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Dallas, Elginshire

Historical Description

DALLAS, a parish, in the county of ELGIN; including the hamlet of Edinville, and containing 1179 inhabitants, of whom 187 are in the village of Dallas, 8 miles (S. E.) from Forres. This place takes its name from the two Gaelic words dale, a vale or plain, and uis, contracted from uisge, water. It was formerly the seat of the sub-dean, and comprehended the parish of Altyre; but that district was disjoined and annexed to the parish of Rafford in 1657, and Easter Kelles, a part of the parish of Elgin, was joined to Dallas; an arrangement which was ratified by act of parliament in 1661. The barony of Dallas was at an early period in the possession of the Cummings of Altyre, whose castle of Dallas, or Torcastle, was built by Sir Thomas Cumming, in the year 1400; and the Cummings are still, with the Earl of Fife, and James William Grant, Esq., of Wester Elchies, the proprietors of the parish. In shape the parish is like the section of an oblate spheroid; it measures about fifteen miles in length, and nine in breadth, and consists mainly of valleys and rising grounds. The chief valley is watered by the Lossie, which rises here, in Loch Trevie, and after contributing to form much beautiful scenery, and taking its course through the parishes of Birnie, Elgin, and Drainie, falls into the Moray Firth at the port of Lossiemouth. The summits of the hills skirting this valley on each side are covered with heath, but their slopes are highly cultivated, yielding heavy and luxuriant crops, down to the banks of the stream, which in many places are ornamented with alder-trees, supplying bark frequently used by the people for preparing a black dye. Besides the Lossie river, numerous burns greatly enliven the scenery, which in general is highly interesting; and all of these, rising among the hills, run into the Lossie. That called the burn of Glen Latterach, or Angry burn, forms a beautiful cascade, surrounded by nearly perpendicular rocks 100 feet in height; and on the burn of Auchness is another picturesque fall, though less striking than the former. All the lochs are well stocked with excellent trout; the chief are the lochs of Dallas, Noir, Rheninver, and Trevie.

The soil along the banks of the Lossie is a fertile alluvial earth, resting on gravel; at the base of the mountains the land has a tilly subsoil, and partakes of the character of the mosses, which, higher up, towards the south, spread out in extensive tracts. Most of the inhabitants are employed in the cultivation of the land. The annual value of real property in the parish is £2913. The rocks comprise granite, felspar, mica, freestone, and grey slate, and there are quarries of the two last, but not in operation. Of the plantations, the most conspicuous are those on the hills of Melundy and Wangie, and that on the estate of Craigmill: the first-mentioned hill has lately been replanted with silver-fir, spruce, larch, and birch, and part of the second with fir and larch, the other part being covered with natural oak; Craigmill, adjoining Melundy, has a thriving plantation of fir and larch. The village, which is pleasantly situated on the northern bank of the Lossie, about a quarter of a mile from the church, was feued about half a century since by Sir Alexander Penrose Gumming. The woollen manufacture is carried on in the parish, employing ten or twelve hands. There are county roads to Elgin and Forres, in good condition; and a new road called the Knockando road, extending from Forres to the Spey, is of great advantage to the more hilly parts of the district. Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Forres, synod of Moray, and in the patronage of Sir William Gordon Gordon Cumming, of Altyre and Gordonstown, Bart. The minister's stipend is £158. 6. 8., of which part is received from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £12 per annum. Dallas church, situated about the centre of the parish, will accommodate 400 persons, but, never having been properly finished, is inconvenient and uncomfortable. The parochial school affords instruction in all the necessary branches; the master has a salary of £34, with a house, and fees, and also participates in the Dick bequest. The chief relic of antiquity is the ruin of the castle, situated on a plain about a mile from the church, on the north bank of the Lossie. In the churchyard is a stone cross, twelve feet high, at the foot of which lies an efhgy of St. Michael, the patron saint of the parish, in ruins. There is also a large oblong stone at the east end of the parish, occupying the site of an old chapel and burying-ground.

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