Durris

   DURRIS, a parish, in the county of Kincardine, 5 miles (E.) from Banchory-Ternan, and 13 (W. S. W.) from Aberdeen; containing 1109 inhabitants. This place is supposed to derive its name, often pronounced Dores, from a Gaelic word signifying a mouth or entrance, which is descriptive of this part as affording a principal entrance into the Highlands. The parish was once a chapelry belonging, as is generally thought, to the ancient order of Knights Templars; but its primitive history is involved in considerable obscurity. The estate of Durris, which extends into the neighbouring parish of Banchory-Ternan, was formerly in the possession of Lord Peterborough, who let it upon lease to the late John Innes, Esq., of Leuchars, near Elgin. On the reduction of this lease by the supreme court, the property came into the hands of the fourth Duke of Gordon, in 1824, as next heir of entail; and by authority of an act of parliament transferring the entail to other lands, the estate was purchased from the last duke by Anthony Mactier, Esq., late of Calcutta, by whom it is at present held. The parish is five and a half miles long, about three and three-quarters broad, and contains about 17,000 acres; it is bounded on the north by the river Dee, which separates it from the parish of Banchory-Ternan, and from Drumoak, in Aberdeenshire; and in the south by the Grampian mountains. The surface is marked by great irregularities, consisting of considerable tracts of flat ground, alternated with abrupt acclivities and the lofty hills of Mindernal, Mountgower, Craigberg, and Cairnmonearn, the last of which rises about 1200 feet above the level of the sea. There are several small rivulets, but the only one worth notice is the Shiach burn, which, after a rapid course of twelve miles, falls into the Dee at the Church.
   The soil on the haugh lands by the river side is in some parts a rich and fertile loam, and in others light and sandy; in a few places the soil has a mixture of clay and gravel to a considerable extent, and rests upon a stiff tenacious subsoil: in almost every direction, and even in the cultivated fields, occur enormous masses of stone, generally gneiss. The hills are usually covered with two or three feet of moss and heath, but the naked rocks often protrude; in the hollows at the base is a greater depth of moss, supplying peat in large quantities, and of the best description. Upwards of 4000 acres are under tillage, about 1500 in plantations, and the rest in pasture, moss, and moor, 1000 acres of which are capable of improvement at a moderate expense; oats and barley are the grain raised, and of the green crops turnips and potatoes are the chief. The sheep are the black-faced, and the cattle the black-dodded kind, to which the Ayrshire breed has lately been added. The five and six years' rotations of crops are generally followed; the farm-buildings are in good repair, and drainage and manuring with lime are carefully attended to. The rocks consist principally of granite, whinstone, and gneiss, the last of which is most abundant, and appears to be inexhaustible; there is limestone in several places, but it has never been quarried, and its precise quality is not exactly known. The rateable annual value of the parish is £3778.
   The chief seat is the house of Durris, recently built, and connected with a more ancient mansion by an extensive colonnade; both have lately been subject to considerable additions and alterations. There is no village: a turnpike-road runs through the parish for about four miles, leading from Stonehaven to Banchory; a new road from Aberdeen to Banchory, completed in 1840, passes through from east to west, and several cross roads are well adapted to local convenience. Fairs are held in May, June, and September, for the sale of cattle and sheep. There are two or three salmonfisheries in the river, but they have for some time past been decreasing, and are now in a very low condition. The ecclesiastical affairs are directed by the presbytery and synod of Aberdeen; patron, Mr. Mactier. There is a manse, with a glebe of 15 acres, valued at as many pounds per annum, and the stipend of the minister is £158, of which £81 are received from the exchequer. The church, a very plain edifice, was built in the year 1822 by the late proprietor, and accommodates 550 persons with sittings, all free: part of the old church still remains, bearing the date 1537. The members of the Free Church have no place of worship. There is a parochial school, at which Latin is taught, with the usual branches of a plain education; the master has a salary of £29, with £20 fees. Another school, commonly called Hog's Charity School, was instituted by Mr. Hog, a native of the parish, who left £5 per annum to a teacher, who was required to educate gratuitously ten poor children recommended by the Kirk Session. The master has also a small plot of land, given by the late proprietor, and the fees, making in the whole a salary of about £30 a year; and the same branches are taught in this school as in the parochial, Latin excepted. There are some Druidical remains, and tumuli, and several chalybeate springs in the parish: of the last, one, called Red-Beard's Well, from a robber of that name, who is said to have lived in a neighbouring cave, is in considerable repute, and resembles, in many respects, the Harrogate water.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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