Off Canvas

Foreword

In writing this History we have found so few records of the past and been so frustrated thereby that we have dwelt very largely upon the things which we know from our own personal knowledge to be true, and which after all is already history to the younger generation. It has, nevertheless, been fascinating to drag out to the light some long-lost scraps of information.

These explorations into the past have given us a new vision of our Parish and a feeling of continuity. One is inclined to think that as things are, so they have always been, but after dwelling for some time upon scenes and persons long gone, it takes an appreciable moment to come back to the present day with its buzzing tractors and screaming Jets. We are no historians, but if this short record helps someone in the future to picture the life of Abernyte in the first half of the 20th century, we shall be very content.


Ballairdie 1967

 

 

OLDEN DAYS IN
ABERNYTE
A short " History` of a small Perthshire Parish

IN a very small Parish like ours, which seems to have no history of
national importance, it is perhaps even more interesting to delve into the past than if we had a more spectacular background. it is exciting even to come upon the word " Abernyte " in any old records, and we fasten on it, ponder over it and speculate upon it. Other parishes have their noble families, their palaces and their castles, which belong to history and the world at large, but our little bits and pieces are our own private possessions, like family heirlooms. No Kings or Queens, a real Statesmen or Generals have ever set foot upon it, so far as we know. No battles or other catastrophes have ever brought it to the notice of the world, yet we have our own history of small events and homely happenings.


First then to describe the general appearance and outlay of our comer of Perthshire. It is an upland parish and consists of a real jumble of little hills, humps and hollows, all of various shapes and sizes, with small valleys and bums dividing them, so much so that it would be difficult to find a flat piece of ground anywhere within our bounds. For this reason it is rewarding to walk even for half a mile, for every few hundred yards the viewpoint changes. It lies on the southern slopes of the Sidlaw Hills with the 1,200 ft. King's Seat as a bastion on the north- From there it slopes gradually down till it meets its neighbours, the parishes of Inchture and Longforgan, in the rich Carse of Gowrie.Our most noticeable features are the heather-clad peak of King's Seat, the sheer rocky face of Abernyte Rock, or Kirktoun Craig (as it is called in the old records), and the Milton Den with its beautiful 40 ft waterfall and its carpet of primroses and violets in the Spring.
This Den was once the scene of an unsuccessful attempt at copper mining, which accounts for the remains of a well-built stone bridge over the bum, in the depths of the Den, a bridge with neither footpath nor road approaching it. The district is entirely agricultural and this copper mining seems to have been the only venture in any industry, except the weaving and stocking-making which was carried on in very many of the cottages before the power loom took over.

We have only one small village of some dozen houses, not including Abernyte Farm, and the Schoolhouse which lies adjacent. This is the village now known as Abernyte, but which in former times was called Balfour, Abemyte village being at that time a few hundred yards further west, separated by the burn, which we presume must at some time have been called the Nyte. Only one house now remains of what was then Abemyte village. It is now a farm cottage on Mr. David Sinclair's farm of Abemyte. The old village well was filled in some eighty or ninety years ago but its site is still marked on a map of the district. Where the name "Balfour " came from there is no indication, but several of its old houses are still there as part of the village and one of them still keeps the name of Balfour. Undoubtedly Abernyte is the older name, for it is recorded in 1228. One Henrico de Abernytt and Laurencio de Abernytt were witnesses to 'Charters of the Abbey of Scone and Coupar Angus, granted by King Alexander II, but we hear no more of them.{mospagebreak}

Two hundred years seem to elapse before our parish has anything more recorded about it, but on November 4th, 1477, we find George, Lord Halfiburton, mentioned as Lord of the Barony of Abernite, and the lands of HALTOWN and BALFOUR lying in the Barony of Abymite. This is the first mention found of the name of Balfour. How we wish that someone had left us a picture, no matter how meagre, of what it was like at that time!
Then in 1511 the lands of Ballardy in the Barony of Abimyte which " did belong to Creichtoun. Lord of Saucher and Kynnole " were forfeited and the King granted them to William Cokbume, son and heir of Cokbum of Scraling. Such are the meagre scraps of information from which we have to draw conclusions.

Some of these men would certainly build a castle or fortress for themselves and the most likely spot is at Ballardy (now spelt Ballairdie) already mentioned. There certainly was a castle there, for the remains were still to be seen late in the 19th century. Various records speak of the castle of Ballairdie " of which little is known." Tradition speaks of other two castle sites nearer the foot of King's Seat, but the evidence about them is even more nebulous.Ballairdie is a steep little knoll, almost precipitous on three sides, and also the spot where a burn emerges from the hillside with an abundant flow of water; so we can hopefully pronounce that this would be where Henrico de Abernytt or one of the later Barons established himself and built his castle.
Mr. Lawrence Thomson, a local antiquarian, has put it on record that there was a tradition that it was built by a French family who came over in the train of Mary, Queen of Scots, but in that case where are the castles of those former Lords of the Barony?

We have no other castle, fortress or ruin in the whole parish and memorials to the past are very few. One old stone has been the subject of much speculation and is mentioned in many records. It lies by the roadside on our western boundary, where our parish marches with that of Collace. It is a long slab of grey stone, known for centuries as " The Long Man's Grave." About it there are many theories. It lies at the. foot of Dunsisane Hill this probably gave rise to the story that here Macbeth died and was buried, but there seems to be no shadow of ground for this supposition. On the heights above are the remains of what is called Macbeth's Castle, from which, according to Shakespeare, he saw Bimam Wood on the move to Dunsinane. Dunsinane does not,unfortunately, lie within our bounds, so we must not trespass, on others' preserves. but at least " The Grave ' is ours. The most likely theory about its origin was attested to by an old man interviewed by the author  of Knox's " Basin of the Tay." It was, he said, the grave of a very fit, man who was either murdered or " put himself down " on his way to Dundee from Scone Fair, and was buried where he was found, there, are several other more picturesque stories but this is the one really attested to by someone who had lived in the neighbourhood all his 80 years.{mospagebreak}

