Lachlan Shaw.

The history of the province of Moray. Comprising the counties of Elgin and Nairn, the greater part of the county of Inverness and a portion of the county of Banff,--all called the province of Moray before there was a division into counties online

. (page 14 of 37)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

now to require that this field, denominated from its ferti-
lit}^ the "granary of the farm" to which it appertains.


should be again restored to the more indispensable pro-
ductions of the plough.

There are several chalybeate springs : one, near the old
castle of Auchindune, has been found by a chemical exam-
ination to resemble the Peterhead water, and to be as
light as it : they are of use in gravelish complaints, and in
disorders of the stomach. In the wood also about Kininvie
house, there is a spring of a petrifying quality. On this
estate also, in the banks of a brook at Tullich, there is
the appearance of alum, vitriol, and lead. There is every-
where plenty of stone for building, and some quarries also
of pretty good slate, of a grey colour, and over all the
countr}^ exhaustless treasures of limestone, locked up
almost from the farmer, merely by the expense of fuel.
There is marble also in the banks of both the streams, and
in one place a laminated rock is fit for whetstone and

It was in this parish that Malcolm II. in the year 1010,
gained that victory over the Danes which terminated
their depredations in the kingdom. This event, so impor-
tant then, makes the place to be respected as classic ground.
In the preceding year, Malcolm had been wounded, de-
feated, and obliged to leave the Danes in possession of
the of j\Ioray. Returning with a more powerful
army, the intruders, informed of his approach, solicitous
to prevent his airival in the open country, moved forward
to oppose him in the hills. The Battle was begun near
the Church of Mortlach. In the beginning oi' the attack,
when pushing on with over-ardent impetuosity, three
thanes, Kenneth of the Isles, Dunbar of Lothian, and
Grserae of Strathern were slain ; and the Scots, thereby
struck with panic, were hurried into flight. The King,
reluctantly borne along by the frighted crowd, passed by
the Church dedicated to St. Molocus, and gained the
height of a steep and narrow pass near its western end.
Here, by the situation of the ground, he was enabled to
stop, and to collect his broken host. Reanimated on the
occasion by the King's vow of enlarging the Chai)el by
three lengths of his s])ear, and having now also the advan-
tage of the ground, they turned with enthusiasm on the
foe disarrayed by their pursuit. Euecus, their leader, was
slain by the prowess alone of the King, and tlu; Danes in
their turn Hed ; but their rout M'as final and c()mi)lete,


although they also attempted to rally on the eminence
opposite on the east, near to the old Castle of Balvenic.
Many monuments of this victory remain. An entrench-
ment, 3^et distinct on the lowest summit of the Conval
hills, is still known as " the Danish camp." A bulky
cylindrical Stone, placed over the gi-ave of Euecus, was
only of late rolled a few yards off its station at the corpse,
for building the fence of a corn-field. At a very little
distance from the chieftain's grave, on the south, near to
the north-west corner of the plantation of Tomnamuid, a
small squared spot of ground has been ever recognised as
the common grave of the slaughtered Danes. The addition
to the west end of the Church, 24 feet in length, the triple
measure of jVIalcolm's spear, in the performance of his
vow, is still obviously distinct; and three holes in this
votive addition still record the barbarous triumph with
which the heads of three Danes of distinction had been there
originally placed. It is hardly thirty years ago since the
last mouldered away. An Obelisk, raised on the glebe on
the bank of the Dullan, about 6 feet in height, the sculp-
ture on its two opposite sides now nearly by time effaced,
hath almost ceased to tell the purpose of its own erection.
Human bones, broken sabres, and pieces of other ancient
armour, have from time to time been accidentally dis-
covered. About 40 years ago, a chain of gold, supposed
to have been the ornament of some chieftain's neck, was
by the plough turned u]d on the glebe. Tf the stratagem
of damming up the Dullan, where its channel through a
rock is contracted to the span of the stream, for discharging
an artificial torrent on the unsuspecting Danes below, and
thereby dividing their strength, had been at any time
practised, it must have been on some other occasion than
that of this engagement. If an enemy could be by these
means surprised, the facility with which it might be
accomplished might naturally suggest such a simple ex-

