- MEIGLE, a parish, and the seat of a presbytery, in the county of Perth; containing 728 inhabitants, of whom 271 are in the village or town, 5 miles (N. E. by E.) from Cupar-Angus. The etymology of the name is doubtful; but it has been conjectured that, the church and manse being built on a plain between two marshes or "gills," the whole district took the appellation of Mid-gills, gradually changed into Meigle. The only historical memorial of interest connected with the place is the monument of Vanora, the reputed wife of the renowned King Arthur, who lived in the 6th century. She was captured in a battle which he fought with the Picts and Scots, and sent as prisoner to a strong place at Barry-hill, about two and a half miles from the parish: having there formed an illicit connexion with Mordred, a Pictish king, she was ordered by Arthur, when he received her again, to be torn in pieces by wild beasts. The parish is four and a half miles long and from one to two broad, and contains above 3000 acres. It is in the centre of the great level of Strathmore Proper, which reaches from near Perth to Brechin, a distance of forty miles; and the surface is equable throughout, with the exception of a gentle eminence on which Belmont Castle is situated. On the north and north-west are the Grampians, and on the south and south-east the Sidlaw hills. The rivers Isla and Dean water the parish, and unite about half a mile north-west from the town: in the former, common white trout, pike, and a few salmon are taken; in the Dean are perch and pike, and its red trout are much esteemed for their excellent flavour.The soil in general is a fine black mould; but in some parts the ground partakes of the nature of sand and clay. There are 2726 arable acres; 100 acres in pasture, a small part of it in its natural state; and 178 acres under wood, consisting of most of the trees usually grown, and which are regularly thinned and pruned. The best system of husbandry is followed; and being all well cultivated, the land bears excellent green and white crops of every description. Indeed, since the period of the commencement of agricultural improvements in Scotland, the appearance of the parish has undergone an entire change, the barren and rough ground having been all reclaimed, and fenced with good hedge-rows. The chief disadvantages now are the deficiency of roads, and the distance from a plentiful supply of fuel. The rocks in the parish are mostly red sandstone, of which two quarries are wrought for building: marl has been obtained in considerable quantities. The rateable annual value of Meigle is £5442. Belmont House, a seat of Lord Wharncliffe, built upwards of seventy years ago, on the site of the old mansion called Kirkhill, is a quadrangular edifice, retaining part of the ancient tower; the interior is handsomely fitted up, and contains a superior library. There is a fine park, with excellent lawns and gardens, and an observatory. The other mansions are, Meigle House, Drumkilbo, Potento, and Caerdean.Meigle is an ancient, but inconsiderable and meanlybuilt, town, pleasantly situated on a rivulet of the same name, in the centre of the parish, at the intersection of two turnpike-roads. The regular weekly market has for some time been discontinued; but there is a tryst every fortnight for the sale of cattle; and two fairs are held, one on the last Wednesday of June, the other on the last Wednesday in October, for cattle, horses, and for general traffic, both which are well attended. A few persons in the parish are employed in weaving coarse linen, and there is a mill for dyeing and dressing cotton-cloth for umbrellas. The fuel chiefly used is coal from Dundee, obtained at a high price. There is a post-office here; and about six miles of turnpike-road run through the parish, upon which a coach once passed between Edinburgh and Aberdeen, by Perth and Queensferry, and another from Blairgowrie. A bridge has lately been erected by subscription over the Isla, connecting Meigle with Alyth; and there is a very ancient bridge over the Dean, connecting it with Ayrlie, in the county of Forfar: the bridges and roads are generally in good repair.The ecclesiastical affairs are directed by the presbytery of Meigle and synod of Angus and Mearns; patron, the Crown. The stipend of the minister is £238, including about £3. 8., vicarage-tithe on yarn; and there is a manse, built in 1809–10, with a glebe of about five and a half acres, worth £17 yearly. The church, a plain structure, erected about the year 1780, has two of the aisles of the former edifice; it is in tolerable repair, and seats 700 persons. This benefice was formerly annexed to the see of Dunkeld; several of the bishops resided here, and two of them were buried in the church: indeed, the greater part of the stipend of Dunkeld is still paid out of the parish. There is an episcopal chapel; and the members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial schoolmaster receives a salary of £36. 7.1., including £2. 2. 9½. in lieu of a garden, with a house; his fees amount to about £16 a-year. The ruin of the famous sepulchral monument of Vanora is distinguished by a variety of sculptured figures, consisting of a centaur, a huge serpent fastened to a bull's mouth, and wild beasts tearing human bodies to pieces. There is a tumulus in Belmont park styled Belliduff, which tradition asserts to be the spot where Macduff slew Macbeth; and about a mile distant stands a block of whinstone, twenty tons in weight, called Macbeth's stone. The correct opinion, however, is that Macbeth was slain at Lumphanan, in Aberdeenshire.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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