The only other memorials to our past are the tombstones in the Kirk and and some few dates carved on lintels and gables.On an old mill at Milton, overhanging the beautiful waterfall already mentioned, is carved the date 1659 with the initials AO IG. The mill at that time belonged to the Ballindean Estate in Inchture parish, and the " 0 " would refer to some member of the Ogilvie family who owned it. Mr. Lawrence Thomson says, however, that the carved stone was originally above a lime-kiln which stood near that site and was built in to the gable of the mill when the kiln was dismantled.
Another date 1601 with initials P.B. is on a lintel at Pitkindie Farm. This one we can be more sure of. Pitkindie Estate belonged to the family of Boyd. This family appears to have been of a somewhat aggressive nature and were involved in the only two affrays mentioned in the parish. The first of these was in the year 1588, when Mr. George Haitlie, the minister or " Readare " of Abernyte, was " cruellie invadit by Thomas Boyd of Pitkindie, in the redding of which a man was slain." We would dearly like to know what the minister had done to arouse such murderous fury. The other brawl occurred when the Boyds of Pitkindie and the Grays of Fowlis met in conflict. The battle, according to tradition, seems to have commenced when the two parties met near the northern border of the parish in the pass through the Sidlaws, in the shadow of the King's Seat. The Grays got the worst of it and fled southward, but were overtaken at a point near the Church Glebe. There the conflict was renewed and the Grays finally routed. Cairns were raised over the dead. This accounts for the two cairns mentioned in " Historic Scenes in Perthshire " and also in the Statistical Accounts. One of the cairns was at Whirley Law (variously known as Glenny Law, Round Law and The Holmes) between King's Seat and Glenbran Farm, the other at the Glebe. Both cairns have now vanished but Mr. Lawrence Thomson, whose forebears lived in the district for generations, maintained that the large stones in the dyke separating the Glebe from the Kirkton Farm, were taken from this cairn. The Whirley Law cairn is also gone, as are the two Druidical Circles in that corner of the parish. One was said to be near the farm of Stockmuir and the other on top of Whirley Law, about half a mile distant.It is difficult to place the site of the Stockmuir Circle, but the top of Whirley Law is quite exact. We have recently ascended this conical little hill and hopefully examined its flattish top for any traces of its former importance. There are a few depressions where the its may have been dug out but nothing else to connect us with ts dim and shadowy past, in which this must have been a place of dread. In the quiet of a summer's night, with only the bleat of sheep and the call of the curlew to be heard, it was difficult to visualise the terrible thins that must have been done there. As late as 1837 Whiney Law had still seven stones and four had been recently removed. Stockmuir had still nine. The fact that the burial cairns and Druid Circles have all disappeared rather points to the conclusion that the farmers concerned had not been much given to superstitious fears when they were requiring stones for their building projects. The Statistical Account for 170 states that " there is not much stone in the parish suitable for building, and few enclosures have yet been made."{mospagebreak}

The only other date that comes to mind is that of 1666 on the west. gable of the Manse. The house must have been old even then, as repairs to it were discussed by the Presbytery in 1665, shortly after Mr. Andrew Shippert became the minister. This Mr. Shippert is singular in having a daughter by the name of MANYE, which stands out among the prevalent Margarets, Katherines, Marys and Elizabeths. His wife also had an unusual spelling of her name JAIN, which is an idea for modem mothers looking for a new slant on a family name.
The creamwashed Manse has a very fine situation with a beautiful view looking down on the Carse of Gowrie and over the Firth of Tay to the hills of Fife. It is interesting to speculate on who first stood on that spot and said: " Here we shall build."
After the 1666 renovations it was again added to in 1820, and a semi-circular portion thrown out to the front, giving it a picturesque appearance. It is a substantial, rambling old building, the upper floor being on four different levels, showing the traces of its different renovations and additions. An old yew tree in the garden has a girth of ten feet?which shows it has been established for many hundred years. It has seen many families grow up and disperse to the four corners of the earth.
The last family to be born there were Adam, Annie and William Milroy, the children of the Reverend W. L. Milroy, whose memorial plaque can be seen on the wall beside the pulpit. Mr. Milroy's whole ministry, from 1890 to 1926, was spent in Abernyte. When he and his wife returned from their honeymoon in 1894 they planted two trees in the garden and christened them The Bride and The Bridegroom. They are now tall and stalwart and shelter the garden from the South-east winds.The elder son, Adam, was Major and Adjutant in The Black Watch in the First World War and later became a wise and trusted District Officer in Nigeria. This family enlivened the whole parish with their wit, their sense of humour and their deep love of music, which they instilled into the young folk of the district and which is still bearing fruit. Two notable examples are Miss Margaret (Peggy) and Miss Marion (May) Miller, who have for many years trained and led choirs to Perth Musical Festival and rained honours with them all. The Misses Miller were born and brought up in Abernyte and received their first musical training from Mr. and Mrs. Milroy, and have continued to pass on this same love of music to their young charges. Miss Peggy has also been organist and trainer of the Church Choir for forty years or more.{mospagebreak}

Our Church has had not a few outstanding personalities among its ministers. In 1651 came the Reverend John Miniman, a man of uncompromising character who, for non-conformity to the Episcopalian regime, was forbidden to preach. Later he, with some others, was cited to appear before the Privy Council, the ground of offence being that they had continued at their former residence, and in contempt of the indulgence granted them, they persisted in their wicked course, still labouring to keep the hearts of the people from the present government of the Church and State by their pernicious doctrine; " The Lords of Council therefore charge the foment persons to remove, themselves, their wyves, bairns, families, servants, goods and gear furth and frae their respective dwelling places and Manses and outwith the bounds of the Presbyteries where they now live."
He still persisted, however, and in 1674 he was again accused of holding conventicles in the fields and in buildings. This time he wasput to the horn " and outlawed. (How interested we would be to know which corner of the parish witnessed those conventicles!) After John Miniman's death the vendetta was carried on against his widow, Margaret Bonar, who was imprisoned in Perth and refused permission to visit her young son who was dying, although she bound herself to return. Such, briefly, is the sad story of the Minimans.
At a later date, on 5th May, 1808, the Reverend James Wilson was ordained minister of the parish. He was notable in that he was the writer of the 1823 Statistical Account of the Parish and also that his long ministry of forty-two years was all spent in Abemyte. In his latter years he had become a somewhat quaint character, who dressed in an unorthodox manner, with an old spencer above his coat, and an old-fashioned wig. To quote the Reverend James Hamilton, who came as his assistant towards the end of his ministry, " He championed his opinions with great pertinacity. He will argue for half an hour on some point of doctrine while he holds a spoonful of porridge halfway to his mouth, and take ten minutes to pour a cup of tea while he argues that the moon has nothing to do with the tides." He spent a great deal of his time applying algebra to the prophecies of Daniel and announced that the millenium would begin in the year 2000 " unless retarded by human depravity and impious perverseness."
This same assistant, the Reverend James Hamilton, has left us a lovely word picture of Abemyte. In a letter to a friend he wrote: " You are fond of fine scenery; we look down on the rich Carse of Gowrie, the Firth of Tay and the coast of Fife. There are some pleasant walks and some sweetly retired spots. Today I sat a long while at the foot of a cascade which tumbles from the most romantic hill I ever saw, and I could have sat half the day, the sound of water falling into the pool profound was so soothing and it was amusement enough to watch the waterfall itself." He was a man full of zeal and he was soon preaching to a crowded church. He also started a Bible Class and soon reported that he had got every unmarried farm servant to come except three, and hoped to secure them also. We wonder in which of the bothies in the parish did those stubborn ones hide from Mr. Hamilton's zeal!{mospagebreak}

