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Glenmuick, Tullich, and Glengairn, Aberdeenshire

Historical Description

GLENMUICK, TULLICH, and GLENGAIRN, a parish, in the district of Kincardine O'Neil, county of Aberdeen, 16 miles (W.) from Kincardine O'Neil; containing, with the village of Ballater, 2118 inhabitants. The compound Gaelic term Glean-muic, expressive of "a valley frequented by swine", is supposed to have been applied to this place from some part of it having been formerly celebrated for its breed of swine. The word Tullich is corrupted from tulach, signifying "rising grounds, or hillocks", and is descriptive of the vicinity of the village of Tullich. Glengairn is derived from the three words glean-garbh-amhain, meaning "the hollow or glen of the rough water", a term properly applied to the water of Gairn, on account of the rocky channel through which it pursues its course. The outline of the parish is very irregular, the length in several places being eighteen miles and the breadth fifteen miles, and the average length about fourteen and a half and the breadth twelve and a half. Glenmuich measures in average length fifteen miles, from east to west, and five and a half in breadth; Tullich, fourteen miles in length, from east to west, and seven miles in breadth; and Glengairn, eight miles in length and four in breadth. They comprise together about 115,200 acres, of which 3643 are under cultivation, 3185 in woods and plantations, and the remainder hills, moss, and moor, affording pasture, fuel, and game. In most parts the surface is mountainous and hilly; the small portion under tillage is chiefly in fertile straths, and on the banks of the rivers. The lands are watered by the Dee, the Muick, and the Gairn; the first divides the parish throughout its whole length, the district of Glenmuick being nearly all on its southern side, and Tullich and Glengairn on the northern. There are also several rivulets or burns.

The chief mountains, which are partly in contiguous parishes, are Lochnager, Cairntaggart, Mountkeen, and Morven, rising respectively to the height of 3814 feet, 3000 feet, 3126 feet, and 2934 feet. The most considerable hills are in ranges, varying from 1000 to 2500 feet: that of Culblean, at the east of Tullich, extends from Morven in a southern direction, for six miles, as far as the river Dee. From the centre of this, another range runs westward, along the north bank of the Dee, to the valley of Gairn; and though interrupted here, it rises again on the west side of the valley, and stretches parallel with the Dee to the church of Crathie. A third chain, on the south side of the Dee, extends in a line with the former, for about six miles, towards the west; and after often changing its direction, and bounding several lochs, it reaches the parish of Crathie and Braemar at the mountain of Cairntaggart. There are also some isolated hills, of which that called Craigandarroch, 400 yards north of the church, rises to the height of 1400 feet, and another, named the Cnoc, a mile west of the church, attains an elevation of 1150 feet. The ground rising from the streams, where the ascent is not too abrupt or rocky, is cultivated to the height of between 100 and 200 feet above the streams.

The wild and romantic mountain scenery of the district is blended with many beautifully picturesque features, for which it is much indebted to its rivers and lakes. The Dee, rising in the mountains of Braemar, flows into this parish, and on its northern side, about one mile and a half north-west of the church, receives the river Gairn, which has passed through the district of Glengairn; while, half a mile west of the church, on its southern side, it is joined by the Muick, a stream remarkable for the beautiful cascade called the Linn of Muick. It proceeds in an eastern course to Aberdeen, where it falls into the sea. Among the lochs, that of Dhuloch, at the south-western extremity of Glenmuick, is celebrated for its impressive scenery; and its water, which is deep and cold, derives a sable hue from the stupendous overhanging cliffs of Craigdhuloch, which rise on its southern shore above 1000 feet in height. A mountain rivulet falls into it from a considerable elevation, over a rock, on the north; and a small stream called by its own name runs out of it in an eastern course, forming several cascades, and at the distance of a mile and a half losing itself in Loch Muick. This lake is situated in the midst of romantic scenery, and is closely girt by the mountain of Lochnagar on the north, and a lofty range of the Grampians on the south and west. The loch of Cannor, about three miles round, and lying at the base of Culblean, in the district of Tullich, is also a beautiful sheet of water, richly ornamented with birch-wood, and interspersed with small islands. On one of these islands once stood a fortress, supposed to have been built as a hunting-seat by Malcolm Canmore; and not far from the loch is a curious excavation, called "the Vat" on account of its shape, it being nearly circular, measuring at the bottom about twelve feet in diameter, and gradually increasing in size to the top. A stream falls into "the Vat" from the height of thirty feet; and the hollow is supposed to have been gradually wrought by the pebbles driven round it, for ages, by the rapid and incessant action of the water. Salmon are found in the rivers; and the lochs are well stocked with eels, pike, par, and trout.

