William Thomson.

A tour in England and Scotland, in 1785 online

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preparing as we palled. From this place to
Peterhead, a fpace of lixteen miles, the foil is
a cold ftiff clay : the crops very thin, and

Wednefday, July 20. Peterhead is a neat
little^ town, fituated on a peninfula. It con-
tains about 3000 people. They have lately
built a new pier, of granite, which coft Soool.
The harbour will now contain about twenty
veflels., They have twelve feet water at the
pier-head. The commerce here is very con-
fiderable to the Baltic and Dantzic, for deals,


hemp, &c. Seventeen veffels are employed
in this and the coafting trade, and three
large lloops are annually fcnt to fifli among
the Weftern Iflands, and the Hebrides, where
they catch great quantities of cod and ling,
which they fait, and fell to the inhabitants of
the Weftern Highlands. There is a great
deal of fifh caught alfo at Peterhead, and
feterburgh : near 2000 barrels of cod an-
nually, which is fent to different towns on
the coaft, and fome of it to London. At
Peterhead is a veiy good mineral fpring,
which is confidered as very efficacious in re-
moving any complaint in the bowels. It
operates as a very ftrong diuretic. Near
the fpring is a very good ball-room, under
which there are two falt-water baths. In
the feafon this is a place of polite refort. The
town is neat, and well built, and the inn a
very good one. Eight hundred people are
employed here, in a faclory for fewing-
thread. The girls earn from five-pence to
fifteen-pence per diem. The harbour is fafe,


( '66 )

and eafy of accefs. Turbot are frequently
fold here for four- pence, weighing twenty
pounds. From Peterhead go to Bownefs, a
fmall fifhing-town, where are the celebrated
Bullers, or Boilers of Buchan : a great hol-
low in a rock projecting into the fea, open at
the top, through which you may fee the boats
laying in a bafon, below which is a good har-
bour for them in bad weather. About two
miles fouth of this place, is Slane's Cafcle, the
feat of the Earl of Errol, a very old houfe,
forming a quadrangle in the middle. Its
fituation is very curious, being upon the top
of a rock, almofl perpendicular from the fea,
and entirely expofed to thp violence of the
winds from the eaftward. In a ftorm, the
fpray of the fea actually dailies upon the
houfe : but when it was built, this incon-
venience was trifling, when the fecurity it
afforded from favage neighbours was confi-
dered. It is, two thirds, furrounded by
t water. On the accefiible fide, there was a
ditch and drawbridge, but now both are de-


( 167 )

ftroyed. The houfe has little or no furniture
in it, and is much neglected. The gardens
are turned into corn-fields. Near the houfe
are fome remarkable rocks, on which thou-
fands of fea-birds build their nefts. One of
thofe rocks forms a natural arch of at leaft
fixty feet high. About half a mile north of
the houfe is a mineral well, which feems to
have the fame quality as that at Peterhead.
From S lanes go to Elian, a fmall village,
where the Earl of Aberdeen has a houfe, with
fome tolerable plantations about it : but we
were refufed leave to walk through any of
them, or to fee the inficle of the houfe : the
only inftance of this fort we have met with
in Scotland. From Elian to Aberdeen is
fixteen miles, of very bad country. The
greateft part is black heath, full of rocks and
large ftones ; fo that the plough, except in
a few fpots, cannot enter it. At the north
end of Old Aberdeen, is an elegant Gothic
$rc!i, turned over the River Don j a large


( 168 )

and deep river running through a glen, till
it comes near the fea.

