A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1851), Samuel Lewis


DRUMBLADE, a parish, in the district of STRATHBOGIE, county of ABERDEEN; adjacent to the town of Huntly, and containing 945 inhabitants. The ancient name of this parish, Drumblait, which is Gaelic, signifies "covered hills or braes". King Robert Bruce is said to have lain encamped here during a time of severe sickness, and to have kept in check Cumyn, Earl of Buchan, one of the most powerful of the Scottish barons, who had pursued him hither, just before the battle of Barra, which was fought between them in the year 1307. The spot where the king intrenched himself was a height upon Sliach, still called "Robin's height". Some years ago, vestiges were visible of an encampment supposed to have been a part of the works of Bruce's station; and some tumuli, as well as immense masses of stone yet remaining in the vicinity, are said to have been connected with the same fortifications. A hill called "the battle hill" is thought to have been the scene of a conflict, at a later period, between the Cummings and the Gordons. The parish is about six miles in its greatest length, and between four and five miles in its greatest breadth, and contains above 76OO acres. Its surface is diversified by small hills, mostly cultivated, and by gently sloping valleys, with an extensive plain on the north, called the Knightland Moss, so level that, from the want of a proper fall for the water, the draining of it was long incomplete, though the whole of the tract is now under the plough or in pasture. There are several streams, but the only one of consequence is the Bogie, which divides the parish on the west from the town of Huntly.

The soil presents numerous varieties, of which the principal is a deep rich loam, producing, if well cultivated, and favoured by the season, very fine crops. A large part of the land, however, is stiff and heavy, with a cold crusty subsoil, which greatly impedes agricultural operations; and in some places the soil is light and sharp, resting upon loose sand or gravel. About 6000 acres are arable, 1100 unimproved, and 500 acres planted with larch and Scotch fir, and a little spruce and beech; all kinds of crops are raised, and of the grain produced oats most prevail, wheat being but little cultivated in the parish. The cattle are numerous, and form a principal object of attention here; they are chiefly the Aberdeenshire mixed with the Highland breed, but crosses with the short-horned have of late become common, and seem likely soon to supplant the native breed. The best system of husbandry is practised, and the improvements effected by draining, by reclaiming waste ground, and planting, have been so considerable within the last thirty or forty years, that the aspect of the parish has been almost entirely changed: the farm-houses and offices and the inclosures, however, are still in a somewhat inferior condition. The substrata afford granite, whinstone, and limestone, the first of which is excellent. In the parish is the mansion-house of Lessendrum, partly an old and partly a modern building. Most of the inhabitants are engaged in agricultural pursuits, but a few are employed in a distillery, a bleach-field, and two potato-flour manufactories, in a meal-mill, a lint-mill, and two wool-mills: at the distillery 40,000 gallons of superior malt spirits are annually produced, yielding to government about £10,000 a year duty. The grea Aberdeen and Inverness post-road, and the Huntly and Banff turnpike-road, run through the parish; the one two miles south, and the other a mile and a half northwest, of the church. The annual value of real property in Drumblade is £5520. Ecclesiastically the parish i within the bounds of the presbytery of Turriff and synod of Aberdeen; patron, the Earl of Kintore. The stipend is £159, of which £51 are paid by the exchequer; a there is a good manse, with a glebe of ten arable acres, valued at £16 per annum. Drumblade church, a plai edifice, was built in 1773, and improved in 1829, and contains 500 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial schoolmaster receives £30 a year, and about £24 fees, with an allowan for a house, and a portion of the Dick bequest: Latin, mathematics, mensuration, and all the ordinary branches are taught. There is also a good parochial library. The Rev. George Abel, minister of the parish, left £100 in 1793, and his widow a similar sum severa years afterwards, for the poor. Dr. William Bisset, late Bishop of Raphoe in Ireland, was proprietor of Lessendrum, and was interred here in 1834.

[From Samuel Lewis A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1851) - copyright Mel Lockie 2016]