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Dunbog, Fifeshire

Historical Description

DUNBOG, a parish, in the district of Cupar, county of Fife, 4 miles (E. by S.) from Newburgh; containing 219 inhabitants. This place derives its name, of Celtic origin, and signifying "the bog of the hill", from the former marshy nature of the grounds at the base of the hill of Dunmore, which extends into the parish. A portion of the lands anciently formed part of the barony of Balinbriech, the property of the Rothes family, from whom it passed into the possession of Lord Home, whose descendant, in the reign of James IV., sold the lands of Dunbog to David Bethune, of Creich, in whose family they remained till the middle of the seventeenth century. In 1694 the estate was sold to Major Balfour of Starr, by whom it was forfeited in the rebellion of 1715; it was, however, restored to his son, from whom it was purchased in 1/66 by the ancestor of the Earl of Zetland, its present proprietor. The parish is about four miles in length, and varies from half a mile to one mile and a half in breadth; comprising 2130 acres, of which 1800 are arable, 300 hill-pasture, and thirty woodland and plantations. Its surface is broken by two continuous chains of hills, extending in a nearly parallel direction, and inclosing between them a beautiful vale of luxuriant fertility; the greatest elevation of the hills, however, does not exceed 500 feet above the sea. The northern chain, which is a continuation of the hill of Dunmore, now called Norman's Law, is cultivated from the base to the summit, and commands an extensive and diversified view of the surrounding country, embracing the windings of the river Tay till it disappears behind the projection of the hill of Kinnoull, the rich valley of the Earn, the Carse of Gowrie, and, to the east, the town of Dundee, and the estuary of the Tay at its influx into the German Ocean. Towards the north appears the range of the Sidlaw hills, with the Grampians in the distance towering above them in majestic grandeur. The southern chain of hills is barren and uncultivated; some few spots have by great perseverance been rendered productive, and are in tillage, but from the want of wood and plantations, the general appearance is dreary and unpromising. The scenery of the lower lands of the parish has been much improved by the joint exertions of the proprietors in reclaiming the large tracts of bog and marsh which formerly abounded, and which are now in a state of high cultivation, and produce abundant crops. The river Tay washes a small portion of the parish.

In the valley the soil is a rich black loam; in other parts it is more of a clay, and towards the east light and dry. The system of agriculture is in a greatly improved state, and the six-shift rotation plan of husbandry is generally practised; the crops are barley, oats, wheat, potatoes, and turnips. Little attention is paid to the rearing of cattle or sheep; of the latter the few that are fed in the parish are of the Cheviot breed, and the cattle are mostly of a mixed sort. Great advances have been made in draining, but the lands are not inclosed, and the want of fences is seriously felt. The substratum is principally whinstone, and on the summits of the hills are found boulders of granite; in some parts of the valley the whinstone occasionally rises to the surface, and in the best cultivated and richest land are spots comparatively barren. The annual value of real property in the parish is £2944. The mansion of Dunbog, the property of Lord Zetland, and formerly a residence of Cardinal Beaton, by whom it is supposed to have been built, stands on the site of a religious house called the Preceptory of Gadvan: this was occupied as a cell to the abbey of Balmerino by a few monks of that establishment, who employed themselves in the cultivation of the adjoining lands, which, with the exception of a small portion now included in the glebe, are laid out in garden and pleasure-grounds. Collairney, for many centuries the property of the Barclay family, was purchased by the late Dr. Balfour of Fernie: the castle, formerly the baronial residence of the Barclays, is now a ruin consisting only of one of the towers, containing some small apartments with roofs divided into compartments, and emblazoned with the arms of various members of that family. Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Cupar, synod of Fife, and in the gift of the Crown; the minister's stipend is £204, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £8. 15. per annum. Dunbog church, situated nearly in the centre of the parish, was erected in 1803, and is a neat and well-arranged edifice adapted for a congregation of 200 persons. The parochial school affords a liberal course of instruction; the master has a salary of £34, with £15 fees, and a house and garden.

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