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Chapel of Garioch, Aberdeenshire

Historical Description

GARIOCH, CHAPEL OF, a parish, in the district of Garioch, county of Aberdeen, 5 miles (N. W.) from Inverury; containing 2038 inhabitants. This place was formerly called Logie Durno or Durnock, words signifying "a low or hollow place"; but upon the annexation of the parsonage of Fetternear, situated on the north of the river Don, to the parsonage of this parish, on the north side of the Urie, early in the seventeenth century, the church of Logie Durno was disused, and a new one built on the spot where had once been a chapel called Capella Beatæ Mariæ Virginis, de Garryoch, whence the present name of the parish. The district is celebrated in history for the sanguinary battle of Harlaw, which was fought here on the 24th of July, 1411, between the Earl of Mar, who commanded the royal army, and Donald, Lord of the Isles, and which was fatal to so many of the nobility and gentry, and of the bravest soldiers in the country, that, according to Buchanan the historian, there perished in this conflict more illustrious men than had fallen in foreign warfare during many years. Donald, having ravaged and plundered other parts, had invited his Highland followers to seize and pillage Aberdeen, and was proceeding thither for that purpose, when the Duke of Albany, who was regent, gave the Earl of Mar a commission to collect troops to oppose him. In consequence of this, the Earl of Mar marched from Aberdeen at the head of a noble train, gathered from different quarters, and met Donald with a force nearly ten times as large as his own, at the little village of Harlaw, a short distance from the confluence of the Water of Urie with the Don. Here the earl attacked the army of Donald, 10,000 strong, with such vigour that he quickly penetrated into the midst of it; but the Highlanders, making up by numbers what they wanted in discipline and in armour, returned the attacks of the earl and his veterans with their usual courage and impetuosity, and a succession of conflicts was carried on through the day, which, while they produced the most dreadful carnage on both sides, had given, when night ended the slaughter, victory to neither. The Highland chief retired from the field; the earl was compelled to remain till the morning, through wounds and exhaustion. In the following century, Queen Mary, in her journey to the north, previously to the battle of Corrichie, passed a day here, at Balquhain Castle, the ancient seat of the Leslies, and is said to have attended mass in the parish church. Many years afterwards, the unfortunate Marquess of Montrose, when the Covenanters had triumphed, arrived at the castle of Pitcaple, in the custody of Generals Leslie and Strachan, who thence conducted their illustrious captive, seated on a Highland pony, and ignominiously attired, to the city of Edinburgh, where he was executed on the 2 1st of May, 1650. Charles II., upon his return from Holland in the same year, was entertained at this castle in a very sumptuous manner, on which occasion a ball took place on the lawn, under a thorn-tree which is still standing, and which is said to exceed in size all others in this part of Britain.

The PARISH, the figure of which is very irregular, is eleven miles in length from north to south, and varies in breadth from two to five miles. It comprises 11,427 acres, of which 8342 are under tillage, including twelve acres of garden and orchard ground; 1010 waste, including nearly 900 acres capable of profitable cultivation; 110 moss; and 1965 wood and plantations. The surface is diversified by two considerable ridges, one on the north, and the other on the south, side of the Urie or Ury, and stretching nearly in the same direction with the stream, the interjacent vale being well defended by the hilly ground on each side, and watered by the river for about five or six miles. The Ury is celebrated for its fine trout, and, at a small distance from the parish, falls into the Don. The Don forms about three miles of the southern boundary of the parish in its passage to the German Ocean, which it reaches at a mile from Aberdeen: it is well stocked with salmon, eels, trout, and pike. The eminence on which the church stands, south of the Ury, and by which the old turnpike-road from Aberdeen passed, commands in one part an interesting view of both local and distant scenery, especially of the Garioch district, the prospect embracing nine churches.

