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Fyvie, Aberdeenshire

Historical Description

FYVIE, a parish, in the district of Turriff, county of Aberdeen, 7½ miles (S. S. W.) from Cuminestown; containing 3597 inhabitants. This place, the name of which (anciently Fyvyn) is of doubtful etymology, is chiefly distinguished for its castle, whose original founder is unknown, but which in 1296 was visited by Edward I. of England in his progress through Scotland. The castle appears to have been of considerable strength. It was in 1395 in the possession of Sir James Lindesay, during whose absence it was valiantly defended by his lady against Robert, son of the Earl-Marischal Keith, till the return of Sir James, who compelled the assailants to raise the siege. In 1644, it was held for some time by the Marquess of Montrose against the army of the Earl of Argyll; but the marquess, not thinking it secure from the superior forces of his adversary, retired to an eminence in the vicinity, in which he intrenched himself till his retreat to Strathbogie. From certain records still preserved in the castle, there seems to have been a town at this place, which had the liberties of a burgh under Reginald le Cheyne in the thirteenth century, and in the year 1673 became a burgh of barony under the Fyvie family; but of this town not even the site can now be traced. A charter is extant, granting to Alexander, third Earl of Dunfermline, in 1673, the privilege of a weekly market and three annual fairs in the manor of Fyvie, and conferring upon him and his successors all the rights of a free burgh of barony. Two of these fairs are still held, one on Fastern's Even (Shrove Tuesday), and the other, called Peter fair, on the first Tuesday in July, O. S.; but the market-cross, and every other vestige of the burgh, have disappeared.

The PARISH, which is about thirteen miles in extreme length, and nearly eight miles in extreme breadth, comprises an area of 27,034 acres, whereof 15,950 are arable, 2500 meadow and pasture, 1735 woodland and plantations, and the remainder heathy moorland and moss. Its surface is pleasingly diversified with hills of moderate height, of which the most conspicuous is that of Eastertown, towards the south, forming a continuation of the Bethelnie range in the adjoining parish of Meldrum. The river Ythan, which has its source in the parish of Forgue, about eleven miles to the west, takes its course through this parish, which it divides into two nearly equal parts; and after enlivening the grounds of Fyvie Castle, it runs eastward, and falls into the sea at Newburgh, in the parish of Foveran. Along the banks of the river, and in the plain near the castle, the soil is a rich fertile loam, producing early crops: in the level lands it is generally a loam, resting on a substratum of gravel; and in the northern part are large tracts of moor and moss. The crops are oats, bear, barley, potatoes, and turnips, with a few tares and peas, and a little flax. The system of husbandry is improved; the farm-buildings are substantial, and on the various farms are not less than eighty threshing-mills, of which forty-five are driven by water, aud the remainder by horses. The cattle are generally of the old Aberdeenshire breed, with an increasing number of a cross with the Teeswater; about 4400 head of cattle are at present fed in the pastures, and 1600 sheep. A considerable number of pigs are likewise reared, and sent to the London market: while the produce of the dairy-farms is also very great. The plantations, which are extensive and well managed, consist of fir, interspersed with the most usual forest-trees, all of which are in a thriving condition; the principal ancient woods are on the lands of Fyvie Castle, in which are many trees, oak, elm, ash, &c., of stately growth. The chief substrata are whinstone and sandstone; but from the great dip of the beds, the quarries are difficult to work, and few blocks have been raised. The annual value of real property in the parish is £10,224.

Fyvie Castle is an ancient and venerable structure, built at various periods with a due regard to the preservation of the original style. It is beautifully situated on the east bank of the Ythan, in a park surrounded with richly-wooded heights; and consists of two sides of a quadrangle, of which that on the south-east, called the Preston tower, is supposed to have been erected about the year 1400. In the south wing is the Seton tower, of which the old iron-gate is yet remaining; and over the gateway are the armorial bearings of the Seton family, sculptured on a tablet of freestone. To the south-west is the Meldrum tower; and at the northern extremity of the western wing, is the tower erected by the late Hon. General Gordon, on the site of the ancient chapel, which had fallen into ruin. The whole of the castle and the grounds have been lately much improved. Rothie House is a handsome modem mansion, built by the late owner: it is situated on an eminence overlooking a pleasing valley, and surrounded by a demesne which has been laid out with great taste, and embellished with thriving plantations by the present proprietor. Kiniroom House, about a mile to the west of Rothie, is also a pleasant residence, commanding a fine view. Gight Castle, a beautifully picturesque ruin, on the north bank of the Ythan, and now the property of the Earl of Aberdeen, was anciently the seat of the Gordons, maternal ancestors of the late Lord Byron. There is no village properly so called in the parish; but near the church are a few neat cottages, to which gardens are attached, and about a quarter of a mile distant is a post-office, on the turnpike-road from Aberdeen to Banff.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes, the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Turriff, synod of Aberdeen. The minister's stipend is about £224, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £17. 10. per annum; patron, William Gordon, Esq., of Fyvie. The church, erected in 1808, is a spacious plain edifice, containing 1114 sittings: in the churchyard is the burying-place of the Gordons of Gight, which was originally within the ancient church. A chapel, where a missionary officiates, has been erected at Millbrex, in the northern district of the parish, about five miles from the church, at a cost of £600, towards which the Earl of Aberdeen gave £100 and the site for the building, the Church-Extension Committee of the General Assembly £70, and the remainder was raised by subscription of the parishioners of Fyvie and Monquhitter, for whose accommodation it was built. It is a neat structure containing 500 sittings; and the minister has a stipend of £60, of which £20 are paid from the Royal Bounty, and the remainder derived from the seat-rents; with a manse, and a small glebe. There are two episcopal chapels, one at Woodhead, the other at Meiklefolla; and the members of the Free Church have also a place of worship at Woodhead. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £34, a house and garden, and a portion of the Dick bequest, and the fees and other emoluments may average £30 per annum. A priory was founded here by Fergus, Earl of Buchan, in 11*9, and endowed with the lands of Ardlogy and Leuchendy by Reginald le Cheyne, in 1285; it afterwards became subordinate to the abbey of Aberbrothock. The buildings, which were situated on the Ythan, about a mile below the castle, long ago disappeared, with the exception of some faint vestiges of the chapel, which may still be traced in a field near the church. There are also remains of the intrenchments thrown up by the Marquess of Montrose and the Earl of Argyll during the civil war.

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