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Maryculter

(Kirkton of Maryculter)

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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Maryculter, a parish, with a hamlet of the same name, in the NW of Kincardineshire, bordering on the Dee. It is bounded E by Banchory-Devenick parish, S by Fetteresso parish, SW by Durris parish, and NW by Aberdeenshire. Except for ½ mile upward from the mouth of the Crynoch Burn, where the parish of Peterculter crosses to the S bank of the river, and for 5/8 mile below the mouth of the burn, where Maryculter crosses to the N side-the line in both cases following an old channel -the boundary along the whole of the NW side is formed by the Dee, which has here a course, inclusive of these portions, of 6 miles. Elsewhere the line is artificial. The greatest length of the parish, from the Dee at Ardo House (Banchory-Devenick) on the extreme NE, to the SW corner, 5 furlongs beyond Muirskie, is 57/8 miles; the average width about 2¼ miles, and the area 7923 356 acres, of which 142.603 are water. The surface slopes upwards from the Dee, reaching a height of 545 feet near the SE corner, and 558 at Berry Top, near the centre of the S side. Some small haughs lie along the banks of the river, but the rest of the surface is uneven and rocky. The soil on the side of the river is naturally thin and sandy, but in the central districts it becomes deeper, and is in many cases a good black loam on a clay bottom. On the S and SE there is much damp pasture and moss lying on a subsoil of clay. The underlying rocks are granite and gneiss. Of the land area about half is under tillage, and some 900 acres are under wood, while the rest is pasture land or waste. The drainage of the parish is effected by three burns, in the E, centre, and W of the parish, all flowing to the Dee; the chief is Crynoch or Maryculter Burn, in the centre. The Dee did great damage during a flood in 1768, and again in the more famous one of 1829, when the river rose from 13 to 16 feet above its ordinary level. The parish takes its name from its having been a chapelry in the lands of Culter (Gael. Cul-tir,' the back-lying land') dedicated to St Mary, and dependent on the church of St Peter Culter, now Peterculter. The the river Dee. Of the old church almost nothing now remains but the foundations, which show that it was about 82 feet long, 28 wide, and had walls about 3 feet thick. It seems to date from about the sixteenth century, and contained a number of curious wood carvings, which were all dispersed, and most of them lost or destroyed, when the new church was built, a mile to the S, in 1782. Carved effigies of a knight and his lady are supposed to be those of Thomas Menzies of Maryculter and his wife Marion Reid, heiress of Pitfoddles, who lived in the first half of the 16th century. The Menzies family acquired the estate of Maryculter early in the 14th century; and the last of the family was Mr John Menzies, the founder of Blairs College. The family burial ground was at St Nicholas in Aberdeen, and these figures are supposed to have been brought here for safety when the West Kirk of Aberdeen was rebuilt in 1751-55. The late Mr Irvine-Boswell of Kingcaussie (1785-1860), who did so much for the improvement of the agriculture of the parish, is also buried here. The Irvines of Kingcaussie are a branch of the Irvines of Drum; and the line ended in an heiress who married the well-known Lord Balmuto. Their son was the Mr Irvine-Boswell just mentioned. The mansions, besides Maryculter House and Kingcaussie House, are Altries House, Auchlunies House, and Heathcot, the last of which has been converted into a hydropathic establishment. The clock tower of Maryculter House is old, and is said to have been used by the Menzies family as an oratory, but the rest of the house is modern. Near the mansion-house is an oval hollow, measuring some 80 yards across, and about 30 feet deep, which bears the name of' The Thunder Hole.' Within the last 80 years the depth has been considerably reduced. Traditionally it was formed by the fall of a thunderbolt, and the spot was reckoned not exactly' canny.' The church and most of the lands of the parish were in the possession of the Knights Templars, and on their downfall passed under the control of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, who held them in regality. In 1540 we find Sir Walter Lyndesay, the Preceptor of Torphichen, granting the lands of Essintully (now Ashentilly),'jacentes in baronia nostra de Maricultir,' to his beloved' germano fratri Alexandro Lyndesay;' and in 1545 he leased to him also the Mains of Maryculter, part of the rent to be paid being' thre barrell of salmont yeirlie for the Weill Watter anentis Furd,' where salmon-fishing is still carried on. In 1547 Sir James Sandilands, Lord St John and Preceptor of Torphichen, leased the' teynd schawis' of Easter Essintull-y and the Mains of Maryculter,' lyand within the barony of the samyn,' to the same Alexander Lyndesay; and in 1548 the Lords of Council and Session found, in an action raised by the - preceptor, that' the haill landis and barony at Maricultir' belonged' to his sayd preceptorie in fre regalite,' having been' in tymes bypast replegit fra the Schiref of Kincardin and his deputis to the fredome and privelege of the sayd regalite and baillies courttis thairof.'

The portion of the parish bordering the Dee is traversed by a fine road formed about 1836-37, and leading from Aberdeen to Banchory by the S side of the river. From this, near Maryculter House, a road passes south. ward to a bridle-path across the Grampians to near Drumlithie, and so to the coast road. Railway communication is afforded by Milltimber and Culter stations, on the Deeside section of the Great North of Scotland railway system. These are, however, on the N bank of the Dee, outside the parish, and each about 1¾ mile from its centre. The hamlet is beside the church, and is merely the Kirktown. It is by road 7 miles WSW of Aberdeen, under which it has a sub-post office. The parish of Maryculter is in the presbytery and synod of Aberdeen. The parish church, built in 1782, and repaired when an organ was introduced in 1881, contains 460 sittings. There is a Free church; and the Roman Catholic College and chapel at Blairs are separately noticed. Three public schools-the boys' and the East and West girls' and infants,-with respective accommodation for 75, 60, and 60 children, had (1883) an average attendance of 36, 30, and 42, and grants of £35, 1s., £28, 16s., and £34, 14s. The principal landowner is Mr Kinloch of Park. Valuation (1856) £4879, (1884) £7691, 6s. 7d. Pop. (1801) 710, (1831) 960, (1861) 1055, (1871) 1110, (1881) 1072.—Ord. Sur., shs. 77, 67, 1873-71.

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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