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Carnock, Fifeshire

Historical Description

CARNOCK, a parish, in the district of DUNFERMLINE, county of FIFE, 3 miles (W. N. W.) from Dunfermline; containing, with the villages of Carnock and Cairney-hill, and the hamlet of Gowkhall, 1270 inhabitants, of whom 184 are in the village of Carnock. This place originally included only the barony of Carnock, and the lands of Blair, and Easter and Wester Camps; but in 1650, the Pitdennies, the lands of Luscar, and those of Clune, which formed part of the parish of Dunfermline, were annexed to this parish by act of the presbytery. The barony formerly belonged to Lieut.-Col. John Erskine, whose eldest son, a distinguished member of the bar, and professor of Scottish law in the university of Edinburgh, built the old mansion of Newbigging, now a farm-house. Mr. Erskine, after residing at this place during the intervals of his professional avocations, and having here composed his Institutes of Law, removed to Cardross, where he died in 1767. The parish, which is situated at the western extremity of the county, is about three miles in length, and measures nearly the same in average breadth, comprising about 2260 acres, of which 1060 are arable, 450 woodland and plantations, and the remainder meadow and pasture. Its surface is pleasingly undulated, in some parts having a considerable elevation. Camps Hill and Carnie Hill form a continuous range of rising ground, embracing a prospect of the Firth of Forth, with the adjacent country from Stirling on the west to Edinburgh on the east. The Luscar Know and the Clun of Newbigging are the most elevated points, and command views of the Ochils, Ben-Lomond, and the Pentland hills. The streams are small; the Ink Craig, near the village of Carnock, is remarkable for the black colour of its water, which for ordinary purposes is sometimes used as ink.

The soil is extremely various, but generally productive, and in some parts richly fertile; the system of agriculture is in an improved state, and the crops are oats, barley, wheat, and beans, with potatoes and turnips. A considerable number of sheep are pastured; the cattle are chiefly of the Fifeshire and Teeswater breeds, but few are reared, though great numbers are fattened for the markets. The annual value of real property in the parish is £3126. Coal is diffused throughout, and formerly there were five mines in operation; the only one at present wrought is on the lands of Blair, consisting of four separate seams, the uppermost of which is a blind coal, three feet in thickness, and is used chiefly by brewers and maltsters, The other seams are household coal of different qualities, and the lowest is found at a depth of twenty-three fathoms. Sandstone, limestone, and varieties of trap, are among the rocks, and freestone is quarried in several places; in some, susceptible of a high polish. Seams of ironstone, varying in quality and thickness, are to be met with in several parts. The plantations are in a thriving state, and are chiefly larch, spruce, and Scotch firs, oak, beech, elm, chesnut, and ash; of these, the firs, oak, and beech, of which there are many stately trees in the plantations formed by Mr. Erskine, seem best adapted to the soil.

The principal seats are, Carnock House, a small but handsome mansion; Blair House, a neat substantial building, erected about the year 1815; and Luscar House, a handsome mansion in the Elizabethan style, lately erected. The village of Carnoch is pleasantly situated on a rivulet of that name, over which is a bridge, supposed from an inscription on one of the stones to have been first erected about 1638: a post-office, subordinate to that of Dunfermline, was established in 1838. The manufacture of table-linen, and table-covers of cotton and worsted, affords employment to more than 200 of the inhabitants, in hand-loom weaving for the wholesale houses at Dunfermline. A fair for cattle and for general business is held on the 26th of May, or, when that day falls on Sunday, on the preceding Saturday. Facility of communication is afforded by the Stirling and Dunfermline railway. Ecclesiastically, Carnock is in the presbytery of Dunfermline and synod of Fife: the minister's stipend is about £155, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £24 per annum; patron, John A. Stuart, Esq., who is also the proprietor of a third part of the parish. The church, erected in 1841, is a handsome cruciform structure in the Norman style, with a graceful spire, and contains 400 sittings, with arrangements for the erection of a gallery, if requisite, for 200 more. In the churchyard are considerable remains of the ancient church. There is a place of worship for members of the Free Church; also, in the village of Cairney-hill, a meeting-house in connexion with the United Presbyterian Synod. The parochial school is attended by about sixty children; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the fees average about £16. In the village is a parochial library containing 250 volumes. Some Roman coins, and fragments of urns, were discovered in the parish by the plough about the year 1820; and it is supposed from the name of a farm in the parish, called Camps, that there may have been a military station.

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


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

Postal districtKY12
Post TownDunfermline