ANGUS, Scotland - History and Description, 1868


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)

"FORFAR, a maritime county of Scotland, bounded on the N. by the counties of Aberdeen and Kincardine, on the E. by the German Ocean, on the S. by the Firth of Tay, and on the W. by Perthshire. It is situated between 56° 27' and 56° 59' N. lat., and between 2° 25' and 3° 23' W. long. Its length, from the head of North Esk to the mouth of the Tay, is 40 miles, and its greatest breadth is 33 miles, with an area of 568,750 acres, a large proportion of which is moor and upland, 2,560 acres water, and 370,000 arable. Its population in 1861 was 204,425, and the rate of increase for the decennial period between 1851 and 1861, 6.8. It has a coast-line of 45 miles, the principal towns standing upon it being Dundee, at the Tay's mouth, Arbroath, and Montrose, at the mouth of the South Esk. There are several smaller places along the coast: among them are the bathing-places, Broughty Ferry and Carnoustie, and the fishing-stations of East and West Haven, Usan. Auchmithie, and Ferryden. From Arbroath to Redhead, a prominent headland, the coast consists of a line of sandstone cliffs penetrated by numerous caverns. Buddon Ness terminates the open coast, and some 13 miles off stand the Bell Rock and Lighthouse. There are also two other lights on the Ness, facing the Ferry-Port light, on the Fife coast. Like Fife, Forfar was anciently inhabited by the Horestii, and was a Pictish kingdom up to the time of Kenneth II. Christianity was introduced by the Culdees, who had an establishment at Brechin, which afterwards became the seat of the bishopric. The remains of forts are pretty numerous the most prominent are Castle-Finhaven, in the parish of Oathlaw, one on Dundee Law, and others at Monifieth, Dumbarrow, and Caerbuddo. Among the largest of the Roman camps are those at Harefaulds, Forfar, Brechin, and Oathlaw. There are also a Druidical circle at Forfar, Danish pillars at Aberlumno and Monikie, with cairns there and at Barry, and a round tower 103 feet high at Brechin, the only other one in the country being at Abernethy, in Perth. The royal and parliamentary boroughs are Forfar, the county town, Dundee, Montrose, Arbroath, and Brechin. Alyth and Kirriemuir are burghs of barony. The Established Church has 73 ministers, the Free Church 50; and there are 26 Congregational and United Presbyterian, 9 Episcopal, and 1 Roman Catholic chapel. The county was anciently included in the diocese of St. Andrew's and Dunkeld; it is now within the synod of Angus and Mearns, comprehending 5 presbytories., divided into 52 parishes, and 5 parts of parishes The county returns three members to parliament-one for the county, and one each for Dundee and Montrose. The constituency of the county in 1854 was 3,035. It is divided into two sheriff districts-Forfar and Dundee, and into six justice of the peace districts-viz: Forfar, Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose, Brechin, and Kirriemuir. It is governed by a lord-lieutenant, vice-lieutenant, 50 deputies, and a sheriff and his 2 substitutes. Sheriff, commissary, and small-debt courts are held at Forfar and Dundee; small-debt courts are also held at Arbroath, Montrose, Brechin, and Kirriemuir. Geographically the county is divided into four districts-viz: the Grampian, the Strathmore, the Sidlaw, and the maritime. The first-named is in the N.W. of the county, containing that part of the Grampian range known as the Binchinin mountains, or the Braes of Angus. Their greatest elevation here is 3,400 feet. Numerous mountain streams thread their way through the valleys of this delightful district. The Strathmore district consists principally of the valley of Strathmore, which sweeps across the county from the parish of Kettins to the North Esk. This beautiful valley, which is also called the How of Angus, is 33 miles long, with an extreme width of 6 miles. The Sidlaw district is so called from the hills of that name-their greatest elevation is 1,400 feet. The range is 21 miles long, and is joined to a series of hills running from Kinnoul Hill to the N.E. of Kincardineshire. The fourth, or maritime district, is that which lies between the Sidlaws and the sea. It is fertile and well cultivated. High sand-hills occur on the shore of the Tay, containing a great variety of shells. The principal rivers of this county are the North Esk, or Uisg Water, which flows from Lochlee, and after receiving the tribute of numerous mountain streams, including the West Water and Cruick Water, enters the sea 3 miles N. of Montrose. The South Esk rises among the Grampians, passes through Strathmore and Brechin, and falls into the sea at Montrose. The Isla issues from the Grampians in the N.W., and passes into Perthshire, where it becomes confluent with