Parish of Alyth

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: Alyth
1834-45: Alyth

Alyth, a town of E Perthshire, and a parish partly also in Forfarshire. Standing upon the Burn of Alyth, 300 feet above sea-level, the town by road is 5½ miles ENE of Blairgowrie, 3½ NW of Meigle, and 29 S by E of Braemar, whither a railway was planned in July 1880: as terminus of a branch of the Caledonian, opened in 1861, it is 5¼ miles NW of Alyth Junction, 17¼ W by S of Forfar, 23¼ NW of Dundee, 25¾ NE of Perth, 72¾ N of Edinburgh, and 88¾ NE of Glasgow. It is a burgh of barony under charter of James III. (1488), with the Earl of Airlie, Baron Ogilvy of Alyth and Lintrathen, for superior: and created a police burgh in 1875, it is governed by a baron bailie, and by a body of 12 commissioners, a town clerk, and a treasurer. Some of the houses, perched high up, and gained by steep winding lanes, may well have beheld the one marked episode in Alyth's history, when in August 1651-Monk then besieging Dundee-the Committee of Estates, only 40 in number, assembled here, and here were surprised by 500 troopers under Col. Aldrich, who shipped them all off to London, his captives including the elder Leslie, Earl of Leven, the Rev. Rt. Douglas, and the Rev. Jas. Sharpe, archbishop that was to be (Hill Burton's Hist.,vii. 43, ed. 1876). Mainly, however, the town is modern, possessing a post office under Meigle, with money order and savings' bank departments, a railway telegraph office, branches of the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank, 3 hotels, a public coffee house (1881), gasworks, new waterworks (1870), bowling and curling clubs, and a public library of 3000 volumes bequeathed by the late Hon. Wm. Ogilvy of Loyal. A bailie court, for civil causes not exceeding 40s., sits on the first Tuesday of every month: and fairs are held on the third Tuesday of May, the second Tuesday of June o. s., the first Tuesday of August, the first Tuesday and Wednesday of November o. s., the second Tuesday after 11 Nov. o. s., and the fourth Monday of January, February, March, April, and December. The manufacture of brown and other linens is the staple industry, employing 2 mills, one of which, Smith & Sons (1873), to flax adds jute spinning, with bleaching, dyeing, and calendering: and there is also a woollen factory. The parish church (1290 sittings), a Norman structure with lofty spire, was erected in 1839 in place of the ancient Second Pointed church of St Moloc or Malachi: other places of worship are a Free church (1844: 750 sittings), a U.P. church (1781: 270 sittings), a Roman Catholic church (1879), and St Ninian's Episcopal church (1856: 150 sittings), this, too, in Norman style, with a stained wheel window (1880) to the memory of the late Sir Geo. Ramsay. Three schools at the town public, Episcopalian, and Church of Scotland girls' industrial-and another at Gauldswell, 2½ miles to the NW, with respective accommodation for 300, 101, 199, and 49, had (1879) an average attendance of 134, 70, 206, and 16, and grants of £74, 14s., £48, 10s., £171,5s., and £28,2s. Pop. (1774) 555, (1792) 1060, (1841) 1846, (1861) 2106, (1871) 2134, (1881) 2377. The parish is bounded NE by Glenisla, E by Airlie and Ruthven, SE by Meigle, SW and W by Bendochy, Blairgowrie, Rattray, and Kirkmichael. From NNW to SSE, viz., from Mount Blair to the Isla near Kinloch, it has an utmost length of 133/8 miles: its breadth varies from 1¼ to 6 miles; and its area is 23,962¾ acres, of which 3923 (to the NW) are in Forfarshire, and 681/3 are water. The Isla traces 3 miles of the eastern, and, after traversing Ruthven, 4¾ of the south-eastern border: and the Burn of Alyth, rising at 1200 feet of altitude in the Forest of Alyth, joins it at Inverquiech, having first run 9 miles south-eastward to just below the town, next 2¼ miles east-north-eastward. The Black Water, too, a head-stream of the Ericht, at two points flows along the western boundary, for 2¼ and 1½ miles and in the interior are 4 or 5 smaller burns. That portion of the parish between the Isla and the Burn of Alyth belongs to Strathmore; and here, in the furthest S, the surface sinks to 100 feet above sea-level, thence rising north-westward to 208 feet at Chapelhill, 398 near New Alyth, and 533 at Johnshill: N of the Burn of Alyth, to 535 feet near Bruceton, 668 on Barry Hill, 871 on Loyal Hill, 966 on the Hill of Alyth, and 1221 on Bamff or Balduff Hill. Beyond, comes the treeless Forest of Alyth, where the chief elevations- those marked with asterisks culminating on the north-eastern boundary-are Craighead (1083 feet), the Hill of Three Cairns (1243), Kingseat (1250), Drumderg (1383), Runnaguman (1313), *Black Hill (1454), and *Knockton (1605): whilst further still, in the Forfarshire section, rise *Cairn Gibbs (1706), *Meall Mhor (1804), and Mount Blair (2441). The rocks are chiefly Devonian in the Strathmore low land, crystalline slates in the Forest of Alyth and the Blacklunans (a fertile strip along the Black Water), and trap on the hills, but include limestone at Mount Blair, and a well-defined dyke or vein of serpentine a little below Bamff House. The soils of the arable lands-barely one-fourth of the entire area-are in Strathmore a fine deep fertile loam, on the hill-slopes a good sharp gravel, in the Blacklunans a light but rich black loam, and elsewhere a strong detrital mixture of clay, gravel, and stones: plantations cover more than 1000 acres. One castle (styled the King's Castle in 1394) was at Inverquiech, and another at Corb in the Forest, where, too, are many cairns, stone circles, and standing stones: but Alyth's chief antiquity is an oval British fort on Barry Hill, which, 450 feet in circumference, was defended by a rude stone rampart, and to E and S by a deep fosse 10 feet wide, and, according to local tradition, was the prison of Wander, Vanora, or Guinevere, King Arthur's queen (Glennie's Arthurian Localities, 1869, p. 53). The Lindsays of the Crawford line were connected with this parish from 1303 to 1620: and the Ramsays have held the lands of Bamff since 1232. Their founder, Nessus de Ramsay, was physician to Alexander II., as to King James and Charles I. was his descendant Alexander Ramsay, whose son, Sir Gilbert, for gallantry in the battle of the Pentlands, was made a baronet in 1666. Mansions, with distance from the town, proprietors, names, and the extent and yearly value of their estates within the shire, are-Bamff House, 3½ miles NW (Sir Jas. Hy. Ramsay, b. 1832: suc. as tenth Bart. 1871: 12,845 acres, £3391): Loyal House, ½ mile NE (Earl of Airlie, 4647 acres, £6218): Balhary House, 2 miles SE (trustees of late Rt. Smythe, 1865 acres, £935): Jordanstone House, 2 miles ESE (Wm. G. Knight, 515 acres, £604): and Hallyards, 2½ miles ESE (Geo. D. C. Henderson, 396 acres, £649). In all, 7 landowners hold within Alyth an annual value of £500 and upwards, 14 of between £100 and £500,12 of from £50 to £100, and 38 of from £20 to £50. Alyth is in the presbytery of Meigle and synod of Angus and Mearns: the living is worth £418. Valuation (1865) £17,058, (1881) £25,062, including £1296, 5s. for the Forfarshire section. Pop. (1841) 2910, (1861) 3422, (1871) 3352: of quoad sacra parish (1871) 3151, (1881) 3372.—Ord. Sur., sh. 56, 1870.

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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