Abernethy, Aberargie and Dron News

Last date for submissions

31st January 2018

Date of publication

1st March 2018

So, you think that the weather’s been bad.  Here is an account of the climatic conditions in southern Perthshire 220 years ago, taken from ‘Scottish Farming in the 18th Century’ by J.E. Handley.


‘In January hurricanes of wind and in the space of ten days three great floods in the River Teith, accompanied by an unnatural Spring such as we seldom see in April.  From 1st February continued frost for two months; and in the middle of March a prodigious fall of snow.  In many places of this country it lay for a fortnight from two to three feet deep…By reason of the snow or rain, very little oats or black victual (peas & beans) could be sown here till the middle of April -  most piercing cold winds in the end of that month in May, and of course no vegetation.  The barley got a dry but very cold bed…Exceeding heavy rains in the end of May and beginning of June, which chilled the young corn.  Ten days of hot weather about the middle of July, after which torrents of rain attended with cold stormy winds which lasted for six weeks with little interruption.  It looked liker February than the warm month.  Hurricane 24th August which blew down a number of trees, and did much mischief to the wheat by breaking the straw.  In the middle of September, notwithstanding a fortnight of fine weather, the oats in general green.  17th, Highland hills covered with snow; after some frosty mornings, boisterous wet weather to the end of the month.  No oats ripe here till the first week of October…Mornings of the 4th and 13th of October frost like mid-winter, the ground being hard under foot till far in the day, and ice on the pools as thick as a crown-piece.  It whitened the late corn and prevented its filling.  Tempests of wind and rain and hail for a week after the 20th.  Began to lead in about midnight between 24th and 25th October in clear moonshine.  All in the 28th in the morning, two days before the great fall of snow.  Melancholy to see at that season stooks and sheaves white with snow and stiffened with frost.  Froze hard for ten days with piercing north wind…In the high countries the corn covered with snow and not cut down until well into November.  End of that month to beginning of December very deep snow and the frost so intense that it threatened to set the mills, which would have heightened the distress of the country.  Wild weather after the middle of December.’

FARMING IN THE 18TH CENTURY

By Douglas Cooper