New Aberdour Beach

Abridged from Pratt (1858)

About a mile westward from Dundarg, we come in sight the old kirk of Aberdour, standing on the brink of a wild and romantic gorge studded here and there with a few cottages, and topped by the manse and some farm-steadings. The church is a ruin, and stands on a sort of ledge or table-land on the north-western acclivity of the hill, and within a hundred and fifty yards of the shore of the Moray Firth.

A deep glen or ravine skirts the churchyard on the west. The Daur, or Daur, a small clear stream, sweeps down the glen, in which there is a mill and and cottages, prettily situated on ledges of the precipitous bank. It was in the month of July that we visited the place, and the sides of the ravine were then clothed with the richest verdure, sweetbrier and other flowering shrubs climbing the rocky braes, while a colony of beehives nestled snugly in the sides of the glen. The stream is spanned by a rude wooden bridge for foot-passengers; huge rugged rocks of red sandstone rise abruptly from the pebbled beach; while the clear blue sea fills up the distance in this lovely picture.

In the face of the rock, and at a distance of less than a hundred yards west from the point where the Dour falls into the sea, is a celebrated Well. The water issues from a crevice of the rock, and is collected in a small basin below. This well has two names and two historiesó St Drostane's Well and Mess John's Well. In a Description of the Parish of Aberdour, by Auchmedden, A. D. 1724 we have the following: "Near the seabank there is a fine spring below the church, called St Durstan's Well, from a bishop of that name who lived there in the times of popery; and the well is still reckoned sacred by the countrey people." . . .

It [the well] is a strong chalybeate, and famed for its medicinal qualities. A small basin in the shape of a cup, for the reception of the water, which trickles down the rock, is said to have been cut by a John White, laird of Ardlawhill, at the the time that the Presbytery and the Prelacy, contended for the Mastery. Neither of the parties during the contest, had regular worship at the parish church, but John attended every Sunday, prayed, sung and read a chapter . . . This he continued to do till presbyterianism was fairly established, and hence he was designated Mess John by the people, and his well "Mess John's Well."

The village of New Aberdour is about a mile inland of the bay, pretty in the quiet way of the coastal villages of Buchan, with the new Parish Kirk and the school in the village itself.

(The 8th of 14 pages. Revision date: Friday 16th March 2012)

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