RATHEN, a parish, in the district of Deer, county of Aberdeen, 4 miles (S.) from Fraserburgh; containing, with the villages of Cairnbulg, Charleston, and Inverallochy, 2270 inhabitants, of whom 1357 are in the rural districts. This place, which is of some antiquity, originally included the greater portion of the adjacent parish of Strichen, and a considerable part of the parish of Fraserburgh. Very little of its history is known; but there is still remaining one of three large tumuli said to have been raised over the bodies of those who were killed in a battle with the Danes, who, having landed on the east coast, to the south of Peterhead, were partially repulsed, and, on their retreat towards Moray, were again attacked, and finally defeated, on the plain in which these cairns were situated. Two of the cairns have been removed in order to furnish materials for building; and under one of them were found several human skulls, a short sword with a handle of iron, and an urn of singular form, containing calcined bones; all which are preserved in the museum of the Antiquarian Society of Edinburgh. The parish is bounded on the north and north-west by the bay of Fraserburgh and the river Rathen, and on the east by the German Ocean, along the shore of which it extends southward for more than two miles. It is nearly seven miles in extreme length, and about two miles in average breadth, comprising almost 6500 acres, of which 5000 are arable, about 120 woodland and plantations, and the remainder hill pasture, moor, and waste. The surface is boldly varied. Towards the sea-shore, for a considerable extent, the land is low and level, but towards the southwest, more elevated, rising with greater or less abruptness to the hill of Mormond, which has an elevation of nearly 900 feet above the level of the sea, and of which about a third part is within the limits of this parish. This hill is covered with heath and moss, affording little more than a scanty supply of fuel. The river Rathen, or Water of Philorth, after forming a boundary between this parish and Fraserburgh for three miles, and turning several mills in its course, falls into the bay of Fraserburgh near Cairnbulg Point. Trout of large size and of good quality are found in the Rathen; and there was formerly a salmon-fishery near its mouth, but it has been discontinued for many years, and very few salmon at present ascend that stream. The coast in some parts is level and sandy, and in others rocky, but not precipitous. To the south of Cairnbulg Point are two small creeks, on which have been built the nearly contiguous fishing-villages of Cairnbulg and Inverallochy, both described under their respective heads; and along the whole extent of the coast are deposited large quantities of shell-sand and sea-weed, affording a supply of valuable manure.
   The soil in some parts is rich and deep; in others light and sandy, though under good management rendered fertile; and in some districts gravelly, and abounding with stones. The crops are, oats, barley, beans, peas, potatoes, and turnips, with the various grasses. The system of husbandry has been greatly improved, and considerable tracts of waste land have been reclaimed and brought under profitable cultivation; a due rotation of crops is observed; and from the abundance of manure obtained from the coast, and the lime of excellent quality found within the parish, the agricultural produce is rich in quality and abundant. Many substantial and comfortable farm-houses have been lately built, with offices commodiously arranged. On most of the larger farms threshing-mills have been erected; and the different improvements recently made in the construction of implements have been adopted. Within the last few years a mill has been erected on the river Rathen for the making of potato flour, which is carried on to a very great extent, and to which purpose large quantities of the potatoes grown in the parish are appropriated. The plantations are mostly of recent formation; they consist of firs, interspersed with forest-trees, and, though not extensive, are generally under good management and in a thriving condition. There are several veins of limestone, which are well adapted for building, and have been wrought to a considerable extent; and on the lands of Auchiries is a quarry from which limestone of excellent quality for manure is obtained in abundance. The rateable annual value of the parish is 6171. The principal seats are, Mormond House, a handsome mansion, erected within the last thirty years by Mr. Gordon, of Cairnbulg, and now the property of Miss Strachan, and Auchiries House, a neat building, the property of William C. Hunter, Esq. At Inverallochy, a cottage for the occasional residence of his family during the bathing season has recently been built by Colonel Fraser, proprietor of that estate. Letters are obtained from the post-office of Cortes; and facility of communication is afforded by the turnpike roads from Aberdeen and Peterhead to Fraserburgh, which unite within the parish, and by various cross roads, recently much improved, and kept in good repair. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Deer and synod of Aberdeen. The minister's stipend is £169. 14. 4., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £9 per annum; patron, Lord Saltoun. The church, a very ancient structure of unknown date, was repaired in 1767; it contains 684 sittings, but is very inadequate to the wants of the population, and a church has therefore been erected for the accommodation of the inhabitants of Cairnbulg and Inverallochy. The principal parochial school is attended by about seventy children: the master has a salary of £25. 13. 3., with a house and garden; he is also entitled to a portion of the Dick bequest, and the fees average £30 per annum. On the lands of Cortes are some remains of a Druidical circle. Upon some rising ground to the east of the church have been found, at various times, urns containing calcined bones; and in one of them was the tusk of a wild boar. Near the church are two mounds of earth, apparently artificial; they are of conical form, terminating in a horizontal plain nearly thirty yards in diameter, and are supposed to have been ancient camps. At Cairnbulg and Inverallochy are the remains of two castles, both of great strength, especially the former, of which the walls, of extraordinary thickness, are still nearly entire, and which was for many years the family seat of the ancestors of Lord Saltoun: the latter, of inferior strength, was a residence of the Cumins of Buchan. Alexander Murray, M.D., author of the Northern Flora, was a native of this parish; and his remains were interred here in 1838.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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