Saturday, 8 December 2007
Abernethy Perthshire Scotland
Abernethy, Perthshire, Scotland. Abernethy in 1846. Abernethy, a burgh and parish, partly in the district of Cupar, county of Fife, but chiefly in the county of Perth, 3 miles (W. S. W.) from Newburgh; containing, with the village of Aberdargie, 1920 inhabitants, of whom 827 are in the town of Abernethy. This place, originally called Abernethyn, a word signifying "the town upon the Nethy," is supposed, by some, to have derived its name from the small stream flowing through the centre of the parish, and denominated Nethy from the old British term neith, or nid, implying a "turning" or "whirling stream." But others are of opinion that the appellation has been received from Nectan or Nethan, one of the Pictish kings, who founded the place, and of whose kingdom it was the capital. The most ancient and credible of the Scottish historians agree in representing this locality as the metropolis of the Pictish nation, both in civil and religious matters; but the particulars relating to the erection of the church are variously described. The Pictish Chronicle states the edifice to have been raised by Nethan, or Nectan I., about the year 456, as a sacrifice offered to God and St. Bridget, for the recovery of his kingdom; and Fordun asserts, that St. Patrick himself introduced St. Bridget and her nine nuns into the religious establishment of Abernethy. Others, however, are of opinion, that the church was founded and endowed towards the close of the 6th century, by King Garnard M'Dourmach, or in the beginning of the 7th century, by Nethan II., his immediate successor. The church, shortly afterwards, was made the head of an episcopal see, and here was the residence of the metropolitan of the Pictish kingdom, and probably of all Scotland, until the Picts were subdued by one of the Kenneths, and both the see, and the residence of the bishop, were transferred to St. Andrew's, the head of which was afterwards acknowledged as the national bishop. Abernethy was subsequently comprehended in the bishopric of Dunblane, founded in the 12th century, by King David I., out of the national bishopric of St. Andrew's. After the removal of the see from this place, the church became collegiate, and was in the possession of the Culdees, of whom but little is known with certainty, except that this parish was their principal seat, and that here they had a university for the education of youth, in which was taught the whole of the sciences, as far as they were then known. In the 12th century, by a charter of King William the Lion and of Lawrence de Abernethy, the church and advowson of Abernethy, with its pertinents, were conveyed to the abbey of Arbroath; and about the year 1240, the altarage of the church, with certain lands, was given to the Bishop of Dunblane, who, in return, among other things, engaged to provide for the service of the church, to enrol it among his prebendal institutions, and to instal the abbot of Arbroath, as a prebendary or canon, with a manse and privileges similar to those of the other canons. The ancient monastery, in 1273, became a priory of canons regular, and a cell of Inchaffray; all the Culdee institutions yielded to the increasing power of the Romish church, and this priory seems to have been afterwards converted into a provostry or college of secular priests, and the church, with a provost, was a collegiate establishment. The church, at the Reformation, was valued at £273 per annum, and was afterwards a parsonage.
The civil occupancy of the principal lands appears to have taken place at an early period; in the 12th century, Orme, the son of Hugh, received the lands of Abernethy, from King William the Lion, and from them both himself and his posterity took their name. Alexander de Abernethy, a descendant, swore fealty to Edward I. in 1292, and was appointed by Edward II., in 1310, warden of the counties between the Forth and the Grampians, but his lands are supposed to have been forfeited after the battle of Bannockburn, or to have been continued in the family only by the marriage of his daughters, the eldest of whom, Margaret, was united to John Stewart, Earl of Angus, who thus obtained the lordship of Abernethy, and whose grand-daughter, Margaret Stewart, married William, Earl of Douglas. This family of Douglas, during the earlier periods of their history, were numerous and powerful, and are supposed to have resided near the house of Carpow; and many of the most illustrious branches of the earls of Angus have been interred in this spot. It was at Abernethy that Malcolm Canmore did homage to William the Conqueror, according to the account of Fordun, Winton, and others; but so many different opinions exist on the point as to render it altogether doubtful.
The town, which is of great antiquity, and, by ruins discovered eastward of it, is supposed to have been once much more extensive, is situated near the confluence of the Tay and Earn rivers, on the south-eastern border of the county, and adjoining Fifeshire in that direction, in which county a small portion of it stands. The lands in the vicinity, and throughout the greater part of the parish, are interesting and beautiful, consisting of large tracts, highly cultivated, forming, on the north, a portion of the rich vale of Strathearn, enlivened by the rivers; on the south, the lands are, for the most part, hilly, occupying about two-thirds of the whole area, and belonging to the picturesque range of the Ochils. About a mile to the east, is the mansion of Carpow, a neat modern structure; a little beyond it, is a small stream which separates Abernethy from the parish of Newburgh, in Fifeshire, and to the west is the mansion called Ayton House, skirted by the Farg rivulet, which joins the Earn at Colfargie, after flowing through the romantic scenery of Glenfarg. Not far from this, in the south-western district, situated three-quarters of a mile from the town, is Castle Law, a steep grassy elevation, 600 feet high, the summit of which is the seat of a vitrified fort. It commands a beautiful view of Strathearn and the carse of Gowrie, with the interjacent Tay, where there is an island named Mugdrum, belonging to this parish, a mile in length, comprehending 35 acres of the richest arable land, and which is thronged, in autumn and winter, with various kinds of water-fowl, and sometimes is visited by very fine wild swans.
