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Editor, The Banff's/lire Journal

With Maps, Diagrams and Illustrations






1. County and Shire. The Origin of Banff i

2. General Characteristics, Position and Natural Con-

ditions ........ 2

3. Size. Shape. Boundaries . . ... . 6

4. Surface Features . . . . . , . . . 10

5. Rivers and Lochs . . . . . . . 14

6. Geology . . . . . . . .22

7. Natural History . . . . . . 27

8. Along the Coast . ... . . . 32

9. Climate . . . . . . . .42

10. The People Race, Language, Population .- . 44

11. Agriculture , . . ... . . 50

12. Distilling and Mining . . . . . . 58

13. Fishing and Fishermen . . . . . 61

14. Shipping and Trade . ... ... 70

15. History of the County . . .... . 73

1 6. Antiquities ' . . . . ' . :. . i>- . 81

17. Architecture (a) Ecclesiastical . . . . 85

1 8. Architecture (b) Military . ' . . . . 87

19. Architecture (c) Domestic .' ... 95

20. Communications Roads and Railways . . .103

21. Administration. . . . . . . .106

22. Roll of Honour . . . . . . .109

23. The Chief Towns and Villages of Banffshire . .124





The Deveron at Netherdale, Marnoch . . . 4

Dufftown . .... . . . . 7

Ben Rinnes . ... . . . . .11

Meikle Conval, Dufttown . . . . . .12

Inchrory Lodge, Kirkinichael . . . . . .13

The Deveron at Drachlaw . . . . . .16

Loch Aven and Ben Macdhui . . . . . .18

Aberlour from Wester Elchies . . . . . zq_

The Shelter Stone, Ben Macdhui . . . . .21

The Whale's Mouth, Cullen 24

Pterichthys Milleri: fossil fish ...... 25

Valley of Aven ........ 29

Banff from Hill of Doune . . . . . -35

Hell's Lum and Devil's Peat Stack, Tarlair . . -37
Mhor Head, Gamrie . . . . . . -39

Qrovie . . . . . . , . . .41

Cullykhan Bay . . . . . . . .43

Aberdeen-Angus Bull . . . . . ... 56

Zulu Boat . . . . . . . .62

Steam-drifters, Buckie . . . . . .64

At the Lines, Whitehills ... ... 67

At the Cod Nets, Whitehills 69

Old Church of Gamrie and Gardenstown . 75

Bronze Boar's Head . . . . . . .82

Sculptured Stone at Mortlach . . . . . -83

Sculptured Stone, Inveraven Churchyard .... 83

Stone Pietii from Banff ....... 84

Alexander Ogilvy's Tomb in Cullen Church . . 86



Findlater Castle .... -89

Boyne Castle . . . . . . . -90

Grated Door, Balvenie Castle . ... 91

Auchindoun Castle . . . . . . . .92

The Castle of Drumin ..... -94

Duff House * . . -96

Cullen House .". . . . . . . . 97

Drummuir Castle . . . . . . . . 98

Ballindalloch Castle . . . . . . . ico

Rothiemay House . ..... . . 101

Park House . . . .... . . .102

General Wade's Bridge, Glenlivet . . . .104

The Well of the Lecht .... -105

Banff Burgh Schools . . . . 108

Archbishop Sharp . . . . . . .113

James Ferguson . * . . . . . .118

Archibald Forbes . . . . . . . .122

Aberchirder from the East . . . . . .125

Cross of Banff . . . . . . . . .126

St Peter's Church, Buckie . 127

Craigellachie Bridge . . . . . . .129

Seatown of Cullen, Viaduct and Links . -. . .130

West End of Macduff . . . . . - 132

Tomintoul . . . . . . . .134

Diagrams . . . . . . . .136-139


Physical Map of Banffshire .... Front Cover

Map of Banffshire boundaries before 1890 ... 8
Rainfall Map of Scotland ...... 45

