- 1) NIGG, a parish, in the county of Kincardine, 2¼ miles (S. S. E.) from Aberdeen; containing, with the villages of Burnbanks, Cove, and Torry, 1642 inhabitants, of whom 866 are in the rural districts. This place, anciently called St. Fittick's from the name of the saint to whom its church was dedicated, derives its present appellation, signifying in the Gaelic language "a promontory or headland," from the projection of its northeastern extremity, Girdleness, into the German Ocean near the harbour of Aberdeen. Previously to the Reformation the lands were part of the possessions of the abbey of Arbroath; subsequently, one-half became the property of the ancestor of the late proprietor, John Menzies, Esq., of Pitfoddels, and the other half was acquired by the corporation of Aberdeen. In 1786, the parish was by arbitration divided into two parts, of which that extending along the coast and the harbour of Aberdeen was assigned to the town-council, and the remainder, and more inland portion, to the family of Menzies.The parish occupies the north-eastern extremity of the county, and is about five miles in length and three miles in breadth; comprising an area of 3537 acres, of which 1885 are arable, about 60 woodland and plantations, and the remainder moss, moor, and waste. By the sea on the east, and the river Dee on the north and north-west, the parish is formed into a peninsula. The surface rises gradually from the east by a range of hills covered with heath, which at the western boundary attain an elevation of 200 feet above the level of the sea, and are crowned with two cairns, visible at the distance of several leagues, and on the higher of which, during the late war, a flag-staff was sometimes erected to announce the approach of hostile vessels. These hills form part of the Grampian range, which terminates in this parish, near the coast, in the hill of Tullos, an eminence partly covered with thriving plantations. The coast is bold and elevated, rising in a chain of rugged rocks varying from sixty to eighty feet in height; it is indented with several small bays forming natural harbours for fishing-boats, and in many places perforated with caverns of considerable extent, of which the roofs, by the action of the water, have been worn into arches of graceful form. The chief headlands are, Gregness, on the south of the bay of Nigg, and Girdleness, on which latter a lighthouse was erected in 1833 by the Commissioners of Northern Lights, under the superintendence of their engineer. The tower rises to a height of 131 feet above the basement, and exhibits towards the east two polygonal lanterns; the lower has an elevation of ninety-six feet, and the upper, which is perpendicularly above it, an elevation of 166 feet, above the level of the sea, displaying fixed lights visible at a distance of sixteen miles. The lighthouse is under the management of an inspector and two resident keepers. The lands are watered by numerous excellent springs, some of which, near the centre of the parish, are chalybeate, though not medicinally used; and not far from the south-west boundary is the loch of Loirston, about twenty-seven acres in extent, from which issues a stream giving motion to several mills.The soil is generally a black loam varying in depth, but in some parts clay; the crops are, oats, barley, potatoes, and turnips. The system of husbandry is improved, and considerable portions of waste ground have been reclaimed by draining; the farm-buildings are substantial and commodious, the cottages of the labourers mostly built of stone, and the lands inclosed chiefly with stone dykes. Few sheep or cattle are reared; but on the dairy-farms, great numbers of cows are kept for supplying the city of Aberdeen with milk, which is sent there daily in the morning and evening. The plantations consist of oak, beech, elm, plane, elder, pine, larch, and Scotch fir. Granite of excellent quality for paving abounds in the parish, and was formerly wrought to a very great extent, affording employment to more than 600 men in quarrying and dressing paving-stones, which were sent to Aberdeen, whence they were shipped to London; but since the introduction of wood pavement, the demand is greatly diminished, and comparatively few men are now engaged in the quarries. The rateable annual value of the parish is £6419. The village of Charleston, of recent erection on the lands of Mr. Menzies, who portioned out a barren hill in allotments for building, has considerably increased of late, and at present contains nearly 200 inhabitants. Facility of communication is afforded by good roads, and by bridges connecting the parish with the city of Aberdeen, on the opposite bank of the Dee: the elegant suspension-bridge, called the Wellington bridge, was erected in 1833, at the northern extremity of a road constructed at the same time through the centre of the parish, by the heritors. The villages or fishing hamlets of Burnbanks, Cove, and Torry are noticed under their respective heads. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery and synod of Aberdeen. The minister's stipend is £160. 2., of which more than one-third is paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £60 per annum: patron, the Crown. The old church, situated at the north-east extremity of the parish, having fallen into decay, the present church was erected in a more central situation, by the heritors, at a cost of £1800, in 1829; it is a handsome structure, with a square tower, and contains 900 sittings. The parochial school is attended by about sixty children; the master has a salary of £30, with a house and garden, and the school fees average £20. There are also a school in the village of Cove, of which the master has from the heritors of the parish a house and garden, £7 per annum from an endowment, and £15 fees; and a school in the village of Charleston, of which the master has a house and garden, with £12 fees, besides a donation of £5 from the trustees of the late Mr. Donaldson. James Calder, Esq., of Aberdeen, some years since bequeathed £500 to the poor of the parish. There are numerous large cairns, supposed to have been raised over the bodies of persons killed in battle in former times; also some remains of an ancient house, the summer residence of the abbots of Arbroath. In cutting through some low ground, in order to form a drain to the sea, in 1804, the workmen met with the timbers of a vessel of considerable burthen, imbedded in the soil.2) NIGG, a parish, in the county of Ross and Cromarty, 2 miles (N.) from Cromarty; containing, with the village of Shandwick, 1426 inhabitants. The name appears to have been corrupted from the word