A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1851), Samuel Lewis


KINNELLAR, a parish, in the district of ABERDEEN and county of ABERDEEN, 2 miles (S. E. by E.) from Kintore; containing 483 inhabitants. The remains of antiquity still visible show the Druids and the Danes to have been each connected with this parish. In the churchyard are several immense stones, some of them sunk in the earth, and others remaining above ground, pointing out the site of a Druidical temple; and in the western direction, on an extensive common covered with heath, are the remains of numerous tumuli, the depositories of urns, skulls, ashes, and bones calcined on beds of hot clay. The common is supposed to have been the scene of some sanguinary conflict between the Scots and Danes, probably on occasion of the latter, in one of their frequent incursions, landing at the mouth of the river Don and encountering the former. A stone coffin was found a few years ago in Cairn-a-Veil, measuring about six feet long, constructed of six flags, and containing some black dust. On the hill of Achronie is Cairn-Semblings, seen to a considerable distance on the west and north, and near which is a large stone whereon Irvine, Laird of Drum, sat in order to make his will, when on his route to the battle of Harlaw, in which he fell.

The PARISH is rather more than four miles in length, but its breadth no where much exceeds two. It contains between 3000 and 4000 acres, and is bounded on the north by the parish of Fintray, from which it is separated by the river Don; on the south by the parish of Skene; on the east by the parishes of Dyce and Newhills; and on the west by Skene and Kintore. The surface throughout is a series of undulations, and the climate is bleak, the parish being almost without shelter from winds and storms. The soil is light and thin, and frequently rests upon a rough stony subsoil, requiring great labour and expense to reduce it to agricultural use: where, however, proper methods have been adopted, good crops are obtained. Almost the whole of the parish is arable, there being but a few acres occupied by wood, and only a small district of rocky moor. Oats, barley, and turnips are the crops chiefly raised, the last of which are much promoted in growth by the prevailing use of bone-dust manure. The rotation is usually the six-years' shift; and every farmer has a threshing-mill on his premises. There are but few sheep; the cattle are of the usual breed. Considerable improvements have taken place in husbandry within the last few years. Much land which was poor, and covered with heath and stones, has been with considerable expense brought into a state of profitable cultivation, well inclosed, and made to produce good crops of grain and turnips. The farm-houses, also, have been rendered comfortable and commodious. A spirit of emulation, leading to important practical results, has been excited by the institution about the year 1808 of prize-matches for ploughing, by a farmers' club in the neighbourhood; and much skill has been acquired in this branch of husbandry. The annual value of real property in Kinnellar is £2840.

A superior turnpike-road, from Aberdeen to Inverury, intersects the parish, and is traversed by the mail and three coaches every day to and from Aberdeen. The parish roads, however, are in bad repair, with the exception of one connected with a farm; and part of the road most used, leading to the church, is said to have been neglected for the last thirty years. The canal between Aberdeen and Inverury, constructed in 1797, passes through the parish at its northern extremity; but though of great advantage to those who reside in the upper districts, it is productive of little benefit to the larger portion of the inhabitants, who, being at some distance from the nearest station on the canal, find it more advantageous to convey their produce to Aberdeen by land-carriage. A passage-boat plies regularly; and several boats bring coal, lime, and manure from Aberdeen, and take back grain, wood, slate, and other commodities. Among the few mansions in the parish is that of Glasgoego, not now in very good repair, its former proprietor having built a new residence in its vicinity. On the bank of the Don is a commodious house belonging to William Tower, Esq., of Kinaldie; and on the property of Tartowie is a small but elegant house with improved grounds around it. In the hamlet of Blackburn are a post-office, an inn, and some houses inhabited by tradesmen and others. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery and synod of Aberdeen; patron, the Earl of Kintore. The stipend of the minister is £160, of which £62 are received from the exchequer; there is a manse, built in 1778, and the glebe consists of five acres of land, valued at £13. 15. per annum: the minister also has an allowance of £20 as grass-money, and a like sum as moss-money. Kinnellar church, a small building of plain style, erected in 1801, is in good repair, and contains 250 sittings: it stands on the north side of the Don, about a mile from the river. In the seventeenth century. Archbishop Sharp gave the patronage to the dean of the university of St. Andrew's, reserving to himself and his successors a veto upon any appointment; and the university held this privilege till 1761. There is a parochial school, where the usual branches of education are taught, with Latin and geometry if required. The master has a salary of £26, with a house and garden, and about £11 fees; also an allowance from Dick's bequest to the schoolmasters of Aberdeen, Banff, and Moray.

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