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Farnell, Forfarshire

Historical Description

FARNELL, a parish, in the county of Forfar, 4 miles (S. E.) from Brechin; containing 620 inhabitants. This place probably derives its name from a den here having been anciently the resort of swans. The parish is about three miles in length, and two in breadth; it is bounded on the north by the river South Esk, and comprises 5540 acres, of which 3330 are arable, 560 in woods and plantations, 600 undivided common, and the remainder forest land, called Monteithmont muir. Though generally flat, the surface rises towards the north, and on the south side is marked by a ridge of hills of no great elevation, extending into the parishes of Marytown and Craig. The river, which has its source in the Grampian hills, separates the parish from the town of Brechin, and falls into a small bay of the sea, on the west of Montrose. It abounds with salmon and small trout, and in that part of its course which skirts the parish it runs between banks of great beauty, richly wooded, and along which a road has been constructed, commanding several highly picturesque prospects. A small rivulet that flows near the church, occasionally, after rain or the melting of the snow, swells into a torrent, bursting its banks, and inundating the adjacent meadows; its channel has, however, been deepened, and other means adopted to confine it within due limits. In the higher lands the soil is of rather inferior quality, but in the lower a rich loam intermixed with clay, of great fertility, and well adapted for the growth of wheat. The crops are wheat, oats, barley, peas, beans, turnips, and potatoes. The system of agriculture is in a very advanced state; the lands are drained and inclosed, the farm-houses and offices of very superior character, and all the more recent improvements in husbandry are practised. There are two mills for meal, and two saw-mills, one of which latter is occasionally used for making bone-dust, as manure for turnip land. The ordinary kinds of live stock are reared with great attention, and the farmers of the parish have obtained many of the prizes awarded by the Forfarshire Agricultural Association. A few years ago, the workmen employed at the tile-work at Calcary, in the parish, came to a deposit of fossil fishes, embedded in the clay at a depth of twenty feet from the surface, and not less than sixty or seventy feet above the present level of the South Esk. The annual value of real property in the parish is £5246.

The plantations are chiefly larch and Scotch fir, occasionally intermixed with various kinds of forest-trees, and are judiciously managed and in a flourishing condition. Kinnaird Castle, the seat of Sir James Carnegie, Bart., is a spacious and handsome mansion of quadrangular form, with a square tower at each of the angles, and has an imposing grandeur of eflFect; the demesne is tastefully laid out and richly wooded, and the lawn in front of the house is embellished with some very stately timber. Facility of communication is afforded by a turnpike-road lately constructed from Forfar to Montrose, which passes for two miles through the parish; by good roads kept in repair by statute labour; and by the recently-opened Aberdeen railway. Ecclesiastically Farnell is in the presbytery of Brechin, synod of Angus and Mearns, and in the patronage of the Crown; the minister's stipend is £250. 10., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £20 per annum. The church is a handsome edifice in the early English style of architecture, with a finely-vaulted roof, and is adapted for a congregation of about 330 persons. Farnell parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £30, with about £20 fees, and a house and garden. The poor have the interest of bequests to the amount of £500, producing £25 a year. Near the church, and within the den from which the parish takes its name, are the remains of the ancient castle of Farnell, the baronial seat of the Ogilvys of Airlie: it is still in good repair, and part of it is appropriated, rent free, as dwellings for infirm and aged persons.

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