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Flag of AngusAonghas
Coat of arms of AngusAonghas
Coat of arms
Angus within Scotland
Angus within Scotland
Admin HQ Forfar
 • Body Angus Council
 • Total 842 sq mi (2,182 km2)
 • Total 116,040
 • Density 137.74/sq mi (53.181/km2)
ONS code S12000041
ISO 3166 code GB-ANS

Angus (Scottish Gaelic: Aonghas) is one of the 32 local government council areas of Scotland, a registration county and a lieutenancy area. The council area borders Aberdeenshire, Dundee City and Perth and Kinross. Main industries include agriculture and fishing. Global pharmaceuticals company GSK has a significant presence in Montrose in the north of the county.

Angus was historically a county, known officially as Forfarshire from the 18th century until 1928. It remains a registration county and a lieutenancy area. In 1975 its administrative functions were transferred to the council district of the Tayside Region, and in 1995 further reform resulted in the establishment of the unitary Angus Council.



The area that now comprises Angus has been occupied since at least the Neolithic period. Material taken from postholes from an enclosure at Douglasmuir, near Friockheim, about five miles north of Arbroath has been radiocarbon dated to around 3500 BC. The function of the enclosure is unknown, but may have been for agriculture or for ceremonial purposes.

Bronze age archaeology is to be found in abundance in the area. Examples include the short-cist burials found near West Newbigging, about a mile to the North of the town. These burials included pottery urns, a pair of silver discs and a gold armlet. Iron Age archaeology is also well represented, for example in the souterrain nearby Warddykes cemetery and at West Grange of Conan, as well as the better-known examples at Carlungie and Ardestie.

Medieval history

The county is traditionally associated with the Pictish kingdom of Circinn, which is thought to have encompassed Angus and the Mearns. Bordering it were the kingdoms of Ce (Mar and Buchan) to the North, Fotla (Atholl) to the West, and Fib (Fife) to the South.

The most visible remnants of the Pictish age are the numerous sculptured stones that can be found throughout Angus. Of particular note are the collections found at Aberlemno, St Vigeans, Kirriemuir and Monifieth.

Angus shares borders with Kincardineshire to the north-east, Aberdeenshire to the north and Perthshire to the west. Southwards, it faces Fife across the Firth of Tay.

Angus is marketed as the birthplace of Scotland. The signing of the Declaration of Arbroath at Arbroath Abbey in 1320 marked Scotland's establishment as an independent nation. It is an area of rich history from Pictish times onwards. Notable historic sites in addition to Arbroath Abbey include Glamis Castle, Arbroath Signal Tower museum and the Bell Rock Light House.

Main industries include agriculture and fishing. Global pharmaceuticals company GSK has a significant presence in Montrose in the north of the county.


Population structure

Historical Angus population
Year Pop. ±%
1801 65,068 —    
1811 69,376 +6.6%
1821 74,436 +7.3%
1831 84,630 +13.7%
1841 106,890 +26.3%
1851 119,357 +11.7%
1911 118,748 −0.5%
1921 101,767 −14.3%
1931 93,803 −7.8%
1941 95,290 +1.6%
1951 96,777 +1.6%
1961 93,666 −3.2%
1971 90,554 −3.3%
1981 98,685 +9.0%
1991 107,866 +9.3%
2001 108,400 +0.5%
2011 116,000 +7.0%

In the 2001 census the population of Angus was recorded as 108,400. 20.14% were under the age of 16, 63.15% were between 16 and 65 and 18.05% were aged 65 or above.

Of the 16 to 74 age group, 32.84% had no formal qualifications, 27.08% were educated to 'O' Grade/Standard Grade level, 14.38% to Higher level, 7.64% to HND or equivalent level and 18.06% to degree level.

Language in Angus

The most recent available census results (2001) show that Gaelic is spoken by 0.45% of the Angus population. This, similar to other lowland areas, is lower than the national average of 1.16%. These figures are self-reported and are not broken down into levels of fluency.

Category Number Percentage
All people 108,400 100
Understands spoken Gaelic but cannot speak, read or write it 351 0.32
Speaks reads and writes Gaelic 238 0.22
Speaks but neither reads nor writes Gaelic 188 0.17
Speaks and reads but cannot write Gaelic 59 0.05
Reads but neither speaks not writes Gaelic 61 0.06
Writes but neither speaks nor reads Gaelic 13 0.01
Reads and writes but does not speak Gaelic 22 0.02
Other combination of skills in Gaelic 7 0.01
No knowledge of Gaelic 107,461 99.13

Historically, the dominant language in Angus was Pictish until the sixth to seventh centuries AD when the area became progressively gaelicised, with Pictish extinct by the mid-ninth century. Gaelic/Middle Irish began to retreat from lowland areas in the late-eleventh century and was absent from the Eastern lowlands by the fourteenth century. It was replaced there by Middle Scots, the contemporary local South Northern dialect of Modern Scots, while Gaelic persisted as a majority language in the highland Glens until the 19th century. Scottish English is now increasingly replacing Scots.

Angus Council are planning to raise the status of Gaelic in the county by adopting a series of measures, including bilingual road signage, communications, vehicle livery and staffing.


Angus can be split into three geographic areas. To the north and west, the topography is mountainous. This is the area of the five Angus Glens, which is sparsely populated and where the main industry is hill-farming. To the south and east the topography consists of rolling hills bordering the sea. This area is well populated, with the larger towns. In between lies Strathmore (the Great Valley), which is a fertile agricultural area noted for the growing of potatoes, soft fruit and the raising of Angus cattle. Montrose in the north east of the county is notable for its tidal basin.

Towns and villages

ANGUSSHIRE (Forfarshire). Civil Parish map
c.1854 Angusshire (Forfarshire) Civil Parish map.



  • Aberlemno
  • Arbirlot
  • Auchmithie
  • Auchterhouse
  • Birkhill
  • Bridge of Craigisla
  • Carmyllie
  • Dunnichen
  • East Haven
  • Edzell
  • Farnell
  • Friockheim
  • Finavon
  • Glamis
  • Guthrie
  • Inverkeilor
  • Hillside
  • Kingsmuir
  • Letham
  • Liff
  • Newbigging
  • Newtyle
  • Noranside
  • Memus
  • Menmuir
  • Monikie
  • Muirhead
  • Murroes
  • St Vigeans
  • Tannadice
  • Tarfside
  • Tealing
  • Unthank

Places of interest

Sister areas


Most common surnames in Angus (Forfarshire) at the time of the United Kingdom Census of 1881:

  • 1. Smith
  • 2. Robertson
  • 3. Anderson
  • 4. Stewart
  • 5. Scott
  • 6. Mitchell
  • 7. Brown
  • 8. Duncan
  • 9. Milne
  • 10. Thomson

See also

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