Old Aberdeen confifts of one ftreet only,
and the houfes are very indifferent. There
is a College, called King's College, founded by
James IV. At prefent about 150 ftudents
belong to it, eighty of whom have apart-
ments in the college. The reft muft lodge
out of it, for want of room. Commons are
provided for them in the college, but they
are at liberty to eat in or out of it as they
think proper. This building is by no means
uniform or ftriking, except the top of the
tower, which is turned in two arches, fup-
porting the crowns, and has rather an ele-
gant appearance. The library is a good
room, and contains an excellent collection of
antient and modern books, with fome very
curious oldmanufcripts. The chapel, which
joins the library, is very old, and much out
of repair. The hall is a large well-propor-
tioned room, very ill furniihed ; but it has
fome good portraits in it. There are profef-


( '69 )

fors here of all the fciences, and their
falarics are but fmall. Hence, they pay
great attention, I am told, to their dif-
ferent departments. If a man has a difpo-
fition to obtain learning and information,
he may acquire them here at a fmall ex-
pence j and without this difpofition, he will
acquire them no where. Their vacation
happened at this time, which laftsfix months.
During the other fix, leclures are continu-
ally read, and the ftudents are called on, as
at fchools, to give an account of their kf-

New Aberdeen, fituated between the Rivers
Don and Dee, is a large and well-built city,
adjoining to the old town of that name.
Some of the ilreets are v/ide, and the houfes
lofty and fpacious : they are all built of gra-
nite, the fame kind of flone which is fentfrom
hence to pave the ftreets of London. This
flone is fo hard, that no people can work it
except thofe who have been accuftomed to it
from their youth. The inftrument they ufe


is very fimple : it is a kind of hammer with
two fharp points. The principal art in
working this ftone feerns to me to be perfe-
verance. And who will deny that an Aber-
deen's man pofTefTes this quality ? The ftone,
however, when it is worked, looks well, and
muft be very durable. The public buildings
here, are two large kirks, clofe together, and
Gordon's School, at fome diftance from the
city, with a large garden round it. This
fchool, which is a handfome ftone building,
fupports and educates eighty boys, in reading,,
writing, arithmetic, French, &c. A college
here, founded by Earl Marifchal, about the,
fame fize as King's College, is attended by
the fame number of ftudents, but none of
thofe live in the college. The library here is
much inferior to that of the other feminary.
The hall is a handfome room, with a full
length picture of Lord Bute, a half length of
Lord Buchan, and fome other good portraits.
The mufeum is a fmall room, containing a
very indifferent colleclipn of curiofities, hut

a nnm-

( '7' )

a number of excellent mftruments for expe-
rimental philofophy. The town-hall is a
fpacious and elegant room. Here is alfo a
grammar fchool, and an hofpital, a very plain
building, which fends out between 7 and 800
patients annually. The two cities of Aber-
deen contain about 13,000 fouls, and about
3,000 in the fuburbs.

The trade of Aberdeen is chiefly to Hol-
land and the Baltic, and a veflel or two to
Oporto. Its manufactures and trade, woo! T
len, thread, and cotton {lockings, but chiefly
woollen, of which they fend a great quantity
annually to Holland and Germany : falmon,
grain, dried fkate, ling, cod, &c. The pier
of Aberdeen is 1 200 feet long, built in a cir-
cular form, for the purpofe of keeping the
River Dee within certain bounds, to clear the
harbour, and obtain a fufficient draught of
water ; which has had the defired effect, for
they have now thirteen feet water over the
bar, which will admit of fhips of four hun-
dred tons burthen. This pier coft 16,000!.
It is very ftrong, and built of granite. At


Aberdeen is an exceeding good market for
all forts of meat and vegetables, and a great
variety of fifh. The inn kept by Mr.
Smith is a very good one.

Friday, 22d July. Leave Aberdeen, and
crofs the Dee, a very large river, over which
is an elegant bridge of feven arches. About
a mile and a half from the bridge, on the
Stonehaven road, is a beautiful view of the
city, with a number of neat country houfes
round it. From this hill the road runs near
the fea all the way to Stonehaven, and is very
dreary : no trees to be feen, except now and
then a fmall plantation of firs. Some few
fpots are converted into corn land and grafs,
but heath prevails. The huts are little bet-
ter than the Highland ones.

