In transcribing the following paragraphs from the Internet Archive online version, I have expanded the abbreviations for easier reading. — George P. Landow]

ABERDEENSHIRE, a maritime county in the Northeast of Scotland, occupying the central portion of an extensive promontory which projects into the North Sea, between the Friths of Tay and Moray. It is about 91 miles in length East Northeast to West Southwest, and about 36 miles in width at the broadest part in right angles to its length, diminishing Southwest to about 10 miles. It is bounded West, Northwest, and North, by the counties of Inverness and Banff, South and Southeast by those of Perth, Forfar, and Kincardine, and East and North by the North Sea. It has 60 in. of a sea-coast, about 14 of which, from the Dee to Ythan, are low and sandy; the remainder is mostly bold and rocky, and, in some places, deeply penetrated by remarkable fissures and caverns; but there are no islands upon it deserving of special notice.

The county is estimated to contain 1,260,800 acres, and is divided into eight districts, and 85 parishes, several of which are united. It is generally hilly, and in the Southwest. occur several of the highest mountains in Scotland. These are, Ben Macdhui, 4390 feet high; Cairntoul, 4220; Cairngorm, 4095; Bennabuird, 3940; Lochnagar, 3800; and several others, varying from 3000 to 3700 feet These moun tains present, in some places, vast perpendicular precipices, a few of them exceeding 1000 feet in height. Their summits are generally bare, rounded, and covered with detached masses of granite. The predominant rocks of the county are gneiss, mica-slate, and granite; and patches of serpentine occur in many parts. Trap rocks are of continual occurrence in the inland and hilly parts; and veins or dikes of trap are observed in parishes near the East coast. But its most valuable mineral is its celebrated building granite, large quantities of which are exported yearly from the quarries near Aberdeen and Peterhead. It is of two colours, gray and red; is extremely hard, and susceptible of a high polish. The other rocks are limestone, sandstone, and clay- slate, occurring in small quantity. Several descriptions of precious stones, including rock-crystal and topaz, are occa sionally found on the mountains, and small pieces of amber on the Buchan coast. Chalybeate springs occur in several parts of the county, the most celebrated of which are those of Peterhead, Fraserhurgh, and Pananich.

The principal rivers are the Dee .and the Don. The former rises in the Southwest part of the county, in the mountains which there separate the latter from Invernessshire, at a height of 4000 feet. The latter has its source on the West border of the county, at an elevation of 1640 feet above the level of the sea. The salmon fishery of the Dee is worth about 8000 a-year. That of the Don is less valuable. Other streams are the Ythan, Ugie, and Deveron or Doveran. Amongst the lakes in Absrdeenshire, none of which are remarkable for their extent, is that which inspired the early muse of Byron Lochnagar. It is a small sheet of water, situated amongst the mountains in the S.W. part of the county, at a height of 2500 feet above the level of the sea. The scenery around it is singularly wild and picturesque, a rock of 1315 feet in perpendicular height rising close by its margin.

In the Southwest parts of Aberdeenshire there are some extensive forests, including the celebrated forest of Mar, in which are many magnificent specimens of the Scotch fir, some of them supposed to be from 300 to 400 years old. The largest measure 13 and 14 feet in girth, 6 feet from the ground, and are about 60 feet in height. These forests are plentifully stocked with red and roe deer, and all sorts of game.

The soil of the county varies greatly. The finest arable land lies chiefly between the Don and the Ythan. In the lower parts round the coast, clay is prevalent; in the upper arable districts, there is a considerable extent of light, sharp, sandy loam. Sand, moor, and moss prevail on the hills and higher grounds, occupying, with the mountainous tracts and other waste lands, nearly two-thirds of the entire county. The climate is, on the whole, mild; but the summer short, and somewhat cold. An improved system of cultivation is extending over the county, chiefly from the example of experienced farmers from the southern districts of Scotland, many of whom have settled in it. All the crops usual in other parts of the country, with the exception of wheat, for which neither the soil nor climate are suitable, succeed well here, especially oats, of which about 16,000 acres are grown annually; barley, potatoes, and turnips.

But the most important object now with the tenantry is the rearing of cattle, immense numbers of which are exported annually. This trade is of comparatively recent date, but has been of extraordinary rapid growth. It commenced about the year 1830, since which it has risen from 150 head to 18,300 the number exported in 1849. The native breed, which is said to have greatly increased in size since the introduction of turnip feeding, is preferred by the best judges. Dairy husbandry has also made great progress of late years; the quantity of butter now annually exported is said to exceed 100,000 in value. Sheep farming has not increased in proportion.

The old domestic stocking-knitting, for which Aberdeenshire was once famous, is now nearly extinct; but there are exten sive manufactures of cotton, linen, flax, and of woollen and sail cloth, in the city of Aberdeen, and neighbourhood.

Balmoral Castle. From an Original Drawing.

The scenery in the mountainous parts of the country is of the most magnificent description, and attracts numerous visitors in the summer season. Much pleasing scenery occurs also along nearly the whole course of the Dee. There are many noblemen’s and gentlemen’s seats dispersed over the county, one of which Balmoral is now a summer residence of her majesty Queen Victoria. The royal mansion is in the parish of Crathie, on the right bank of the Dee, on a natural platform at the foot of a hill called Craig-an-gowan,52 miles, by road, Westsouthwest of Aberdeen, and 75 North of Edinburgh. Balmoral castle was originally a very old building, but had been latterly much enlarged and improved by various occupants; it has been further altered and extended since it became the royal residence, and now presents, from the variety of styles in which the different additions have been executed, a very irregular, but certainly very picturesque appearance. The scenery around comprises nearly all the elements of the beautiful and romantic in landscape, the principal and most striking of which are the richly-wooded hills and rocky heights which rise abruptly on either side of the Dee.

The annual value of real property assessed in Aberdeenshire, in 1843, was £603,968. The receipts for the relief of the poor in the year ending May 14, 1847, was £28,158, 15s. 9|d; the expenditure for the same period, £28,610, 4s. O^d. A large proportion of the working population is employed in agricul ture and in the fisheries on the coast. The county sends one member to parliament; constituency in 1847, 3836. County town, Aberdeen. Pop. in 1851, 212,032. [I, 8-9]


Blackie, Walker Graham. The Imperial Gazetteer: A General Dictionary of Geography, Physical, Political, Statistical and Descriptive. 4 vols. London: Blackie & Son, 1856. Internet Archive online version of a copy in the University of California Library. Web. 7 November 2018.

Last modified 7 November 2018