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Arbirlot is located in Angus
 Arbirlot shown within Angus
OS grid reference NO602407
Council area Angus
Lieutenancy area Angus
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ARBROATH
Postcode district DD11
Dialling code 01241
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Angus
Scottish Parliament Angus South
List of places

Coordinates: 56°33′26″N 2°38′48″W / 56.557153°N 2.64675°W / 56.557153; -2.64675

Arbirlot (Gaelic: Obar Eilid) is a village in a rural parish of the same name in Angus, Scotland. The current name is a contraction of Aberelliot - mouth of the Elliot.[1]:467 It is situated west of Arbroath. The main village settlement is on the Elliot Water, 2.5 miles from Arbroath. There is a Church of Scotland church and a primary school. The school lies 1 mile further west in the approximate geographic centre of the parish.

Falls at Arbirlot

A nature trail by the Elliot Water links Arbirlot with the former railway junction of Elliot on the Angus Coast. Arbirlot holds host to a spectacular 23 foot waterfall.


There is extensive evidence of prehistoric occupation of the Arbirlot area. The First Statistical Account refers to the recent demolition of a "druidical temple" in the parish, the finding of a "Pictish crown", and the presence of numerous stone cairns.[1]:476 Historic Environment Scotland's Canmore database interprets the reference to the "druidical temple" as possibly referring to a stone circle and based on place-name evidence gives a possible location near to Cairncortie in the north-west of the parish.[2] The Second Statistical Account mentions the finding of many stone arrowheads in the parish.[3]:333 There is a cup and ring marked boulder near Craigend.[4]

There are cropmark indications of a possible Roman marching camp to the west of Grahamston Cottages.[5]:336

The current manse garden contains a standing stone (illustrated) with what are thought to be medieval carvings. The stone was retrieved from the foundations of the parish church during re-building works in 1831.[6]

Kelly Castle (sometimes Kellie Castle or Auchterlony Castle),[7] which overlooks the Elliot Water, comprises a four-storey tower of the late 15th or early 16th Century, set within a 19th-century courtyard. It was a stronghold of the Mowbray family until forfeited to the Stewarts in the early 14th century and was restored from a semi-ruined state [7] by the Earl of Dalhousie in the 19th century.

In the 18th and 19th centuries Arbirlot was principally occupied by handloom weavers and farmers, Arbirlot once had a meal mill, a slaughterhouse, two schools, a post office, a savings bank, an inn, a parish library as well as a number of shops.[1][3]

The parish is believed to be the original home of Clan Elliot, which was transplanted in the Scottish Borders to defend the newly crowned Robert the Bruce's Scotland from English invaders through an intricate network of peel towers. The Elliots joined the clans of Armstrong, Scott, Douglas, Kerr, Nixon, Hepburn and Maxwell in this effort. The Border Reivers and other titles such a Outlaws of the Marshes are most informative about the Elliots and their exploits after leaving the Arbirlot parish.

Notable natives and residents[edit]

  • George Gladstanes c.1562 – 1615, minister in Arbirlot c.1592 - 1597, afterwards Bishop of Caithness and later Archbishop of St Andrews
  • John Guthrie c. 1580 - 1649, minister in Arbirlot 1603 - 1617, afterwards Bishop of Moray. Supporter of Charles I's religious policies.
  • Alexander McGill (c.1680-1734), mason and architect. First City Architect of Edinburgh.
  • Rev Thomas Guthrie 1803 – 1873, divine and philanthropist, minister in Arbirlot 1827–1837
  • Rev John Kirk 1795–1858, divine and biographer (of Susannah Wesley mother of John Wesley, The Mother of the Wesleys, Jarrold, London 1868), Church of Scotland minister in Arbirlot 1837 – 1843 and later first Free Church of Scotland minister in Arbirlot
  • Alexander Carnegie Kirk 1830 - 1892, engineering innovator - particularly of the marine triple expansion steam engine. Elder son of the Rev John Kirk
  • Sir John Kirk 1832 – 1922, physician, naturalist, companion to explorer David Livingstone, diplomat, slavery abolitionist and photography pioneer, lived with his parents in Arbirlot as a young man. Younger son of the Rev John Kirk.
  • Eileen Ramsay (born 1940), novelist
Standing Stone in New Manse garden, by Arbirlot

See also[edit]

Arbirlot Railway Station
Arbirlot Primary School
Elliot Water
List of listed buildings in Arbirlot, Angus


Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885

  1. ^ a b c Statistical Account of Scotland, edited by Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, Edinburgh 1791-99
  2. ^ "Canmore". Canmore. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  3. ^ a b New Statistical Account of Scotland, General Assembly of the Church of Scotland , Edinburgh 1834-45
  4. ^ "Canmore". Canmore. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  5. ^ Jones, Rebecca (2011). Roman Camps in Scotland. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. ISBN 9780903903509. 
  6. ^ Coutts, H (1970). Ancient Monuments of Tayside. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland. p. 68. 
  7. ^ a b RCAHMS Canmore Database - see External Links

External links[edit]