Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Elginshire or Moray

Elginshire or Moray, a maritime county on the southern shore of the Moray Firth, forming the central division of the old Province of Moray. It used formerly to consist of two separate though not widely detached parts, a portion of Inverness-shire having, by one of those zig-zag arrangements that may be traced back to the days of feudal jurisdiction, got between the two portions. In 1870, however, by 'The Inverness and Elgin County Boundaries Act,' a part of the united parishes of Cromdale and Inverallan, including the village of Grantown, was transferred from Inverness to Elgin, and portions of the parishes of Abernethy and Duthil from Elgin to Inverness. The population of the former district was (1861) 3377; and of the latter in the same year 2750, so that Elginshire gained somewhat in population by the change. The new arrangement has proved in many ways advantageous, and has rendered the county more compact. Elginshire is bounded on the N by the Moray Firth, on the E and SE by Banffshire, on the S and SW by Inverness-shire, and on the W by Nairnshire; and on the centre of the western border it surrounds two small detached portions of the latter county. Its greatest length from NE to SW, from Lossiemouth to Dulnan Bridge in Strathspey, is 34 miles; its greatest breadth from E to W, from Bridge of Haughs near Keith to Macbeth's Hillock on the Hardmuir to the W of Forres, is 291/2 miles. The coast-line along the shore at high - water mark measures 30 miles, and a straight line from the mouth of the Spey on the E to the sea near Maviston sandhills on the W measures 26 miles. The total area, according to the Ordnance Survey, and inclusive of inland waters and foreshores, is 312,378.810 acres. Roughly speaking, the county forms a sort of triangle, with a sharp apex to the NW, and somewhat blunt corners to the S and NE, and in this triangle the northern and western sides measure 25 miles, and the south-eastern side somewhat more - all the measurements being in straight lines. Over 25 miles of the accurate boundary on the E is traced by the river Spey, and over 24 on the W by the watershed along the north-eastern prolongation of the Monadhliath Mountains; but everywhere else, except along the Moray Firth, the boundary is purely artificial. Starting from the NE corner the boundary-line follows the principal channel of the Spey for the time being for about 2 miles, and then strikes south-eastward through Gordon Castle part of which is in Elginshire and part in Banffshire till it reaches Bridge of Haughs about 3/4 mile to the W of Keith. It then skirts the S side of the Highland railway to near Mulben station, where it turns abruptly away to the S, and takes in a part of the long slope of Ben Aigan. Returning to the Highland railway, it skirts the N side of the line as far as the bridge over the Spey. From this point it follows the course of the Spey for many miles up as far as Inveraven church, when it leaves the river, and takes in a part of Inveraven parish, measuring about 21/2 miles by 1 mile, passes back along the river Aven, and again up the Spey for a mile. It then strikes to the SW along the watershed of the Cromdale Hills, but returns to the Spey about 2 miles due E of Grantown, and keeps to the river as far as Dulnan Bridge. It then turns up the Dulnan for about a mile, and from that point proceeds in a direction more or less northerly (not taking minor irregularities into account), until it reaches the Moray Firth about 5 miles W of the mouth of the river Findhorn. The lower part of the county is flat, and remarkable for its amenity of climate, high cultivation, and beauty of landscape, in which respects it holds the highest position in the northern lowlands. The only exception is a part between the mouth of the Findhorn and the western boundary, which is covered by a mass of sand constantly in motion in the slightest breeze of wind, and known as the Culbin Sands. Culbin was at one time almost the richest and most fertile part of the county, but now some 3600 acres are little better than an arid waste. In 1693 the rental was worth what might be represented by £6000 of our present money, but in 1694 or 1695 sand began to blow in from the shore, and rapidly overwhelmed the whole district. From the Findhorn eastward to Burghead, the tract along the coast is also barren and sandy, and from Lossiemouth eastward to the mouth of the Spey there are a series of great gravel ridges formed from the boulders brought down by the Spey, which have been in the course of ages carried westward by the inshore current, and thrown up by the sea. The district adjoining the coast along the parishes of Urquhart, St Andrews-Lhanbryd, Drainie, Duffus, Spynie, Alves, Kinloss and Dyke, and Moy is rich and fertile with heavy loam and strong clay soils, and is so flat that it might be mistaken for a portion of England set down there by accident. High wooded ridges running through Alves, Elgin, and St Andrews-Lhanbryd separate this from another flat district, not, however, of so great extent as the last, nor so level, extending through Speymouth, Elgin, and Forres, and sweeping up to the S to the beginning of the hill country, which occupies the S part of the county, where the land is mostly covered with