Hard by the Manse stands the Church, a pre-Reformation building about which a recent minister, the Reverend T. F. Gilmore, did some research. He found reference to it as far back as 1444- At that time there was a vicar's residence which was probably part of the present Manse. The Church has been altered several times over the centuries_ JamesMyles in " Rambles in Forfarshire " says that " Abemyte Church. but for its belfry, might have been mistaken for a barn " but that was before its renovation in 1736- The west gable bears the date 1673, but after the 1736 renovation it was again altered to its present cruciform shape in 1837. Mr. Gilmore's opinion is that this is unquestionably one, of the most beautiful churches in rural Scotland. Two large stained glass windows and the beautiful wooden rafters add to its appearance. The windows are both in memory of members of the Hunter family, who died very young, and the woman's figure in the east window was takenfrom a portrait of Katherine Jane figure to whose memory it isdedicated and was said to be a very striking likeness.Around the Church lie many quaint old gravestones, the oldest decipherable bearing the date 1729. It is remarkably well preserved and the carvings of cattle and sheep symbolise the occupation of the dead man, who was a fleshor. - Close by the entrance gate stands the stone to the memory of the ploughboy from Pitkindie, James Ross, who became a missionary and spent the whole of his ministry in Africa. He never came back to the " Braes of the Carse" which he loved, and he lies buried at Likatlang, where the diamond fields now are. The story is told fully on the Memorial Stone and need not be quoted here.
 Other stones bear names which are now unknown. Where now, for instance, is Burnside of Pitkindie? And where is Kirkton Mill? No trace of them can be found and the oldest inhabitants never heard of them. Ina large parish this would not be of much moment, or in a parish that has been overbuilt or changed greatly, but in this small district of four square miles the disappearance of those places is a matter of interest- Pitkindie is still here but which corner of its 350 acres harboured the weaver's cottage of Burnside? We can only guess.
Kirktoun Mill is also puzzling. There is no burn on Kirkton as it is now large enough to turn a mill.
The deeper ploughing with tractors has uncovered the traces of old buildings here and there and Mr. Rennie, the present owner of Pitkindie, has recently unearthed several querns or grinding stones, which most probably have not seen the light of day for many centuries. It is a pit), that so few of these old relics are left where they belong. So many of them are carried off to museums where they are only another dusty old piece of stone. The place where they are found is their natural setting. This was the earth tilled by their original owners; these are the hills and the burns their eyes looked upon. Happily we can say that Mr. Rennie's finds are still with us.
To return to our history.
In 1793, according to the Statistical Record, there had been three hamlets containing 41 houses. Two of those we have already mentioned, Balfour and Abernyte. According to Mr. Lawrence Thomson, the third may be the clachan of Kirkton, which lay to the north of the Kirk and Manse, probably occupied by crofters and weavers. Mr. Thomson avers that the stones taken from this clachan were used along, with others in the building of the boundary dyke between the Glebe and Kirkton farm. This information he got from Mr. Gaims, who was a roadman when Mr. Thomson was a boy. Mr. Gaims had related how the stones were pulled on sledges to the spot where they were required. This humble group of dwellings would probably be demolished when the farms were enlarged. Probably it was to these the Reverend James Adamson referred when he described the people's houses as " miserable hovels-" He would have ample opportunity to study them, as the north windows of the Manse look directly out upon the spot. This village, perhaps even older than either Balfour or Abernyte would account for the fact that the church is half a mile from the present village and stands quite by itself.{mospagebreak}

 

Until recently the church and manse were flanked by two occupied cottages, which are now in a ruinous condition and will soon loin the list of those which have left no trace- One of these lies on the west side of the churchyard wall and the other a hundred yards to the east of the manse_ The latter was the lodge at one of the gateways into Rossie Priory Estate. Although, strictly speaking, it is over the fence and inside the boundary of Inchture Parish, it is to all intents and purposes part of Abemyte. It was a substantial, thatched, stone-built cottage, its walls covered with roses and creepers and was lived in till about elevenyears ago. Now only the walls and a remnant of the thatched roof remains. The same story is true of the other, beside the churchyard wall. It, too, was stone-built and thatched but very much older and smaller, and was always known as Athol] Cottage or the Beadle's Cottage, as it in fact was. Its connection with the ducal family of Atholl has caused speculation. It belonged at one time to the Murrays of Abercairney and, according to Mr. J. W. Seath in his Survey of the Parish, it was retained by the Atholl family when the rest of their land hereabout was sold. One reason given was that the, Duchess liked to drive here and it was a turning point for her carriage. Another theory is that it. was used as a rest house for the Atholl drovers when driving cattle to Dundee. These are speculations but certain it is, that it was used as a beadle's and gravedigger's cottage for at least a century, and probably much longer. The last occupant left it eight or ten years ago.
Owing to the drift to the cities, which we share with all other rural areas, there are at least another six or eight cottages and houses which have become derelict well within the memory of the writer. Many of these are no longer needed, due to the swallowing up of small farms by their larger neighbours, and by mechanisation resulting in one man being able to do the work of several.
To start on the north on the slopes of King's Seat?the old farm cottage there on the farm of Balloleys is now a roofless ruin, but was lived in up to 1930 or thereby. One of the last to live there was a large family, Batchelor by name, who were musically inclined and provided a family band for village dances in the days just before radio introduced more sophisticated ideas. The farm of Balloleys has been taken over a good many years ago by a larger one in Strathmore, on the other. side of King's Seat.{mospagebreak}

 

Moving eastward a little, we come upon the deserted farmstead of Stockmuir, already mentioned in these pages. It was a small farm in its own right until it also was swallowed up, and is used now mostly for gazing
 Move again a little north-east into the shadow of Whirley Law, and again we find a small derelict farm. The ground was taken up long ago but the house was lived in until about two years ago. It lies not far off the old moorland road coming from Stockmuir and going through the gap in the Sidlaws. This road is a right-of-way from our side of the Sidlaws into Strathmore, but, like other rights-of-way is being allowed to lapse_ sofew people nowadays requiring to use their legs as a means of locomotion. This little house of Whirley Law (called by the last occupants The Holmes, for no apparent reason) still has a romantic 'Wishing Well in a rocky cleft in its garden, surrounded with harts' tongue ferns and water plants. In Spring too, masses of snowdrops carpet the ground. Here one of our many burns originates which forms the boundary between us and the high-lying part of Longforgan parish. It flows down past Glenbran farm, where it widens into a mill dam (no longer used). Here, some 30 years ago, a little boy was drowned and created a problem as to which parish his death should be registered in. Our little bums, so innocent seeming, have claimed not a few victims when they rise angrily after sudden thunder storms. One such accident happened ten years ago at The Knowes, the row of old farm cottages between Abeinyte and Milton. The touching memorial to this little boy can be seen in the new part of the churchyard.
To return to Glenbran, another old cottage there has only recently become empty. The last occupant was an old lady of decided character who, when she visited the outside world would ensure a lift in any passing car by the expedient of standing in the middle of the road so that it perforce had to stop. She has now passed on and her cottage will never be in use again. Here, however, two modern bungalow types of houses were built about 20 years ago to replace the older ones. These were the first houses to be built in the parish since 1894.

