UK Genealogy Archives logo
DISCLOSURE: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we may receive a commission.

Edinkillie or Edenkeillte, Elginshire

Historical Description

EDINKILLIE, or Edenkeillie, a parish, in the county of Elgin, 8¾ miles (S.) from Forres; containing 1237 inhabitants. This place derives its name, signifying in the Gaelic language "the face of the wood", from the ancient forests of Darnaway and Drummine, of which the greater part of the former and the whole of the latter were once within the limits of the parish. A charter granted by David Bruce is still extant, appointing Richard Comyne, ancestor of the present proprietor of Altyre, keeper of the king's forest of Darnaway; and in 1478, a similar charter was bestowed by James III., upon Thomas Cummyne, of the same place, investing him with the office of warden of the forest of Drummine. The parish is frequently called Brae-Moray. It is about thirteen miles in extreme length, and seven miles at the greatest breadth, varying considerably in form, and comprising an area of nearly 34,000 acres, of which 3400 are arable, 4700 woodland and plantations, and the remainder meadow, pasture, and waste. The surface is diversified with numerous hills, the highest of which, named Knock-Moray, has an elevation of about 1000 feet above the level of the sea, commanding from its summit an extensive and richly-varied prospect over the surrounding country. The river Findhorn, which has its source in the county of Inverness, flows for nearly seven miles in a winding course through the parish, and falls into the Moray Firth two miles below Forres: the Divie rises in the hills in the southern boundary of the parish, and after a north-east course of almost nine miles, runs into the Findhorn; and the Dorback, issuing from the lake of Lochindorb, falls into the Divie near the church. On the banks of the Findhorn, which passes through a tract of country remarkable for the picturesque beauty of its scenery, is an extensive heronry. At Sluie, on that river, is a valuable salmon-fishery, the property of the Earl of Moray, which, previously to the improvement of the fisheries nearer the sea, was amazingly productive; it is now let at an annual rent of £50, to a company who employ four men with drag-nets, taking on the average not more than 700 fish annually. The river abounds with trout, which are also found in the Divie and the Dorback.

The lake of Lochindorb, partly in this parish, is celebrated for the remains of a castle situated on an island within its limits, of which Edward I. of England took possession, on his route to Inverness, in 1303, and in which he resided for some time on his return, and received the submission of the northern estates of the kingdom. This castle, in 1336, became the abode of Catherine de Beaumont, widow of David Hastings, Earl of Atholl, and was besieged by Sir Andrew Moray, who had succeeded Douglas in the regency of Scotland during the captivity of David Bruce; but on the approach of Edward III. of England, Sir Andrew retreated with his forces to his castle of Darnaway. Edward placed a garrison of English in the castle; and the fortress afterwards passed from the Earl of Moray to the Campbells of Cawdor. It is now the property of the Earl of Seafield.

In some parts the soil of the arable lands is a brown loam alternated with a rich black mould, and in others light, dry, and gravelly; with large tracts of moss. The crops are oats, barley, wheat, peas, potatoes, and turnips, with the usual grasses. Of late years the system of husbandry has been greatly improved; much waste has been reclaimed and brought into profitable cultivation; the lands have been well drained, and inclosed chiefly with sunk fences, faced with stone, and planted with hedge-rows of thorn intermixed with forest-trees. The black-cattle reared in the pastures are principally of the Highland breed, with a few of larger size bought in autumn, and, when fattened, sold to dealers for the southern markets; the sheep, of which about 2500 are reared, are the black-faced, and about 250 of the Cheviot breed are annually purchased in September, and fed on turnips, either for the butcher, or to be sold with their lambs in the following year. The natural woods consist of oak, ash, beech, elm, sycamore, Spanish-chesnut, mountain-ash, poplar, birch, holly, alder, larch, and spruce and Scotch firs. A large quantity of wood which had arrived at maturity in the forest has been cut down of late years, and replaced with young plants, chiefly oaks, of which about 100,000 are planted every year. The plantations are still more extensive than the natural woods, and were principally formed by a late Earl of Moray, who, between the years 1767 and 1791, planted 10,591,000 trees, of which 9,687,000 were Scotch firs, 596,000 oaks, and the remainder various kinds of foresttrees. The annual value of real property in the parish is £2774.

Dunphail House is an elegant mansion built after a design by Mr. Playfair in 1829, and situated on a terrace on the bank of the Divie, in a demesne tastefully laid out in parterres and shrubberies, and richly embellished with plantations. The scenery is beautifully picturesque, and heightened by the ruins of an ancient castle, which are seen from the house rising above the trees that surround the base. Relugas House is a handsome mansion seated in a demesne between the rivers Findhorn and Dorback; it has been enlarged by an addition of a noble suite of apartments, ninety-six feet in length, within the last twenty years, and the grounds are finely planted. Logic House stands on the east bank of the Findhorn; and a handsome shooting-lodge has been erected by the Hon. John Stuart, and is occupied during the season by various members of the Moray family. The only village in the parish is a cluster of houses at Conicaval, near the northern extremity. There are two small inns in the parish. Facility of communication with Forres and the adjacent towns is afforded by the road from Forres to Perth, by excellent roads formed by Sir William G. G. Cumming, of Altyre, Bart., and others by Charles L. Cumming Bruce, Esq., of Dunphail: there are substantial bridges over the Divie and the Dorback, replacing those destroyed by floods in 1829.

Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Forres, synod of Moray. The minister's stipend is about £180, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £12 a year; patron, the Earl of Moray. Edinkillie church, situated on the east bank of the river Divie, is a plain structure built in 17-11, and repaired in 1813, and contains 500 sittings. The parochial school is well conducted: the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the fees average £16; he has also an allowance from the trustees of Dick's bequest. There are schools at Conicaval and Tullydivie, both supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge; and at Halfdavoch is a female school, to the mistress of which Sir William G. G. Cumming pays £5 per annum. Some remains still exist, as already noticed, of the ancient castle of Dunphail, of the foundation of which there is no authentic record: after the battle of the Standard, the fortress was besieged by Randolph, Earl of Moray, and gallantly defended by Cumming, its proprietor. The Doune hill of Relugas is of very great antiquity, and is supposed to have been a stronghold to which the inhabitants of the district retired with their cattle, on the frequent irruption of the Danes. It is a conical hill of very precipitous ascent, nearly surrounded at the base by the Divie, and, where undefended by the river, strongly intrenched with ramparts of stone. By some antiquaries it is connected with a chain of signalposts used in times of danger, and is said to have been at one time occupied by the Romans, who are thought to have had a chain of similar forts extending from Forres to Brae-Mar, and thence to Perth.

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