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Auchtertool, Fifeshire

Historical Description

AUCHTERTOOL, a parish, in the district of KIRKCALDY, county of FIFE, 4 miles (W. by S.) from Kirkcaldy; containing, with the village of Newbigging, 530 inhabitants, of whom 239 are in the village of Auchtertool. This place is supposed to derive its name, signifying in the Gaelic language "the high grounds on the river Tiel", from its elevated situation with respect to that stream. The parish is about three miles in length, one mile in average breadth, and comprises about 2500 acres, of which 1700 are arable, and the remainder pasture, and waste land capable of being brought into cultivation. Its surface is varied, and, towards the west, rises into a range of steep acclivities called the Cullalo hills, the highest of which has an elevation of 750 feet above the sea, commanding an extensive prospect over a richly-cultivated tract of country; but the scenery within the parish is almost destitute of beauty, from the want of wood. The river Tiel has its source here; and the parish is also intersected by two streamlets which, though very small, frequently, after continued rain, are greatly increased, and in their course through a narrow channel form beautiful cascades: one of these falls, near the end of a deep and narrow dell, is truly picturesque. Near the ancient mansion of Camilla, formerly the residence of the Countess of Moray, is an extensive loch, bounded on the north side by a precipitous eminence covered with furze; and not far from it are the ruins of the ancient mansion of Hallyards, still retaining traces of baronial grandeur, with some portion of the plantations of the demesne, forming a romantic feature in the scenery of the lake. This sheet of water is about eighteen acres in extent, and abounds with perch, eels, and pike; its greatest depth is twenty-two feet.

In the southern parts the soil is a rich loam, varying from one foot to five feet in depth; and in the north and western parts, clay, which by draining and good management has been rendered nearly as fertile as the loam; and moss land, of which a large portion is of great depth, and apparently incapable of being brought into profitable cultivation. The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, and turnips. The system of agriculture is in a very improved state, and draining has lately been carried on with success. Considerable attention has been paid to the rearing and feeding of live-stock: the cattle are generally of the black Fifeshire breed, with some of the Teeswater lately introduced; and there are a few sheep, all of the Cheviot breed. The substratum is mostly whinstone, freestone, and limestone: the whinstone is quarried, chiefly for mending the roads, and occasionally for building; the freestone is of very inferior quality, and is seldom worked; the limestone, which is mainly found on the lands belonging to the Earl of Moray and Captain Wemyss, is quarried only by the tenants for their own immediate use. The village of Auchtertool is neatly built; the houses are principally of stone and lime, and those of more recent erection are covered with blue slate. A parochial library has been established here, and a savings' bank. There was formerly a brewery of porter, ale, and table-beer, in the village, for the supply of the neighbourhood; it was long in very great repute, and a large quantity of the ale was sent to Kirkcaldy, and thence shipped for the London market, but the buildings are now apparently in a state of decay. For ecclesiastical purposes the parish is in the presbytery of Kirkcaldy, synod of Fife, and in the patronage of the Earl of Moray; the minister's stipend is £157. 18. 10., with a manse in the later English style, and the glebe is valued at £20 per annum. The church, which was substantially repaired in 1833, is situated within a mile of the village, and is adapted for a congregation of about 300 persons. The parochial school affords a liberal course of instruction; the master has a salary of £33. 6. 8., with £25 fees, and a good dwelling-house and garden. At the west end of the loch of Camilla is a mineral spring.

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


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

Postal districtKY2
Post TownKirkcaldy