Stonehaven is a fmall village, fituated in a
rocky bay, The inhabitants are chiefly fup-
ported by fifhing. They have four or five
iloops here, of forty or fifty tons burthen,
which they employ in the fifhery, and go to
Aberdeen, and other places on the coaft to


( '73 )

difpofe of what they get. The fifh gene-
rally taken are, cod, ling, haddocks, and fkate,
and fometimes they take a great quantity of
dog-fifh, from which they extract oil.

About a mile from Stonehaven, to the fouth,
are the ruins of Dunotter-Caftle, the antient
feat of the Earls Marifchal of Scotland, on a
high perpendicular rock, almoft furrounded
by the fea. On the acceffible part, which is
very narrow, there are three gate-ways within
each other, and to each was formerly affixed
a port cullife. This place, before cannon
were in ufe, muft have been impregnable : it
has been very large, and capable of contain-
ing feveral hundred men. Sleep at Stone-
haven. The only factory here is a fmall one
for canvafs, carried on by fome people of

Saturday, 23d July. In the morning
leave Stonehaven, and go to Inverbervie.
The road runs on cliffs all the way by the
fea- fide. The foil is in many places very
good, and tolerably cultivated.


Inverbervie is a fmall village between two
hills, which terminate in high cliffs towards
the Tea. The vale behind it is very pleafant and
fertile. The people of this village are chiefly
employed in making fewing-thread. Go
from Inverbervie to Montrofei fifteen miles
of highly cultivated land, great part of it in-
clofed. The wheat, beare, and oats, remark-
ably good, and the grafs very thick. There
are feveral good houfes near the road, with
tolerable plantations about them. The
farm-houfes, and even the cottages, in this
part of the country, are well built and com-
fortable. Two miles from Montrofe is an
elegant bridge of feven arches, over the River
North-Efk, built by the people of Montrofe,
at the expence of 6,500!. a very liberal do-
nation to the public, for on this bridge there
is no toll-gate. The King, out of the for-
feited eftates, granted them the aid of 8ool.

Montrofe is a confiderable town, well built
of flone, and has one very wide ftreet in it.
It is fituated on a fandy plain, and clcfe by it


runs the river South-Elk, which is navigable,
up to the town for (hips of 3 or 400 tons.
Larger fhips may come in, as there are
eighteen feet water over the bar, but the vef-
fels they generally employ are about 200 tons.
A great deal of coarfe linen cloth, called.
Ofnaburghs, is made here for exportation :
alfo canvafs and fewing-thread : a great deal
of malt too, is made for exportation. At
Montrofe is an Englifli chapel, a neat build-
ing, with an organ in it. The town-houfc
is a handfome building on porticos. To the
weft of the town is a bafon, nearly two miles
wide, through which runs the South-Elk
River. This bafon is full at high water, and
dry at half-ebbs. Were there water enough
in it for veflels to lie in, it would be as con-
venient a harbour as any in Britain. A
great quantity of falmon is caught here, in,
the North and South-Elk Rivers, but this
year the fifhermen have been rather unfuc-
cefsful. Montrofe is well fupplied with filh,
and provifions of all kinds. In the neigh-

( '76 )

bourhood are feveral country-houfes, fome
of them belonging to the merchants of Mon-
trofe. Ail the country round is covered
with corn.

Sunday, 24th July, Leave Montrofe, and
go toForfar, twenty- three miles. Pafs a fmall
town called Brechin, where there is an old
houfe, well furrounded by trees, belonging to
Lord Panmurc. Sleep at Forfar, a fmall town :
thehoufes very indifferent. This feerns tobs
the richeft country in Scotland, of equal ex-
tent 3 for the whole of it, as far eaft and weft
as the eye can carry, and to the north as far
as the Grampian Mountains, the land is co-
vered with corn, chiefly beare and oats : the
proportion of wheat appears to be fmall.
The crops are all very thick and ftrong..
Near the town of Forfar is a fmall piece of
water, upon the eftate of Lord Strathmore,
the bottom of which is fine marl. This
fmall fpot is fo valuable, that it has pro-
duced iSool. per annum.


