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THE MAIN LINE.
The Aberdeen station belongs to the Caledonian Railway and Great North of Scotland Railway jointly. Leaving it we first reach
1} mile from Aberdeen.
The Company's engine shops are here, and the goods marshalling yards. It is on the outskirts of Aberdeen, and from its immediate neighbourhood are visible the towers of the Cathedral of St. Machar, and those of King's College, now Aberdeen University. This last building is distinguished by a massive square tower surmounted by an open crown in stone. The chapel of the University is a very fine specimen of Gothic architecture.
The University and College of Old Aberdeen were founded by Bishop Elphinston in 1494 by a Bull of Pope Alexander VI. at the request of James IV., who confirmed this Bull on May 22,1497. The actual foundation, however, did not take place till 1505. It was first known as St. Mary's, but afterwards as the Royal College or King's College of Aberdeen. By a charter dated 8th November 1641, Charles I. incorporated this and Marischal College into one university, which he named King Charles University of Aberdeen. This union was annulled under Charles II., and the two universities remained apart till the middle of the present century, when they were again united
as they now continue to be. That union dates from September 15, 1860; the two universities and two colleges forming now "The University of Aberdeen," which, however, among Scottish Universities ranks from the foundation of 1494. The Classes for Arts and Divinity are in King's College, Old Aberdeen, and those for Law and Medicine in Marischal College, Broad Street, Aberdeen.
Of the Cathedral, only the nave and western tower remain. Masses of ruined wall attest the great original extent. It is exceedingly bare and unadorned, bearing sad marks of unsympathising and uneducated repairs. It is used as the parish church of Old Aberdeen, and is a collegiate charge.
The original bishop's seat was at Mortlach, where it was instituted by Malcolm Canmore, A.d. 1010, in commemoration of a victory he had gained over the Danes. It was translated to Aberdeen inA.D. 1137. At that time Old Aberdeen was a small village, and had a little kirk where the Cathedral now stands. The building of the Cathedral seems to have been begun about 1357. Bishop Leighton built St. John's Aisle in 1430, and commenced the steeples. The church was roofed in 1445; the great steeple was finished in 1489 and furnished with a peal of fourteen bells. The smaller steeples were finished and the south aisle built in 1522.
The bishop's palace stood at the end of the Cathedral, and consisted of a court with a tower on each of the four corners, and contained a fireat hull. The other officials had suitable residences around. "The lofty steeple on the east end, which in those days was a sea-mark, fell to the ground in the year 1688, and by its fall crushed all the eastern end of the fabric, destroyed many of the sepulchral monuments, and materially injured part of the nave. The height of the steeple, which was surmounted by a globe and a brass weathercock, was about 150 feet; and its fall, according to tradition, was occasioned by part of the stones of the buttresses having been removed and carried off by the English army stationed in Aberdeen during the Protectorate, for the purpose of erecting some works of fortification on the Castle Hill."
The Cathedral is beautifully situated on a rising ground overlooking the rich Haughs that extend from the Auld Brig of Balgownie to Grandholm. Smiles, in his Life of Edward the Naturalist, says: — "Who that has seen the banks and braes of the Don, from the Auld Brig to the Haughs of Grandholm, can ever forget it? Looking down from the heights above the Brig of Balgownie, you see the high, broad arch thrown across the deep and dark winding Don. Beneath you the fishermen are observed hauling to shore their salmon-nets. Westward of the Auld Brig the river meanders amongst the bold, bluff banks, clothed to the summit with thick embowered wood. Two or three miles above are the Haughs, from which a fine view of the Don is obtained, with the high woodcovered bank beyond it. And over all, the summits of the spires of St. Machar, the cathedral church of Old Aberdeen."
The Auld Brig of Balgownie is a very ancient and interesting structure. Byron, who was partly educated at Aberdeen, says of it:—" The Brig of Don, near the 'AuldToun' of Aberdeen, with its one arch, and its black, deep salmon stream, is in my memory as yesterday. I still remember the awful proverb which made me pause to cross
it, and yet lean over it with a childish delight—being an only son, at least by the mother's side—
"Brig o' Balgownie, wight is thy wa';
The prophecy is one of those credited to Thomas the Rhymer.
This bridge consists of one Gothic arch built over the narrowest part of the river, and resting on a rock at each end. It is 66 feet 10 inches wide at the bottom, and 34^ feet high abovo the surface of the river, which at low tide is 194 fee* deep. Its erection is ascribed variously to King Robert Bruce and Bishop Cheyne. Sir Alexander Hay, one of the Clerks of Session, and afterwards Lord Clerk Register, granted to the Council and Community of Aberdeen, by a charter dated in February 1605, certain annuities amounting to £27 : 8 : 6 Scots, or £2:5:8 sterling, arising from various crofts of land in the neighbourhood of Aberdeen, for defraying the expense of repairing and supporting the bridge. This fund has accumulated so largely that after building the new bridge a little below the Auld Brig, a structure of five lofty arches, and costing £17,000, and making other grants from it, the capital fund amounted in 1876, in addition to the feu-duties, to £25,719, with a gross revenue of £909.
