Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Aberfeldy

Aberfeldy (Abyrfealdybeg in 1301: Gael. abhir-feathaile, ' calm smooth confluence '), a village in detached portions of Dull and Logierait parishes, central Perthshire, on the great highroad to the Western Highlands, at the terminus of a branch of the Highland railway, 8¾ miles W by S of Ballinluig Junction, 16¾ WNW of Dunkeld, 32½ NW of Perth, 79½ NNW of Edinburgh, and 94¾ NNE of Glasgow. It stands on both sides of Urlar Burn, 1 mile below its lovely Falls of Moness, and 3 furlongs S of its influx to the Tay: which latter river is spanned, ¼ mile WNW of the village, by a fivearched bridge, erected by General Wade in 1733, and variously described as ' elegant and substantial ' by guide-books, by Dorothy Wordsworth as ' of ambitions and ugly architecture. ' At least, this bridge commands a noble view down the Tay, eastward, to Grantully Castle: up the Tay, westward, to Castle Menzies and Taymouth Castle, the Strath of Appin, and Glen Lyon: southward of the narrow Glen of Moness,-all set in an amphitheatre of high ribbed hills. Within a radius of some 6 miles, from E to W, rise Grantully Hill (1717 feet), Stron a Ghamhuinn (1208), Meall Dearg (2258), Monadh nam Mial (1975), Meall Dubh (2021), Meall Dun Dhomhnuill (2061), and Craig Hill (1845) to the S of the Tay: and, to the N, the Bonnets (1338), Ben Eagach (2259), Farragon Hill (2559), Weem Hill (1638), Meall Tarruin'chon (2559), and Craig Odhar (1710), beyond which last Shiehallion (3547) and Carn Mairg (3419) uprear their loftier summits. Strange that with such surroundings Aberfeldy should most be famed for what it has not, and seemingly never had, the ' birks ' of Burns's lyric *:-

The braes ascend like lofty wa's,
The foaming stream deep-roaring fa's,
O'erhung wi' fragrant spreading shaws,
The birks of Aberfeldy.
The hoary cliffs are crown'd wi' flowers,
white o'er the linn the burnie pours,
And, rising. weets wi' misty showers
The birks of Aberfeldy

The date of Burns's visit was 29 Aug. 1787, of Wordsworth's and his sister's 5 Sept. 1803: and the Queen has driven twice through Aberfeldy, 7 Sept. 1842 and 3 Oct. 1866. Another episode was the embodiment of the Highland companies known as the ' Black Watch ' into the 43d (now 42d) Regiment, which took place with great pomp, May 1740, either between the village and Taybridge or at Boltachan, just across the river.

Chiefly consisting of one long street, a shorter joining it half-way, and a little square at their junction, Aberfeldy is a pleasant thriving place, and a favourite summer resort. It is held, with few exceptions, under building leases of 99 years from the Earl of Breadalbane, its sole proprietor: and it has recently been much improved, being lighted with gas, and furnished since 1875 with a thorough drainage system and public waterworks. It has a head post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, branches of the Bank of Scotland, the Commercial Bank, and the Union Bank of Scotland, a first-class hotel, a Young Men's Christian Association hall (1881), a literary society, a choral union, curling, cricket, and bowling clubs, a dye work, 2 sawmills, and a woollen factory. A sheriff small-debt court sits on the Monday following the first Saturday of April, August, and December: and cattle sales are held on alternate Thursdays, fairs on the first Thursday of January (old style), the Tuesday of March after Perth, the last Friday of July (old style), and the Thursday of October before Doune November Tryst. To a Free church (Gaelic, 800 sittings) in the presbytery of Breadalbane and synod of Perth and Stirling, a Congregational church (1817: 700 sittings), and a Baptist church (60 sittings), it was resolved, on 12 Oct. 1880, to add an Established church: and Aberfeldy has besides a Roman Catholic station, occasionally served from Ballechin: whilst at Weem, 11/8 mile WNW, is St David's Episcopal Church (1877). One public school, with accommodation for 319 children, had (1879) an average attendance of 186, and a grant of £155,16s. Pop. (1841) 910, (1861) 1145, (1871) 1159-660 in Dull, 499 in Logierait, (1881) 1260. Pop. of registration district, including parts of Dull, Logierait, Fortingall, Kenmore, and Weem (1861) 2402, (1871) 2286, (1881) 2268.—Ord. Sur., sh. 55, 1869.

* Rowans there are in abundance, and a myth has of course arisen that these have superseded the birks; but the absence of the latter from Aberfeldy in 1803 is as certain as their presence at Abergeldie years before Burns's day.

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

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a village"   (ADL Feature Type: "populated places")
Administrative units: Logierait ScoP       Aberfeldy Burgh       Perthshire ScoCnty
Place names: ABERFELDY     |     ABHIR FEATHAILE
Place: Aberfeldy

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