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

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Online LibraryLachlan ShawThe 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 text (page 19 of 37)
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a hundred year." Loch Avon is surrounded by frightful preci-
pices, rising on all sides, sheer up, almost to the very ridges of
those towering heaps which are noAV admitted to be higher than
any land in Great Britain. Nothing in our island can approach
so near to the wilder and more savage parts of SavIss scenery.
Cairngorm and Beinbainac rise almost perpendicularly from its
northern and Avestern edges ; and the vast foundations of Ben-
macdui and Bein-main overhang its southern extremity, in
frightful masses, that seem as if poised for immediate projec-
tion into the A^alley ; so that, for several of the AA'inter months,
the sun never shines on the surface of the lake. These are the
sources of the pure and transparent Avon, the glaciers which
hang in their ample bosoms furnishing exhaustless supplies to
its stream, by means of the cataracts they continually pour
doAATi into it. All traces of man are lost amid the grandeur of
these regions. No tree or shrub is to be seen ; and no living
creature, save when the eagle soars from the verge of the cliff
athwart the vacant ether, aAvakening the echoes Avith his
scream ; or Avhen the ptarmigan flutters its Ioav flight across the
mountain broAV ; or perhaps Avhen some straggling deer from the
Forest of Mar, " That from the hunter's aim hath ta'en a hurt,
may come to languish." Hoav terribly grand Avould have been the
feelings excited in the bosom of him Avho could have sat on the
-tth of August, 1829, by the side of that solitary lake, to have
beheld each furroAv in the faces of the froAvning cliffs converted
into a separate cataract ! Hoav sublime their mingled sound,
as they blended Avith the hoAAding of the storm, the hoarse
murmur of the agitated lake, and the chilling splash of the
sheeted rain, heightened as these effects Avould have been by

192 ST. peter"s church, inveravon.

This parish is very extensive, rimuing ou the
bank of Spe}' from N.E. to S.W. above 3h miles,
and then S.S.E. above 8 miles.

The Clmrch* standeth on the bank of Spej^, a
furlong east fi'om the mouth of Avon, 3-^ miles
S.W. of Aberjam'e, 2 miles S. of Knockando,
G miles N.E. of Cromdale, and as manj^ N. of
Kirkmichael. Malcolm, Earl of Fife, gave this
Church, and a Davach of land in Inveravon, to
the Bishop of Moray, which sheweth that this
was once a part of the estate of the Earls of Fife,
and probably came to the Grants by the favour of
Kobert Steuart, Duke of Albany (uncle to Andrew
Steuart, who married the heiress of Grant), to
whom Isabel M'Duff, the heiress, disponed that
great estate.

the conviction tliat there was probably uo other mortal within
a circuit of many miles. — (The Moiwj Floods, by Sir Thomas
Dick Lauder. See also Professor Wilson's beautiful portraiture
of the Avon in Remarh on the Scenery of the HUildands, pp.
43, 45, copied in Fullarton's Gazetteer.) (Ed.)

*In 1829 the Church was so environed by a burn on one
side and the Spey on the other, that it threatened to yield
to the fate predicted that " the kirk of Inveravon would gang-
(loon Spey fu' o' folk."

The Church of St. Peter of Strathoucn was erected into a
Prebfud of the Catheilral Church of the Holy Trinity at Spyny.
by Bricius Bisliop of Murray, between li*08 and 1214, which
was confirmed by Pope Innocent III., on the 22 Dec.
1214 {Rc(i. Eph. Morar.). There was preserved, until the end
of the last century, in the library of the Scots College at Paris,
a MS. Missal which, says Father Thomas Innes, "had belonged
to Mr. James Gordon, the last chancellor of the church of
Murray, and in that quality the last Catholic pastor of St.
Peter of Inerawin, which was the parish where I served in Scot-
land .3 years." (Ed.)


The whole lower end of the parish (except
Coulchoich, pertaining to the Duke of Gordon) is
the barony of Ballindalach. This, for above 200
years, was a part of the estate of the old family
of Ballindalach, of whom Advie, Dellay, Dalvey,
Tommavulin, &c., have descended. But being
evicted and brought to a sale, was purchased by
the Laird of Grant in the beginning of this cen-
tury, and given by the Brigadier with his sister
to Colonel William Grant, second son to Eothi-
murchus, whose son James (since the death of
his nephew William, son of his elder brother
Alexander, without issue) now possesseth it, and
has a beautiful seat at the confluence of Spey
and Avon.

Three miles above Ballindalach, upon the same
side of Avon, beginneth Glenlivat [utterly desti-
tute of wood], which runneth up S.E. on both
sides of Livat 5 miles, and holdeth of the Duke of
Gordon, either in property or in superiority.

