Carse of Gowrie

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Carse of Gowrie, a low, flat, alluvial district, along the northern bank of the Tay, from Kinnoul Hill, in Perthshire, to Dundee Law in Forfarshire. It measures about 15 miles in length, and from 2 to 4 miles in breadth; lies at an elevation of from 24 to 40 feet above sea-level; and is flanked, along the N, by the Sidlaw Hills. A tract of it, 8 square miles in area, extending eastward from Kinnoul Hill, is moorish; but all the rest of the Carse is rich arable land, cultivated like a garden, parted into fields only by ditches or low hedgerows, and looking in summer like a sea of corn, sparsely yet beautifully isleted with trees and houses. It contains a few villages, and about twenty proprietorial mansions; and it has, on the shore, a few tolerable harbours; but, in its main extent, is farmed with the utmost parsimony of space. Most of it was evidently under water at a recent geological period; much of it appears to have been under water at times subsequent to the surrounding country becoming inhabited; several slightly elevated mounds or ridges within it seem to have been islets when all the rest was under water, and bear now the name of inches or islands; and numerous parts which now are very fine arable land were, down to 1760 or even later, either morasses or large stagnant pools. The soil on the perfectly flat portions is a blue clay of very rich quality; while that on the inches is dark brown clay-loam, locally called 'black land' of an older formation and of greater fertility. The Tay is supposed to have anciently taken a circuit round the Carse, washing the foot of the Sidlaw Hills, and entering its present channel at Invergowrie. Staples for holding Cables have been found at the foot of the Sidlaws to the N of the flat land; and the parish of St Madoes, now in the Carse, is said to have lain once on the southern side of the river. 'William Lithgow, the traveller,' says Mr Robert Chambers, 'in his singular book referring to a journey through Scotland in 1628, calls the Carse of Gowrie and earthly paradise, but adds the following ungracious information: "the inhabitants being only defective in affableness and communicating courtesies of natural things, whence sprung this proverb -- the Carles (that is, Churls) of the Carse." And Pennant records another ill-natured proverb applicable to the people of the Carse of Gowrie -- that "they want water in the summer, fire in the winter, and the grace of God all year round."'

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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