Perthshire

Perthshire Map

"PERTH & CLACKMANNAN SHIRES Civil Parish map" by PERTH & CLACKMANNAN SHIRES. Civil Parish Map. The Imperial gazetteer of Scotland. VOL.II. Edited by Rev. John Marius Wilson. 
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History

The term "shire" is derived from Anglo-Saxon jar, an administrative division presided over by the ealdorman and the sheriff (the shire-reeve). The term "county," on the other hand, arose after William I conquered England, when the lands were taken from the English earls and given to William's companions or comites. Each district was called a comitatus and from this we get the word "county." Like a great many other social institutions this division of our country into shires has been popularly attributed to the wisdom of some of our early rulers, King Alfred in particular being supposed to have taken an important part in the apportioning out of the country. It appears to be tolerably certain, however, that this theory of the origin of the different shires is exactly the reverse of what actually took place, the county not having been formed by the division of the country as a whole but by the aggregation of certain portions so as to form a county. From this point of view the county is simply the representative of a small community that has been merged into the unity of Great Britain. This opinion seems to be fully borne out by a consideration of many of our most important counties. It can also be shown that the county has been formed in a similar way by the aggregation of parishes. The parish, the manor and the township are traceable to independent tribal settlement. From this it will be seen that our counties have gradually grown up under varying conditions, and the boundaries have probably been shifted many times. In many cases the boundaries have been fixed by such a physical feature as the watershed of the country, this being easily recognized and utilized as a barrier between the adjacent divisions.

The origin of the name Perth is not very clear. Boece thought that it was derived from the Gaelic Bar tatha "height of the Tay," referring to Kinnoull Hill, which rises abruptly from the Tay to the east of the city. On the other hand Stokes, who is probably right, makes it Pictish perth, "a thicket," and neither height over the Tay, nor confluence of the Tay, Aber tatha, as maintained by those who consider that the town was originally situated at the confluence of the Almond with the Tay.

It ought to be stated at the very outset that the great factor which has determined the present geographical conditions of Perthshire has been the Highland boundary fault or line of demarcation between the highland and lowland portions of the county. In the course of these pages we hope to be able to show that not only are the scenic and physiographical features of the shire directly due to the different geological structure of these two great natural divisions, but also that its soils, climate, natural history, agriculture, population, the distribution of its towns and villages, its people, their language and their history, have largely been determined by this all important factor.

The shire lies in one compact mass. Formerly it had two small detached portions in the south, on the Forth. One of these was included in the parish of Kippen, which lay wholly across the Forth, while the other embraced the parishes of Culross and Tulliallan now in Fifeshire.

In the neighborhood of Stirling Logic parish enclosed a detached portion of Fifeshire, and Collace parish near Perth a portion of Forfarshire. Many of these anomalies have recently been done away with. How they originally came to be arranged in this whimsical fashion is not easy of explanation; but it is supposed that when the counties were being formed the landlords put their lands into those districts in which they had the greatest interest. The origin of the parish boundaries is equally difficult of explanation as many of them are very irregular and appear to be of a purely arbitrary character.

SOURCE: Macnair, Peter. Perthshire. Cambridge; Cambridge University Press. 1912.

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