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Edzell

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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Edzell (13th century Edale), a village of Forfarshire and a parish partly also of Kincardineshire. The village, formerly called Slateford, stands, 185 feet above sea-level, towards the S of the parish, near the right bank of the river North Esk, and 6 miles N by W of Brechin, under which it has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments. Dating from the 16th century, but greatly improved since 1839, it now is a pleasant little place, with its neat stone houses, flowerplots, and pretty environs; and has a branch of the Union Bank, a National Security savings' bank, an insurance agency, 2 inns, a gas-light company, 2 libraries and reading-rooms, a curling club, and a Highland games association. Fairs are held here on the third Thursday of February, the first Monday of May, 26 May, the Friday of July after Old Deer, the Wednesday after 26 August, the Thursday of October before Kirriemuir, and 22 November.

The parish is bounded NE by Strachan, E by Fettercairn, S and W by Stracathro, W by Lethnot, and NW by Lochlee. It has an utmost length of 11 3/8 miles from NNW to SSE, viz., from Mount Battock to Inchbare Bridge; its greatest breadth, from E to W, is 5 7/8 miles; and its area is 20,229½ acres, of which 3082/3 are water, and 1104 belong to the Kincardineshire or Neudos section, which till at least 1567 formed a distinct parish. The North Esk flows 1¾ mile north-eastward along the Lochlee boundary, then 6 miles south-south-eastward through the northern interior, and lastly 5 miles, still south-south-eastward, along the Kincardineshire border; at the SE corner of the parish it is joined by West Water, which winds 4 7/8 miles east-south-eastward along all the Stracathro boundary. The delta between these streams, to the S of the village, with extreme length and breadth of 2 ¼ and 1½ miles, is low and flat, sinking to 120, whilst nowhere attaining 200, feet above sea-level. Northwards the surface rises rapidly to 748 feet at Colt Hill, 663 at the Blair, 1321 at the Hill of Corathro, 2220 at the *Hill of Wirren, 872 at Mappach Hill, 1986 at Bulg, 1686 at *Craigangowan, 968 at Whups Craig, and 2250 at the * southern slope of Mount battock (2555 feet), where asterisks mark those heights that rest upon the confines of the parish. The rocks are primary chiefly, and an iron mine was for a short time worked at Dalbog about the beginning of the 17th century. Much of the arable land consists of moderate black loam or stiffish clay, but hardly more than an eighth of the entire area is in tillage, the rest being all either pastoral or waste, with the exception of some 200 acres under wood. Edzell Castle lies in a hollow, 1 ¼ mile W by N of the village, and 3 furlongs from the left bank of West Water; its ruins, for size and magnificence, are matched in Angus and Mearns only by those of Dunnottor. Its oldest portion, the great square Donjon or Stirling Tower, to the S, has walls 4 to 5 feet thick, and is 60 feet high; and, till the havoc wrought by the great storm of 12 Oct. 1838, its battlements were easily accessible. The extensive pile to the N, though much more ruinous than the keep, dates only from the 16th century, haying been built by David, ninth Earl of Crawford, and his son. ` The garden wall is ornamented by a number of elaborate carvings in stone. On the E wall are the celestial deities, on the S the sciences, and on the W the theological and cardinal virtues, forming one of the most interesting memorials of the kind in Scotland.' The Edzell estate belonged in 1296 to the Glenesks, after them to a branch of the Stirlings which failed about the middle of the 14th century in two co-heiresses, one of whom, Catherine, by Alexander, third son of Sir David Lindsay of Crawford, was mother of the first Earl of Crawford. The lordship of Glenesk was sold in 1715 to the Earl of Panmure; and, sharing the fortunes of the Brechin property, it now belongs to the Earl of Dalhonsie. In 1562 Edzell Castle received a visit from Queen Mary, in 1651 from Cromwell's soldiery, and in 1746 from the Argyll Highlanders, to whom its ruinous state is in great measure due. Auchmull Castle, 2 7/8 miles NNW of the village, was also built by the Lindsays early in the 16th century, and was demolished in 1773. At Colmeallie, 3 miles NNW of Auchmull, are two concentric ' Druidical circles,' the outermost measuring 45 by 36 feet, and its highest stone standing being 5 1/3 feet above ground; another, whose last boulder was removed in 1840, was at Dalbog, 2½ miles NNW of the village; and at Dalbog stood also a pre-reformation chapel. Of the old parish church of St Lawrence, on the bank of West Water, 3 furlongs SSW of Edzell Castle, only the Lindsays' slated burial vault remains, built by the ninth Earl of Crawford. George Low (1746-95), the Orkney naturalist, was a native. The Earl of Dalhousie owns nearly all the Forfarshire, and Gladstone of Fasque nearly all the Kincardineshire, portion. Edzell is in the presbytery of Brechin and synod of Angus and Mearns; the living is worth £205. The present church, built at the village in 1818, contains 650 sittings. There is also a Free church; and two public schools, Edzell and Waterside, with respective accommodation for 200 and 60 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 112 and 15, and grants of £90, 5s. and £19, 18s. 8d. Valuation (1857) £4842, (1882) £6875, 3s. 4d., of which £630, 14s. 6d. was for the Kincardineshire section. Pop. (1801) 1012, (1831) 974, (1841) 1064, (1871) 976, (1881) 823.—Ord. Sur., shs. 57, 66, 1868-71. See the Earl of Crawford's Lives of the Lindsays (3 vols. 1849), and Andrew Jervise's Land of the Lindsays (1853).

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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