MBHSMontrose Basin Heritage Society

The History of Montrose and its Surrounding Parishes

Parishes around the Basin

There are currently four parishes that surround the Basin - Montrose and Dun on the north side of the South Esk River, and Maryton and Craig on the south side. These incorporate two more that we know about - Ecclesjohn (or Egglisjohn), which lay between Montrose and Dun, and Dunninald, which lay within the southern portion of the now enlarged Craig parish. However, the parishes' extent was probably much more complex in earlier periods, apparently based on estates that allowed utilisation of a broader range of land types - good agricultural land, poorer upland grazing, access to the coastline, and access to the Basin itself. The parishes would have been gradually consolidated to what we see today. The archaeological and historical survey research area has been largely concentrated on these modern parishes.

The parish system was, of course, created in the medieval period and overlay a much older structure of settlement. But it is clear that for much of the period of human development, the area around the Basin would have been covered with a series of farmsteads of greater or lesser size. These would have exploited the better agricultural land at the lower levels of the valley for arable farming, or possibly water meadows for grazing and used the more upland areas for rough grazing, and for quarrying and fuel sources. It is noticeable that the main farm sites tend to lie above the older flood levels of the River South Esk. There is a strong possibility that many farm sites could have been established for over a thousand years.


Here are some of the fascinating stories that we have unearthed from the records about the people living around the Basin.

  • The Newmanswalls estate, on the north side of Montrose, is now a housing development and no trace of the orginal house remains.
  • The Rossie Estate, on the south side of Montrose, also no longer exists.
  • The origins of the names of features around the Basin.

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More stories like these can be found in our books