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Findhorn, Elginshire

Historical Description

FINDHORN, a burgh and seaport town, in the parish of Kinloss, county of Elgin, 4 miles (N. by E.) from Forres; containing 806 inhabitants. This place, the name of which signifies "the mouth of the Erne", stands in the north-western part of the county, near the river Erne or Findhorn, which expands into a capacious bay called Loch Findhorn, on the south-west of the town, and communicates by a narrow strait with the Moray Firth. Findhorn is a burgh of barony, the seaport of Forres, and the property of H. A. I. Munro, Esq.; it is inhabited chiefly by fishermen, seafaring persons, and a few merchants and tradespeople, and is the seat of a very considerable traflic. This is the third town of the same name; the first, which stood about a mile west of the bar at the mouth of the harbour, and the second, a little to the north of the present town, having both been washed away by the sea. Even now, only a small space, containing a broken bank of sand, intervenes between the tide-mark and the north end of the town: the bank forms the sole rampart against the tremendous swell occasioned by north-easterly winds, and is sometimes so torn and drifted by hurricanes, that the sand covers the streets and gardens to the depth of ten or twelve feet, threatening the town with destruction at no distant period. The river, which affords fine trout-angling, and is famed for its romantic scenery, rises in the mountains near Badenoch, and after a serpentine and impetuous course of about sixty miles from the south-west, through the counties of Inverness, Nairn, and Elgin, expands into the bay already referred to, and joins the Firth.

Findhorn is one of the safest harbours on the coast; it measures three and a half miles in length, from the bar at the north to its southern limit, and the breadth varies from a little more than half a mile to two miles. There are two quays of hewn stone, one of which was recently erected with a breast-work (by which it is joined to the old pier) at an expense of upwards of £1300. Superior accommodation is afforded for shipping, and the depth of water in the channel, where most shallow, is ten feet and a half at the lowest neap tide, and from thirteen to seventeen at high tide. A considerable part of the bay is dry at low water; but the river, in some places half a mile broad, has at the lowest ebb of stream tides from twelve to fifteen feet of water, in which the largest vessels can float in safety. The earth and sand bank at the entrance, called the bar, and by some supposed to be a portion of land encroached upon by the sea, would prove dangerous from its shifting with strong floods or easterly winds; but the pilots understand its nature so well, that an accident is scarcely ever heard of. The fisheries pursued are those of salmon, herrings, and haddock, which are carried on with great spirit, and prove a source of considerable emolument to the proprietors: about sixty men are engaged, who follow their avocation in large boats carrying several persons and from eight to ten tons' weight of fish. The salmon-fishery produces annually, on an average, about six hundred boxes of fish packed in ice, valued at £5 each, and sent to the London market: the herring-fishery, which has been carried on for above twenty or thirty years, has for some time supplied 20,000 barrels every year; and the haddock-fishery is valued at £2000. There are twelve vessels belonging to the port, together registered at 1000 tons, and occupied in an extensive coasting-trade. The imports comprise great quantities of Sunderland and Newcastle coal, and lime from the same places; coal from the Firth of Forth, slates from Ballichulish, iron from Wales and Staffordshire, salt from Liverpool, and large supplies of bone-dust for manure. The exports for provincial use consist of herrings, grain, eggs, and about 2000 loads of timber every year from the forests of Darnaway and Altyre. Findhorn is also visited by foreign vessels, bringing iron, timber, and tar from the Baltic, and timber from British North America; and there are regular trading smacks from London, Leith, and Liverpool, with cargoes for Forres, Nairn, &c. A very good turnpike-road runs southward from Findhorn to Forres, between which places there is a daily post; and from this road a branch diverges at the bridge of Kinloss, eastward, to Burgh-Head and Elgin. Fairs are held in the town for the sale of sheep, black-cattle, and horses, on the second Wednesday in March, July, and October (O. S.). An Assembly's school was till lately supported, the master of which had a salary of £20, and about £12 fees, with an allowance of £10 from Mr. Munro, of Novar, in lieu of land and other accommodations: a school-room and a house for the master were built some years since, at a cost of £160, raised by subscription and public collections. This school is now maintained from the funds of the Free Church, and is in connexion with it, the master receiving a salary of £15 from that body. A library is connected with the school; and there is another in the town, for general use.

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