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Alyth, pp.31-32.

[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]

   ALYTH, a parish on the northern side of Strathmore, in the counties of Perth and Forfar; but chiefly in the former. It is about 15 miles long, and 3 broad, at an average; and stretches from south to north towards the Grampian mountains. It is bounded by Kirkmichael and Glen-Isla parishes on the north; by Glen-Isla, Lentrathen, Airly, and a detached portion of Ruthven on the east; by the Isla on the south, which separates it from the parishes of Meigle and Cupar-Angus; and by detached portions of the parishes of Bendochy, Blairgowrie, Kepet, and Rattray, on the west. It is divided into two districts, Loyal and Barry, by the hills of Alyth. The southern district, which lies in the strath, is about 4 miles long, and 3 broad. The lower part along the Isla is extremely fertile, producing excellent crops of barley, oats, and wheat; but the frequent inundations of the Isla – which sometimes rises suddenly in harvest, to a great height – is often attended with great disappointment and loss to the husbandman. The village of Alyth is situated in this district. It is 15 miles north of Dundee; and 12 west of Forfar. Population, in 1774, 555; in 1836, 1,700. Its name is of Gaelic extraction, and is expressive of its situation, being built on a flat near the foot of a hill. It was made a burgh of barony by charter from James III. The situation of the village is healthy – it is well supplied with water; a small stream, which rises near Drumdevich in the northern part of the parish, runs through the lower part of the town, and thence north-east to the Isla. There is a weekly market in the village on Tuesdays; and several for black cattle and sheep are annually held here. The chief articles manufactured in this district, towards the end of last century, were yarn and brown linens, of which a great quantity was spun and wove in the town of Alyth, and the district around it. The quantity of cloth stamped from the first November 1787, to the 1st November 1791, at an average, was 258,639 yards yearly, and the medium price £6,939 10s. 32/12d. This branch of manufacture still exists, but has not thriven so much as might have been anticipated. On the northern side of the hill of Alyth there is an open country of considerable extent, and capable of great improvement. Beyond the hill of Banff – which is 2 miles north-west of the village of Alyth – is the forest of Alyth, a large tract of heathy ground, of more than 6,000 acres, which formerly belonged to four proprietors who possessed it in common, but it is now divided among them. The forest, which is skirted on the west with arable ground, affords pasture for a considerable number of sheep and black cattle; it abounds in game, especially muirfowl, and is much frequented in the shooting-season. At the north-western extremity of the parish there is a beautiful little district surrounded with hills, and intersected by the Ericht, which in summer has a delightful appearance. That part of it connected with this parish, called the Blacklunnans, lies in the county of Angus. Mount Blair, the most considerable hill in this parish, is a very conspicuous point of land. The base is not less than five miles in circumference; but its exact altitude is not ascertained. It affords good pasture for a great number of sheep, and abounds in lime-stone. About 3 miles south-west of Mount Blair, on the west side of the forest of Alyth, is the King’s-seat, rising to the height of 1,179 feet above the level of the sea. The situation is romantic; the water of Ericht runs at its foot on the west, and the side of the hill for a considerable way up is covered with a beautiful natural wood. Barry-hill, to the north-east of Alyth, is about a mile in circumference at the base, and 676 feet high. On the summit there is an area about 60 yards long and 24 broad, surrounded with a mound of earth, 7 feet high, and 10 broad at the top. On the west and north borders of this area are seen the marks of something like huts built of dry stones, which may have served to shelter the besieged from the weapons of the assailants, and the inclemency of the air. The northern and western sides of the hill are steep and almost inaccessible; on the south and east, where the declivity is more gentle, there is a broad and deep fosse, over which, at the southern extremity, is a narrow bridge built of unpolished stones and vitrified. It evidently appears to have been designed for a temporary retreat in time of war, and is well-adapted for that purpose. The traditional account is that Barry-hill was the place where Queen Guinevra, the wife of the British king, Arthur, who was taken prisoner in a battle between the forces of that monarch and those of the Scots and Picts, was confined by her captors. The area of the parish is 34,160 acres; valued rent £8,233 17s. 4d. Scotch. Population, in 1801, 2,536; in 1831, 2,888, chiefly agricultural labourers and weavers; and of whom about 2,383 belong to the establishment. – This parish is in the presbytery of Meigle, and synod of Angus and Mearns. The church is an old Gothic structure; it has been frequently repaired, and is in tolerable good order. In times of Episcopacy it was a prebendary belonging to the Bishop of Dunkeld. Minister’s stipend £229 19s. 6d., with a manse, and a glebe of the annual value of £14. Unappropriated Crown teinds £134 1s. 11d. Patron, the Crown. Schoolmaster’s salary £34, with about £20 of fees and £24 of emoluments. Pupils about 100. There are seven private schools, with an average attendance at each of 45 scholars. The schoolmaster has like-wise the interest of £40 sterling, bequeathed by the late Rev. Mr Robertson for the education of a few children of his name. The north-western district of the parish is connected with Persie chapel in the parish of Bendochy. – An Episcopalian congregation has existed here since the Revolution. – A United Secession congregation was established in 1781; and an Original Seceder congregation in 1808. 

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