Central Scotland Scottish Parliament electoral region which returns seven MSPs under the additional member system used to elect Members of the Scottish Parliament. In