Geological Map of Banffshire .... Back Cover


The illustrations on pp. 4, 16, 35, 96, 125 are reproduced from
photographs by Mr W. Gammie; those on pp. 7, 1 1, 12, 129 from
photographs by Mr G. MacLennan; those on pp. 13, 29, 105, 134
from photographs by Mr J. R. Gordon; those on pp. 18, 20, 92,
98 from photographs by Messrs J. Valentine & Sons Ltd.; that on
p. 21 from a photograph by Mr G. Laing; that on p. 24 is repro-
duced by permission of H. M. Geological Survey, Scotland; those
on pp. 37, 39, 41, 43, 90, 108 are from photographs by Mr T.
Newton; that on p. 56 from a photograph supplied by the Aberdeen
Angus Soc.; those on pp. 62, 67, 69, 102, 132 from photographs
by Mr H. Holman; those on pp. 64, 86 from photographs by Mr
P. T. Clark; those on pp. 75, 83 [2], 126 from photographs sup-
plied by The Banff shire Journal; those on pp. 82, 83, 84, 91 are
reproduced by permission of The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland ;
those on pp. 89, 97, 130 are from photographs by Mr R. B. Newton ;
that on p. 94 from a photograph by the Rev. R. H. Calder; that
on p. 100 was supplied by the Rev. H. D. F. Dunnett; that on
p. 101 is from a photograph by Messrs G. Pirrie & Sons; that on
p. 104 from a photograph by Mr W. Pearson; that on p. 113 is
reproduced by permission of the Clarendon Press, Oxford; that on
p. 122 by arrangement with Messrs Cassell & Co. Ltd., and that
on p. 127 is from a photograph by Mr J. P. Pozzi.


i. County and Shire. The Origin of

The word shire is of Old English origin and meant office,
charge, administration. The Norman Conquest introduced
the word county through French from the Latin comt-
tatuSy which in mediaeval documents designates the shire.
County is the district ruled by a count, the king's comes^ the
equivalent of the older English term earl. This system of
local administration was in England the result of a gradual,
orderly and natural development; in Scotland, on the other
hand, it was the result of the administrative Act of David I
(i 12453), who, by residence in England was so "polished
from a boy" that "he had rubbed off all the rust of Scottish
barbarity." With an intimate knowledge of English
methods of administration he sought to introduce some of
these. He accordingly divided Scotland into sheriffdoms.
This step marked the beginning of the Scottish county
division as it is known today, although it took a long time
to complete, for the Celtic chiefs in the north and in Gallo-
way were as yet too powerful to allow royal officials to hold
courts within their territories. The policy of David, how-
ever, led to the all but complete expulsion of the Celtic
system from the whole of the east of Scotland up to the
Moray Firth, including a not inconsiderable portion of

B. B.


Originally the civil counties were synonymous with the
sheriffdoms or stewartries, the stewartry ceasing with the
abolition of hereditary jurisdictions in 1748. By the Act
of David, Scotland was divided into 25 sheriffdoms or
counties. In the latter part of the thirteenth century they
numbered 34; there are now 33.

The county of Banff existed at an early period of the
new regime. In the twelfth century and in the thirteenth
we find such varied forms of its name as Banb, Banef,
Bamphe, Banffe, Banet. Curiously divergent derivations
have been given. The Celtic words for "white ford or
beach," for "sucking-pig," and for "holy woman," have
been suggested. Banba, a Welsh or Irish queen, has also
been mentioned as bestowing her name. Amid such diver-
gencies, who shall decide?

2. General Characteristics, Position and
Natural Conditions.

We often speak of an imaginary line from Helensburgh
to Stonehaven as marking off the Highlands from the
Central Lowlands. This, however, is not the whole truth.
For, while part of Banffshire is certainly highland, its
northern part is really lowland a statement holding good
also for its eastern and western neighbours. This lowland
region on the Moray Firth is geologically, topographically
and meteorologically different from the highland region to
the south, and consequently differs considerably in density
of population, in products and in the occupations of the


Banffshire lies between latitude 57 6' and 57 42'
north, and between longitude 2 15' and 3 40' west. To
the east and south it has Aberdeenshire; to the west the
shires of Inverness and Moray.

Near the coast the surface is comparatively level and is
mostly of fine, open, undulating country, of rich, highly
cultivated soil. In the south and south-east it is mountain-
ous, with extensive and good farms however in the fertile
glens. The chief mountain ranges, rivers and strike of the
stratified rocks, run from south-west to north-east, the
whole county being an extensive slope in the same direction,
from the Grampians to the Moray Firth.

In the south are productive deer-forests, and some of the
grouse-moors, extending to tens of thousands of acres, are
among the finest in Scotland.

