Parish of Gamrie

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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1791-99: Gamrie
1834-45: Gamrie

Gamrie (12th century Gameryn), a coast parish of Banffshire, containing the post-town, seaport, and station of Macduff, With the fishing villages of Gardenstown and Crovie It belongs to Buchan district, and is connected only for two brief spaces with the main body of Banffshire. It is bounded N by the Moray Firth, E and SE by Aberdour in Aberdeenshire, S by King Edward in Aberdeenshire, and W by Alvah, the Montcoffer or detached section of King Edward, and Banff. Its utmost length, from E to W, is 87/8 miles; its breadth, from N to S, varies between 17/8 and 4¼ miles; and its area is 17,293¼ acres, of which 240 are foreshore and 11 water. Torr Burn, running to the sea, traces for 3½ miles the eastern boundary; and Logie Burn, running in a landward direction to fall eventually into the Deveron, follows much of the King Edward border; whilst the Deveron itself, immediately above its influx to the sea, separates Gamrie from Banff. Numerous burns drain the interior, some of them running to the sea, others belonging to the Deveron's basin, and most of them traversing romantic dells. Not a drop of water runs into Gamrie from any other parish; but all its burns either rise within itself or merely touch its borders; and several of them are highly interesting for either the fitfulness of their course, the beauty of their falls, or the utility of their water-power. Towards the SE is a very small lake, the Standing Loch, which lies in a hollow ingirt by hillocks, nearly the highest ground in the parish, and in early spring is a nightly resort of wild geese. A mineral spring, called Tarlair Well, is on the coast near Macduff, and has enjoyed considerable medicinal repute. The coast, if one follows its bends, measures fully 10 miles in extent, and is one of the grandest and most picturesque of any in Scotland, attaining 366 feet at Troup Head, 363 at Crovie Law, 536 near More Head, and 404 at Melrose Law. A rocky rampart, in some places perpendicular, in all precipitous, presents everywhere such features of savage grandeur as thrill or overawe the mind. Parts of it are inaccessible to the foot of man, and others bend just enough from the perpendicular to admit a carpeting of greensward, and here and there are traversed by a winding footpath like a staircase, which few but native cragsmen are venturesome enough to scale. The summits of this rampart are only a few furlongs broad, and variously ascend or decline towards the S, then breaking down in sudden declivities into ravines and dells, which run parallel to the shore; and they command sublime views of the ever-changeful ocean to the N, and of a great expanse of plains and woods, of tumulated surfaces and mountain-tops, to the S and W. Several mighty chasms cleave the rampart from top to bottom, and look like stupendous rents made by shock of earthquake; they yawn widely at the shore, and take the form of dells toward the interior ; and they have zigzag projections, with protuberances on the one side corresponding to depressions or hollows on the other. The most easterly of these is at Cullykhan, near Troup House; another is at Crovie fishing village; a third, the chief one, called Afforsk Den, is at Gamrie old church; and the most westerly, called Oldhaven, is between the lands of Melrose and those of Cullen. Several caverns pierce the sea-bases of the rocky rampart; and two of these, in the neighbourhood of Troup, are of great extent and very curious structure, and bear the singular names of Hell's Lum and Needle's Eye. The villages of Gardenstown and Crovie nestle on such contracted spots at openings of the great rampart as to have barely standing room, requiring even to project some of their houses into shelves or recesses of the acclivities ; and are so immediately and steeply overhung by the braes, that persons on the tops of the braes might fancy that they could peer into the chimneys of the houses. The interior of the parish, all southward from the summit of the coast range of rampart, slopes away, mostly in a southerly or south-westerly direction, to the basin of the Deveron, and is finely diversified by bills, dells, and precipices, rising to 588 feet above sea-level at Troup Hill, 652 at the Torr of Troup, 643 near Dubford, 603 near Littlemoss, 558 near Millhow, and 461 near Headitown. The rocks possess great interest for geologists, and have been specially discussed or noticed by Sedgwick, Murchison, Prestwick, Hugh Miller, and others. Granite has been occasionally worked; and greywacke, greywacke slate, and clay slate, in exceedingly tilted, fractured, and contorted positions and mutual relations, predominate on the seaboard and through much of the interior. The greywacke is quarried for building purposes, and the clay slate was formerly worked at Melrose as a coarse roofing slate and slab-stone. Old Red sandstone, Old Red conglomerate, and Devonian shales also occur, but rest so unconformably on the edges of the slates, and present such faults and dislocations, that their connections with one another and with related rocks cannot be easily determined. The soils vary from a fertile loam to a barren benty heath; and those on the sandstone and conglomerate are more fertile than those on the slate. Woods cover some 750 acres; and of the rest about one-half is under cultivation, the other either pastoral or waste. Findon Castle, near the old church, is said to have been garrisoned by a Scottish force to watch and resist invasions by the Danes, and now is represented by only a green conical mound. The ruins, too, of Wallace Tower, occupying the Ha' Hill upon Pitgair farm, consist only of two detached masses of wall. Vestiges and memoranda of Danish invasion are in numerous places. Troup House; the chief mansion, is separately noticed; and its owner divides the best part of the parish with the Earl of Fife, 7 lesser proprietors holding each an annual value of between £100 and £500, 13 of from £50 to £100, and 42 of from £20 to £50. In the presbytery of Turriff and synod of Aberdeen, this parish is divided ecclesiastically into Gamrie proper and Macduff, the former a living worth £415. The ancient parish church of Gamrie, St John's, alleged to have been founded in 1004 by the Mormaer of Buchan in place of one demolished by invading Danes, and granted by William the Lyon to the monks of Arbroath between 1189 and 1198, is now an interesting ruin, situated at the head of Gamrie Bay, on a hill-terrace in the mouth of Afforsk Den, 1¾ mile WSW of Gardenstown. The present parish church, 1frac34; mile SSW of Gardenstown, is a very neat edifice of 1830, containing 1000 sittings. Other places of worship are a Free church and those of Gardenstown and Macduff; and five schools - Bracoden, Clenterty, Longmanhill, Macduff, and Macduff Murray's Institution - with respective accommodation for 400, 150, 104, 700, and 100 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 194, 90, 71, 554, and 60, and grants of £161, 9s., £79, 1s., £60, 14s. 6d., £494, 0s. 7d., and £31, 12s. Valuation (1882) £20,633, 19s. 1d., of which £7210, 19s. 9d. was for Gamrie proper. Pop. of civil parish (1801) 3052, (1831) 4094, (1861) 6086, (1871) 6561, (1881) 6756 ; of q. s. parish (1881) 2652 ; of registration district (1871) 3151, (1881) 3106 &emdash; Ord. Sur., sh. 96, 1876. See chaps. viii., x., xi., of Samuel Smiles's Life of a Scotch, Naturalist (1876).

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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