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Flisk, Fifeshire

Historical Description

FLISK, a parish, in the district of Cupar, in the county of Fife, 8 miles (N. W. by N.) from Cupar; containing, with the hamlet of Glenduckie, 270 inhabitants. This place is supposed to have derived its name, descriptive of wetness or moisture, from the situation of the lower grounds, which, stretching along the Tay on one continued level, were formerly subject to occasional inundations. The parish lies on the south bank of the river, and is about four miles in length, and of very irregular form, varying from half a mile to two miles in breadth. It comprises 2500 acres, of which 430 are pasture, 300 woodland and plantations, and the remainder arable land in profitable cultivation. The surface near the river is flat, but rises gradually towards the south till it attains a considerable elevation, forming part of a hilly range, of which the highest points are Lyndemus hill, Logie Law, and Glenduckie hill, the first of them about 750 feet above the level of the river. The beach is clayey, and is defended by an accumulation of shingle thrown up by the tide. For the greater portion of the parish, the soil is a loam intermixed with clay; in some parts, especially towards the river, clay and gravel; and in others, a rich black loam of great fertility. In several places the scenery is enlivened with flourishing plantations, chiefly of larch and Scotch fir; the timber in Flisk wood, of more ancient growth, is mostly oak. There are numerous springs of excellent quality, which afford an ample supply of water. The crops are barley, oats, wheat, potatoes, peas, and turnips. The system of agriculture is improved: draining has been practised to a considerable extent, and some progress made in inclosing the farms; the fences are mainly stone dykes, and are kept in good repair, and bone-dust has been extensively introduced as manure. The cattle are usually of the old Fifeshire breed, crossed occasionally with the Forfarshire and the Teeswater; but the number is very limited, and few, if any, sheep are reared. The farm-buildings are substantial and commodious. The annual value of real property in the parish is £3027.

The substrata are generally secondary trap, of which the upper part of the hills is composed, and red sandstone in the lower districts; greenstone is also found in several places, with agates and other stones. Along the margin of the river Tay are the remains of an ancient forest, covered at full tide with four or five feet of water; the appearance is that of peat-moss, and at low water the stumps of trees, with their roots attached, are to be seen resting on a stratum of clay. The nearest market-towns are Cupar, Dundee, and Newburgh, to which the farmers resort for the sale of produce. There are several stations in the parish for the salmon-fishery, and also two for Sperling; the quantity of fish taken is not great, but they are of excellent quality. The manufacture of potato -flour is carried on at the farm of East Flisk, where a mill has been erected for the purpose, which is propelled by a steam-engine of two-horse power. Coal, tiles, slates, and stone are landed on the beach; but as there is no pier, the inhabitants derive little other benefit from the navigation of the river. The road from Newburgh to Woodhaven, maintained by statute labour, runs through the parish. Flisk is in the presbytery of Cupar, synod of Fife, and in the patronage of the Earl of Zetland: the minister's stipend is about £145, with a manse and glebe. The church, erected in 1790, near the site of the old church, then taken down, is a neat plain edifice adapted for a congregation of 150 persons; it is beautifully situated on the bank of the river, and about four miles from Glenduckie, the inhabitants of which hamlet attend the parish church of Dunbog, it being more convenient for them. The parochial school affords a good education; the master has a salary of £34, with £10 fees, and a house and garden.

Near the western extremity of the parish are the ruins of the ancient castle of Ballinbreich, seated on an eminence overlooking the river, and surrounded with a plantation. It was for many ages the residence of the Earls of Rothes, of whom Andrew, the fourth earl, was buried in the old church. Being, however, deserted by that family, the castle was sold, together with the adjoining lands, and has been suffered to fall into decay. The only remains are, part of the walls, of red sandstone, which appear to have inclosed an area 150 feet in length and seventy feet in width; and some of the ancient timber, of which two remarkably fine chesnut-trees have been preserved. Near the castle, and within the grounds, is a spot called Chapel Hill, said to have been the site of some religious building, whose foundations may with difficulty be traced. There are also slight remains of another chapel, in Flisk wood, consisting of low walls; but whether this building or the ruin near the castle is referred to in the enumeration of the parishes of Fife, in which this parish is designated "Flisk cum Capella", is uncertain. Several stone coffins of rude form, containing urns in which were burnt bones, were a few years since discovered on the farms of East Flisk and Belhelvie; burnt bones have also been found in a cairn on the summit of a mount, on Fliskmill farm, and on Fliskraill hill are some stones called St. Muggins Seat. Silver half-crowns, shillings, and sixpences, coined in the reign of Edward III., have been found on the lands of East Flisk. The Rev. John Wemyss, principal of St. Leonard's College, St. Andrew's, in 1592; and the Rev. John Fleming, D.D., author of the Philosophy of Zoology and History of British Animals, and professor of natural philosophy in King's College, Aberdeen, in 1832, were ministers of this parish.

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