- AIRLIE, a parish, in the county of Forfar, 4 miles (W. S. W.) from Kirriemuir; containing 868 inhabitants. The name of this place, written in ancient records Errolly, Erolly, Irolly, and Airlie, is altogether of uncertain derivation, but is supposed, by some, to come from the Gaelic term Aird, signifying the "extremity of a ridge," which description is applicable to the locality of Airlie Castle. The parish is situated at the western extremity of the county, bordering on Perthshire, and measures, in extreme length, 6 miles, from east to west; and the breadth varies from ½ a mile to 4 miles; the whole comprising 8600 acres, of which 6848 are cultivated, 1365 under wood, and 387 in pasture, waste, &c. The southern part of the district lies in the vale of Strathmore, from which the land rises towards the north, in a succession of undulated ridges, forming a portion of the braes of Angus, and the southern Grampians. In this direction, the Isla pours its waters through a deep rocky gorge, out of the higher into the lower country; and the ravine, separating at Airlie Castle into two channels, makes courses, respectively, for the Isla and Melgum streams. The scenery about this spot is highly picturesque, and is, to a great extent, indebted for its attractions to the romantic Den of Airlie, extending for above a mile from the confluence of the two streams. The pellucid stream of the Isla, sweeping in some places over a rocky channel, pursues its winding course among the thickly-wooded and precipitous braes; and the pleasing landscape in this part is completed by the interesting feature of the Kirktown, situated about 1½ mile south-east from the castle, and less than a mile east of the river. All the streams are famed for their abundance of fine trout, and are the favourite resorts of anglers; the Isla and Melgum are also much visited by salmon. In the Dean is found the fresh-water muscle, often mistaken for the pearl oyster, common in the South Esk, and some of the rivers are frequented by numerous migratory birds, some of them being of very rare species.The soil runs through the several varieties of brown and black loam; in the better portion of the district, and in the northern part, it is a thin and barren earth, on a tilly subsoil, requiring much furrow-draining and deep ploughing to render it profitable. There are also many gravelly, sandy, and clayey admixtures, in different places, some of which, if allowed to remain long in grass, become overspread with broom; but, though much of the land is either very poor or only of moderate fertility, there are some rich tracts, particularly a long and broad strip of deep alluvial loam, along the whole course of the Dean river. The agriculture of the parish has been greatly improved since the beginning of the present century, and deep and extensive drains have been constructed; furrow-draining, by tiles and stones, has been practised, and shell-marl is much used as manure. The number of sheep and cattle, and the superiority of the breeds, furnish a striking contrast to the state of the district, in these respects, about thirty years since, most of the thinner soils being now covered with flocks of native black-faced sheep, besides regular stocks of Leicesters, in other parts; and in addition to the Angus, a very fine description of cattle is seen on several of the larger farms, which is often crossed with the Teeswater. Since the introduction of steam navigation, large quantities have been sent to London, in addition to those sold at Edinburgh and Glasgow, and they obtain the highest prices.The strata consist entirely of the old red sandstone, with the exception of a trap-dike crossing the channel of the Isla, near Airlie Castle. The upper beds are in general too friable for use, crumbling almost as soon as they are exposed to the air, but those at a considerable depth are of tenacious consistence, and, having several varieties of fine and coarse grain, are capable of being applied to many purposes. Most of the rocks are overlaid with debris of different depths, and above are usually beds of sand and gravel; at Baikie is a bed of marl, once covering 40 acres, and six or seven yards deep, but which has been much exhausted for agricultural use, and there are also extensive mosses, in which horns of deer and oxen have been found. Many plantations have been formed in the present century, comprising the usual trees; but they are, to a great extent, in a pining state, especially the larch, very many of which have been entirely destroyed by blight and canker. Airlie Castle, a plain modern residence, situated at the north-western point of the parish, on a lofty precipice, is the property of the family of Ogilvy, who became connected with the parish in 1458, when Sir John Ogilvy, of Lintrathen, received a grant of the barony from King James II. One side of the ancient castle only remains, the rest having been burnt down by the Earl of Argyll, in the year 1640, during the absence of the Earl of Airlie, a zealous supporter of the royal cause, which event is celebrated in the popular ballad entitled "Bonnie house of Airlie." Lindertis House is a handsome edifice, of recent date, beautifully situated on the northern slope of Strathmore, and commanding fine views of an extensive range of country. A considerable number of the inhabitants of the parish are engaged in weaving coarse linens for Dundee houses; several public roads, leading to most of the great thoroughfares, pass through the place, and the railway from Newtyle to Glammis passes along the southern border. The parish is in the presbytery of Meigle and synod of Angus and Mearns, and in the patronage of the Earl of Strathmore; the minister's stipend is £219. 1. 5., with a manse, and a glebe of 9 acres valued at £12 per annum. The church is a very neat edifice, rebuilt in 1781, and repaired in 1844. A Free Church place of worship has been recently erected. The parochial school-master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with a house, and £13 fees. Near Cardean, are the remains of a Roman camp, and also of the great Roman road which ran from this spot, along the valley of Strathmore.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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