heather and given over to grouse and the red deer, and where cultivation, when carried on at all, is under much harder conditions of soil and climate than in the rich and fertile ` Laigh of Moray.' There are, however, along the courses of all the streams numerous, though small, flats or haughs of great fertility. The soil of the arable lands of the county may be classified under the general names of sand, clay, loam, and reclaimed moss. Sand, or a light soil in which sand predominates, extends, with inconsiderable exceptions, over the eastern half of the lowlands, or most of Speymouth, Urquhart, St Andrews-Lhanbryd, and Drainie, the eastern part of Spynie, part of Elgin, and the lower lands of Birnie and Dallas. A clay soil prevails throughout Duffus and Alves, part of Spynie, and small strips in the sandy district. A loamy soil covers extensive tracts in Duffus, Alves, and Spynie, and nearly the whole of Kinloss, Forres, Dyke, the lower lands of Rafford and Edenkillie, and the alluvial grounds of the highland straths. A clay loam covers a considerable part of Knockando. Moss, worked into a condition of tillage, occurs to a considerable extent in Knockando, and in strips in the flat districts in the low situations. It is superincumbent on sand, and is so peculiar in quality as to emit, on a hot day, a sulphureous smell, and to strongly affect the colour and formation of of rising grain: it occurs also on the flats and slopes of the lower hills of the uplands, peaty in quality, but corrected by the admixture of sand. The far extending upland regions are prevailing moss and heath. Though the low district has a northern exposure, the climate is so mild that the hardier kinds of fruit-all the varieties of the apple, and most of the varieties of the pear and the plum-may, with very little attention, be grown abundantly; and fruits of greater delicacy the apricot, the nectarine, and the peach-ripen sufficiently on a wall in the open air. The wind blows from some point near the W during about 260 days in the year, and in summer it is for the most part a gentle breeze, coming oftener from the S than from the N side of the W. Winds from the NW or N generally bring the heaviest and longest rains. The district has no hills sufficiently elevated to attract the clouds while they sail from the mass of mountains in the S towards the heights of Sutherland. The winter is singularly mild, and snow lies generally for only a very brief period. In the upland districts rain falls to the amount of 5 or 6 inches more than the mean depth in the low country, and there the seasons are often boisterous and severe, and unpropitious weather delays and, by no means seldom altogether, defies the efforts of the former. Rather more than half the county is drained by the Spey and its tributaries. Of the latter the most important are the Aven and the Dulnan, neither of which have, however, more than a very small portion of their course within the county. The middle part of the county is drained by the river Lossie. It rises n car the centre of the upper part of the shire, and has a very sinuous course in a general north-easterly direction, till it enters the sea at Lossiemouth. Its principal tributaries are the Lochty or Black Burn, the Burn of Glen Latterich, and the Burn of Shogle. The western part is drained by the Findhorn and its tributaries. The whole course of the Findhorn is very beautiful and picturesque, till it expands, near the mouth, into the open sheet of Findhorn Loch or Findhorn Bay. There is at the mouth, between the village of Findhorn and the Culbin Sands, a dangerous and much-dreaded bar. The principal tributaries are the Divie and the Dorbock. The latter issues from Lochindorb, and flows parallel to the western boundary of the county, at a distance of about a mile, along a course of about 10 miles, when, after uniting with the Divie, the streams fall into the Findhorn near Relugas. The principal lochs are - Lochindorb, which lies among the mountains, near the point where Elgin, Nairn, and Inverness unite. It is 2 1/8. miles long and 5 furlongs broad at the widest part. The Loch of Spynie, now only 5 furlongs long by 1 ½ furlong wide, was formerly an extensive lake 3 miles long and ¾ mile wide, but by the drain age operations carried on from time to time between 1779 and 1860, the whole of the loch was drained excepting a mere pool a little to the W of the old Castle of Spynie. The present sheet of water has been reformed by the proprietor of Pitgaveny. Loch-na-Bo (4 x 1 ½ furl.) lies 1 mile to the SE of the village of Lhanbryd. It contains a large number of excellent trout. The banks are prettily wooded, though up to 1773 the surrounding tract was merely a barren heathy moor. There are a number of chalybeate springs in the county, but none of them are at all distinguished for their medicinal properties. The surface of the county rises gradually from N to S, the ridges getting higher and higher till between Creag-an-Tarmachan and the Cromdale Hills, a height of 2328 feet is attained. The principal elevations going from E to W and from N to S are Findlay Seat (1116 feet), Eildon or Heldun Hill (767), Hill of the Wangie (1020), Knock of Braemory (1493), James Roy's Cairn (1691), Cairn-an-Loin (1797), Craig Tiribeg (1586), Carn Sgriob (1590), Creag-an-Righ (1568).