We come down now to where a quarter mile from the church a very old house, many times mentioned on tombstones, has just disappeared, leaving not a trace behind. This, too, was once a small farm called Coldstream, or more commonly called Cauldie, but latterly was used as a farm-worker's cottage for the farm of Kirkton, whose fields it faced. It would get its name from the little well, still close by. Now only a small cobbled patch at the side of the road and a square of lighter green in the corn waving over it shows that a few years ago a house stood there.Visitors to our old churchyard in days to come will say: " Where is Coldstream? " just as we have been saying: " Where is Burnside of Pitkindie and Kirktoun Mill? " For the information of such, Coldstream stood about a quarter mile from the church on the right-hand side of the road leading to East Newton and Littleton, after the sharp leftward bend. Here, too, were reared many families of lusty children. Is it any wonder that Abemvte school roll now stands. at 26? In 1920 it was 76 and. at the time the new school was built in 1906, it was around the one hundred mark.{mospagebreak}


For the last of our vanished cottages we take you to a spot in the romantic Milton Den, a spot which still has the apple trees, the daffodils and the remnants of the boxwood edging of one of the loveliest old-world gardens it would be possible to imagine. There stood side by side two mellow old cottages of red sandstone- They stood on the lip of the Den, a few hundred yards south of Milton Farm, almost halfway to the old U.F. Church and Manse.
In 1915 tragedy struck and the old lady who occupied one of them lost her life in a fire which sprang up through the night and demolished the building. It was with difficulty that the fire was kept from spreading to the neighbouring house.
These houses belonged to the Ballindean Estate and the old lady, Mrs. Semple, had at one time been a children's nurse in the household of Colonel Trotter and was now a pensioner and spent her time tending her flowers, her apple trees and her hens. She was a dainty and picturesque figure, old fashioned even at that time, always dressed in black. A voluminous skirt, a dolman beaded with jet and a bonnet with an upright feather, tied under the chin with a white satin ribbon, made her a well-known figure. Her face under the bonnet was like a wrinkled, rosy apple, with a small somewhat beaky nose. Everything about her and her house was spotless and dainty, and the writer remembers clearly parties in her cosy kitchen to which she invited the children of the U.F. Manse and others. Her shortbread and sponge cakes were a treat, but after tea the entertainment was to sit around the fire and sing psalms and hymns, which was not so popular! A box-bed with flowered chintz curtains occupied one side of the room and on the mantelshelf above the brightly polished grate was an array of shining brass candlesticks and ornaments. Those same curtains were thought to have been the cause of the fire. Perhaps she went to sleep leaving a candle by the bedside. Who knows! This made a painful sensation in the parish, where she was one of the most respected residents.
In those days?how almost primitive it sounds now!?it was the custom to exchange settings of eggs or perhaps exchange cockerels with one's neighbours to introduce new blood into one's flock, and Mrs. Semple's stock was always highly, thought of. Two pictures of her stand out very clearly in the writer's mind?one of the little black-clad figure making her way to a neighbour's house carrying a basket over her arm with the head of an angry-looking red cock protruding from it-, the other picture is of her daintily cleaning her elastic-sided boots on the scraper at the Church door. The scraper was needed for she had to walk a path very often wet and muddy along the lip of the Den to the precincts of the U.F. Church.{mospagebreak}

Her house had, of course, no running water and the well was a little way down the steep side of the Den- The laddies of the U.F. Manse carried many a bucketful to save her the steep climb.
These then are the old houses and landmarks which are disappearing fast. The houses and steadings in the whole district were stone-built and it is interesting to see that nearby these scattered dwellings, very often can be found a small quarry in the hill sides, which must have been used for the buildings and for dykes for fields and road-sides.
Most of the fields in the parish are enclosed by fences or hedges, but one exception is that those on Kirkton Farm are all dry-stone dykes_ Thisfarm, although wholly in the parish, belongs to the Rossie Priory Estate of Lord Kinnaird in the parish of Inchture. This Estate has, within the last year, taken into its own hands the farms of Kirkton, Newton Bank, East Newton and Littleton, and is turning them into one big unit under a Farm Manager. The dry-stone dykes and brambly banks are disappearing in front of the bulldozer and the twelve and fifteen acre fields are being merged together. Although the Kirkton lies entirely within the parish, only part of Newton Bank and East Newton do so, the other halves lying, along with Littleton, in the parish of Longforgan. The farm of Kirkton has been tenanted by only two families in the last two centuries, Hunters and Stewarts. Alexander Hunter is mentioned in the recent roll as tenant of Kirktown of Abernyte in 1788, and this family only relinquished the tenancy about 1886 when the Stewarts took over and farmed it till 1965.
The emptying of these houses of established resident farmers with their families is sad to us who remember them, full of warm, family life and hospitality. The full effects of these clearances is bound to be felt in the years to come. It is a continuation of the process which has been going on for centuries. Both writers of the Statistical Accounts speak of it in 1793 and 1823, and here we might quote Dr. Adam Phillip who wrote several books centred round the Carse of Gowrie and the Braes of the Carse. This lie wrote in 1911: " One cannot reflect on the situation today without a sense of anxiety. The drain from the country to the cities has been followed by a rush to the colonies and elsewhere. The tendency for families to separate early is increasing and until something is done to tempt people back to the land and to provide reason?able opportunities for honest, aspiring men and outlets for their families, it must inevitably increase and more than is safe for our country."
Happily, however, we still have our own smaller land-owning farmers. Messrs. Sands, who own

Milton and Southfield; Mr. Sinclair who owns Abernyte and South Latch; Messrs. Rennie of Pitkindie; and Mr. Dickie of Whitehills (at one time known as Westfield), all of whom reside in the parish.Mr. Sinclair has put the name of Abernyte on the map of British farming by winning national awards at Smithfield and elsewhere with his prize cattle, a fact which is symbolised on our W.R.I. Banner. Contrary to the general trend, Mr. Sinclair's four daughters are the first children to have been born in the farmhouse of Abernyte for more than a century. The farm lies hard by the village, along with the schoolhouse,and at one tinge had a nice view of the lower part of the parish, the Carse and the Firth of Tay in the distance, When the new school was built in 1906 the view was almost completely blocked- This so annoyed the then tenant, a bachelor, that he declared he would never set foot inside its doors, which vow he kept till he gave up the tenancy in 1943. This was quite against the general trend as the school has always been the meeting place where all the parish (and far beyond) could meet. We have no village or church hall and the school is used for our socials, dances, whist drives, W.R.I. and Guild meetings, and even for some wedding receptions. Till a few years ago the Young Men's Club met there every week during the winter months. This was started by the Reverend W. L. Milroy at the end of the 1914-18 War. He served in the Y.M.C-A. in France for a time and felt that when the men came back home they would find the old village life too quiet for them. He organised concerts to raise some money to start the Club, which flourished for more than forty years. It has been wound up for a variety of reasons, one being, of course, the scarcity of young men in the parish.{mospagebreak}

While the Club was in its hey-day it had a very good orchestra, which was much enjoyed by everyone around.
The red-brick school, built in 1906, took the place of the old renovated (1839) one. which adjoined the schoolhouse. The two old school rooms were then, in 1906, added to the schoolhouse making it much more commodious. The old school door still abuts on to the public road as it did of yore. There was no laid on water supply in those days and the girls, before their sewing lessons, would scramble down the bank beside the bridge to wash their hands in the burn.
In these days when rural schools are being closed and the children taken to larger ones where they will have more " competition and incentive " it may not be out of place to recall that in the year 1917 the Girls' Dux Medal, both for the High School of Dundee and for the Harris Academy, Dundee, were awarded to girls who had received all their education up to the age of twelve at Abemyte School, and the following year again the Hams Medal came to Abemyte. Not a bad record for one of the smallest (if not the smallest) parishes in Scotland. The Headmaster at that time was Mr. J. F. Falconer. Sixty and seventy years ago, and for many years thereafter, a Soup Kitchen was run at the school during all winter months, and for the sum of Id. the children could have as many bowls of good, thick broth as they had room for. An Annual Concert was held in the school-room to raise funds withfor the scheme, the farmers of the district supplementing the supply bags of potatoes, turnips, etc.
The cook, who presided over the soup cauldron when the writer was very small, was a tall, weather-beaten, stalwart woman with ruddy cheeks and keen, dark eyes, commonly called Granny Robb. The book being read at school at the time was " Guy Mannering," and Granny Robb was, to our youthful minds, the exact picture of " Meg Merrilees," with her long, easy stride and her rutty pipe. In our young days Granny Robb was the only woman we ever saw smoking, but it seemed to have been the hall-mark of Abemyte women in the 18th century. The Reverend James Adamson says in the Statistical Account: " The use of tobacco (in the parish) may be said to be excessive, especially among the female sex. There is scarce a young woman by the time she has been taught to spin but has also learnt to smoke' "
While speaking of the school it might be noted that almost the only poet to whom we can lay some small claim was Alexander Nicol, teacher of English at Abernyte about 1740. It is interesting to ponder that here was a man writing about the same kind of rural scene as Rabbie Bums did a few vears later. Nicol describes himself as:
Plunged in the careful state of marriage;
Rich in children;
Poor in wealth;
Blessed with a competence of health."
Like Rabbie, too, he had to seek financial help to have his rural muse published, and

