Errol

   ERROL, a parish, in the county of Perth; including the villages of Drums, Grange, Leetown, Mains of Errol, and Westown; and containing 2832 inhabitants, of whom 1147 are in the village of Errol, 10 miles (E.) from Perth, and 12 (S. W. by W.) from Dundee. This place, of which the name, in the Gaelic language, is descriptive of its situation as a conspicuous landmark in the Frith of Tay, was, by charter of William the Lion, constituted a barony, and granted to the family of Hay, in the latter part of the twelfth century. A descendant from the elder branch of that family was, in the time of James II., created Earl of Errol, and this title is still possessed by the Hays, though all their estates here were sold in the reign of Charles I. of England, with the exception of the property of Leys, in the eastern portion of the parish, which, having been conveyed in the thirteenth century by the proprietor to a younger brother, is yet in the hands of his descendants. The parish is about six miles in length, and of irregular form, ranging from two miles and a half to three and a half in breadth; it is bounded on the south by the Frith, and comprises 8600 acres, of which nearly the whole is rich arable land in high cultivation, with small portions of pasture and woodland, chiefly around gentlemen's seats. The surface, though generally level, is broken by two lofty ridges of varying breadth, which traverse the western portion of the parish in directions nearly parallel, and by a smaller ridge almost in a similar direction, about half a mile distant from the former. The whole of the coast, which extends for six miles, is flat, and its elevation not more than twenty feet above the level of the river, which is here more than two miles in breadth. From the higher grounds are fine views of diversified scenery, embracing the Lomond hills, in the county of Fife, the vale of Strathearn, the hill of Moncrieff, near the confluence of the Earn and the Tay, with the summits of the western Highlands of the county of Perth. The village of Errol, from the beauty of its situation on the slope of an eminence crowned with the rich foliage of stately oaks, is a strikingly picturesque feature in the general landscape as seen from the river at the distance of less than half a mile; and the scenery immediately around it abounds with almost every variety. Beneath the village is one of the largest plains in the country, bounded on one side by the braes of the Carse of Gowrie, an extended range of hills cultivated nearly to the summit, and surmounted by the distant hills of Dunsinnan; and on the other side by the Frith, which, from the majestic breadth of its waters, with numerous vessels constantly passing, forms a fine contrast to the rich luxuriance of the vale. In the north and north-west parts of the parish are several pools, receiving the streams which descend from the higher grounds, and the water collected by the different drains that have been formed for carrying off the surface water from the farms. From these pools issue various streams, that find their way into the Frith; they are on an average from ten to fifteen feet in width, and from two to three feet deep, except after heavy and continued rains, when they acquire a considerable additional depth. The only springs are those that have been found by sinking wells.
   The soil in the higher parts of the parish is generally a black loam resting upon clay, and occasionally on gravel; it is of various depths, and more or less wet in different places. On the lower lands the soil is mostly clay, intermixed with sand, and, by long cultivation and the plentiful use of manure, has been rendered extremely fertile. The system of agriculture is good, and the rotation plan of husbandry adopted; the crops are, wheat, barley, oats, turnips, and peas, all of which are abundant. The farm-buildings have been much improved, and draining has been carried to a considerable extent; embankments have been also constructed for protecting the low lands from the inundations of the Tay. The principal of these was completed by Mr. Allen in 1836, when about 100 acres were reclaimed from the river, now forming some of the richest land on his estate; the embankment is forty feet wide at the base, and two feet on the summit, and is eleven feet high; the lower portion of the bank, to the height of four feet, consists of a wall of dry stones, and the upper of earth and reeds intermixed with stones. A second embankment has been more recently constructed by Captain Allen, R.N., on a similar plan, to the east of Port-Allen, and of greater extent than the former to the west of the port; and in process of time, by continuing these embankments, a very large portion of most valuable land will be added to the farms contiguous to the river. The rateable annual value of the parish is £20,260. There are some plantations on the banks of the Tay, to resist the incursion of the tide, consisting chiefly of hard-woods: in the grounds of the principal proprietors the trees are chiefly larch; in Errol Park is oak of venerable growth, for which the soil is well adapted, and in some of the poorer lands that are uncultivated Scotch fir is predominant. The substrata are chiefly limestone of inferior quality, which is used for building, and sandstone, tolerably fine grained, but not very compact; and the minerals hitherto found, are calcareous spar, quartz, and chalcedony. The sandstone is wrought at Clashbennie, where an extensive quarry has been opened, from which between 4000 and 5000 tons are annually raised. In this quarry have been found at different times various fossils and organic remains; impressions of small fish have been frequently discovered, and in 1836 a portion of stratum was found, in which was an entire impression of a fish nearly twenty-seven inches and a half in length, and about thirteen inches in breadth, in form resembling a tortoise. The upper portion of the stratum, containing the entire body of the fish, was soon afterwards found, and purchased by the Rev. Mr. Noble, of St. Madoes. Errol Park is an ancient mansion finely situated; the park contains some fine specimens of stately timber, and the avenue to the house is formed of lofty oaks of venerable growth. The grounds adjoining the residences of the other proprietors are also well planted.
