FORFARSHIRE, a maritime county, in the east of Scotland, bounded on the north by the counties of Aberdeen and Kincardine; on the east, by the German Ocean; on the south, by the Frith of Tay; and on the west, by Perthshire. It lies between 56° 27' and 57° (N. Lat.) and 2° 28' and 3° 22' (W. Long.), and is about 38½ miles in length, and 37½ in extreme breadth, comprising an area of 840 square miles, or 537,600 acres; 38,255 houses, of which 36,184 are inhabited; and containing a population of 170,520, of whom 79,375 are males, and 91,145 females. This district, which was formerly called Angus, is said to have received that name from Angus, brother of Kenneth II., to whom it was granted by that monarch, after his victory over the Picts; and it continued for many generations to be governed by a succession of thanes, of whom Macbeth, the associate of Macduff, Thane of Fife, in the murder of Duncan, was the last. The county was subsequently governed by earls, of whom Gilchrist, the first earl, flourished in the reign of Malcolm III., and was succeeded by his son, the second earl, who attended David I. at the battle of the Standard, in 1138. The earldom was, by Robert II., conferred on the Douglas family; and at present, the shire gives the inferior title of Earl to the Duke of Hamilton. Prior to the Reformation, the county was included in the diocese of Brechin; it is now in the synod of Angus and Mearns, and comprises several presbyteries, and about fifty-five parishes. For civil purposes it is divided into the districts of Forfar and Dundee, in each of which towns is a resident sheriff-substitute; and it contains the royal burghs of Forfar, which is the county town, Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose, and Brechin, and the market-towns of Kirriemuir and Glammis, with several smaller towns and villages. Under the act of the 2nd of William IV., the county returns one member to the imperial parliament.
   The surface is boldly varied. Towards the north it forms part of the Grampian range, here called the Binchennin hills, of which Catlaw, the highest, has an elevation of 2264 feet above the level of the sea: this portion of the county, known as the Braes of Angus, is a wild pastoral district, though less bold and rugged than others in the country. Nearly parallel with these heights are the Sidlaw hills, supposed to be a continuation of the Ochil range, and of less height than the Binchennin, few of them attaining more than 1400 feet above the sea. Between the two ridges is the beautiful and fertile valley of Strathmore, called here the Howe of Angus, extending for nearly thirty-three miles in length, and varying from six to eight miles in breadth, diversified with gentle eminences, fruitful fields, pleasing villages, and handsome seats, surrounded with flourishing plantations. The district between the Sidlaw hills and the coast is a level tract of great fertility, from three to eight miles in breadth, and in the highest state of cultivation. The principal valleys are, Glenisla, Glenprosen, Glenesk, Lethnot, and Clova, all of which are watered by streams descending from the mountains. The chief rivers are the North and South Esk, which have their sources on the northern confines of the county. The former, issuing from Lochlee, receives the waters of the Unich, which in its course forms numerous picturesque cascades; it then flows through the vale of Glenesk, between banks crowned with trees of birch, into the county of Kincardine, and falls into the sea about three miles to the north of Montrose: its tributaries are, the Luther, the Cruick, the West Water, the Tarf, and the Mark. The South Esk has its rise near that of the North Esk, and, running through the centre of the county, receives the Noran, the Lemno, the Carity, and the Prosen, and joins the sea at Montrose. The river Isla rises to the west of the sources of the Esks, and, after being fed by the waters of the Meigle, the Dean, the Carbet, and the burn of Glammis, flows westward into the Tay at Kinclaven. The Dighty and Lunan are of inferior character, the former issues from some small lakes in the parish of Lundie, and runs into the river Tay to the east of Broughty-Ferry; and the latter, having its source in the lakes of Rescobie and Balgives, flows into the sea at Lunan bay. Most of the rivers abound with trout and salmon, and the Lunan with eels. There are also numerous lakes in the county, but few of them are more than a mile in circumference; the principal are, Lochlee, Loch Brandy, Loch Forfar, and the Lochs Rescobie and Balgives.
   About three-fifths of the land are under cultivation; 20,000 acres are woodland and plantations, and the remainder mountain pasture and waste; the soil on the hills is heathy moor, but in the valleys rich and fertile. The lands have been greatly benefited by draining, and abundant crops of every kind are raised: wheat, which formerly was very little cultivated, is now grown in large quantities, and of excellent quality; the various improvements in husbandry have been generally adopted, and the system of agriculture is in a very advanced state. Considerable attention is paid to live stock; numbers of sheep of various breeds are pastured on the Grampian and Sidlaw hills, and on the former is reared a small breed of horses called Garrons. The plantations consist of oak, beech, birch, and other trees, which have nearly superseded the larch; and the improvement of the soil has adapted it to the growth of timber of all kinds. The principal substrata are, limestone, freestone, and sandstone of good quality for flags; the limestone is extensively wrought in several places, but its use for manure has in some degree been diminished by the introduction of bone-dust, of which great quantities are prepared at Arbroath and Dundee, and shell-marl is found in the lakes, for the procuring of which some of them have been drained. Lead-ore was formerly obtained in the upper part of the parish of Lochlee, and copper-ore has been found in the Sidlaw range. The rateable annual value of Forfarshire is £479,268. The seats are, Glammis Castle, Cortachie and Airlie Castles, Camperdown House, Lindertis, Isla Bank, Gray, Careston, Balnamoon, Brechin Castle, Panmure House, Kinnaird, Dun, Rossie, Ethie, Guthrie, Dunnichen, Isla, Craigo, Langley Park, and various others. The principal manufactures are, the weaving of linen and the coarser fabrics, as huckaback, canvass, dowlas, sheeting, and sacking, of which great quantities are exported; the manufacture of fine coloured thread; and the bleaching of linen, for which there are extensive grounds on the banks of the several streams. Numerous mills for the spinning of flax are in operation, driven by water and steam: there are large tanneries, breweries, distilleries, and other works; and ship-building is pursued at the ports of Dundee, Arbroath, and Montrose. There are valuable fisheries along the coast, and salmon-fisheries in the Frith of Tay. Facility of communication is afforded by good roads in various directions, and by railways, of which the Arbroath and Forfar railway was opened in 1839, and the Dundee and Arbroath railway, nearly one continued level along the coast, in 1840. There are some remains of the cathedral of Brechin, and near them a round tower supposed to be of Pictish origin; the county also contains the ruins of numerous ancient castles, of the abbey of Arbroath and similar religious establishments, tumuli, cairns, Druidical altars, and various other remains of antiquity, which are described in the articles on the parishes.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

Look at other dictionaries:

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