Gaelic: Obar Neithich
The village of Abernethy
|Dialling code:||01738 85|
|Council:||Perth and Kinross|
|Ochil and South Perthshire|
Abernethy is a village and parish in Perthshire, eight miles south-east of Perth. The Nethy Burn flows down from the Ochil Hills past the village and gives it a name. The island of Mugdrum, off the Fife coast in the Firth of Tay, belongs to this parish and to Perthshire, while to the south the parish extends into Fife.
Abernethy has one of just two surviving Irish-style round towers outside Ireland (the other is at Brechin in Angus; both are in the care of Historic Scotland). The tower stands 74 feet high, and it is possible to climb to the top, using a modern metal spiral staircase (the tower originally had several wooden floors linked by ladders). The tower was evidently built in two stages (shown by a change in the masonry), and probably dates to the 11th-early 12th centuries.
The village's name is possibly Pictish, otherwise Gaelic, either way meaning 'mouth of the Nethy' (in reference to its junction here with the River Tay). The earliest recorded form of the name is Apurnethige.
The village was once the 'capital' (or at least a major religious and political centre) of the Pictish kingdom. The parish church, which sits on land given by Nechtan King of the Picts, is dedicated to Saint Brigid of Kildare of (fl. 451-525), and the church is said to have been founded by Dairlugdach, second abbess of Kildare, one of early Christian Ireland's major monasteries.
The foundation of Abernethy is to be found in the Pictish Chronicle and links it to Nechtan Morbet. However, it may have been Nechtan nepos Uerb, and the later Nechtan mac Der-Ilei may have been confused with the previous two.
Abernethy may have been the seat of an early Pictish bishopric, its diocese extending westward along Strathearn. In the 12th century the bishop's seat was moved to Muthill, then Dunblane, but Abernethy remained the site of a small priory of Augustinian canons, founded 1272. This priory was suppressed in favour of a collegiate church under the patronage of the Douglas Earls of Angus, in the 15th century. Remains of the collegiate church survived until 1802 within the present village graveyard, when they were replaced by the present plain red sandstone church, which is still dedicated to St Bridget.
Several pieces of Pictish or early mediæval sculpture have been found in Abernethy, including an incomplete Pictish symbol stone attached to the base of the round tower. The location "Afarnach's Hall" referred to in the earliest mediæval Arthurian literature is usually identified as Abernethy.
Over the years local industry and commerce has largely declined. A general store is the only shop remaining on the Main Street (the post office having closed in early 2009). However, the village still manages to support two local pubs and a tea room (which also holds a tower key). A mobile post office also visits the village most weekdays.
A Gala / Fete Day is held annually on the first or second Saturday in June, with a race to the top of nearby Castle Law taking place the following day.
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