Parish of Monymusk

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: Monymusk
1834-45: Monymusk

Monymusk, a village and a parish of central Aberdeenshire. The village stands, 302 feet above sea-level, within 3 furlongs of the Don's S bank, and ¾ mile N by W of Monymusk station on the Alford branch of the Great North of Scotland railway, this being 8½ miles E by S of Alford, 7½ WSW of Kintore Junction, and 21¾ (19 by road) WNW of Aberdeen. A place of high antiquity, it was almost entirely rebuilt about 1840, and now forms a neat square, with some fine old trees in the centre. It has a post and railway telegraph office and an hotel.

The parish is bounded N by Oyne, NE by Chapel-of-Garioch, E by Kemnay, S by Cluny, and W by Tough and Keig. Its utmost length, from E to W, is 5 miles; its breadth increases westward from ¼ mile to 47/8 miles; and its area is 10,816 acres, of which 87½ are water. The Don winds 10 miles east south eastward, partly along the Keig, Oyne, and Kemnay boundaries, but mainly through the north eastern interior; and Ton Burn, its affluent, traces all the southern and south-eastern boundary. Sinking along the Don to 250 feet above sea-level, the surface thence rises westward to 1244 feet at Pitfichie Hill, 1469 at Cairn William, and 1306 at Green Hill. Granite is the predominant rock in the hills, and is largely quarried. Felspathic rock, of quality suitable for pottery purposes, also occurs, and was for some time worked by an agent of one of the Staffordshire potteries. Iron ore, containing 65 per cent. of iron, has long been known to exist, but has not been worked on account of the dearth of fuel. The soil of the arable lands is partly clayey, but principally a light loam. About three-sevenths of the entire area are in tillage; nearly one-third is under wood; and the rest is either pastoral or waste. The proportion under wood, it will be noticed, is very large, the planting of larches, spruces, Scotch firs, and hardwood trees having been begun in 1716, and carried on constantly to the present time. A field beside the Don, ½ mile E of Monymusk House, is said to have been the campingground of Robert Bruce's army before the Battle of Barra (1308), and bears the name of Campfield. Antiquities are vestiges of two ancient Caledonian stone circles, a sculptured standing-stone and Latin cross, the roofless ruin of Pitfichie Castle, and vestiges of a chapel, which was one of the earliest seats of the Culdee missionaries in the North of Scotland. Malcolm Ceannmor in 1078, proceeding on a military expedition against the rebels of Moray, arrived at Monymusk; and, finding that its barony belonged to the Crown, he vowed it to St Andrew, in order to gain the victory, and is said to have marked out the base of the church tower with his spear. In 1170 we hear of the Keledei or Culdees of ' Munimusc, ' for whom thirty years later Gilchrist, Earl of Mar, appears to have built a priory, whilst enforcing on them the canonical rule. Disputes arose between them and the Bishops of St Andrews, and by 1245 the Culdees had quite given place to ' the prior and convent of Munimusc, of the order of St Augustine ' (Skene's Celtic Scotland, ii. 389-392, 1877). The very foundations of the priory were dug up about 1726. Alexander Nicoll, D. C. L. (1793-1828), an eminent Orientalist and Regius Professor of Hebrew in the University of Oxford, was a native. Monymusk House, on the left bank of the Don, 3 furlongs NE of the village, is a large old building, with a valuable library and a good collection of paintings. In 1712 the estate was purchased from Sir William Forbes, Bart., of the Pitsligo family, for £116, 000 by Sir Francis Grant, Bart. (1660-1726), who, on his elevation to the bench in 1709, had assumed the title of Lord Cullen. His fifth descendant, Sir Archibald Grant, seventh Bart. since 1705 (b. 1823; suc. 1863), holds 14, 881 acres in the shire, valued at £7698 per annum. Monymusk is in the presbytery of Garioch and the synod of Aberdeen; the living is worth £254. The parish church, St Mary's, on the E side of the village square, is a very old building, parts of it being doubtless coeval with the priory. Comprising the Norman basement of a W tower (17¼ x 15 feet; 50 high), a nave (482/3 x 20 feet), and a choir (165/8 x 14¾ feet), with a later polygonal apse, it was enlarged by a N aisle, reroofed, and reseated for 580 worshippers in 1822, when the spire was also renewed. Its two pure Norman arches of Queen Margaret's time are objects of much interest. An Episcopal church, containing 130 sittings, was converted from secular purposes in 1801; and the public school, with accommodation for 164 children, had (1883) an average attendance of 107, and a grant of £92, 2s. Valuation (1860) £5472, (1884) £6989, 15s. 5d., plus £1288 for railway. Pop. (1801) 900, (1831) 1011, (1861) 988, (1871) 996, (1881) 1155.—Ord. Sur., sh. 76, 1874.

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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