A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1851), Samuel Lewis
BOURTIE, a parish, in the district of GARIOCH, county of ABERDEEN, 1½ mile (S.W.) from Old Meldrum; containing 469 inhabitants. This parish in figure resembles an irregular triangle. It measures five miles in length from east to west, and about two in average breadth, and comprises 5000 acres, of which nearly 3600 are under cultivation, 360 in plantations, consisting chiefly of Scotch fir and larch, 1000 uncultivated and waste, and a few acres covered with moss, supplying peat. The surface is distinguished by two bold elevations, about 600 feet in height, rising nearly in the middle of the parish, a mile from each other; the one on the north being called the Hill of Barra, and the other the Hill of Lawhill-side. They run towards the east, to the extremity of the district, and, uniting there, terminate in the Hill of Kingoody. In some parts of the parish the soil is a strong clay, but more frequently a light loam, and the principal crops are oats, turnips, potatoes, and various grasses: the rotation of crops practised here, as in most other parts of the county, is what is called the seven-shift, which is considered the most suitable to the nature of the land. Between 300 and 400 acres of waste have been brought under cultivation within the last few years, and nearly two-thirds of the remaining portion of waste land are considered capable of the same improvement. The rocks are of the trap formation, and some suppose that the summit of the Hill of Barra is the crater of an ancient volcano. The annual value of real property in the parish is £3150 There are two gentlemen's seats, Bourtie House and Barra, the latter of which is a venerable castle, forming three sides of a quadrangle, with turrets at two of the angles. The road from Aberdeen to Banff passes through a corner of the district. Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Garioch, synod of Aberdeen, and in the patronage of the Crown; the minister's stipend is about £230, with a manse, and a glebe, valued at £ per annum. The church, situated in about the centre of the parish, is a plain structure containing 300 sittings, built in 1807. The parochial school affords instruction in the ordinary branches of education; the master has a salary of £30, with a house, and £8 fees. Sever cairns and Druidical circles are to be seen; but the chief relic of antiquity is a fortification on the Hill of Barra, called "Cummings' Camp" from having been either constructed or used by the Cummings, who were proprietors of the greater part of Buchan at the time of the celebrated engagement which took place near Inverury, when they were routed by King Robert Bruce.
[From Samuel Lewis A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1851) - copyright Mel Lockie 2016]