Geology. - The geology of the Morayshire plain has given rise to considerable controversy. For a time, indeed, the age of the reptiliferous sandstones N of the town of Elgin was one of the most keenly disputed points in Scottish geology. They had been classed for many years with the Old Red Sandstone formation; but when Professor Huxley announced in 1858 that the Elgin reptiles had marked affinities with certain Triassic forms, geologists began to waver in this belief. The subsequent discovery of the remains of Hyperodapedon a typical Elgin reptile-in beds of undoubted Triassic age, in England and in India, caused some of the keenest supporters of the old classification to abandon it altogether. It must be admitted, however, that the stratigraphical evidence is far from being satisfactory, owing to the great accumulation of glacial and post-glacial deposits.

The oldest rocks in the county belong to the great crystalline series composing the central Highlands, of which excellent sections are exposed in the Findhorn between Coulmony and the Sluie, in the Divie, the higher reaches of the Lossie, and in the streams draining the western slopes of the valley of the Spey. They consist mainly of alternations of grey micaceous gneiss, quartzites, and mica schists, the prevalent type being gneissose; and with these are associated, in the neighbourhood of Grantown, an important bed of crystalline limestone. In the Findhorn basin they form a wellmarked syncline, extending in a SE direction from the bridge of Daltulich to the junction of the Dorbock with the Divie. This trend, however, is quite exceptional, for when we pass eastwards to the valleys of the Lossie and the Spey, they assume their normal NE and SW strike. As the prevalent dip of the strata is towards the SE, it is evident that there is a gradually ascending series in that direction. In the valley of the Spey they plunge underneath the quartzites, which are so well displayed at Boat of Bridge, on the slopes of Ben Aigan, and at Craigellachie; and these are overlaid by the grand series of schists containing actinolite, andalusite, and staurolite that cover wide areas in Banffshire.

The Old Red Sandstone strata, which come next in order, rest on a highly eroded platform of these crystalline rocks. From the manner in which they wind round the slopes of the hills formed by the metamorphic series, sweeping up the valleys and filling ancient hollows, it is evident that the old land surface must have undergone considerable denudation prior to Old Red Sandstone times. Within the limits of the county there are representatives both of the upper and lower divisions of this formation, which differ widely in lithological character and organic contents. The members of the lower division are displayed on the banks of the Spey N of Boat of Bridge. At the base there is a coarse brecciated conglomerate, which, though it attains a thickness of about 500 feet on the right bank of the river, thins away to a few feet when traced to the N. This massive conglomerate is overlaid by red sandstones, shales, and clays in the neighbourhood of Dipple, and from the limestone nodules embedded in the shales numerous ichthyolites have been obtained. This fossiliferous band, commonly known as the fish-bed, forms an important horizon in the Lower Old Red Sandstone of the Moray Firth basin. There can be little doubt that the outcrop at Dipple is on the same horizon as the well-known bed in the Tynet Burn, about 3 miles to the NE, which is one of the most celebrated localities in the North of Scotland for well-preserved ichthyolites. Amongst the species obtained from these localities are the following: - Cheiracanthus Murchisoni, Diplacanthus striatus, Osteolepis major, and Glyptolepis leptopterus. Like the succession in Tynet Burn, the Dipple fish-bed is overlaid by coarse conglomerate passing upwards into red pebbly sandstones, which are well seen at the bridge of Fochabers. The sandstones on the left bank of the Spey, above the fish-bed have yielded some large specimens, which are probably fragments of Pterygotus. This fossil, which is characteristic of the Upper Silurian and Lower Old Red Sandstone formations, has been found in the flagstones of Forfarshire, Caithness, and Orkney. N of the bridge of Fochabers the succession in the Spey is obscured by alluvial deposits; but in the Tynet and Gollachie sections there is an ascending series to certain contemporaneous volcanic rocks, which are of special importance, inasmuch as they are the only relics of volcanic activity during this period in the Moray Firth basin. From the persistent NNW inclination of the strata in the Spey and Tynet sections, we would naturally expect to find the members of the lower division extending westwards across the Morayshire plain. But with the exception of the great conglomerate filling the ancient hollow of the vale of Rothes, which may justly be regarded as the equivalent of the conglomerate in the Spey, there is no trace of the members of the lower division till we pass westwards to Lethen Bar in Nairnshire. They are overlapped by the Upper Old Red Sandstone strata, which sweep up the valleys of the Lossie and the Findhorn till they rest directly on the metamorphic rocks. In other words, there is in this area a marked unconformity between the upper and lower divisions, which is equally apparent in the county of Nairn. The boundary line of the upper division extends from Glensheil on the Muckle Burn, eastwards by Sluie on the Findhorn, thence curving northwards round the slope of the Monaughty Hill, and winding up the Black Burn as far as Pluscarden Abbey. From this point it may be traced eastwards across the Lossie to Scaat Craig at the mouth of the Glen of Rothes. In the neighbourhood of Dallas there is a small outlier of thick-bedded sandstones, which, in virtue of the fish scales embedded in them, must be grouped with the upper division.

