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(Charleston of Aboyne)

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Aboyne, a village and a parish of S Aberdeenshire. The village, called sometimes Charlestown of Aboyne, has a station on the Deeside section of the Great North of Scotland railway, 32½ miles W by S of Aberdeen, and 11 miles E by N of Ballater, and stands at 413 feet above sea-level, on the left bank of the Dee, here crossed by a fine suspension-bridge (1831), which, 230 feet long by 14 wide, is gained from the S by two iron-trussed arches of 50 and 60, and by two stone arches of 20 and and 30, feet span. This bridge and a predecessor (1828; destroyed by the great flood of 4 Ang. 1829) were erected by the Earl of Aboyne at a cost of £7000: in 1871 it was re-constructed by the County Road Trustees. Surrounded by forest uplands, and skirting a large green, Aboyne is a pretty little place, possessing a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, a branch of the North of Scotland Bank, a good hotel, a public library and reading-room, and a picturesque high-roofed school (1874). Its places of worship are a handsome parish church (1842, 628 sittings), a Gothic Free church with graceful spire: and a Roman Catholic church, St Margaret's (1874, 120 sittings). A burgh of barony, it holds cattle and horse fairs on the third Thursday of Jan., Feb., March, April, August, Sept., Nov., and Dec., on the last Wednesday of June and the last Friday of July, and on the first Tuesday and Wednesday of Oct. (old style). Pop. (1841) 260, (1851) 187,

The present parish comprises the ancient parish of Glentanner, and- hence is often designated the united parish of Aboyne and Glentanner. It is bounded N by Logie-Coldstone, E by Kincardine O'Neil and Birse, S by Lochlee in Forfarshire, and W by Glenmuick. Irregular in outline, it has a length from N to S of from 2 to 8¾ miles, a width from E to W of from 21/8 to 8½ miles, and a land area of 25,265 acres. A small detached portion, called Percie, 1¼ mile long by ½ mile wide, lies surrounded by Birse, on the left bank of the Feugh, 5¼ miles SE of the village and 3 miles S of the nearest point of the main body of the parish. With the exception of the lands of Balnacraig, Aboyne proper is all to the left or N of the Dee, between the burns of Dess on the E and Dinnet on the W. Its highest summit, Mortlich, rises upon the northern boundary to 1248 feet above sea-level, and is crowned by an obelisk and cross of granite 60 feet high, erected in 1868 as a memorial of Charles, tenth Marquis of Huntly (1792-1863). Lesser eminences are Balnagowan Hill (800 feet), Muchricha's Cross (798), Oldtown (580), and Balnacraig (689). Glentanner extends from the southern bank of the Dee away to the Braes of Angus: and within it, from N to S, are Creagna-Slige (1336 feet), Duchery Beg (1485), Bandy Meg (1602), the Strone (1219), the Hill of Duchery (1824), Craigmahandle (1878), Little Cockcairn (2044), Cockcairn (2387), Gannoch (2396), and the Hill of Cat (2435), the three last culminating upon the southern or south-eastern border. The Dee either bounds or intersects the parish for about 15 miles, descending within this distance from some 550 feet at Deecastle to 460 at the month of the Dinnet, 397 at the suspension-bridge of Aboyne, and 296 at the Bridge of Potarch. Its principal affluent is the impetuous Water of Tanner, which, rising in Glenmuick parish on the south-western slope of Hare Cairn (2203 feet), takes a north-easterly course of 14 miles to a point ¾ mile above the suspension bridge, and receives on the way the united Waters of Gairney and Allachy and the Skinna Burn. It flows through ' a beautiful and richly-wooded glen, between high hills,-so the Queen has described Glentanner, up which she drove as far as Etnach, with the Prince Consort and the Princess Alice, 21 Sept. 1861 (pp. 156,157 of Journal, ed. 1877). Glentanner then was 'out of sight of all habitations,' but this is no longer the case: its present tenant, W. Cunliffe Brooks, Esq., M.P., having built at the Bridge of Tanner an entrance lodge like an old turreted keep, higher up a verandahed farm-house, with model dairy, stabling, and kennels, and many a quaint little cottage besides, all of them planned by Mr G. Truefitt, of London. Auld-dinnie Burn, running 4 miles northward on the boundary with Birse, is the only other noticeable stream: in Aboyne proper, are two small sheets of water-Braeroddach Loch (1¾ x 1 fur.) to the NW, and, in the Castle policies, the artificial, islet-studded Loch of Aboyne (3 x 21/3 fur.). Granite, the primitive formation, varies in hue from whitish-grey to red, the latter resembling Peterhead granite and taking a fine polish. Syenitic and ironstone boulders are also common, and black ferruginous fragments that seem to have been disintegrated from rocks higher up the Dee. Glentanner yields topaz and crystallised quartz (both white and rose coloured) on the Firmonth, fuller's earth along Auld-dinnie Burn, impure limestone in small quantities, and traces of manganese: whilst peat-mosses on the hills above Craigendinnie are found to overlie remains of oak, hazel, and birch, at a much higher level than that at which those trees now grow. The soil is generally poor and stony, even the narrow alluvial haughs of Deeside being mostly a mass of gravel, thickly covered with earth: and, in spite of considerable reclamations, less than 1/7 of the whole area is arable. Forestry occupies more than double this extent. ' In the united parish,' writes Mr Alexander