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Boindie, Banffshire

Historical Description

BOYNDIE, or BOINDIE, a parish, in the county of Banff, 3 miles (W.) from Banff; containing, with the village of Whitehills, 1501 inhabitants. This place, to which Banff was united from the era of the Reformation to about the year 1635, was anciently called Inverboyndie, signifying "the mouth of the Boyndie," in consequence of the situation of the old church, now in ruins, near the spot where the small stream of the Boyndie falls into the sea. The word Boyndie is supposed to be a diminutive of Boyn, the name of a larger stream bounding the parish on the west. The parish is washed by the Moray Frith, and is nearly of triangular form, the northern line measuring between two and three miles, the south-eastern about five miles and a half, and the western boundary between four and five miles. It comprises 6300 acres, of which 4540 are cultivated, 750 in plantations, and the remainder uncultivated, waste, and pasture. The surface is level, with the exception of the fine cultivated valley of the Boyndie, and is but little elevated above the sea. On the north the coast is in general rocky, with a portion of sandy beach, and at the extremity is the Knockhead, a headland running out into a reef of rocks, visible at half-tide, called the Salt-Stones. Here the coast turns southward, forming one side of a bay; and the shore between this point and the part where the Boyndie empties itself into the sea, measures something less than a mile, and consists of a beach of sand and gravel. The harbours are, one situated at the fishing village of Whitehills, of small extent, with about ten feet depth of water at spring tides, used by two or three vessels employed in the herring-fishery, and the importation of salt, coal, &c.; and another a little to the east, at Blackpots, affording also accommodation for the prosecution of the herring and salmon fishings, and for the exportation of tiles.

In the upper part of the parish the climate is humid and bleak, but in the opposite part dry and salubrious. The soil most prevalent is a light earth, on a retentive subsoil, the exceptions being certain tracts in the centre of the parish, chiefly clay and loam of rich quality, and some land in the eastern portion consisting of a deep, black, sandy mould on a porous subsoil, which produces heavy and early crops. This parish was one of the first in the north of Scotland in which the system of alternate crops and turnip husbandry were practised, having been introduced here about the year 1754, by the last Earl of Findlater, at that time Lord Deskford, who also formed the older plantations in the place. Oats and barley are the principal kinds of grain; and among the green crops, the cultivation of turnips receives much attention. The range of pasture is limited, but 1000 head of oxen are annually grazed, comprising the polled Buchan and Banffshire horned breeds, with some crosses with the Teeswater stock, many of which are fed for the London market. The annual value real property in the parish is £4168. The rocks comprise greywacke, primitive limestone, slate, and hornblende; and to the east of Whitehills, is a diluvial clay, in extensive beds, containing specimens of belemnites, cornua ammonis, &c., and supplying material for a brick and tile work.

In this parish the wood, consisting for the most part of Scotch fir, with sprinklings of larch, beech, and other trees, is generally in a thriving condition. Near the ancient castle of Boyn are some portions of hard-wood which, being favoured by shelter and a superior soil, are in an exceedingly flourishing state. This mansion, the family seat of the Ogilvies till the transfer of the estates to the ancestor of the present owner, at the beginning of the last century, is beautifully situated at the western extremity of the parish, on the Boyn water, and is now ruinous. The surrounding scenery, among which are visible the remains of a more ancient mansion, is highly picturesque; and attached to the castle is an orchard, abounding in black and white wild cherries. Agricultural pursuits occupy the greater part of the population. The bleaching and preparation of threads and stockings for market were formerly carried on to some extent, but the only work connected with manufactures now existing is a wool-carding mill on the burn of Boyn, attached to which are works for the weaving and dyeing of cloth. There are a saw-mill, a lint-mill, a flour and barley mill, and several meal-mills. The turnpike-road from Banff to Portsoy and Inverness runs through the parish, from east to west, and a branch diverges to Keith and Huntly, besides which there are several good county roads, and numerous bridges over the streams, affording facility of communication. A cattle-fair has been instituted at Ordens, and is held eight times a year.

Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Fordyce, synod of Aberdeen, and in the patronage of the Earl of Seafield; the minister's stipend is £200, with an excellent manse, lately built, and a glebe valued at £12 per annum. Boyndie church, accommodating 600 persons, was erected in 1773: the ruin of the old edifice still remains, with its burial-ground, on a site near the sea, where a battle with the Danes is supposed to have taken place, in the reign of Malcolm II., to whose personal friend, St. Bovenden, or Brandon, a monk, the edifice was dedicated. The members of the Free Church and the Wesleyans have places of worship. The parochial school affords instruction in Greek, Latin, and mathematics, in addition to the usual branches; the master has a salary of £25. 12. 4., and £22. 12. fees, and also shares in the Dick bequest. The Rev. James Stewart, a native of the parish, in 1809 left a sum now amounting to £390, the produce to be equally divided for the support of six poor persons, and for the education of six boys, who are natives. There are several remains of Druidical circles, of cairns, and military works; and various minor relics of antiquity have at different times been found, the most interesting of which are, a short Roman sword, deposited in the armoury at Duff House, and a seal, composed of fine clay-slate, marked with the arms of Bishop James Kennedy, who founded the college of St. Salvator in the university of St. Andrew's. Thomas Ruddiman, the well-known author of a Latin grammar, was a native of the parish.

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