- MARYCULTER, a parish, in the county of Kincardine, 7½ miles (S. W. by W.) from Aberdeen; containing 991 inhabitants. The name of this place has generally been derived from the Latin words Mariæ Cultura, on account of the dedication of the church to the Virgin Mary; but some Gaelic scholars are of opinion that the latter part of the name may be traced more correctly to the compound word cul-tira, in the Gaelic signifying "the back of the land." The parish was formerly the residence of the Knights Templars; but very little of its ancient history is now known. It is of an oblong form, six miles in length and two in breadth, extending from the river Dee to the Grampian mountains, and contains between 8000 and 9000 acres. It is bounded on the south by the parish of Fetteresso; on the east by that of Banchory-Devenick; and on the west by the parish of Durris. The surface is in general rocky and stony, with much hilly and mossy ground; and the rushy moors and heath, with only here and there a green hill, give to the whole district an appearance of wildness and sterility, with the exception of the land in the vicinity of the river, where some small haughs and dales are to be seen. There are many good springs; but the only river is the Dee, which washes the north side of the parish, and over which is an ancient ford opposite the manse. There is no mill, however, upon it throughout its entire course, in consequence of its being subject to great and sudden floods, of which a remarkable instance happened on the 17th of September, 1768, and another on the 4th of August, 1829.The soil near the river is sometimes thin and sandy; in the midland grounds it is deeper and blacker, resting in parts on a subsoil of clay; while in the southern quarter it is swampy, turfy, and mossy. About 3300 acres are under cultivation, 4200 waste, and 850 in plantations; but very much of the waste land is considered capable of profitable tillage. No wheat is raised; but other white crops are grown; and of the green crops, turnips form a prominent part, and are produced of excellent quality by the application of bone-dust and of guano. Improvements in agriculture have been carried on to a considerable extent, and, notwithstanding the untoward nature of the soil, are still in progress: the manure in general use is dung, obtained from Aberdeen. The cattle are small, but of good quality, and are almost all black, without horns: many are a cross with the Teeswater. The horses are poor, though improving in breed; few sheep are reared, but a pretty large number of swine, of the Chinese and Berkshire cross breeds, are exported alive to London, and some also cured. The rocks in the parish consist chiefly of granite, and masses of gneiss are seen in different parts; the granite is quarried, but to a very small extent. The rateable annual value of Maryculter is £4513. The mansion-houses are those of Maryculter, Kingcausie, Heathcote, and Auchlunies, all pleasantly situated, and ornamented with wood and gardens; the two first are in the immediate vicinity of the Dee, and their scenery is much improved by their contiguity to this pleasing stream. The mansion of Heathcote is built in the villa style, and is of recent date; Auchlunies is an ancient edifice, much adorned by its elegant grounds. The parish has good turnpike-roads, several miles of which run parallel with, and sometimes nearly touch, the river. There are five salmon-fisheries; but they have been for some time in a very declining state.The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery and synod of Aberdeen; patron, the Crown. The stipend of the minister is £172, with a manse and suitable offices, and a glebe of about ten acres, worth £2. 8. per acre. The church was built in 1787, and is in good repair; it accommodates about 460 persons with sittings, and is conveniently situated. There is a Roman Catholic chapel, forming a distinct portion of a building used as a seminary for the education of youth for the priesthood; the average number of scholars is thirty. This institution is on the property of Blairs, given many years ago to the Church of Rome by Mr. Menzies, of Pitfoddels. A parochial school is supported, in which the usual branches of education are taught; the master has a salary of £30, with a house, and about £10 fees. There are also two or three private schools, on a small scale, entirely supported by the fees; and a savings' bank, instituted in 1823. Numerous cairns remain in the parish, in which human teeth and bones have been found; but they are not entitled to distinct notice.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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