In the face of Benrinnes, on the north side of
Livat, is Morinsh, for several generations the
property of Nairn of Morinsh, but now a part of
the estate of Ballindalach.

On the west side of Avon, for 3 miles from the
mouth of it, lieth the barony of Kilmachlie. This
was a part of the estate of Alexander Steuart, 4tli
son of King Eobert II. Earl of Buchan, and Lord
Badenoch and Strathavon, who, having no legiti-
mate children, gave the lands of Strathavon to his

VOL. I. 13


bastard son Sir Andrew, whose son Sir Walter sold
Strathavon to the family of Gordon ; or rather,
it came to Thomas, bastard son of Alexander
Steuart, Earl of Mar, who was bastard son of the
Earl of Buchan, and Thomas sold it to Alexander
Earl of Hmitley. But Kilmachlie continued with
a son of Sir Andrew and his descendants, until
Ludovick Laird of Grant purchased it, and now
it is a part of the estate of Ballindalach.

On the point where Avon and Livat join, stands
the Castle of Drmnin, which was the seat of the
Barons of Strathavon, and is now the residence of
Charles Steuart, of Drumin, a branch of Kil-
machlie. Here there is an arch of a stone-bridge
over Livat.

This parish is accommodated with much wood,
rich pasture-ground, and plentiful salmon-fishing.

The barony of Ballindalach is in the county of
Moray. The rest is in Banffshire.

[Ballindalloch Castle, or the House of Balliiulalloch,
the residence of Sir George Macpherson Grant, Bart., is a
massive looking mansion, situated on the banks of the
clear-tiowing Avon, upon a low flat haugh richly wooded,
at a short distance from its contlnx with the Spey. Like
many of the residences of our Highland gentry, it com-
prises, amid additions from time to time made by suc-
ceeding possessors, an imposing centre scpiare tower, with
which have been blended some beautiful copies of tall
chimney spires and turrets, taken from some of the best
of the olden Aberdeenshire castles. This contains the
ancient door and turnpike stair, surmounted by a watch-
tower termed the Ga-pe House, with a window to each of
the four sides, and an aperture in the wall immediately
above the entrance ; so as to admit of boilin<:( lead, or mis-


siles, being thrown down in the event of an enemy
making good his approach. Over the chimney in one of
the rooms is carved the date 1546. The Cape House
seems to have been added by Patrick Grant in 1G02 ; and
about the beginning of last century a further addition
was made of two large and commodious wings. Over the
door-way is the family arms of Macpherson-Grant, with
the inscriptions in Saxon letters : — l\t ^orb shall prcscrbe
thy going oitt anii Wxv coming in. On one side, CSrcctcb
1546 ; on the other, %z<5ioxzii 1850. The chief gateway
or entrance is at the Bridge of Avon ; the style of archi-
tecture corresponds to that of the Castle. Over the arch
is the family arms, with the motto — "^ottch not the C^at
hot the (globe. The flood of 1829 poured violently for 24
hours through the vaulted passages of the old mansion. The
dining-room had above 3 feet of water in it. The situa-
tion of the family, taken unawares, shut in by a raging
deluge, was dreadful. The horses were standing 3 and 4
feet deep in the stables. This flood exceeded that of
1768 at Ballindalloch by 6 feet, and cost the proprietor
upw^ards of £8000.

A little farther up the river, upon the edge of the high
ground, and near a small stream called tJie Castle Strype,
are to be seen the traces of a large building said to have
been the former mansion of Ballindalloch. Tradition
says that it would still have stood had not the building
been prevented by unseen agency, the part built in the
day-time having been always thrown down during the
night. At length a voice was heard saying, " Build in
the cow-haugh, and you shall meet with no interruption."
The recommendation was followed, and the House of
Ballindalloch was l)uilt where it now stands.

The Macphersons of Invercshie are the chiefs of a large
tribe, which for ages has been distinguished under the
designation of " Slioch Gillies," and which is composed of
many considerable families, not only of the name of Mac-
pherson, but of others, such as the Gillieses, Gillespies,
&c. The founder of this tribe was Gillies, or EUas Mac-
pherson, the first of Invereshie, who lived in the reign of
Alexander III. He was a younger son of Ewan or
Eugene Baan (the fair-complexioned), and brother of
Kenneth Maepherson, ancestors of the Macphersons of
Cluny Maepherson, in Inverness-shire. Ewan Baan was


son of Murlach or Murdoch, and grandson of Gillichattan,
chief of the powerful clan Chattan during the reign of
David I., who, having devoted himself to the service of
the Church, became Abbot of Kingussie, which he en-
joyed till llo3, when, upon the demise, issueless, of his
elder brother, Diarmid, the chieftainship devolved upon
him. A few years subsequently, he procured from the
Pope a dispensation to marry a daughter of the Thane of
Calder. His son, Ewan Baari, was sometimes called
Macpherson, which signifies " the son of a parson " (de-
rived from his father's clerical profession) ; and surnames
about that time becoming hereditary, it was perpetuated
in his descendants.