Lithologically the Upper Old Red strata are very different from the older series. The dominant feature of the division is the occurrence of massive grey and yellow sandstones, full of false bedding, with occasional layers of conglomerate. By far the finest section of these strata is exposed on the Findhorn, between Sluie and Cothall, where the river has cut a deep gorge through them, exposing magnificent cliffs of the massive sandstones. They are inclined to the NNW, at angles varying from 5o to 10o, and in the course of this section upwards of 1000 feet of strata are exposed. At Cothall they pass underneath a remarkable bed of cornstone, containing calcite, arragonite, iron pyrites, and chalcedony, which is overlaid on the right bank of the river by red marls. By means of small faults, which are well seen on the left bank, the cornstone is repeated towards the N. To the S of Elgin the members of this series are exposed on the Lossie and at Scaat Craig where they have a similar inclination; but, owing to the covering of superficial deposits, no continuous section is visible. At Glasgreen, near New Elgin, there is a band of cornstone closely resembling that at Cothall and apparently occupying the same horizon, which can be traced at intervals in a NE direction to the Boar's Head rock on the sea-coast. Again, to the N of Elgin, the younger series extends along the ridge from Bishopmill to Alves. They are admirably displayed in the quarries at the former locality, where they have been extensively worked for building purposes. The fossils obtained from the Upper Old Red -strata consist of fish scales, bones, and teeth, and, though by no means plentiful, they have been found at various localities. They occur in the Whitemyre quarry on the Muckle Burn, in the Findhorn cliffs, at Alves, in the Bishopmill and Dallas quarries, and again at Scaat Craig. The last of these is most widely known. Here they are embedded in a conglomeratic matrix, and show signs of having been subjected to aqueous action. The characteristic fossils of the upper division are Holoptychius nobilissimus, Dendrodus latus, D. strigatus, and Pteriehthys major. In the tract of ground lying to the N of the Quarry Wood ridge, the strata are met with which have given rise to so much controversy. They consist of pale grey and yellow sandstones in which the reptilian remains have been found, and with these is associated a cherty and calcareous band, commonly known as 'the cherty rock of Stotfield. ' This term was first applied to it by the Rev. George Gordon, LL. D., of Birnie, to whose valuable researches, extending over half a century, geologists are specially indebted for the information they possess regarding this district. Along with the calcareous portion of the Stotfield rock there are nodular masses of flint, and throughout the matrix, crystals of galena, iron pyrites, and blende are disseminated. Attempts have recently been made to work the galena at this locality, which have not been attended with success. This rock is also exposed at Inverugie and to the S of Loch Spynie, where, as at Stotfield, it rests on the reptiliferous sandstones. The latter are visible at Spynie, in the Findrassie quarry, and on the N slope of the Quarry Wood. They also extend along the ridge between Burghead and Lossiemouth, being admirably displayed on the sea-cliffs between these localities. In this interesting section one may study to advantage the lithological characters of the strata. Indeed the falsebedded character of the sandstones is so conspicuous that it is no easy matter to determine their true dip. In endeavouring to solve the problem of the stratigraphical position of the beds now referred to, it is of the utmost importance to remember that the reptiliferous sandstones are never seen in contact with the strata yielding Upper Old Red Sandstone fish-remains. Though they occur near to each other in the neighbourhood of Bishopmill and the Quarry Wood, there is no continuous section showing their physical relations. Along the boundary line at these localities, the strata in both cases dip to the NNW, and to all appearance the angle of inclination is much the same. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that the advocates of the old classification persistently maintained the existence of a perfectly conformable passage between the Upper Old Red beds and the reptiliferous sandstones. The two sets of strata have many points in common, and were it not for the remarkable palæontological evidence, they might naturally be regarded as members of the same formation. The suggestion has been made by Professor Judd, whose contribution to the literature of the subject is by far the most valuable which has recently appeared, that the reptiliferous sandstones are thrown against the Upper Old Red beds by powerful faults. But no trace of these faults is to be seen on the surface along the lines indicated by him, save that on the shore at Lossiemouth, which brings the patch of oolitic strata against the cherty rock of Stotfield. Quite recently, however, Mr Linn of H.M. Geological Survey has discovered fish scales of Upper Old Red age in flagstones, on the raised beach W of Stotfield. These flagstones dip to the NNW at a gentle angle, and it is possible that they may form part of a small ridge of Upper Old Red sandstone protruding through the younger strata. In that case the reptiliferous sandstones may probably rest with a gentle unconformity on the older strata.

