Source 3 : Part of the report for The Parish of Monymusk, County of Aberdeen, in volume 3 of the ‘Statistical Account’
Printed book (NLS shelfmark: S.A.S.)
The Parish of Monymusk was owned by Sir Archibald Grant, who had a great interest in agricultural improvement.
He lived at Monymusk between the 1730s and his death in the 1770s and carried out a number of improvement projects there, including the introduction of new crops and farming methods.
Though Grant had died by the time the ‘Statistical Account’ was compiled, the entry for Monymusk contains information about the improvements he had made, and their impact upon the parish.
History of the Origin and Progress of the Statistical Account of Scotland
Statistical Account of Moneymusk
Improvements and Agriculture. – Agriculture, and, indeed, improvements of almost every kind, were carried to a very advanced state by the late Sir Archibald Grant. As he could find no persons in this country qualified to superintend his improvements, he was careful to draw to this corner, by suitable rewards, men of knowledge in farming, from such parts of the kingdom as had advanced farthest in agriculture; and by employing such, either as overseers, or by giving them advantageous leases with suitable accommodations, a part of the estate was brought into good order, its value increased, and the country people convinced, by the striking example of advantage before their eyes, of the necessity of draining, cleaning, straightening, and green-croping their lands, to save much labour, and ensure better returns. But, as long rooted prejudices cannot be universally eradicated, it was judged necessary to bind down the tenants in their leases, to a proper method of managing their fields, to build annually a certain quantity of stone dykes, to lay on a quantity of lime proportioned to the extent of their farms, to cultivate a suitable proportion of turnips, potatoes, artificial grasses, &c. This scheme had the desired effect; and the mode which many at first were obliged reluctantly to adopt, is become so agreeable and profitable, that they would renounce their leases, rather than relinquish a plan of management, they now find to be so productive.
|Amount of acres of infield||1285||0||35|
|Amount of acres of outfield||2606||2||20|
|Amount of acres of pasture||731||2||11|
|Amount of acres of moor ground||2776||0||0|
|Amount of acres of moss||56||2||0|
|Amount of acres of wood||1881||2||10|
Flax. – The people have been in the practice, for some years past, of cultivating flax in small quantities.
Grain sent out of the Parish. – This parish sends considerable quantities of oats, oat-meal, and barley, to the Aberdeen market, but how much cannot be known; the quantity produced within the parish is considerably greater, than what is consumed by the inhabitants.
Time of Sowing and Reaping. – Wheat is sown in the month of October, pease, oats, and rye as early in March as the weather will permit. The bear or barley is sown in the month of May, and is generally reaped betwixt the middle of August and the 10th of September. The oats, wheat, rye &c. are reaped in the course of the month of September, or betwixt the beginning of September and the middle of October. There is generally a rich crop of hay produced from the fields which have been carefully prepared, and it is generally cut down in the beginning of July; the second crop is well advanced about the end of August, but it is seldom used otherwise than for pasture.
Number of Horses, Cattle, and Sheep. – A good many cattle and sheep are fattened upon turnip, &c. for the Aberdeen market, and draw very good prices to the farmer.
The number of horses in the parish, is 182
The number of cattle in the parish, is 1029
The number of sheep in the parish, is 1482
Wood. – Besides the number of acres within the parish, occupied by woods and plantations, mentioned above, there are two large inclosures, which have never been surveyed; one of them called the Millstone-hill, is from eight to ten
miles in circumference; the other, which is called the hill of Pitfichie, and likewise is inclosed and planted, measures from five to six miles in circumference, and both together will amount to several thousand acres. The whole was begun and accomplished by the late Sir Archibald Grant, who had the pleasure of seeing the trees arrive at maturity, and of deriving annually a considerable revenue from the sale of wood. The fir trees, in particular, have been observed to thrive remarkably here, and although it was the year 1720, before a single fir was planted, some of them had advanced so rapidly, that besides a great number of trees, which had been disposed of for many years back, sufficient work was found for a saw-mill, which was erected about twenty-four years ago, for cutting the largest trees into planks, and supplying the country around with wood of different sizes for carpenter work. Paradise wood contains a great number of fine full grown oaks; and, although the family of Monymusk possess that wood, and another opposite to it, which is not in this parish, where the oaks are fully as numerous, Sir Archibald Grant has not hitherto sold any of them. In the same wood are fine birch trees, ash, alders, and hazel wood; the last of which produces frequently great quantities of nuts.
- What evidence does this source provide on the improvements carried out by Grant at Monymusk?
- How does this source suggest tenants at Monymusk reacted to the changes Grant introduced? How useful is this source as evidence of the tenant’s response to Grant’s improvements?