Oyne

   OYNE, a parish, in the district of Garioch, county of Aberdeen, 2 miles (S. S. E.) from Old Rain; containing 796 inhabitants. The word Oyne is thought to be derived from a Celtic term signifying a locality similar to an island or peninsula, and to have been applied to this place on account of its rivers apparently almost encompassing it. The boundary on the south is formed by the river Don, which separates it from Monymusk; and the Shevock and Ury respectively separate it, on the north-west from Insch, and on the north from Rayne. The latter river is joined on the east, at Chapel of Garioch, by the small stream Gady. The parish is of irregular figure, and measures in extreme length six miles, and three and a half in breadth; comprising 11,000 acres, of which 3200 are under tillage, 450 in natural grass, furze, and hill pasture, 2000 in wood and coppice, and the remainder in heath, moss, and outlying rock. The surface is chiefly distinguished by the lofty mountain of Benochee, extending from east to west about five miles, and from north to south about three and a half, and rising nearly 1400 feet from its base, and 1677 above the level of the sea. This eminence takes its name from a Gaelic word meaning the "hill of paps," in reference to its round protuberances on the summit, which are six in number, the highest being called the "mother top;" it is a royal forest or commonty, with certain rights granted by charters to estates in the vicinity, but is surrounded for three-fourths of its extent by inhabited houses and cultivated grounds belonging to this parish. The scenery, embracing so much diversity of surface, and so large a proportion of wood, is picturesque and beautiful, and derives additional interest from its varied and winding streams, of which the Don, rising in the mountains above Strathdon, and in its course along the boundary of Oyne affording excellent salmon and trout-fishing, is joined by the Ury about six miles eastward, and loses itself in the sea a little to the north of Old Aberdeen. The Ury, which, as well as its tributary water, the Gady, is well stocked with trout, eels, and pike, contributes materially to the ornamental and lively appearance of the northern portion of the parish.
   The soil in general is a rich fertile earth, especially near the church and along the course of the Gady, where early crops are usually produced: on the sides of the mountain, and towards the south, it is inferior, being much mixed with rocky or sandy deposits; but is still for the most part of good average quality. The principal grain raised is oats and bear, the amount being nearly 6000 quarters annually; and black-cattle, chiefly of the native breed, also produce a profitable return, about 1200 being usually in stock, and 200 annually sold at the age of three years. Few sheep comparatively are kept; those on the hills are the black-faced, and some few are fed on the lower grounds of a larger and mixed breed, principally for the profit of the lambs and wool. The swine formerly reared, remarkable for their high back-bones, long snouts, and strong wiry bristles, have given place to a very improved short-legged cross from the continental breeds. The husbandry of the place participates in all the best usages of the surrounding districts, and is altogether on a highly respectable footing; the old system of in-field and out-field is entirely exploded, and the rotation of crops has been introduced. The necessary implements of agriculture are constructed on the most approved principles; large tracts of waste land have been reclaimed and cultivated within the present century, and most of the farms have the appendage of a good threshing-mill, driven either by horses or by water. The prevailing rock is red granite, of which the craggy tops of the mountain of Benochee consist; it also lies over the sides of the hill in large blocks, and beneath in masses, capable of being cut out to almost any size, and supplying an excellent material for various purposes. The stone used in the docks at Sheerness was quarried from the south side of Benochee, about twenty years ago. The mountain produces also Scotch topaz, felspar, and jasper, imbedded in the granite; but the rocks entirely change towards the northern base, and whinstone alone is found, of a dark blue colour, and very compact texture, well adapted for dykes and common walls. Large beds of peat-moss cover the rocky tops of the mountain, and the inhabitants of this and some neighbouring parishes obtain thence a plentiful supply of good peat fuel; but coal is also used occasionally, being brought from Newcastle to Aberdeen, and thence by canal to Port-Elphinstone, about eight miles distant. The rateable annual value of the parish is £3113.
   The house of Westhall, in the northern part of Oyne, is ornamented with beautifully laid-out gardens and grounds; and the plantations, made in the 17th century, contain ash, elm, beech, plane, lime, and holly, some of them of considerable dimensions. The mansion of Pittodrie, which, like the ancient mansion of Westhall, has lately been enlarged and modernised, is situated on high ground on the east side of the mountain, bordering on Chapel of Garioch, and is surrounded with plantations of larch and other trees, among which are Scotch firs of the finest kind. The mansion of Tillyfour, on the south side of Benochee, and once belonging to the earls of Mar, is an old structure with a slated roof; it is situated in the vicinity of some extensive coppices of oak and birch, producing a valuable revenue from their bark, and in the same part are good plantations of fir. There are considerable facilities of communication. Two branches of the turnpike-road from Inverury pass through the parish, the one by Pitmachie towards Huntly, and the other by Insch to the same place; and besides other coaches, the mail to and from Inverness takes this route. The inhabitants send their produce, comprising grain, meal, and large quantities of butter, cheese, and eggs, to Port-Elphinstone, to be conveyed by canal to Aberdeen. A statute or market is held at Pitmachie for hiring servants, just before Whitsuntide and Martinmas. The parish is in the presbytery of Garioch and synod of Aberdeen, and in the patronage of Captain H. Knight Erskine, of Pittodrie: the minister's stipend is £161, with a manse, and a glebe of eight acres, valued at £15. 15. per annum. The church, situated on a gentle eminence at the north-east end of the parish, is a small plain edifice with a belfry, built in 1806. The population in the southern quarter, being at an inconvenient distance from their own church, and prevented by the nature of the ground from attending in bad weather, subscribed in aid of the erection of a church recently opened at Blairdaff, in the parish of Chapel of Garioch, to which they generally repair. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school affords instruction in Latin and mathematics as well as in all the usual branches; the master has a salary of £30, with a house and garden, a portion of the Dick bequest, and £12. 10. fees. On the north side of Benochee are the ruins of the castle of Harthill, once an important stronghold, and the last occupier of which was a notorious freebooter who, according to tradition, on a confederacy being raised to attack him, set fire to the building and fled to London, where he died in the King's Bench.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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