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Gamrie, Banffshire

Historical Description

GAMRIE, a parish, in the county of Banff, 6½ miles (E.) from Banff; containing, with the burgh of Macduff and the villages of Crovie and Gardenstown, 4741 inhabitants, of whom 2001 are in the rural districts. The name of this place, in the Gaelic language, has reference to a memorable victory obtained here over the Danes, by the Thane of Buchan, about the commencement of the eleventh century; in gratitude for which, and in fulfilment of his vow, he erected the ancient church in the year 1004, which date may still be seen over one of its windows. The parish is bounded on the north by the Moray Firth; on the east by the burn of Nethermill, which separates it from the parish of Aberdour; and on the west by the river Doveron, dividing it from the parish of Banff. It is about ten miles in length, varies from three to four miles in breadth, and comprises an area of 21,500 acres, whereof 10,000 are arable, 750 woodland and plantations, and the remainder (of which perhaps 4000 acres might be brought into profitable cultivation) rough pasture and waste. The surface is strikingly diversified with hills, precipitous rocks, and deep glens, most of which are covered with verdure; and is interspersed with fertile valleys and level tracts in good cultivation. The coast, extending more than ten miles, is bold and rugged, and girt with an indented ledge of rocks rising precipitously to a height of 600 feet above the level of the Firth, and perforated with caverns of romantic appearance. Gamrie bay, in the east, is formed by two projecting headlands, one of which is called Gamrie Head, and the other, and the more prominent, is Troup Head, near the eastern extremity of the parish; westward are Melrose Head, and the Coley rock, near the harbour of Macduff, in the bay of Banff. The rocks on the coast are frequented by multitudes of sea-fowl of almost every variety, the most numerous of which are the kittywake, the razor-bill, the guillemot, and the puffin, each selecting its peculiar ledge for the purpose of incubation. Haddock, ling, cod, and herrings, with various kinds of flat and shell fish, are taken in abundance, yielding annually on an average a return of more than £13,000. The river Doveron, which abounds with salmon, and in which and the adjoining bay is a fishery belonging to the Earl of Fife, producing a rent of £2000, flows along the west border of the parish. The burn of Nethermill and the Logic, the former of which joins the sea at Nethermill, and the latter, after a circuitous course, falls into the Doveron, are the only rivulets of importance.

The SOIL, which is extremely various in different parts of the parish, has been greatly improved by the use of lime brought from England, and of bone-dust. The system of husbandry has been gradually advancing, and the chief crops are oats, barley, potatoes, and turnips: bear is raised on some farms, but wheat, beans, and peas are very rarely attempted. Large quantities of grain are sent to the London markets, and barley and bear are sold to the breweries and distilleries in the adjacent districts. The cattle, of which considerable numbers are shipped from the ports in the parish, are generally the Aberdeenshire, with some of the short-horned breed: the sheep pastured, which are comparatively few in number, are partly of the Cheviot, and partly of the Leicestershire breed. The annual value of real property in Gamrie is £8231. There are some luxuriant belts of natural wood in the western portion of the parish; and very extensive plantations have been formed in the Tore of Troup, which, together with those around Troup House, occupy more than 700 acres of land, consisting chiefly of beech and Scotch fir, with larch, the last now becoming more prevalent. The rocks are principally composed of greywacke, greywacke-slate, and clay-slate: the greywacke is occasionally quarried for building, and the clay-slate was formerly wrought for roofing, but has been superseded by the primary slate obtained in Foudland and Easdale. Troup House is a spacious mansion, built in 1772, and commanding an extensive view of the sea; the demesne is tastefully laid out, and embellished with natural wood and thriving plantations. This seat was suffered to fall into neglect during the minority of the present proprietor, who built a picturesque Norwegian cottage for his residence at Torewood. There is a small hamlet called Longman, the building of which was commenced by the late Earl of Fife, who allotted some waste land in small portions on the hill of Longman, on the road from Peterhead to Banff. Facility of communication is afforded by the turnpike-road to Banff, and by various other good roads which intersect the parish; a messenger delivers letters on alternate days from Banff and Fraserburgh, and application has been made for establishing an office at Dubford, in the parish, where cross-roads branch off in all directions.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Turriff, synod of Aberdeen. The minister's stipend is £224. 13., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £10 per annum; patron, the Crown. The present church, erected in 1830, and situated in a central part of the parish, is a handsome structure in the later English style, containing 1000 sittings. A chapel of ease in connexion with the Established Church was erected and endowed by the late Earl of Fife at Macduff, to which a district of the parish was attached by the presbytery, towards the close of the last century. The parochial schools of Gamrie and Macduff are both well attended: the master of each has a salary of £25. 13., with a house and garden, and a portion of Dick's bequest; the fees of the former average £25, and of the latter, £50. A school-house, also, has been erected at Longman by the Earl of Fife. The only striking remains of antiquity are the ruins of the old church, built in 1004: in the thick walls of this building were embedded the skulls of three Danes who fell in the battle previously noticed, one of which is preserved in the museum of the literary institution at Banff. Some remains of the Danish camp near Gamrie Head, have, from the slaughter that took place there, obtained the appellation of Bloody Pits; and there is also an ancient ruin on the farm of Pitgair, called Wallace's Castle, of which the history is unknown.

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