A New History of Aberdeenshire, Alexander Smith (Ed), 1875
The name is derived from the Gaelic Carn-an, which is the diminutive of Carn, and signifies a place of small cairns.
The parish lies on the north-western frontiers of the County, and is bounded on the north by Banffshire, and the parishes of Grange and Rothiemay; on the east by the parish of Huntly; on the south partly by Huntly, and the parish of Glass; and on the west by Banffshire, and the parishes of Botriphnie and Keith.
Its greatest length, from the confluence of the Isla with the Doveran, to the south-west point at Ardonald, in a direct line measures about 7 miles, and its greatest breadth, from south to north, measures about 5½ miles, also in a direct line; and the whole area of the parish in Aberdeenshire, is about 12,000 acres.
This parish is very hilly, but excepting the rocky-peaked Beinn-hill of Huntly, which is about 1050 feet above sea level, and the western bounding ridge of the Balloch, 1208 feet, the other hills are of no great altitude. The south-west bounding ridge with Glass, runs from the Beinn, by Muleith, towards Botriphnie parish. The burn of Cairnie runs through the parish from south-west to north-east. It has a very winding course by the manse and church, and divides the parish into two very nearly equal parts-the south division being rather more hilly than the north-especially along the central valley through which the burn of Cairnie flows. The lowermost point in the parish, is at the influx of the Isla with the Doveran, and it is 296 feet above sea level; the Rothiemay Station of the Great North of Scotland Railway, stands a little above the confluence of these rivers, in the north-east corner of the parish, and is 332 feet above sea level; and the Grange Station, on the same line, is 338 feet, and it is in the north-west corner. These stations are 3½ miles apart, and the rise from Rothiemay to Grange is only six feet. The rise on the Isla, from the Doveran, to the west boundary of the parish, and County, is about 40 feet, and 336 feet above sea level.
[A New History of Aberdeenshire, Alexander Smith (Ed), 1875]