THE Royal Forest at Clackmannan is now a shadow of its former glory.

There is some dispute as to when the Royal Forest was established, but it was first mentioned by Edward I, or Edward Longshanks, in 1305.

It became important, not only at local level, but nationally. Within the forest were four internal deer parks and this attracted the ancient kings of Scotland to hunt there.

To the east of the castle of Clackmannan, the forest stretched over large swathes of the countryside.

The forest would have been rich in a variety of trees, and wildlife, such as deer and wild boar, and it is known oaks grew there.

Not only did the forest provide a good hunting ground for the royal entourage, but also wood for building and heat for cooking. It was in abundant supply and good use was made of this natural resource.

By a charter granted by the king, David II, the monks from Holyrood in Edinburgh had the right of cutting wood from the forest for building and other purposes, as well as being able to allow their pigs to graze within its boundaries.

In the 15th century, feuding took please between James III and his brother Alexander, the Duke of Albany.

Albany was envious of his older brother and tried to challenge the king for the throne.

He was captured in 1479 and held at Edinburgh Castle, however he escaped and made his way to Dunbar Castle.

The king resolved to lay siege to Dunbar and for this he required the resources of the Clackmannan forest.

Foresters were commanded to cut the trees down and shape them so that they could be used for the necessary measures against the East Lothian castle. Albany escaped to the French court.

By the 17th century the forest was no longer in royal hands but instead had been handed over to the Earls of Mar, and the barony of Alloway (Alloa) was handed over to James Crechton in 1649.

By the end of 1650 the forest, as well as a large chunk of land, was bought by William Murray who paid John Erskine over £24,500.

One of the most famous men to hunt in the Royal Forest was Robert I, or Robert Bruce.

He stayed at Clackmannan on several times, and it was while out hunting, so the local legend goes, he lost his glove near or at a clach, hence the name Clackmannan.

However, he arrived long after Clackmannan got its name.