Monday, 2 5th July. Leave Forfar in
the morning, and ride fix miles to Glamis-
Caftle, belonging to Lord Strathmore. This
antient caftle is fituated on a plain, and fur-
rounded by extenfive woods and plantations.
The centre, and one wing of the caftle, are
entire : the other wing has been taken down.
The caftle is very high, with a number of cu-
rious and conical turrets on the top : there
are at leaft fifty rooms in it ftill, though only
part of it remains. In the centre, to which
you afcend by a number of large ftone fteps,
is a fpacious hall with a cove ceiling, which,
with its furniture, feems to have fuffered no
alteration fince the caftle was firft built. It
is truly defcriptive of its former favage inha-
bitants. The whole of the caftle feems well
calculated for the perpretation of the horrid
deed which Shakefpear has recorded. In
the front of the houfe are feveral large fta-
tues of the Stuart family, caft in lead, and a
very curious fun-dial fupported by four lions.

M After

After leaving Forfar, the road is frequent-
ly bounded by thorn hedges, a fight very un^
tifual to us j for, except what is called the po-
licies about the noblemen and gentlemen's
houfes, which are but thinly fcattered, lit-
tle wood, and no inclofure i-s to be feen.
Dine at Coupar, a fmall village with a very
bad public houfe. In the evening go about a
mrle out of the roted to fee the old palace of
Scone, which now belongs to Lord Stormont.
The gateway and part of the old front of
the palace now only remain. Lord S tor-
ment has made many additions to it by build-
ing feveral habitable rooms, and means
dccafionally to refide here. This palace,
renowned for the place where the kings of
Scotland were crowned, is very pleafantly fi-
tuated on the bank of the River Tay, and
commands a beautiful view of the river and
the neighbouring hills, with part of the town
of Perth.

Acrofs the Tay, there is thrown a bridge
of eleven arches, which coft about 25,000!.
A large fum was contributed for this ftruc-


( '79 )

ture by Government, out of the fund for
making and repairing roads in North-Bri-
tain, and the revenue arifing from the for-
feited eftates, which was feldom fo well em-
ployed, being generally wafted in ftipends
for infolent factors, or land-flewards, or in
donations to fuch fpeculative projectors, as
happened to enjoy the favour of the leading
men among the truftees. But, befides what
was given, with equal liberality and wifdonij
by Government, contributions to the a-
mount of 17,000!. were raifed in different
parts of the country, all more or lefs con-
cerned in an eafy communication, at fo
centrical a fituation, between the northern
and fouthern parts of Scotland. The bridge
of Perth, extended over the greateft weight
of water in Britain, is a noble inflance of
the power of art over nature, and a glorious
monument to the memory of a neighbouring
nobleman, through whofe exertions it was
begun, continued, and happily finifhed.
The Earl of Kinnoull, after many years
.M 2 fpent

fpent in very honourable public life, in the
courfe of which he took a very warm part,
under the Adminiftration of Mr. Pelham, in
the abolition of hereditary jurifdiclions, con-
tinued his habits of beneficent activity in
retirement. His eftates in the neighbour-
hood of Perth are beautified with commo-
dious farm-houfes for his tenants > the land
divided into inclofures, and flickered by
rifing hedges ; and all his people, infrructed
by him, like the father of a numerous fa-
mily, in the principles of hufbandry, and
indulged with leales on reafonable terms,
are diftinguifhed among their neighbours by
every mark of profperity. Loncarty, the
fcene of action where the founder of his fa-
mily gained immortal renown, by reprefiing
the victorious fury of the Danes, lies on the
Tay, about three miles north from Perth,
and is now as remarkable for the arts of
peace, as it was formerly for the oppofition
of arms. In thofe fields, which arc now co-
vered with linen cloth, or luxuriant crops of


