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Carmichael, Lanarkshire

Historical Description

CARMICHAEL, a parish, in the Upper ward of the county of LANARK, 5 miles (S. E.) from Lanark; containing 874 inhabitants. This place derives its name from St. Michael, to whom its first church was dedicated. The remains of antiquity of which historical use can be made, are very few; in the south-west corner of the parish are vestiges of a camp and military station, and a few years ago a large coffin constructed of sandstone was found, but destitute of any mark to guide opinion as to its probable origin. On the summit of the lofty mountain of Tinto is a cairn, or heap of stones; and in some parts are stone crosses, all of which point out the places of military occupation and engagement, concerning the particular facts of which nothing determinate is on record. The ancient and illustrious family of Carmichael occupy the most prominent place in the civil history of the parish: one of its members, John, second Lord Carmichael, born in l672, was created Earl of Hyndford in 1701, and filled a succession of honourable and important offices to the time of his death, which took place on his estate here.

The length of the parish, from south-west to north-east, is six miles, and its extreme breadth nearly five miles; containing about 11,630 acres. It is bounded on the north by the Clyde river, from its confluence with Douglas water to Mill-hill, and is intersected by the roads from Carlisle to Stirling, and Edinburgh to Ayr. The surface presents numerous irregularities, consisting of hill and valley, breaks, and sweeping undulations, crowned in the south-eastern part by the celebrated mountain of Tinto, rising to an elevation of about 2400 feet. This majestic hill, the name of which is said to signify "the hill of fire", from the fires formerly kindled upon it, commands an interesting and extensive view of the lower elevations of Carmichael, Drumalbin, Whitecastle, Crossridge, and Stonehill hills, all in the parish, the ground gradually sinking to the northern extremity. The climate is cold; the surface is covered in many parts with poor pasture, and only in the highly cultivated grounds has an agreeable aspect. In the vicinity of the Clyde the soil is thin and sandy; in other parts a good deep loam; but in the arable districts generally, damp and clayey, resting upon an impervious till or ferruginous clay, with a considerable mixture of marine stones. The number of acres under cultivation is, 5924 arable, and 4807 pasture, 926 acres are occupied by plantations, which consist of oak, ash, elm, plane, beech, alder, poplar, birch, and horse-chesnut. The crops generally raised are oats, barley, bear, peas, potatoes, turnips, rye-grass, and meadow hay, the first of which greatly predominates, the cattle are of the Ayrshire breed, and the sheep are the black-faced, with a few Cheviots. The system of agriculture is excellent, numerous improvements having been introduced of late years. The annual value of real property in the parish is £5280.

The prevailing rock is the old red sandstone, which is good for building houses or fences, and is abundant in the hills of Carmichael, Whitecastle, and Drumalbin; felspar porphyry, in some places, lies near the sandstone, and in the Crossridge hill is a stratum of clay-slate, passing into greywacke slate. Blocks of quartz are sometimes to be seen, exposed by the action of the streams; and blocks of gneiss have been found, deposited in alluvial soil, whither it is supposed they were carried by the violence of the rivers. There are quarries of limestone and sandstone. Carmichael House, an ancient and magnificent baronial residence, now deserted, for many generations the seat of the family of the same name, is encompassed by aged and lofty trees, and extensive grounds and plantations, which were greatly improved by John, Earl of Hyndford. The mansion of Eastend, comparatively a modern structure, is elegant and commodious. There is a tan-work in the parish, in a prosperous state; also an establishment for the currying of leather, which is carried on with considerable profit. At Carmichael Mill is a foundry, which supplies most of the iron-work for threshing-mills and other machinery used in the parish; and there are thirty hands employed as weavers. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Lanark, synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the patronage is exercised by Sir W. Carmichael Austruther, Bart., and the minister's stipend is £225. Carmichael church, a cruciform building erected in 1750, is in good repair, and accommodates between 400 and 500 persons; the manse was built at the same time, and considerably enlarged some years ago. The glebe is valued at £20 per annum. There is a parochial school, in which the classics, French, and mathematics are taught, with all the usual branches of education; the salary is £32, with more than the legal accommodations, and about £26. 8. fees. Another school, at Ponfeigh, is supported partly by the heritors, and there is a savings'-bank, established in 1814.

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