The name Aberdeen can be translated "at the mouth of the Dee." The city of Aberdeen has always been between the Don and Dee rivers, and Aberdeenshire takes its name from this principle city.
As legend has it, an early king of Pictland named Cruithne (who was a son of Cinq) divided his land amongst his 7 sons, as illustrated on the map, Seven Sons of Cruithne, below. (On this map, just look at the names, because the geographic boundaries refer to a later division of lands.)
Seven Sons of Cruithne
One of those sons was named Fotla or (Foclaid) who received land including what would later be considered (northern) Atholl. While this is difficult to date, another son, Fib, is said to have ruled between 715 and 691BC. Some variation exists because the timing for Picts is variously reported as a period starting between the Mid to Late Iron Age (400BC to 250AD) and ending in the Early Medieval period (approx 900AD).
Kenneth MacAlpin united the Scottish kingdoms in 843AD, and over time, areas of land were re-divided, combined, and re-divided again.
Malcolm III (reigned 1058 to 1093) appears to have introduced the idea of shires, governed by shire-reeves (sheriffs) as part of a policy of replacing previous forms of government with Norman feudal structures. This policy was continued by Edgar (reigned 1097 to 1107), Alexander I (reigned 1107 to 1124), and in particular David I (reigned 1124 to 1153). For example, Stirlingshire appears in a charter of 1150 under the name Striuelinschire.
Map of Mormaerdoms
Around this time, Atholl became an earldom. The first recorded Earl of Atholl was Matad, some time in the 1100's.
In 1305 Edward I of England, who had deposed John Balliol issued an Ordinance for the Government of Scotland. This document listed the twenty-three shires then existing and either appointed new sheriffs or continued heritable sheriffs in office.
In 1305, the land of Atholl was also known as Perth County or Perthshire.
In 1703, Atholl was made a dukedom (with a Duke) which has higher status than an earldom (with an Earl).
In 1746, the right of the Earls of Atholl to hold courts for the area were ended by the Heritable Jurisdictions Act, and the province was subsequently only subject to the jurisdiction of the sheriff of Perthshire.
Area of Atholl
in dark blue
Counties Until 1890
Key to Counties Until 1890
14. County of Bute
In 1889, counties were created by the Local Government (Scotland) Act which replaced the ancient provinces by new Counties (shires), aligned to sheriffdom boundaries. Hence, Atholl formed the northern portion of the new Perthshire, shown on the map SHIRES from 1890 to 1975, below, as #24.
SHIRES from 1890 to 1975
The 1947 map below includes
-Counties and Districts,
-Large and Small Burghs
For more clarity: Try your View tab and Zoom 150%
In 1975, shires ceased to be used for local government purposes, and local government regions were developed. Today local government is based upon Council Areas. The Council Areas have adopted some shire names but the boundaries are not necessarily the same as the shires were. Atholl forms the northern part of the Council Area of Perth and Kinross, which itself is made from the 2 older shires (counties) of Perth and Kinross. The remainder of Atholl is approximately in the present day council area of Stirling.
Council Areas and their Capitals
Cruick Water at Stracathro