The town contains a library, but has no other institutions of interest; a large portion of the inhabitants, both male and female, as well as those residing in the villages of Aberdargie and Glenfoot, in the parish, are employed in weaving linen-yarn, for the manufacturers of Newburgh. The trade consists chiefly in the sale of grain and potatoes, the former being sent to the weekly market of Newburgh, and the potatoes taken to Ferryfield, on the estate of Carpow, where there is a stone pier, and thence conveyed to the London market. The Earl of Wemyss has fishings on the Earn, and there are others on the Earn and Tay, belonging to the estate of Carpow. A brick and tile work is in operation; and a bleachfield has been formed at Clunie, in the eastern district, which has, to some extent, caused an increase in the population. The turnpike-road from Perth to Edinburgh passes through the parish; several good roads, also, are kept in repair by statute labour, one of which leads from Perth to Cupar, in which line a new bridge was erected over the Farg, a few years since; and there are two ferries, the one at Cary, and the other at Ferryfield. Cattle-fairs are held on the 12th February, the fourth Wednesday in May, and the second Thursday in November; they are, however, in a very low state. Abernethy is a burgh of barony, held under Lord Douglas, and had a charter from Archibald, Earl of Angus, Lord of Abernethy, dated 23rd August, 1476, in which mention is made of a royal charter of erection, in his favour, by King James II. By a charter of William, Earl of Angus, dated 29th November, 1628, the privileges were confirmed, and, among others, the right of fairs and markets, the customs of which were to be applied to the use of the burgh, except they amounted to more than 100 merks Scots yearly, when the surplus was to be accounted for to the superior. The practice of the burgh has fixed the number of bailies at two, and the councillors at fifteen, who appoint their successors, and by right of charter, the burgesses elect their magistrates; the fee for admission as a burgess, to a stranger, is 10s. 6d., and to the son of a burgess, half that sum. The bailies formerly exercised both a civil and criminal jurisdiction, to a small extent, but their authority has been lately challenged; they still, however, hold courts for petty offences, from which there is no appeal but to the court of justiciary or session.
The parish comprises about 7030 acres, of which 2568 acres are comprehended in the northern division, forming the lowest part of the vale of Strathearn, and the remainder consists of a portion of the Ochil hills; the soil of the former is deep rich clay, black earth, and sand, and that of the latter, tilly, and resting on whinstone, among which numerous valuable pebbles have, at different times, been found. All kinds of grain and green crops are raised, of the first quality, on the lower portion, where the lands are cultivated to the highest degree; the hilly part contains 950 acres of permanent pasture, 850 in plantations, and 2660 arable, the last producing oats, barley, turnips, potatoes, &c., and the whole farming of the parish is of the most approved kind. The rocks between the Tay and the Ochils consist principally of the old red sandstone, and the substrata of the Ochils comprise chiefly the clinkstone, amygdaloid, porphyry, and claystone varieties of the trap formation. Gneiss, primitive trap, and quartz are found in boulders, especially on the hills, and quarries are in operation of the greenstone and clinkstone rocks, supplying a material for roads and coarse buildings. Zeolites of great beauty are found in Glenfarg, and agates, jaspers, &c., in many places; limestone, also, exists in Auchtermuchty, and in the Glenfarg quarry have been found scales of the ichthyolites.
The parish is in the presbytery of Perth and synod of Perth and Stirling, and in the gift of the Earl of Mansfield; the minister's stipend is £256. 5. 7., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £12 per annum. The church, built in 1802, is a plain but commodious edifice, containing 600 sittings. There are places of worship belonging to the Free Church and United Associate Synod, and another at Aberdargie connected with the Relief Church. The parochial school affords instruction in the usual branches; the master has the maximum salary, and some fees, together with about £13. 13., chiefly arising from a bequest by Lord Stormont, of £200, in 1748, and another producing £1. 13., for teaching. On the top of a hill behind Pitlour, are the remains of an ancient fort called the "Roman camp," supposed, by some antiquaries, to have been occupied by the army of that nation before the great battle with Galgacus; and in the south-western extremity of the parish, in Fifeshire, is the ruin of Balvaird Castle, situated among the Ochils, the property of the Earl of Mansfield and his ancestors, since the time of Robert II., and which conferred a title on Andrew Murray, of Balvaird, who was settled minister of Abdie in 1618, knighted in 1633, and created Lord Balvaird in 1641. Many Roman antiquities have been discovered, leading to the supposition that this people had an important military station here, and a Roman road is said formerly to have existed, leading to Ardoch, and another to Perth; but the most interesting relic of former times, and that which has excited the greatest interest, is a round tower, to which there is nothing similar in Scotland, except at Brechin, and the origin of which is altogether involved in obscurity. It stands at the entrance of the church, near the site containing the old college and ecclesiastical establishment, and also the ancient church taken down in 1802; and contains a clock, and an excellent bell which has been used, from time immemorial, for ecclesiastical purposes, and, to a certain extent, by the burgh, for civil purposes. The building is 74 feet high, 48 feet round outwardly at the base, and consists of 64 courses of hewn freestone, diminishing a little towards the summit, where there are four windows, equidistant, facing the four quarters of heaven, each 5 feet 9 inches high, and 2 feet 2 inches wide. The walls, at the bottom, are 3½ feet thick, and opposite to the north is a door, 8 feet in height, and 3 feet wide, arched overhead; the building is flat at the top, having a large projecting moulding for the uppermost course of stones, and, being entirely hollow, and without staircase, is ascended by scaling ladders attached to wooden platforms. The Rev. John Brown, for 36 years minister of the Associate Burgher congregation at Haddington, and author of the Self-interpreting Bible, and other theological works, was born at Carpow, in 1722.