- BELHELVIE, a parish, in the district and county of Aberdeen, 8 miles (N. by E.) from Aberdeen; containing 1594 inhabitants. The name of this place is derived from a word in the Gaelic language, signifying the "mouths of the rivulets," and applied, in the present case, as descriptive of the locality, which is marked by the rise of seven small streams. Here were several Druidical temples, which have now disappeared before the operations of husbandry, indicating the original settlement of that ancient and widely-spreading people in this district of the country. Numerous tumuli and barrows, also, are still visible, in which are found urns made of coarse clay, and filled with dust and human bones, pointing out this spot as the scene of some extensive military operations, the particulars of which are entirely unknown; and on the sea-shore is a bed of yellow flints, where a considerable number of arrow-heads have been found at different times. A large part of the parish, known by the name of the estate of Belhelvie, once belonged to the Earl of Panmure, but, being forfeited in 1715, was purchased by the York Building Company, and again sold, in lots, in 1782, before the court of session, since which time it has been brought into a very superior state of agricultural improvement.The parish is bounded on the east by the German Ocean, and the number of acres within its limits is 19,000, of which 5000 were recovered, not long since, from moorland, and 5000 still consist of sea-beach, peat-bog, and wood; about 4000 acres are employed for grain, and 10,000 for turnips, potatoes, hay, pasture, grass, &c. The coast consists of a fine sandy beach; but the general character of the surface, from the sea to the western extremity, is hilly and broken. The first land from the coast, is a narrow belt of sand, with short grass suited for pasture, and, on account of its smooth surface, was selected by the government engineers appointed to measure Scotland, as the most level ground to be met with, for laying down a base line of 5 miles and 100 feet. The next tract is an alluvial deposit, crowded with marine stones of all sizes, covered with mould and moss; and after this, the ground rises towards the western boundary, until it attains an elevation of about 800 feet above the level of the sea. The hills whereof the parish consists, are formed into two general ridges, from south to north, the termination of the western extremities of which is the highest land in the district. The soil in the parts nearest the shore is sandy, and in some places mixed to a great extent, with clay and stones; some pieces are rich alluvial deposits, and the interior is a deep clayey mould, mixed sometimes with peat-moss: the subsoil is usually clay and sand, with a considerable admixture of stones. All the wood, which generally stands in hedge-rows, has been recently planted; it comprises chiefly elm, plane, ash, alder, and willow. The few sheep that are kept, are the black-faced; and the cattle are mostly of the Aberdeenshire breed, which, being small-boned and fleshy, and easily fed up, are found most profitable, and are sent in large droves to the London market: the cultivation of grain, however, is the main dependence of the farmer. Considerable improvements have taken place of late years in husbandry, in the reclaiming of waste land, and in draining and inclosures; the farm-houses are on a much better scale than formerly, and most of the changes have been made upon the best principles, and by the united efforts of the people among themselves. The rateable annual value of the parish is £7317.The rock consists of trap, a seam of which, about half a mile broad, runs for seven miles through the parish, from south-east to north-west; a rivulet flows through this bed, and small hills frequently rise above the stream to a height of some hundreds of feet, among which are found all the ordinary kinds of minerals. On the south-west side of this layer, the rocks are chiefly granite; and on the opposite side they consist of coarse stone, fit only for the construction of dykes. There are, also, large beds of peat-moss, some of which, near the shore, are covered with ten or twelve feet of sea-sand. They are supposed to extend some distance under the sea, as large masses or blocks of hard peat-moss, with the remains of trees imbedded, are frequently cast upon the beach in stormy weather: in the year 1799, at Christmas, a block containing upwards of 1700 cubic feet, was thrown upon the shore, which, with the wood contained in it, had been perforated by several large auger worms alive in their holes. A salmon-fishery extends along the coast, in which stake-nets are employed, and the profits arising from it are very considerable. Fairs are held for the sale of cattle, in spring, summer, and autumn. Ecclesiastically, the parish is subject to the presbytery and synod of Aberdeen; there is a good manse, with a glebe of five acres; the minister's stipend is £179. 13., and the patronage is in the Crown. The church, which is in good repair, contains 519 sittings; and there are places of worship for the Free Church and United Associate Synod. A parochial school is supported, the teacher of which has a house and garden, with a salary of £27, fees to the amount of about £40, and a portion of Dick's bequest; the classics and mathematics are taught, with all the ordinary branches of education. Another school is endowed with a few acres of land; there is a savings' bank, with a stock of about £300, and bequests have been left for the relief of the poor, amounting to about £20 per annum. The antiquities are, some tumuli, and the ruins of an old chapel; and there are, also, several chalybeate springs, but none of particular note.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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