Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Moy and Dalarossie

Moy and Dalarossie (Gael.Magh, 'a plain,' and DalFhearghais, 'Fergus' dale'), a parish partly in the NE of Inverness-shire and partly in the SW of Nairnshire. It is bounded N by the parish of Croy and Dalcross and by Cawdor parish, on the E by the parish of Duthil and Rothiemurchus, on the SE by the parishes of Alvie and Laggan, S by Laggan, W by the parish of Boleskine and Abertarff, and S W by the parish of Daviot and Dunlichity. Except on the N the boundary is largely natural, following, along the SE, the line of heights that form the watershed between the basins of the Findhorn and Dulnan, thereafter between the basins of the Findhorn and the Spey, round the head-waters of the Findhorn on the S, and along the NE between the basin of the Findhorn and the streams that flow first to Loch Ness and afterwards to the river Nairn. At the NW corner it crosses this line and takes in part of the hollow down which the Dalriach Burn (river Nairn) flows. For 2 ½ miles, from near the source of this burn to Carn nan tri-tighearnan, the line coincides with the boundary between the counties of Inverness and Nairn, as it does also for 2 ¾ miles SE from the top of Carn an t-Seanliathanaich on the NE border, and for 5 ½ miles on the NW side, where it coincides with the boundary of a detached portion of Nairnshire. The greatest length of the parish, from Carn nan tri-tighearnan on the N, south-south-westward to the source of the Findhorn, is 26 ½ miles; and the average breadth about 7 miles, except at the N end where it is more, and at the S end where it tapers to a point. The total area is 112,161.365 acres, of which 685.269 are water; of the whole, 106, 572.876 acres (of which 635.120 are water) are in Inverness-shire, and 5588 499 (of which 50.149 are water) are in Nairnshire. The whole parish may be said to consist of two straths, that in the NW occupied by Loch Moy and the streams flowing into it, and the much larger one extending south-westward through the length of the parish being occupied by the Findhorn and the streams flowing into it. The height above sea-level rises from 750 feet at the point where the Findhorn leaves the parish on the NE to the heights of Beinn Bhreac (1675) N of Moy Burn, Meall Breacribh (1809) SE of Moy Burn, Carn nan tri-tighearnan (2013) and Carn na Sguabaich (1522) on the N border; Carn an t-Seanliathanaich (2056 and 2076) and Carn Glas (2162) on the NE border; Carn nam Bain-tighearna (2040), Carn na Larach (1957), Carn Phris Mhoir (2021), Carn Dubh aig an Doire (2462), Carn na Luibe Glaise (2326), Carn na Guaille (2300), Carn Coire na h-Easgainn (2591), Carn na Cuillich (2500), Carn Sgulain (2606), Am Bodach (2709), another Carn Sgulain (3015), Carn Ballach (3000), and Carn Mairg (3087), all along the SE and latterly among the Monadhliath mountains; Carn Odhar na Criche (2670), Fiadh Fardach (2805), Borrach Mor (2686), Carn na Saobhaidhe (2658), Meall a Phiobaire (2464), Carn Odhar (2618), Carn Ghriogair (2637), the ridge between this and Carn na Saobhaidh (2455), the latter itself (2321), Carn Glac an Eich (2066), Beinn Bhreac and the heights to the E of it averaging about 1800 feet, Carn nan Uisgean (2017), Beinn a' Bheurlaich (1575), and Beinn na Buchanich (1312) on the W and NW border. Except Beinn Bhreach and Meall Breacribh these are all on or close to the border, and along the E side of the Findhorn, from N to S, there are also Carn Mor (1500), Carn Torr Mheadhoin (1761), Carn an t-Seanliathanaich (2076), Carn a Choire Mhoir(2054), Creagan Tuim Beg(1453), AnSocach (1724), Carn Coir Easgrabath (2449), and Calbh Mor (2668) the last three among the Monadhliath mountains. To the W of the Findhorn, from S to N, are Carn Coire na Creiche (2702), Eiloch Bhan (2538), Carn Leachier Dubh (2133), Carn a' Choire Ghalanaich (2240), Beinn Bhreac Mhor (2641), Aonach Odhar (2103), Carn an Rathaid Dhuibh (2195), another of the several Beinn Bhreacs (1969), Carn na Seannachoile (1787), Creag a' Bhealaidh (1724), Carn a Bhadain (1333), Carn Moraig (1832), Tom na h-Ulaidh (1238), and Carn an Loin (1319), the last two S of Loch Moy. It will thus be seen that the greater portion of the parish lies high above sea-level, and so the only inhabited portions are the small glen in which Loch Moy is, and a narrow strip along the banks of the northern portion of the course of the Findhorn at a height of from 800 to 1200 feet. Except along those portions, where there are patches of alluvium, the soil is a thin clay or moss. About 2000 acres are under wood, natural