Several of the lairds of Ballindalloch have followed
the military profession, and others have devoted them-
selves to the improvement of their estate. General James
Grant defeated Count d'Estainz, conquered St. Lucia, and
was for many years Governor of Florida. At the time of
his death, which took place at Ballindalloch in ISOG, he was
Governor of Stirling Castle. According to his own direc-
tions, his remains were buried in a favourite spot on the
farm of the Mains, which commands a view of the Spey
and of the Barony of Ballindalloch, and there a hand-
some Pillar has been erected, bearing a marble slab re-
cording his appointments and the dates of his birth and
death. General Grant was succeeded by George Macpher-
son Grant, who was created a baronet in 1888, and was
an eminent agriculturist. He died in 1846, and was
succeeded by his son, Sir John Macpherson Grant, who
enjoyed the title but a few years, having died in 1851.
The title and estates then devolved on his son. Sir George
Macpherson Grant, the present baronet, when only 12
years of age. Sir George's mother, Marion-Helen, was
the eldest daughter of Mungo Nutter Campbell of Balli-
more, Argyllshire (she died in 185.")). liorn at Invoreshie,
Inverness-shire, 1881); mar., 1861, Frances Elizaln'th, the
youngest daughter of the Rev. Roger Pocklington, \'icar
of Walcsby, Notts ; educated at Christ Church, O.xford,
grad. B.A., 1861.

About a mile from tlie confluence of Avon and Li vet,
the rivulet Tervy, up Livet about half a mile, lies AcJi-
brake ; and at the distance of half a mile eastward from
Achbrake, the burn of Altachojniachan falls into Tervy ;


and about li mile almost up this burn, and south-east
from its mouth, the Battle of Altachoynachaft, in Oct.,
1594, was fought between Huntly and Argyle, in which
the latter was defeated. {The Stat. Ace. of Scotland, vol.
xiii., p. 3-): Edinb., 1794).

The Battle of Altachoynachan, Altachoylachan, Glen-
• livat, Balrinnes, or Benrinnes, was fought upon an inclined
plain near the Glenrinnes border of the parish, terminat-
ing in a flat ridge which descends rapidly to the burn of
Altachoylachan, and flanked on the south by a somewhat
precipitous shoulder of the contiguous mountain. About
I of a mile from the scene of action, a small knoll on the
east bank of the stream Conlalt, commonly called Lord
Aiichindown's Cairn, § of it swept away by the flood of
1829, marks the place where Sir Patrick Gordon of Auch-
indown is supposed to have died. {The New Stat. Ace.
of Scotland, number xi., p. loO. Ty tiers Hist of Scot-
land, vol. iv., pp. 223, 224 : Nimmo, 1864. The Battle of
Balrinnes, pp. 538-547, in the Ballad Minstrelsy of Scot-
land: Maurice Ogle & Co., Glasgow, 1871.)

On the 5th Feb., 1493, "the lordis of consale assignis
to Alexander Tulloche the xv day of Aprile nixt to cum
with continiatioune of dais to preif sufficiently that Wal-
ter Stewart of Straithovn knycht is awand to the said
Alexander as are to vmquhile his faider the soume of
ij" merkis. And alse t(^ preif sufficiently that Margrete
laidy Dvn and Jonat Ogilby laidy Leis is awand him a
croce of gold with a preciouse stane callit a ruby and vij
orient perle with a pece of bane of Sanct Magnis hede
and the price tharof. And ordinis him to haf letrez to
summonde his witnes and the party to heer thaim sworne."
{Acta Bominorum Goncilii, p. 273.)

Kilmaichly. This old House, on the left bank of the
Avon, occupies the flat summit of a green knoll, em-
bosomed in a grove of ancient trees, and overlooking a
rich assemblage of wooded banks and long withdrawing
terraces and haughs. But its beauties have been already
painted by the tender and glowing pencil of the " 3Ian of
Feeling," who has drawn a rural picture from it that
would throw a charm over an infinitely less interesting
reality. (See the 87th No. of The Lounger.) The old
fir trees are still prominently observable, and the House


and its accompaniments, though somewhat in decay, yet
remain in a state sufficiently fresh to recall the author's
fascinations. The old lady and her ancient butler are,
indeed, no longer here in corporeal existence ; but blunt
must be the fancy of that individual who could visit this
classic spot without finding it haunted by their venerable
forms. The flood of 17G8 cut a channel through the
lower ground of Kihuaichly, isolating a part of it from
the rest of the farm ; and that of the 3rd and 4th of
Aug., 1829, restored the river to its old bed.

