This is a brief cartographic trip through the known history of Abernyte. It has been gleaned from the fascinating old maps that still exist in various record repositories and provides for a fascinating visual record of Abernyte's development.
The first map in which we see Abernyte shown is in 1580 and although it is not a navigable plan as we think of a map it seems the earliest representation that we have. It is fascinating to note the place and building names that are still in use today. Pitmiddle and Pitkindie we know have been around since very early times. The surprise is in Trottick, Lauriston and East and West Newton. It is also strange to see Balairdy sitting around where Tinkle Top is now and not near Pitkindie.
The earliest known map of Abernyte, as we commonly know the term, is the Winter map of 1730 made for James Moray of Abercairny and represents the area before the "improvements" that were to follow in the next 100 years. The most obvious feature is that Abernyte is not where we expect, with Overtown sitting where Abernyte is generally recognized now. This will change as the improvements gather pace.
The next map of the area is one from 1747 and has a view point much more centered on the Carse of Gowrie. This map was a military survey taken after the failed 5th uprising in 1745, or the Bliadhna Theàrlaich, against the Hanovarian usurper and was done to map the area close to the main road, being the route between Dundee and Perth to allow the safe movement of troops required to subjugate Jacobean Scotland.
As you can see the area of Abernyte is terra incognito so we might infer that Jacobean sympathy did not run highly here! We do know that it was close by though, as know that the Threiplands at Fingask were staunch Jacobites. Should anyone think that this is all ancient history, then consider that the Stuart heir to the throne of Great Britain is still very much around, in case someone considers tampering with the English Act of Settlement 1701 and Article II of the Treaty of Union.
Forty years on to 1783 and we see a much more comprehensive survey which shows many echoes from both the Winter map of 1730 and the 1580 map in the prominence given to the key buildings and place names. One clear change is the loss of Overtoun which has now become Balfour.
We leap forward now, one hundred years or so, to 1843 and the "improvements" have clearly had the effect of clearing the land of small pendicle owners and setting the framework for the landscape we see today.
Finally we have the First Ordinance Survey map of 1856 and our journey is nearly complete. The picture that we see is uncannily similar to what we have today with the addition of the greater number of dwellings. That aside, the structure of the area is pretty much unchanged.