This parish is entirely agricultural; and the vale, interspersed by beautifully-formed knolls, of which that of Dun-o-deer is the most conspicuous, is under good cultivation. The crops, comprehending grain of various kinds, are indeed so heavy that Garioch is frequently called the Granary of Aberdeenshire; and they are in general more early in appearance even than those in some of the southern parts, on account of the richness of the soil. A fine black loam occurs in many places; a good clay in others, on a tilly subsoil; and near the rivers, a rich vegetable mould, on gravel. Wheat, which formerly was grown in but small quantities, is now more extensively produced; and all the usual green crops are raised in abundance. The cattle are chiefly a cross between the Aberdeenshire and Teeswater, or Buchan and Teeswater, and are fed in numbers, either to be sold to the butcher, or sent by sea to the London market. The rotation system of husbandry is practised; the application of bone manure has been found of great service to the crops of turnips, and the parish has been improved in various other respects during the present century, especially by the inclosures and extensive drains which have been made, and by the erection of good farm-houses and offices. Much waste land has been reclaimed; and a far larger number of cattle than formerly are reared for sale, through the advance of turnip husbandry. In the parish are seven corn-mills, connected with which are five barley-mills; another barley-mill, and a lint-mill; two mills for carding and spinning wool, and three saw-mills. The annual value of real property in Chapel of Garioch is £335. The rocks consist of whinstone and granite, the former of which comprises nearly the whole of the strata to the north of the Ury, and for two miles south of it; the granite runs through the remainder of the district. The hill of Benochie, in the parish of Oyne, supplies a stone for the erection of mansion-houses and farm-steadings; and the granite obtained from this quarter admits of a fine polish, and has been employed for chimney-pieces in some of the best residences. Benochie hill is a common to several parishes, but lies altogether within the parish of Oyne. The wood consists for the most part of larch, spruce, and Scotch firs, and has nearly all been planted within the present century, with the exception of several fine old plane, horse-chesnut, beech, and fir trees on the lawns of the mansion-houses. In this parish the seats are four in number, and contribute, with their beautiful grounds and plantations, to heighten in no small degree the general effect of the scenery. Logie- Elphinstone is situated upon the north bank of the Ury, and Pitcaple on the other side. The mansion of Pittodrie stands on an acclivity on the eastern side of the hill of Benochie, which rises 1400 feet above the sea, and commands extensive prospects; while the mansion of Fetternear, the ancient summer residence of the bishops of Aberdeen, built in 1329 by Bishop Kininmonth, stands on the north bank of the Don, and, like the others, is pleasantly situated. A new road has been made to Aberdeen, and the marketable produce is generally sent to that city, being conveyed to Port-Elphinstone, six miles distant, and thence transmitted to its destination by the canal.

Chapel of Garioch is the seat of the presbytery of Garioch, in the synod of Aberdeen, and the living is in the patronage of Sir James Elphinstone Dalrymple, Bart. The minister's stipend is £218, with a manse, and a glebe of eighteen acres, valued at £16 per annum. The church is a neat and commodious edifice, built in 1813, and contains 800 sittings. A second church was opened in June 1839, at Blairdaff, in the southern part of the parish, about four miles and a half from the mother church; it contains 500 sittings. This edifice was erected at a cost of about £500, by subscription, aided by a grant from the General Assembly's church extension fund; the ground for the site and burying-ground was given by Robert Grant, Esq., of Tillyfour. The accommodation is shared by parts of the adjacent parishes of Oyne and Monymusk, which subscribed to the building, and, with the portion of this parish attached to the church, constitute an ecclesiastical district comprehending 1000 persons. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. Garioch parochial school affords instruction in Greek, Latin, practical mathematics, and geography, with the usual elementary branches; the master has a salary of £27, a portion of the Dick bequest, a house, and about £20 fees. There are two other schools, partially supported by the heritors, in which the ordinary branches are taught. The antiquities in the parish comprise some remains of old tombs and monumental stones of warriors, and a curious stone, half a mile west from the church, called the "Maiden Stone", and marked with several hieroglyphics, supposed by some to be Danish; the stone is about ten feet high above the ground, and reaches, as is thought, six feet below the surface. The ruins of the churches of Logie-Durno and Fetternear, with their cemeteries, are still visible; and half a mile to the south-east of the present church, is the ruin of the castle of Balquhain, the body of which is said to have been burnt down by the Duke of Cumberland in 1746. Near the castle is a Druidical circle in good preservation. Sir Walter Farquhar, physician to George IV. while Prince Regent, was the son of the Rev. Robert Farquhar, for many years minister of the parish. The Earl of Mar takes the title of Baron Erskine and Garioch from this district.

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