A remarkable hill, long, Hat-topped, and steep-sided in
form, stretches down through the liaughs, from the junc-
tion of the Livet with the Avon. It is evidently the
remnant of a plain in which the rivers met at a nnich
higher level. On this there is a Druidical Circle , and,
on the top of the wooded Hill of Craggan, near the lowt-r
termination of the Duke's property, there are large re-
mains of Cairns, and rude walls of fortification. (TJie
Moray Floods, by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder.)

" The Stone," at Inveravon, lies in the churchyard of
the parish, and is said to have been found under the
foundation of the old church. Numerous traces of Stone-
Circles are to ))e found in the parish, and rude Stone -
Coffins have occasionally been discovered. (See No. 1
Plate XV., Vol. I. Stuart's Sculptured. Stones of Scot-

There were upon an eminence on the east side of Avon,
and a short way up from the House of Ballindalloch, a
few long !^ones enclosing a small piece of ground, which
was said to be a Druidical Temple. The most of the
stones have been taken away, except one very broad,
thick, and long stone, which stands still there. Opposite
to this on the west side of Avon, upon a rising ground
amidst the corn land of Bellaviller, is such another place,
where several long broad stones encompass about 72
square yards of ground. Some of the long stones are
broken, but several of them still stand whole. Such an-
other Temple there is in the lower end of Glenlivet, on
the east side of Avon, upon a hillock, or small rising
ground, a little below the mouth of Livet, called The
Doun of Dilmore. {The Stat. Ace. of Scotland, vol. xiii.,
pp. 42, 43.)

Rude Stone Coffins have occasionally been discovered


in the parish, under cairns to be removed to make way
for the plough ; and, in trenching a wood on the farm
of Kilmaichlie, the labourers found some old urns and
coins. Numerous traces of Druidical Temples are to be
found. {The Neiu Stat. Ace. of Scotland, number xi., pp.
132, 133.)

At Blairfindy are to be seen the ruins of a hunting-
seat of the Earls of Huntly ; and at Drummin, on a high
promontory near the confluence of the Livet with the
Avon, stands part of the old Castle of Drummin, now
aflbrding shelter only to jackdaws and pigeons. The
wall, which is of great height and thickness, is pretty
entire on the east and north and half of the west side,
but the other half of the west and the whole south wall
are gone, and the stability of a considerable part of what
remains of the structure seems to rest on a single stone
of a few inches in diameter. {The Neiu Stat. Ace. of
Scotland, number xi., p. 133.)

Besides the Churchyard of the parish, there are two
other burying-places ; one upon the east side of Livet,
near 4 miles from the Parish Church, near the walls of
the old Chapel of Dorman ; and another, almost 5 miles
higher up the glen, on the west side of Crombie, and
opposite to the Bochle. It is called the Buitterlach, and
was consecrated more than 40 years ago by two K. C.
Bishops, to be a burying-ground for the Catholics, but few
are yet buried in it. There was in old time also a chapel
and burying-place on the east side of the Livet, about
half-a-mile above the Protestant Meeting House, called
Chapel Christ, but very little remains of the chapel are
to be seen, and the burying-ground has been washed
away by a small rivulet which runs between it and
Nevie, and by the water of Livet. There was also once
a chapel and burying-ground on the west side of Avon,
on the estate of Kilmaichlie, almost opposite to the mouth
of Livet, on a farm which is from it called ClLapeltoivn.
There are evident marks of graves, with stones set up at
the heads of some of them ; and hard by is an excellent
spring, which emits a large stream of water. {Stat. Ace.
of Scotland, vol. xiii., pp. 36, 37 : Edinb., 1794.)

There were chapels at Phona, Nevie, Deskie, and
Chapelton of Kilmaichlie ; but no traces now remain of


any of them except the latter, the outlines of which are
still visible, with some appearances of graves close by.
The burial-ground of Downan is still used, and occasion-
ally that of Buitterlach, in the near neighbourhood of
which there is a very large cairn, supposed to be raised
over the grave of a person of note. A small spot in a
field on the farm of Haughs of Kilmaichlie appears
clearly to have been also a place of sepulture. In the
immediate neighbourhood of the old chapel at Chapelton
of Kilmaichlie is a very copious spring of water, cased
with stones, indicating perhaps that it was in repute in
times of old. {The Neiv Stat. Ace. of Scotland, number
xi., pp. 183, 125.)