Abernyte folk had contributed a share. His list of subscribers and encouragers includes:
James Archer, farmer in Abemyte.
Patrick Gardiner, farmer in Abemyte.
Mr. Charles Kidd of Pitkindie.
Wm. Gibb, Jr., of Lauchton (Lochton?).
James Paterson, farmer in Balardy.
Wm. Paterson, farmer in Abernyte.
Andrew Thomson in Abemyte.

{mospagebreak}

Mr. Nicol did not stay very many years in Abemyte and was transferred to the school in Collace. He, unfortunately, later became a victim of intemperance.
A century later, our only other poet, John Paul, also stayed only a short time with us. He was an apprentice with his relatives, the Stewart family, the wrights and carpenters in Abemyte. Many descend?ants of this family are still in the district. He moved into Dundee later, but some of his poems are published in " The Harp of Perthshire." We quote one verse of a poem entitled " My Father and My Mother."

A joy surpassing feeble praise,
Brings tears oft to my e'en;
When pictures o' my laddie days
Appear on memory's screen.
Wi' fitfu' flash they come and go.
Each followin' the ither;
And aye I see in sunny glow
My father and my mother."

Now turn downwards again to where, on the extreme southern tip of our parish, was erected in 1856 the U.F. Church and Manse. It was built to fill the needs of the Dissenters after the Disruption. Previous to this they had made use of the Haldane's Tabernacle in Abemyte village.   Robert Haldane, a keenly religious man, was the owner of Lochton Estate and had, earlier in the century, built one of his tabernacles here. He was the nephew of Viscount Admiral Duncan and was said to have sent his uncle a sermon as a message of congratulationafter the victory of Camperdown.
When it was decided that the U.F. Church should be built, a piece of around was secured from the owners of Ballindean Estate and here it was erected. It was partly built of the stones from the tabernacle and the farmers who belonged to the Dissenters helped by lending their horses and carts. The rest of the stones were brought from Whitehills Quarry. This information we had from the grand-daughter of one of the farmers concerned, Mr. Ritchie of Hilton of Ballindean. {mospagebreak}

It was not only Abernyte people who attended this church, they came from far around, ln Longforgan, Dron and Errol, five or six miles away; some driving and many on foot. Truly a Sabbath day's journey!
One of the Banncimans, who owned Abernyte Estate, has given us a picturesque description of a Sunday at Abernyte when he was young, nearly a hundred years ago. He describes the stream of people dividing into two, one line of sober-hued worshippers taking- the low road to the U.F. Church, and the other the high road to the Parish Kirk. The Bannermans belonged to the U.F. and he says how they, the children, eyed the Auld Kickers with somewhat doubtful eyes, being rather of the opinion that they were " yet held in the bonds of iniquity." He says: " We were not, at that time, so far removed from the Disruption, and youth is proverbially intolerant. How quiet and orderly are the groups as they move along, sober greetings being exchanged as friends meet, who are during the week separated by not a few miles of distance; the auld wifies with their Bibles wrapped in snowy napkins and sprigs of apple-finge and roses folded between the leaves; the Elder at the plate, rather serious and awful in his broadcloth. In those days men took their religion seriously and in ample measure, for only an interval of 15 minutes was allowed between the two solid services.

 These precious minutes were golden for us children and all soon we reached the old elm at the top of the brae, which marked the turning point of our walk."
Then he goes on to describe their walk home to Abernyte House, over the bridge at the Milton with its old mill and waterfall and up through the field path, which he did not name, but which is really a right-of-way known as the " Kail Roadie " connecting the high road to the low road, about which more anon. The big, elm tree he mentions still stands where the brae begins to plunge down the steep Baledgarno Brae to the Carse. This brae has always constituted quite a sharp division between the uplands of the Sidlaws and the lowlands of the Carse, a division difficult to define and yet real.- Perhaps it has something to do with the difference between hill-dwellers and those of the plain.
But to return to the U.F. Church. This church had only three ministers in the 78 years that it remained a separate entity. The first was the Reverend Joseph Wilson, who ministered for 23 years, then came another Wilson, the Reverend John, who had to retire for health reasons after 13 years: then came the Reverend G. Inner Smith, who spent all his ministry of 46 years there. He would dearly have loved to see his Jubilee but illness intervened. A plaque to his memory can be seen in the parish church.
In 1933 the two churches were joined and the Reverend T. F. Gilmore took charge of the united congregation. For another seventeen years the two churches were used on alternate Sundays, until in 1951 the U.F. finally closed its doors. The Reverend G. Innes Smith was a dedicated and well-loved pastor. One of the most familiar sights in the whole district was of Mr. Smith and his equally devoted and beloved wife, in their little governess cart drawn by a shaggy little pony, on their visiting rounds. Winter and summer they visited their flock tirelessly. The pony was allowed to set its own pace and in their leisurely progress they had time for a word for all and sundry, tinker or laird, it was all the same.{mospagebreak}

It may be noted here, as a pointer to the passing of the " old order," that 40 years ago there were always three or four seats in the church occupied by " Priory " servants- Lord and Lady Kinnaird of Rossie Priory, a mile away, very often attended the services in the U.F. Church and their household staff also, ranging from the young fledgling newly left school, to the butler and housekeeper, who kept a watchful eye upon any restlessness or whispering among the lower ranks. At that time Rossie Priory had about 30 indoor staff?but that is all a thing, of the past. The Priory itself is a shadow of its former self. Its history and of the Kinnairds belongs to Inchture parish.
Now the U.F. Church buildings and quite, a few surrounding acres are the centre of the biggest hive of industry in the whole parish. When Mr. Smith retired his manse was let to a family who had two young sons whose whole interest was in things mechanical. As they grew up the neighbouring farmers would seek their help when cars or tractors broke down. The old stable, which used to house the farmers' ponies on Sun?days was their first workshop and there started the firm of Stout Brothers, Motor Car Salesmen.
When the church building became available in 1951 it was taken over and formed the nucleus of a business which is now by far the biggest employer of labour in the parish and a wide district around. They have put the name of Abernyte on the motoring map, just as Mr. Sinclair has done, to a wider circle of the farming world with his Aberdeen-Angus and cross cattle.

