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Alford

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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Alford, a village and a parish of central Aberdeenshire. The village stands at the terminus of the Vale of Alfordrailway, 29½ miles WNW of Aberdeen, and has chiefly arisen since that line was opened in 1859. It contains the Free church and St Andrew's Episcopal church (1869), both Early English granite edifices, branches of the Aberdeen Town and County and of the North of Scotland Banks, four insurance offices, the Haughton Arms Hotel, a parish library (1839), and a post office under Aberdeen, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments. Important grain and cattle markets are held at it every third Tuesday throughout the year, and feuing markets on the Mondays of the weeks before 26 May and 22 Nov and it is the centre of the Vale of Alford Horticultural Association (1831). Pop. (1871) 482, (1881) 529.

The parish is bounded NW and N by Tullynessle, NE by Keig, SE by Tough, and S and SW by Leochel. Its greatest length from E to W is 6½ miles, its greatest breadth is 3, and its land area is 9102 acres. The swift and shallow Don winds 6¾ miles along the whole northern border, affords here as good trout and salmon fishing as any in its course, and 1¾ mile WNW of the village is spanned by a three-arched bridge, erected in 1811 at a cost of £2000, 128 feet long, and leading by the Strathbogie road to Huntly, 21 miles to the N of Alford. Near this bridge stands the Forbes Arms Hotel, and ½ mile above it the Leochel joins the Don, after parting the parish into two unequal halves. Forming the SW portion of the Howe of Alford, the surface has a considerable altitude, its lowest point at the influx of the sluggish Bents Burn (the eastern boundary) being 420 feet above the level of the sea. There is a general southward rise from the right bank of the Don, but the western half is much more hilly than the eastern, the highest points in the latter being Strone Hill (950 feet), Cairnballoch (906), and Carnaveron (864), all roundtopped hills: whilst in the former are Dorsell (1055), Craig Hill (1007), Langgadlie (1468), Woodhill (1147), and the eastern slopes of Craigievar (1747), whose summit, however, lies just outside the bounds. Cultivation is carried up to 1160 feet, and more than half the parish is arable: along the Don and Leochel are extensive plantations of fine Scotch firs and larch, interspersed in the policies with silver fir and ornamental hardwood trees. The rocks consist of granite, syenite, and mica slate: the last predominates in the western division, and is intersected by numerous small veins of quartz. The soil varies from good light loam in the valley, famous for turnips and cattle, to strong clay, barely repaying the cost of tilling it. The lions of Alford are a large round camp on conical Da' Mhil: a smaller one beside the church: a cairn on Carnaveron, 25 feet high and 125 in diameter: a ' gallow hill: ' the ruins of the strong square castle of Asloon; and, midway between the village and the bridge, the battlefield where, on 2d July 1645, the Marquis of Montrose won his last victory over General Baillie. Each army numbered some 2000 men, but, while the Covenanters had the superiority in horse, Montrose had the advantage of position. Though Baillie's cavalry fled early in the day, the fight was obstinate, and the slaughter of Covenanters great. The Royalists' loss was trifling, but included Lord Gordon, the Marquis of Huntly's eldest son, whom a stray shot brought down, in act to lay hold of Baillie's shoulderbelt. A stone long marked the spot where he fell, and in the neighbouring moss, now drained, bullets and coins have often been discovered: while peat diggers, about 1744, came on a horse and its armour-clad rider. The chief mansions are Haughton, on the Don, 1¼ mile NE of the village, for more than two centuries the seat of the Farquharsons: Breda, just to the left of the mouth of the Leochel: and Kingsford, on its right bank, 1¼ mile SE of Alford: 3 landowners hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 5 of from £100 to £500, and 14 of from £20 to £50. Alford is seat of a presbytery in the synod of Aberdeen: the living is worth £252. The church, standing upon the Leochel's right bank, 1¾ mile W of the village, was built in 1804 and enlarged in 1826, and is a plain edifice with 550 seats. A pre-Reformation church here, dedicated to St Andrew, was held by the priory of Monymusk, and from a ford by it over the Leochel (or auld ford?) the parish probably received its name. Two public schools, Alford and Gallowhill, had in 1879 respective accommodation for 146 and 126 children, an average attendance of 100 and 87, and grants of £93, 19s. and £81,9s. 6d. Pop. (1801) 644, (1831) 894, (1851) 1143, (1871) 1396, (1881) 1472.—Ord. Sur., sh. 76,1874.

The presbytery of Alford comprehends Alford, Auchindoir - Kearn, Cabrach, Clatt, Corgarff (quoad sacra), Glenbucket, Keig, Kennethmont, Kildrummy, Leochel Cushnie, Strathdon. Tough, Towie, and Tullynessle Forbes. Pop. (1871) 12,888, (1881) 12,242, of whom 4897, according to a parliamentary return (1 May 1879), were communicants of the Church of Scotland in 1878, the sums raised by the above congregations amounting in that year to £1217. The Free Church likewise has a presbytery of Alford, whose churches at Alford, Auchindoir, Kennethmont, Rhynie, Keig, Strathdon, and Towie had 782 communicants in 1880.

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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