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Deskford Parish, Banffshire, Scotland
Written and Researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

Deskford Parish in the 1800's (nineteenth century)

Deskford is a parish containing a post office station of its own name, in the north of Banffshire. It is bounded by the parishes of Cullen, Fordyce, Grange, and Rathven. Its northern boundary is within 1 3/4 miles of the town of Cullen. The parish has nearly the outline of a parallelogram, and is about 5 miles in length from north to south, and 2 to 3 in breadth from east to west. It consists of a valley running from south-west to north-east, between two ranges of hills, whence numerous rivulets descend through small ravines or glens which are beautifully fringed with hazel and birch. These rivulets from both sides unite in the valley, in the adjoining southern parish of Grange. It runs north-east through the Cullen burn to the sea. As the banks of the Deskford burn are also finely bordered with natural wood, the parish altogether constitutes "one of the most beautiful little straths in the whole country." There are cascades in many of the rivulets which in the summer-floods and winter-thaws, descend with great impetuosity through the trees, and exhibit many romantic and picturesque scenes. The Linn is the most remarkable cascade in the parish. It has a very fine fall of almost 30 feet. The soil of the lower land in the valley is loam resting on strong deep clay, but towards the hills it is a light black mossy soil upon clay and gravel. It is stated in the New Statistical Account that, of land, either cultivated or occasionally in tillage, there are 2,800 imperial acres; waste or in pasture 5,100,-- of which 250 might be profitably cultivated; under wood 600. Average rent of arable land, 17s. 6d. per acre. Average gross amount of raw produce, 6,062 pds. 8s. In 1752, then Lord Deskford -- afterwards Earl of Findlater and Seafield -- established a bleach field in the north end of the parish where about 1,500 pieces of cloth and 1,700 spindles of thread-yarn were annually whitened, but a number of years ago, this establishment dwindles to extinction. There are two meal mills and a barley mill, There is an excellent limestone quarry. There formerly stood, near the centre of the parish, the tower of Deskford, an ancient castle said to have been built by the Sinclairs, the immediate predecessors of the Ogilvies in the property of lordship of Deskford. Its remains were a number of years ago pulled down, but the Cordiner has preserved a view of it. In the same vicinity also is the castle of Skuth, which has now also become ruinous. It is a striking object to passengers. In the institution at Banff is a curious antiquity consisting of a brazen swine's head, with the wooden tongue moved by springs. It was found about 15 years ago [from the date of this gazetteer] in a mossy knoll at Liecheston, near the farm of Inatterie, which is supposed to mean the place of the altar. and where there are remains of a very old and massive but anomalous structure, in one part of which there is a deep circular hole enclosed by a wall rising to a considerable height in the interior of the building. Close to it is a vault with a stair decending into it. In the immediate vicinity, also, there stood, til recently, an artifical conical eminenece named Law-hillock - said to have been an ancient seat of justice. Another artificial hillock stands within view of this on the other side of the Deskford burn. There is no modern edifice of any note in the parish. Population in 1831, 828; in 1861, 1,031. Houses, 185. Assessed property in 1860, 2,728 pds.

The parish is a presbytery of Fordyce and a synod of Aberdeen. It was originally part of Fordyce, and was afterwards included in Cullen. Patron, the Earl of Seafield. Stipend, 193pds. 12s. 10d.; glebe, 8 pds. Unappropriated teinds, 74 pds. 16s. 1d. The parish church adjoins the site of Deskford tower. There is no date on it; but one pew bears the date 1627, another 1630. Sittings, 357. There is a Free church: attendence, 200; receipts in 1865, 77pds. 14s. 9d. Schoolmaster's salary, 52pds. 10s.with about 16 pd fees, and a share of the Dick bequest. There are two Free church schools.

Source: Wilson, Rev. John Marius (editor). The Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland (Topographical Statistical, and Historical. London and Edinburgh: A. Fullarton & Co. 376.


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