Before we leave the subject of the churches in the old days, we would like to recall that institution " the evening service," which has been abandoned these many years. In our young days there was one every Sunday. On the first Sunday of the month one was held in the U.F. Church, on the second Mr. Smith would hold one in the old meeting house at the Knapp village, a couple of miles off in Longforgan parish. The third Sunday was the evening reserved for the Auld Kirk. On the fourth Sunday Mr. Smith would again have one, this time in the old schoolroom at Baledgarno and if, by chance, there happened to be a fifth Sunday, he would occasionally have one in the kitchen of Mr. Ritchie's farm of Littleton.
Those evening, services were part of the social life of the district where the young folk of the district could meet and stroll leisurely home, sometimes in groups, sometimes more intimately in couples. Most of the older generation will agree that a lot of the courting was done on those occasions.{mospagebreak}

Now we come back to the centre of our parish, the village of Abernyte with its straggling street and houses set at any angle that appealed to the original builders.  They are all solid stone-built dwellings, mostly of local whinstone with reddish sandstone facings. Some are very old, relics of the original village of Balfour; others were built about a century ago- The last one bears the date 1894 and is still called New Cottage.
From that date till a dozen years ago there was no building of dwelling houses in the whole parish, with the exception of the two bungalow type farm- cottages already mentioned at Glenbran. In these dozen years the builders seem to have discovered Abernyte once more. The first to go up was a row of Council houses, several hundred yards below the village proper.

Some workers' cottages and a bungalow have gone up at White-hills, a bungalow has been built at the foot of Pitkindie farm road, another is being built on the Kinnaird road near Southfield farm; and one, a Dorran house, has invaded the village itself and is now in course of con?struction. All these later additions are of brick or other man-made materials as opposed to the old grey stone.

But we are wandering again from the subject of our village. The public road from Inchture to jalbeggie fortunately by-passes it and leaves the narrow street quiet and undisturbed. In bygone days the village was a self-contained little community with its weavers, its tailor, its blacksmith, joiner and cobbler. First the weavers disappeared, next to. go would be the cobbler. The tailor was still here about sixty years ago, but we had our carpenter and blacksmith until comparatively recent years. Mr. David Greig, the last of the blacksmiths, lived in his retirement in the Smiddy House, with his sister, but the ring of the anvil has been silent for the last twelve years. To these two we owe much of the reminiscences in these pages. Mr. Greig and his father before him were the blacksmiths for over 70 years. The day-book of their predecessor, James Geekie, was found when making some renovations to the house and the entries for the years 1845 to 1850 make fascinating reading. One can almost read the history of the parish in it.

The ministers at that time farmed their Glebe and we can read that the Reverend Mr. Smeaton required ten new horseshoes in the space of four months- His successor, the. Reverend Robert Graham did not require so many horseshoes but he did require cattle bands for his cows and the lock of his byre repaired. The next year the heritors had to pay for a key for his byre. We also know that Mr. Whiffet of Balfour made cheese and butter as his chum and cheese press both required mending. The entries in the book show the value of money now compared with 120 years ago. Horseshoes were 9d. each, removing a shoe-2d. A side plate for a plough-2/-. A pair of bothy tongs-2/6, etc.

The Smiddy is now converted into a modern village shop with gleaming paintwork, deep-freeze, etc., and supplying almost everything a housewife requires. This shop replaces one which used to be further up the hill, but more of it anon.Gone, too, is the wright's business which had its workshops at the very foot of the village.

Here Mr. George Stewart and his son, Bob, were the last in a long line of wrights going back for a couple of centuries.{mospagebreak}

The workshops now house some of Mr. David Sinclair's tractors. This family of Stewarts has already been mentioned in connection with the poet John Paul. Mr. George Stewart's youngest son, a retired forester, one of a family of fourteen, still lives in the village and has also helped with some of these notes. Further up the street live some members of the numerous Carr family who, for generations, have been reputed saw-millers and woodturners.

Unfortunately, their sawmill lies over the boundary in Longforgan parish and we cannot claim it but at least we can claim many of the family, for they have all been educated at Abernyte School, are members and elders of our church and the church choir is mostly composed of folk of that name or their relatives.
The new Dorran house being built in the village is for one of its members and his family, who will bring some young life into the village. Only two young people, one of them now at Queen's College, Dundee, have been brought up in the village within the last twenty years. Two of the other houses are occupied by retired people, two others by unmarried farm workers, one by a nurse who travels 20 miles to her work each day, and one by a representative for an agricultural firm. The little, unoccupied gigging halfway up the village on the right, with its window looking out on the street, was the cobbler's shop at one time, and then the tailor's. The house at the very top of the village on the right was the Seceders' Manse in the days of Haldane's tabernacle. And last, but far from least, we take a look at the Old Inn?" The Caup and Stoup "?which has been famous in song and story wherever Abernyte is mentioned.
This was a renowned ale-house, but is now a farmhouse occupied by Mr. James Reid and his sister. Abernyte had in the old days a reputation for great conviviality and the old Inn seems to have been the howff where the best ale in the whole countryside was dispensed. The old rhyme says:

Peace and grace come by Collace.
And by the Braes o' Dron;
But the Caup and Stoup o' Abernyte
Mak' mony a merry man.
The auld. the young, the rich, the puir.
The rustic hind and belted Knight
Hae sung its praise on distant braes,
The Caup and Stoup c' Abernyte."

This rather invidious comparison between Collace and Abernyte can't be allowed to go unchallenged, for in the diary of Dr. Andrew Bonar, the minister of Collace 120 years ago (speaking of his own parish), we read: " Have heard of sad scenes about the market," and the next year he says: " Heavy in heart and bead because of this being market day."

Nevertheless Aberntye seems to have had more than its share of ale-houses, as the Statistical Account mentions that there are four in the district as well as some private stills. How we would like to know where those hidden stills were!
One at least we do know of, although, strictly speaking, it was not in the parish. This was at the farm of South Ballo about a mile from our borders. The proprietor had to sell out after being fined heavily for being cheating the Excise. Mr. Lawrence Thomson's grandfather was grieve at this farm and gave his grandson this information.{mospagebreak}

Professor Bannerman, who built the mansion of Abernyte House in 1862, did away with the Caup and Stoup and also the small crofts which were cultivated by the schoolmaster, the joiner and the blacksmith. These he incorporated in a little park around his mansion. This house lies well sheltered from the north by the steep acclivity of Abernyte Hill and over-looked by Abernyte Rock. It has a splendid situation, with a fine view to the South. It was not greatly used by the Bannermans except as a holiday house as they had other interests and resided much in Edinburgh and elsewhere. The last laird, the Reverend D. D. Bannerman, was minister of St. Leonard's in Perth. His initials and those of his wife, Margaret Omond, can be seen on several of the houses in the village, notably those two built in 1880 and 1894. After his death in 1908, his widow occupied the house fairly frequently till her death in 1935. She never discarded her widow's garb and was a well known figure with her close-fitting black bonnet and her pale, clear-cut, cameo-like face. She was one of the a reular users of the " Kail Roadie " to and from the U.F. Church. She walked to and from church every Sunday until she was nearly ninety years of age. She was a remarkably agile old lady and in her walks she could often be seen nimbly surmounting gates and fences.
The heirs to the Estate resided in Edinburgh and the house was let to various tenants, then sold to Mrs. Agnew, widow of Colonel Quentin Agnew, an uncle of Lord Kinnaird's. This lady's only son, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Agnew, a very gallant young man, was killed on " D " day in France in. June, 1944. Mrs. Agnew was the President of our W.R.I. for many years. After her death Mr. David Sinclair bought the house and park, and has only just completed renovation and modernisation.
The only other big house in the parish, Lochton Castle, was built in 1868 up on the high land on the north side of the parish and was a hand- some and commodious dwelling till it was largely destroyed by fire about 1930 still  leaving only a small portion, which is used as a residence. It was owned by only two families. The builder was a Mr. James Brown. He was a Catholic and when Mr. Alfred Tosh bought the Castle about 1918 the private Chapel was still there, complete with prie-dieux. The house has still a fine approach with lodge, gateway and a beautiful avenue of rhododendrons.

