Strathblane


Strathblane
   STRATHBLANE, a parish, in the county of Stirling, 10 miles (N. by W.) from Glasgow; containing 894 inhabitants. This place, which derives its name, signifying in the Gaelic language "the Strath of the Warm River," from the sheltered situation of the vale through which the river Blane has its course, formed part of the possessions obtained from Maldwin, Earl of Lennox, by David Graham, in exchange for lands that had been granted by William the Lion to his father, the ancestor of the ducal family of Montrose. The castles of Mugdock and Duntreath, of the foundation of which little is known, belonged respectively to the families of Montrose and Edmonstone; and the former, after the demolition of the castle of Kincardine, in Strathearn, by the Marquess of Argyll in 1646, became the principal seat of the family of Montrose, whose descendant, the present duke, is one of the landed proprietors in Strathblane. The castle of Duntreath, now a ruin, was, with the lands attached to it, early the property of the Edmonstone family, of whom Sir William, of Culloden, married Lady Mary, daughter of Robert III., and widow of Sir William Graham, of Kincardine, ancestor of the earls of Montrose: Sir Archibald Edmonstone, Bart., is the present proprietor. Of Mugdock Castle, which appears to have been strongly fortified, there are still considerable remains, consisting of a square tower nearly entire, with a projecting gateway-turret at one of the angles; it was defended on the east and north by a lake, which supplied the fosse whereby the castle was surrounded on the other sides. At a distance of about three hundred yards from this castle is a remarkable echo, which distinctly reverberates a sentence of six monosyllables, if uttered in a loud tone, and this not till a few seconds after the sentence is completed. Of the castle of Duntreath, which seems to have been of the same date, and nearly of equal strength, the north and east sides of the quadrangle are a heap of ruins; and the arched gateway which formed the entrance is completely detached from the rest of the building. The neighbourhood of Strathblane appears to have been tributary to the celebrated Rob Roy Mc Gregor, from whose depredations the inhabitants purchased exemption by the payment of stipulated sums, in proportion to the extent of their properties; and an order of the justices of the peace for the district, made at the quarter-sessions held at Stirling, is still extant, enjoining the payment of those sums, in answer to a petition from the freebooter, complaining of their want of punctuality.
   The parish occupies the south-western part of the county, and is about five miles in length and four in breadth, comprising 14,080 acres, of which 3350 are arable, 2000 woodland and plantations, and the remainder meadow, pasture, and waste. The surface is diversified with hills. A portion of the Lennox range extends along the northern boundary, attaining at the highest point, which is called the Earl's Seat, an elevation of 1400 feet above the level of the sea. On the south-west of the vale of Strathblane is the hill of Dungoiach, of conical shape, rising to a height of 400 feet, and clothed with wood to the summit, thus forming a striking contrast to that of Dunglass, on the north-east, which, though of nearly equal height, has a rugged and desolate appearance. The vale intersects the parish from north-west to south-east, reaching from the vale of Endrick on the west to the vale of Campsie on the east. Its surface rises, by gentle undulations, from a height of about 100 feet at the entrance to an elevation of 340 feet at the extremity; and the vale is inclosed on both sides by low hills covered with verdure, between which are narrow glens of picturesque aspect. The whole of this beautiful vale, and the entrance to it from the south-east, are marked with features of romantic character; and the scenery is enriched with woods of stately growth and thriving plantations, and studded with handsome villas and gentlemen's seats. On the south side of the vale is an expanse of table-land, about two miles in width, and nearly 400 feet above the level of the sea, extending across the whole breadth of the parish, and which was formerly a wild and barren moor, but is now in a state of profitable cultivation, producing favourable crops of grain. The river Blane has its source near the Earl's Seat, among the Lennox hills, and taking a southern direction, falls from several precipitous hills, and forms a magnificent cataract descending from a height of seventy feet, called the Spout of Ballagan, after which, diverting its course to the north-west, it flows through the valley of Strathblane into the Endrick. There are numerous springs of excellent water, one of which, on the farm of Ballewan, possesses mineral properties; and also several lakes, of which the principal are, Loch Ardinning, about sixty acres in extent, but undistinguished by any peculiarity of features; Loch Craigallion, containing forty acres; Loch Mugdock, twenty-five acres in extent, surrounded with beautiful scenery, among which the ancient castle forms an interesting object; Loch Craigmaddie, of ten acres, Loch Dumbroch, of the same extent; and Loch Carbeth, containing only eight acres. The lakes abound with pike and perch, and char are also found in that of Dumbroch. Game of every kind is plentiful; black and red grouse frequent the moors, and wild-ducks, woodcocks, partridges, and pheasants are found in abundance.