In other aspects, too, Banffshire stands pre-eminent.
Despite its comparatively short sea-board, it has a greater
wealth than any other county in herring-fishing plant and
stands supreme in the size and the value of its herring-
fishing fleet, propelled either by steam or motor engine.
Along its shores, from the bay of Gamrie westward to Port-
gordon, is the largest aggregation of herring and line fisher-
men, who, in the herring fisheries of Scotland, and only
to a less extent in those of England and Ireland, exercise
a decisive influence. Not a few fishermen from the county
were selected by the Congested Districts Board to introduce
and teach Scottish fishing methods in Ireland, and requests
have come from Japan for them to undertake similar work
there. The manufacture of malt whisky represents a large
and important interest, and probably the county output of
spirits is the largest in Scotland. For many years Banffshire

1 2


has possessed an advanced system of agriculture, and
farming may be taken as the leading industry. With a
comparatively mild climate along a considerable width of
the seaboard, agricultural conditions are wonderfully favour-
able. But in districts such as Glenrinnes, the Cabrach,
Kirkmichael and parts of Glenlivet, where cultivated land
climbs from the valleys up the hillsides and abuts on the
heather, the more or less absolute failure of a crop is not
unknown, and in some years in these high altitudes the
storms of the northern December see cereal crops lying
unsecured, destroyed by weather and consumed by game.
In the large parish of Cabrach, an extensive area of which
is moorland, hill and forest, is the farm of Reekimlane: it
was the only "reekin' lum" left in the parish in a time of
physical stress and hardship caused by crop failures. Besides
agriculture, fishing and distilling, there are minor industries
boat-building, tweed manufacture, the making of agri-
cultural implements, lime-burning and the like; but these
are not of the same general importance.

Banffshire has for long been noted for its love of edu-
cation, and the most potent export indeed, is not its whisky,
its black cattle, or its herrings, but young men and women
fitted by education and discipline to play a creditable part
in the affairs of life. The teachers of the county enjoy the
benefit of the bequest of James Dick, a West Indian and
London merchant, born at Forres in 1743, who died in
1 828, and left 1 1 3,000 to promote higher learning among
the parish schoolmasters of Aberdeenshire, Banffshire and
Moray. The influence of the bequest has been most bene-
ficial in encouraging country schools to maintain a high
standard of education. Such schools as those of Banff,

Fordyce, Keith, Tomintoul and others have for many
years occupied an important place in the higher educational
activities of the county, and through them there is main-
tained an intimate connection with the University of
Aberdeen. At a meeting in the county, Professor Laurie,
after an experience of 35 years as Dick Bequest Visitor,
said that he had some knowledge of what was going on in
America, Germany and France and he would assure them
it was a fact, as he had stated, that Banffshire stood quite
at the head of all educati.onal effort and machinery and
efficiency of any part of the civilised world he knew of or
read of.

The magnificent sea-cliffs and the fine sea- views attract
artists. Many visitors come annually to the bathing-places
and the golf links with their bracing air bracing it must
be for the breezes sweep off the sea straight from the Arctic
Zone with no land between the Banffshire coast and the
North Pole. Inland, too, the summer visitor resorts to
places like Dufftown and Tomintoul, while in Cairngorm
and Ben Macdhui the mountaineer finds fit kingdoms to
conquer. The geologist and the naturalist will also discover
much of interest in the county.

3. Size. Shape. Boundaries.

Banffshire, with an area of 403,053 acres, about 630
square miles, stands fourteenth among Scottish counties.
From north-east to south-west, it is 67 miles long; its
greatest width, which is along the coast, is 32 miles, but
at Keith, near the centre of the county, it narrows to about


nine miles, again expanding southward, so that in shape
it may be said to resemble an hour-glass.

Previous to the Local Government Act of 1889, of
thirty civil parishes in Banffshire, eighteen were wholly


SHI RE ., - ' .;'

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KBuckof B

Cabrach V:



^ 57


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Map of Banffshire boundaries before 1890

(Note detached portions (B) in Aberdeenshire, and one detached portion
(A) of Aberdeenshire in Banffshire.}

within the county, portions of six were in Aberdeenshire,
and five in Moray, while one was wholly detached, the
parish of St Fergus in Eastern Buchan. It was originally
the property of a family who, as hereditary Sheriffs of Banff
were naturally desirous to have their domain within their


own jurisdiction and were able to secure its annexation to
Banffshire; but this feudal peculiarity ceased in 1890. At
the same time the other parishes belonging to different shires
were transferred to one. Thus the parishes of St Fergus,
Old Deer, New Machar, Gartly and Glass became wholly
Aberdeenshire, while Bellie and Rothes were placed alto-
gether in Moray. The whole parishes of Cabrach, Boharm,
Inveraven and Keith were transferred to Banff. The
Banffshire portions of Cairnie and King Edward were
attached to other parishes of Banffshire.