In the history of this parish, another occurrence may
be mentioned. Although the interest of King James in
Scotland became evidently desperate, on the death of Vis-
count Dundee in the Battle of Killicranky in 1689, yet, in
a council of the Jacobite chiefs in the beginning of the
year thereafter, it was determined to attempt another
campaign. But until the seed season should be com-


pleted, when greater numbers might be raised, a party of
1500 men was sent down to eraplo}^ and fatigue the re-
vohitiouary ti'oops. They plundered the country througli
which they marched, and burnt the House of Edinghissie,
at tliat time the property of Mr. Gordon, wlio lying in
wait for their return, a few weeks afterwards, seized at
random 18 of the stragglers, whom he immediately hanged
on the trees of his garden. They were buried together in
a corner of the nearest waste, still distinguished by the
name of the Highhindmen's mossie. — (Survey of Moray. )'\


[The Stone of ]\Iortlach is erected on a haugh on the
banks of the DuUan, immediately below the height on
which the old Church of Mortlach is built. It has
been supposed, although without an}- probability, that the
stone was erected to commemorate a victory which Mal-
colm II. is said to have achieved over the Northmen at
this place in 1010. An engraving of it appeared in the
Archceologia, vol. xxii., plate 8, and an etching of it is
given in Rhind's Sketches of Moray, p. 120. In both
cases, however, the bird which surmounts the serpent has
been omitted. It indeed required the practised eye and
touch of the artist to detect its traces on the rough
weather-beaten surface of the stone ; but a close examina-
tion reveals the figure exactly as it appears on Plate VII.,
vol. I., of Stuart's Sculptured Stones of Scotland.] (Ed.)


(Ex. " The Scottish Chronicle ; or, a Complete History
and Description of Scotland," &c., by the reverend and
learned Mr. Raphael HoUinshead.* Arbroath, 1805.
Vol. i., p. 327.)

In tlie first brunt throe valiant C:i]itaines, that is to wit,
Kenneth of Isia, Gryme of 8tratliernc, and Patrike of Dunl)ar,

''* HoUinshead Avas born in Lontlon, hut the date is unknown.
He died between 1578 and '82. He never travelled 40 miles
«listance from London. Tlie above Work was first written in
Latin by Hector Boethius, translated into the Scottish tongue
by John Ballenden, Arclidcaron of Moray, and then (assisted
hy Wni. Harrison) into English ])y HoUinshead. It was
puldished originallvin two folios in I.ITO, in 1.587, and latti'rlv
in 1805. (Ed.)


rushing oiier fiercely on their enimies, were slain, and gaue
occasion to many of the Scottishe men to flee, but the place
was such, that they could not well make theyr course any way
forth, by reason of ye narrownesse thereof, fenced on either
side with deepe trenches full of water and mudde, also a
trauerse were laid sundrie trees, as it had bene of purpose; to
impeach the passage, deuised in that sort (as was thought) in
time of some ciuill warres.

Here though Malcome, liake a valiant champion, did his best
to stay them that fled, yet was he borne backe with the preasse,
til he came to ye mids of this place, where stood a Chap})ell
dedicate in the honour of Saint Molok, the which Malcome
beholding, cast u^) his handes towardes lieauen, making his
prayer on this wise :

"Great God of vertue, re warder of pietie, and punisher o
sinne, we thy people seeking to defende our natiue countrey
graunted to vs of thy beneuolence, as now destitute of al mortal
help, and thus oppressed with the injurious inuasion of Danes,
do flee vnto thee in this our extreeme necessitie, beseeching
thee to haue compassion upon our miserable estate : Eemouc
(oh merciful Lorde) this dreadful terror from the people. And
oh thou mother of God, the sicker refuge of mortall people in
their distresse and miseries : and thou, S. Molok to whom this
chappell was dedicate, help vs at this present, and in the honoui-
of you, I here make a voav to build a cathedral Church for a
Bishops sea, to remain as a monument to testifie vnto our
posteritie, that l)y your support our realme hath been

Scarcely had Malcolme made an ende of this prayer when
diuerse of the Nobles with a loude voyce, as though they had
bin assured yt his praier was, herd, cried to their companies :
stand good fellowes, for surely it is the pleasure of Almightie
God, that we returne and renew the battayle against our

Hereupon rose a Avonderfull noyse amongst the souldiers, ech
one encouraging other to withstand the enimies, and to fight in
most manfull wise in defence of theyr countrey and auncient
liberties, and foorthwith as it had bene by miracle they returned
vpon their enimies, making great slaughter on eche side, without
regarde to theyr lines or bloudy woundes, which they boldly
and without feare receyued.

