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Garvock, Kincardineshire

Historical Description

GARVOCK, a parish, in the county of Kincardine, 2 miles (E. S. E.) from Laurencekirk; containing 446 inhabitants. This place, the name of which, in the Gaelic language, is descriptive of the general appearance of its surface, formed part of the ample possessions of the Keiths, earls-marischal of Scotland, who occasionally resorted to it for the diversion of hunting; but since 1715, when the estate was forfeited, the lands have been divided among several proprietors, of whom the Earl of Kintore is the principal. Though few traces of its original character are now remaining, it appears to have been one extensive forest; and within its limits, in the reign of James I., was perpetrated the inhuman murder of Melville of Glenbervie, sheriff of Mearns, whom Barclay, laird of Mathers, and others, had treacherously invited to join them on a hunting party. The parish is rather more than seven miles in length, and nearly four miles in extreme breadth, comprising an area of 8500 acres, whereof 2900 are arable, 100 woodland and plantations, and the remainder, of which about one-half might be reclaimed, moorland pasture and waste. In the central portion the surface is a hollow plain, surrounded by ascending grounds except on the east. In other parts it is gently undulated, rising, towards the south-west, into the hills of Garvock, which have an elevation of 750 feet above the level of the sea, and command from their summit an unbounded and richly-diversified prospect. There are numerous springs of excellent water in various parts, and at the north-west base of Garvock hill is a spring strongly impregnated with chalybeate properties; but the only river connected with the parish is the water of Bervie, which forms a portion of its north-east boundary, and falls into the sea at Bervie.

The soil is naturally wet, resting on a subsoil of clay; on the higher grounds, light and gravelly; and in the lowlands, chiefly alluvial deposit. The crops are oats, barley, and bear, with potatoes and turnips: wheat has been raised, and also peas, though not with any degree of success; beans, however, have been introduced with every prospect of a fair return. Of late years, the system of husbandry has been greatly advanced, and considerable tracts of waste have been reclaimed and brought into profitable cultivation by draining and the use of lime; but the farm-buildings, with few exceptions, are still of very inferior order, and the lands are only partially inclosed. Great attention is paid to the management of the dairy-farms, and the butter made here obtains a decided preference in the market. The cattle are generally the Angus, with a mixture of the Aberdeenshire breed; much care is bestowed on their improvement, and large numbers are sent to London: few sheep are bred. The annual value of real property in the parish is £3285. There are some small remains of ancient wood; and the plantations, which are chiefly of recent growth, consist of larch, spruce, and Scotch firs, interspersed with ash, beech, and plane, all which, with the exception of the larch and Scotch fir, are in a thriving condition. The rocks are mostly sandstone, conglomerate, and trap. A coarse kind of limestone occurs in the hill of Garvock, but from the difficulty of access, it is not wrought. Red sandstone, of good quality for building, is occasionally quarried.

There is no village, or even hamlet of any importance, in the parish. A fair was formerly held annually on the hill of Garvock, on the third Tuesday in July (O. S.), and continued for three following days, for the sale of sheep, cattle, merchandise, and for hiring servants; it was called St. James' fair, but has been removed by the proprietor of the custom. Facility of communication is maintained by good roads. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Fordoun, synod of Angus and Mearns. The minister's stipend is £177. 11. 9., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £20 per annum; patron, the Crown. Garvock church is a neat structure erected in 1778, and contains 300 sittings. The parochial school is attended by about sixty children; the master has a salary of £31, with a house, and an allowance of £2. 2. for garden, and the fees average £15. The present minister, the Rev. John Charles, has assigned the sum of £100, the interest to be paid to the master for the gratuitous instruction of poor children: it is invested in Aberdeen feu-duties, and pays for the education of ten or eleven scholars annually. A parochial library, now containing 490 volumes, was established in 1835; and a juvenile library of 120 volumes was instituted in 1843. There are numerous cairns, and many Druidical remains, in the parish; and on the farm of Nether Tulloch, under three hillocks, have been found three stone coffins, of which two contained only some black earth, and the third an urn and a skeleton.

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