- ELLON, a parish, in the district of Ellon, county of Aberdeen, 16 miles (N. by E.) from Aberdeen; containing 2941 inhabitants. The name of this place is supposed to be derived from the Gaelic term Aibeann, signifying an island, and to have been applied on account of the situation of a small island in the river Ythan, near the village, and contiguous to the ferry formerly used on the principal line of road leading from Aberdeen to the north-eastern district of the county. The probability of this derivation is increased by the circumstance of the word Elleann being inscribed on some old communion cups presented to the Kirk Session by the family of Forbes, of Watertown. Ellon was from a very remote period the seat of the jurisdiction of the earldom of Buchan, and the court was held in the open air, on an eminence rising from the bank of the Ythan, and called originally the "Moot hill of Ellon," but in later times the "Earl's hill." The lands formerly belonged to the Cistercian abbey of Kinloss, in Moray, and in the thirteenth century Robert I. confirmed to the abbot the possession of the church of Ellon: at one period, also, this was a prebendal church of Aberdeen, and the bishop of that see had considerable lands here. The parish is mostly situated on the northern bank of the river Ythan; it measures between eight and nine miles in average length, and five in average breadth, and comprises nearly 20,000 acres, of which about 15,000 or 16,000 are arable, and the remainder moor, with the exception of 200 acres of plantations. Though there are no remarkable eminences, the surface is agreeably diversified with rising grounds commanding, in a clear day, extensive prospects, which comprehend the north-eastern range of the Grampians, Benochie, the Foudland hills, the summits of some of the Spey-side mountains, and a long stretch of the German Ocean reaching from the Girdleness lighthouse on the south, nearly to Rattray point on the north. The valley of the Ythan, bisecting the parish from east to west, is joined on the north by the small valley of Ebrie, extending in that direction for several. miles, and on the south by that of Brony, which reaches about the same distance towards the south-west. The river, rising in the parish of Forgue, falls into the German Ocean at the sands of Forvie; it expands, just before it joins the sea, into a broad shallow basin, and is navigable for lighters to the meadow of Watertown, about a quarter of a mile below the village, where there is a landing-place. The salmonfishing on the river was formerly worth several hundreds of pounds per annum; but, since the increase of stake-nets along the coast, it has been almost annihilated. The burns of Ebrie and Brony, however, falling into the Ythan, are well stocked with salmon-trout, common burn-trout, and finnock, affording excellent sport to the angler; and parties from Aberdeen frequently visit the district in the summer months to enjoy this recreation.The soil is in part dry, resting on a gravelly bed; clay is found in some places, and there is a very considerable extent of fertile diluvial earth. In the northern portion, where the higher grounds are, the soil is mossy, and exceedingly poor, much mixed with white sand, encumbered with loose stones above, and worthless diluvial deposits below, and totally incapable of profitable cultivation. The grain chiefly depended on is oats; but bear, as well as turnips, forms a considerable portion of the produce, especially the latter. The crops are raised under the rotation system of husbandry; and most of the modern improvements being understood, agriculture is on a respectable footing, the chief impediment to more extensive advances being the want of encouragement for the outlay of capital. Threshing-mills are numerous, and the farm-houses and offices in general convenient and well built. Sheep-farming is unknown: the cattle, formerly the Aberdeenshire horned and Angus polled breeds, have been latterly much mixed with the Teeswater, which prevails to a considerable extent. Great encouragement has been afforded in the improvement of stock by the Formartine Agricultural Association, of which the Earl of Aberdeen is patron, and most of the farmers here members. The rocks are all of the primitive formation, and comprise granite, gneiss, quartz, &c. The impervious nature of the subsoil, and the proximity of a stormy sea-coast, render the parish unfavourable to the growth of wood; and the trees, consisting chiefly of Scotch fir and larch, are all of inferior size, with the exception of a few scattered specimens in the neighbourhood of the village. The rateable annual value of the parish is £9678.The mansion-house of Arnage, seated in the valley of the Ebrie, and on the bank of the stream, is an ancient structure commanding a pleasing view of the scenery in the immediate locality. Turner Hall, situated on the estate so called, about two miles north of the village, embraces extensive prospects of the German Ocean, the high grounds of Aberdeen, and several of the mountains in the districts of the Don, the Dee, and the Spey. There is also a mansion-house on the estate of Eslemont, surrounded by fifty or sixty acres of plantation, ornamentally disposed; and a fourth, named Dudwick, a plain old house, occupies a cold marshy situation in the upland district. Ellon Castle, now deserted, and almost ruinous, was erected principally about the year 1780, by the late Earl of Aberdeen, who made it his residence, and enriched the surrounding grounds with a variety of plantations, which have since been to a great extent cut down. The village contains nearly 400 persons, and, being the principal market for a large district, and the residence of several thriving traders, is the scene of considerable traffic. There is a general postoffice, and the high road from Aberdeen to Peterhead and Fraserburgh passes through: a turnpike-road leads to the port of Newburgh, about five miles and a half distant, and there are also good commutation roads. A market is regularly held once in every fortnight, for grain and black-cattle, and is well attended, especially by the Aberdeen butchers, and dealers in grain, whose purchases are chiefly for exportation at Newburgh: two annual fairs take place in the village, and four in its immediate vicinity. The parish is the seat of the presbytery of Ellon, in the synod of Aberdeen, and is in the patronage of the Earl of Aberdeen; the minister's stipend is £219, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £18 per annum. The church, erected in 1777, is a plain commodious building, accommodating 1200 persons, and is lighted at the evening service with gas. There is an episcopal chapel near the village, containing between 300 and 400 sittings; also places of worship for members of the Free Church, Independents, and the United Secession. The parochial school, situated in the village, affords instruction in Latin, Greek, French, and mathematics, in addition to the usual branches; the master has a salary of £28, with a house, and £25 fees. There is also a school in the northern district, where instruction is given in the ordinary branches, and the master of which, besides his salary and fees, has, as well as the master of the other school, a portion of the Dick bequest. The parish has a savings' bank and three friendly societies.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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