Herewith Malcolme also with a l)ushment of stoute warriors
came vpon Euetns, who was praunsing up and downe the fielde
Avithout any helmet on his head, as though the Scottes had
bene already without recouery clearely discomfittcd, and so
there was he beaten downe, beside his horse, and amongst the


footemen slayne out of hande. The residue of the Danes
heholding tlie slaughter of their Captaine, stayed from further
pursute on tlie Scottes. Hereof ensued great boldnesse to the
Scottes and discouragement to the Danes. Albeit the batayle
continued still a long space, the souldiers doying theyr best on
eyther side, till at length the Danes were i)ut to flight, many
of them being slaine, and l)ut fewe taken. Olanus beholding
the discomfiture of his people, and how his companion in
authoritie was slain, fled into ]Murrayland with a small com-
panie about him.

As this Battle is among the most important, so it is,
perhaps, one of the best authenticated of all the contests
of that early period. In addition to the above and similar
narratives, we have the unanimous testimony of tradition,
national and local, as to the actual occurrence, and as to
the site, of the struggle. In the neighbourhood of the old
castle there is still pointed out a spot said to mark the
pit in which a great number of the Danes who fell in the
battle were interred ; and also, in the same locality, built
into a rustic dyke, there is shown the stone which was
said to have been placed over the remains of Euetus, the
Danish leader, who was killed in the engagement. In
addition to all these, we have the erection of the church
and founding of the see, both well-authenticated historical
events. Mr. W. F. Skene opines otherwise.


Less than a mile below the Castle, and close to the
river, and quite in view from the Station, is situated the
new House of Balvenic, a noble mansion erected by the
first Earl of Fife, Mdio for some time resided in it. His
Lordship did much to beautify the grounds around the
mansion. Receiving with his second lady, the daughter
of Sir James Grant of Grant, a large number of young
natural firs from the Forest of Aberncthy, these were
jilanted on the hill-sides around, and formed extensive
plantations, some of the fine old trees yet remaining.
The trees were carried with a ])ortion of the native earth
attached to the root of each, and were thus planted.


Of the western portion, which is the most ancient, all
that now remains is a s})iral staircase, with a sort of tower

HOUSE OF KININVIE; tower of Tl'LLICIl. 141

of four flats, surmounted by a curious place of tlie descrip-
tion called a keep, but popularly known in the locality by
the name of " Belmydearie," the tradition being that here
one of the old lairds had maintained a mistress, whose
name, it is presumed, must have been "Bell." So much
for the ingenuity exercised in tracing the derivation of
names. The roof of the old part of the building is very
steep, and the original slates are still on it. With much
taste, the present proprietor studiously preserves the
older portion of the building in nearly its ancient state,
having merely modernized it so far as to have a couple of
good old-fashioned bed-rooms within it.

A considerable portion of the remainder of the mansion
was erected by James Leslie of Kininvie. This, indeed,
is explicitly set forth in the following inscription, which
was placed over ,the old entry door of that part of the
house which he erected: —

Jacobus Leslie de Tullich, Joannis Leslie de Kixix-
viE Tertius natus, patern^ h^reditatis emptor axte-


On the entry door being shut up in 1842, the stone got
a place a little higher up, in its present position. Above
it is another stone, containing the following : —


Jacobus Leslie de Kininvie hac possessione de


This latter stone originally occupied a very prominent
place in the old Tower of Tullich, a separate estate adjoin-
ing Kininvie, belonging to the famil}', and which was
accustomed to be give over to the eldest son. This tower
shared the fate of many such buildings, having been
demolished by the Goths of the day. On the decay of the
tower, the stone in question was built into the wall of the
farm-house of Kininvie; but, in 1842, it was removed to
its present more fitting and more honourable position.
In the same old mansion or Tower of Tullich were found
several other ancient tablets in pretty fair preservation ;
and, of these, two have been placed over upper windows


in the House of Kininvie. On one is the Tullich coat of
arms, without, however, any lettering save the words,
"ICIO ZEIULS." The other also contains the arms, and
the letters '" M O " and "L M." We should also mention
that there is a third stone witli the famil}^ arms, and the
motto " Hold Fast."

