Agricultural development and the re-formed rural landscapes of Kincardineshire c1750 to 1880
Changes in the agriculture of Kincardineshire between c.1750 c.1880 were fundamental and produced great variety in the rural landscape. A few famous Improvers introduced new crops and agricultural techniques in the 1750s and 1760s, but general adoption was not possible until the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when a more highly developed transport and marketing system allowed smaller landowners and tenant-farmers to accumulate capital. Several important introductions of crops, crop rotations and types of livestock did not take place until the early nineteenth century. Following a brief lull during the post-Napoleonic War economic depression, rapid development began again in the in the 1820s and 1830s, culminating in a boom period after the coming of the railway in 1850, involving cattle fattening, artificial fertilizers and draining. Many of the early changes in landscapes were mainly restricted to the environmentally favoured south of the country. It was here that wasteland reclamation was taking place towards the end of the eighteenth century, so that by the early nineteenth century the arable area had reached its greatest extent. At the same time the impermanent pre-improvement farm buildings began to be adapted and extended, and were eventually replaced by durable stone steadings. Only in enclosure did the south lag behind the north of the country. Re-formation of the landscape in the north, particularly in western Deeside, did not advance rapidly until the second phase of activity beginning in the 1820s and 1830s. Most of the dry-stone wall building occurred in the half century to 1880, as did the development of the farm steadings. The arable area expanded very rapidly during the nineteenth century. Changes in agriculture and landscapes in Kincardineshire c.1750 to c.1880 exhibit both revolutionary and evolutionary characteristics.