parish in Sidlaw district, Perthshire, mainly about 2 miles
north-north-west of Inchture railway station. Post town, Inchture.
Acres, 2532. Real property in 1880-81, £3011. Pop. 275.
The surface is mostly hilly, and rises from about 300 to about
1155 feet above sea-level. A free church serves Abernyte and
Rait. The public school has about 75 scholars."
Wilson, Rev. John The Gazetteer of Scotland by Rev. John Wilson,
South Sidlaws village and parish of Abernyte is not so well
known as it deserves to be, sitting in its wide, south-facing,
hanging valley between the Carse of Gowrie and Strathmore, 9
miles west of Dundee and 2 north-west of Inchture. It is a pleasant
place, but to call it a village is almost a misnomer. One gets
the impression that the Abernyters are notably fond of walking.
For its various sections are all so wide apart as to be extraordinary,
scattered over a network of side-roads in the laps of the green
hills. All, however, have fine and extensive views, especially
south-eastwards through the gap in the hills to the carse and
the open sea at the mouth of the Firth of Tay. King's Seat is
in this parish, and presides over all, at 1236 feet the highest
point of the South Sidlaws, with an ancient chambered cairn
and enclosure at its summit.
major parts of scattered Abernyte lie dotted along the B.953
Inchture to Balbeggie road, threading the very attractive fertile
glen, shut in on three sides by green hills. The first we come
to, from the south, is the former Free Church and manse, now
converted into a large garage establishment, and seeming as
odd as must have been the church to be isolated thus. Then,
half a mile on, at a road junction, is the Milton and school
with some cottages; and a little way farther up still, another
group of houses as a cross-roads. A quarter-mile on, built on
higher ground, is the largest section of the village, still
growing with modern houses. Then, away more than another half-mile
to the east, passing Abernyte House and its rather strangely
set-down walled garden, is the very detached Kirkton, with the
parish church and a large, whitewashed and fine-looking manse
facing out over the sinking braesides to the south, all under
the wooded craigs of Rossie Hill.
church is an old foundation rebuilt in 1736. There is a parish
record declaring: "December 4 1664, the whilk day Mr. Andrew
Shippert was admitted minister of Aberneit, by Mr. Robert White,
minister at Instur, being authorized by my Lord Bishop of Dunkelden
to that effect. Collected that day 7 shillings two pennies."
The said bishop was himself contemporaneously minister of St.
Madoes parish, along the Carse, nimbly straddling circumstances.
There are some old tombs in the graveyard.
parish boasts sundry antiquities. There are not a few cairns,
one of which used to stand in the manse glebe, with bones found
under it. These were said to commemorate a battle between the
Grays of Fowlis and the Boyds of Pitkindie, just up the road-though
it seems much more likely that they are of prehistoric origin.
On a hill called Glenny Law, as well as cairns, is said to be
a stone circle of seven stones; and at Stockmuir, one of nine.
On an ancient map north of Ballairdie, were marked the remains
of a castle named Carquhannan, though locally called Balchuinnie,
with a spring near by designated the King's Well. This may well
have been Scotland's only King Edgar, for a mile or so down
the road southwards is the rather unusual hamlet of Baledgarn
(pro nounced Bal-egger-ny) bearing the name of Edgar, 4th son
of Malcolm Canmore, anointed king in 1001, and who built a castle
on the hill just above here, still called Castlehill. Boethius
declares it was "foundit by Edgar in Gowry, wha gat certane
landis fra the Erle of Gowry, and annexit his name to the castle".
however, as a village, only dates from the early 19th century;
and an attractive place it is, lying on either side of a falling
burn just to the west of the policy wall of the Rossie Priory
estate. But this hamlet did not grow; it was made. The 8th Lord
Kinnaird decided to leave Drimmie House, down near the present
A.85 road, and build a great new mansion up on a terrace in
his splendid park-land, under Rossie Hill, this in 1807. Unfortunately
the old village of Rossie seems to have offended his sensibilities.