A quarter of a mile down the hill from these gates, just by the roadside, lies a small pond, almost dried up, known as " The Witches' Dub." This was probably at one time a quite considerable little loch, but draining has left little trace of its former gruesome importance. Whether any witch was ever drowned there, not even tradition speaks. Only the name is left to arouse conjecture.

Close by lies North Pitkindie, once a small farm but its acres have long ago been swallowed up and it is now a private residence. Until some ten years ago it was the only shop in the district, nearly a mile from the village by road but considerably shorter by the old right-of-way over Abernyte Hill. This old track can only with difficulty be followed now, owing to the cultivation of all but the very steepest slopes on the hill. Until the late War it was a stretch of springy turf and wild thyme with a generous scattering, of" whips and broom.
For many years it was the scene of the renowned Abernyte Highland Games, which were held on a flattish piece of ground a few hundred yards up from North Pitkindie just mentioned. The Games was a famous day and people thronged from far and near to take part in the sports, climbing the greasy pole, tug-o'?war. throwing the harnmer. Highland dancing, piping contests, etc. There were cocoanut shies, refreshment stalls- and others for selling little, trinkets and toys, and altogether it was a real high day and holiday for the whole community in those less sophisticated days before the first World War. It was stopped then and never resumed.{mospagebreak}

Up on this hill, too, during the late War was an Observers' Post, which was manned night and day all the War Years by local members of the Royal Observer Corps. It is still there and will perhaps cause speculation among future seekers for information.
Before we get too far away from the subject of rights-of-way, we go back to speak of the Kail Roadie mentioned once or twice already. It had no connection whatever with " Kail " but was the road leading to the lime-kiln at Milton. When the kiln was no longer used and was forgotten about, the derivation of the name was lost. Another right-of-way which has practically disappeared is in the Lochton Estate from near the farm of South Latch to Stockmuir Farm. This has also been ploughed up but is still usable.
We, must not forget to mention another path, which could still be called a right-of-way, if use and wont could make it so. This was one which was started by the farmer of Littleton, Mr. William Ritchie (a son of the Mr. Ritchie mentioned as having carted the stones for the D.F. Church). To make a shortcut to the church from the north-east side of the district, he found a way for himself down the steep precipitous side of Rossie Den (the lower continuation of Milton Den) and over the bum. A quick, scramble up the rocky face on the other side landed him directly at the U.F. Manse garden and saved a walk of nearly a mile round by Milton or further still, by Abemyte, the only two bridges over the bum.
Gradually this shortcut became more and more used and the way was made easier by steps being cut out of the steep banks and a plank bridge being thrown over the burn. It was then a recoiled thoroughfare to the church for everyone on that side of the district. When the steps needed some renewing, our dear old minister would arm himself with a spade and redig them without a word to anyone. This path, such a feature of our Sunday, is almost obliterated in the fifteen years since the church was closed and the plank bridge has been swept away. Soon no one will remember it.
Still another right-of-way rernains to be mentioned. It runs from the Glen road and Balloleys past the farm of The Ford and down a little glen to Whitehills, and at one time carried on to the now deserted village of Pitmiddle in the parish of Kinnaird. The name. of this little farm seems a misnomer as the burn now is not deep enough to require a ford, but again we refer to Mr. Lawrence. Thomson, who states that the around there was a loch or morass in the old days. This farm, like its neighbours Balloleys and Stockmuir, is also in the hands of a Strathmore farmer, and the house occupied by a grieve.Only two houses in the parish remain to be mentioned, both with queer, " auld-farrant " names?Whistle-Neckit and Balquhilans. The former, commonly called Whistley, really two houses, is by the roadside on the north-east side of the parish and used as farm cottages by the Newtons. There was a group of houses here at one time and the name, we have no doubt, comes from the North winds which whistle down a shallow little valley there from the direction of the King's Seat.
Balquhillans is on the other side of the parish on Milton Farm. It is a row of old houses on the hillside above the Knowes, and is still occupied by farm workers. It seems to have been built without rhyme or reason as it is near neither a road or a burn. The Knowes down below it by the roadside was, until two years ago, a row of farm workers' cottages for the farm of Abernyte, but has recently been bought by relatives of Mr. and Miss Greig a already mentioned, and completely modernised.
We cannot claim that our parish is well-wooded, except the farms of Pitkindie and Whitehills, which have some very fine avenues and groups of all kinds of hardwood. Those in the park round Abernyte House have mostly been cut down in late years, but two splendid sweeping copper beeches still flank the house.{mospagebreak}

Someone at some far distant date had planted many elms around the villages of Abernyte and Balfour. Many of them are now gone but happily a fem, still stand. At the top of the village one noble specimen has a girth of 16 feet which, we are told, points to it being at least 200  years old. There had also been an avenue of these elms, called Abemyte Alley, on the Southfield road. The huge stumps of some of these can still be seen. The top of Kirkton Hill was cleared of a forest of softwood during the last War, but has been replanted with spruce and fir. There are no hardwoods being planted to any extent in the parish.
On a June mornine, in 1940 a low-flying German plane unloaded a stick of bombs on the north-east side of Kirkton Hill- The detonators had not been set and they did not explode but buried themselves to a considerable depth in the soft mould of the wood. When the Royal Engineers came to take charge, they had first to find them' , as the farm workers in the neighbouring fields, who saw them falling, were, under-standably, a little vague as to the exact spot. The bombs were then exploded and the deep craters still can be traced. Another little bit of history which, in a few years, would be quite forgotten if not recorded now!

These were the only missiles to land on our soil. Why the detonators had not been set and why a wood in a quiet countryside was chosen as a target, no one will ever know. We like to think that perhaps the airman had a sudden feeling of compunction.

We have a good network of roads intersecting the parish from east to west and north to south. What is called a secondary road from Inchture in the south runs past (not through) the:: village to Balbeggie in the north-west and is crossed at Abernyte by a side-road coming from Kinnaird village in the west and going eastward past the church, the Kirkton and Whistle-Neckit on to Littleton and Tullybaccart.The Statistical Account for 1793 deplores the poor state of the roads. Coal and lime had to be brought from the little harbour of Polgavie on the Tay, and the Account says the excessive badness of the roads rendered the transport so difficult that, to save the, coal,
 " the peasantry in summer burn only broom and furze, which they frequently have for the cutting."
The haht land in the hills, after being a Year or two out of tillage,is over-run with broom. Indeed some years ago it was considered an improvement to sow out light land with broom for fuel."