The fossils which have invested these beds with special importance belong to three species, viz.: Stagonolepis Robertsoni, Telerpeton Elginense, and Hyperodapedon Gordoni. The remains of these reptiles have been found in the sandstones at Lossiemouth, at Spynie, and in the Findrassie quarry, while in the Cummingston sandstones only footprints have been obtained. The Stagonolepis, which, according to recent discoveries, must have been about 18 feet long, was a crocodile allied to the modern Caiman in form. Its body was protected by dorsal and ventral scutes; and it possessed elongated jaws after the manner of existing Gavials. The Telerpeton and Hyperodapedon were species of lizards, the former measuring about 10 inches and the latter about 6 feet in length. It is interesting to observe that the terrestrial lizard, Telerpeton, differs but little from existing forms, thus furnishing a remarkable example of a persistent type of organisation. The Hyperodapedon bears a close resemblance to the existing Sphenodon of New Zealand. The important discovery of the remains of Hyperodapedon in undoubted Triassic strata in Warwickshire, Devonshire, and in Central India ultimately led geologists to regard the reptiliferous sandstones of Elgin as of the same age. The palæontological evidence from the Elgin sandstones is quite in keeping with this conclusion, for in no single instance have reptilian remains been found in the same beds with Upper Old Red fishes, though the strata have long been extensively quarried, and though careful attention has been paid to any indications of organic remains. On the whole, t hen, the evidence bearing on this long disputed questhen seems to be in favour of grouping the reptiliferous sandstones with the Trias.

On the shore at Lossiemouth, to the N of the fault bounding the cherty rock of Stotfield, a small patch of greenish white sandstones occurs, which, from the series of fossils obtained by Mr Grant, must be classed with the Lower Oolite.

Throughout the plain of Moray there is a remarkable development of glacial and post-glacial deposits. Indeed, owing to the great accumulation of these deposits the striæ left by the ancient glaciers are not readily found. A beautiful example, however, occurs on the hill of Alves, where the direction of the markings is ESE, which is in keeping with the general trend over the plain along the S side of the Moray Firth. The boulder clay in the neighbourhood of Elgin, and in fact in the upland districts generally, presents the usual character of a tenacious clay with striated stones. It occasionally contains intercalated masses of sand and gravel of interglacial age, indicating considerable climatic changes during that period. A remarkable example occurs on the left bank of the Dorbock opposite Glenerney, where, in a drift section about 100 feet high by aneroid measurement, three boulder clays are exposed which are separated by rudely stratified sands and gravels, the whole series being capped by stratified sands and finely laminated clays. An important feature connected with the history of the glacial deposits in the Elgin district is the occurrence of numerous blocks containing secondary fossils. They occur in the boulder clay, and they are likewise strewn over the surface of the ground. From an examination of the fossils it is evident that the boulders belong to the horizons of the Lower and Middle Lias, the Oxford clay, and the Upper chalk. The most remarkable example of a transported mass occurs at Linksfield, which demands special attention on account of its enormous size. Unfortunately the section is now covered up, but from the excellent descriptions of Mr Duff and Dr Malcolmson, there can be no doubt that the succession of limestones and shales yielding fish-remains, Cyprides and Estherice, rests on boulder clay and is covered by it. The fossils obtained from this transported mass do not fix the age of the beds with certainty, but they probably belong to the horizon of the Rhætic or Lower Lias formations.

