The Carse of Gowrie hamlet of Cottown is home to a rare clay-built thatched-roofed schoolhouse, one of only a very few buildings of its type still standing in Scotland. Acquired in the mid-1990s by the National Trust for Scotland and partially restored, the building has been plagued by flooding and damp problems and has yet to open its doors to visitors. However, while the grounds are often overgrown with brambles and nettles, it can still be viewed externally.
Built in the second half of the 18th century, the cottage served as a school for the children of the tiny community of Cottown, located eight miles east of Perth, which was originally home to farm labourers and their families. It remained in educational use until the mid-19th century when it became a private dwelling before falling vacant in 1985. Sliding slowly into a state of disrepair, the clay walls were repaired and the thatch roof renewed a decade later.
Following serious flooding in 2011, the internal flooring was removed and, while the National Trust for Scotland keeps a watchful eye on the old school, a full restoration has yet to be completed.
The cottage that stands today was originally one of three buildings on the site. At its western end, adjacent to the road, there was a smaller two-roomed thatched cottage and, behind it, there was an outbuilding, also thatched. Their ruins are now shrouded in vegetation.
Facing an uncertain future, the former schoolhouse is listed on the Buildings at Risk register.