Marnoch

   MARNOCH, a parish, in the county of Banff, 8½ miles (S. W. by S.) from Banff; containing, with the village of Aberchirder, 2691 inhabitants. This parish was originally called Aberchirder, a name taken, as is supposed, from the estate of Sir David Aberkerder, Thane of Aberkerder, who lived about the year 1400, and was proprietor of a large part of the parish; he paid revenue to the see of Moray, and eventually his daughter was married to Sir Robert Innes, brother to Sir John Innes, the latter of whom was bishop of Moray for seven years previously to 1414. The village is still called by the ancient name of Aberchirder, which is said to signify "the head or opening of the moss," and to have been used on account of the situation of the estate at the edge of an extensive moss. The term now applied to the parish is derived from Saint Marnoch. The parish is situated on the northern bank of the river Doveran, along which it extends for about six miles, some of the extreme points, however, being eight miles distant; and it stretches, in breadth, from the stream five or six miles, with a fine southern exposure; the whole comprising thirty-four square miles. The borders of the river, where there are fine haughs, are distinguished for richly-diversified and beautifully-picturesque scenery, and include a variety of objects calculated to invest the landscape with the highest interest. The estate of Ardmellie, ornamented with a number of large trees, and the mansion-house, situated in the midst of well-cultivated grounds, and commanding an extensive view of the valley of the Doveran, commence the series of varied spots receiving from, and communicating to, the winding course of the stream a pleasing and impressive effect. In this part rises abruptly the well-wooded hill of Ardmellie, the highest ground in the parish, at whose foot, on the bank of the river, which here receives the burn of Crombie, stands the manse. The church is on an eminence at a little distance; it was once surmounted by a Druidical circle, now only marked by two remaining stones; and the churchyard, at the margin of the stream, is rendered especially interesting by the ruin of the old church, and several superior monuments. Among these, one, conspicuous for its richlycarved ornaments, is to the memory of "Reverendus et Pius Geo. Meldrum, de Crombie, et quondam de Glass, Præco," who was minister of Glass, and laird of Crombie in this parish, and who died in 1692, aged seventy-six. Attached to the monument there is a finely-executed half-length figure of him, in stone, represented wearing a cap, and in his full canonicals, with a book in his hand.
   At a short distance from this, the river displays several windings; and a little further is a bridge of two arches, built in 1806, below which the scenery derives interest from the ancient mansion of Kinairdy. This is a structure of very singular appearance, somewhat similar to a tower, situated on a promontory at the confluence of the burn of Kinairdy with the Doveran, and once the property, with a large portion of land in the vicinity, of the Crichtons, of Frendraught. The river afterwards pursues its beautiful course towards the church, manse, and village of Inverkeithny, on the opposite bank, about two miles distant. Here is Chapelton, on the Marnoch side, where it is thought a place of worship once stood; at a little distance appears the modern and handsome mansion of Netherdale, with gardens and grounds finely laid out, and flourishing beech hedges; and these complete the striking line of the course of the Doveran in this locality. The surface in the centre of the parish, from west to east, consists of several hills and undulations, mostly crowned with thriving plantations, and having intervening straths well cultivated, and watered by small rivulets.
   The soil is generally damp and mossy; but in some parts it is dry, and in the southern portion it generally produces early crops. On the hill of Crombie are extensive mosses, supplying plenty of peat. Agriculture has made considerable advances for the last quarter of a century; and in this period, by draining, the cultivation of waste land, and other improvements, the rental of the parish has been increased to the extent of one-third, its rateable annual value being now £7898. Improvements have also taken place in the breeds of cattle, through crosses with superior stock. Granite is to be met with in the district; it is extensively quarried, and blue limestone is found on the estate of Ardmellie. In addition to the mansions already noticed, there is the house of Crombie, the property of the Earl of Seafield, situated in the western quarter; it is a tolerably ancient structure, consisting at present of only three stories, but it was formerly much higher, and appears to have been a place of some strength. The mansion of Auchintoul, on the largest property in the parish, and situated near the middle, was once the residence of General Alexander Gordon, who entered the Russian service as a cadet, under Peter the Great, and by his valour in the wars carried on against Charles XII., King of Sweden, was raised to the rank of major-general by the emperor: after his return to his native country, he wrote the history of his patron. Having, however, involved himself in the troubles of 1715, by taking part with the Highland clans at Sheriffmuir, and by other acts, he was attainted for treason, and compelled to escape to France; but, having remained there for several years, he returned, and died here at the age of eighty-two. The house consists of three sides of a square, one of which was built by the general; and is a large plain building, much improved by the present proprietor. It has a handsome quadrilateral range of offices, with hothouses and a conservatory, as well as fine gardens, and grounds ornamented with belts of plantations; and is much indebted for its pleasantness to its commanding situation. The mansion-house of Cluny, on the east, is an elegant edifice built of granite, to the grounds of which is attached some thriving wood.
   The only village is Aberchirder, which see. There are regular markets for hiring servants at Whitsuntide and Martinmas; a weekly grain-market on Mondays during the winter; and an annual market for cattle and horses, called Marnoch fair, on the second Tuesday in March. The parish is in the presbytery of Strathbogie and synod of Moray, and in the patronage of the Earl of Fife: the minister's stipend is £220, with a manse, and a glebe of seven and a half acres, valued at £21 per annum. The church is a very plain building, erected in the earlier part of the present century. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, Episcopalians, Baptists, the United Secession, and Roman Catholics. The parochial school affords instruction in the usual branches: the master has a salary of £34, with a house, and from £15 to £25 fees; also about £53 from Dick's bequest, Bruce's legacy, and his office of session clerk. There is an extensive library for parochial use.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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