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Banchory-Ternan, Kincardineshire

Historical Description

BANCHORY-TERNAN, a parish, in the county of Kincardine, 15 miles (N. W.) from Stonehaven; containing, with the villages of Arbeadie and Banchory, 2241 inhabitants, of whom 66 are in Banchory. This place, the name of which, signifying "a fine choir", has reference to some ancient religious establishment, and the adjunct Ternan most probably to its patron saint, is of very remote antiquity. St. Terne, or Ternanus, who is said to have been a native of Mearns, flourished about the middle of the fifth century. He accompanied Palladius in his mission to the Irish Scots; and by him he was ordained, and commissioned to extirpate the Pelagian heresy, and to establish the true faith among his own countrymen. In this undertaking, his eminent success and the sanctity of his life obtained for him a high degree of veneration; and many churches were afterwards erected and dedicated to his memory, among which was the church of this parish. In 1562, a battle took place between the army of Mary, Queen of Scots, under the Earl of Moray, and the forces of the Earl of Huntly, at the Howe of Corrichie, a glen in the hill of Faro, towards the northern boundary of the parish. The latter were defeated with great slaughter, and the Earl of Huntly, who was taken prisoner, died before he was removed from the field of battle. In the bottom of the glen are several tumuli, raised over the bodies of the slain; and a recess among the rocks overlooking the glen, in which Mary is said to have witnessed the engagement, is still called the Queen's Chair. There are also numerous tumuli on the north side of Glassel, where the chief carnage took place. In 1644, the Duke of Montrose, having crossed the river Dee at a ford near the Mills of Drum, in this parish, passed a night at the house of Leys, and next day proceeded to Aberdeen, where he encountered and defeated an army of the Covenanters; and the remains of his encampment on a subsequent occasion, on his route to Strathbogie, are still pointed out, under the appellation of Montrose's Dyke, near the entrance of the Howe of Corrichie.

The PARISH is situated on the river Dee, which intersects the southern portion of it, from west to cast, throughout its whole extent. It is nearly ten miles in length and about nine miles in breadth, of irregular form, and comprises an area of 21,600 acres, of which rather more than 6000 are arable, 5230 woodland and plantations, and the remainder, a considerable portion of which might be brought into cultivation, is meadow, pasture, and waste. The surface is strikingly diversified with hill and dale, and with wood and water. The hill of Fare, on the north, has an elevation of 1793 feet: that of Kerloack, on the south, forming a part of the Grampian range, and extending eastward to the sea at Aberdeen, is 1890 feet high; and between these is a lower ridge, of which the greatest elevation is not more than 1000 feet. That portion of the parish which is on the south side of the Dee is intersected by the river Feugh, and is richly wooded, and interspersed with masses of barren and precipitous rock; the scenery is bold, enlivened with numerous rivulets, and embellished with handsome mansions. At the eastern extremity is Loch Drum, in the adjoining parish of Drumoak, which has been nearly exhausted by draining; and in the central portion is Loch Leys, containing an artificial island, formed on piles of oak, with remains on it of ancient houses that appear to have been fortified. The river Dee, which enters the parish near Trustach Hill, flows along a rocky channel; and its stream is divided by two small islands, one of which, about eight acres in extent, is covered with furze and heath, and the other, of about one acre, and of greater elevation above the stream, is planted with trees. The Feugh, after forming various pleasing falls, divides into two channels, which, reuniting, flow into the Dee nearly in the centre of the parish. Before it joins the Dee, the Feugh is spanned by a bridge of two arches, on the south of which is a ledge of rocks twenty feet in height, forming a very beautiful waterfall during the floodings of the river.

The SOIL varies greatly in different parts, but is generally light, and not naturally fertile; towards the river, gravelly; on the higher grounds, a strong loam; and on the lower, a species of moss, intermixed with gravel. The system of agriculture is improved; the chief crops are oats, barley, and some wheat, with potatoes, turnips, and hay. The moorlands afford tolerable pasture for sheep and cattle, to the improvement of which much attention has been excited by the Deeside Agricultural Association, which holds its annual meeting here, and awards prizes to the amount of £70 to the most successful competitors at the show of cattle. The dairy-farms are more carefully attended to than formerly. The buildings are substantial and commodious, and threshing-mills have been erected on most of the farms. The annual value of real property in the parish is £7479. The hills are principally of red granite, traversed by veins of sulphate of barytes; and limestone, in some parts of coarse and inferior quality, and in others compact and highly crystallized, is found in abundance, and is extensively quarried on the lands of Tilwhilly for agricultural purposes.