or planted; in the N end and along the banks of the Findhorn, from 3000 to 4000 acres are arable; and the rest is pasture or waste. On the higher grounds there is good hill shooting. The underlying rocks are granite and gneiss. The drainage of the parish is effected along its entire length, from SW to NE, by the river Findhorn, which has, following the windings from its source to the point where it quits the parish on the E side, a course of 32 miles. Formed by the union of the river Eskin with the Abhainn Cro Chlach, it receives on the E the Elrick Burn, the Allt an Duibhidh, the Allt Fionndairnich, the Allt a' Mhuilinn Creag Bhreac, the Allt a' Mhuilinn, the Allt Lathachaidh, the Clune Burn, the Allt na Feithe Sheilich, and the Burn of Edinchat; and on the W Allt Creagach, Allt Feitheanach, Allt Odhar Mor, Glenmazeran Burn, Kyllachie Burn, Allt Nicrath, Allt na Frithe, and the Funtack Burn. The upper portion of the valley is known as Strath Dearn, the Gaelic name of the river being Earn or Eire. It is a narrow strath, with the bottom more or less broken and the steep hills grassy rather than heathy. Along the upper ten miles, except the summer shielings, hardly a dwelling is to b-e seen; afterwards there are alluvial banks and wellmarked river terraces, and further N, just where the river quits the parish, is the commencement of the wild gorge of Streens, where the narrow strip of ground along the edge of the river is completely overshadowed either by hills or in some places by granite precipices. Kyllachie is associated with the name of Sir James Mackintosh, whose atrimony this estate was, and where (though he was born in the parish of Dores) he spent many of his earlier years.

The north-western part of the parish is occupied by the glen of Moy, the drainage of which is carried off by the Funtack Burn, which has a course of about 2 ¼ miles from Loch Moy to the Findhorn. It receives from the NE the small Burn of Tullochlary, and from the SW Allt a Chail. Loch Moy, the only considerable sheet of water in the parish - the smaller Lochan a Chaoruinn on the Dalriach Burn, farther to the NW, and some other still smaller lakelets being hardly worth mentioning - is 1 ¼ mile long and 3 ½ furlongs wide at the broadest part. The surface is about 893 feet above sea-level, and the area is about 200 acres; but operations are now (188 4) being carried out which will have the effect of reducing the level of the water some 4 or 5 feet. For this purpose a new channel, 25 feet wide at bottom, and with a fall of 1 in 2000, is to be made nearly in the line of the old channel of the Funtack for about 1½ mile. The water area will be lessened to a very small extent, but the lowering of the surface will greatly improve the drainage of Moy Hall, and of from 200 to 300 acres of damp soil on the home farm of Moy. The loch is surrounded by woods, and the reclaimed margins are to be planted. On a small wooded island, of some 5 or 6 acres in extent, the ruins of a castle, long inhabited by the chiefs of Mackintosh, are still to be seen. a paved road, with buildings on each side, seems also to have extended along the island. It was first occupied in 1337, and is said to have had in 1422 a garrison of 400 men. The castle was inhabited down to 1665. In 1762 two ovens were discovered, each capable of baking 150 lbs. of meal. Connected with the chief who erected this island fortress, it is told that at the house-warming he incautiously, before a wandering harper, expressed his pleasure at being for the first time able to retire to rest free from fear of Allan Macrory, fourth chief of Clanranald of Moidart. The story was carried by the harper to Allan, who at once summoned his vassals, and rested neither day nor night, till, arrived at Loch Moy, he crossed at night to the island in currachs, and having stormed the castle, carried Mackintosh a prisoner to Castle-Tirrim, where he kept him for a year and a day, at the end of which period he dismissed him with the advice, 'never to be free from the fear of Macdonald.' The outlet of the loch is associated with a clan disaster that seems to have occurred between 1410 and 1420. During a feud between the Cumyns and the Mackintoshes, the latter were all driven to take refuge on the large island in Loch Moy, and their foes, thinking this a capital opportunity to put an end to the whole of their troublesome neighbours, determined to dam up the waters of the loch so as to drown them all. One of the Mackintoshes, however, proved equal to the occasion, for having procured a raft, ' and supplying himself with twine, he