   The soil, though various, is generally fertile, and well adapted for the different crops, which comprise oats, barley, wheat, beans, turnips, and potatoes, with the usual grasses. The system of husbandry is greatly improved, and a due rotation of crops is carefully observed; the lands have been well drained, and inclosed with dykes of stone, and, on some of the farms, with hedges of thorn, kept in good repair; the farm houses and offices are substantial and commodiously arranged, and all the more recent improvements in the construction of agricultural implements have been adopted. Great attention is paid to the management of the dairy-farms, the produce of which is sent to the Glasgow market. The sheep and cattle are of the several breeds common to this part of the country; and a considerable stimulus to improvement is afforded by an association called the Farmer's Society, who hold their meetings annually, and award prizes to the successful competitors. There are some remains of natural wood, consisting of beech, alder, hazel, and willow; and the plantations, which are very extensive, and chiefly of modern formation, are, larch, Scotch fir, oak, ash, elm, beech, Huntingdon willow, Lombardy poplar, and other kinds of forest-trees. The principal substrata are of the old red sandstone formation, which abounds in the lower parts of the parish; the hills consist chiefly of trap, in which are found veins of jaspar, and occasionally chalcedony and zeolite. Limestone and marl also occur in some places; and there are quarries of freestone of good quality for building, in operation to a moderate extent. The rateable annual value of the parish is returned at £5300.
   Craigend Castle, the seat of John Smith, Esq., is an elegant mansion, erected in 1812, and beautifully situated: Carbeth, erected in 1810, is also a handsome mansion; and Leddiegreen and Ballagan are both good houses standing on pleasant sites. In the garden of Ballagan is a yew-tree in full vigour, and presenting a fine appearance, supposed to be five centuries old. There is no village in the parish, properly so called; but three detached hamlets have been formed, consisting of a few houses. Some works for the printing of calico have been established at Blanefield, which are carried on with much success, and occupy a considerable number of the population; there is likewise a bleachfield at Dumbroch, where upwards of sixty people are regularly employed. The nearest market-town is Glasgow, with which there is facility of communication by two turnpike-roads from that city, one leading to Drymen, and the other to Balfron, and both passing through the parish: a post-office has been established here of late years under that of the city of Glasgow. A fair, exclusively for cattle, is held annually, about the middle of November, but is not well attended. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Dumbarton and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The minister's stipend is £231. 16. 5., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £16 per annum; patron, the Duke of Montrose. The present church, erected in 1803, is a handsome structure in the later English style of architecture, and contains 450 sittings, all of which are free: the remains of Lady Mary, daughter of Robert III., were interred in the family vault beneath the old church. The parochial school affords instruction to about thirty children; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with a house and garden, and the fees average £15 per annum. A parochial library was established in 1817, and has now a collection of 700 volumes; a Bible society was established in 1813, and a missionary society in 1823. There is also a fund for the poor, of £400, the amount of various charitable bequests. To the south-east of the hill of Dungoiach are six erect stones, varying in height; the highest is about six feet from the surface, but nothing of their history has transpired. Under the surface of the moss at Craigend was discovered, in 1800, a small inclosure formed with stakes of wood; but for what purpose it was intended, is altogether unknown. There seemed to have been originally an entrance from the west; and a few pieces of wood indicated that the inclosure had been roofed: it was probably a place of shelter. The Duke of Montrose takes the inferior title of Baron Mugdock from this parish.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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