"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.
- The transcription of the section for St Vigeans from the National Gazetteer (1868) provided by Colin Hinson.
"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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