The plantations, which are of very great extent, consist chiefly of pine and larch, interspersed with birch, oak, beech, ash, and a few other trees. They are of comparatively modern growth, and considerable additions have within the last few years been made to the number of forest-trees, of which nearly 70,000 oaks have been planted on the lands of Leys. On the road to Aberdeen is a remarkably fine holly of more than twenty stems, springing from the crevices of a rock; and in the grounds of Crathes Castle is a beech-tree twenty-five feet in girth and sixty feet high. Crathes Castle, the seat of Sir Alexander Burnett, Bart., a handsome baronial mansion erected about the year 1512, is finely situated on a gentle acclivity, at the extremity of a rocky and richly-wooded ridge, on the north bank of the Dee. It is a spacious structure, with a lofty square tower crowned by embattled turrets, and many modern additions have been made. The ancient hall is still entire, and contains some family portraits, among which is a portrait of Dr. Gilbert Burnett, Bishop of Salisbury, by Sir Godfrey Kneller. The castle of Tilwhilly, on the opposite bank of the river, is an ancient massive building, in the occupation of the tenant of the farm. Banchory Lodge, a few hundred yards from the church, was erected by the late General Burnett. Inchmarlo is a handsome mansion, erected in 1800; and Glassel and Raemoir are also good modern houses. The village of Banchory, or the Kirktown, which was anciently a burgh of barony, and is noticed in 1324 as a place of considerable importance, has almost disappeared; and only a few houses in the vicinity of the churchyard, called the Town Head, are now remaining, and the shaft of a broken stone cross. A small woollen-factory has been established, and there are likewise two small bobbin-factories. Salmon are taken in the Dee, but there is no regular fishery. Fairs, chiefly for horses, cattle, and sheep, are held on the second Tuesday in February, the last Thursday in March, the third Tuesday in June, the first Tuesday in July, the second Tuesday in August, and the first Wednesday in December.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Kincardine O'Neil and synod of Aberdeen; Sir Alexander Burnett, Bart., is patron, and the minister's stipend is £287. 10. 9., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £10 per annum. The church, rebuilt in 1824, is a handsome structure in the later English style, and contains 1300 sittings. A place of worship has been erected in connexion with the Free Church; and in the village of Arbeadie is a meeting-house for Independents. There are three parochial schools, the masters of which divide among them £51. 6. 6¾., in addition to a house and garden for each, and the fees average respectively £20, £16, and £10 per annum. A school was founded and endowed in 1638, by Sir Thomas Burnett in conjunction with Dr. Alexander Reid, and is conducted by one of the parochial schoolmasters, who derives an additional salary of £16 from the endowment. A parochial library has also been established, which has a collection of more than 400 volumes, chiefly on religious subjects. At Cairnton, on the hill of Trustach, are some remains of an old intrenchment, now covered with birch, about 150 yards square, defended by two ramparts of earth 300 yards in length, extending from the inclosure in a converging direction, leaving an opening of about twenty yards in width at their extremities: it is supposed to have been a Roman camp. Near Kerloack are Druidical remains consisting of three circles of upright stones, nearly entire, the largest of which is about twenty-five yards in diameter, and the others about fifteen yards: in each of them are vestiges of an inner circle inclosing a small cairn. Bishops Burnett and Douglas, both of the see of Salisbury, were descended from families connected with this parish; and Dr. George Campbell, author of the celebrated Dissertation on Miracles, The Philosophy of Rhetoric, &c., was for some years minister of it. In Her Majesty's visit to Scotland in September 1848, the royal party passed through Banchory on their way from Aberdeen to Balmoral, and here a loyal address was presented to the queen from the nobility and gentry of the county of Kincardine.

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