I mile from Kittybrewster. 2j „ „ Aberdeen.
Immediately below the station, in the valley of the Don, are extensive woollen mills, belonging to the Messrs. Crombie, and further down the stream are several other mills; whilst the opposite bank of the river shows several beautiful villas. Seaton House, belonging to Lord James Hay, is a handsome residence in a large park bounded by the Don. Seaton Cottage (J. F. White, Esq.) is a sweet ivy-covered one-storied cottage on the smooth meadow by the water edge. High up on the wooded bank above is Balgownie Lodge (John Crombie, Esq.) Then Balgownie (H. D. Forbes, Esq.) Further up Btream, Danestown (John Crombie jun., Esq.); Persleyden (Mrs. Robertson); Woodside House (Dr. WU1).
21 miles from Woodside.
The station for two large paper-mills, Muggiemoss (Davidson); and Stoneywood (Pirie). To the west of the line are large quarries of granite, the Dancing Cairns and the Sclattie, and a little way north of the station, on the east, handsome boys' and girls' schools, erected and managed by the Messrs. Pirie for the children of the families connected with their works. The works lie down on the river-side, and in the fine woods above them are seen the houses of the proprietors. Buxburn is a considerable village, and has a Free and Established church and Episcopal chapel, the two latter new and handsome buildings.
1} mile from Buxburn.
The junction for the Buchan and Formartine branch to Peterhead and Fraserburgh. When the railway was opened this place was a bleak moor. It is now a flourishing village, and yearly increasing. The railway has dep&ts for permanent way stores and creosote works here; and being a central point for country distribution, several important private wood and slate yards, and a manure manufactory, have been established here. The proprietor of the land is John Gordon Cumming Skene, Esq., of Pitlurg and Parkhill . His residence of Parkhill is within 2 miles of Dyce, on the east bank of the Don.
2 miles from Dyce.
Between Dyce and this is passed first the Free Church of Dyce, and then the Parish Church. We are now running along, at a little distance, the west bank of the Don. The opposite bank is studded with several pretty country houses, the summer homes of wealthy
winter residents of Aberdeen Above the station to the west, on an. .elevated plateau, beautifully adorned with fine trees, is Pitmedden, the residence of George Thompson jun., Esq., an extensive merchant and shipowner. And on the opposite bank of the river, a little further up, is Fintray House, the seat of Sir Wm. Forbes, Bart., of Craigievar and Fintray. Previous to reaching the station there may be observed in the centre of a field, on a rising ground, a monument of red stone. This was erected in memory of Dr. Duncan Liddel, a rather noted mathematician, who flourished in the early part of the 17th century. He founded, in 1613, bursaries in Marischal College, to be paid out of the income of the estate of Pitmedden, of which he was then the proprietor.
21 miles from Pitmedden. 10| M „ Aberdeen.
The features of the landscape here are the flat meadow-lands through which the Don winds a devious route, and which are subject to be overflowed to a great extent after heavy rain, the Don and its tributaries draining a very extended country; and often coming down rapidly in great "spates." Kinaldie Cottage (Milne) is close to the station, and this is the nearest point for Kinellar. The Parish Church is on a rising ground on the left. The churchyard has been the site of an ancient Druidical Temple, several of the stones of which, of great size, are yet found in it. Near to Cairnsembling, on the hill of Achonrie, in this parish, there is pointed out a stone where, says local tradition, the "much redoubted laird of Drum" sat and made his will when on his way to Harlaw.
21 miles from Kinaldie. 13} „ ,, Aberdeen.
Kintore is a royal burgh, but a very quiet and unassuming little place. It is the junction for the Alford Valley branch. Though small, having only a population of 400 to 500, it owns a great antiquity, claiming to have rereived its original charter from Kenneth II. in the 9th century. This document is not known to exist, but there is extant a charter of confirmation by James IV., granted 3d Feb. 1506. Kintore is the subject of one of Dr. Arthur Johnstone, of Caskieben's, sonnets, thus translated by W. Barclay of Cruden, in a book by him, printed at Musselburgh in 1642:—
"Look to Kintore, nor thou Eleusis shall,
Herein are fishes in such plenty found,
# * * »
Here f,rst I sucked the Muses' breasts when
It was here first I learned the Latin tongue.
Near the station the line passes through the Goosecroft, the possessor of which holds it by a grant got under singular circumstances. "His ancestor, a person of the name of Thain who resided in the same spot, was, some time about the 15th century, visited by a traveller, who, asking him if he knew the family at Hallforest (the Lord Marischal's residence), further inquired if he would carry a message to Geordie Keith !' Geordie Keith!' was Mr. Thain's rejoinder, 'abetter man than you would have called him Lord George Keith.' He went the message, however, but was terrified to learn from the Earl Marischal that the sender was no less a personage than King James II.! Now Mr. Thain made sure that the king, in whose presence he had spoken of 'a better man than he,' would have his revenge. But, as often happens, the gudewife, with more penetration than her husband, had discovered some indications of rank in her visitor; and in her husband's absence at the castle, made the sovereign so comfortable at the ingleside, that instead of harsh looks, the worthy Mr. Thain received valuable gifts from the king, having conferred upon him the piece of ground in Kintore, designated the Goose-croft."
