Insch

   INSCH, a parish, in the district of Garioch, county of Aberdeen, 3¾ miles (W.) from Old Rain; containing 1379 inhabitants. The word Insch, or Inch, is of Celtic derivation, and signifies "an island," its application to this place having probably been occasioned by the site of the village being formerly surrounded by water. The parish is situated on the northern bank of the small river Shevock, which separates it from the parishes of Premnay and Kinnethmont, and, running eastward, falls at length into the Urie. The lands measure in length six miles, and three in breadth, comprising 7618 acres, of which 5410 are under cultivation, 108 in plantation, and the remainder waste. The surface is much varied by several interesting elevations. That of the hill of Foudland is the most lofty, forming the chief of a series of slate hills stretching on the west into Gartly, and into Culsamond on the east; it rises 1100 feet above the level of the sea, and commands extensive and beautiful prospects, especially of the rich and fertile vale of the Garioch. The hill of Dunnideer, however, about a mile west of the village, though only half the height of the former, is by far the most striking object in the scenery, not only on account of its insulated situation, and its ample base, measuring 3000 yards in circumference, but especially from its abrupt and almost perpendicular ascent, and its conical form. The summit, somewhat flattened, attracts the antiquary by the curious ruins on it, and the tourist by its picturesque beauty. Opposite to it, on the west, is the equally abrupt eminence of Christ-kirk, in the parish of Kinnethmont, which is separated from Dunnideer only by a narrow valley, watered by the Shevock.
   The soil in general is a light loam, upon a gravelly or clayey subsoil; but on the sides of the hill of Foudland it is a clay, mixed with slaty earth; and here, as well as in various other parts, are peat mosses, supplying fuel. Most of these, however, have become nearly exhausted, so that wood and coal are now much used, the latter brought from Aberdeen, by canal, to Inverury. Much of the arable land is of superior quality, and produces excellent crops, chiefly of oats. The cattle are of the Aberdeen or the Angus kind, which are frequently crossed with the short-horned or Durham breed; and the improvement in the stock has been considerable, in consequence of the great encouragement offered by the cattle-shows held by the Highland and the local agricultural societies. The six years rotation is that most prevalent; and the general system of husbandry includes all the modern improvements: bone-manure is liberally and successfully applied to the turnip lands; and threshing machines, generally driven by water, are every where in operation. The chief deficiency is the want of inclosures and of good farm-buildings. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5334. The chief lands belong to J. M. Lesly, Esq., of Balquhain, who holds the estates called the Barony of Meikle-Wardhouse, Knock-enbaird, and others, and whose ancestors once possessed the larger part of this parish, and also lands in several others in the district of Garioch.
   The slate of the Foundland hill quarries, an excellent material of blue colour, has long been highly celebrated, and wrought to a great extent. 900,000 slates were once annually raised, a large proportion of which were sent to Aberdeen; but not more than half this number are now produced, the demand having diminished on account of the facility with which the Easdale slates, from Argyllshire, can be conveyed by sea. The rock in the smaller hills is principally gneiss, with black or grey granite; and on the low grounds, near the base of Dunnideer, considerable quantities of bog-iron ore have been found. The only gentleman's seat is Rothney, a handsome modern mansion in the cottage style, finely situated on a gentle acclivity on the northern bank of the Shevock, beautifully ornamented with wood, and the approach to which from the village is particularly admired. The inhabitants are chiefly engaged in agricultural occupations, and in trading in corn and cattle; a few are employed in making stockings for the Aberdeen manufacturers. The feuars of Insch are heritable proprietors of their houses and small gardens; they also mostly rent about four acres of ground each, under Sir Andrew Leith Hay, superior of the ancient burgh of Insch, to which it is supposed, from a mound near the village, called the Gallow hill, was formerly attached the power of "pot and gallows." The houses are regularly built, and are in general of two stories, constructed of stone and lime. There are several good shops, chiefly for the sale of necessaries; and these, as well as the dwelling-houses, have been for some years lighted with gas. The mail road from Aberdeen passes through the parish, to the north side of the Foudland hill, from which two lines diverge to Huntly, the one forming a route over the western part of the hill, and the other a longer and more irregular, but more level, one, through Kinnethmont and Gartly. The traffic on these roads is considerable, the country produce being conveyed along them to the canal at Inverury, from which place the carts bring home, on their return, coal, lime, and bones for manure. Two fairs for cattle, horses, and general wares, are held respectively on the third Wednesday in May and third Tuesday in October, both Old style; and there are feeing-markets on the Fridays before the 18th May and 18th November. The weekly market, held on Friday, has disappeared.
   The parish is in the presbytery of Garioch and synod of Aberdeen, and in the patronage of Sir John Forbes, Bart. The minister's stipend is £204, with a manse, a glebe of twelve acres, valued at £15, and a right to fuel, which has been commuted for an annual payment of £9. 8. 10. The church, a plain building, standing in the village, is supposed, from the date of 1613 on its fine old belfry, to have been built in that year; it was well-roofed in 1789, and new-seated in 1793, and contains 460 sittings, of which sixty are under the controul of the Kirk Session, and are let on very low terms for the benefit of the poor. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school affords instruction in Greek, Latin, English grammar, geography, and mathematics, in addition to the ordinary branches; the master has a salary of £27, with a house and garden, and about £15 fees: he also participates in the benefit of the Dick bequest. There is likewise a school supported by the General Assembly, the master of which receives a salary of £25, with £14 fees, and has a house, garden, and three acres of ground. The same branches are taught as in the parochial school; and its situation among the glens of Foudland, convenient for parts, not only of Insch, but of the parishes of Forgue, Drumblade, and Gartly, all far removed from their respective parochial schools, renders it a source of much advantage. A savings' bank has also existed for some years. The relics of antiquity comprise several Druidical remains, on eminences, and stone pillars, and obelisks; but the principal one is the celebrated vitrified fort on the hill of Dunnideer. It consists of an outwork in the shape of a parallelogram, inclosing an old ruin of a tower; and the stones, which are of granite, have been cemented by that singular process seen in similar antiquities in the country, but of the precise character of which many opinions exist. A castle in the interior, constructed apparently of the materials of the vitrified fort, is supposed by some to have been built by King Gregory.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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