1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kinross-shire

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KINROSS-SHIRE, a county of Scotland, bounded N. and W. by Perthshire, on the extreme S.W. by Clackmannanshire and S. and E. by Fifeshire. Its area is 52,410 acres or 81.9 sq. m. Excepting Clackmannan it is the smallest county in Scotland both in point of area and of population. On its confines the shire is hilly. To the N. and W. are several peaks of the Ochils, the highest being Innerdouny (1621 ft.) and Mellock (1573); to the E. are the heights of the Lomond group, such as White Craigs (1492 ft.) and Bishop Hill; to the S. are Benarty (1131 ft.) on the Fife border and farther west the Cleish Hills, reaching in Dumglow an altitude of 1241 ft. With the exception of the Leven, which drains Loch Leven and of which only the first mile of its course belongs to the county, all the streams are short. Green’s Burn, the North and South Queich, and the Gairney are the principal. Loch Leven, the only lake, is remarkable rather for its associations than its natural features. The scenery on the Devon, west of the Crook, the river here forming the boundary with Perthshire, is of a lovely and romantic character. At one place the stream rushes through the rocky gorge with a loud clacking sound which has given to the spot the name of the Devil’s Mill, and later it flows under the Rumbling Bridge. In reality there are two bridges, one built over the other, in the same vertical line. The lower one dates from 1713 and is unused; but the loftier and larger one, erected in 1816, commands a beautiful view. A little farther west is the graceful cascade of the Caldron Linn, the fall of which was lessened, however, by a collapse of the rocks in 1886.

Geology.—The northern higher portion of the county is occupied by the Lower Old Red Sandstone volcanic lavas and agglomerates of the Ochils. The coarse character of some of the lower agglomerate beds is well seen in the gorge at Rumbling Bridge. The beds dip gently towards the S.S.E.; in a north-easterly direction they contain more sandy sediments, and the agglomerates and breccias frequently become conglomerates. The plain of Kinross is occupied by the soft sandstones, marls and conglomerates of the upper Old Red Sandstone, which rest unconformably upon the lower division with a strong dip. Southward and eastward these rocks dip conformably beneath the Lower Carboniferous cement stone series of the Calciferous Sandstone group. The overlying Carboniferous limestone occupies only a small area in the south and east of the county. Intrusive basalt sheets have been intercalated between some of the Carboniferous strata, and the superior resisting power of this rock has been the cause of the existence of West Lomond, Benarty, Cleish Hills and Bishop Hill, which are formed of soft marls and sandstones capped by basalt. The Hurlet limestone is worked on the Lomond and Bishop Hills. East- and west-running dikes of basalt are found in the north-east of the county, traversing the Old Red volcanic rocks. Kames of gravel and sand and similar glacial detritus are widely spread over the older rocks.

Climate and Industries.—The lower part of the county is generally well sheltered and adapted to all kinds of crops; and the climate, though wet and cold, offers no hindrance to high farming. The average annual rainfall is 35.5 inches, and the temperature for the year is 48° F., for January 38° F. and for July 59°.5 F. More than half of the holdings exceed 50 acres each. Much of the land has been reclaimed, the mossy tracts when drained and cultivated being very fertile. Barley is the principal crop, and oats also is grown largely, but the acreage under wheat is small. Turnips and potatoes are the chief green crops, the former the more important. The raising of livestock is pursued with great enterprise, the hilly land being well suited for this industry, although many cattle are pastured on the lowland farms. The cattle are mainly a native breed, which has been much improved by crossing. The number of sheep is high for the area. Although most of the horses are used for agricultural work, a considerable proportion are kept solely for breeding. Tartans, plaids and other woollens, and linen are manufactured at Kinross and Milnathort, which is besides an important centre for livestock sales. Brewing and milling are also carried on in the county town, but stock-raising and agriculture are the staple interests. The North British railway company’s lines, from the south and west run through the county via Kinross, and the Mid-Fife line branches off at Mawcarse Junction.

Population and Government.—The population was 6673 in 1891 and 6981 in 1901, when 55 persons spoke Gaelic and English. The only towns are Kinross (pop. in 1901, 2136) and Milnathort (1052). Kinross is the county town, and of considerable antiquity. The county unites with Clackmannanshire to return one member to parliament. It forms a sheriffdom with Fifeshire and a sheriff-substitute sits at Kinross. The shire is under school-board jurisdiction.

History.—For several centuries the shire formed part of Fife, and during that period shared its history. Towards the middle of the 13th century, however, the parishes of Kinross and Orwell seem to have been constituted into a shire, which, at the date (1305) of Edward I.’s ordinance for the government of Scotland, had become an hereditary sheriffdom, John of Kinross then being named for the office. James I. dispensed with the attendance of small barons in 1427 and introduced the principle of representation, when the shire returned one member to the Scots parliament. The inclusion of the Fife parishes of Portmoak, Cleish and Tullibole in 1685, due to the influence of Sir William Bruce, the royal architect and heritable sheriff, converted the older shire into the modern county. Excepting, however, the dramatic and romantic episodes connected with the castle of Loch Leven, the annals of the shire, so far as the national story is concerned, are vacant. As to its antiquities, there are traces of an ancient fort or camp on the top of Dumglow, and on a hill on the northern boundary of the parish of Orwell a remarkable cairn, called Cairn-a-vain, in the centre of which a stone cist was discovered in 1810 containing an urn full of bones and charcoal. Close to the town of Kinross, on the margin of Loch Leven, stands Kinross House, which was built in 1685 by Sir William Bruce as a residence for the Duke of York (James II.) in case the Exclusion Bill should debar him from the throne of England. The mansion, however, was never occupied by royalty.

See Æ. J. G. Mackay, History of Fife and Kinross (Edinburgh, 1896); W. J. N. Liddall, The Place Names of Fife and Kinross (Edinburgh, 1895); C. Ross, Antiquities of Kinross-shire (Perth, 1886); R. B. Begg, History of Lochleven Castle (Kinross, 1887).