Throughout the district there are widespread sheets of sand and gravel, and along the banks of the Spey, the Lossie, and the Findhorn there are high-level terraces which are evidently of fluviatile origin. They are grandly developed in the Findhorn basin along the borders of Elginshire and Nairnshire, and their characteristic features may be most conveniently described in connection with the post-glacial deposits of the latter county. The 100, 50, and 25 feet raised beaches are well represented within the limits of the county. The lowest of these forms a belt of flat land stretching from Lossiemouth westwards by Old Duffus Castle to the plain S of Burghead. It is evident, therefore, that the ridge between Lossiemouth and Inverugie must have formed an island in comparatively recent times. This sea-beach also forms a broad strip of low-lying ground between Burghead and the western limit of the county, and at various points it is obscured by great accumulations of blown sand, of which the most remarkable are the Culbin sandhills. As these deposits are continued into the adjoining county of Nairn their striking features and their mode of formation will be described in connection with that county. Between Lossiemouth and the Spey the present beach is bounded by a series of ridges which are evidently due to wave action. They consist of alternations of gravel and shingle, the stratification of which usually coincides with the external form of the mounds. They run parallel with the existing coast-line, and occur at no great distance from each other; indeed so rapidly do they succeed each other as we advance inland, that upwards of twenty of them may be counted in regular succession. An interesting example of a `kitchen midden' occurs on the old margin of the Loch of Spynie on the farm of Brigzes. From the interesting description given by Dr Gordon, it is clear that the two mounds must have attained considerable dimensions; the latter measuring 80 by 60 yards, and the smaller 26 by 30 yards. Among the shells composing the refuse heap are the periwinkle, the oyster, the mussel, the cockle, the limpet, and of these the first is by far the most abundant. The occurrence of these mounds along the inner margin of the 25-feet beach furnishes interesting evidence of the elevation of the land since its occupation by man. On the other hand the submerged -forest, which occurs to the W of Burghead, clearly points to the depression which preceded the recent changes in the relative level of sea and land. The cultivation of the county is, on the whole, in a highly advanced condition. In 1870 there were 552 farms not exceeding 5 acres each; 532 of from 5 to 20 acres; 378 of from 20 to 50 acres; 312 of from 50 to 100; and 285 above 100 acres. Most of the farms are held on lease of nineteen years. The farm steadings have of late years undergone great improvement, and on the majority of the large and middle sized farms there are comfortable and well-fitted dwelling-houses. Most of the farms, too, have acquired additional value by the enlargement of fields, the removal of dilapidated dykes, the covering-in of ditches, the reclamation of waste portions, drainage and the growth of hedge fences or the erection of wire paling, as well as by the extensive and marked improvements in farm implements, and by the introduction of the reaping machine. Some farms are cropped on the seven and some on the six shift course, but the majority of the farmers adhere to the five. The acreage under woods and plantations is 45, 368, and according to the Board of Trade Agricultural Returns the total acreage ` under all kinds of crops, bare fallow, and grass ' is 103, 376, including 5165 acres under permanent pasture or grass not broken up in rotation.

