Monymusk

   MONYMUSK, a parish, in the district of Garioch, county of Aberdeen, 125 miles (N. by E.) from Edinburgh; containing 895 inhabitants. This parish appears to have derived its name from the two Gaelic words, Monaugh, "high or hilly," and Mousick, signifying "low and marshy ground," which denominations are descriptive of the general appearance of the land. A priory was founded here in the 11th century by Malcolm Canmore, who is said to have encamped at Monymusk, on his expedition to the north, and to have vowed that if he returned victorious he would devote the village to St. Andrew, the tutelary saint of Scotland. On his arrival at the river Spey, he was stopped by the priests in their canonicals, who, with his permission, passed over to the enemy, and finished the campaign without any effusion of blood. In consequence of this affair he founded and endowed the priory of Monymusk, as appears from an old Latin document in Monymusk House, which was extracted from the register of St. Andrew's, and which, after describing the assigned boundaries, concludes with the following passage: "And thus these are the marches which King Malcolm bequeathed, on account of a victory granted, to God and the Church of St. Mary of Monymusk, giving the benediction of God and St. Mary to all who preserve the rights of the Church." Few other events of historical importance have occurred; but there is a field near the bank of the river Don, called the Camp field, where, according to tradition, King Robert Bruce's army lay immediately previous to the battle of Inverury.
   The parish is about seven miles in length and between four and five in breadth; it contains 12,600 acres. On the north and north-west are the parishes of Keig, Oyne, and Chapel of Garioch; on the south and east, the parishes of Kemnay and Cluny; and on the west, the parish of Tough. There are great inequalities of surface, some parts being low and flat, and others considerably elevated: on the north and west are several hills, of which the most lofty, named Cairnwilliam, rises 1400 feet above the level of the sea. The numerous woods and plantations give a pleasing variety to the scenery; they include almost every kind of tree common to the country, but on the higher grounds the fir is most extensively cultivated. In the old "Garden of Paradise," laid out in 1719, and now forming a part of what is called Paradise Wood, are numbers of spruces and larches upwards of 100 years old, some of which are of large dimensions and noble and commanding appearance. The river Don, rising in the mountains of Corgarff, divides the parish into two unequal parts, and, after pursuing a winding course of sixty miles from its source, falls into the sea at Old Aberdeen; its mean breadth in this part is thirty-five yards. About 5370 acres are cultivated or occasionally in tillage; 3080 are either waste or pasture, and 4150 are in plantations. The total annual value of the produce, which consists of all kinds of grain and green crops, is £14,910. The sheep are few in number, having been found injurious to the hill plantations; but the rearing of cattle and horses receives much attention, and the breeds are in general good. The modern system of husbandry is followed; great improvements have recently taken place in the construction of the farm-buildings, which are now of stone and lime, and have slated roofs; and on some farms the fields are well inclosed with stone dykes. Granite is the principal kind of rock; it is of superior quality and in great abundance, and from the quarries wrought here many large blocks were procured by a company at Aberdeen, for building the colonnade of the market-place in Covent Garden, London. An iron-mine is said to have been discovered many years ago in one of the hills, of which the ore yielded 13/20 of iron; but owing to the scarcity of fuel in this part of the county, it was not wrought. A quarry of felspar was worked for some time by an agent of one of the Staffordshire potteries; this, also, was abandoned, on account of the expense of the land carriage to Aberdeen. The rateable annual value of the parish is £4285.
   Monymusk House, the only mansion of note, is an ancient spacious structure, pleasantly situated on the south bank of the Don, and has a library containing about 5000 volumes, and a collection of valuable paintings, most of which are by the old masters. This mansion is the residence of Sir James Grant, of Monymusk, Bart., proprietor of the whole parish, and the lineal descendant of Francis Grant, of Cullen, who was knighted by Queen Anne in 1705, and afterwards appointed one of the senators of the college of justice by the title of Lord Cullen. The population is chiefly agricultural; but there are a distillery and two saw-mills, which give employment to several people: the timber here prepared for use is all grown in the parish. The small village of Monymusk is a place of considerable antiquity, being mentioned by Buchanan as Monimuscum vicum, where Malcolm Canmore lay encamped, in his journey towards the north to quell the insurrection in Moray. It has recently been almost entirely rebuilt by the proprietor, and now forms a very neat square, with some fine old trees growing in the centre. There is a daily post established here; and it has two turnpike-roads passing through it, in different directions, to Aberdeen. Monthly markets for the sale of cattle and grain have lately been established, and are held in the village on the second Mondays of December, January, February, March, and April; there are also three annual fairs, two of which are at Whitsuntide and Martinmas, chiefly for the hiring of servants, and the other on the last Thursday of August, for cattle, and small wares of various kinds. The fuel consists principally of peat, turf, and wood; but coal also is procured from Aberdeen and Kintore.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Garioch and synod of Aberdeen; patron, the Crown. The stipend of the minister is £203; and there is a good manse, with a glebe of seven acres, worth £12. 6. per annum. The church is very ancient, with a square tower at the west end, and is supposed to have been built in the 11th century at the time of the founding of the priory by Malcolm Canmore, who is said to have endowed both church and priory. There is also an episcopal chapel in the village, seating about 150 persons. In the parochial school, Latin and the usual branches of education are taught; and the master has a salary of £26, about £14 fees, and a portion of the Dick bequest; also an excellent house rent free, a good garden, and an allowance of £10 or £12 a year for teaching as many poor scholars. There is an endowed school called Lord Cullen's, the teacher of which receives a salary, in meal and money amounting to £50; it was founded by Sir Francis Grant, of Cullen, in 1718, out of the estate of Monymusk; and a school-house was built in 1824, on the north side of the Don. Two friendly societies are supported, one of which, named "Sir Archibald Grant's Lodge of Gardeners," was established in 1808, and the other, a "Benefit Male and Female Society," in 1824. The interest of £765 three per cent. consols, the bequest of the late Dame Johnston, is distributed in January amongst poor families not receiving parochial relief, or aid from any other charitable fund. The only antiquities are two Druidical circles and the old building called Pitfichie Castle, which belonged originally to the family of General Hurry, of Urrie, and afterwards to the family of Forbes, as part of the estate of Monymusk. Lord Cullen, one of the senators of the college of justice, an ancestor of the present family of Grant of Monymusk, and founder of the school already noticed, was a landowner here: as an advocate and judge, he was distinguished by profound erudition and most inflexible integrity. The Rev. Alexander Nicol, canon of Christchurch, and regius professor of Hebrew in the university of Oxford, whose reputation as a general scholar and linguist was of the highest order, was a native of Monymusk; he was born in the village in 1793, and died in 1828.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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