Several additions and imjirovements on the House were
commenced in 1840 by the late Archibald Young Leslie,
and much was done during the short period of his laird-
ship; and his intentions, both as regards the building and
the altci'ations on the garden, lands, cVc, having been
fully cari-ied out by his son, the present i)roprietor, the
house is now one of the most pleasing in appearance, the
most interesting in association, and picturesque in situa-
tion, of any in the county.

The Leslies are cadets of the ancient line of the Rothes
family. The property of Kininvie has been in their
possession since an early period of the 16th century. A
charter of the lands granted bj'' John, 3rd Earl of Atholl,
to Alexander Lesly is dated in lo21. The present pro-
prietor derives his title through a daughter of that James
de Tullich who built the portion of the House of Kininvie
described in one of the foregoing inscriptions as the
" anteriorem." This laird had a numerous family ; and at
his decease the property came in succession into the hand
of two of his sons, James and Alexander Leslie, both of
whom died without issue. The property then reverted to
the family of his eldest daugliter, Jane, who had married
Robert Young of Monymusk — their eldest son, Archibald,
assuming the surname of Leslie, and succeeding to the
Kininvie and Tullich estates in 1840. This gentleman
dying in the following year, he was succeeded by his son,
Mr. George A. Young Leslie, the present proprietor.

Nearly (j])posite to the House of Kininvie is the House
of Buchromb. The view stretches down to the sudden
detour the river makes to the west, on its way to the
Si)ey at Craigellachie, and the scenery in some parts is
strikingly wild and beautiful.


From June till December, 187G, a much needed trans-
formation went on. In the course of the operations there
were raised from the floor of the church several slab-stones,


upon one of which was sculptured a cross and sword.
The cross is encircled with fiewr de lis at each of the
points. An inscription had been on the outer rim of the
stone, but the apparently Saxon letters are quite illegible.
It is to be regretted that this relic should be again
trampled under foot, being now along with other lettered
stones used in the flooring of the east end.

The Church is in the form of the letter T- The
top of the letter represents the main section or nave of
the building standing east and west ; the leg of the letter
i-epresenting the north aisle. The date of its foundation
is lost; and no accuracy accompanies statements of the
times at which it was successively enlarged. It was
erected at a time when the surface of the ground floor
was about 6 feet under its present level ; the modern
elevation of surface being due to accumulation. The
examination of the main section of the church shows that
part of the walls, above 4 feet thick, are composed of
small round stones, such as may be found on the margin
of the Dullan, embedded in mortar, on the same principle
as a modern concrete wall. At a point 18 feet from the
west end of the main section, the walls were found to
have been extended westward, the extension being in a
different and evidently later style of masonry. At the
point where the addition had been begun there was on the
outer surface of the wall a mark of the junction of the
two styles of work. Popular belief was that this mark
indicated the three spears length added to the church b}^
King Malcolm in virtue of a vow on the eve of battle,
before defeating the Danes. The masonry of the oldest
part of the church is believed to belong to about the 11th
century, and the addition at the west end is of later date.
In the old Statistical Account, Mr. Gordon, then minister
of the parish, describes the church as an oblong square of
about 90 feet by 28 feet, and this measurement corre-
sponds to the main section of the building as at present.
The church had been roofed 80 years before Mr. Gordon
wrote. He urged the renewal of the roof, and the sacrifice
of veneration for the antic^uity of the church by remodel-
ling it in a more convenient form. In 1826 the church
was modernized by an addition made to it. That addition
was at the north aisle. Probably, at the same time, the
galleries were added ; and tlie churchyard was certainly


then extended on the north and west. No later alteration
was made upon the building till 187G; and the only
change in the outward form now is an addition of 10 feet
to the north wing, and an improvement in the outside
stair leading to the east gallery.