The cattle in Elgin are fewer in proportion to the cultivated acreage than in any other county N of Forfarshire, but estimated by the excellence of individual animals, they have more than average merit. They are mostly a cross breed between the short horned and polled breeds, produced with great attention to the high character of the bulls. This cross breed is believed to be hardier, to grow more rapidly, and to take on flesh more readily than any other variety. There are also a number of well-known herds of shorthorns, and though pure polled cattle are not very numerous, the Morayshire herds are very celebrated, and can generally manage to hold their own at the leading shows in Scotland and England, and even in France. Morayshire sheep are also well known. Leicesters are the standard breed for the lower part of the county, and the blackfaced sheep for the higher ground, where the conditions of existence are too severe for the Leicesters. Some farmers keep crosses, and at Gordon Castle there are Southdowns. The manufactures of the county are comparatively inconsiderable. Whisky is one of the chief products, there being seven distilleries in full operation within the county. Besides the wool manufactories at Elgin and Coleburn, in the Glen of Rothes, there are others at St Andrews-Lhanbryd, Forres, and Miltonduff. Tan works have long existed in Elgin and Forres. Shipbuilding on a small scale is carried on at Kingston, at the mouth of the Spey. There used to be a considerable herring fishing at Lossiemouth, Hopeman, and Burghead, but for a number of years the home fishing has been almost a complete failure, and most of the boats prefer to go to some of the larger ports at Aberdeen, Peterhead, or elsewhere. Each of the three seaports just mentioned has a tidal harbour, and there is a coasting trade, particularly in slates, coal, and pit props. There are chemical works at Forres and Burghead. Black cattle and field produce are the principal articles of export, but in some years the cattle are in little or no demand, and the field produce is all required for home consumption. There are large quantities of salmon sent S from the valuable fisheries at the mouths of the Spey and Findhorn, and from the fixed net fishings along the intervening coast. Timber from the Strathspey Forests has also long been exported. The principal ports are in order from E to W, Garmouth, Kingston, Lossiemouth, Burghead, and Findhorn, but they are all small, none of them being more than a sub-port. At Burghead, cargoes are discharged in connection with the chemical works at Burghead and Forres. Numerous fairs for live stock are held at Elgin, Forres, Findhorn, Lhanbryd, and Garmouth, but they are less valued by the farmers than the fairs of Banffshire. The county is intersected by a number of railways. The Inverness and Keith portion of the Highland rail way enters the shire near Keith, and passes through it from E to W, by Lhanbryd, Elgin, and Forres. There are branch lines to Burghead (from Alves station), and to Findhorn (from Kinloss); but the latter is not in the meantime being worked. At Forres, the Forres and Perth section branches off and passes through the county from N to S, till it leaves it about 4 miles S of of Grantown, close to the point where the Dulnan and Spey unite, and therefore almost at the most southerly point of the shire. Starting from Elgin, as its northern terminus, the Great North of Scotland railway system has a branch line from Elgin to Lossiemouth. The main linc passes southward through the Glen of Rothes, passes Rothes, and leaves the county when it crosses the Spey at Craigellachie. At Craigellachie the line branches, one part passing on to Keith and Aberdeen, and the other turning up Spey-side. The Spey-side section runs for the first 6 miles on the Banffshire side of the river, but at Carron it crosses to Elginshire, and with the exception of about 3/4 mile near Ballindalloch, remains in Elginshire till it passes into Inverness-shire, about 2 miles E of Grantown. It joins the Highland railway system at Boat of Garten. There was at one time a branch line connecting the Great North (Morayshire) system at Rothes with the Highland system at Orton, but it has not been worked for a number of years. A bill has now (1882) passed through Parliament, granting powers for the construction of a railway along the coast, from Elgin to Portsoy. This line will, when made, intersect the county from Elgin eastwards as far as Fochabers. The roads all over the county are numerous and excellent. A survey, made in 1866, gave the total length of roads within the county at 439 miles. In 1864 tolls were abolished all over the shire, except at the Findhorn Suspension Bridge, near Forres, where there was at that time a special debt of £2000 still remaining. The royal burghs are Elgin and Forres; the other towns, with each more than 1000 inhabitants, are Branderburgh, Burghead, Fochabers, Grantown, Hopeman, Rothes, and Bishopmill; and the smaller towns and principal villages are Lossiemouth, Findhorn, Garmouth, New Elgin, Kingston, Archiestown, Lhanbryd, Mosstodlach, Urquhart, Stotfield, New Duffus, Cumingston, Roseisle, Kinloss, Crook, Coltfield, Rafford, Dallas, Edenkillie, Dyke, Kintessack, and Whitemyre. The principal seats are Gordon Castle (partly in Banffshire), Darnaway Castle, Innes House, Castle-Grant, Duffus House, Ballindalloch Castle, Altyre, Roseisle, Roseislehaugh, Inverugie, Muirton, Orton House, Springfield, Inverugie, Dunkinty, Easter Elchies, Wester Elchies, Dumphail, Seapark, Kincorth, Dalvey, Westerton, Blackhills, Milton Brodie, Newton, Doune, Sanquhar House, Drumduan, Dallas Lodge, Relugas, Logie, Grange Hall, Brodie House, Orton, Auchinroath, and Burgie.