"To the above anecdote, which is well
authenticated, as there exists in the burgh records a confimatory document of date 1660, it may be added that there are several small heritors who hold their lands on very old deeds. One possession, says the Statistical Account, has continued in the same family of the name of Hill ever since the days of Robert the Bruce, from whom they received their charter. Another family of the name of Smith still possess a piece of ground given to one of their forefathers by Jamea V."
The ruins of the castle of Hallforest just mentioned are visible from the line before approaching the station, about a mile westward from the royal burgh. Sir Alexander Leith Hay figures it in his "Castles of Aberdeenshire," and says of it that the date of its erection is uncertain. All that remains of a once extensive building is a rectangular structure of considerable height, containing two very lofty arched apartments, one above the other. The higher arch is surmounted by an area of some extent, filled with the superstructure which has fallen in, and from whence some shrubs are growing among the grass and weeds now in undisturbed possession of the hunting tower, according to tradition, of Bobert Bruce. The castle formerly rose to the height of four stories, having battlements, besides a cape house, with a movable ladder by which the inmates obtained access to the first floor. Hallforest was granted by Robert Bruce to Robert de Keith, Great Marischal of Scotland, in consideration of his services at Bannockburn.
A conical mound called the Castle Hill had to be removed to make room for the railway station.
"It was a mound about 50 yards long, and on the east end 30 yards wide, narrowing towards the west until the width came to be within 10 yards. About 10 or 12 feet of extraneous matter had been laid over or had accumulated on the original surface, making the height from top to base about 30 feet. What had been the original surface was covered with ashes and charcoal; while there were round and oval-shaped pits, full of these
ashes, towards the east, being covered with fragments of bones. On the east end, about 10 yards in from the surface, there was discovered a crescent-shaped causeway, and on the south end, near where it terminated, were found eleven stones of different dimensions from 6 feet 9 inches to 2 feet. One, from its position alongside the largest stone, seemed to be fitted for a seat. There were two other stones about 5J by 3 feet which were covered with figures. These figures it is difficult to describe, as they nave only a distant resemblance to any common object. There were several figures one would take for elephants : and a very common figure in a kind of crescent or canopy." This very interesting description of what was found on removing the Castle Hill of Kintore, is from the pen of Mr. Watt, Townhead, Kintore, who made the notes at the time, and we are indebted for them to Mr. Ramsay of the Banffshire Journal. Other stones with similar sculpturings have been discovered from time to time in this neighbourhood. Engravings of most, if not of all, of them are preserved in the Spalding Club's "Sculptured Stones of Scotland."
2J miles from Kintore. 15$ „ „ Aberdeen.
This was the termination of the old Aberdeen and Inverurie Canal. "The canal, now dried up, was projected in 1793, and three years afterwards an Act was obtained authorising its construction and the raising of the necessary funds for the purpose. Some delays occurring in procuring the money, another Act authorising a further creation of stock was obtained. By means of the amount thus secured, and of a sum of £10,000 raised on mortgage, the undertaking was at length completed, and was opened in 1807. Its length was about 18 miles, but its breadth was only 8 yards, and its depth not more than 3 feet 9 inches. Indeed, now that it is dry, one wonders how so small a channel could have borne such a traffic. It is stated that the average annual weight of goods
carried on the canal was about 20,000 tons. The original cost of the construction of the canal was £37,000, but in 1834 other £1500 was expended on the construction of a tido-lock connecting the canal with the harbour at Aberdeen, and other items were laid out, which together made the entire cost of formation about £50,000. The revenue during the last years of its existence amounted to about £1500. This return, of course, did not remunerate the original shareholders, who, we believe, got nothing; they were, however, to a considerable extent landholders, and reaped the benefit of the outlay in an indirect form, in the increased value of their lands. The canal was bought up by the Railway Company."
The "port" was named after Sir Robert Elphinstone, Bart., of LogieElphinstone, who had given the canal great encouragement and substantial support. In those days the "port" was a busy place ; it is now very much the reverse.
Immediately after leaving the station we cross the Don by a very handsome stone and iron viaduct, erected 18781880. The piers are of Kemnay granite, and the iron roadway is the work of Messrs. Blackie Brothers. Mr. Barnett, the company's engineer, designed the structure and superintended its erection.
4mile from Port-Elphinstone.
Inverurie is a royal burgh of great antiquity (dating before the year 1200) and considerable size. Here is the junction for the Old Meldrum branch. The burgh is situated between the Don and the Urie, where these two streams unite; the Don here turning more directly west, while the railway pursues the course of the Urie northwards. On the cast bank of the Urie stands Keithhall, the seat of the Earls of Kintore. At the point where the two rivers meet, and between them, may be seen a curious conical mound, 50 to 60 feet high, called the Bass of Inverurie. It is named in one of Thomas the