[Glcnlivet is by no means so prolific in remnants of the
Bronze as in that of the Stone Period. This is, perhaps,
owing to the perishable nature of the metal. Another
reason is that ploughmen are so well accustomed to see
pieces of metal corroded with rust in the earth, that they
seldom, if ever, lift them. It is only when something of
unusual shape or size attracts their attention that they
pause to lift and examine it. It is to the mosses that we
chiefly owe the preservation of anything that has been
found. A few little things have, however, been found in
the soil, and these tell us that Glenlivet was in the Bronze
Period, as in the Stone, the scene of busy, active life.

A number of years ago, while workmen were trenching
a piece of land on the farm of Thane, three stones were
discovered in the form of a crondech. The stones were
removed, and the workmen went on digging. One of the
workmen suddenly turned out some pieces of pottery,
rudely ornamented. It could not be guessed at the time
what the vessel had contained or how it had come to be
there. We have no doubt, however, tliat the vessel was
a cinerary urn formed of baked clay, and that it contained
the ashes of perhaps some mighty chief in the far past.
Near the urn was found a piece of bronze resembling, as
our informant stated, a round buckle. From the descrip-
tion given, we have little hesitation in believing that the
round buckle was a Celtic brooch, one of those beautiful
ornaments that are so extremely rare.


At Cairnvreit, on the farm of Auchdregnie, some articles
belonging to the Bronze Period have also been found, but
very little has been preserved. Many years ago, in the
piece of ground above-mentioned, was found a quantity
of bronze rings, in addition to an implement resembling
a saddler's needle. The rings, unfortunately, have dis-
appeared long ago. Their size or shape cannot even be
given with anything like accuracy. It is useless, there-
fore, to speculate whether they were ornaments or ring-
money. If proper search were made in this piece of
groimd, so rich with riches of by-gone days, and under
the eye of a competent archaeologist, the search would be
amply rewarded. These little things comprise everything,
as far as we can learn, that have been found in the land.
In the mosses the tale is not much brighter. Were it not
that what has been found were in different parts of the
locality, separated a considerable distance from each other,
we would be inclined to think that, ere the dawn of the
Bronze Period, the natives had all decamped, leaving a
solitary family or two the sole occupiers of the desolate
scene. This could scarcely be the case, however, or they
must have migrated occasionally to procure their imple-
ments of bronze.

Three or four years ago, in the peat-moss of Vantauch,
there was discovered a bronze vessel, or, as our informant
said, a copper vessel, resembling a modern frying-pan. It
looked like copper, and might have been three parts so ;
but there can be little doubt but that it belonged to the
Bronze Period. It was found fully 4J feet in the solid
moss, measured from the present surface. Six feet of
solid moss had been taken from above that, however,
within the memory of living men ; and there might have
been several feet cut before, which is very probable. The
vessel was found under nearly 11 feet of solid moss,
assuming that none had been cut before the present age.
That in itself is sufficient to prove that it was of ancient
date, but the vessel itself proves it more satisfactorily.
The handle was of that peculiar twisted pattern so common
in the Bronze Period, and which may be said to be pecu-
liar to it. The vessel was also carefully mended in three
or four parts, and well mended, as the finder stated. This
proves the great value that must have been attached to
it ; but like many other objects of antiquity, it also has


left the locality, it having been sold to a travelling stone-
ware merchant for a " bowl."

We have in our possession a perforated brazen ball,
found in the moss of Blackward, with diagonal lines
traced round it. It was found many feet under the
surface of the moss ; but we are by no means certain
that it belongs to the Bronze Period. On the contrary,
we are inclined to think that it belongs to a later date.
It resembles very particularly the round ball that is
attached to the hilt of a modern sword : yet it could
scarcely have been attached to the hilt of an ancient
sword, or probably the hilt would have been found with
it, and perhaps part of the blade. It is, without doubt,
however, of ancient date, whatever may have been its
use. We have also in our possession an article which we
take to have been an ornament. It is manufactured of a
metal which, as far as we can judge, is neither brass nor
bronze. It is round, about 2| inches in diameter, and
resembles very much the ornaments that are used on
horses' modern bridles. It has a very fair likeness of a
fox head engraven on it. There are also two rough pro-
jections on the under side, by which it has been attached
to something. We cannot conjecture what it has been

Online LibraryLachlan ShawThe 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 text (page 19 of 37)