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Airth, Stirlingshire

Historical Description

AIRTH, a parish, in the county of Stirling, 6½ miles (N.) from Falkirk; containing, with the villages of Airth and Dunmore, 1493 inhabitants, of whom 561 are in the village of Airth. The Gaelic term ard or ardhé, signifying "a hill", is supposed to have given the name to this place, the eminence called the Hill of Airth being a conspicuous figure, and forming a striking contrast to the level district by which it is surrounded. The parish is situated on the shore of the Forth, which is its boundary on the north and east for about eight miles and a half; and contains the three small landing-places or harbours of Newmiln, Airth, and Dunmore. Its length, from north to south, is six miles and a half, and its breadth three and a half; comprising 16,400 acres of land, mostly in tillage. The small river Pow is the only water besides the Forth; it rises in the parish of St. Ninian's, and after being crossed by several stone bridges, falls into the latter river near Kincardine ferry. The prevailing soil consists of alluvial deposits from the Forth; and the layers of shells at a small depth from the surface, on the lower grounds, afford plain evidence that this portion of the parish formed originally a part of the bed of the river. Most kinds of grain and green crops are raised, averaging £100,000 in annual value; and the general husbandry, which has been for some time advancing, is considered equal to that of the best cultivated districts. The rocks comprise distinct varieties of sandstone, differing in colour, texture, and extent; and there are several quarries. Argillaceous rock of the fire-proof species also exists here, on which rest beds of coal, belonging with their appropriate strata to the great coalfield of Scotland, but which are not at present worked, the pits formerly in operation, near the village of Dunmore, having been closed since 1811 on account of their exhausted state. The annual value of real property in the parish is £12,420. The plantations are chiefly in the vicinity of the beautiful Hill of Airth, and Dunmore Park, the most prominent and striking portions of the parish. On the hill is situated Airth Castle, a very ancient building, with a new Gothic front, surmounted in the centre by a tower, the whole forming a picturesque object from every part of the surrounding country. In Dunmore Park is the mansion of the Earl of Dunmore, in the Elizabethan style, built about twenty-five years since, and standing upon an extensive lawn richly diversified with trees, and encompassed with grounds thickly planted, like those of the Castle, with larch, Scotch fir, birch, oak, and beech. About 185 acres of land, recovered from the sea, have been added to the Airth estate, and 150 acres to the estate of Dunmore, within the last fifty or sixty years: the land is secured by embankments of soil and turf, defended by stone facings. Considerable tracts of moss, also, are annually recovered by the employment of what are called "moss lairds", who by hard labour are gradually reducing the large extent of moss, amounting to between 300 and 400 acres, receiving for their work £24 per acre.

The parish is traversed by the Glasgow turnpike-road, and there is constant communication with Edinburgh, by means of steam-boats plying on the Forth, throughout the whole year. Over the small river Pow, up which the tide flows for above a mile, is the Abbeytown bridge, situated on the road from Airth and Dunmore to Carron and Falkirk: it received this name from a town, as is supposed, to which it led in a direct line, and near which was an ancient abbey. There are two old ferries, called Kersie and Higgin's Neuck, the latter about a mile across, and the former half that distance. The small harbours of Airth, Dunmore, and Newmiln are within the jurisdiction of the custom-house of Alloa, and there are four registered vessels belonging to the parish. An annual fair is held on the last Tuesday in July, chiefly for the hiring of servants as shearers. Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Stirling, synod of Perth and Stirling, and in the patronage of the family of Graham of Airth; the minister's stipend is £281. 12., with a manse, and a glebe of ten acres (including the site of the manse and garden) valued at £27 per annum. The church, which is conveniently situated, was built in 1820, and is capable of accommodating 800 persons. There is a place of worship for the United Presbyterian Synod. The parochial school affords instruction in Latin, book-keeping, and the usual elementary branches; the master has a salary of £34, and £40 fees. A school attached to the United Presbyterian place of worship is supported by subscription; and near the north-west extremity of the parish is a school, built and maintained by the Countess of Dunmore. A dead-fund society was established in 1821, and the poor enjoy the benefit of several considerable bequests. The family of Murray, Earls of Dunmore, derive their title from their ancient seat of Dunmore, in the parish. See Dunmore.

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


Online maps of Airth are available from a number of sites:

Postal districtFK2
Post TownFalkirk