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Inveraven, Banffshire

Historical Description

INVERAVEN, a parish, partly in the county of Elgin, but chiefly in the county of Banff, 11 miles (N. E. by E.) from Grantown; containing 2417 inhabitants. This place derives its name from its situation at the mouth of the river Aven, which has its source in a lake at the base of the mountains Benmacdui, Bein-na-main, and Cairngorum, and after receiving various streams in its course, enters the parish of Inveraven, and falls into the Spey about a mile above the church. The parish is chiefly noticed in historical records as the scene of a memorable battle which occurred in 1594, between the Earl of Huntly and the Marquess of Argyll, when the latter, after an obstinate engagement, in which many were slain on both sides, was totally defeated. Not far from the field of battle is a tumulus called Lord Auchindown's Cairn, pointing out the spot where Sir P. Gordon, of Auchindown, was killed while fighting on the side of the Earl of Huntly. Inveraven parish is bounded on the north-west by the river Spey, is about twenty miles in length, and varies from nearly four miles to eight or nine in breadth. It comprises 6400 acres of arable land in good cultivation, about 1000 in plantations, and 500 in natural wood, with a wide extent of heath and moor. The surface is mountainous, with large intervening tracts of moorland; and the lower part, near the Spey, is divided from the district of Glenlivet, forming the rest of the parish, by the Cairnocay mountains, a lofty range extending, in a direction almost parallel with the Spey, from the hill of Benrinnes to the stream of the Aven. The district of Glenlivet is separated into two nearly equal portions by the hill of Bochle, which rises to a considerable elevation from the centre of the vale, which is watered by the Livet, a tributary to the Aven. On this river was a waterfall called the Linn of Livet; but it was destroyed in order to give a readier passage to the salmon that frequent the stream. The Spey, which flows by the parish for several miles, abounds with various kinds of fish, and was formerly much celebrated for the size and flavour of its salmon, which were found in greater numbers than at present, both in that river and in the Aven; but the fishery has been much diminished by the establishment of others nearer the mouth of the Spey, which prevent many of the fish from ascending so far up. In that part of the parish bordering on Kirkmichael is a small lake formed by the river Aven, and supposed to be almost of unfathomable depth.

The SOIL of the cultivated lands, though inferior in some places, is generally fertile, consisting, in the lower portion, of loam partly mixed with gravel, and in the district of Glenlivet of pure loam and a rich strong clay. Considerable improvements have been made in the agriculture of the parish: large tracts of waste have been drained, and brought into cultivation; and numerous thriving plantations have been raised, especially near the Spey, in Inveraven Proper, which abounds with ornamental timber. The principal crop is oats, with a good proportion of barley; and wheat is also raised in small quantities, in the low end of Glenlivet. In this parish the plantations consist of larch, oak, and mountain-ash, which grow luxuriantly on the banks of the Spey and Aven; and of Scotch and spruce firs, of which there are some beautiful specimens. The Highland and Agricultural Society encourage the breed of live stock by the distribution of premiums; but comparatively little attention is paid to improvement in this respect. In general the sheep are of the black-faced kind, with a few of English breed, which are not so well adapted to the soil; the breed of horses is rather small, but better suited to the state of the country than a breed of larger size. The farm-buildings are usually commodious, though still capable of great improvement; and in parts, especially in Glenlivet, are several of very superior character. Glenlivet was formerly noted for the manufacture of illicit spirits, and on almost every stream in the parish were houses for making whisky in defiance of the law; but this practice has of late materially diminished, and there are now in the vale two very extensive distilleries, where whisky of the best quality is legally produced, which obtains a high price in every part of the country. In the parish are several mills; also some small manufactories for woollen cloths and plaidings, chiefly under the management of the farmers. The annual value of real property in Inveraven is £5032.

Ballindalloch House, in the parish, the property of Sir John Macpherson Grant, Bart., is a perfect specimen of the old Scottish castle; it is a square edifice with three circular towers, and some additions have been made to the old building during the last century. The place is situated about half a mile from the confluence of the Aven with the river Spey; it is richly embellished with timber, and surrounded by scenery of interesting character. At a short distance may still be traced the foundations of the original castle, which has long been sulTered to fall into decay, and almost into oblivion, the only memorial being preserved in a traditionary legend, by which its restoration is said to have been prohibited. Sir John's estate of Ballindalloch has been much improved of late years, especially by extensive draining. The substratum of the parish is generally primitive rock. Red granite, of good quality for building, is found near the river Spey, and on the north of the Benrinnes mountain, in which asbestos has also been discovered. Limestone, embedded in gneiss, is found in the vale of Glenlivet; no regular quarries have been opened, but it is frequently dug by the tenants on the different farms, for their own use; and numerous limekilns have been erected in various parts of the vale. The roads and bridges are kept in good repair; and considerable intercourse is maintained with the villages of Tomantoul and Charlestown (respectively three miles from each extremity of the parish), where markets are occasionally held; and also with Grantown and Dufftown. Fairs are held at Burnside, about a mile from the church, on the Tuesday before the third Friday in February, the Tuesday before the 26th of May, the second Tuesday in July, O. S., and the Tuesday before the 23rd November, for the sale of horses, cattle, and grain, and for the hiring of servants.

Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Aberlour, synod of Moray, and in the gift of the Earl of Seafield; the minister's stipend is about £238, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £7 per annum. The church, which was erected in 1806, is in good repair, and affords accommodation to about 550 persons. In Glenlivet is a missionary station, supported by the Royal Bounty: the chapel was erected, or rather rebuilt, in 1825, and the minister has a salary of £60, with a house, a small farm, and a range of hill pasture for sheep, on the Gordon estate, rent-free. There are also in the vale two Roman Catholic chapels, one at Tombia, and the other at Chapelton; the former will contain a congregation of nearly 1000, and the latter of about 300 persons. The parochial school affords education to about fifty children; the master has a salary of £28. 17. 5., with £11 fees, a house and garden, and a portion of the Dick bequest. There are two male, and one female school, for Protestants, in the vale of Glenlivet. The masters of the two former derive their salaries from the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and the General Assembly's Committee for Highland schools, and have free houses, crofts, and gardens, on the Gordon estate. From this estate, also, the mistress of the female school has a house and garden, and the sum of £5 per annum, in addition to a similar sum from the society. In Glenlivet are likewise three Roman Catholic schools, two for females and one for males, all supported by funds contributed by the congregations at the two chapels: two of these schools are aided by a bequest. Various traces of the Druids exist in several parts of the parish, the most considerable of which are at Chapelton of Kilmaichlie. On Kilmaichlie farm, ancient coins of silver of the size of half-crowns, and some old weapons, have been discovered by the plough. The cemetery of a religious house formerly existing at Downan is still used as a burying-ground, as is also that of another, at Buitterlach, near which is a cairn of large dimensions. On the farm of Haughs of Kilmaichlie, is a spot of ground supposed to have been anciently a place of sepulture, and which has been lately planted with trees. A portion of the old castle of Drumin occupies an elevated site on a promontory, near the confluence of the rivers Livet and Aven; the walls on the east and north sides are of considerable height, and of massive thickness. At Blairfindy are the ruins of a hunting-seat that belonged to the Earls of Huntly.

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