The Moray Firth forms the boundary from the Tynet
Burn to the Tore Burn, where the county marches with
Aberdeenshire. The boundary then runs south and west
in a sinuous line to the Deveron near Eden House. On-
wards to where the Isla joins the Deveron, near Rothiemay,
the river sometimes is and sometimes is not the dividing
line. As far as Grange station the Isla is the boundary,
which then mounts the watershed between Deveron and
Spey, and, sweeping past Glass, crosses the Deveron and
continues by the Buck of the Cabrach round by Ben Aven
and Ben Macdhui to the skirts of Braeriach, where it bids
goodbye to Aberdeenshire. Meeting Inverness-shire and
turning to the north-east, the boundary passes Cairngorm
and twists north-east, north and north-west to the Crom-
dale Hills, where it touches Moray. It holds north to the
Spey near Ballindalloch Station. Except for a short distance
round Ben Aigan, the river is the march till near Fochabers.
Then the boundary goes in an irregular line by Thief's Hill,
and zigzags to the Tynet Burn, along which it runs to the


4. Surface Features.

In the northern part of Banffshire there are hills that
serve as useful landmarks at sea, while the southern pos-
sesses some of the highest mountains in Great Britain. One
characteristic height in the north is the Bin of Cullen
(1050 feet), with its neighbours the Little Bin and the Hill
of Maud. From the top of the conical Bin the spectator
has a fine panorama of sea and land. To the south the
prospect stretches to Cairngorm, to the west are the
mountains of Inverness-shire, to the north the coast land
lies at his feet with headlands and bays, villages and towns,
while across the Firth his eye rests on the Sutors of
Cromarty, Ben Wyvis and other hills of Northern Scotland.
Even lower heights are interesting watch-towers. From
the Hill of Alvah (578 feet) we may see a large tract of
Buchan, its somewhat monotonous aspect relieved by the
bold headlands of Gamrie and Troup ; to the south thriving
woods and fertile lands with Benachie in the distance; the
Buck of the Cabrach and Ben Rinnes in the south-west; to
the north the wooded park of Duff House and the town of
Banff; and beyond the sea the fantastic forms of the Caith-
ness Hills.

The Knock Hill (1409 feet) dominates a large area in
the lower part of the county. Ben Aigan, looking down
on Banff and Moray and swept by the Spey, rises to
1544 feet. Further up the valley, Ben Rinnes rears its
head to a height of 2755 feet, with its less exalted neigh-
bours, the Meikle and Little Convals, while the adjoining
Forests of Glenfiddich and Blackwater have heights well



over 2000 feet. Eastward the Buck of the Cabrach
(2368 feet) stands sentinel, while to the west, in the direc-
tion of the Braes of Glenlivet, are the Ladder Hills
(2475 feet), over which runs the mountainous road to the
upper valley of the Don.

From this point southwards is an extensive spur of the

Ben Rinnes

Grampians, peak upon peak rising in view amid the waste
of mountains. Many of them are between 2000 and
3000 feet. West of Inchrory is Garravoun (2431 feet);
in the Forest of Glenaven is the Bruach (2338 feet);
between the Gairn and the Aven, Ben Aven towers to a
heightof 3843 feet; the Cairngorm group on the confines of
the county with Inverness is itself dominated by Cairngorm


(4084 feet) and where the county meets Aberdeen is the
mighty mass of Ben Macdhui (4296 feet). Among these
hills are the infant waters of the Dee, the Don, the Aven
and many smaller streams, some reaching the North Sea
at Aberdeen; others flowing to the Moray Firth.

In these wild regions, winter tarries long. From Tomin-
toul one may see extensive patches of white at midsummer,

Inchrory Lodge, Kirkmichael

and autumn is not gone when the hills around have got the
covering of a new winter's snow. It is the land of the
ptarmigan, the white hare, the lordly buck, and the pere-
grine; and in its lower altitudes the rifle takes its toll of
the fox in his predatory tours among the flocks of hardy
black-faced sheep that here find their summer home. The
eagle is not yet extinct in the immense Forest of Glen Aven.
The "beat" of the single policeman at Tomintoul includes


the Cairngorms, but probably he does not very frequently
take so wide a circuit. The same uninhabited area apper-
tains to the ecclesiastical parish of Tomintoul, which must
surely be one of the most extensive quoad sacra parishes in
Scotland, including as it does about nine miles in length
of the inhabited part of the civil parish of Kirkmichael,
and the twelve or fifteen uninhabited miles that stretch
into the Grampians.

5. Rivers and Lochs.

While the county is well watered, it possesses no great
river entirely its own flowing directly into the sea.
The Deveron is shared with Aberdeen, the Spey with
Inverness and Moray, though the main drainage area of
the former is in Banffshire, and from Banffshire comes the
largest tributary of the latter.

