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Carnbee, Fifeshire

Historical Description

CARNBEE, a parish, in the district of ST. ANDREW'S, county of FIFE, 2 miles (N. N. W.) from Pittenweem; containing 1043 inhabitants. This parish, which is situated in the south-eastern part of the county, is about four miles and a half in length, and nearly of equal breadth, comprising about 5600 acres, of which more than 3000 are arable, and the remainder, with the exception of a moderate proportion of woodland and plantations, good meadow and pasture. Its surface is diversified with hills of conical form, the most conspicuous of which is Kellie Law, rising to the height of 810 feet, and commanding from the summit a fine view of the Firth of Forth, the German Ocean, and the coasts of Haddington and Mid Lothian, with the city of Edinburgh in the distance, Nearly one-half of this hill is arable, and the remainder is covered with verdure to the summit. The hills of Carnbee Law, Cumner, and Gelland are of similar form, rising to a considerable height, and affording excellent pasturage. The lands are watered by several small burns, which flow in various directions. The soil is mostly fertile; in some parts a clayey loam, in others a rich black mould of great depth. The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats, peas, beans, potatoes, and turnips; and the pastures generally are luxuriant: the system of husbandry is greatly improved. Around the mansions of the principal proprietors may be seen the remains of some fine specimens of ancient timber, and the plantations that have been formed are in a thriving state. The annual value of real property in the parish is £11,390. The substrata are chiefly coal, which is generally prevalent throughout the parish, and of which two mines are in operation; and limestone and freestone of excellent quality, which are both extensively quarried.

Kellie Castle, for many generations the baronial seat of the Earls of Kellie, and now the property of the Earl of Mar and Kellie, was once a noble mansion, containing many stately apartments: it is situated near the base of Kellie Law, in a richly-wooded demesne. Balcaskie House, near the southern boundary of the parish, is surrounded with grounds tastefully laid out; and Pitcorthie House and Gibliston are also handsome residences. The village, which is small, is chiefly inhabited by persons employed in the coal-works. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of St. Andrew's and synod of Fife: the minister's stipend is about £238, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £30 per annum; patron, Sir Ralph Abercromby Anstruther, Bart. The ancient church has been replaced by a neat structure, erected in 1794. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the school fees average £25. Among distinguished persons connected with the parish have been Thomas, the musical Earl of Kellie; Dr. George Sibbald; Sir William Bruce, the architect, Hugo Arnot, author of State Trials; and Archibald Constable, the eminent publisher, who was a native of Carnbee.

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


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

Postal districtKY10
Post TownAnstruther