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St Vigeans

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"St Vigeans, a village and a coast parish of Forfarshire.
 The village, though small, is ancient; and is said to
 derive its name either from a hermit and confessor who
 died at Grange of Conon in the neighbourhood about 
the year 1012, or from the Irish ecclesiastic Fechin,
 abbot of Fobhar, who died in 664. It stands on the
 Brothock, 1¼ mile N of Arbroath.

The parish of St Vigeans, one of the oldest in the
 country, consisted formerly of a main body and two 
detached portions. The smaller of these detached por
tions, that situated at Hospitalfield and comprising
 133 acres, was transferred by the Boundary Commissioners in 1891 to the parish of Arbroath; while the
 larger, situated at Inverpeffer and comprising 1108
 acres, was transferred to the parish of Panbride. Part 
of the parish of Arbroath was at the same time transferred to the parish of St Vigeans. (See Arbroath.) 
The parish, containing the greater part of the town of
 Arbroath, is bounded N by Inverkeilor, E and SE by 
the North Sea, S by Arbroath and Arbirlot, and W
 and NW by Carmyllie. It measures 7½ miles from E 
to W; and varies in breadth between I¼ and 4½ miles.
 Up till about 1560 it included the entire town of
 Arbroath with its abbey, and was sometimes called
 Aberbrothock. From the boundary with Inverkeilor 
to within a mile of Arbroath, the coast of the parish is 
a range of almost perpendicular cliffs, with a maximum
 height of 157 feet. In nearly their whole extent their
 base is covered with water at full tide, so that for the 
most part access to the large and interesting caves,
 crevices, and arches which are numerous along the 
seaward face, is possible only at low water or by boat. 
The chief of these spacious and romantic caverns are
 the Gaylet Pot, the Mason’s Cave, and the Maiden Castle Cave. The cliffs figure in Sir Waltter Scott's
 Antiquary as the scene of the dangerous adventure of 
Sir Arthur and Miss Wardour. The surface of the
 parish is mainly occupied by three different declivities
 or ridges; while the streamlet Brothock, flowing SSE, 
divides it into two tolerably equal parts. The chief 
eminences are Dichmont Law (323 feet), about miles from the coast, and Cairn Conan (597), in the W, 7½ miles from the sea, and commanding a beautiful and
 extensive view. Eruptive rock occurs in St Vigeans, 
but is not prominent; Old Red Sandstone is found
 tolerably general, and is extensively quarried at Whittingness, and has been a good deal used lor building in
 Arbroath; and a softer variety, containing vegetable
 fossils, is quarried at Drumyellow and Brax. Diluvial
 ridges, consisting of boulders, gravel, sand, and clay 
strata, several of them 1 mile long, lie along the sides
 of the Brothock, and have a maximum altitude of about
 40 feet. Several rocky heights of sandstone also occur
 near the lower course of the Brothock. One of them
 affords a convenient and conspicuous site for the parish
 church; and another very similar in appearance, 180
 yards distant, is famous for an echo of four syllables. 
The soil varies in character throughout the parish, but 
is prevailingly fertile. In 1744, with the exception of
 garden ground, not more than 40 acres were enclosed 
within the parish. Now rather more than 800 acres
 are under wood, and nearly all the remainder is in
 tillage. The industries of the parish include, besides 
agriculture, a part of the textile industry in Arbroath, 
with fishing at Auchmithik, and spinning in an extensive establishment at Inch mill, originally erected in
 1808. The roads of the parish are good; and a section
 of the Arbroath and Forfar branch of the Caledonian
 railway crosses it, as does also the Arbroath and Montrose section of the North British railway. Besides 
the village of the same name, St Vigeans parish includes
 the villages of Auchmithie, Colliston, Marywell, and 
Gowanbank, and part of the post-town of Arbroath.
The chief modern mansions are Letham, Seaton, Abbethune, Springfield, Parkhill, Newton, Millbank, Woodlands, Almeriecloss, Beechwood, and Hospitalfield. The old mansion of Colliston is said to have been built by 
Cardinal Beaton for his son-in-law.

St Vigeans itself is in the presbytery of Arbroath
 and the synod of Angus and Mearns; the living is 
worth £303. The parish is divided ecclesiastically
 into St Vigeans proper and the quoad sacra parishes
 of Auchmithie, Colliston, and Inverbrothock, with
 parts of the quoad sacra parishes of St Margaret’s, 
Ladyloan, and Abbey Arbroath. The parish church
 was originally erected not later than the beginning of 
the 11th century, but it was considerably enlarged
 before 1242, and repaired in 1485. Alterations or
 repairs took place during the 18th century, and some
 enlargements in 1822 and 1827, in course of which the
 church lost much of its original Saxon or Norman 
character. In 1872, however, it was restored at a cost
 of fully £3000, to a plain uniform 15th century Gothic 
style; and it now comprises a nave, aisles, pentagonal
 chancel, with a square tower and spire, while the 
interior is adorned with a carved oaken pulpit, an 
octagonal baptismal font, and beautiful stained-glass
 windows. It contains about 900 sittings. Both the 
ancient church and the surrounding burying-ground
 were noted for sculptured sepulchral stones; and several 
ancient crosses and finely executed mouldings have been 
found. A chapel, dedicated to St Ninian, formerly 
stood near the sea; and the adjacent St Ninian’s Well 
was believed to possess great curative powers. Two
 public schools, Colliston and St Vigeans, with respective accommodation for 170 and 188 children, have an
 average attendance of about 85 and 95, and government 
grants amounting to nearly £80 and £85. Valuation
(1885) £20,970, (1893) £17,384, plus £3163 for railway.

Pop. of civil parish (1801) 4243, (1831) 7135 (1861) 
10,537, (1871) 12,805, (1881) 14,982, (1891) 15,620, of 
whom 1299 were in the ecclesiastical parish.—Ord. Sur. shs. 57, 49, 1868-65."

Extract from Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1896.

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Gazetteers

 

"Lying on the sea coast to the East and North of the town of Aberbrothock, and comprehending a great part of the suburbs of that town. It is of considerable extent, being 7 miles long, and from 3 to 4 broad, containing 9385 acres; all of which, except about 700 or 800 acres of improvable muir and plantation, are arable. The surface is pretty level, rising on both sides, from the small river Brothock, whihc divides it into two parts. The soil is exceedingly various; but upon the whole fertile, and well cultivated. The coast for about a mile East from Aberbrothock, is flat and sandy: at the end of this plain it rises abruptly .... The parish church is old and romantically situated on the top of a small conical mount, near the Brothock .... The chief employment of the inhabitants is the manufacture of cloth for the Abroath market."

The Gazetteer of Scotland, W Chalmers, Dundee 1803.

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Historical Geography

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Maps

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