the Tay. Its banks are beautifully wooded, and it has one or two fine cascades. The Melgam Water, the Dean Lunan, and Dighty are a few out of the numerous minor streams which water this county. Many of the lochs have been drained, and their beds cultivated or excavated for manure. The principal remaining are lochs Lee and Lentrathen, among the Grampians, lochs Forfar, Rescobie, and Belgavies, abounding with excellent fish and waterfowl. The geological formation of the Grampian district consists chiefly of granite, gneiss, mica slate, and clay slate. Rock crystals, garnets, and porcelain clay are found in some places, and lead ore was formerly worked; limestone, greenstone, and basalt are met with, and jasper occurs at Glenesk. Pearls have been found in the North Esk. The prevailing formation of the Strathmore district is Old Red sandstone, with pudding-stone, shell marl, some ironstone, and pipe-clay. The Sidlaw district is composed of sandstone and trap, accompanied with breccia, or yolky stone, consisting of quartz, whinstone, jasper, &c. The whole is overspread with a layer of basalt, porphyry, and greenstone. Agate and onyx are found among these hills. Lime and sandstone are quarried: lead and copper exist in small quantities. The climate of this county, from the variety of its elevation, is necessarily variable. Snows and piercing winds prevail on the heights, while the valleys are mild and salubrious. The soil among the Grampians is generally moorish, but on descending into the valley, it is composed of alluvium mixed with sand, and is light and friable. In the Strathmore district the soil is alluvial, but poor, and sometimes assumes the form of sterile sand. A rich black soil occurs near Montrose, from which, following the coast northward, the surface consists of a sandy plain of considerable extent. The principal peat bed is at Diltyr Moss, on the Sidlaws; peat is also obtained on the Grampians. Modern improvements in farming are extensively adopted. The farms average in size from 100 to 200 acres. Low stone walls called dykes, as in many other parts of Scotland, take the place of hedges, from the superabundance of boulders on the surface of the soil. The principal crops raised are oats, barley, and wheat which last is exported pretty largely. Peas, beans, turnips, flax, &c., are also grown. There are extensive grazing tracts among the hills. The breeding of horses is much attended to; one breed, the small grey garron, is very powerful, and requires hut little care. Small white-faced sheep are reared among the mountains. This breed was originally purer, but is now mostly crossed with other classes. Cattle are much improved, both in point of size and otherwise. The red deer is now seldom seen, but the roebuck still frequents the valleys of the Grampians. The badger, white or alpine hare, fox, eagle, kite, hawk, otter, seals, and wild swans and geese are seen in the county at certain seasons. The salmon fishery of the Tay is very considerable, as is also the coast fishery, in cod, turbot, haddock, herring, skate, sprats, smelts, soles, crabs, lobsters, and mussels. A great proportion of the inhabitants is engaged in the manufactory of coarse linen goods, this county being the great linen district of Scotland. There are extensive plantations of beech, oak, larch, ash,' elm, &c. There are several old castles about the county: the principal are those of Broughty; Balrea, the ancient seat of the Fenton; Breehin, that of the Maules-the latter being among the principal proprietors: this castle was one of great strength, and was besieged by Edward III. in 1303; Dudhope, of the Scrymgeours; Halton, of the Oliphants; Redcastle, Inverquharity, Panmure, Finhaven, Kelly, Affleck, Invermark. Abbeys and churches of antiquity are found at Fearn, Arbroath, Forfar, Brechin, Kettins, and Foulis. The principal seats are Cortachy, of the Earl of Airlie; Careston, of the Earl of Fife; Glamis Castle, of the Earl of Strathmore; Ethie, of the Earl of Northesk; Gray, of Lord De Gray; Camperdown, of Lord Duncan; Panmure, of Lord Panmure; Southesk, of the Carnegies; Lindortis, of the Munros; Inverquharity, of the Ogilvies; Balmain, of the Ramsays; Isla Bank and Ruthven, of the Ogilvies; Boysack, of the Carnegies; Brechin, of Fox Maule, M.P.; Craig, of the Carnegies; Langley Park, of the Constables; Keithock, of the Cruickshanks; Guthrie, of the Guthries; and Wedderburn, of the Wedderburns, besides many others. The principal roads are from Dundee to Forfar and Aberdeen, to Stonehaven by Arhroath, to Balmoral by Cupar Angus and the Grampians. There is a railway communication with Dundee, Arbroath, Forfar, Newtyle, Glamis, Cupar Angus, Broughty Castle, and Easthaven. There is in all about 66 miles of railway in the county."

Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003