Strickathrow

   STRICKATHROW, a parish, in the county of Forfar, 5 miles (N. by E.) from Brechin; containing 553 inhabitants. This place comprehends the two ancient parishes of Strickathrow, which originally formed the prebend of the chantorship in the cathedral church of Brechin, and Dunlappie, which was united to it in 1612, by act of the General Assembly. Strickathrow is supposed to have derived its name (anciently Strath-Cath-Ra, and signifying in the Celtic language "the Valley in which the King fought") from a battle that took place here in 1130, between the army of David I., King of Scotland, and the forces of Angus, Earl of Moray. The name of the latter parish, a compound of Dun, "a hill" and Lappie, "water," is minutely descriptive of the appearance of its surface; the north-western portion is occupied by the hill of Lundie, near the base of which flows the river Westwater, and the lower lands are traversed by numerous streams. No events of historical importance are authentically recorded: according to tradition, the churchyard of Strickathrow was the scene of the surrender of the crown and sovereignty of Scotland, by John Baliol, to Edward I. of England, in 1296. The parish is bounded on the north and north-east by the river Westwater, which separates it from the parish of Edzell, and by the North Esk, which divides the county of Forfar from Kincardine. It is nearly seven miles in length and one mile and a half in breadth, comprising 5440 acres, of which 3100 are arable, 1540 meadow and pasture, and 490 woodland and plantations. The surface is greatly diversified. In the south-east is an extensive tract of table-land, having an elevation of 400 feet above the vale of Strathmore, and commanding a fine view of the strath for thirty miles in length and almost ten miles in breadth; in front is the entrance of Glen-Esk, with Mount Battock in the background, 2000 feet high; and in the nearer view rise the Catterthuns and others of the Grampian range. In the central portion of the parish the ground is low and tolerably level; but towards the north-west boundary, it rises into considerable elevation in the hill of Lundie, already referred to, and others of inferior height. The prevailing scenery is varied, and in many points, enriched with plantations, has a pleasingly picturesque appearance. The Westwater, after flowing for some miles along the boundary of the parish, falls into the North Esk, which for more than a mile bounds Strickathrow on the north: the Cruik, a small stream in summer, but in winter, and after continued rains, becoming an impetuous torrent, winds through the parish in a north-eastern direction, and flows into the North Esk near the church. There are various smaller streams, all of which abound with trout, affording good sport to the angler; and in the North Esk are found sea-trout and salmon, of which latter there was once a fishery producing to the proprietor a rental of £25, but which, since the use of stake nets at the mouth of that river, is altogether unprofitable.
   The soil is various, but consists, for the most part, of a black loam, of moderate fertility, on a subsoil of cold retentive clay, or hard gravelly till. The crops raised in the parish comprise grain of all kinds, with potatoes, turnips, and the usual grasses. The system of husbandry is greatly improved, and a strict regard is paid to a due rotation of crops; tile-draining has been partially introduced, and much waste land has been brought into profitable cultivation. Bone-dust has been for some time used with success in the cultivation of turnips, and guano and other sorts of manure have been recently employed. The farms vary in general from sixty to 400 acres in extent, but there are several small crofts, none of which exceed eight acres; the farm-houses are substantial and commodious. The lands have been in some degree inclosed, and all the more recent improvements in the construction of agricultural implements have been adopted. The cattle reared are the Angus; horses are bred for purposes of husbandry, and sheep and swine fed for the neighbouring markets. The plantations, which have been greatly increased, and are generally in a flourishing state, consist of ash, lime, beech, spruce, and the various other kinds of firs: the beech, for which the soil appears well adapted, is the most prevalent, and there are some very fine specimens of ash, lime, and American spruce. The principal substrata are limestone and red sandstone, which latter is of durable texture when taken at a considerable depth. The limestone was formerly wrought to a pretty large extent, and the quarries yielded to the proprietor a net profit of £500 per annum; but they have lately become impracticable for want of efficient means for draining off the water. The rateable annual value of the parish, according to parliamentary returns compiled for the purposes of the Income-tax, is £3809.
   There are some good residences, namely, Stracathro, the seat of Alexander Cruikshank, Esq., an elegant mansion in the Grecian style of architecture, beautifully situated in grounds tastefully embellished, and commanding extensive and finely varied prospects; Auchenreoch, a substantial modern structure; and Newton Mill, an ancient family mansion pleasantly situated. The only approximation to a village is a cluster of about ten or twelve houses called Inchbare, irregularly built, and mostly occupied by persons employed in the necessary handicraft trades. Facility of communication is afforded by the old and new turnpike roads from Aberdeen to Perth, which pass for two miles through the parish; and by good roads kept in repair by statute labour, and recently much improved. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Brechin and synod of Angus and Mearns. The minister's stipend is £170. 9. 5., with a manse, and the glebes of Strickathrow and Dunlappie, valued together at £16. 10. per annum; patrons, the Crown and the Earl of Kintore. The church, erected in 1791, and lately repaired, is a handsome structure in the later English style of architecture, containing 360 sittings. The parochial school affords instruction to about sixty children; the master has a salary of £30, with a house and garden, and the school fees average £10 annually. A parochial library containing about 300 volumes is supported by subscription. On the farm of Ballownie was recently discovered, in a circular mound forty yards in diameter and about nine feet high, a square box formed of stones placed edgewise, containing human bones in a very decomposed state, among which were three arrow heads of flint. Numerous stone coffins, none of which, however, exceeded four feet in length, were dug up lately near the church; and near the mound just noticed, and on the hill of Strickathrow, are conical mounds which, from their commanding situation, appear to have been signal posts. Sir George Rose, president of the Board of Trade, and treasurer of the navy, during the administrations of Mr. Pitt and Lord Grenville, was a native of this place, of which his father was for many years a resident; he was born in 1744, and died in 1818.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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