Still quoting the Statistical Account: " To render the conveyance of coal and lime more easy, it was lately proposed to cut a canal from the Tay to the foot of the hills at Baledgamo."This proposal, however, came to nothing. Baledgarno is only half a mile from our boundary and it would have saved the two and a half miles further to Polgavie (now Poweavie). The roads, however, had been im?proved shortly after as, by.1837, the Reverend James Wilson could state: " The roads within these few years have been macadamised and kept in good order without a toll."

Another transport suggestion a century later was to run a railway line from Dundee to Stanley, passing through the Glebe of Abernyte. This was seriously thought of about 1870 but, like the canal project, it came to nothing. So Abernyte has always remained remote from the busy highways, although the road running north and south is becoming increasingly busy since the spread of motor cars, as it makes a pleasant short circular run from Perth or Dundee. It is the most frequented route joining the Carle. of Gowrie to Strathmore to the north. We have a 'bus on Saturdays only and even that was difficult to achieve. When it was first started, just after the War" it was a great innovation and was crowded every week but now, when almost everyone has a car, it is not so much used and we can only hope, it will not be withdrawn. It plies three times per day on Saturdays between Abernyte and Dundee. It. was largely through the efforts of the W.R.I. that these rural 'buses were granted.
When thinking of the things that have passed away in the last fifty years, among other things our minds turn to the tinkers, who roamed the roads in their weather-beaten tartan plaids, with their baskets over their arms. We had many spots where the families of Burkes, Whites and Townsleys used to pitch their camps of beehive tents. Much has been written about the disappearing tinker and we need not add our own uninformed opinions, suffice it to make a note of some of these favourite camping places. One was beside the quarry above Abernyte village-, one at Stockmuir; one on a little hillock near the old miller's house at Milton, and one opposite the Long Man's Grave. This, according to Mr. Thomson, was a special meeting place for the tinkers of Angus and East Perthshire, where wedding celebrations, etc., were held_ They have a hereditary skill in choosing a camping spot and we have heard it said: "

If you want to build a house, you'll never go far wrong if you chose an old tinkers' camping place. It will be dry and safe from flooding."
Another of the old sights and sounds that are gone is the rumbling of the old water-wheels, which all the farms near enough to a burn used for threshing. There was one at Milton, the remnants of it were only removed about twelve years ago. (This, of course, is distinct from the Old Mill already mentioned beside the waterfall, which was a meal-mill and then a saw-mill.) One was at Southfield and another at Abernyte, in fact anywhere where there was a burn of sufficient size. At Kirkton there was a round horse-mill, which was in use till 1936. Most of those driven by water were installed between the Statistical Account in 1793 and that in 1837, as in the former Account it says: " There is only one threshing mill in the parish." In the 1837 Account it makes the comment that one of the more striking variations since the last Account was the general introduction of threshing mills by water. We are left in doubt as to which one was there before 1793.{mospagebreak}

 

It is interesting to look over the Statistics for the parish in the last two hundred years, and see how the population has fluctuated and declined. In 1750 it was 258 In 1837 it was 293
In 1793 it was 345 In 1966 it is 152From 1780-1790 the average number of births was 12 per year; marriages, 7 per year: deaths, 7. Now there are scarcely any births or deaths to be registered in the. parish aspractically all are born or die in hospital. and marriages are, on the average, about one or less than one per year.
It is also interesting to compare the temperatures. The Reverend James Wilson had evidently kept a record of the temperatures, at least in the year 1831. This does not bear out the contention that the summers of long ago were warmer, for here are the figures for that year compared with those of 1965. Hottest day in:                                        1831 1965
                                    June 67?F. 73?F.
                                      July 66?F. 75?F.
                                August 70?F. 71 F.
                         September 60 OF. 66?F.

Either 1831 was an exceptionally cold summer or Mr. Wilson's thermometer was deceiving him.
Keeping the record of temperatures can be very interesting and, on looking back to 1947, we see that from the third week of January till the third week in March the temperature never rose above freezing point, night or day. That was the most severe winter anyone can remember,  the roads were blocked for weeks on end and the snow seemed never ending. These temperatures were recorded at Kirkton of Abernyte, which admittedly is 500 feet above sea level. Down in the Carse it would be a few degrees warmer.
And so we draw to an end of our account of our parish.
It is probable that never have sixty years seen such changes as have been brought about in these since the twentieth century came in. We older folk, who can remember so far back, are rather regretful that the picturesqueness of life seems to be diminishing, although in this hilly upland parish we still have our broomy braes, our old stone-built houses and wild roses in the hedgerows. Many things of our youth have vanished: the bakers horse-drawn van. which came from Coupar Anaus, seven miles away. How frozen the driver must have been on winter nights on his high perch' Vint's van from the Wool Mill at Bridge of Caily, twenty miles away, with its load of blankets, socks and thick, woollen drawers- The pig man's flat cart with its fascinating array of jugs, porridge bowls, ornaments and vases, and a box of china eggs to induce the hens to lay where they ought instead of making a nest for themselves in some inaccessible comer of her own choosing." We can still hear the " ping " of the pig man's grubby fingeras he demonstrated that his goods had no cracks. The stone-flagged kitchens and dairies, the chums and churning days, the beds of butter dockens always near the old wells, for wrapping round the butter pats and lining the butter basket to keep it cool till the grocer's or baker's van came to collect it.{mospagebreak}

 

While on the subject of dockens, we wonder if the children of Aber?nyte School were the only ones who ate soorocks and sucked the twigs of slippery elm on the way home from school!

Seldom did we have sweets, and, who knows?the soorocks and slippery elm perhaps supplied us with the vitamins now supplied in bottles.Such then is our village and parish with its close-knit community. The ministers who wrote the Statistical Accounts, even in those far-off days, have given us a modicum of praise. The Reverend James Adamson states: " The people are very accommodating to each other and kind to strangers." The Reverend James Wilson, a century later, says: " The people are hard working, sober and industrious  and we think both these judgements could still be pronounced upon us.
We would like to conclude with a few verses from a rural versifier, not from our own parish but whose lines could be echoed in any parish in Scotland where the old homely way of farming life is gone.


THE COUNTRY LASSIE

The rural population is declinin' ilka day,
The cause o' this? Machinery and gadgets, so they say,
But there's age amang the ithers, wha's loss we maun deplore,
The humble general ferm maid we kent in days o' yore.
Ay, whaur aboot's the lassie goo, sae rife in former days,
That made the beds, cleaned range an' grate, washed dishes an' the claes,
That scrubbed the fairs. that swept the stairs, cleaned pots and pans forbye,
That hackit sticks and gethered eggs, fed hens, an' milkit kye?
The Namely country lassie, maist like o' collar breed,
A thocht tae ha'e a lad some day, and mairry in her heid.
Nae week o' forty 'oors for her, but fourteen 'oors a day,
An' she made the finest type o' wife a country chiel could ha'e
Half-six was when the horsemen lowsed, when near that time it wore,
We'll say she Fund a job tae dae aboot the kitchen door.
An' when the reekin' horse cam' Name, when Spring was in the air.
She winkit tae the brisk young lad that drove the hindmost pair_
Hecourted her in Summer time a'hent a roondle bill.
When Winter cam' he Wed her in a nook a-low the mill.
An' when at length they married. nag fitter bride than she, T
ae raise a rustic faimily an' fulfil her destiny.

Wlm MIDDLETON.