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Drainie, Elginshire

Historical Description

DRAINIE, a parish, in the county of Elgin; including the villages of Lossiemouth and Stotfield, and containing 1515 inhabitants, of whom 16 are in the hamlet of Drainie, 4 miles (N.) from Elgin. This parish consists of the ancient parishes of Kinnedar, a parsonage, and Ogston, a mensal church; of which latter the Bishop of Moray received the great teinds. Ogston was disjoined from St. Andrew's, and annexed to Kinnedar, in 1642. The name of Drainie, belonging to an estate on which a new church was built about the year 1666, was after that event applied to the whole parish. The parish is partly a peninsula, as the ancient name Kinnedar implies, and is bounded on the north by the Moray Firth, on the east by the river Lossie, and on the south by the lake of Spynie, a piece of fresh water three miles in length and one in breadth, well stocked with eels and pike, and the resort of numerous aquatic birds. Drainie is about four miles long and two broad, and comprises 4480 acres, of which 3385 are in tillage, 365 under wood, and the remainder uncultivated. The coast is bold and rocky; and at the distance of a mile from the shore, opposite to the Coulard and Causea hills, is a dangerous reef, the dread of mariners, the centre of which, however, being always above water, serves as a beacon for avoiding the lower branches, stretching along unseen to a considerable distance on each side. There are two harbours, one at Stotfield, the other at the mouth of the river Lossie; and the numerous caves and fissures near the hamlet of Causea or Cove-sea, constitute a distinct and interesting feature in the scenery. The whole of the rock in this latter direction is a continuous mass of freestone, the softer parts of which, by the action of the winds and waves, have been wrought into a great variety of arches and pillars. A little to the west is a cave, once the cell of a hermit, and used by Sir Robert Gordon in the rebellion of 1745, for concealing his horses, when the followers of Prince Charles were ravaging this district; and farther in the same direction are many other caverns, but the coast is too rugged and dangerous to allow them to be explored.

All the low lands in the parish were formerly covered by the sea, which, when it receded, left a beach of stones, from about eight to twenty feet in height above the level of the lands under tillage, and which is beneficial as a protection against storms from the north. The interior is flat, and the soil of great diversity of quality, good and bad alternating with each other in rapid succession throughout. The low drained grounds consist of a rich loam or clayey marl, and produce fine crops; the higher lands have a lighter soil, resting upon a gravelly bed or on white sand, and a portion in the centre is of the worst description, having been denuded of its surface for the purpose of fuel. The usual white and green crops are raised, in some parts of superior quality, and the six-shift course is followed; but husbandry is in a comparatively low state, very little land having undergone the process of draining, and some of the modern improvements being only partially in operation. The annual value of real property in the parish is £5208. The Causea quarries supply abundance of freestone, which has been extensively used for ornamental work in the mansions of this and several adjacent counties; and in the fluor-spar rocks of the Coulard hill, lead of superior quality has been discovered, near which is a bed of limestone. A vein of lead was found and worked about the close of the last century, but the operation was discontinued, the return being inadequate to the expense. The plantations, of limited extent, consist of firs or pine irregularly scattered about the waste tract in the middle of the parish, and one or two clumps of firs in the south-east. The mansion of Gordonstown, on the estate of that name, is a large structure in the Dutch style, repaired and enlarged in 1730; it is now the seat of the Cummings, and was for several centuries the residence of the Gordons of Gordonstown.

Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Elgin, synod of Moray, and in the patronage of Sir William Gordon Gordon Gumming, of Altyre and Gordonstown, Bart.; the minister's stipend is £242, with a manse, and a glebe of six acres. The present church was built in 1823, nearly in the centre of the parish, but somewhat inconveniently for the villages, where the bulk of the population, which is rapidly increasing, is located. Drainie parochial school, in the western portion of the parish, affords instruction in the usual branches; the master has a salary of £36, with £6 fees, and also participates in the benefit of the Dick bequest. A charitable fund, raised by subscription in 1806, for the benefit of the families of twenty-one seamen who lost their lives in a storm, afforded relief to the objects for whom the collection was made, by an annual distribution of the proceeds; but this fund is now exhausted. There is a burying, ground at the west end of the parish, covered with grave-stones; it contains a stone cross eight feet high, and at one time formed the site of the ancient church of Ogston: here now stands the splendid mausoleum of the Gordon family. About half a mile to the east is the ruin of the church built in 1666. A mile farther eastward is the burying-ground of Kinnedar, where stood the church of that name, the foundations of which are now scarcely discernible: adjoining are the remains of the castle of Kinnedar, a very strong and extensive fortification, called also the episcopal palace, where Archibald, the tenth bishop of Moray, and other bishops, resided before the cathedral was fixed at Spynie. On the summit of the Causea hills is a range of artificial conical mounds of earth styled the "warlike hills", at nearly equal distances, and from twenty to thirty feet in height, constructed for signal stations, and used at different periods by the possessors of the lands for communicating important information, and various other purposes.

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