The SOIL is in general shallow and dry, in some parts sandy, in others gravelly: the grain chiefly cultivated is oats and bear, and most kinds of green crops are raised. The sheep are the black-faced, occasionally crossed with other sorts; the cattle are the small native breed, mixed with the Galloway and others. The larger agriculturists are gradually introducing the rotation of crops, and other approved usages; the farm-buildings are tolerably good, and some tracts of waste land have been trenched, drained, and brought under tillage, within the last few years. Embanking has also been carried on to some extent; but the inclosures are still deficient, and much is yet required to raise the parish to a level with many of the neighbouring districts. The annual value of real property in Glenmuich, Tullich, and Glengairn is £5745. The prevailing rocks are, primitive limestone, gneiss, and trap, of the first of which three quarries are in operation; and these rocks are frequently intersected with veins of quartz and porphyry. Granite occurs in numerous boulders; and ironstone and bog-iron are abundant. The natural wood consists chiefly of Scotch fir: and the plantations are of the same wood, mixed with larch, pine, mountain- ash, and others: plane, elm, and ash are not found to thrive, except in a few places. The mansion of Birkhall, built in 1715, and thoroughly repaired and enlarged in 1839, is a beautiful residence, romantically situated. Monaltrie House is a modern structure, in the vicinity of the village, and has very superior flower and fruit gardens attached to it.

The inhabitants are engaged chiefly in agriculture; but many females are employed in flax-spinning and the knitting of stockings. A post-office in Ballater communicates daily with Aberdeen; and there is a good commutation road, on the north side of the Dee, to Charlestown of Aboyne, where it meets the Aberdeen turnpike-road. A substantial wooden bridge of four arches was erected over the Dee in 1834, two excellent stone bridges having been previously carried away by the floods, the first in 1799, and the other in 1829: the present structure was raised at a cost of more than £2000, defrayed partly by subscription, and partly by a grant from the Parliamentary Commissioners for Highland roads and bridges. The farmers usually send their corn and dairy produce to Aberdeen, and the live stock to the Scotch or English cattle-markets. Fairs are held on the first Tuesday in May, O. S., the last Tuesday in June, the second Monday and Tuesday in September, O. S., and the Saturday before the 22nd of November: those in May and September are for the sale of cattle, horses, sheep, and general wares; that in June for the sale of wool, and that in November for hiring servants. Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Kincardine O'Neil, synod of Aberdeen, and in the patronage of the Marquess of Huntly. The minister's stipend is £237, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £7. 10. per annum. The church, built in 1798, is a neat substantial edifice, with a spire and an excellent clock; it is situated in the middle of a square in the village of Ballater, and has accommodation for about 800 persons. A missionary in connexion with the Established Church officiates in a chapel at Rinloan in Glengairn, seven miles from Ballater, and, besides the usual accommodations, receives £60 per annum from the Royal Bounty Committee. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship; and there is a Roman Catholic chapel on Gairnside, five miles distant from the church, and a second, a very small one, in another part. The parochial school, situated in Ballater, affords instruction in the usual branches; the master has the maximum salary, with a house, and £15 fees, and participates in the Dick bequest. There is also a school near the chapel in Glengairn, the master of which, in addition to accommodations, has £15 per annum from a bequest by Miss Farquharson. A subscription library and a savings' bank are kept up in the parish. On the moor near Culblean are several cairns, said to cover the graves of those viho fell in flight after the battle of Culblean, fought between the followers of King David Bruce, and those of Cummin, Earl of Atholl, in 1335. See Ballater.

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