"I hae a kintra," runs a rhyme attributed to Jane
Maxwell, Duchess of Gordon

I hae a kintra caa'd the Cabrach,

The folks dabrach,

The water's Rushter,
An' the corn's trushter.

In its comparative isolation the Cabrach is a little territory
by itself, hence the "the" used before the name; it is
called never Cabrach but "the" Cabrach. It is in the
wild recesses of the Cabrach that the infant Deveron
originates, in a land of heath-covered hills, of barren moors,
and of far-stretching, rugged deer forests. The climate is
unkindly, winter lingers long, so that, while the valleys
are devoted to a somewhat precarious course of arable


farming, it is a district of cattle- and sheep-rearing rather
than of grain-growing. From the Cabrach to Rothiemay
the Deveron flows through Aberdeenshire. The stream
in its upper stretches runs rapidly along a series of glens
and is frequently subject to violent freshets. All the bridges
above Huntly were swept off by the historic floods of 1 829.
At Huntly it is joined by the Bogie.

At the point where the Deveron again touches Banff-
shire, it receives the waters of the Isla, which issues from
beautiful Loch Park, and runs through the parishes of
Botriphnie, Keith and Grange. The Deveron now goes
eastward by Marnoch, passing finely situated mansion
houses, on to Inverkeithney, where the Burn of Forgue
enters, coming from storied Frendraught and Glendronach.
Still holding east, it nearly reaches Turriff but turns very
abruptly northward. At the elbow it is joined by the Water
of Turriff. Near the same point it is spanned by a bridge
of three arches, of Delgaty freestone. The river flows on
past Forglen House, in charming scenery, Mountblairy
and Denlugas, to receive the Burn of King Edward. This
stream comes from the east along the valley of King
Edward. One of its branches begins near the church of
Gamrie, within a short distance of the sea, and after a
course of nine miles joins the Deveron at a point five miles
from its mouth.

The Deveron now passes the ruins of Eden Castle, and,
turning westward, enters the picturesque and romantic
narrows between the Hill of Alvah and the Hill of Mont-
coffer. Here a precipitous chasm is spanned by a bridge
erected by the Earl of Fife. The chasm under the bridge
is narrowed by the rocks to 27 feet, while the depth of the


water is 50 feet. To the north of the bridge the rocks recede,
rising to 100 feet above the water, and are fringed and
covered with a rich diversity of shrubs and trees. Soon a
fine valley gradually opens out. The river sweeps round
its eastern side and encloses the plain on which Duff House
stands. Half a mile hence it reaches the sea beneath the
"Bonnie Brig' o' Banff." Until 1763 the river was crossed
by fords and ferry boats. The first bridge was destroyed
by a flood in 1768. The present bridge, designed by
Smeaton (of the Eddystone lighthouse), was opened in
1780, and was widened in 1 88 1 . It is a beautiful structure
of seven arches, and has a free waterway of 142 yards.
The length of the Deveron is just short of 62 miles.

The Spey is nearly 50 miles longer than the Deveron
and drains an area of over 1 200 sq. miles. It rises at a great
height above sea-level and receives a huge volume of water
from numerous tributaries; and thus in its lower reaches
it is the swiftest of Scottish rivers.

The Spey touches Banffshire close to Ballindalloch
Station and soon after receives, at Inveraven, its largest and
most beautiful tributary the Aven, locally the A'an. The
Aven flows entirely through Banffshire territory, traversing
in its course of about 40 miles some of the finest scenery in
the county, almost matchless for wild and rugged grandeur.
It is a deep and rapid stream, clear as crystal.

The water o' A'an so fair and clear,
Would deceive a man of a hundred year.

It has its source on Ben Macdhui and issues from Loch
Aven, already a considerable stream, flows through the
entire length of the parish of Kirkmichael and falls into the
Spey in the adjoining parish of Inveraven. Near Delnabo
B. B. 2


it is joined by the Water of Ailnach; and north ofTomintoul
by the Conglass, from the hills overlooking Strathdon. A
little further on it receives the water of the Chabet, and in
the kindlier region of Glenlivet the Livet, swollen here into
a considerable stream by the tributaries of Crombie and
Tervie. The former, which drains the Braes of Glenlivet,
falls into it at Tombae, and the latter, which drains the

Loch Aven and Ben Macdhui

district of Morinsh and the lands bqrdering on Glenrinnes,
at Tombreakachie. The Aven, at its beginning, is about

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