   The village is irregularly built; but its situation on an acclivity, at a moderate distance from the river, gives it a very pleasing aspect, and it is well inhabited. The weaving of linen-cloth is carried on for the manufacturers of the town of Dundee, and affords employment to several families; a considerable number are also engaged in spinning and winding yarn. A kind of soft canvass, made from an inferior sort of hemp, is likewise manufactured here, chiefly for bags and packages for goods; and much business is done in a tile and brick work recently erected, upon a very extensive scale, by the Messrs. Adams, of Glasgow, on the property of Captain Allen, to the north of the village, with a view to promote the draining of the lands in the district. The salmon and sperling fishery is pursued to a moderate extent, producing to the proprietors an annual rental of £300. The navigation of the Tay is confined chiefly to Port-Allen, where there is a small, but commodious, harbour; and, from the progress which is still being made in the construction of embankments, the channel will be considerably deepened, and greater facilities of entrance afforded for the shipping. The exports are, grain, potatoes, and other agricultural produce, and the chief imports are lime and coal; about 5000 bolls of lime, and 1000 tons of coal, are annually landed. A passage-boat plies daily between this place and Newburgh, and on its return brings timber, iron, and other articles of commerce. The harbour dues are paid to the proprietor; and the ferry is also in his possession, and produces a rent of £200 per annum. About a mile and a half from the village of Errol, at a place called Flatfield, is a post-office, which has a branch in the village. Fairs are held in July and October, the latter having been recently revived; the July fair is numerously attended, though little business is done, except in hiring farm-servants. The nearest market-town is Perth, with which, and with other places in the neighbourhood, a facility of communication is obtained by good roads, one of which, a turnpike-road, passes through the parish for several miles.
   Errol is for ecclesiastical purposes included in the presbytery of Perth and synod of Perth and Stirling; the minister's stipend is £268, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £16; patron, Capt. Allen. The church, pleasantly situated on a gentle acclivity at the extremity of the village, is a handsome cruciform structure in the later English style, with a lofty square embattled tower crowned by pinnacles; it was erected in 1832, at an expense of £6000, and is adapted for a congregation of 1434 persons. There are places of worship for the United Secession, members of the Free Church, and the Relief Church. The parochial school affords a useful education; the salary of the master is £34, with £35 fees, and a house and garden. There is, in addition to a small subscription library in the village, an extensive and valuable library connected with the Sunday schools, containing about 400 volumes; a friendly society has been established, and a savings' bank opened. At Clashbennie, and also at Inchmartin, is a solitary upright stone, of large dimensions but rude form, apparently raised as a memorial of some event not hitherto ascertained. At Westown, rather more than three miles from the village of Errol, are the ruins of a small ancient church, which in old documents is styled "the church of the Blessed Virgin of Inchmartin," and in which, till within the last half century, the ministers of Errol used to preach every alternate Sunday; the building is most romantically situated, and interments were not long since made in the cemetery surrounding it. In the grounds of Murie is a circular mound, about twenty feet in height, called the Law Knoll; the diameter at the base is about forty yards, and at the summit thirty feet. The acclivities are planted with trees, and around the top is a low wall of turf, on the outside of which is a broad walk; the base is inclosed in a triangular area formed by three walls of turf. It is situated at one extremity of an avenue of lofty oaks leaning in a right line to a spot anciently called Gallow Knoll, but now Gallow-flat; the mound is supposed to be the spot where the law was once administered, and Gallow-flat was the place of execution.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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