Not that it cluttered the site, being fully half a mile away
to the east, and not very evident from the new palace. But these
were the days of great lords and large gestures, and for better
or worse the village was bodily removed a mile to the west.
Oddly enough, the old market cross was left behind, and still
stands in lonely splendour by its burnside in the open parkland,
with the former village church, now the family burial-chapel,
on the yew-clad hillock behind. The cross has a four-stepped
plinth, and on top of its shaft is a highly unusual finial in
the form of four lions and unicorns back-to-back, beneath inscribed
R.H. and K.G. 1746. The significance of these initials is not
clear. A single standing-stone projects from the turf a few
yards to the west, which also must have been in the village
street. The Kinnairds' chapel is kept in good repair, and within,
amongst the memorials of the family, is a splendid Celtic cross-slab,
highly decorative, with horsemen, animals and intricate ribbon
ornamentation. These cross-slabs, another of which stands at
St. Madoes Church, 9 miles to the south-west, date from the
period A.D. 800-1000, it is thought, and are of Celtic-Pictish
Priory itself, standing in a magnificent position in finely-rising
parkland, is still a most handsome mansion although greatly
reduced in size in recent years. It contains many treasures,
and remains the seat of the Lords Kinnaird. Highly unusual is
the pend which passes through the middle of the house, so that
a visitor may drive right through from one side and driveway
to another. The predecessor of this great house and Drimmie
also, is the red-stone, late 16th century castle of Moncur,
which still stands in a ruinous state, within the estate, about
a mile to the south, near an attractive pond and visible from
the main A.85 road. It has been a fine fortalice, liberally
equipped with gun-loops, built on the Z-plan, with a notable
hall fireplace and great chimney-stack.
the east of Rossie, in a field, is another monolith called the
Falcon Stone, allegedly one more of those landmarks which the
Hay's hawk alighted upon, after the Battle of Luncarty in 990,
in its over-flying of the lands the Hays were to gain as reward
for their part in the battle-an active and useful bird. Probably,
however, the stone has a much earlier significance.
wooded Rossie Hill is the estate hamlet of Knapp, tucked away
in a quite secret valley threaded by a side-road. Here is an
unusual feature - a 17th century doocote turned into a cottage.
Farther north, on the high ground of Dron, is a Pictish fort
on the hilltop. And to the east, at the farm of Dron, are the
ruins of a 12th century chapel, formerly attached to Coupar
Angus Abbey. Only two gables remain, by the burnside, but that
to the west has a fine, tall pointed archway.
of this point, the land climbs to a high and lonely moorland
plateau area, part of Longforgan parish, around the 65o-foot
contour, scattered with ancient Scots pines and other wind-blown
trees, gorse and heather. In its remote centre is the small
loch of Redmyre. It is hard to believe that this lofty wilderness
is only 7 miles from busy Dundee.
south of the busy A.85 dual-carriageway between Perth and Dundee,
7 miles west of the latter, is the village of Inchture. As its
name implies, once an island in the flooded Carse of Gowrie.
It must have been a very low island, for its eminence is hardly
noticeable in the level flats; indeed the church and churchyard
are alleged to be built up 6 to 8 feet artificially, presumably
to afford suitable burial facilities in the early days. Tuir,
in Gaelic means a dirge, or lament for the dead, and it may
be that the original inch got its name thus; although another
claimed derivation is innis-t-ear, the island to the east. Today
there is a neat red-stone estate-type village, with church,
school, hotel and a shop or two, all under an avenue of tall
old trees, and rather attractive.
parish church is distinctly ambitious for so small a community;
but the parish itself is fairly large, and now incorporates
the former parish of Rossie. The Gothic building dates from
1834, and is unusual in having handsome red ashlar stone at
front and sides, but only harling at the rear, an economy the
present author has not seen elsewhere in a church. It stands
amongst many ancient gravestones, with another Kinnaird vault
below the building, additional to that at the old chapel at
of the antiquities of this parish are in the higher ground of
the Rossie area, and dealt with under that name. A battle was
allegedly fought near the ruined castle of Moncur, across the
main road to the north of the village, in 728, when in a civil
war Hungus, or Angus, defeated Nectan and gained the leadership
of the Picts.