descended in the dead of night to the dam. This was lined towards the water with boards, through which the adventurer bored a number of holes with an auger, and in each hole he put a plug with a string attached.' When everything was ready he pulled all the strings at once, and the water rushed out with such force as to carry away the embankment and the whole of the Cumyns who were encamped behind it. Such at least is the tradition of the district, and the writer in the New Statistical Account adds as an additional, but somewhat illogical, reason for accepting it, ' the nature of the place where the dam was erected-it being a narrow gorge easily admitting of such a construction. At an excursion of the Inverness Field Club to the district in 1881, it was stated that some of the hero's descendants were still tenants on the Mackintosh estates at Dalcross, and were locally known as 'Torrie,' the word tora being the Gaelic for auger. In the centre of the island there is now a granite obelisk, 70 feet high, erected in 1824 in honour of Sir Æneas Mackintosh, Bart., the twenty-third chief, who died in 1820. About 200 yards SE of the main island is the small Eilan nan Clach, formed of boulders, and only about 12 yards across and 3 feet above the present level of the water. It was used as a prison, the captive being chained to a stone in the centre. A gallows stood on it till about the end of the last century, and the prisoners were either set free or executed within twenty-four hours. Both islands figure in Morritt's ballad of The Curse of Moy, and are associated with many of the other traditions of the district. The loch receives at the W end Moy Burn, with two smaller streams, and the surplus water is carried off to the Findhorn by the Funtack Burn. The fishing is fair, but the trout are small. At the NW corner is Moy Hall, the seat of Maekintosh of Mackintosh. It was formerly a plain building, used as a jointure house, but large additions and alterations were made a few years ago at a cost of £14, 000. The entrance-hall has been designed in imitation of that at the old castle of Dalcross; and in the library are a sword, said to have been presented by Pope Leo X. to James V., and by him given to the then chief of Mackintosh; the sword worn by Dundee at Killiecrankie; a sword that formerly belonged to Charles I.; and a gold watch that belonged to Mary Queen of Scots. A mile and a half W of the loch is the pass known as Stairsneach-nan-Gael, or the 'threshold of the Highlanders,' across which is the principal passage from Badenoch and Strathspey to the low country about Inverness and Nairn, just as the Streens led to that about Forres and Elgin. Once through this, the clansmen returning from a foray in the 'laich' considered themselves safe, and the chief of Mackintosh is said to have exacted from the neighbouring clans a tax called 'the collop or steak of the booty,' for permitting their quiet passage with their plunder. The hollow of Ciste Creag-nan-eoin, near by, is said to have been sometimes used as a place of concealment for the women and children in times of danger. The whole pass, of which Stairsneach-nan-Gael is only the narrowest part, is known as Creag-nan-eoin, and was in 1746 the scene of the incident known as the 'Rout of Moy.' Prince Charles Edward Stewart, on his march northward, had on 16 Feb. advanced in front of his troops with only a small escort, in order to pass the night at Moy Hall, where he was received by Lady Mackintosh-sometimes called ' Colonel Anne, ' on account of the spirit with which, in defiance of her husband, who remained loyal to the House of Hanover, or perhaps in obedience to his secret wishes, she raised the clan for the Jacobite cause. Lord Loudoun, who was in command of the garrison at Inverness, having received intelligence of the visit, started with a force of 1500 men, with high hopes of effecting the important capture of the Prince. Word of the movement was brought by a boy in breathless haste from Inverness, and the lady and one of her trusted followers, Donald Fraser of Moybeg, proved equal to the occasion. Fraser and four men were sent to take up their position in the darkness at Creag-nan-eoin. After placing his men some distance apart, Donald waited the arrival of the royal troops, and on hearing them coming up, gave the command in loud tones for ' the Mackintoshes, Macgillivrays, and Macbeans, to form in the centre, the Macdonalds on the right, and the Frasers on the left,' while at the same time all the party fired off their muskets. The flashes coming from different points, Loudoun