- AUCHTERHOUSE, a parish, in the county of Forfar, 7 miles (N. W. by N.) from Dundee; containing, with the villages of Dronley and Kirkton, 769 inhabitants. This parish, the name of which is of uncertain derivation, is nearly of triangular form, and includes the southern range of the hill of Sidlaw, that eminence separating it from Strathmore; and along its southern boundary runs the Dighty water, which falls into the Tay, near the influx of the latter into the German Ocean. It has an undulated surface, covering about 5450 acres, of which 3567 are under cultivation, 1406 wood, and the remainder hill pasture. The ground rises from south to north, and the acclivities are under cultivation to the spot where the church stands, 800 feet above the level of the sea; but, more northerly, the land rises considerably, reaching, at the White-Sheets, one of the Sidlaw hills, and the highest part of the parish, to about 1400 feet above the high-water mark at Dundee, and is there only fit for pasture and plantations. The burn of Dronley, and that of Auchterhouse, turn several mills in their separate courses from the west and north-west, before their junction at the village of Dronley, after which, the united streams take the name of Dighty, for the rest of their passage to the ocean. The climate, in the higher district, is cold and bracing; in the lower division it has been much improved, within these few years, by extensive draining, and is pure and salubrious. The soil of the uncultivated portions, with slight exceptions, consists of a thin moorish earth, lying on a retentive tilly subsoil, supported by a substratum of sandstone; and the land under tillage is mostly a black mould, in some places sandy, resting on till or marl, producing, under skilful management, good average crops of oats and barley, with the usual green crops, and sometimes wheat, though this last has been nearly discontinued, not having in general succeeded. The dairy is much attended to; subsoil-ploughing and furrow-draining are extensively practised, with great advantage; and, by the kindly feeling and steady cooperation between landlords and tenants, among many other improvements, nearly 500 acres of moor, moss, and bog have been reclaimed, within the present century, and now produce fair crops. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5316.The soil, throughout the parish, is underlaid with sandstone, very near the surface, and the Sidlaw hill consists of the same rock, occasionally intersected with trap dykes, and supplying a useful material for many purposes; a quarry is in operation on the estate of Scotstown, giving employment to five or six hands. Plantations comprising larch, spruce, Scotch fir, elm, ash, plane, and beech, have been formed on the hills, and on the moors of Dronley and Adamstown, by the Earl of Camperdown, to the extent of nearly 300 acres, the spruce and Scotch fir, however, alone being likely to succeed; and the Earl of Airlie has planted above 800 acres of the hill of Sidlaw. The old baronial residence of Auchterhouse, the property of the Earl of Airlie, and the only mansion in the parish, contains, among its other grounds, at a short distance, some very fine orchards. Facility of communication is offered by the Dundee and Newtyle turnpike-road, running through the parish, from the southern to the northern extremity, and by the railway between the same places, which, entering the parish over Dighty water, on the south-east, and leaving it at the north-western limit, has a depôt near the Milltown of Auchterhouse. The parish is in the presbytery of Dundee and synod of Angus and Mearns, and in the patronage of the Earl of Airlie; the minister's stipend is about £200, with a manse, and a glebe of 7 acres, valued at £15 per annum. The church was built in 1775, and consists of portions both old and modern; it has, on the west, a steeple with a bell, and on the east a cemetery, very ancient, but in good condition, containing the remains of some members of the Erskine family, and of those of Lyon and Ogilvy. The parochial school affords instruction in the usual branches; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with £20. 12. 4. fees. Near the mansion of Auchterhouse, are the ruins of a square building called Wallace Tower, supposed to have taken its name from a visit paid here to Sir John Ramsay, the proprietor, by the Scottish patriot, Sir William Wallace, after landing at Montrose, with his French auxiliaries. Not far from this spot, as well as in other parts of the parish, is one of those caverns styled "Weems," in which have been found a hand-mill and various relics, indicating its former use as an abode of men; and on the south of the hill of Sidlaw, is a Druidical altar, in good preservation.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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