Wigg, by which the parish is called in some ancient records; and this word is thought to be a derivation of the Saxon Wich, signifying "a bay or harbour." From the relics of antiquity, and the names attached to them, we may conclude that in the 10th or 11th century the Danes effected a settlement here; and in 1179, William, King of Scotland, erected a castle on the top of a rock opposite Cromarty, the site of which still remains, and which is said to have been raised as a security against robbers, and hence to have received the name of Dunskeath Castle. In the 16th century, the bishops of Ross resided during the summer in the vicinity of the present church, and enjoyed, as a glebe, nearly the whole of the parish lands; at the present time, indeed, all the lands of Nigg, with the exception of the estate of Dunskeath, pay bishop's rents to the Crown amounting to £200 or £300 per annum. The parish is nearly six miles long and from two to three broad, and contains 5000 acres: it is bounded on the north by the parishes of Logie Easter and Fearn, on the south and west by the Frith of Cromarty, and on the east by the Moray Frith. The general appearance of the surface is broken and rugged, and the aspect of the shores abrupt and rocky. About one-third of the parish is occupied by the hill of Nigg, formerly called the Bishop's forest, which runs from the north Sutor of Cromarty along the Moray Frith for about five miles; its breadth is about a mile and its height from 300 to 500 feet, and it commands a view of nine counties, easily discernible with the naked eye, viz., Sutherland, Ross, Caithness, Inverness, Nairn, Cromarty, Moray, Banff, and Perth. The remaining portion of the parish consists of an extensive declivity on the western side of the hill, and a plain commencing at its base, and reaching to the parishes of Logie Easter and Fearn. There is a curious rock projecting from the shore, and rising to a perpendicular elevation of 300 feet; it is indented with caves, and covered in many places with ivy of an unusual size. In different parts are many excellent springs, and several wells of some note; but the most conspicuous piece of water is the bay of Cromarty, which resembles an inland lake, and which was called by the Romans Portus Salutis.The soil varies considerably. In the neighbourhood of the hill of Nigg, which is partly planted with Scotch firs, it is poor and wet; in other parts it is clayey; while in the western quarter is a deep layer of light sand, which appears to have been cast by some marine convulsions over the bed of fine clayey loam that is found beneath it. The largest proportion, however, of the soil is a fine black loam, from one to four feet in depth, and resting on red sandstone. About 2500 acres are in tillage; 100 are under fir wood; 1000 are waste capable of profitable cultivation; and 100 in common. Great quantities of wheat are now grown; and the parish was famous a few years ago for its large supply of excellent barley, very little of which is at present raised, except of the Chevalier kind, which is gaining ground. Angus and potato oats are freely cultivated, and the Hopetoun are making advances. Beans, potatoes, and turnips are also raised in considerable quantities; the last attain a fine size by the use of bone-dust manure. Lime and sea-weed are likewise extensively employed as manure for many of the lands. Much good land has been recovered within the last twenty years by embankments, and great improvements have been made in other parts by draining and trenching; the size of the farms is from thirty to 400 acres, and generally the buildings are in good condition. The few sheep reared are the South-Down and Cheviots; black-cattle are but little attended to. Numerous goats are seen feeding upon the herbage of the rocks of Castle-Craig, at a height beyond the reach of other animals. The strata of the parish are of very different kinds, consisting of granitic gneiss, conglomerate, red and white sandstone, belemnites, shale, and limestone. The only seat of note is the mansion-house of Bayfield, built about fifty years ago, but which, though a good building, is destitute of ornamental grounds and picturesque scenery. There are four threshing-mills, worked by water, and three meal-mills.The inhabitants are chiefly employed in agricultural pursuits; but there are several families of fishermen, to whom the two small villages of Balnabruach and Balnapaling, in the western extremity of the parish, seem to be appropriated. In the eastern part, at Shandwick, is also a fishing settlement. Both friths are well stocked with almost every kind of fish; the rocks afford crabs and oysters; and in the Moray Frith, during the season, is a regular herring-fishery, in which for the last twenty years about sixteen boats have been employed, but which is now in a declining state. There is no harbour; but in a large bay of the Frith of Cromarty, called the Sands of Nigg, small craft land lime, slate, and coal, and take back cargoes of timber and potatoes. There are about thirty-two boats used for fishing. The roads from Cromarty Ferry to Tain and Tarbat pass through the parish. A fair is held in November for general purposes. The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Tain and synod of Ross, and the patronage is vested in the Crown: the stipend of the minister is £234, with a manse, and a glebe of four and a half acres, valued at £10 per annum. The church, built in 1626, underwent extensive repairs in 1725 and 1786, and accommodates 425 persons. The members of the Free Church and United Secession have places of worship. There is also a parochial school, the master of which has a salary of £34, and £5 fees, with a house and garden. Another school is partly supported by a society, who allow the teacher a salary of £10 per annum. At the village of Nigg is a monumental stone, in the churchyard; the top is of a triangular form, and on the stone are depicted two figures in the attire of priests, with books in their hands, over whose heads a dove is hovering, ready to take away the sacrifice from an altar below. Crosses and various sacred hieroglyphics appear on the other parts of this monument, which has always strongly excited the curiosity of strangers, and is evidently of great antiquity. There is also a monument at Shandwick, somewhat similar to the former, called the Stone of the Burying-ground. Of the several chalybeate springs in the parish, the most esteemed is the one at Wester Rarichie, called "the Cow's Eye:" it is impregnated with sulphur and magnesia.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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