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Dyke and Moy, Elginshire

Historical Description

DYKE and MOY, a parish, in the county of Elgin, 3 miles (W.) from Forres; containing, with the villages of Kintessack and Whitemyre, 1366 inhabitants, of whom 166 are resident in the village of Dyke. These two ancient parishes, whose names are descriptive of the former as a channel for waters, and of the latter as a level and fertile plain, were united in the year 1618. The whole is bounded on the north by the Moray Firth, and on the west by the county of Nairn, and comprises about 17,300 acres, of which 3220 are arable, 2800 woodland and plantations, 1300 meadow and pasture, and the remainder waste. The surface is generally undulated within the district of Dyke, which contains the forest of Darnaway towards the south, and the woods of Dalvy and Brodie towards the north. In the district of Moy is a fine extent of level plain, stretching northward to Kincorth, on the western shore of Findhorn loch, towards the lands of Culbin, which at a very early period were overwhelmed with drifts of sand, and are now covered with sand-hills, some of them having an elevation of 100 feet. The river Findhorn, which, in its course to the sea at the village of Findhorn, forms the eastern boundary of the parish, in 1829 rose to an unusual height, and carried into the bay an immense quantity of sand, which for three square miles diminished its depth by nearly two feet. Several rivulets intersect the parish, and flow into the Findhorn, of which the largest is the Muckleburn; they all abound with tront, affording good sport to the angler, and the salmon-fishery in the Findhorn is of considerable value. The coast, throughout the entire extent of the parish for about six miles, is shallow and sandy: there are numerous beds of cockles, which not only afford an abundant supply of sustenance to the poor, but are sold by the women through the adjoining district, making an average return of more than £100 per annum.

On the level lands the SOIL is a rich brown and black loam, generally light and easily cultivated: in other parts of the parish are alternations of sand and gravel. The crops are wheat, barley, oats, turnips, and potatoes, with the usual grasses. The system of agriculture is in an improved state, and furrow-draining has been tried with success upon one or more of the farms: lime, marl, and bone-dust have been extensively used. The farm-buildings, though more commodious than formerly, are susceptible of still further improvement. There are sixteen threshing-mills, the greater number of them worked by horses. The annual value of real property in the parish is £5942. The wood consists of oak, ash, beech, elm, Scotch fir, larch, spruce, birch, horse-chesnut, sycamore, and alder; and timber is regularly sold for shipbuilding and other purposes. In this parish the substrata are principally old red sandstone, with gneiss and granite: there is coarse limestone, containing schist and pyrites of iron; and occasionally some lead-ore is found, but not in sufficient quantity to encourage the working of it. Darnaway Castle, one of the seats of the Earl of Moray, situated on a gentle eminence, and surrounded by an extensive and richly-wooded park, has been lately enlarged and improved. One of the wings, forming the more ancient part of the building, consists of a noble hall eighty-nine feet in length, and thirty-five feet wide, with a lofty roof of timber frame-work, built by Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, regent of Scotland during the minority of David Bruce, and in which are still preserved his hospitable table and chair of old carved oak. In this splendid hall the then earl gave a sumptuous entertainment to his tenantry in 1839. Brodie House is an ancient castellated mansion, to which extensive additions in a corresponding style of architecture have been made by the present proprietor, and is situated in grounds that have been tastefully embellished; the ceiling of the drawing-room is laid out in compartments ornamented with grotesque figures of stucco in high relief, and in the various rooms is a valuable collection of paintings. Dalvey House, situated on a knoll overlooking the Muckleburn, and nearly occupying the site of the castle of Dalvey, is a handsome modern mansion; the gardens are extensive, and kept in fine order. The houses of Moy and Kincorth are also good residences.

The village of Dyke is beautifully situated in a secluded spot embosomed in trees. Facility of communication is afforded by the great post-road from Aberdeen to Inverness, which passes through the parish, and by other good roads that intersect it in all directions; by bridges over the several burns, and by an elegant suspension-bridge over the Findhorn, which connects the parish with Forres, the nearest post-town. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Forres, synod of Moray. The minister's stipend is £244. 11., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £16. 13.; patrons, the Crown, and James M. Grant, Esq., of Moy. The church, conveniently situated in the village, is a neat structure erected in 1781, in good repair, and containing 900 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the fees average £30 per annum, besides which he receives £44 from the Dick bequest. There is also a female school in the village, under a teacher who has a house and garden, with a small endowment in money. In the park of Brodie House is a stone on one side of which is sculptured a cross, and on the other several fabulous animals; it was discovered in digging the foundation for the church, and was erected in the village in commemoration of Rodney's victory, and thence called Rodney's Cross, but was removed to its present situation within the last few years. In sinking the same foundations, a labourer, who contrived to keep the discovery a secret from his companions, found in an earthen pot a large number of silver coins of the reign of William the Lion of Scotland, many of which had been struck at Stirling, and some of Henry II. of England, all which he sold by weight for £46. About the year 1822 there was dug out of a steep bank on the Findhorn a large stone coffin containing a human skeleton. Among the eminent persons connected with the parish may be mentioned James Stewart, known as the Good Regent, who was Earl of Moray in the reign of his sister, the unfortunate Mary, Queen of Scots. Alexander Brodie of Brodie, who lived in the time of Cromwell, was twice chosen a lord of session.

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