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Kettle, Fifeshire

Historical Description

KETTLE, a parish, in the district of Cupar, county of Fife; including the villages of Balmalcolm, Bankton-Park, Coalton, and Holekettle-Bridge, and the hamlets of Muirhead and Myreside; and containing 2312 inhabitants, of whom 480 are in the village of Kettle, 6 miles (S. W.) from Cupar. This place derives its name, which in ancient documents is written Catril and Katel, from its having belonged to the kings of Scotland, by whom it was appropriated to the pasture of the cattle of the royal household; and towards the close of the last century there were, on the lands of Blackdikes, the remains of an ancient building, said to have been the residence of the king's herdsman. The greater portion of the lands is still the property of the crown, and the rents are duly paid into the exchequer. The parish is situated on the river Eden, and is bounded on the north by the parishes of Auchtermuchty and Collessie; on the south by Markinch, Kennoway, and Leven; on the east by the parish of Ceres and Cults; and on the west by the parish of Falkland. It is about eight miles in length, and three miles at its greatest breadth, forming an irregular area of nine square miles. In some parts the surface is level, and in others rises to a considerable elevation: the lower parts are watered by the Eden, which abounds with red and white trout, pike, and eels; and though in summer its stream is very shallow, yet, from its winding course, and the sluggishness of its current, it sometimes inundates the adjacent lands. To remedy this evil, frequent attempts were long ago made to open a canal of considerable depth, to receive and carry off the superfluous waters; and Mr. Johnstone, in 1783, cut a spacious canal through the extent of his own lands, which materially improved his property; but the neighbouring proprietors not continuing the line through their estates, the evil is but partially removed, and many of the low grounds are still subject to occasional floods.

The SOIL is very various, even in the level lands, part of which are extremely rich and fertile, and others sandy, with moss resting on beds of stiff clay. On the rising grounds are light friable moulds, with a strong clayey soil, which under proper management produces good crops: the more hilly parts of the parish afford excellent pasture, and even to their summits are covered with verdure. The whole number of acres is 6375, the principal portion of which is arable; very little land is in pasture, and the chief plantations comprise not more than 200 acres. A moderate extent of common has been divided, and partly brought into cultivation and partly planted, by which the appearance of the parish is greatly improved. The crops are barley, wheat, oats, potatoes, and turnips, with the usual green crops; the system of husbandry is of a highly advanced kind, and much greater quantities of grain, and of finer quality, than formerly, have been raised of late years, a very considerable portion being now sent to the neighbouring markets. The farm-buildings are substantial and commodious, generally roofed with slate; and all the improvements in agricultural implements have been adopted. Considerable progress has also been made in draining and inclosing the lands; the fences, partly of stone and partly of thorn, are kept in good order. The substratum is mostly limestone, freestone, and fine trap whinstone. The limestone is of excellent quality; it contains, according to an analysis, ninety-eight parts of fine lime in every hundred, and is worked at Forthar quarry, belonging to General Balfour, from whose pits at Balbirnie the kilns are supplied with coal. This quarry affords employment to a considerable number of men; and the produce, after supplying the neighbourhood, is sent to Newburgh, whence it is shipped to Dundee and other places. Coal was formerly wrought at Burnturk, in the parish; but with the exception of a little which is employed in burning lime, it is not now worked. Ironstone is also found, but in small quantities. One of the beds of trap whinstone rises perpendicularly in pentagonal columns from five to seven feet in height; and these, when detached from the quarry, are without further preparation used for gate pillars. There is also a quarry of trap tuffa, which, from the durability of the stone, and its capability of resisting the action of fire, is admirably adapted for ovens and other purposes subjecting it to intense heat. The annual value of real property in the parish is £8675.

The lands are divided among numerous proprietors; the late Mr. Johnstone, of Lathrisk, built an elegant mansion upon that estate, and there are several other handsome houses, belonging to resident proprietors, which, with the plantations on their demesnes, greatly enliven the scenery. The village of Kettle is pleasantly situated on the south side of the river Eden, and is well inhabited; it is plentifully supplied with provisions of every kind at a moderate price. Many of the inhabitants of the parish are employed in weaving linen, in which, upon an average, 400 hand-looms are engaged; the principal article is dowlas, and about forty looms are occupied in weaving window-blinds. There is also a mill for the manufacture of linen yarn. Facility of intercourse with the neighbouring district is greatly promoted by the line of road forming the thoroughfare from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Tay, which is continued for four miles through the parish. A post-office has been established in the village, and the Edinburgh, Perth, and Dundee railway has a station here. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Cupar, synod of Fife; and the patronage is vested in the Crown. The stipend of the incumbent is £223: the manse, built in 1792, is a substantial and comfortable residence in good repair; and the glebe is valued, with £2. 3. 4. in lieu of pasturage, at £5. 3. 4. per annum. Kettle church, a handsome cruciform edifice in the later English style, with a square tower, was erected in 1834-5, at an expense of £3000, and is adapted for 1200 persons. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church and United Presbyterian Church. The parochial school is under good regulation; the master has a salary of £34, with an excellent house and garden, and the fees, which are very moderate. On the hills of Bowden and Downfield are some remains of ancient encampments; and there are several barrows in the parish, of which two, called respectively Pundlers Know and Lowries Know, are in the grounds of Forthar, and a third, called Lackerstone, in the grounds of Kettle. In the eastern extremity of the parish are some lands called Clatto, formerly the residence of the Seatons, whose predatory excursions are still the subject of traditionary story.

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