LINTMILL OF BOYNE
Researched by Findlay Pirie
From the Banffshire Journal of Tuesday January 6, 1942: -
About a mile and a half east of Portsoy, the main coast highway crosses a small stream, called the Burn of Boyne, which rises on the north slope of the Knock Hill and flows nearly 10 miles E.N.E. On the east bank of this stream, about midway between its entrance into the sea and the public turnpike is a place still known as Lintmill of Boyne. It lies between the farms of Cairnton and Brangan and opposite Kindrought on the opposite side of the burn. The place, the site of an old mill and many similar ones, is of little or no importance nowadays, but once played an important part in the linen industry of Scotland, once the premier industry of the country, and, strangely enough, an offshoot of agriculture.
These mills for the dressing of flax were once quite common all over the country, and traces of their remains are still found in many northern districts as Boyne, Keith, Cullen, Alvah, Inveravon, etc., though in many cases nothing but the name remains to bear witness to a vanished industry. Their disappearance from the countryside raises many interesting economic problems about a rural occupation that is now practically extinct. In the busy days of the industry a community of some size once lived and laboured here. Besides the two flax mills once working on this stream there were several other mills, at one time or other, for meal, woolcarding etc., but they do not concern us now.
The thatched cottages of the operatives here, once numerous, have now entirely disappeared and been replaced by later buildings. Of the rows of cottages, where once happy children played by the burn side and shouted with merry glee scarcely a stone is left to mark the site. A few rasp canes indicate the site of the remains of old gardens where once grew kale and other vegetables as fare for the homely dinner. Till lately some of the rowan trees, formerly planted near every cottage in Scotland, to keep away the witches, still stood. Nature in all her beauty once surrounded the spot where stood the busy mill whose ceaseless wheel with splashing sound made music to the scene around, but no sounds now disturb the silence but the cry of the birds or the sibilant purr of the burn. What a wealth of woodland beauty and the sweetness of green meadows – all the qualities of a pretty landscape were here.
Mechanical aids for flax-dressing known as lint mills, entered the linen industry comparatively late, and never became a universal institution in its organisation. In former days flax was regularly grown as a rotation crop at farms throughout the country as well as in small patches for domestic use. Before the days of machinery and specialisation, when every old woman could spin, and many people could weave, the making of a coarse kind of linen fabric from home-grown flax was a common occupation in most households.
(Book 1/Lintmill of Boyne)