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Brechin High Street

Brechin lies on the left bank of the South Esk, west of Montrose, Brechin is a town of great antiquity, having been the site of a Culdee abbey. The Danes are said to have burned the town in 1012. David I. erected it into a bishopric in 1150, and it is still a see of the Episcopal Church of Scotland. In 1452 the earl of Huntly crushed the insurrection led by the earl of Crawford at the battle of Brechin Muir, and in 1645 the town and castle were harried by the marquis of Montrose. James VI. gave a grant for founding a hospital in the burgh.

No trace remains of the old walls and gates of the town, but the river is crossed by a two arched stone bridge of very early date. The cathedral church of the Holy Trinity belongs to the 13th century. It is in the Pointed style, but suffered maltreatment in 1806 at the hands of restorers, whose work, however, disappeared during a lter restoration. The western gable with its flamboyant window and Gothic door and the massive square tower are all that is left of the original edifice. The modern stained glass in the chancel is reckoned amongst the finest in Scotland.

Immediately adjoining the cathedral to the southwest stands the Round Tower, built about 1000. It is 86 3/4 ft. high, has at the base a circumference of 50 ft. and a diameter of 16 ft., and is capped with a hexagonal spire of 18 ft., which was added in the 15th century. This type of structure is somewhat common in Ireland, but the only Scottish examples are those at Brechin, Abernethy in Perthshire, and Egilshay in the Orkneys.

Brechin Castle played a piominent part in the Scottish War of Independence. In 1303 it withstood for twenty days a siege in force by the English under Edward I., surrendering only when its governor, Sir Thomas Maule, had been slain. From the Maule family it descended to the Dalhousics. Its library contains many important MSS., among them Burnss correspondence with George Thomson, and several cartularies including those of St Andrews and Brechin. In the Vennel (alley or small street) some ruins remain of the maison dieu, or hospitium, founded in 1256 by William of Brecisin. Besides these historical buildings the principal public structures include Smiths school, the municipal buildings, the free library, the episcopal library (founded by Bishop Forbes, who, as well as Bishop AbernethyDrummond, presented a large number of volumes). The principal industries included manufacture of linen and sailcloth, bleaching, rope-making, brewing, distilling, paper-making, in addition to nurseries and freestone quarries.

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