wheat, and other grain, fwords, fpears, and
targets, occafionally dug up in the courfe of
agriculture, and in the formation of canals
for the purpofes of bleaching, add every
day new documents of the authenticity of
the Scottiih hiftory. In the vicinity of
Perth are fome of the moft extenfive bleach-
ing-fields to be found in Scotland : and here
the linen* manufacture flouriflies greatly in
all its branches. Here, too, the cotton ma-
nufactures begin to thrive, under the fofter-
. ing care of the Duke of Athol, Mr. Graham
of Balgowan, Mr. Dempfter, and, above all,
of that ingenious and excellent citizen, Mr.
Arkwright. The river, which is navigable
by (hips of 200 tons, confpires with an in-
land fituation, and that vaft extent of coun-
try watered by the Ern, the Tay, the Turn-
mel, and the Iflay, of all which it is the na-
tural port and emporium, contribute to ren-
der Perth one of the moft profperous places
in North-Britain. Nor mould it be forgot-
ten, on this fubjecl, that thefe favourable
M 3 cir-

( 182 )

circumftances have been duly feconded and
improved, by the induftry and enterprizing
fpirit of certain individuals, and particularly
the family of the Sandemans, and of late,
by the fpirited exertions of Macalpine. It
may alfo be obferved, amongft the natural
prerogatives of the town of Perth, that,
from its fituation, it has naturally become a
poft for armies, in times of civil war, and a
military ftation, in times of peace. This is
the fource of fome of thofe capitals, which
are at this day happily employed in manu-
factures and commerce. Another confi-
derable fource of profperity to Perth, is the
falmon fifhery, the greateft in all Scotland,
and improved to its full extent by the inge-
nuity and enlarged views of Mr. Richardfon.
The Tay, about a mile below Perth, fudden-
ly difappears, and is loft between the lofty
Cliff of Kinnoull, and the Hill of Moncrieft :

fo that the mails of veffcls, like the neigh-


bouring plantations of wood, feem to have
fprung up from the ground, not to have been


jtvafted from the ocean. On the northern
and the eaftern banks of the Tay, from
fhefe twin hills to Dundee, lies a diftrift of
amazing fertility, called the Carfe of Cowrie,
twenty miles in length, and, on an average,
about three miles in breadth. Two miles to
the eaftward of the Hill of Moncrieff, the
Jliver Ern falls into the Tay, now expanded
jnto an eftuary or frith, having a part of
pife-fhire on the fouth, and the fertile plain
juft mentioned, the common granary of
Perth and Dundee, on the north.

The configuration, and relative pofitioa
of the Hills of Moncrieffand Kinnoull, and
of the Hill of Dunfinnanc,, about four miles
north-eaft from tl\e latter, ftrikes the fpec-
fator, as by a fenfation, with the truth of
what has been remarked by natural hiflo-
rians, that hills lying in the fame meridional
direction, have their fleepeft and boldefl
faces towards the weft. Thefe diftinguifhcd
eminences prefent, uniformly, perpendicular
fronts to the fouth-weft, and terminate, by
M 4 gradual

C 184 )

gradual flopings, in the valleys or plains
on the north and eaft. A fimilar obferva-
tion may be made on the general fliape and
fituation of all the mountains in Britain ;
but where three hills, fimilarly fhaped and
fituated, burft upon your Tight at one view,
companions and inferences are unavoidable.
The old towns in Great Britain, as well as
on the Continent, are, almoft without ex-
ception, built by accident, and without a
plan. Their ftreets, or lanes, are crowded
and narrow, and their general contour is ir-
regular. Perth and St. Andrews are among
the few, if not the only antient towns in
Scotland, that have been evidently formed
by defign : both of them confiding of pa-
rallel and wide ftreets, joined by others crof-
fing them at right angles. It is farther to
be obferved, concerning Perth that different
flreets and lanes appear to have been very
early allotted, probably from its foundation,
to the different craftfmen. At this day, and
as far back as memory, tradition, or written


