Known as the Fair City, Perth has a long, proud history. Although it was never Scotland’s official capital, it often hosted the royal court. The famous Stone of Scone, used in coronation ceremonies, was also kept here. Modern visitors to Perth will need to go through the UK’s new ETA system. ETA stands for ‘Electronic Travel Authorisation’. This guide explains all that you need to know before travelling.
Perth Through the Ages
It is believed that Perth was first settled by the ancient Picts, but it first rose to prominence in the 10th century. At this time, it was one of the most important cities in the Kingdom of Alba, which would eventually become Scotland. Perth owed a lot of its importance to the presence of Scone, a town just two miles away. The Stone of Destiny was kept here, otherwise known as the Stone of Scone. For centuries, Scotland’s monarchs would sit upon the stone during their coronation. It was seized during the war by the English King Edward I, and after the Act of Union, it was used in the crowning of British monarchs. The stone remained in Westminster Abbey, London, until 1950, when a group of Scottish students removed it and secretly returned it to Scotland. It was returned to Westminster four months later before finally being returned to Scotland permanently in 1996.
Sadly, the historic Scone Abbey has been completely destroyed. However, Scone Palace remains and is open to visitors. The palace was built in the same mediaeval Gothic style as the original abbey, boasting sprawling grounds with a star-shaped maze and woodlands. 42 Scottish kings were crowned here. For centuries, it was believed that no man could call himself King of Scots without sitting upon the Stone of Scone.
In 1296, Edward I of England captured Perth, which was largely unfortified. Edward’s armies quickly started to build defences, but they were destroyed in 1312 when Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, reclaimed the city. Over the following century, Perth was to change hands more times, with the English Edward III building a massive series of walls, towers and other fortifications. Today, none of these remain.
St John’s Kirk
Due to frequent wars, many of Perth’s oldest buildings have long since been destroyed. However, St John’s Kirk remains. This historic church was built in 1448, but a church has stood on the site since 1126. It was here that John Knox gave a sermon against idolatry in 1559, which marked the start of the Scottish Reformation, as Scotland broke with the Catholic church to develop a Presbyterian tradition. The Kings Charles I and Charles II are both known to have visited this church.
Assassination at Perth
Perth was an important royal city for the Scottish monarchs for many centuries. Some even describe it as the de facto capital of Scotland. However, this came to an end in the year 1437, when intrigue against King James I led to his assassination in Perth’s Blackfriars Priory. His wife was injured in the attack but managed to escape to Edinburgh, where she reunited with her son. Following James’ murder, future Scottish kings chose to reign from Edinburgh, as its sturdy castle offered greater protection. James was buried in Perth, but the site of his grave has been lost over the centuries.
Just 14 miles from Perth, Falkland Palace is a royal palace that still belongs to the Stuart family. It is open to visitors and has impressive gardens and antique furniture. Formerly used as a hunting lodge, this palace was a favourite getaway of Mary, Queen of Scots, and her son, James VI (later also James I of England). The last monarchs to stay here were Charles I and Charles II. The fire was heavily damaged when burned by Oliver Cromwell’s troops during the Civil War and would not be restored until the late 19th century.
The Black Watch in Perth
Perth is strongly associated with the Black Watch, the oldest Highland regiment. This infantry unit was founded in the aftermath of 1715’s First Jacobite Rebellion when loyalist Highland clans raised an independent militia to keep the peace. The name Black Watch refers to their lack of popularity with the common people at the time. They were merged into a single regiment in 1739. They fought against Scottish rebels in future Jacobite uprisings and have served in wars around the world over the following centuries. Perth, known as the “Gateway to the Highlands”, has often seen the Black Watch stationed within the city limits due to its location.
The Black Watch Museum
The 17th-century Balhousie Castle is today home of the Black Watch Museum. Inside, there are artefacts that help explain the history of the regiment, with information about conflicts from the Jacobite Rebellions all the way up to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Visitors can see uniforms, medals and weapons, as well as films, diaries, paintings and photographs. Guided tours of the museum are available.
The UK ETA for Perth
From 2024 onwards, the UK’s new ETA system will be introduced. This new programme, based on existing systems in countries like the United States and Canada, is designed to digitalise border control measures and allow the government greater oversight over entries and departures.
The new ETA will replace the UK’s current visa waiver programme. As such, it will affect the citizens of the 92 countries who, at present, do not require a visa to enter the UK.
The ETA will permit visitors to stay in the UK for up to six months. They may not work but can study if they wish and travel freely around the country. Those who would like to work in the UK, or stay for a period of longer than six months, will still need to apply for a visa, as they do at present.
Applying for the UK ETA for Perth
Applying for a UK ETA for Perth is an online process. There is no paper-based alternative, as the ETA is a completely digital programme. Travellers must begin their ETA application well in advance of travelling. Carriers may deny boarding to travellers who do not have an approved ETA.
A list of requirements has been published, which travellers should look at before they begin the application process. They will need a valid biometric passport. As part of the application, they will need to provide personal details, such as an address, date of birth and employment status.
As well as this information, travellers will need to disclose criminal records, any immigration offences or memberships in proscribed groups or organisations. They will also be expected to provide some details about their plans when in the UK, which could include the address at which they will stay or an itinerary of their trip.
The ETA application includes a non-refundable fee. This must be paid in full before the application can be processed. Processing may take up to 72 hours, so applicants should ensure they have enough time before they travel.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Perth
Once issued with the UK ETA for Perth, travellers can move freely between the different countries that make up the United Kingdom. If they want to leave Scotland to visit England, Wales or Northern Ireland, they can do so by any means of transport. However, the ETA is only valid for the UK. Those who wish to visit other European countries, including the Republic of Ireland, will need to check the entry requirements before attempting to cross any international borders.
Refer to the ETA FAQ for additional information.
A Trip to Perth With the UK ETA
A historic city, once home to kings and queens, Perth is an attractive destination for anyone wanting to learn more about Scotland. Travelling with the new UK ETA for Perth allows visitors to explore its historic buildings, as well as head north to discover the rugged majesty of Scotland’s Highlands. For peace of mind, ensure that your application is completed in advance and start discovering the charms of central Scotland.