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Aberlemno, Forfarshire

Historical Description

ABERLEMNO, a parish, in the county of Forfar; containing, with the chapelry of Auldbar, 1023 inhabitants: the hamlets of Kirktown and Crosston of Aberlemno are equidistant from the towns of Forfar and Brechin, being about 6 miles from each. Aberlemno is named from the small river Lemno, the word signifying "the mouth of the Lemno." This stream, after flowing a few miles towards the south-west, and winding northward around the western extremity of the hill of Oathlaw, runs to the east, and falls into the Esk, about a mile from its source. The parish is separated on the north, by the Esk, from Tannadice and Careston, and measures about six miles in length, and in some places five in breadth. It forms part of a hilly district situated towards the south of Strathmore, and the higher portions, which are bleak, are mostly covered with broom and heath, while the lower grounds are generally fertile, though in one district subject to inundations from the Esk. The hill of Turin is the highest eminence; the others attain only a moderate elevation: it rises about 800 feet above the level of the sea, commanding extensive prospects, and by the plantations of fir upon its slope contributing greatly to the improvement of the scenery. The lake of Balgavies, on the southern boundary, affords good pike and perch angling: it formerly yielded a large supply of marl for manuring the lands. The inhabitants, with the exception of a few engaged in weaving and in quarrying, follow agricultural pursuits; and the farmers pay much attention to the rearing of cattle, considerable numbers of which, and large quantities of potatoes, are sent to the London market. There are four meal and barley mills, driven by water; and all the large farms have threshing-mills. Several quarries of fine slate stone of a greyish colour are in operation, supplying a good material for building, paving, and the roofing of houses. The annual value of real property in the parish is £6833.

In this neighbourhood are various old castles and remains of strong places, including the houses of Auldbar and Balgavies, both of which are surrounded with fine wood: the first of these consists of an ancient and a modern portion, and that of Balgavies is comparatively modern, a single vault only of the more ancient structure remaining. The house of Carsegownie has been lately partially stripped of its ancient feudal appearance; while the castle of Flemmington, a little to the east of the church, retains all the distinguishing features of the predatory era in which it was erected. The Auldbar turnpike-road, connecting the railway station of the same name with Brechin, passes through the parish, as does also the turnpike-road from Forfar to Montrose; and there is a parish road from Forfar to Brechin, running in a north-eastern direction through the whole length of the district. Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Forfar, synod of Angus and Mearns, and in the patronage of the Crown and the family of Smythe of Methven; the minister's stipend is £228. 6. 6., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £15 per annum. The present church was built upon the old foundation, from about three feet above the ground, in the year 1722, and accommodates 450 persons with sittings. The parochial school affords instruction in the usual branches; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with fees producing between £12 and £14. There is a library of miscellaneous works. The most interesting relic of antiquity is the ruin of Melgund Castle, said to have been built by Cardinal Beaton, and still indicating by its extent and strength its former magnificence. On the summit of Turin hill are the remains of an ancient fort called Camp Castle, commanding most extensive views, and supposed to have been raised as a watchtower. There are also numerous tumuli and cairns in the parish, and several obelisks or monumental stones, ornamented with various devices, one of the chief of which is in the churchyard, exhibiting on one side a cross in bold relief covered with flowers, and on the other a number of martial figures, thought to be memorials of important military achievements. The title of Viscount Melgund is borne by the Earl of Minto, who is proprietor of nearly half the parish.

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


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