Dunnottar

   DUNNOTTAR, a parish, in the county of Kincardine; containing, with the village of Crawton, and a portion of the town of Stonehaven, 1873 inhabitants. This place, of which the Gaelic name is descriptive of the situation of its ancient castle on a peninsular promontory, appears to have been distinguished as the scene of some important events connected with the history of the country. The castle is by some writers supposed to have been originally founded by the Picts, to whom the great tower, which is evidently the most ancient part of the structure, is traditionally attributed, but the earliest authentic notice of it occurs during the contest between Bruce and Baliol, when Wallace, who had assumed the regency, wrested it from the English, by whom it was garrisoned. Some records in the possession of the Marischals assign the erection of the castle to Sir William Keith, an ancestor of that family, who in the fourteenth century obtained permission to construct a fortress on the site, on condition of building a church in a more convenient situation, in lieu of the ancient parish church, which stood within the precincts of the present ruins. The fortress was one of the strongest in the country, and remained for many ages in possession of the family of Keith, the first of whom, in the reign of Malcolm II., having killed in battle the Danish general Comus, had been rewarded with a grant of lands in Lothian, and invested with the title of Great Marischal of Scotland. During the parliamentary war in the reign of Charles I., the regalia were for security deposited in the castle, which General Ogilvy, who was then in command, defended for more than six months against the forces of Cromwell, under General Lambert, in 1651, till, severely pressed by famine, he was compelled to capitulate, having previously conveyed the regalia in safety to Kinneff, through the assistance of the governor's lady, and Mrs. Granger, wife of the minister of that parish, where they were concealed under the pulpit of the church till the Restoration. For this service, the king created the earl-marischal's second son Earl of Kintore, and invested the general with the title of baronet. George, the last earl-marischal, having joined in the rebellion of 1715, the title and estates of the family were forfeited to the crown; and the castle, which had been previously purchased by government, was dismantled, and has since been a ruin.
   The parish is situated on the road from Aberdeen to Edinburgh; it is bounded on the north by the parish of Fetterresso, on the east by the German Ocean, on the south by the parish of Kinneff, and on the west by that of Glenbervie. The surface is boldly diversified with hills, of which Carmount, at the extremity of an extensive heath of that name, has an elevation of more than 800 feet, and with successive ridges for nearly three miles towards the north-west. The coast is abruptly precipitous, consisting of a range of cliffs in detached masses, rising from 150 to 300 feet in height. In these cliffs are numerous caverns worn by the action of the waves, of which one, called the Long Gallery, under a lofty promontory, extends for more than 150 yards in length, and affords a channel through which a boat may pass from the bay at its entrance to another at its outlet. To the south of this cavern is Fowlsheugh, the highest of the rocks on this part of the coast, and the haunt of numbers of aquatic birds of every description, that build their nests and hatch their young in these almost inaccessible heights. The entire number of acres is 8156, of which 4860 are arable, 690 woodland and plantations, and 2606 natural pasture and uncultivated waste; the soil is various, consisting in different parts of clay, loam, sand, and gravel, and being frequently found in all these varieties on the same farm. The system of agriculture has been much improved, and the rotation plan of husbandry is in use; much unprofitable land has been brought into cultivation; the farm-buildings are in general substantial and commodious, and great attention is paid to live stock. There are few sheep reared; the cattle are usually of the black kind, and are mostly sold when two years old. The rateable annual value of the parish is £8768. The woods are, oak, ash, and beech, of which there are many fine specimens, on the lands of Auquhirie; and the plantations, whereof the most extensive are on the estate of General Forbes, are, pine, larch, and Scotch and spruce firs, intermixed with various kinds of hardwood, all of which, with the exception of the Scotch fir, thrive well. The moorlands abound with every kind of game; partridges in great numbers, and some few pheasants, are found, and snipes, wild ducks, and teal are plentiful. The rocks on the coast are for the greater part of the pudding-stone formation, with portions of trap and porphyritic granite, and occasionally of columnar basalt; sandstone is extensively quarried, and a species of flag, formerly in use for roofing, is also wrought to a moderate extent. Dunnottar House, the seat of General Forbes, is a spacious mansion surrounded with rich and flourishing plantations; the grounds are tastefully laid out, and the gardens attached to the house were formed at an expense of £10,000. Barras, the ancient seat of the Ogilvys, is now a farm-house. The weaving of linen is carried on to a small extent, and many of the inhabitants are engaged in the fisheries and other branches of trade in the town of Stonehaven: Crawton, in the south-eastern portion of the parish, is chiefly inhabited by persons employed in the white-fishery, which is extensively carried on off this part of the coast. Facility of communication with the neighbouring markets is afforded by good roads in every direction; along the sea-coast is the high road to Edinburgh, and the Strathmore turnpike-road passes through the interior of the parish. The ecclastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Fourdoun and synod of Angus and Mearns; the minister's stipend is £233, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £8 per annum; patron, the Crown. The church, erected on the site of the former building in 1782, is a neat and commodious structure pleasingly situated. The parochial school is in Stonehaven, and is well attended; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the fees average £46. The remains of Dunnottar Castle are very extensive, occupying an area of five acres on the summit of an abrupt and precipitous cliff, boldly projecting from the mainland, with which it is connected by an isthmus nearly covered by the sea at high water; the great tower is still almost entire; and the various ranges of building, which, though roofless, are in tolerable preservation, convey an impressive idea of its former grandeur and importance. In the churchyard is a gravestone to the memory of some Covenanters who were confined in the castle; and here Sir Walter Scott, then on a visit to the minister of the parish, is said to have had his first interview with the individual whom, in his Antiquary, he describes under the appellation of "Old Mortality."

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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