Parish of Stracathro

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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1791-99: Strickathrow
1834-45: Strickathrow

Stracathro (old forms, Strukatherach and Stracathirach; Celt. Strath-cath-rath, ` the fort of the battlefield or strath ; ' or Strath-cathroc, ` the strath of the Cathroc, ' this being a conjectured old name for the Cruick), a parish in the NE of Forfarshire, with the centre about 3 miles N of Brechin. It is bounded N by the parish of Edzell and by Kincardineshire, E by the parish of Logie-Pert, SE by the parish of Dun, S by the parish of Brechin, SW by the parish of Menmuir, an by the parish of Lethnot. The boundary is largely natural, being formed on the W and the greater part of the N side by the West Water for 7¼ miles upward from its junction with the North Esk. From the mouth of the West Water the line strikes up the North Esk for ¼ mile, and then crosses the haugh by Capo to a point farther down a little below the NE corner of the policies of Stracathro House ; follows the E side of the policies ; zig-zags round Hill of Stracathro, back across the valley of Cruick Water, till, near Chapelton, it takes to the course of a small burn which it follows up to its source, and on between Hill of Lundie and the Brown Caterthun, back to the West Water. The greatest length of the parish, from this part of the West Water south-eastwards, is 6½ miles ; the average breadth at right angles to this is a little over 1 mile ; and the area is 5304.522 acres, of which 65.954 are water. Nearly 4000 acres are under cultivation, and about 600 are woodland, the rest being pastoral or waste. The central portion along the Cruick is part of the great valley of Strathmore, and from this the surface rises north-westward to the Hill of Lundie (800 feet), and south-eastward to the Hill of Stracathro (400). The former is still bleak and bare, though portions of it have been reclaimed by the present proprietor, Mr John Shepherd ; the latter commands a fine view. The soil is, in the NW, partly workable clay or loam, but a good deal of it is moorish ; in the centre a sharp black loam with a gravelly subsoil ; and in the SE a deep clay. The underlying rocks are conglomerates, red sandstones, and beds of limestone belonging to the Old Red Sandstone system. The drainage is effected by the streams already mentioned and the burns that flow to them, the chief being Inchbare Burn. The bridges across the Cruick at Newtonmill and the Manse were built about 1781, that across the West Water at Inchbare in 1787. Three long graves at the E end of the church used to be pointed -out as those of three Danish kings who fell in battle here during an incursion. A ford on the North Esk, about ¼ mile above the mouth of the West Water, is called the King's Ford, but it was probably merely the point where the ancient ` King's Highway ' crossed the river. Three events of historic importance have taken place within the parish. The first was the battle of Stracathro, where, in 1130, the army of David I. defeated the followers of Angus, Mormaer of Moray. It seems to have been fought on the lands of Newton and Auchenreoch, SW of Inchbare, where many relics of such an event have turned up from time to time ; and some authorities hold that from it is derived the name of the parish-Strathcatherach, ` the strath of the battle of the king. ' The second event was in 1296, when, at Stracathro church, John Baliol did homage to Edward I., and was deprived of his royal position ; and the third was in 1452, when at Huntly Hill, on the Hill of Stracathro, ' Earl Beardie, ' or the ` Tiger Earl of Crawford, ' one of the ` Banded Earls, ' was, with his ` kine and friendis, ' defeated by the loyal clans of the NE of Scotland, under the command of the Earl of Huntly. The incident is generally known as the Battle of Brechin, and Earl Beardie was so enraged at his defeat, which was caused by the treachery of one of his own followers, that he declared if he had only gained the victory he ` wad have been content to hang seven years in hell by the breers of the e'en.' A large boulder on the top of Huntly Hill is said to mark the spot where Huntly's standard was planted. There are hamlets at Inchbare and Newtonmill, and the mansions are Auchenreoch House and Stracathro House. The latter is a good Grecian building erected about 1840 by the then owner of the estate, Mr Alexander Cruickshank, whose trustees sold the property in 1848 to Sir James Campbell (Lord Provost of Glasgow, 1840-43). His son, Jas. Alex. Campbell, Esq., M. P. (b. 1825 ; suc. 1876), holds 3846 acres in the shire, valued at £5901 per annum. The E end of the parish is traversed by the main road through the Valley of Strathmore from Brechin to Stonehaven, and there are a number of good district roads, but the nearest railway stations are at Craigo and Brechim.

The parish, which comprehends the ancient parishes of Stracathro and Dunlappie (the latter being the north-western part), united in 1618, is in the presbytery of Brechin and the synod of Angus and Mearns, and the living is worth £220 a year. Before the Reformation Stracathro was the vicarage of the Chanter of Brechin. A well (now dry) near the church was known as Brawl's or Sbrule's Well, so that the old church was probably dedicated to St Rule. The present parish church, a plain building erected in 1791, and repaired in 1849, has 360 sittings. Under the school board, Stracathro school, with accommodation for 146 pupils, had, in 1883, an attendance of 66, and a grant of £59, 18s. The principal proprietor is Dr J. A. Campbell, M. P., of Stracathro, and 1 other holds an annual value of more than £500, 7 hold each between £500 and £100, and 2 hold each between £100 and £50. Valuation (1865) £5344, 8s. 10d., (1885) £6569, 2s. Pop. (1801) 593, (1831) 564, (1861) 546, (1871) 503, (1881) 487, of whom 264 were males and 223 females. Houses (1881) 111.—Ord. Sur., sh. 57, 1868.

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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