fancied that he was confronted by a whole division of the highland army, and a man being killed by one of the random shots, a panic set in, and the royalists fled in headlong haste to Inverness, and hardly halted till they had crossed Kessock Ferry into Ross-shire. Lady Drummuir, in whose house both Charles Edward and the Duke of Cumberland lived in Inverness, was the mother of ' Colonel Anne.' Fraser's descendants remained on the estate till 1840. About ½ mile NW of the scene of the ' Rout ' is a small cairn called Uaigh-an-duine-bhéo, or 'the living man's grave,' on account of a vassal of the Laird of Dunmaglass having been here buried alive as a punishment for perjury. In a dispute as to marches he had gone to a certain spot and sworn by the head under his bonnet, that the earth under his feet belonged to the Laird of Dunmaglass, but on examination it was found that there was a cock's head concealed in his bonnet, and that his brogues contained earth, and so he paid the penalty of his falsehood. To the NE of the loch, near the source of the Burn of Tullochlary, is the traditional scene of the slaughter of the last wolf of Strath Dearn, the story of which - except for the Scotch dialect - is well told in Chap. iii. of Sir Thomas Dick Lauder's Account of the Great Floods of 1829 in the Province of Moray, where there is also an interesting account of the ravages of the Findhorn and the other streams in the parish during this great flood. During the clan period Moy was, as may be inferred from what has been already said, wholly in the possession of the Mackintoshes. A main road from Inverness by Daviot enters the parish on the NW by the hollows of Craggie Burn and Moy Burn, and skirting Loch Moy turns up the side of the Findhorn for 3 miles, till, at the Free church above Tomatin House, it crosses the river by a bridge erected at a cost of £2600, to replace one swept away by the flood of 1829, and strikes south-eastward through Duthil to Carrbridge, and so to the highland road through Strathspey. Should a bill, promoted by the Highland Railway Company this year (1884), obtain the assent of Parliament, a loop branch of their system will be formed from Aviemore to Inverness, following very closely the line of this road. From the month of Glen Moy downward, and from Findhorn Bridge upward to Dalveg 8 miles from the source of the river, there are good district roads, and from the E end of Loch Moy the old military road formed by General Wade struck westward by Creag-nan-eoin and on to Inverness. There is a Kirkton at Moy and a hamlet at Freieburn, between Moy and Findhorn Bridge. At the latter place great cattle and sheep fairs are held. Mansions and shooting-lodges are Moy Hall, Tomatin House, Kyllachie Lodge, Dalmigavie Lodge, and Glenmazeran Lodge.

The parish is in the presbytery of Inverness and the synod of Moray, and the living is worth £333 a year. A church of 'Dalfergussyn in Stratherne' is mentioned in the Chartulary of Moray between 1224 and 1242, and again subsequently as Tallaracie, and the name is possibly taken from Fergus, bishop and confessor, whose missionary labours extended as far N as Caithness, and to whom the church had been dedicated. The church of Moy is mentioned in 1222. Moy was divided between Dyke and Dalarossie in 1618. The church was included in the parish now described, and stands on the S bank of Loch Moy. It was built in 1765 and repaired in 1829. The church of Dalarossie proper is 7 miles distant on the bank of the Findhorn, and was built in 1790. Each contains about 450 sittings, and is surrounded by a churchyard. There is a Free church midway between, at Findhorn Bridge. The public schools of Dalarossie and Raibeg, with respective accommodation for 50 and 90 children, had (1883) an average attendance of 17 and 45, and grants of £28, 9s. 6d. and £40, 13s. 6d. Three proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 or upwards, and 8 hold each between £500 and £100. Valuation (1865) £5933, (1882) £8494. Pop. (1755) 1693, (1821) 1334, (1831) 1098, (1861) 1026, (1871) 1005, (1881) 822, of whom 411 were males, and 634 Gaelic-speaking, while 803 were in Inverness-shire and the rest in Nairnshire.—Ord. Sir., shs. 84, 74, 73, 1876-77-78.

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

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a parish"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 4th order divisions")
Administrative units: Moy and Dalarossie ScoP       Inverness Shire ScoCnty       Nairnshire ScoCnty
Place: Moy

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