records carry up the refearches, and gra-
tify the curiofity of the local antiquarian,
fellow-craftfrnen, with a few exceptions,
are conflantly found inhabiting the fame
quarter of the town, or the fame flreets.
The fkinners, or furriers corporation, live
in one ftreet, with certain adjacent clofes
and allies ; the weavers ir. a fecond ; the
hammer-men in a third ; the fhop-kccpers,
or, as they are called, merchants, in a fourth;
the butchers, before the erection of a flefh-
market, in a fifth ; and fo on. On the
north and the fouth fides of the town, are
two ex ten five and beautiful fields of mea-
dow, or pafture land, never yet fubdued by
the plough, bounded on the eaft by the ri-
ver, each of them about a mile and an half
in circumference, and that on the fouth fide
planted round with a double row of planes
and elms, and other foreft trees. A wing,
or fpur, according to the antient idiom of
the Caledonians, of the Hill of Moncrieff,
(loped down into gentle eminences, covered


with plantations of wood, half encircle this
.delightful fpot on the fouth and the weft ;
while the bafe of the Hill of Kinnoull,
planted, in like manner, with trees, ftretclv
ing, and uniting by flow degrees with a yaft
plain, bounded on the north by the Gram-
pian Mountains, and on either hand by the
ocean, ihelters and adorns it on the eail.
That plain, which, from its large extent, is
called Strathmore, is terminated on the ea#
by the German Ocean at Stonehaven, and on
the weft, by the eftuary of Clyde at Dun-
barton. Its northern boundary has been
already mentioned : its fbuthern is formed
by a range of hills, running parallel with
the Grampians, but which, its contiguity
being in two or three places interrupted by
the courfe of rivers, is to be confidered un-
.der three fub-divifions. The firft of thefe.,
beginning our furvey from the eaft, is, or
may be, by a fmall extenfion of the term,
called the Sidley Hills, rifmg to the fouth-
of Forfar in Angus, and falling from


their height, as they ftretch in a wefterly
courfe along the northern edge of the Carfe
of Cowrie, till they rife again fuddenly in
the Hills of Kinnoull and Moncrieff, that
emphatically mark the weftern extremity of
the colonade. The fecond is the Ochills,
bc^innin^ near the moft northern and eal-

o o

terly extremity of Fife, on the ibuthern
banks of the Frith of Tay, oppofite to Dun-
dee, and terminating in the Kippen Hills,
near Stirling. The third and laft fub-divi-
fion of that range of hills which forms the
fouthern boundary of that great ftrath, or
valley, which interfecrs the ifland, is the
Campfey Hills, which gradually fink and
difappear near Dunbarton, and which {hoot
off a branch, in a fouth-eafterly direction,
towards Kirkintilloch.

Between the firft and fecond of thefe fub-
divifions, then, which are formed by the
great rivers of the Tay and the Forth, and
nearly at an equal didance from the eaftern
and weftern boundaries of that fpacious


plain which runs acrofs the iiland, ftands
the Town of Perth, celebrated in the Scot-
tifh hiftory, as the frequent feat of Parli-
aments, and the refidence of Kings, who
exercifed there the prerogative of coining
money, and other a<5ts of royalty, and from
' whofe bounty it derived, and now enjoys, a
valuable domain, as well as many immuni-
ties, rights, and privileges.

The Town of Perth, called antiently
Bertha, was, in former times, fituated on
the northern banks of the Almon, near the
junction of that river with the Tay. But,
in the year 1,200, in the reign of William,
the town, with the very foil on which it
flood, was fwept off in one night, by a
dreadful inundation of the rivers. In this
calamity many of the inhabitants, with their
fubflance, loft their lives. An infant fon of

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Online LibraryWilliam ThomsonA tour in England and Scotland, in 1785 → online text (page 8 of 16)