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Abernethy, Inverness-shire

Historical Description

ABERNETHY, a parish, in the county of Inverness and the county of Elgin, 5 miles (S. W. by S.) from Grantown; containing, with Kincardine, 1832 inhabitants, of whom 1083 are in Abernethy proper. This parish, to which that of Kincardine was annexed about the time of the Reformation, derives its name from the position of the church near the influx of the river Nethy into the Spey: Kincardine, or Kinie-chairdin, implies the "clan of friends." The united parish is fifteen miles long and from ten to twelve broad, containing about 120,000 acres, of which about 3000 are in tillage, 40,000 forest and plantation, and 77,000 uncultivated. It extends from the borders of Cromdale to Rothiemurchus, and the lower end of it falls within the county of Inverness: the surface is mountainous and woody, interspersed with corn-fields. The parish is bounded on the west, throughout its entire length, by the river Spey; and the Nethy, when swollen, is of sufficient size to allow of the passage of floats of timber into the Spey. There are several lakes also, in Kincardine; the chief is the oval basin in Glenmore forest, which is nearly two miles in diameter. The soil in some parts is deep raith, but frequently thin and dry, and in some places wet and cold; wood is abundant, and about 7000 acres on one estate are under fir of natural growth. Some of the farms exhibit the appearance of superior husbandry, and have substantial and commodious buildings. Improvements have been carried on for a considerable time, to the advance of which, the plentiful supply of limestone in the parish, and of native fuel for preparing it, has greatly contributed: every farmer, however small his ground, has a lime-kiln in use. Parallel to the river Spey extends a range of mountains, a branch of the Grampians, which exhibits a great variety of rock: commencing with the well-known Cairngorm and Ben-Macdhui, its southern extremity, granite stretches to the north, for several miles; then appears primary limestone, and this is succeeded by trap and micaceous schist.

A regular "manufacture " of timber has been carried on in the Abernethy district, for more than sixty years. The Duke of Gordon, in 1784, sold his fir-woods of Glenmore, in the barony of Kincardine, for £10,000, to an English company, who exhausted them; and from the forest of Abernethy, belonging to the Earl of Seafield, great quantities of timber are still forwarded yearly to Garmouth or Speymouth, by large rafts in the river Spey: much of it has been formed into vessels of large burthen, at the former place, and considerable quantities sent to the royal dockyards in England. The trade was immense during the war, the annual value for many years averaging £15,000: it is now considerably diminished, although still employing a large number of the population. The annual value of real property in the parish is £3442.

The parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Abernethy and synod of Moray; the Earl of Seafield is patron, and the stipend of the minister is £234. 2. 1., with a glebe of the annual value of £7. The church in the district of Abernethy, a commodious structure with seats for 600 persons, was erected eighty or ninety years since; and that of Kincardine, a well-built edifice, seven miles distant from the manse, containing about 330 sittings, was built in 1804. There is a parochial school, in which Latin, mathematics, and the usual branches of education are taught; the master has a salary of £25. 13., with £22 fees, &c., and a house. A Gaelic school at Kincardine is chiefly supported by £17 a year from the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Several ancient remains are to be seen, particularly of Druidical circles; and on rising ground near the church is an old building, of which no satisfactory account has ever been afforded. The topaz called cairngorm is found in considerable numbers in the mountain of that name; and at the end of Lochaven is an interesting natural curiosity, in the form of a cave, commonly called Chlachdhian, or "the sheltering stone," and which is surrounded by vast mountains. It is sufficient to contain a number of persons, and people frequently take shelter in it for security from rain and wind, after hunting or fishing, and sometimes being driven by necessity. Some pine-trees of immense size are to be found throughout the forest: the trunk of one, at nine feet from the ground, is nineteen feet in circumference.

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