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Echt, Aberdeenshire

Historical Description

ECHT, a parish, in the district of Kincardine O'Neil, county of Aberdeen, 12 miles distant (W.) from Aberdeen; containing 1078 inhabitants. This parish is nearly a square in figure, each side measuring about four miles and a half; and comprises between 15,000 and 16,000 acres, of which 7000 are in tillage, 2000 in plantations, and the remainder uncultivated. It consists chiefly of a valley lying between two hills of unequal height, the more elevated of which, called the Hill of Fare, is situated about one mile south-west from the church, and is but partly in the parish. The base of this hill is nearly eighteen miles in circumference, and its height 1794 feet above the level of the sea; it has some thriving plantations of fir, abundance of the usual kinds of game, and several chalybeate springs, said to be beneficial in scorbutic and nephritic complaints. On the outskirts of the parish are other rising grounds, cultivated to the summit; and in the north-western portion is a hill of conical form, called the Barmekin, about two-thirds of the height of the Hill of Fare, entirely shrouded in wood, and contributing by its sylvan beauties to enhance the effect of the varied and pleasing scenery of the locality. The lower grounds are mossy; the soil in some places is light and sandy, and that of the best lands is in general a light loam, on a clayey subsoil. The climate is mild; and the crops, comprising bear, potatoes, hay, turnips, and oats, are early and of good quality. The system of farming has been greatly improved within the present century, and some of the estates exhibit the skill and perseverance of the most successful husbandry; lime is extensively used, and bone-dust has of late years been applied with much advantage. Among the large tracts of waste land which have been reclaimed, that on the estate of Echt, amounting to 1860 acres, is the chief. Inclosures and drains have been formed on all the principal farms; the late and present proprietors of Echt have formed upwards of 150,000 ells of stone dykes, and upwards of 40,000 ells of drains: there are many substantial and convenient farm-houses and offices, and above forty mills have been erected for threshing grain. The few sheep kept are the Cheviot and the black-faced; the cattle are mostly of the Aberdeenshire, with a few of the Teeswater. Granite is occasionally quarried. The annual value of real property in the parish is £5690.

Between 1500 and 2000 acres have been planted in the last half century on the estate of Echt, and the proprietor has transplanted about 150 large trees to ornament the grounds of his elegant and commodious mansion: the house was built in the year 1820, and has a very extensive garden, with a park of eighty acres. A branch post has been established. The parish is intersected by the high road from Aberdeen to Tarland, and a road from the former place to Alford runs along a small part of the northern extremity of Echt; a third road, to Kincardine O'Neil, strikes off from the Tarland road at the eastern boundary, and traverses a considerable portion of the parish in a south-western direction. Several fairs are held annually, chiefly for sheep, cattle, horses, and corn. Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Kincardine O'Neil, synod of Aberdeen, and in the patronage of the Earl of Fife; the minister's stipend is £183, with a manse, and a glebe of about four and a half acres, valued at £10 per annum. Echt church, built in the year 1804, is capable of affording accommodation to 600 persons; it is a neat structure, comfortably fitted up, and being centrally situated, is convenient for the bulk of the population. The parochial school affords instruction in the usual branches; the master has a salary of £29, with a house, and £20 fees, and also participates in the benefit of the Dick bequest. The remains of a Danish camp are still visible on the hill of Barmekin, comprehending five intrenchments; the inner inclosure, which is almost circular, measures 300 feet in diameter, and covers about one acre of ground. In the vicinity are several cairns and tumuli, and in another part of the parish is a Pictish work in the form of a horse-shoe. On the 28th of October, 1562, the district was the scene of the battle of Corrichie, fought between the forces of the Earl of Huntly and those of the Earl of Murray; the former were defeated, their commander slain, and his son, Sir John Gordon, afterwards beheaded at Aberdeen.

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