Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Sidlaw Hills

Sidlaw Hills, a long chain of heights, extending from Kinnoull Hill, on the left bank of the Tay, in Perthshire, east-north-eastward and north-eastward to the German Ocean at Redhead in Forfarshire, and at Stonehaven in Kincardineshire. The chain is detached from the Ochil range only by the intervention of the Tay and the Earn; just as the latter range is detached from the Lennox Hills only by the intervention of the vale of the Forth; and jointly with these ranges it forms the Lowland screen, or the screen on the Lowland side, of what, without any great accommodation of language, may be called a continuous valley along the skirt of the Highland frontier, from the vale of the Leven in Dumbartonshire to the German Ocean at Stonehaven. To the more marked and emphatic, and to the popularly designated part of this great valley, or' Strathmore,' belongs the screen of the Sidlaws. Yet the heights are not strictly a chain. They extend with considerable ridgy regularity from Kinnoull Hill, north-eastward to a point a little distance SE of the town of Forfar; they there fork into two lines, the one of which goes off in undulations and detachments, yet with very observable. continuity nearly eastward to the sea at Redhead, while the other proceeds irregularly north-eastward, becomes almost lost in the vicinity of Brechin, and afterwards rallies and straggles on along the Lowland side of the Howe of Kincardine to the sea at Stonehaven. In the popular application of the name, however, the Sidlaws are only the part in Forfarshire from Lundie to Redhead. Many of the hills, such as the celebrated Dunsinane, are isolated in position, and have conical summits. Some, such as the hills of Lower, Dunnichen, Dumbarrow, and others, are rounded and detached, and overhang intervening valleys. In some instances, as in the ridge of the Tulloes, which runs along the southern frontier of the parishes of Inverarity, Dunnichen, and Kirkden, the heights form a long flat regular range of moderate elevation. The highest point is Auchterhouse Hill (1399 feet); but this, or an altitude very little inferior, is attained by many other of the summits. Seen from Fifeshire, they appear a lofty brown mountain-barrier, drawn out like a huge rampart to cover the interior of Perthshire and Forfarshire. Some of them are cultivated to the summit, and many which, a century ago, were covered all over with stunted heath, now seem to groan beneath loads of green umbrageous timber. The prevailing formation of the Sidlaws is the Old Red Sandstone,-part of the vast bed which so curiously waves in several great and successive curvatures across Forfarshire. On the side facing Strathmore, the strata dip to the N at an angle of about 45; but they diminish in dip as the hills are crossed, till on the side facing the Lowlands, especially in the upper part of Carmyllie, they become nearly or altogether horizontal. The sandstone is of various colours, red, brown, grey, white, with a slight tinge of green; and it is, in some instances, susceptible of a remarkably smooth polish. The strata alternate with beds of shale, and occasionally with some beds of conglomerate which measure from 50 to 100 feet in thickness. Trap rocks, chiefly of greenstone, and to some extent of porphyry, occur plentifully in intersecting veins, and occasionally in surmounting nodules and masses. An impervious boulder-formation covers a large part of the surface.—Ord. Sur., shs. 48, 57, 66, 67, 1868-71.

(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4); © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland)

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a long chain of heights"   (ADL Feature Type: "mountain ranges")
Administrative units: Angus ScoCnty       Kincardineshire ScoCnty       Perthshire ScoCnty

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