Friday, 15 February 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 3

Today we find ourselves in Aberchirder.

Aberchirder was originally a small Royal Burgh but the main town was founded in 1764 by Alexander Gordon, the 5th laird of Auchintoul. Until 1823 its official name was, in fact, Foggieloan after a small farm community on the nearby peat moss moorland. There is some uncertainty as to how the name originated. There are various theories; the most likely is that there is a stretch of moorland north of where the farm town existed (and, now, north of the village) which was named Foggieloan Moss from two Gaelic words foidh (peat moss) and lòn (meadow), so Foggieloan means peaty or boggy meadow.Kinnairdy Castle, belonging to the Crichton family is 2 miles to the south west, where the River Deveron joins the Auchintoul Burn. In 1823 the village was renamed Aberchirder after the 13th century Thanes of Aberkerdour of Kinnairdy Castle.

As a planned community, the village was built on a grid pattern around a central square and had a mix of single storey thatched, stone-built houses fronting onto the streets (to prevent people having their middens on show) with long gardens intended to provide the inhabitants with a seasonal supply of food. Alexander Gordon envisaged a thriving industrial village and built a small linen factory in Back Street (now North Street) which produced fine linen table clothes and wincey using flax from from Auchintoul Moss. By the late 19th century, wealthier inhabitants had built some grander houses and there was a selection of religious establishments throughout the town catering to various denominations in addition to the Church of Scotland and Free Church buildings. The Scottish Episcopal Church which is located in Main Street is dedicated to St Marman.

It is interesting to note that the present Provost of St Andrew's Cathedral, Inverness is also called Alexander Gordon (Very Rev Canon)!

City of God, how broad and far
Outspread thy walls sublime!
The true thy chartered freemen are
Of every age and clime.

One holy Church, one army strong;
One steadfast, high intent;
One working band, one harvest song,
One King omnipotent.

How purely hath thy speech come down
From man’s primeval youth!
How grandly hath thine empire grown
Of freedom, love and truth!

How gleam thy watch fires through the night
With never fainting ray!
How rise thy towers, serene and bright,
To meet the dawning day!

In vain the surge’s angry shock,
In vain the drifting sands;
Unharmed upon the eternal Rock
The eternal City stands.

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