A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1851), Samuel Lewis

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MIDMAR, a parish, in the district of Kincardine-O'Neil, county of Aberdeen, 15 miles (W.) from the city of Aberdeen; containing 1093 inhabitants. Midmar, a term supposed to be compounded of the Saxon word mid, and the Gaelic word marr denoting "a black forest", is the name of one of the three great divisions of the extensive region originally styled Marr, which lies between the rivers Dee and Don. This district of Marr comprised Brae-Marr, an appellation expressive of the highest part of the country; Cro-Marr, a lower and more cultivated tract; and Mid-Marr, so called, as is thought, from its central situation in respect to the two rivers, each being distant about six miles from the church. The parish is nearly seven miles in length from east to west, and about five miles in average breadth, containing between 12,000 and 13,000 acres, of which 5000 or 6000 are under cultivation, 1600 in plantations, 1000 pasture, and the remainder hill, moss, and moor. Its surface is rugged and uneven, and marked principally by two hilly ridges with their vales. The lower grounds are enlivened by pleasing rivulets and burns, and those parts of the eminences where the soil is too thin for the operations of the plough are planted with Scotch firs, which flourish tolerably well, and are not only a great improvement to the scenery, but form a protection to the lands and the cattle from the severity of the weather. The hill of Fare, at the southern limit, is the most considerable elevation, measuring at its base seventeen miles in circumference, and rising nearly 1800 feet above the level of the sea. It affords excellent pasturage for numerous flocks of sheep, and the mutton is reputed to be of very superior flavour. In the northern and eastern parts of the parish the soil is a good dry mould, resting on a deep subsoil of clay; in the western quarter, where the hills sink into the lower grounds, it is principally a thin sandy or clayey earth, with a little loam, on a gravelly subsoil. The grain raised consists chiefly of oats and bear, and the green crops consist of turnips and potatoes. Black-cattle and sheep are reared in considerable numbers, and many swine are also fattened for the market. The land varies greatly in quality, and much of it is wet and mossy, and rented at a very low rate: but large tracts have been reclaimed and improved during the present century, and in some parts the fields have been inclosed with good stone dykes. Many of the farm houses and offices have been enlarged, or rebuilt on a better plan; and agricultural advancement is steadily kept in view by the farmers throughout the parish. The rocks are mostly granite and whinstone, both of which are quarried; the former is sometimes obtained of superior quality, and in large blocks, and on account of its taking a fine polish is used for the ornamental parts of buildings. The annual value of real property in Midmar is £4475.

The mansions of Kebbaty and Corsindae are both modern structures, the houses of resident proprietors. Midmar Castle, an ancient turreted edifice, is situated in a kind of glen on the north side of the hill of Fare, and is surrounded by wood: it commands fine views of the nearer scenery, consisting of hills and valleys beautifully grouped, and enriched with shrubs and trees; and is itself an interesting and conspicuous object at a distance, being seen to great advantage from many parts of the adjacent country. The population is entirely rural and agricultural: the fuel in common use is wood and peat; the former is very cheap, and the latter is procured in great plenty from the mosses in the parish. A road runs on the north from the vale of Alford, and another on the south from the Cromar district, both to Aberdeen, to which place the marketable produce is generally sent.

Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Kincardine O'Neil, synod of Aberdeen, and in the patronage of the Crown and Sir John Forbes, of Craigievar, Bart., the latter presenting twice in succession. The minister's stipend is £224, with a manse built in 1540, and a glebe valued at £14 per annum Midmar church, which accommodates 600 persons, is a very plain structure, built in 1757. There are places of worship for the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church. The parochial school affords instruction in Latin and in practical mathematics, in addition to the usual elementary branches; the master has a salary of £34, with a house, a share in the Dick bequest, an £19 fees. A parochial library of considerable size i supported by subscription. Near the church are some Druidical remains, with an altar in good preservation. An excavation in a rock near the southern boundary of the parish is still called the "Queen's Chair", Queen Mary, as is said, having sat in it when, returning from Aberdeen, she surveyed the neighbouring valley of Corrichie, where a battle had been fought between the forces of the Marquess of Huntly and the Earl of Murray, Mary's general.

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