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Arbuthnott, Kincardineshire

Historical Description

ARBUTHNOTT, a parish, in the county of KINCARDINE; adjoining the town of Bervie, and containing 1015 inhabitants. The name of this place has undergone many changes in its pronunciation and spelling. From documents in the possession of the Arbuthnott family it appears that, previously to the twelfth century, it was called Aberbothenothe, which form, about the year 1335, had been changed to Aberbuthnot, and, in 1443, to the mode now retained. The original term signifies "the confluence of the water below the baron's house", and is descriptive of the situation of the ancient castle and of the present mansion-house, upon the narrow point of a projection overlooking the Water of Bervie, which is joined by a rapid rivulet, formerly of considerable breadth, about 100 yards distant from the mansion. This parish, in whose early history the Arbuthnotts have held the most conspicuous place, contains an area of 9423 acres, of which 6200 are in tillage, 250 in plantations, and 2223 uncultivated. It is intersected by the roads from Stonehaven to Brechin, and is bounded on the north by the river Forthy, which separates it from Glenbervie; and on the south and west by the Water of Bervie, dividing it from the parishes of Bervie, Fordoun, and Laurencekirk. The surface is irregular, being much diversified by hill and dale. It rises on every side from the valley of the Bervie Water, the windings of which, between steep and richly-wooded banks, present in many parts interesting and beautiful scenery. In summer the stream is small, and slow in its course, flowing at the rate of about a mile an hour; but in the rainy seasons it rises rapidly, the flood being considerably augmented through the agricultural drains; and embankments to some extent have been found necessary, to secure the neighbouring lands against the havoc consequent upon its overflowing. The highest land is Bruxiehill, which has an elevation of about 650 feet above the sea.

The SOIL, towards the southern quarter, is a strong clay, with a cold retentive subsoil; and in the direction of the northern boundary, light and dry. There is also some rough wet pasture and moor, but this kind of land has been greatly ameliorated and recovered by recent drainage. The chief crops are grain of different kinds, potatoes, turnips, and beet-root. The parish is altogether agricultural, and the cultivation of the soil is carried on with great spirit; the five and the seven years' rotation of crops are each followed, but the latter is thought to succeed the best. Bone-dust has been applied with advantage as manure on light soils, where the turnips are eaten off by the .sheep. Improvements have been vigorously carried on, chiefly consisting of an extensive and efficient drainage of the lands, the cultivation of much barren soil, and the construction of embankments along the course of the Bervie, for the protection of the fertile haughs through which it runs. The wood planted consists of Scotch fir, larch, spruce, chesnut, poplar, hazel, and almost every species known in the country; and upwards of twenty different kinds of oak, chiefly American, have been introduced into the nursery by Lord Arbuthnott, with a view to plantation. The annual value of real property in the parish is £6592. The rocks are mostly coarse sandstone, trap, and what in the country is called scurdy: blocks of gneiss and granite are sometimes to be seen. On the north bank of the Bervie, pebbles beautifully varied have been found embedded in trap; and calcareous spar, heavy spar, and veins of manganese also exist in the parish. In the deepest part of a small peat-bog called the "Hog's Hole", the skeletons of two red deer were lately found, the antlers of whose horns were respectively seven and eight in number, some of them measuring eighteen inches in length.

Arbuthnott House, the seat of the ancient and noble family of Arbuthnott, is beautifully situated on the Bervie, almost concealed by thriving plantations. It has been greatly improved by the present owner. The grounds are laid out with much taste, and the mansion is approached by a fine avenue of beech-trees, upwards of two centuries old. In the library of his lordship are, the missal used in the parochial church in former times, and the psalter and office belonging to a chapel connected with the church, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary; the penmanship is exceedingly beautiful, and many parts are splendidly illuminated. The castle of Allardyce, also on the bank of the river, and which is the property of the ancient family of Allardyce, has lately been repaired; and the house of Kair is a modern mansion of neat and elegant appearance.

Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Fordoun, synod of Angus and Mearns; the patronage belongs to Viscount Arbuthnott, and the minister's stipend is £225, with a manse, and a glebe of the annual value of £9. The church, which is situated near the north bank of the river, about three miles distant from the furthest extremity of the parish, though much altered and enlarged, is probably four centuries old, and was in former times dedicated to St. Ternan. An elegant aisle, of finely-hewn ashlar, was added to it on the south-east in 1505, by Sir Robert Arbuthnott, who also repaired and improved the west gable, on which he placed a round tower; this aisle is the burial-place of the family, and contains a full-length statue, of stone, of Hugh de Arbuthnott. There is a parochial school, the master of which has the maximum salary, with a house and garden, and about £10 fees; and a savings' bank, established in June 1822, is in a prosperous condition. The learned Alexander Arbuthnott, first Protestant principal of King's College, Aberdeen, was a native of the parish, and some time its minister, to which office he was appointed in 1567; and the wellknown Dr. Arbuthnott, physician to Queen Anne, and one of the triumvirate with Pope and Swift, was born here in I667. The place gives the title of Viscount to the family of Arbuthnott.

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