Smith, ' the ground - growing timber is estimated at between 8000 and 9000 acres. The extent of planted ground on both sides of the Dee, including the ornamental plantations in the policies of Aboyne Castle, is very large. Soil and climate seem to favour the growth of both pines and hardwood trees. Of the latter, the oak, ash, birch, and elm seem to succeed best. Near the Castle are some fine specimens of the old Scotch fir, and throughout the adjoining plantation the larch, common spruce, and birch form a pleasant variety. Nearly 30 years ago most of the fullgrown timber in the outlying plantations of Aboyne was cut down and the ground replanted: but many years must elapse before the Aboyne woods attain the prominence they once had. Along the S bank of the river, from Craigendinnie westwards as far up as Deecastle, a large tract of muir ground has recently been enclosed and planted, chiefly with Scotch fir, mixed with larch and hardwood trees: and with the natural birch and hazel bushes the valley has been much beautified. The old forest of Glentanner extends from near Craigendinnie on the Dee, along the Tanner and its tributaries, to far up the lower slopes of the Cockcairn, Montkeen, and Firmonth: but from the straggling position of the trees on the outskirts, no exact estimate could well be formed of its extent. It is believed, however, that the area of ground covered with timber of all ages and condition is about6000 acres. Glentanner is said to be a remnant of the ancient Caledonian Forest, and within the past threequarters of a century the timber in it has been twice cut down, and portions of it have twice been seriously injured by fire: but for about 20 years it has been allowed to ' rest and be thankful.' . . . In 1841 the wood cut down in Glentanner brought little if anything more than the cost of cartage to Aberdeen, owing to the inapproachable position of the best trees, most of them being too heavy to be floated by the river, except in time of flood. The soil of Glentanner, on the alluvial haughs, is good gravelly loam, overlying drift and rough sand, and on the lower slopes of the hills it is much of the same quality-rather more loamy, with disintegrated granite rocks. Higher up the hills these trees do not now grow: it is broken moss, bleak rocky mountains, only partially covered with heather (Trans. Highl. and Ag. Soc., 1874, pp. 270,271). The lands and Castle of Aboyne passed successively from William Bisset to the Knights Templars (1242), from them to the Frasers of Cowie, and from them, by marriage, to Sir William Keith, great marischal of Scotland (c. 1355), whose great granddaughter, Joan, brought them early- in the 15th century to Alexander de Seton, Lord of Gordon and first Earl of Huntly (1449). With his descendants, the great political dynasty of the Seton-Gordons, known afterwards for loyalty to the Stewarts, and long adherence to the Catholic faith, they have since continued, giving them title of Baron (1627), Viscount (1632), and Earl (1660). Their present holder is Charles Gordon, eleventh Marquis of Huntly since 1599, and seventh Earl of Aboyne (b. 1847: suc. 1863), who owns 80,000 acres in the shire of an annual value of £11,215. (See Strathbogie, Huntly, and Gordon: also, Corrichie, Donibristle, Glenlivet, and Frendraught.) Lying low, ¾ mile N of the village, and girt by the Burn of Aboyne as by a moat, the Castle, with its many turrets, is rather imposing than beautiful. The western part was rebuilt in 1671 by Charles, first Earl of Aboyne, the traditional hero of the ballad of ' Lord Aboyne,' though his countess was no Peggy Irvine, but Lady Elizabeth Lyon. The E wing was added in 1801, and in 1869 the old kitchen department was pulled down and replaced by new buildings, all in granite with stepped gables, very simple but very effective. The old mansion of Balnacraig has sunk to a farmhouse: but the house of Glentanner, 4½ miles WSW of the village, has risen from a shooting-box to a large two-winged mansion adorned with rustic work,stained glass, pine dados, panelled ceilings, and antique furnishings. Hard by, a ruined ' laird's house,' with an ancient archway, has been converted into the private Episcopal chapel of St Lesmo (1871), a charming little church, 50 feet long by 20 broad, with heather thatch and internal fittings of pine. Other residences are Balfour House, Huntly Lodge, and Deeside Lodge: two proprietors holding each an annual value of from £100 to £500, and five of from £20 to £50, whilst the Marquis of Huntly owns some four-fifths of the entire rental. Natives were Father Thomas Innes (1662-1744), priest of the Scots College in Paris, and author of the earliest attempt to open up the real sources of Scottish history, A Critical Essay on the Ancient Inhabitants of Scotland (1729): and Peter Witliamson, kidnapped at Aberdeen in the first half of the 18th century, and sold into American slavery. Aboyne is in the presbytery of Kincardine O'Neil and synod of Aberdeen: the living is worth £216. The mission church of Dinnet (minister's salary, £80) has 180 attendants: and the two public schools of Aboyne and Glentanner, with respective accommodation for 160 and 74 children, had (1879) an average attendance of 145 and 31, and grants of £131, 16s. 4d. and £41,2s. 6d. Valuation (1881) £8004, 19s. 4d. Pop. (1801) 916, (1831) 1163, (1871) 1351, (1881) 1427.—Ord. Sur., shs. 66,76,1871-74. See ' Architecture on Deeside ' in the Builder, 19 Sept. 1874.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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