The addition to the north aisle has improved the aspect
i)f the building. Formerly, a door was in the centre of
the north gable ; and two doors were in the south wall.
The latter have been permanently closed ; and the only
entrances to the lower part of the church are now by
doors on either side of the north gable. The two arched
windows formerly in the north gable have been removed
to the side walls of the extension of the north aisle ; and
in the centre of the north gable has been placed a hand-
some triple window, lo feet high, with freestone mullions.
The north wing is thus lighted from the gable, and by
two large windows in each of the side walls, the former
especially being of service to those seated in the enlarged
gallery. The old belfry surmounting the north gable has
been removed, and a new and more ornate steeple added,
with chamber for the bell. It may be noted that it is a
modern instrument; but in a receptacle in the wall of the
church there yet lies the ancient hand-bell. Persons still
recollect the old " Ronach Bell " having been used to
summon the people to church ; and also at funerals the
bellman went before the coffin and rung the bell while the
body was being carried to the churchyard and during

In excavating at the west end of the main section of
the church, near the junction of the old wall with the
north aisle, a very interesting discovery was made. A
circular-headed doorway was found in the old wall, the
head of the door being only about 18 inches above the
present level of the floor. In the side of the doorway was
found an opening about G inches square, penetrating the
wall a distance of G feet. The aperture had been made
for the bar by which the door was secured in the inside.
This had been one of the oM entrances to the church.
The doorway is 3 feet wide, and its existence shows that
the level of the floor of the building must have been
about G feet under the present surface. Kxcavation was
not made to any depth at this point, but the old archway
is now exposL'(l to view within the vestry. The new


vestry is at the north-west angle of the nave and aisle,
and in forming it about 4- feet of the space was provided
by removing a portion of the ancient wall.

The west end of the church has been greatl}^ improved.
The old curve in the gallery towards the north has been
removed, and the gallery squared by the front being
placed straight across the aisle. An old window with
foui- panes in the west gable wall has been enlarged into
an arched window, which lights both the lower lioor and
the gallery.

The greatest change has been effected in the east end
of the nave. The old gallery has been removed, and the
features of the wall, against which the Altar stood in
pre-Reformation times, have been brought into promi-
nence. In renovating, this part of the church, several new
features were disclosed. Two lancet windows were under-
neath the gallery in the east gable wall ; and a small
square window above the gallery. On removing the
})laster from the wall, it was found that the square window
had been formed by closing up the bottom and to}) of an
old lancet window. The architect has restored the window
to its ancient form, and the gable wall has now the 3
lancet lights, about 6 feet high and a foot wide at the
outside, the aperture widening to several feet inside. The
members of the family of Findlater of Balvenie have the
lancets tilled with memorial windows. The old gallery-
stair in the east nave almost hid from view the statue of
the Knight of Kiniuvie standing against the wall. The
recumbent statue had evidently been placed in an upright
position to be out of the way ; but an arched niche has
been made in the wall at the north-east corner, and the
knight laid on his back. The figure is in armour, the
head resting on a pillow, arms folded across the breast,
and feet touching the side of a dog couchant. The stone-
ehigy is believed to be that of Alexander Leslie, who
bought the estate of Kininvie from the Earl of Athol in
1.521, built the House of Kininvie, and was buried within
the Church of Mortlach about 1549.

The mural monument on the south wall of the aisle to
the Jjaird and Lady of Keithmore has long been an object
of interest within the church ; but there has now been
opened to view the two busts in stone which were known
to exist in niches in the wall below the tablet. The
VOL. I. 10


figures are in freestone and very much worn, but they
mark the spot near which, within the church, the great-
grandfather and great-grandmother of the present Earl of
Fife were buried. The inscription is —

I. Hoc conduntur tumulo reliquiae Alexandri Dutf de
Keithmore et Helena (tIIAXT, uxoris suae charissimie, qui
quadraginta annos et ultra felici et fajcundo connubio juncti,
vixeruut. Uterq quidem ingenue natus, ille ex nobilissimis
Fifae Thanis per Vetustam faniiliam de Craighead, paulo abhino
superstitem proxime et legitime oriundus ; ilia ex splendida et
])0tenti Grantoerum familia eodem quoq mode originem trahens.
Ortu non obscuri, suis tamen virtutibus illustriores, opibus