Parish covers 5330 acres, of which no fewer than 1200 are described
as foreshore or have been reclaimed from the firth. A long dead-straight
road of 2 miles runs down over the rich flat cornlands to salt
water at Powgavie. Pow or poll is the name given to the sluggish
streams or stanks which drain the carse. At Powgavie there was
formerly a harbour, once quite important, where there was a
hamlet and alehouse, all now gone and only a sea of reeds and
rushes remaining. At low tide, the Powgavie Burn winds its way
out through the mud-flats and sandbanks of Dog Bank for almost
three miles. Some of the farms in these fertile carselands have
odd names-such as Maggotland, Mammiesroom, Waterbutts and Unthank.
At Grange, 3 miles south-west of Inchture, there is a sizeable
community, amongst scattered orchards and broiler-houses. Inchture
district is famous for the cultivation of strawberries. All
this Carse of Gowne, of course, claims the title of the Garden
are many Kinnairds in Scotland, the name meaning merely the
head of the height. But there is only one actual parish and
village of the name. It is one of those picturesque little communities
which nestle in the south-facing folds of the Carse Braes, overlooking
the plain of Tay and Gowrie, standing about two miles west of
Inchture. Here there is a quite delightful little village, with
parish church and manse, all overlooked and dominated by a tall
castle. The parish rises from the 5o-foot level in the carselands
almost to the 1000-foot contour at Blacklaw; so there is much
of climbing, green hillsides, hanging woods and splendid vistas.
There was formerly another village at Pitmiddle, much higher
on the Braes, to the north-east about a mile; but this, like
a number of other Gowrie villages has dwindled into obscurity
with the draining of the level plain, and the roads in consequence
tending to abandon the heights. There is still a large wood
of that name.
village itself sits on broken hillside terraces beside the ravine
of its own burn, facing south amongst its orchards, with no
village street or scheme of lay-out, but no less attractive
therefor. Some of the cottages still retain their thatched roofs.
The church dates only from 1815, and is a plain but pleasing
building of red stone, with a watch-house; presumably it was
necessary to counter the activities of body-snatchers even in
this peaceful and arcadian spot. The Threipland of Fingask burial-place
flanks the church door.
Castle, not to be confused with the much larger seat of that
name in Angus, is much more in evidence here than is usual,
not hidden away in any large wooded estate but soaring impressively
on an open green knoll above the village, still occupied and
in good order. It is an interesting and dramatic place, a tall,
red-stone keep of the 15th century with earlier nucleus, thick-walled,
with a small projecting tower or buttress at one corner, which
is not a stair-tower, as it seems, and highly unusual, its summit
forming a watch-chamber at high parapet level. Another unusual
feature is the two-storeyed 17th century addition to the east-for
this is not actually attached to the keep. It contains an old
kitchen with an enormous arched fireplace 13 feet wide by 6
deep, with an outside service window, evidently for viands to
be pushed through for the castle's family. Hot dishes cannot
have been a speciality at Kinnaird.
is claimed that one Randolph Rufus obtained, from William the
Lyon, these lands in 1170; and his descendants took their name
therefrom. One, Sir Richard Kinnaird of that Ilk, married his
son Reginald to the heiress of Sir John Kirkcaldy of Inchture,
and so gained these neighbouring carselands, in the time of
Robert III. Just when the Kinnairds moved to live at Moncur
Castle, nearer Inchture (now itself a ruin and abandoned by
them for Rossie Priory in the vicinity) is not clear. But Sir
Patrick Threipland, 1st Baronet of Fingask, bought Kinnaird
in the 17th century. Just beforehand, in 1617, James VI on a
rare return visit to Scotland, spent some days hunting from
here. Later the castle became ruinous, but happily was restored
towards the close of the last century.
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