ABERNETHY, Perthshire - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868
"ABERNETHY, a parish partly in the county of Perth, and partly in the Cupar district of the county of Fife, Scotland, 6 miles S.E. of Perth. It is situated at the confluence of the rivers Earn and Tay, and on Balloburn in the Glens of Abernethy. It is a station on the Edinburgh and Northern railway, and has a ferry to the Carse of Gowrie. The village of Aberdargie is contained in this parish, which is itself a burgh of barony under Lord Douglas., Its name is traditionally derived from the Gaelic Obair Neachtain, "the work of Nectan or Nethan," and the place is supposed to have been made the capital of a Pictish kingdom about the year 456. It was afterwards the seat of an archbishop, until the Picts were conquered by Kenneth II., King of Scots, who removed the archbishopric to St. Andrew's in 840. At a later time the cathedral became a collegiate church. A Culdee house, or university, was established here, which was converted into an Austin priory in 1273. The most striking evidence of the antiquity and early importance of the place is its round tower. There is only one other structure of this kind in Scotland, that at Brechin. It stands in a corner of the churchyard, and is used at present as a steeple, a clock and bell being placed in it. This circumstance may give a clue to the real origin of these towers, which, from their peculiar construction, appear well adapted to answer the purpose of the minarets of the East, and to have been employed to call the people to church before the invention of bells. This would account for their being found so frequently near the ruins of ancient churches in Ireland. It is 74 feet in height, its circumference at the base is 48 feet, and the walls are 3½ feet thick. It has only one door, facing the north, and four windows near the top, equidistant, and each supported by two small pillars. On the side of the tower, in the period of persecution, there was an iron collar and a chain in readiness as a pillory for persons convicted of breaking the law of the church. It is similar to the round towers of Ireland, and was probably built by the Hibernians in some of their incursions into Scotland. During the Pictish era, Abernethy was far more extensive than at present, and was the seat of a royal residence, which tradition asserts to have stood on the hill called "Castle-law". The land in the parish is fertile; the houses are irregular and thatched. Linen-weaving is the chief occupation of the people. The living is in the presbytery of Perth, value £256, and in the patronage of the Earl of Mansfield. Fairs are held, principally for the sale of cattle, on the 12th February, the fourth Wednesday in May, and the second Thursday in November."
"ABERDARGIE, a village in the parish of Abernethy, in Perthshire, Scotland, 1 mile from Abernethy."
"BALVAIRD, a village in the parish of Abernethy, in the county of Perth, Scotland. Balvaird Castle, the seat of the Earl of Mansfield, is not far from the village."
[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of
Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]
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