The county is governed by a lord-lieutenant, a vice-lieutenant, 27 deputy-lieutenants, a sheriff, 3 assistant sheriff-substitutes, and 114 magistrates. The ordinary sheriff court is held at Elgin, on every Monday for proofs in civil causes, on every Thursday for ordinary business of civil causes, and on every or any Tuesday, as occasion requires, for criminal causes. The commissary court for Elginshire and Nairnshire is held at Elgin. Sheriff small debt courts are held at Elgin on every Wednesday; at Forres, six times a year; at Grantown, four times a year; at Rothes, four times a year; at Fochabers, three times a year. The police force, in 1881, exclusive of that for Elgin burgh, comprised 16 men; and the salary of the chief constable was £230. The number of persons apprehended or cited by the police in 1880, exclusive of those in Elgin burgh, was 239; the number of these convicted, 224; the number committed for trial, 22; the number not dealt with, 124. The annual committals for crime, in the average of 1836-40, were 19; of 1841-45, 35; of 1846-50, 41; of 1851-55, 39; of 1856-60, 59; of 1861-65, 58; of 1865-69, 48; of 1871-75, 20; and of 1876-80, 22. The prison is in Elgin, and is one of those still retained under the new Prisons' Act. The annual value of real property, in 1815, was £73, 288; in 1845, £98,115; in 1875, £208,167; in 1882, £228,073. Elgin and Nairn shires return a member to parliament; and the Elginshire constituency, in 1882, was 1746. Pop. (1801) 27,760, (l821) 31,398, (1841) 35,012, (1861) 43,322, (1871) 43, 128, (188l) 43, 788, of whom 20,725 were males, and 23,063 females. Houses (1881) 8611 inhabited, 391 vacant, 71 building. The registration county gives off part of Cromdale parish to Inverness-shire, and parts of Inveraven and Keith to Banffshire; takes in part of Dyke and Moy from Nairnshire, and parts of Bellie, Boharm, and Rothes from Banffshire. It comprehends nineteen entire quoad civilia parishes, and had in 1871 a population of 44, 549, and in 1881 a population of 45, 108 All the parishes are assessed for -the poor. Fourteen of them, with one in Banffshire, form the Morayshire Combination, which has a poorhouse at Bishopmill. One is in the Nairn Combination. The number of registered poor, for the year ending 14 May 1881, was 1230; of dependants on these, 641; of casual poor, 283; of dependants on these, 221. The receipts for the poor were £12, 736, 0s. 8 1/2 d., the expenditure was £12,602, 19s. 9d. The percentage of illegitimate births was 13.6 in 1871, 17.1 in 1878, 13 in 1879, and 16.8 in 1880.

The county comprises the sixteen entire parishes of Alves, St Andrews-Lhanbryd, Birnie, Drainie, Duffus, Elgin, Speymouth, Spynie, and Urquhart, constituting the presbytery of Elgin; Dallas, Edenkillie, Forres, Kinloss, and Rafford, in the presbytery of Forres; Knockando, in the presbytery of Aberlour; and Cromdale, in the presbytery of Abernethy. It shares with Ban shire the parishes of Bellie and Keith, in the presbytery of Strathbogie and Boharm; Inveraven and Rothes, in the presbytery of Aberlour; and with Nairnshire the parish of Dyke, in the presbytery of Forres. There are quoad sacra parishes at Burghead and Lossiemouth, and mission churches at Advie and Knockando. The whole are within the jurisdiction of the synod of Moray. In the year ending 30 Sept. 1880, the county had 62 schools (51 of them public), with accommodation for 10,202 scholars, 7466 on the registers, and 5800 in average attendance. The certificated, assistant, and pupil teachers numbered respectively 91, 5, and 74.

The territory now forming Elginshire belonged to the ancient Caledonian Vacomagi, and was included in the Roman division or so-called province of Vespasiana. It formed part of the kingdom of Pictavia, and underwent many changes in connection with descents and settlements of the Scandinavians. In the Middle Ages it formed the middle part of the great province of Moray [see Moray], although it early became a separate part of that province. It seems to have been disjoined from Inverness as early as 1263, for in that year Gilbert de Rule is mentioned in the Registrum Moraviense as sheriff of Elgin. The sheriff of Inverness still, however, at times exercised a jurisdiction within the county of Elgin; and the proper erection of the county and sheriffdom was not till the time of James II., the earlier sheriffs having probably had much narrower limits to their power. The principal antiquities are the so-called Roman well and bulls at Burghead, standing stones at Urquhart and elsewhere, cup-marked stones near Burghead and near Alves, the cathedral, etc., at Elgin, Spynie palace, Birnie church, the abbey of Kinloss, the priory of Pluscarden, the Michael kirk at Gordonstown, the old porch of Duffus church, Sueno's Stone at Forres, remains of Caledonian encampments on the Culbin Sands, a sculptured cave near Hopeman, castles at Elgin, Forres, Lochindorb, Rothes, and Duffus, and the towers at Coxton and Blervie. See Shaw's History of the Province of Moray (Edinb. 1775; 2d ed., Elgin, 1827; 3d ed., Glasgow, 1882); A Walk Round Morayshire (Banff, 1877); Watson's Morayshire Described (Elgin, 1868); Leslie and Grant's Survey of the Province of .Moray (1798).

(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4); © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland)

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a maritime county"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 2nd order divisions")
Administrative units: Moray ScoCnty
Place names: ELGINSHIRE     |     ELGINSHIRE OR MORAY     |     MORAY
Place: Moray

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.