- VIGEAN'S, ST., a parish, in the county of Forfar; containing, with the villages of Auchmithie, Gowan-Bank, and Marywell, the hamlet of Colliston-Mill, the late quoad sacra district of Inverbrothock, and part of that of Ladyloan, 8793 inhabitants, of whom 55 are in the village of St. Vigean's, 1 mile (N.) from Arbroath. This parish, which originally comprehended the entire barony of Aberbrothock, at present comprises only the lands of St. Vigean's proper, the ecclesiastical district of Inverbrothock, and part of Ladyloan. It derives its name from Vigeanus, a Culdee Monk, and an eminent preacher, who flourished in the tenth century, and lived in a hermitage at the Grange of Conan, near the ancient baronial castle, where the foundations of his chapel may still be traced, and near which is a copious spring retaining his name. The parish extends for about five miles along the coast of the German Sea; is upwards of eight miles in length from east to west, and rather more than three miles in mean breadth; and comprises an area of about 13,400 acres, of which 11,440 are arable, 840 woodland and plantations, and the remainder meadow, pasture, and waste. The surface is broken by a couple of ridges of different height, respectively 250 and 550 feet above the level of the sea, and between which lies the valley of the Brothock, through which the stream of that name flows into the sea at the harbour of Arbroath. The coast is precipitous, with some boldly projecting rocky promontories, whereof the most conspicuous has the appellation of Lud Castle: about a mile from Arbroath, the coast is indented with two bays, and in several parts the rock is perforated by the action of the waves into caverns of fanciful appearance, formerly the resort of large numbers of seals, now scarcely seen on this part of the coast. There are also several natural excavations in the cliffs at a considerable elevation above the sea: one, about a mile from Auchmithie, called the Geary Pot, forms a tunnel 120 feet in depth. Some portions of the shore have a sandy beach.The soil, though varying greatly in depth, is tolerably fertile, producing favourable crops of wheat, barley, oats, turnips, and potatoes; the system of agriculture is improved, and the rotation plan generally prevalent. Furrowdraining has been extensively practised, and guano, &c., been used as manure for the turnip lands. Considerable attention is paid to the improvement of the breed of cattle, and the management of live-stock generally; the farm-buildings are substantial and well arranged, and threshing-mills have been erected on most of the farms. The substratum is chiefly of the old red sandstone formation, and there are some quarries of it and of flags. The woods are larch, with a mixture of beech and elm, and the plantations principally Scotch fir; they are well managed, but the situation of the parish is not favourable to the growth of timber. The rateable annual value of the parish is £16,975. Here are numerous seats occupied by heritors; the principal are, Seaton, Letham Grange, Abbethune, Newton, Parkhill, Colliston, Millbank, Woodlands, and Springfield. They are all modern mansions pleasantly situated, with the exception of Colliston, which is an ancient mansion said to have been erected by one of the Guthries. There are three villages, Auchmithie, Marywell, and Gowan-Bank, the inhabitants of which, in common with those of the parish at large, are chiefly employed in the spinning of flax and tow, and the weaving of coarse linen cloth, for which there are not less than fifteen large mills and factories, affording employment to more than 1200 of the population, exclusively of persons engaged in the several factories as millwrights, foremen, and overseers. The machinery of the mills is driven by twenty steam-engines, of 250 horsepower in the aggregate; the quantity of flax consumed is about 5500 tons annually, and the value of the yarn is estimated at £264,000. Of this quantity of flax, the greater portion is imported from Russia, Prussia, and Ireland. There are also factories for the weaving of canvas, containing in the aggregate 242 looms, and affording occupation to 450 persons. Two establishments are conducted for the bleaching of yarn, in which is apparatus for the manufacture of the requisite acids employed in the process; and there are several mills for plashing the brown yarns, and establishments for calendering the linens, in which are also hydraulic presses for packing such as are intended for exportation. There is an extensive iron foundry, in which more than thirty persons are employed; the chief castings are stove grates, mostly for exportation to Canada, and attached to the premises are furnaces for coke for the supply of the engines on the Dundee and Forfar railways. The Forfar railway passes for nearly four miles through the parish, along the banks of the river Brothock; and facility of communication with the adjacent towns is also afforded by roads kept in good repair.A fishery is carried on with considerable success at Auchmithie; the fish are cod, haddocks, skate, and halibut, in taking which twelve boats, each with a crew of five men, are regularly employed. The number of cod fish caught during the season averages about 10,000, and great numbers are salted and barrelled for exportation. Many lobsters were formerly taken here, and frequently not less than 16,000 were shipped in one season for the London market; but the number now is much diminished, seldom exceeding 1000. The boats are also engaged in the herring-fisheries, which last generally for about six weeks. The fairs once held in the parish on the principal saints' days are now transferred to Arbroath. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Arbroath and synod of Angus and Mearns: the minister's stipend is £256. 5. 5., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £10 per annum: patron, the Crown. The church, which is situated on a rocky knoll near the stream, is an ancient structure in the Norman style of architecture, with a square tower; it was enlarged in 1827, has 825 sittings, and is in good preservation. The building contains many interesting details, and in the churchyard are the remains of an old cross. A second church, to which was lately annexed the ecclesiastical district of Inverbrothock, was built in that portion of the parish in 1828, at an expense of £2000; it is a neat structure containing 1230 sittings. At Auchmithie is a chapel of ease, built by the Countess of Northesk, in 1829, in which a minister was once engaged by the inhabitants to officiate with permission of the proprietor. There are also places of worship for members of the Free Church, Original Seceders, and Wesleyans. The parochial school is well attended: the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with a house and garden, and the fees average about £40; he also receives £20 per annum from a bequest by Mr. Colville, late town-clerk of Arbroath, for the gratuitous instruction of five poor children. A handsome school-house has been built by voluntary subscription, aided by a grant from government; and there are five other schools in the parish, of which the masters derive their income from the fees. There are several chalybeate springs in the parish, still used medicinally. In a vault under the church were interred the remains of Sir William Young, tutor to James VI., under Buchanan.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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