Kirkden

   KIRKDEN, a parish, in the county of Forfar, 5 miles (E. by S.) from Forfar; containing, with the village of Friockheim, 1483 inhabitants. This place, which was anciently called Idvie, from the situation of the glebe lands in that barony, derives its present name from the position of its church in a deep and narrow valley. It appears to have been the scene of a sanguinary conflict with the Danes in the reign of Malcolm II.; and near the spot are the remains of an obelisk erected by that monarch in commemoration of their defeat, not far from which, in a tumulus raised over the slain, have been found several urns containing ashes. In the adjoining plain, also, numerous stone coffins ranged side by side, and each containing an entire skeleton, were discovered towards the close of the last century. The parish is about seven miles in length, from east to west, and of very irregular form, varying from less than a quarter of a mile to two miles in breadth, and comprising an area of 4514 acres, of which 3000 are arable, 1300 woodland and plantations, and the remainder meadow, pasture, and waste. The surface is boldly undulated, and towards the south rises to a considerable acclivity, forming part of the termination of the Sidlaw hills, and commanding an extensive and richly varied prospect over the surrounding country, with the vale of Strathmore and the passes of the Grampian hills. The small river Vinny flows for three or four miles along the northern border of the parish, and, uniting with the Lunan, afterwards intersects the parish, and frequently, in rainy weather, inundates the lower lands; both these streams abound with excellent trout, and in the latter pike are also sometimes found, and occasionally a few salmon.
   The soil is mostly a friable clay, but has been greatly improved by a mixture of marl found in the lakes in the vicinity, and by good cultivation has been rendered generally fertile. The crops are, grain of all kinds, with potatoes and turnips; and considerable attention is paid to the management of the dairy-farms, and to the improvement of live stock: the breed of cattle is principally of the polled or Angus kind. The lands are inclosed chiefly with stone fences. Within the last few years, a very large portion of ground has been reclaimed from absolute sterility, and brought into profitable cultivation, by draining; the farm-buildings are in good condition, and on most of the farms threshing-mills have been erected. The woods consist of oak, ash, elm, plane, and beech; and the plantations, which are comparatively of modern growth, of larch, and spruce and silver firs. The substratum is partly sandstone, of durable texture and of a greyish colour; and in the southern part, trap-rock, which is a continuation of the Sidlaw hills, is prevalent. Freestone of good quality is also found; and there are two excellent quarries, which, when in operation, employ a considerable number of men. The rateable annual value of the parish is £4012. Gardyne Castle is a spacious baronial structure of venerable aspect, beautifully situated on the steep acclivity of a deep and picturesque dell watered by a streamlet; the demesne attached to it is richly planted, and laid out with great taste. Middleton is a handsome modern mansion, seated in a wooded plain, near the banks of the Vinny; Pitmuies is also a modern mansion, similarly situated in grounds tastefully embellished.
   There are two villages; the one, Cot-town of Gardyne, consisting of a few scattered cottages inhabited by about eighty persons; and the other called Friockheim, which has arisen in consequence of the increase of the linen manufacture, and contains 805 inhabitants. The people of both are chiefly employed in the weaving of Osnaburghs by hand-looms, and in mills for spinning flax, of which there are three within the parish. Facility of intercourse with the neighbouring districts is afforded by numerous roads, of which the Arbroath and Forfar road passes for nearly three miles through the parish; and the Arbroath and Forfar railway intersects the eastern portion of it. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Arbroath and synod of Angus and Mearns. The minister's stipend is £157. 18., of which nearly one half is paid from the exchequer, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £13 per annum; patron, the Crown. The parish church, erected in 1825, on the site of the former, is a neat and commodious structure containing 525 sittings; and a church has been built in the village of Friockheim. The members of the Free Church have also a place of worship. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £25. 13. 10., with a house and garden, and the fees average about £12 per annum. A school at Friockheim is supported by subscription. A parochial library was established in 1827, by James Douglas, Esq., who presented a collection of seventy-two volumes, chiefly on religious subjects; and the number has been greatly augmented by James Mudie, Esq. The poor till lately received the proceeds of a fund of £260, and of bequests by Miss Gardyne and her sister of £14 and £20 respectively. There is a weak chalybeate spring at the extremity of the parish, in considerable repute. On the lands of Idvie and on the estate of Gardyne are conical mounds called respectively Bractullo and Gallows Hill, supposed to have been anciently places for the trial and execution of criminals; they are both planted with trees. Upon the farm of Bractullo were recently found some stone coffins containing human bones, with strings of beads apparently of charred wood.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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