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Alvie, Inverness-shire

Historical Description

ALVIE, a parish, in the district of BADENOCH, county of INVERNESS, 9 miles (N. E.) from Kingussie; containing, with part of the former quoad sacra parish of Insh, 972 inhabitants, of whom seventy-three are in the village of Lynchat. Alvie is supposed to have derived its name, signifying the "isle of swans", from the situation of its ancient church on a peninsula in the northwest extremity of the parish, formed by Loch Alvie, which from time immemorial has been frequented by numbers of swans. The parish extends for nearly twenty miles in length, from north to south, including the outline of the hills which terminate in the Grampian range; and varies from two to six miles in breadth, from east to west. It is calculated to comprise about eighty-four square miles, or 53,600 acres, of which 2574 are arable, 1842 meadow and pasture, and the remainder, exclusively of some large tracts of wood and plantations, moorland and waste. The surface is generally high: that portion of the strath of Badenoch which is within the parish has an elevation of nearly 650 feet; while of the numerous hills and mountains, the Grampians, forming the southern boundary of the parish, rise to the height of 4500 feet above the sea, and those on the north-west boundary, though of inferior elevation, attain a very considerable height. The river Spey, which rises in the braes of Badenoch, near Lochaber, flows through the parish in a direction nearly from west to east; and the small river Feshie falls into the Spey near the church: salmon are sometimes taken in the Spey. Loch Alvie is about a mile in length, and half a mile in breadth; the average depth is about eleven fathoms: the surrounding scenery is pleasingly picturesque.

The SOIL is generally light and gravelly, with the exception of the meadow-lands on the banks of the Spey, which are luxuriantly rich; the chief crops are oats, barley, wheat, potatoes, and turnips, with the various grasses. The system of husbandry has been gradually improving, and on some of the larger farms is in a very advanced state; on the smaller farms it has made comparatively little progress. There are very few inclosures, and the farm-buildings are of inferior order. Little attention is paid to the rearing of live stock; the sheep are commonly of the black-faced, and the cattle of the Highland black breed. The hills and mountains are composed chiefly of gneiss, intersected with veins of granite and red porphyry: the granite occurs in two varieties; the white, which is preferred for building, and more easily dressed, and the red, which is harder and more durable. Limestone is quarried on the lands of Dunachton; and veins of lead are found in the gneiss at Tyncaim, and the burn of Raitts, on the lands of Belleville. The annual value of real property in the parish is £4260.

The principal seats are Belleville and Kinrara. The former is a spacious and elegant mansion, built after a design of the architect Adams, by James Macpherson, translator of Ossian's poems: it is beautifully situated in a picturesque demesne, embellished with stately timber and thriving plantations; and within a cluster of larches is an obelisk of marble, erected to the memory of Mr. Macpherson, on which is his bust, finely sculptured. Kinrara, a handsome mansion in the cottage style, built by a Duchess of Gordon, and in which she resided during the summer months till her decease in 1812, occupies a highly romantic and sequestered spot, about two miles from the church of Alvie. In the grounds is a monument of granite, erected by her husband the fourth duke to the memory of the deceased, whose remains were brought from London, and interred, at her own request, in a spot which she had selected. On Tor Alvie, to the north-west of the cottage, is a monument erected by the fifth and last duke, to the officers of the 42nd and 92nd regiments who fell in the battle of Waterloo. At Lynviulg, about half a mile from the church, is a branch post-office; and facility of communication is afforded by the turnpike-road from Edinburgh to Inverness, which passes through the whole length of the parish.

Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Abernethy and synod of Moray: the minister's stipend is £158. 4. 6., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £5 per annum; patron, the Duke of Richmond. The church, situated on the shore of Loch Alvie, is a plain structure, built in 1798, and repaired in 1832, and contains 500 sittings. The parochial school is well conducted; the master has a salary of £28. 18. 9., with a house, an allowance of £2. 2. in lieu of garden, and fees averaging about £20 per annum. Another school, the master of which has a salary of £20, with £10 fees, is supported by the General Assembly. At Delfour, about a mile west of the church, are the remains of a Druidical temple, consisting of two concentric circles of upright stones, of which the inner circle is twenty-five feet, and the outer, formed of larger stones, is fifty-five feet in diameter; near this work is an obelisk eight feet six inches in height, and both are situated in the middle of a field which is under arable cultivation. At Raitts are the remains of an artificial cavern, anciently the haunt of banditti.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis


Online maps of Alvie are available from a number of sites:

Postal districtPH22
Post TownAviemore