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Abdie, Fifeshire

Historical Description

ABDIE, a parish, in the district of Cupar, county of Fife, 2¼ miles (S. S. E.) from Newburgh; including the villages of Lindores, Grange of Lindores, Glenburnie, and a suburb of the town of Newburgh, called Mount-Pleasant; and containing 1508 inhabitants. This place formed part of the lands of Macduff, Thane of Fife; it continued in the possession of his descendants for many ages, and afterwards, together with the earldom, passed to the family of Mordac, Duke of Albany, on whose attainder and decapitation at Stirling, in the reign of James I., his estates in Fife, and other property, reverted to the crown. The lands of Denmill, which included the greater portion of this parish, were granted by James II. to James Balfour, son of Sir John Balfour, of Balgarvie, one of whose descendants was killed in the battle of Flodden Field, to which he attended his sovereign James IV.; and another, Sir James Balfour, of Denmill, was appointed lyon king-at-arms to Charles I. and Charles II. There are still remaining some vestiges of the ancient castle of Lindores, in the village of that name, said to have been the residence of Duncan Macduff, first Thane of Fife; near which, according to the annals drawn up by Sir James Balfour, a sanguinary battle took place in the year 1300, between the Scots, headed by Sir William Wallace, and the English, when the latter were defeated, with the loss of 3000 slain on the field, and 500 taken prisoners.

The parish, anciently called Lindores, was formerly of much greater extent than at present, including the lands of the parish of Newburgh, which was separated from it in 1633. Its surface is very uneven, rising in some parts into hills of considerable elevation, of which the highest are the Norman's Law and the Clatchard Crag. The former is 936 feet above the level of the sea, and commands an extensive prospect, combining much interesting scenery, especially towards the north, embracing the Carse of Gowrie, with its richly cultivated surface, and the Firth of Tay, and lands in its vicinity, which are richly planted. The Clatchard Crag, situated to the south-east of Newburgh, is a tall and stately cliff. abruptly rising to an elevation of 250 feet above the level of the plain, and towering with rugged majesty above the road, which passes near its base. The river Tay bounds the parish on the north and east; and a powerful stream issues from the loch of Lindores, in the parish, and in its course gives motion to several large mills. The loch of Lindores is a beautiful sheet of water, covering nearly seventy acres of ground, and measuring in many places almost twenty feet in depth. It is supplied by a copious stream that rises in a tract of moss about half a mile distant, called the Priest's burn, which in the winter is never frozen, and in the driest summers is always abundant. The lake abounds with perch, pike, and eels, and is much frequented by ducks, teals, and snipes.

The number of acres in the parish is nearly 7000, whereof 4580 are arable, about 1530 in pasture, 300 in wood, and the remainder waste land, of which, probably, nearly 200 acres might be brought into cultivation. The soil is extremely various: along the banks of the Tay, in the lower part of the parish, it is remarkably fertile; on the slopes it is a black loam of great depth, and in other parts light and gravelly. The acclivities of the hills are partly covered with heath, but in many places afford good pasturage for sheep, of which considerable numbers, chiefly of a mixed breed, are reared in the parish, and sold in the neighbouring markets. Great numbers of sheep of different kinds are also fed here upon turnips, and shipped to London by steamers from Leith and Dundee. The chief crops are, barley, oats, wheat, potatoes, and turnips: from the improved system of agriculture, and the draining and reclaiming of waste lands, the crops have been greatly increased in value; and large quantities of grain and potatoes are exported. There are likewise several dairy farms, producing butter and cheese of good quality. The substratum is generally whinstone, of which there are quarries in full operation; it is much valued for building and other purposes, and was formerly exported to a great extent. A kind of red sandstone is prevalent, which was once quarried; and limestone is also found, but, from the distance of coal, every attempt to work it for burning into lime has been given up. The annual value of real property in the parish is £8145.

The principal seat is Inchrye House, a castellated building in the early English style, crowned with battlements, and embellished with turrets, erected at an expense of £12,000. It is seen with peculiar effect from the road leading to Newburgh; it is surrounded with thriving woods and ornamental plantations, and the grounds are laid out with great taste. The House of Lindores, the residence of Admiral Maitland, who commanded the Bellerophon when Napoleon Buonaparte surrendered himself prisoner, is pleasantly situated upon an eminence, embracing much varied and interesting scenery overlooking the loch of Lindores. There are various other handsome residences, finely seated, and adding to the beauty of the landscape. The weaving of linen is carried on in the parish, affording employment to a considerable number of persons who work with hand-looms in their own dwellings; there are corn and barley mills in full and increasing operation, a saw-mill for timber, on a very extensive scale, and a mill for grinding bones for manure. Great facility of intercourse is afforded by the Perth line of the Edinburgh, Perth, and Dundee railway. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Cupar and synod of Fife; the Earl of Mansfield is patron, and the stipend of the incumbent is £233, with a manse, and a glebe comprising four acres of arable, and six of pasture, land, valued at £23 per annum. Abdie church, a plain substantial edifice, was erected in 1827, and is adapted for nearly 600 persons. The parochial school affords a liberal course of instruction; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with £17 from school fees, and a good house and garden.

There are some remains of the ancient church, in the porch of which is still the basin for the consecrated water; and, till lately, the steps that formed the ascent to the altar were also entire. Urns containing human bones and ashes have been found in several parts of the parish. One containing a skull and several bones was dug up a short time ago near the foot of Clatchard Crag; it was inclosed in loose flat stones placed together in the form of a kistvaen. A similar urn was found near the site of the ancient abbey of Lindores, containing a great number of small bones. On the summit of Clatchard Crag are the vestiges of an ancient fort; and near the top of Norman's Law are three concentric circles, of rough stones rudely formed, supposed to have been a Danish encampment.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis