Click for Bookshop

Old County of Nairnshire

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2016.

It has taken much time and money to make the six-volumes of Groome's text freely accessible. Please help us continue and develop by making a donation. If only one out of every ten people who view this page gave £5 or $10, the project would be self-sustaining. Sadly less than one in thirty-thousand contribute, so please give what you can.

Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry Arrow

Moray, Province of, an extensive district lying to the S of the inner portion of the firth just described. It is almost co-extensive with one of the seven provinces into which, during the Celtic period, we find the whole of modern Scotland divided. The northern boundary was the Moray Firth and the river Beauly as far as Kilmorack; from this point the line passed to the S along the watershed between Glen Farrar and the streams flowing to Loch Ness. After rounding the upper end of Glen Clunie it turned eastward along the watershed between Glen Loyne and Glen Garry, and between the river Garry and the streams flowing to the river Oich; then SE by the lower end of Loch Lochy, as far as the SW end of Loch Laggan, and on to Beinn Chumbann, whence it followed the line between the modern counties of Inverness and Perth, by Loch Ericht, the Athole Sow, and Carn-na-Caim, to Cairn Ealar. From that hill it followed the boundary of Inverness-shire and Banffshire, along the Cairngorms, and down the Water of Ailnack. Here, however, it left the county boundaries and followed this stream to the Aven above Tomintoul, and then followed the course of the Aven to the Spey, and the latter river back to the Moray Firth. The province thus included within its limit the whole of the counties of Elgin and Nairn, the greater part of the mainland division of the county of Inverness, and a portion of the county of Banff. In later times the signification has sometimes been considered as rather co-extensive with the sway of the Bishop of Moray, and so with the jurisdiction of the modern synod, but this must hold true as applying more to ecclesiastical authority than to territorial limits. At one time the province must have stretched across the island from sea to sea, for, in one of the statutes of William the Lyon, Ergadia, i.e., Arregaithel, or the whole district W of the watershed between the German Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, and extending from Loch Broom on the N to Cantyre on the S, is divided into ' Ergadia, which belongs to Scotia, ' and ' Ergadia which belongs to Moravia. ' This part afterwards fell into the hands of the Earls of Ross. The Highland line, marking the division between the Highlands and the Lowlands, passed across the province in a general north westerly direction from the junction of the Aven and Spey to the mouth of the river Nairn; the part to the NE of this line being peopled with Lowlanders, who suffered continually from the peculiar ideas entertained by their Highland neighbours regarding meum and tuum. Peopled by an alien race, whose introduction will be noticed afterwards, greatly more peaceable, and less acquainted with the use of arms than the inhabitants of the Highland districts, the rich and fertile plain of Moray was regarded by the Highland Caterans as open and ever available spoliage ground, where every marauder might, at his convenience, seek his prey. So late in fact as the time of Charles I., the Highlanders continually made forays on the country, and seem to have encountered marvellously little resistance. In 1645 we find Cameron of Lochiel apologising to the laird of Grant for having carried off cattle from the tenant of Moyness, and giving the reasons that he ' knew not that Moyness was ane Graunt, but thocht that he was ane Moray man,' and that the spoilers did not intend to hurt the laird of Grant's friends but to take booty from ' Morray land quhare all men take their prey.' The Moray people, it has been remarked, appear to have resembled the quiet saturnine Dutch settlers of North America who, when plundered by the Red Indians, were too fat either to resist or to pursue, and considered only how they might repair their losses; and the Celts, looking on the Low. landers as strangers and intruders, thought them quite fair game, and could never comprehend how there could be any crime in robbing a ' Moray man.' So late as 1565, as appears from the rental of the church-lands in that year, the inhabitants of the ' laich ' remained entirely a distinct people from the Highlanders, and all bore names of purely lowland origin. Nearly all the interest of Moray as a province, and often all the associations of the name are connected with its lowlands in the N. These have long been famed for mildness and dryness of climate, though the rivers that wind through them, having their sources among mountains high enough to arrest the moisture brought in from the Atlantic by the south-west winds, are sometimes liable to sudden freshets. The great floods of 1829, so admirably recorded in Sir Thomas Dick Lauder's The Moray Floods, form an extreme example. Probably no part of Scotland, not even East Lothian, can compete with Moray in regard to the number of spontaneous testimonies which have been borne to the richness of its soil. An old and common saying asserts that Moray has, according to some versions, 15, according to others, 40 days more of summer than most other parts of Scotland. Holinshed (practically an Anglicised form of Bellenden's translation of Boece's Chronicle) says, ' In Murrey land also is not onelie great plentie of wheat, barlie, otes, and suchlike graine, besides nuts and apples, but likewise of all kinds of fish, and especially of salmon. ' George Buchanan extols the province as superior to any other district in the kingdom in the mildness of its climate and the richness of its pastures. ' So abundant, ' he says, ' is this district in corn and pasturage, and so much beautified as well as enriched by fruit trees, that it may truly be pronounced the first county in Scotland. ' Whitelock. in Cromwell's time, says, 'Ashfield's regiment was marched into Murray-land, which is the most fruitful country in Scotland. ' William Lithgow (l583-l645), after glancing at Clydesdale and the Carse of Gowrie, says, ' The third most beautiful soil is the delectable plain of Moray, whose comely gardens, enriched with cornes, plantings, pasturage, stately dwellings, overfaced with a generous Octavian gentry, and toped with a noble Earl, its chief patron, may be called a second Lombardy, or pleasant meadow of the north.' Sir Robert Gordon of Straloch, describing the province in 1640, says, ' In salubrity of climate, Moray is not inferior to any, and in richness and fertility of soil it much exceeds our other northern provinces. The air is so temperate, that when all around is bound up in the rigour of winter, there are neither lasting snows nor such frosts as damage fruits or trees. There is no product of this kingdom which does not thrive there perfectly, or, if any fail, it is to be attributed to the sloth of the inhabitants, not to the fault of the soil or climate. Corn, the earth pours forth in wonderful and never-failing abundance. Fruits of all sorts, herbs, flowers, pulse are in the greatest plenty, and all early. While harvest has scarcely begun in surrounding districts, there all is ripe and cut down, and carried into open barnyards, as is the custom of the country; and, in comparison with other districts, winter is hardly felt. The earth is almost always open, the sea navigable, and the roads never stopped. So much of the soil is occupied by crops of corn, however, that pasture is scarce; for this whole district is devoted to corn and tillage. But pasture is found at no great distance, and is abundant in the upland country, and a few miles inland; and thither the oxen are sent to graze in summer when the labour of the season is over. Nowhere is there better meat nor cheaper corn, not from scarcity of money but from the abundance of the soil. ' Notwithstanding, however, this fertility, years of comparative scarcity were by no means infrequent. During the summer of 1743, the dear year, ' so memorable all over Scotland, thousands of the people of Moray wandered among the fields devouring sorrel, the leaves and stems of unfilled pulse, and whatever could mitigate the pangs of hunger, while many died of actual starvation or diseases brought on by want of food. Even so late as 1782, the noted year of the ' frosty har'st, ' or harvest, the province suffered severely from famine. When the era of agricultural improvement set in, and many districts, becoming aware of their poverty, made a sudden an d strenuous movement towards wealth, Moray was content to live on its fame, and so soon lost its pre-eminence, which it has, however, since regained, as may be seen from the notices of the agricultural condition of the counties of Elgin, Nairn, and Inverness. Some portions were long rendered barren by a curious layer known as ' Moray Coast ' or ' Pan.' This was a thin stratum of sand and gravel which, by the infiltration of black oxide of iron, had become a hard compact mass, capable of damaging ploughs when brought into contact with it. It at the same time occurs at the distance of about a foot from the surface, and offers unconquerable resistance to the attempts of trees or shrubs to penetrate it with their roots. The only method of de ling with it is to lay it bare, break it up with a pickaxe, and expose the fragments to the slow influence of the weather. The physical characteristics and present condition of the province are discussed in the articles on the counties of Inverness, Elgin, Nairn, and Banff, and it remains here to notice historical details connected rather with the district as a whole than with the individual counties into which it has been broken up.

At the beginning of the Christian era we find the eastern part of Moray inhabited by the Vacomagi, to the W of whom were the Caledonii with, according to Ptolemy, a town called Banatia, on the E side of the river Ness; another called Ptoroton, on the promontory where Burghead now stands; and a third called Tuessis, on the bank of the Spey; and subsequently we find the district included in Northern Pictavia, of which the capital was situated somewhere near Inverness. The Pictish nation seems to have been formed by a union of various Celtic tribes or tuaths which united to form mortuaths or confederations, and these mortuaths again to form a larger confederation embracing the whole realm. The mortuaths were governed by Mormaers, and seem to have corresponded to the districts that afterwards became the provinces governed by the original great territorial Earls of Scotland. That the country N of the Firths of Forth and Clyde was, during the Celtic period of its history, divided into seven- provinces is certain, and there are, in the older records, accounts of them by name. One dating from the 12th century tells us that the region formerly known as Alban, was divided by seven brothers into seven parts. ' The principal part was Engus and Moerne, so-called from Engus, the eldest of the brothers. The second part was Adtheodhle and Gouerin. The third Strathdeern and Meneted. The fourth Fif and Fothreve. The fifth Mar and Buchen. The sixth Muref and Ros. The seventh Cathanesia Cismontane and Ultramontane.' The seven brothers were the seven kings of these districts, and are regarded by Dr Skene as the Eponymi of the people of the seven provinces. The tuaths themselves seem to have corresponded with the smaller divisions that appear as thanages, and so we may identify the localities of some of them by the thanedoms of Dyke, Brodie, Moyness, and Cawdor, along the shore of the Moray Firth between the river Nairn and the Burn of Lethen; the great district of Moravia proper between the Lethen and the Lossie; and along the Lossie farther E was Kilmalemnock, the greater part of which now forms the parish of St Andrews-Lhanbryd and Essy. Cromdale and Rothiemurchus seem also to have been thanedoms. The Mormaers were also styled Ri or King, and one, termed the Ardri, always held a loose sway over all. The succession was tanistic, that is, hereditary in a family but elective as to the person, the senior male capable of ruling being chosen in preference to the direct descendant; and it seems even to have been regulated by that particular form where the supreme power passed alternately from one to the other of two branches of a family. It will be seen from what has been said already, that at this early date Moray and Ross were united and formed but one province. The oldest form of the name seems Moreb or Muireb, and Morovia and Moravia also occur.

In the latter part of the 9th century Harald Harfager having swept the northern seas of the Vikings, made offer of the Jarldom of Orkney to one of his most noted warriors Rögnvald, who, however, preferring -to return to Norway, obtained Harald's consent to making over the dignity and dominion to his brother Sigurd. Though the tenure of the Jarldom was conditional on his suppression of Viking plundering, this ruler seems to have had somewhat elastic notions as to how far this was binding in the case of raids made on other countries than Norway, and consequently we find him invading Scotland, and making himself master of a considerable portion of the North. According to one account, he held ' all Caithness and much more of Scotland- Maerhaefui (Moray) and Ross-and he built a burg on the southern border of Maerhaefui. ' He did not, however, long enjoy his conquests, for, as has been noticed in the article Forres, he died of a wound inflicted by the tooth of the dead Mormaer Melbrigda or Malbride, whose head he was carrying fastened to his saddle. On Sigurd's death the Jarldom reverted to the descendants of Rögnvald, and they were, for long, so much occupied with family fends that probably they were unable to bestow much thought or attention on a turbulent province, and so, during the greater part of the 10th century, Moray must have been more or less free from the Norse dominion and under the independent rule of its native Mormaers. According to the Landnamabok, Thorstein conquered the whole of the north, and forced more than half of Scotland to acknowledge him as king, but his conquest, if ever firm, must have been of but short duration. The people of Moray were, however, only relieved from attack on the N to have to meet it from the S. The kings of Alban had begun to dream of a united Scotland under one ruler, and in the beginning of the 10th century Donald II. was slain at Forres, whither he seems to have penetrated on a military expedition. His son, Malcolm I., was, according to the Ulster Annals, slain at Fetteresso by the men of the Mearns in 954, but later annalists attribute his death to the men of Moray, and fix it at Ulern or Vlern near Forres, which used formerly to be identified with Auldearn, but which is more probably Blervie, which is close to Forres. The locality was very fatal to the family, for Duff, Malcolm's son and successor, is also said to have been killed at Forres by the governor of the castle in 967. His body was concealed in a deep pool under a bridge near at hand, and till it was found the sun did not shine on the spot.

Towards the end of the century, however, matters once more changed as regarded the Norse. The Mormaer then was Melbrigda, son of Ruaidhri, who in the quarrel for power between Liotr and Skùli, the greatgrandsons of Rögnvald, seems to have sided with the latter. Both leaders were slain, but Liotr's party triumphed. That ruler was in 980 succeeded by his nephew, Sigurd the Stout, who, either from a desire to avenge his kinsman's death, or from wish for greater power, proceeded vigorously to assert the old rights, and, after a severe struggle, succeeded in wresting the province from ' Findlaec, son of Ruadri, Mormaer Moreb, ' brother of the Melbrigda just mentioned, and the Finnleikr Jarl of the Sagas. Sigurd fell in 1014 at the battle of Cluantarbh or Clontarf, fighting against Brian Boroime, King of Munster, and after his death, Findlaec once more became ruler of Moray, and reigned till 1020, when it is recorded that he was slain by the sons of his brother Melbrigda, one of whom, Malcolm, succeeded to power and ruled till his death. As both he and Findlaec are, in the Ulster Annals and in Tighernac, designated as Ri Albain, their dominion probably extended at this time beyond the limits of Moray proper, a supposition which is confirmed by the Book of Deer, in which it is recorded that this Malcolm gave to the clerics of Deer lands, situated, probably, in the neighbourhood of their monastery, and so in a district usually under the rule of the Kings of Alban. Malcolm was succeeded by his brother Gilcomgan, who was burned in his rath in 1032, probably by Maelbaethe, who is better known to us as Macbeth. From a notice in the Saxon Chronicle the province was then quite independent, and the Mormaer had the power of a Ri or King. It is there stated that King Cnut in 1031 invaded Scotland, and received the submission not only of the King of Scots but also of two other Kings, Maelbaethe and Iehmarc; and as Drumalban and the river Spey formed the boundaries of Scotland proper these two rulers would represent the districts lying beyond.

What was the real cause of the great contest that arose on the death of Malcolm ii. in 1034 will probably never be exactly settled, but, the male line being extinct, it in all probability originated in rival claims set up by Malcolm's grandsons. A daughter of Malcolm was the second wife of Sigurd the Stout, and the mother of his youngest son Thorfinn, who was, at his father's death in 1014, a boy of five years old. His grandfather created him Earl of Caithness, and by 1034 he held considerable power in the Orkneys besides. When Malcolm died, Duncan, who was the son of his eldest daughter, claimed the kingdom, and his claim was admitted by the southern part of the realm, but Thorfinn disputed his right to any part of the north. According to the sagas, Duncan, who there figures as Karl Hundason, desired to exact tribute and homage from Thorfinn, and on his refusal to render either, bestowed the title of Earl of Caithness on his nephew, or one of his leading supporters called Moddan, and about 1040 sent him northward with a large army to take possession of the region. Thorfinn, supported by Thorkel Fostri his foster-father and by his Norsemen, defeated Moddan, and driving him back beyond the Moray Firth, made war ' far and wide in Scotland. ' Duncan, bent on vengeance, got together a fleet and collected a very large army, ' as well from the south as the west and east of Scotland, and all the way south from Satiri [Kintyre]; and the forces for which Earl Modan had sent also came to him from Ireland. He sent far and near to chieftains for men, and brought all this army against Earl Thorfinn. ' The fleet was defeated in the neighbourhood of Duncansbay Head; and no better fortune awaited the army in the great struggle that took place somewhere between Burghead and Forres when

' The wolves' bit [sword] reddened its edges
In the place called Torfness.
A young ruler was the cause.
This happened on a Monday.
In this congress south of Eckial,
The thin [well-sharpened] swords sung,
When the valiant prince fought
Against the ruler of Skotland.'

Torfness seems to have been Burghead, where was probably the burg already referred to as having been built by Sigurd; while Eckial or Ekkial, which was by Worsaae, and afterwards by Dr Joseph Anderson in his edition of the Orkeyinga Saga, identified with the Oykel on the border of Sutherlandshire, is now by Dr Skene, and with much greater probability, considered to be the Findhorn-and indeed some of the accounts expressly say that the battle was fought ' south of Breidafiord, ' the Norse name for the Moray Firth. The Irish division was defeated almost at once; and a long and fierce contest between the Norwegians and the Scots, headed by Duncan himself, ended in the victory of Thorfinn and the flight of the Scottish king. What the fate of the latter was the writer of the saga does not seem to have known, for he adds doubtfully, ' some say he was slain, ' but by other writers it is recorded that he died at or near Elgin, and some of them even fix the place at Bothgouanan, which Dr Skene identifies with Pitgaveny. In the Register of St Andrews it is recorded that ' Donchath Mac-Trini abbatis de Dunkeld et Bethoc filiæ Malcolm-Mac-Kinat interfectus a Macbeth-MacFinleg in Bothgouanan et sep. in Iona;' but whether he died of his wounds or was murdered may be left somewhat doubtful, though the probabilities seem in favour of the latter. Be that as it may, Macbeth, who as Mormaer of Moray fought on the side of Duncan against the old enemies of his lands, at once after his defeat passed over to the side of the conqueror; and the new allies overran the kingdom as far S as the Firth of Forth, whereby Macbeth became able to style himself King of Moravia and of Scotland.

When Malcolm Ceannmor, the son of Duncan, came to his own again, Macbeth was slain in 1056 or 1057, and Lulag, son of the Gilcomgan already mentioned, succeeded as Mormaer of Moray, and for a short time maintained a claim to be styled King of Scotland. He does not seem to have been able to hold the lowlands against Malcolm, but to have retired to the mountain fastnesses of Lochaber, to a stronghold on Loch Deabhra, the glen leading to which is still known as Glen-Ri, near which he was slain in 1058. He was succeeded by his son Maelsnechtan or Maelsnechtai, who still maintained the independence of his native district, and who appears in 1078 again opposing Malcolm, who after the death of the great Thorfinn in 1064 seems to have made another powerful effort to gain a firm hold of the north. According to the Ulster Annals, and contrary to the usual fate of his race, Maelsnechtan died ' in peace ' in 1085 or in 1086. During the troubles that took place between the death of Ceannmor and the accession of Alexander I., the semi-independence of the province probably became more or less complete; and so it is not to be wondered at that we find the latter king, somewhere between 1114 and 1120-the Ulster Annals say 1116-compelled to assert his power by force of arms, and with such vigour and success that the Mormaer- probably Angus-was driven across the Firth into the mountain fastnesses of Ross and Sutherland. The death of Alexander and the accession of David I. provoked a fresh outbreak, headed by Angus, with whom was associated Malcolm, his brother, or, according to other accounts, an illegitimate son of Alexander i. This Angus was the son of a daughter of Lulag, who succeeded Macbeth, and therefore a nephew of the Maelsnechtan already mentioned, but, in accordance with the new feudal system, then slowly developing, he appears as Earl of Moray, so that Maelsnechtan was the last of the Mormaers. The leaders probably relied somewhat for success on the fact that, at the time (1130), David was in England, and that therefore much might be accomplished before he had time to oppose them; but in this they were deceived, for David's cousin, Edward, son of Siward, Earl of Mercia, raising a force, met and defeated them in the parish of Stracathro in Forfarshire, on the SW bank of the West Water, a little above its junction with the South Esk, and, following up his success, entered Moray and obtained possession of the whole district. Angus was slain in the battle, and with him became extinct the line of the old Celtic Mormaers. From his title of earl, and the fact that the Saxon Chronicle, in noticing the event and recording his death, declares that ' there was God's right wrought upon him, for that he was all forsworn, ' it may be inferred that he had previously sworn allegiance to David. For the next two hundred years the district seems to have been considered too fiery and dangerous to be entrusted to the control of any single ruler; and, though various Custodes Moraviæ are mentioned in the intervening period, not till the reign of Robert Bruce was there another Earl of Moray. The hold thus acquired David vigorously confirmed by the erection of royal castles and the creation of king's burghs, while an equally powerful agent in the work of civilisation and pacification was brought into play by the establishment of the Priory of Urquhart and of the Abbey of Kinloss. He seems also to have resided in the district at different times, and to have been successful in personally winning the favour and allegiance of his turbulent northern subjects, for at the Battle of the Standard in 1138, the rearguard, led by the king himself, consisted of Scots and Moray men.

The death of David was the signal for fresh troubles, and on the accession of his grandson, Malcolm IV., Malcolm Macheth, who claimed to be sprung from Earl Angus, raised the Celtic population in revolt, and aided by the petty prince of Argyll, to whose daughter he was married, made a vigorous effort to regain his patrimony. Somerled was, however, compelled to make peace in 1159, and in 1160 Malcolm entered Moray and inflicted signal punishment on the rebels. Many of the inhabitants of David's burghs were probably strangers, and now his successor determined to carry this policy still farther by dispossessing large numbers of the natives, scattering them throughout the country, and giving their possessions to settlers on whose fidelity he could rely. Fordun speaking of his treatment of the inhabitants, says that he ' removed them all from the land of their birth, and -scattered them throughout the other districts of Scotland, both beyond the hills and on this side thereof, so that not even one native of that land abode there, and he installed therein his own peaceful and peculiar people, ' who would seem to have been Flemings. This must, however, be somewhat of an exaggeration. ' Such a story of wholesale transmigration, ' says Cosmo Innes, ' cannot be true to the letter. Some old institutions unquestion-ably survived the measure; and a native rural population in the condition of that of Scotland in the -12th century could have no political sentiments, nor be called to account for political conduct. That there was some revolution, however, seems proved by charter evidence, and by the sudden appearance at that time, in- the records of the province, of a great number of Southerns obtaining grants of land in Moray, for whom room must have been made by some violent displacement of the former lords of the soil,.. and thus it came to pass that Berowald of Flanders obtained the lands of Innes all from Spey to Lossie, except the priory lands of Urquhart. ' This clearance would seem to have affected the low district along the shore of the Moray Firth more than the other districts, and the latter were from 1174 to 1187 in a chronic state of disaffection and rebellion, part of the Celtic population and the Norse settlers claiming that the family of Macheth should be restored to their former position, and that a northern chief, Donald Ban or MacWilliam, descended from Malcolm Ceannmor and the Norwegian princess Ingibiorg, was of the nearer line of the royal family, and therefore the rightful sovereign; while those who cared but little for this were alienated through anger at the disgraceful bargain of William the Lyon with the English. Though the first active outbreak seems to have taken place in 1181, it was not till 1187 that the King found time to attend to the North, but in that year he entered Moray at the head of a large army, and, fixing his headquarters at Inverness, detached a body of troops to lay waste the western parts of the province. In the decisive battle, which took place in the upper valley of the Spey, at a place called Mamgarvia, probably in Laggan, MacWilliam was slain. From the number of charters granted by William at different times and different places in Moray, he seems to have been often in the north, and, as he followed up his success by reducing Ross to subjection, and bringing Sutherland and Caithness directly under the power of the crown, he kept the North quiet for the rest of his reign. Hardly, however, had Alexander II. succeeded, when, in 1215, Donald Ban, son of the Donald who was killed at Mamgarvia in 1187, having obtaining assistance from Ireland, rebelled and burst into Moray at the head of a large army. He was, however, attacked and defeated by Ferquhard Macintagart, the lay possessor of the extensive lands of the old monastery at Applecross, and the pretensions of both the Mac Williams and the Macheths were finally extinguished by Alexander in 1222, from which time onward the historical events are all connected with national matters. Alexander seems to have had a great liking for the ' Laich of Moray,' and we find him keeping Yule at Elgin in 1231; and again in 1242,

' The Kyng and the Qwene alsua,
And ane honest court wyth tha.
That ilk yhere in Murrawe past.'

He founded and endowed many of the religious houses in the district, and was a great benefactor to several of the burghs. Alexander III. does not seem to have visited the province very often, though he appears to have been here shortly before the battle of Largs. One of the claimants for the crown, after the death of Alexander III., was John Cumyn, who had, on the death of his uncle, Walter, Earl of Menteith, in 1258, become Lord of Badenoch, but otherwise Moray does not seem to have been connected with the contest of succession that then arose, nor with events in the inglorious reign of John Baliol. After that ' Tulchan ' monarch was deprived of the crown, Edward I., having set himself to subdue the kingdom, marched north with a large army, and, crossing the Spey on 25 July 1296 near Bellie, entered the province and advanced as far as Elgin, whence detachments of his force were sent to occupy the castles of Forres, Nairn, Inverness, Dingwall, and Cromarty. Finding, however, that the country was quiet, and that all the leading nobles were favourably disposed towards his rule, he extended his march no farther, but returned southwards by Rothes and so through Banffshire and Aberdeenshire. Traditionally, Wallace passed along the sea-coast and crossed thence to Cromarty where he destroyed the castle, but it seems doubtful whether he was ever so far north, though a revolt against the English rule was stirred up by Sir Andrew Moray, the younger of Petty and Bothwell, and seems to have spread over the whole district. This was in May and June in 1297, and we find him associated with Wallace down to the close of the year, after which he disappears from history during the rest of the reign of Edward I. On the second English invasion in 1303 Edward again penetrated to Moray, but this time advanced to Kinloss and thence southward into Badenoch where he spent some time at Lochindorb Castle.

After the close of the war of independence we find Bruce erecting the district once more into an Earldom, in favour of his nephew, Thomas Randolph, and the King himself seems to have been several times in the north, but almost nothing is known of his movements. During the troubles that followed his death Moray remained stanch to his son, and seems to have been partly held by Sir Andrew Moray on his behalf; and later David II. himself came to Inverness in 1369 in order to have an interview with John, Lord of the Isles, some of whose turbulent subjects had been in rebellion. In 1371 King Robert II. granted to Alexander, his fourth son by his first wife, Elizabeth Mure, the whole lands of Badenoch which had belonged to the Comyns, and at a later date in the same year he was appointed King's Lieutenant in the north. Two years later he was made Earl of Buchan, and as he was Earl of Ross in right of his wife, he was for a time the most powerful noble in the country. He scarcely, however, maintained the dignity of his position, for, better known as the Wolf of Badenoch, he thoroughly deserved the title, and some of his exploits will be found noticed in the articles on Elgin, Forres, and Lochindorb.* Hardly recovered from the effects of the Wolf's deeds the lower part of the province again suffered in 1402 from an inroad of Alexander, third son of the first Lord of the Isles, at the head of a large following; and in 1411 his brother Donald, second Lord of the Isles, passed through on his way to the battle of Harlaw. After the progress of James I. through Moray in 1427 (see Inverness) Donald, the then Lord of the Isles, assembled a force and advanced with it as far as Lochaber, but there he was met by the royal forces and his army dispersed. He afterwards made submission, but his lieutenant, Donald Balloch. in 1431, again advanced to Lochaber with a large body of followers. This led to another royal visit to the north, but the route is not clear. The time indeed does not seem to have been a pleasant one in the regions, for a writer in the Chartulary of Moray says that ' in these days there was no law in Scotland, but the more powerful oppressed the weaker, and all the realm was one mass of robbery. Murder, plundering, fire raising went unpunished, and justice was banished from the land.,

* The inscription on his tomb in Dunkeld Cathedral was made to record that he was a man 'bonce memoriœ!'

One of the Douglases being Earl of Moray, we find the province concerned in the contests that arose in 1452 with the 'banded earls' (see Elgin). The earl did not succeed in getting his vassals to join him in any number when he took part in the Douglas rebellion of 1454-55, but after his death James Douglas stirred up Donald, Lord of the Isles, with whom he had taken refuge, to invade the mainland, where ' at last he past to Lochaber, and therefrom to Murray, where he invaded . . . with great cruelty, neither sparing old nor young, without regard to wives, old, feeble, and decrepit women, or young infants in the cradle, which would have moved a heart of stone to commiseration; and burned villages, towns, and corns, so much thereof as might not goodly be carried away, by the great prize of goods that he took.' These disorders caused James II. to come north in 1455 and set the Earldom of Moray, which was now bestowed on his infant son David, in thorough order. He remained here for two years, and part of the country was thrown waste to provide a forest for his hunting. In 1464 James III. was here; and in 1474 or 1475 John, Lord of the Isles, surrendered to the Crown the sheriffdoms of Inverness and Nairn, which were in 1492 granted to the Earl of Huntly, whose influence in the north was supreme from this time till the Reformation. James IV. must frequently have passed through the province on his way to and from the shrine of St Duthac at Tain, which he often visited; and in the Treasurer's accounts for 1504 we find payments recorded to ' the maidens of Forres that dansit to the king, ' and others ' that dansit ' to him at Elgin and Darnaway. During the time of James V. and the minority of Queen Mary, the whole of the north and north-west was in a very disturbed state, and the portions of Moray about Badenoch and Lochaber and to the NW of the Great Glen were in an almost continual state of warfare; and in 1556 the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, advanced to Inverness to try to settle matters, but her attention on her return to the south being almost immediately drawn off by the beginnings of the Reformation, matters were but little improved, the cause being in part the disturbances created by the Lord of the Isles, in part the quarrels among the clans themselves, and in part the bad government of Huntly.

No sooner, however, had Queen Mary assumed the government, than, acting probably under the advice of the great Earl of Murray, she determined to adopt severe measures, and, setting out in 1562, reached Elgin on 6 Sept. Her doings at Inverness, where she was from the 11th to the 15th of the same month, are noticed in that article; and Huntly's power was broken almost immediately afterwards at the battle of Corrichie in Aberdeenshire. Fresh feuds again broke out in consequence of the murder of ' the bonny Earl of Moray ' by the Earl of Huntly at Donibristle in 1592, and these were prolonged and intensified by the proceedings in 1594 against the Earls of Huntly, Angus, and Errol, who were charged with plotting with Philip of Spain for the restoration of the Catholic religion in Scotland. It was on this occasion that mass was said for the last time in Elgin Cathedral, though groups of worshippers of the old faith are said to have by stealth frequented corners of it down to the reign of Queen Anne.

In 1603-4 the district seems to have suffered severely from plague, for the magistrates of Elgin sent to Edinburgh for Thomas Ahannay and two servants ' for clenging of the infected parts, together with the bodies of the persons infected,' and the sheriffs of Elgin, Nairn, and Inverness were authorised by the Lords of Council to assess for the expenses, amounting to 600 merks. The province suffered considerably during the civil wars in the time of the Stewart kings, partly in consequence of the people generally declaring for the cause of the Solemn League and Covenant, and partly from the district becoming the scene of one of the campaigns of Montrose and his ally, Lord Lewis Gordon, who indeed obtained the unenviable notoriety of being classed by a rhymer of the period with two of the worst plagues of an agricultural country:-

' The gule, the Gordon, and the hoodie-craw
Are the three warst evils Moray ever saw.'

Probably, however, the author had more than Lord Lewis in his mind when he thus irreverently spoke of the descendants of the ' Cock of the North.' In Sept. 1644 Montrose came northward by Aberdeen, and ' begins to marche touardis Spey side, bot could not win over the water, the boitis being drawin on the uther side, and Moray convenit in armes; ' and so he turned back, only, however, to return again after his victory at Inverlochy. In the following year he marched rapidly on the low country, and ' merchit bak throw Lochquhaber with displayit baner touardis Innerniss with incredibill diligens; and fynding the toune stronglie fortifeit and garisonis lying about or rather within the toune,.. thairfoir merchit peceablie by Innerniss doun throw the countrie of Moray; ' and of such of the proprietors as would not join him he ' plunderit, spolzeit, and brynt ' the houses and lands, and ' sent out pairteis throw the countrie with fyre and plundering.' The Committee of Estates sitting at Elgin broke up, and many of the townspeople fled, with ' thair wyves, barnes, and best goodis, ' to Spynie and other strongholds. The Marquis reached Elgin on 19 Feb., and was joined by Lord Lewis Gordon shortly after. He received 4000 merks to save the town from being burned; ' bot his soldiouris, especiallie the Laird of Grantis soldiouris, plunderit the toun pitifullie, and left nothing tursabill oncareit away, and brak doun bedis, burdis, insicht, and plenishing. ' Thereafter he marched southward, but returned again in May, following up Hurry and his Covenanters, who preceded him by two days, and whom he shortly afterwards defeated at the battle of Auldearn. This victory was but the prelude to fresh plundering and spoiling, during which Elgin was partially burned, and then the Royalist army passed on its way southward to the final disaster at Philiphaugh. Much, however, as the district thus suffered, the adherence of the men of Moray to Presbyterianism was political rather than religious, and they consequently never showed that zeal for the cause which marked the people of the southern and western counties of Scotland. The other historical events connected with the province, such as the landing of Charles ii. at Garmouth and the battle of Cromdale, are noticed in detail in conjunction with the different places with which they are more particularly connected, and need not now be further alluded to. In 1746 the Highland army on their northward retreat broke up into three divisions, one of which followed the Highland road by the upper waters of the Spey, and by Duthil on to Inverness; a second marched by the braes of Angus and Strathdon to Elgin, where they were joined by a third body, which had retired along the great coast road; and the whole army was reunited at Inverness. The Duke of Cumberland entered the province on 12 April, and on the 16th was fought the Battle of Culloden, the last in which opposing armies met in array on British soil. After their defeat the Highlanders retired south-eastward by Moy and Badenoch to the place of their final dispersion at Clova. The clan distribution to the SW of the Highland line was: the Grants, Shaws, and Macphersons along Strathspey; the Mackintoshes along the upper portions of the valleys of the Findhorn and Nairn; the Frasers to the SE and N of Loch Ness, and also in Strath Affric and Glen Cannich; the Chisholms in Strath Farrer and Strath Glass; the Grants to the NW of Loch Ness; and to the S of them the Glengarry Macdonalds.

The division into the present shires seems to have taken place in the second half of the 13th century, but for long after that their boundaries were somewhat variable. From the time of Queen Mary no Scottish or British sovereign visited the province till 1872, when Queen Victoria passed through on her way to Dunrobin Castle on a visit to the Duke of Sutherland, and she again traversed the ' laich ' on her way to Loch Maree in 1877.

The Earldom of Moray was long one of the most important in Scotland. The first Earl, Angus, was, as we have seen, in direct descent from the old Celtic Mormaers; but after his death in 1130 no Earl was allowed to exist for nearly two centuries, the management of the province being kept in the hands of the Crown, or committed for brief periods to different Scottish nobles, as when, during the early part of the 13th century, we find Malcolm, Earl of Fife, thus acting at one time, and William Cumyn at another, each being simply styled Custos Moraviæ This state of matters came to an end about 1313 or 1314, when Robert Bruce granted the whole of the province to his nephew and trusted friend Sir Thomas Randolph. The charter, which bears no date, but which must have been granted shortly before the convention at Ayr in 1315, defines the estate as including the lands of Fochabers and Boharm beyond the Spey, thence extending up that river to Badenoch, including Kincardine, Glencairn, Badenoch, Maymez, Locharkedh, Glengarry, and Glenelg, passing along the NW border of Argyllshire to the western sea, bounded on the N by the Earldom of Ross to the river Farrar, and thence down that stream and the Beauly to the Moray Firth. The estate and the title of the Earldom were, according to the original principle of peerages, inseparable, the title becoming extinct upon the alienation of the estate. Randolph died in 1332, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Thomas also, who was killed at Dupplin in 1332, 28 days after his succession. The second son, John, who then succeeded, was taken prisoner by the English at the battle of Kilblain in 1335, but was exchanged for the Earl of Salisbury in 1341. Becoming Warden of the West Marches, he accompanied David Ii. on his expedition into England, and -was killed at the battle of Durhanm in l346. There being no male heir the Earldom then reverted to the Crown, but Patrick Dunbar, who was married to the daughter of the first Earl-Black Agnes, whose name is well known in connection with her defence of Dunbar Castle-was generally styled Earl of Mar and Moray. His second son, John Dunbar, who was married to Marjory, daughter of Robert II., was made Earl of Moray in 1372; but his domains were lessened by the large districts of Badenoch, Lochaber, and Urquhart, which were constituted into a lordship for the King's son, Alexander, better known as the Wolf of Badenoch. The succeeding Earls were Thomas, the son of John, his son also called Thomas, and James, the cousin of the third Earl, with whom the male line became again extinct, * and the succession passed to Archibald Douglas, the husband of the younger of the two daughters left by Thomas Dunbar. Supported by the influence of his brother, the Earl of Douglas, he obtained the Earldom in 1446; but having joined the family rebellion of 1452, and being killed in 1455, the title and possessions again passed to the Crown, with whom they remained till 1501, when the honour was granted to James Stewart, an illegitimate son of James iv., who died in 1544 without issue. From 1548 to 1554 the Earldom was granted to the Earl of Huntly, but was again, from 1554 to 1562, in the possession of the Crown. In the latter year it was bestowed on James Stewart, afterwards the well-known Regent, and in his line it still remains. In 1563 he obtained a second charter limiting the succession to heirs male, in 1566 a fresh one opening the succession to heirs general, and in 1567 a ratification by the Estates of the deed of 1563. At his death he left two daughters, and James Stewart, Baron Doune, who married the eldest, Lady Elizabeth, assumed the title of Earl of Moray. This Earl figures in history as the Bonnie Earl of Moray, and is the hero of the ballad of that name.

' He was a braw gallant,
And he played at the gluve
And the bonnie Earl of Moray
He was the Queene's luve '

He was in 1592 murdered at Donibristle by the Earl of Huntly, who was nominally acting on a commission to pursue the Earl of Bothwell and his associates, of whom Moray was alleged to be one, but is supposed in reality to have been instigated to the deed by King James VI. ' It was,' says Sir James Balfour, ' given out and publickly talked that the Earle of Huntly was only the instrument of perpetratting this facte to satisffie the Kinges jelosie of Murray, quhom the Queine, more rashlie than wyslie, some few dayes before had commendit in the Kinges heiringe, with too many epithetts of a proper and gallant man. ' His son and successor was by the King's special efforts reconciled to Huntly, and married his daughter, Lady Anne Gordon. He obtained in 1611 a fresh charter of the Earldom with entail to male heirs only. His grandson, Alexander, fifth Earl, was Secretary of State and Lord High Commissioner between 1680 and 1686. Francis, the ninth Earl (1737-1810), was noted as an agriculturist, and is said to have planted on his estates upwards of thirteen millions of trees. The present Earl, George (b. 1814), succeeded in 1872. The other titles are Baron Doune (1581) and Baron St Colme (1611), both in the pecrage of Scotland, and Baron Stewart of Castle Stewart (1796) in the peerage of Great Britain. The family seats are Darnaway Castle in Elginshire, Donibristle Castle in Fifeshire, Castle Stewart in Inverness-shire, and Doune Lodge in Perthshire.

* The fourth Earl had a son, Sir Alexander Dunbar of Westfield, by his first marriage with his cousin Isabella Innes of Innes, but as she was within the forbidden degree, and died before a Papal dispensation could be procured, this son was deemed illegitimate, and very wrongly barred from the succession.

Of the early religious state of the province almost nothing is known. St Columba's visit to Inverness is noticed in that article, and other traces of the Culdee church and its influence remain in the gifts already mentioned made by some of the early Mormaers to the clerics of Deer as well as in the associations of the names of St Gernadius, St Moran, and St Bride, and other early clerics, with different localities. There are also accounts of old churches not connected with any saint's name at Birnie, Elgin, and Kintrae, near the latter of which is also Inchagarty or ' the priest's island. ' The ancient diocese, of later date, has - been already noticed in the article Elgin. With it the modern Synod of Moray is nearly co-extensive. The latter body meets at Elgin and Forres alternately, on the fourth Tuesday of April, and in either of those towns, or in some place fixed by the members, on the last Tuesday of September. It includes the presbyteries of Strathbogie, Abernethie, Aberlour, Elgin, Forres, Inverness, and Nairn, and contains 52 quoad civilia parishes, 9 quoad sacra parishes, and 3 mission churches. There is also a synod of Moray in connection with the Free Church, including the same presbyteries as in the Established Church. It contains 57 churches. The Episcopal Church has a united diocese of Moray, Ross, and Caithness, with the cathedral and bishop's residence at Inverness, and churches at Aberchirder, Arpafeelie, Craigellachie, Dingwall, Elgin, Fochabers, Forres, Fortrose, Glen Urquhart, Highfield, Huntly, Inverness, Keith, Nairn, Strathnairn, Thurso, and Wick.

See also the works cited under Elgin and Inverness; Cordiner's Antiquities and Scenery of the North of Scotland (1780 and 1787); Sir Thomas Dick Lauder's Account of the Great Floods in the Province of Moray in 1829 (Edinb. 1830, 3d and 4th ed.; Elgin, 1873); Gregory's History of the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland (1st ed., Edinb. 1836; 2d, Glasgow, 1881); Skene's Chronicles of the Picts and Scots (Edinb. 1867), and his Celtic Scotland (Edinb. 1876-80); A Genealogical Deduction of the Family of Rose of Kilravock (edited by Cosmo Innes for Spalding Club, 1848); Spalding's Memorials of the Trubles in Scotland (Spalding Club, 1850); The Book of the Thanes of Cawdor (Spalding Club, 1859); Ane Account of the Families of Innes (Spalding Club, 1864); and Dr William Fraser's The Chiefs of Grant (1884).

Nairnshire, a small county in the N of Scotland, consisting of a main body and five detached sections. The main body lies on the S shore of the Moray Firth, and is bounded N by that arm of the sea, E by Elginshire, and S, SW, and W by Inverness-shire. The outline is very irregular, and to a very large extent artificial. Starting from the NE corner at the middle of the bank known as the Bar, midway between the mouth of the river Nairn and that of the river Findhorn, it proceeds irregularly S by E to the Muckle Burn, close to Earlsmill, and after following the course of that stream for 2 miles again strikes in its former direction to the Findhorn at the bend SW of Dounduff. After following the course of the Findhorn for 7 furlongs it strikes SE to the high ground between the basins of the Dorbock and the upper tributaries of the Findhorn, which-except for a zig-zag to the at Lochan Tutach and another to the E at Lochindorb-it follows S and S by W to its most southerly point at Carn Glas (2162 feet). The principal summits along this line, from N to S, are Carn Dubhaidh (1000 feet), Hill of Aitnoch (1351), Carn nan clach Garbha (1362), Carn Allt Laoigh (1872), and Carn Glas. From this last summit the line passes irregularly north-westward-between the basins of the Edinchat Burn (SW) and the Leonach and Rhilean Burns (NE), all flowing to the Findhorn-by Carn an t' Sean-liathanaich (SE, 2076; NW, 2056) and Carn Torr Mheadhoin (1761) to the Findhorn, which it reaches near the upper end of the Streens, midway between Polochaig and Ballcrochan. It turns up the river for 5 furlongs, and then strikes first N by W to the summit of Carn nan tri-tighearnan (2013 feet), and thence westward to the Dalriach Burn near its source. It follows the course of this stream for 1¼ mile to the bend where the burn turns to the S, and then pass NW to the top of Beinn na Buchanich, whence the course northward to the shore of the firth, 37/8 miles E of Ardersier Point at Fort George, is a series of most involved zig-zags too complicated to be here particularly described. The length of this main portion of the county is 17½ miles from the mouth of the Nairn on the N to Carn Glas on the S, and the mean breadth is about 11 miles. Of the detached portions, three are in the county of Elgin, one in the county of Inverness, and one in the county of Ross. Of those in the county of Elgin two are detached portions of the parish of Ardclach, and lie locally in the parish of Edinkillie. They are close together, near the centre of the eastern boundary of the main part of the county, and the nearest is distant from it about 1¼ mile. T his portion, which is 2 miles long from N to S, and ¾ mile wide, has an area of 749 acres. The second portion, ½ mile further to the E, is 4½ miles long from NW to SE, with an average breadth of about ¾ mile, and has an area of 2l19 acres. The third portion, which has an area of only 43½ acres, inclusive of water, is at Moy Carse, in the parish of Dyke, on the river Findhorn, about 1½ mile below Forres. The portion in Inverness-shire belongs to the parish of Daviot and Dunlichity, and is the largest of all, the area being 10, 568.652 acres. The centre of it is about 7½ miles of the month of the Foyers on Loch Ness, and 12½ miles from the nearest point of the main body of the county. The greatest length from N to S is 7½ miles, and the greatest breadth from E to W slightly over 5 miles. The portion in Rossshire embraces the barony of Ferintosh, and lies along the SE side of the Cromarty Firth, at the mouth of the Beauly. It measures 3½ miles from NE to SW, 3 miles across from NW to S, and is 10¼ miles from the nearest point of the main body of the county. The area is about 6000 acres. These detached portions have been included in Nairnshire since 1476, when William, Thane of Cawdor, had influence enough to have all his lands in the neighbouring counties included in the county of Nairn, where the main body of his estates lay. Ferintosh is the Gaelic Fearn-tosh, 'The Toishach's or Thane's land.' The total area of the county is 199.853 square miles, or 127, 905.784 acres, of which 124,967.612 are land, 920.087 water, 1987.770 foreshore, and 30.3l5 tidal water. Of the land area of 124, 967.612 acres- 26, 419 acres were under cultivation in 1883, and 13, 241 were under wood, while 2043 were under permanent pasture, and the rest was rough grazing, heath, and waste, there being a considerable amount devoted to grouse. Among the counties of Scotland Nairnshire is thirtieth as regards area, thirty-second as regards population, and thirty-third as regards valuation.

The first, second, and fourth detached sections are pieces of wild upland, but the others are fertile. Of the main portion of the county, the portion near the coast is part of the well-known 'laich of Moray.' It is fertile and well-wooded, and within 2 miles of the shore rises to an average height of from 70 to 80 feet above sea-level. Within the next 6 miles this rise is continued to a height of about 600 feet, and the whole district is under cultivation or covered with thriving woods. S of the 800 feet contour line the whole county is wild moorland, with an average height of from 1200 to 1500 feet, and having, besides the heights already mentioned, along the boundary the tops of Carn Maol (1000), Creag an Daimh (1180), Carn a Chrasgie (1314), Carn na Callich (1218), Beinn Bhuide Mhor (1797), Carn Sgumain (1370), Maol an Tailleir (1373), Carn na Sgubaich (1522), and Carn a Garbh glaic (1523). The drainage of the S and E is effected by the Findhorn and its tributaries. The Findhorn enters the county near the centre of the SW side, and flows across towards the NE, quitting it near Dounduff after a course of almost 19 miles. From the S it receives the Tomlachan, Leonach, and Rhilean Burns, which drain the extreme S of the county, but none of the other tributaries are of any great size or importance. The centre of the county is drained partly by the Muckle Burn-which, rising at Carn a Chrasgie, has a north-easterly course of about 16 miles ere it passes into Elginshire-and its tributaries the Blarandualt Burn (W) and the Lethen Burn (E); and partly by the Riereach Burn and Allt Dearg which rise in the SW, and, joining near Cawdor, flow to the river Nairn. The drainage on the W is carried off by the Nairn and by a small burn that flows into the sea 13/8 mile W of the mouth of the Nairn. The lochs are neither large nor important. In the NE corner, near the sea, and within ¼ mile of one another, are Loch Loy (11/8 x ¼ mile) and Cran Loch (3 x 1½ furl.); near the N W border is the Loch of the Clans (1½ x 1 furl.); and on the border, and partly in Inverness-shire, is Loch Flemington (1 mile x 1½ furl.); near the centre of the E side is Loch of Belivat (3 x 1 furl.); near tho centre of the county the Loch of Boath (2 x ½ furl.); and a portion of Lochan Tutach. None of the lochs are of importance for angling, and, except the Findhorn, the Nairn, and Cawdor Burn, none of the streams.

Geology.—The geological features of Nairn shire, though presenting no great variety, are nevertheless of considerable interest and importance. The rock formations occurring within the boundaries of the county may be classified as follows: 1. the stratified crystalline rocks with the associated granite masses; 2. the representatives of the lower and upper Old Red Sandstone; 3. the glacial, post-glacial, and recent deposits, which attain a remarkable development. The belt of low ground bordering the Moray Firth is occupied by members of the Old Red Sandstone, while the high-lying districts are composed of metamorphic and igneous rocks. Indeed the distribution of the rock formations in this county furnishes ample proof of the close relation between the superficial features and the geological structure.

In the tract lying between the basins of the Nairn and Findhorn, the stratified crystalline rocks are thrown into a great synclinal fold, the axis of which runs approximately from Dallaschyle southwards in the direction of Creag an Daimh. In the Riereach Burn, and in the streams which unite to form the Muckle Burn, the general inclination of the strata is towards the NW and WNW, but as we proceed towards the W boundary of the county we find that the same strata gradually swing round till the strike is nearly at right angles with its former course. This change in the strike of the beds, which is evidently due to an extensive fold, may be followed in the streams draining the W slope of Carn nan tritighearnan, and in the higher reaches of Alt Dearg. There is little variety in the lithological character of the strata throughout the area just indicated, as they consist for the most part of grey micaceous flaggy gneiss, thin bedded mica schists, and bands of micaceous quartzite. In the centre of the synclinal fold, however, between Dallaschyle and Creag an Daimh, the flaggy gneiss is overlaid by a more massive series, in which the foliation is not so well marked, and the mica is not so abundantly developed. The latter might be regarded as micaceous quartzites shading into incipient gneiss. Far up on the N slope of Carn nan tri-tighearnan there is an interesting band of porphyritic gneiss, containing large crystals of felspar, round which the quartz, felspar, and mica curve in irregular folia. In general character this rock resembles the well-known bands of porphyritic gneiss in Banffshire. out the area occupied by these stratified rocks there are numerous veins of granite, diorite, and amphibolite. The best example of the last occurs near Rehiran, about 3 miles SW of Cawdor, the chief constituent being hornblende, which is associated with a small quantity of mica and felspar.

There are three masses of granite within the limits of the county. Of these by far the largest is situated along the E boundary, extending from Lethen Bar Hill S by Ardclach and Glenferness to the Bridge of Dulsie, a distance of 6 miles. The second area lies along the W border, between Ben nan Cragan and Ben Buidhe Mhor; while the third extends from Rait Castle E to near Kinsteary. Though of limited extent, the last of these granite masses is of considerable commercial value, as the rock forms an admirable building stone, and when polished presents a beautiful appearance. The beauty of the rock is due to the presence of large crystals of pink orthoclase felspar, which are developed porphyritically in the midst of the quartz, felspar, and mica. Indeed the lithological character of the rock is so distinct that boulders of it can be detected in the superficial deposits, far to the E, in the low grounds of Elgin and Banffshire.

The relations between these ancient crystalline rocks and the overlying strata of Old Red Sandstone age clearly show that the old land surface must have undergone considerable denudation prior to Old Red times. Not only do the breccias rest on a highly eroded platform; they frequently fill up considerable hollows in the metamorphic series. Even at that far off time, there must have been hollows or valleys between Dallaschyle and the Hill of Urchany, and between the latter hill and Lethen Bar, but there is no evidence pointing to the conclusion that the valleys of the Findhorn and Nairn were excavated at that ancient date. Beginning first with the lower Old Red Sandstone strata, it is observable that the inland boundary, when followed from Lethen Bar W to the valley of the Nairn at Cantray, maintains a sinuous course. From Lethen Bar the boundary line sweeps in a great curve by Littlemill and the Wine Well round the N margin of the granite of Park. From the latter point it stretches SW by Little Urchany to the ravines S- of Cawdor, where it forms a similar curve to that described, thence winding round the ridge of gneiss at Dallaschyle to the S slope of the valley of the Nairn. The general succession of the strata belonging to the lower division is remarkably uniform in different parts of the county; the chief variation being due to the irregular thickness of the basement breccias. Resting unconformably on the gneiss, and forming the lowest member of the series, we find a coarse breccia, which is composed of angular and subangular fragments of the underlying rocks. Though the dominant ingredients consist of gneiss and quartzite, it is of importance to note that the breccia at certain localities is largely made up of granitic detritus. On the NW slope of the Lethen Bar Hill, and again in the valley of the Nairn near Cantray, numerous blocks of granite are met with in the basal beds which have been derived from the adjacent granite masses. It is obvious therefore that the latter must have been exposed to denudation ere the lowest beds of the Old Red Sandstone in this county were deposited on the sea floor. By far the best section of the basal breccias and conglomerates is exposed in the ravine S of Cawdor, where the Riereach Burn has cut a narrow gorge through them. From their development at this locality there can be little doubt that they fill a bay in the ancient coast-line, a supposition which gains support from the fact that the basement breccia thins away to a few feet against the projecting spurs of gneiss at Rait Castle and Dallaschyle. The strata just described are succeeded by the well-known fish bed, which forms such an important horizon in the Moray Firth basin. At certain localities thin reddish sandstones are intercalated between the breccias and the fish bed. The latter presents the features so characteristic of this important zone, the fish-remains occurring in the heart of limestone nodules, while the nodules are embedded in soft clays or shales. At several localities it has proved highly fossiliferous. Of these, perhaps the most celebrated within the county is Lethen Bar, where numerous ichthyolites have been obtained in a fine state of preservation. The old quarry where the limestone was formerly wrought is now covered up, but by making a series of trenches through the boulder clay in the farm of Brevail it is still possible to exhume excellent specimens. On the farm of Clune, close by Brevail, fossils have also been met with in the fish bed. The following species, among others, have been gathered from these localities: Pterichthys Milleri (Ag.), P. cornutus (Ag.), P. oblongus (Ag.), P. productus (Ag.), Coccosteus oblongus (Ag.), Diplacanthus striatulus (Ag.), Cheirolepis Cummingiœ (Ag.), Osteolepis major (Ag.), Glyptolepis leptopterus (ag.).

The fish bed caps the NW slope of Lethen Bar Hill, and is isolated from the outcrop on the N bank of the Muckle Burn, near Lethen House. This stream has cut down to the basal conglomerate underlying the fish bed, and displays excellent sections of the breccias between Fleenasgael and Burnside. To the W of the projecting spur of gneiss and granite at Rait Castle and Park the clays with the fossiliferous limestone nodules reappear at Knockloan about 3 miles S of Nairn, while in the valley of the Nairn they are to be met with on the N bank of the river between Cantray and the W boundary of the county. Owing to the vast accumulation of superficial deposits in the low-lying parts of Nairnshire there is no continuous section of the strata which succeed the fish bed. From the various exposures, however, it is evident that the general character of the beds is widely different from the massive sandstones of the upper division. They consist of fissile micaceous shales, which are frequently charged with beautiful specimens of psilophyton, grey grits and sandstones, well-bedded flagstones and shales. Indeed the general order of succession of the lower Old Red Sandstone in Nairnshire closely resembles that in the adjacent portions of Inverness-shire.

To the S of the main boundary line of the lower division there are two small outliers of coarse conglomerates and sandstones, which evidently belong to the same series. One of these occurs in the Muckle Burn near Highland Boath, while the other is met with in the Findhorn basin near Drynachan Lodge. The former rests unconformably on the ancient crystalline rocks, while the latter is brought into contact with them by two parallel faults. Though they are now completely isolated from each other as well as from the main area, they clearly indicate the original extension of the members of the lower division far up the slopes of the Highland hills.

An interesting feature connected with this formation in Nairnshire is the evidence of an unconformity between the upper and lower divisions of the system. Attention has already been directed (see vol. iii., p. 586, Ord. Gaz.) to the magnificent section of the upper Old Red Sandstone in the Findhorn N of Sluie. The strata present the same characters in the Muckle Burn between arlsmill and Whitemire and along the shore at Nairn. Grey and reddish grey false-bedded sandstones, with bands of fine conglomerate and thin seams of red clays or shales, follow each other with little variation. The sandstones frequently contain pellets or nodules of green clays, which decompose readily under atmospheric agencies. These beds have been largely quarried in the neighbourhood of Nairn, and various old quarry holes are to be seen along the ancient coast-line bounding the 25-feet terrace. Numerous plates of Pterichthys major have been obtained from these sandstones in the Kingsteps and Seabank quarries at Nairn. The great divergence in lithological character and organic contents between the members of the upper and lower divisions in this county was first detected by Dr Malcolmson, and the unconformity between the two divisions has been recently demonstrated by Dr Archibald Geikie. From the manner in which the sandstones of the upper division steal across the edges of the lower Old Red strata as we pass from the town of Nairn towards the Muckle Burn at Glenshiel, it is evident that there is a gradual overlap of the oneseries on the other. Near the latter locality the upper Old Red Sandstone rests on the oldest members of the lower division, while still further E, in the Findhorn section, the former rests directly on the ancient crystalline rocks. It follows therefore that during the interval which elapsed between the lower and upper divisions of this formation the members of the lower Old Red Sandstone must have undergone considerable denudation.

Between the Old Red Sandstone period and glacial times there is a gap in the geological record of the district. If any of the secondary formations were ever deposited in the low grounds of the county they have been completely removed by denudation. The superficial deposits of glacial and post-glacial age are splendidly developed in the lower districts; indeed, owing to this fact, few glaciated surfaces are exposed by means of which the direction of the ice-flow can be determined. At the granite quarry near Newton of Park an admirable example is seen of a striated surface, the striæ pointing E and a few degrees S of E. Along the W border of the county, between the Nairn valley and the coast-line, the ice markings trend to the N of E. When these facts are viewed in connection with the evidence supplied by the adjacent counties of Inverness and Elgin, it is apparent that the ice issuing from the Great Glen towards the Moray Firth moved first of all in an EN E direction, and was gradually deflected towards the and SE on approaching the plains of Nairn and Moray. In certain parts of the county there are two distinct boulder clays, which are separated by an important series of inter-glacial sands, gravels, and finely laminated clays. The older of the two boulder clays is usually more tenacious than that which overlies the inter-glacial beds, and the stones are generally more distinctly grooved. Admirable sections showing the order of succession of this glacial series are exposed in the streams draining the Cawdor moors. An examination of the stones embedded in the boulder clays shows that even in the areas occupied by the gneiss striated blocks of red sandstone occur in considerable abundance, thus indicating that the ice was compelled to move E along the slopes of the hills, bearing along with it the detritus from the Old Red Sandstone tracts to the areas occupied by the metamorphic series. In the valley of the Nairn, at Clava, Mr Fraser, C.E., Inverness, has obtained marine shells from fine blue clay belonging to this inter-glacial series. The upper part of the section is composed of yellowish boulder clay, consisting of gravel, sand, and stones, with a mixture of clay, which reaches a depth of 45 feet. About 20 feet of sand underlies the boulder clay, and below the fine sand the shelly clay is met with, the bottom of which has not been pierced. A few smooth stones occur in the shelly clay, but they are not so numerous as in ordinary boulder clay. Indeed, from the nature of the deposit, as well as from the state of preservation of the shells, it is evident that these stratified sands and clays indicate a depression of the land in inter-glacial times. The height of the shelly clay is about 500 feet above the present sea-level, so that the submergence must have equalled, if it did not exceed, this amount. The following shells were noted from this section: Littorina litorea, Leda pernula, Natica Groenlandica, Pleurotoma turricula, Nucula tenuis, Tellina Balthica, Cardium edule, Astarte eompressa, Buccinum undatum, etc. The clays also yielded a considerable number of species of Foraminifera.

Resting on the upper boulder clay there is a great development of morainic gravels on the moory ground between the basins of the Nairn and Findhorn; sometimes forming long sinuous ridges upwards of ¼ mile in length, which enclose shallow lochans or patches of peat. By far the most interesting development of the kamiform series occurs on the low ground between Nairn and the W boundary of the county. Beginning at Meikle Kildrummie this prominent ridge of sand and shingle is traceable W to Loch Flemington, a distance of 3 miles. At the former locality the height of the kames is about 100 feet above the sea-level, and towards the W limit they rise to the level of 140 feet. This long kame forms a prominent feature on the broad platform of sand and gravel to the S of the railway between Nairn and Fort George. It stands indeed at the edge of the belt of fertile ground formed by the 100-feet terrace. In addition to this ancient terrace there are remains of the 50-feet beach to the E of the town of Nairn, though of limited extent. But along the shores of the firth between Fort George and the mouth of the Findhorn the 25-feet terrace is well developed, though covered to a considerable extent by vast accumulations of blown sand. The inland cliff, consisting of stratified sands, gravel, and clay, resting on boulder clay, which marks the border of this ancient beach, is easily followed from Fort George to Loch Loy. The terrace is of variable breadth, sometimes measuring only 200 yards from the present coast-line, sometimes 2½ miles across. One of the most interesting features connected with this sea beach is the great development of sand drift on its surface, particularly in the neighbourhood of Culbin. Formerly one of the most fertile tracts in the province of Moray, where stood the mansionhouse of Culbin among richly cultivated fields and homesteads, the area occupied by the Culbin sandhills is now but a desert waste, whose contour is changed by every wind that blows. The invasion of the sand-drift took place in 1694, and so effectual was the inroad that only a small portion of the estate escaped, which was buried by succeeding storms. Various interesting relics are now and again picked up where the drifting of the sand has laid bare part of the old cultivated land. These consist of coins and farm implements, but numerous flint arrow heads belonging to neolithic times are also met with in isolated heaps. A considerable development of sand dunes rests on the 25-feet beach near Fort George, but to the E of the town of Nairn, between Loch Loy and the mouth of the Findhorn, the features which they present are worthy of special note. The Maviston Sandhills, which lie about 4 miles to the E of Nairn, consist of two prominent dome-shaped masses of sand-the one lying to the E of the other-which are partly surrounded by small conical heaps of sand. Each of these sand domes slopes gently to the W at an angle of 5o, while at the limit the angle of inclination is between 30o and 40o. Beyond the county boundary the extensive forest named the Low Wood covers the plain of the 25-feet beach, which is dotted at intervals with minor accumulations of blown sand. To the of this plantation lies the tract of the Culbin Sands, measuring about 3 miles in length and about 2 miles in breadth. The centre of the area is occupied by a succession of great ridges of sand upwards of 100 feet high, sloping towards the W at a gentle angle of a few degrees and with a much higher inclination towards the. These dome-shaped accumulations are surrounded by conical heaps and ridges trending from WSW to NE, and varying in height from 10 to 30 feet. The surface of the great domes as well as the minor heaps are beautifully ripple-marked by the wind, and sections of the mounds display excellent examples of false bedding. With reference to the question of their origin the following explanation has recently been given:' There is a combination of circumstances in that district favourable to their formation. The Findhorn carries an enormous quantity of sand at present to the sea every year, and this denudation must have proceeded steadily since glacial times. When this sediment is discharged into the sea, it is borne W and SW by the currents along the shore, and is eventually deposited on the shelving beach by tidal action. It is then caught up by the winds and borne inland in an E direction. But in addition to this it is highly probable that the prevalent W winds caught up the deposits of sand belonging to the 100-feet beach and swept them onwards in the direction of the Culbin area. Viewed in this light these sandhills give us some idea of the enormous denudation which is constantly going on over the surface of the land. 'The course of the Findhorn at its month was changed after the advance of the Culbin Sands. Formerly it flowed W from Binsness for a distance of 3 miles and joined the sea at the old bar, but owing probably to the sand drift it was compelled to flow N into the sea.

Soils and Agriculture.—The soil in the eastern part of the 'laich' is a rich free loam, overlying sand or gravel, and in the western part is in some places a stiff strong clay, in others a sharp mould inclining to gravel. In the uplands the arable lands are haughs along the valleys of the streams, or light stony, or sandy, soil on the slopes and braes. The arable land is mostly in the coast and centre district, and the proportion fit for cultivation found among the uplands and mountains is less than in most other counties. Great improvement has taken place during the present century. The acreages under the various crops at different dates are given in the following tables:—

Grain Crops.—Acres.

Year. Wheat. Barley or Bere. Oats. Total.
1854, . . 1714½ 3130½ 7752¾ 12,597¾
1870, . . 266 2237 6089 8,592
1877, . . 91 2701 6045 8,837
1883, . . 35 3099 5897 9,031

Grass, Root Crops, etc.—Acres.

Year. Hay, Grass, and Permanent Pasture. Turnips Potatoes.
1854, . . .. 4467 1542
1867, . . 10,694 3893 666
1877, . . 11,758 4085 785
1883, . . 12,418 4133 572

while there are about 300 acres on an average annually under beans, rye, vetches, fallow, etc. The permanent pasture not broken up in rotation is a little over 2000 acres. There has been, as in most of the other northern counties, a very great decrease in the area under wheat, and if the return for 1854 be correct, there has within the last 30 years been a decrease of 3000 acres in the area under cultivation. The farms are mostly worked on the five shift system, and the average yield of wheat per acre is 28 bushels; barley, 32 to 40 bushels; oats, 28 to 40 bushels; turnips, from 12 to 20 tons; and potatoes, from 4 to 5 tons, but the latter two are very variable.

The agricultural live stock in the county at different dates is shown in the following table:—

Year. Cattle. Horses. Sheep. Pigs.
1854, . . 8304 1826 28,230 1489
1870, . . 5506 1123 17,278 733
1877, . . 6513 1247 16,917 932
1883, . . 5676 1292 16,799 926

The early returns seem again faulty. Not much attention is given to the breeding of pure stock, and the cattle are mostly crosses. The sheep in the lowlands are mostly Leicesters, though Cheviots are also kept; those in the uplands are blackfaced. The farms are generally held on leases of 19 years. There were in the county, in 1881, 259 farmers employing 354 men, 90 boys, 67 women, and 147 girls. There were at the same time 31 farms under 15 acres, 55 between 15 and 50 acres, 59 between 50 and 100 acres, 92 between 100 and 500 acres, and 21 of larger size. There are in the parishes of Ardclach, Auldearn, Cawdor, and Nairn, 15 proprietors holding each an annual value of £500 or upwards, 23 holding each between £500 and £100, 30 holding each between £100 and £50, and 63 holding each between £50 and £20. The principal mansions, most of which are separately noticed, are Achareidh, Boath, Cawdor Castle, Coulmony, Delnies House, Fir Hall, Geddes House, Glenferness House, Househill, Ivybank, Kilravock Castle, Kinsteary, Lethen House, Millbank, Nairngrove, Nairnside, Newton, and Viewfield. Manufactures there are practically none, except at Brackla Distillery, 3¾ miles SW of the town of Nairn; and besides agriculture, and those connected with the town and the coast fishings, the only industries are the sandstone and granite quarries-the latter at Kinsteary, opened up in 1872.

Roads, etc.—The Perth and Forres section of the Highland railway touches the E border of the first detached section described, and the Forres and Inverness section of the same system traverses the whole main part of the county from E to W near the coast for a distance of 8½ miles. The main coast road from Inverness to Aberdeen passes along near the line of railway from the town of Nairn; a good road strikes south-westward to Croy, and another south-eastward by Bridge of Logie (Findhorn) to the road from Forres to Grantown. From a point 1 mile S of Bridge of Logie a branch goes off to the NE and joins the Forres road, while another passes S by W to Duthil. General Wade's military road from the Highland road to Fort George enters the county ½ mile W by S of Lochan Tutach, and, crossing the Findhorn at Dulsie, passes through the centre of the county in a north-westerly direction till it enters Inverness-shire, 1 furlong SE of Fort George railway station. There are also a large number of good district roads.

The only royal or police burgh is Nairn; the only burgh of barony or village with more than 300 inhabitants is Auldearn; and the principal smaller villages are Cawdor, Delnies, and Newton. The civil county comprises the three entire quoad civilia parishes of Nairn, Auldearn, and Ardclach, the greater part of Cawdor (shared with Inverness-shire), and smaller portions of the parishes of Dyke (shared with Elginshire), Moy, Croy, Petty and Daviot (also shared with Inverness-shire), and Urquhart (shared with Ross-shire). The parishes of Ardclach, Auldearn, Cawdor, Croy, and Nairn are ecclesiastically in the presbytery of Nairn, in the synod of Moray; the portions of Daviot, Moy, and petty, in the presbytery of Inverness and the synod of Moray; the portion of Dyke, in the presbytery of Forres and the synod of Moray; and the part of Urquhart, in the presbytery of Dingwall, in the synod of Ross. Within the limits of the county there are 5 places of worship connected with the Established Church, 4 in connection with the Free Church, 1 in connection with the U.P. Church, 1 in connection with the Scottish Episcopal Church, 1 in connection with the English Episcopal Church, and 1 in connection with the Roman Catholic Church. In the year ending Sept. 1882 there were 16 schools (15 public), which, with accommodation for 2047 children, had 1590 on the rolls, and an average attendance of 1173. Their staff consisted of 20 certificated and 8 pupil teachers. Nairnshire, with a constituency of 300 in 1883-84, unites with Elgin in returning a member to serve in parliament. The county is governed by a lord-lieutenant, 13 deputy lientenants, and 31 justices of the peace. It forms a part of the sheriffdom of Inverness, Elgin, and Nairn, but there is now no resident sheriff-substitute, the office being conjoined with that of Elginshire. Ordinary and small debt courts are held at Nairn weekly on Friday during session; justice of peace courts are held as required; and quarter-sessions are held at Nairn on the first Tuesdays of March, May, and August, and on the last Tuesday of October. There is a police force of 7 men (1 to each 1493 of the population) under a chief constable, with a salary of £135 a year. In 1883 the number of persons tried at the instance of the police was 109, convicted 99, committed for trial 5, not dealt with 38. The number of registered poor on the roll at 14 May 1883 was 273, and of casual poor 43. The expenditure for Poor Law purposes in the same year was £2641. The Poor-law combination has been noticed under the parish of Nairn. The proportion of illegitimate births averages about 10 per cent. The death-rate averages about 13 per thousand. Valuation (1674) £1264, (1815) £14,902, (1849) £20,156, (1862) £25, 982, (1884) £37,143, of which £2085 is for the railway. Pop. of registration county, which takes in the part of Croy in Inverness-shire, but gives off all the other portions of parishes, (1871) 8372, (1881) 8847; of civil county (1801) 8322, (1811) 8496, (1821) 9286, (1831) 9354, (1841) 9217, (1851) 9956, (1861) 10,065, (1871) 10, 225, (1881) 10,455, of whom 4979 were males, 5476 females, and 1980 Gaelic-speaking. In 1881 the number of persons to each square mile was 58, the number of families 2368, the number of houses 2094, and the number of rooms 8578. Of the whole population 1288 men and 237 women were, in 1881, engaged in occupations connected with farming and fishing, of whom 950 men and 128 women were connected with farming alone, while 992 men and 212 women were engaged in industrial occupations; and there were 1435 boys and 1463 girls of school age.

The county of Nairn seems to have been separated from Inverness in the second half of the 13th century. Such separate history as the district has is noticed for general purposes in the article Moray and separate incidents; and the antiquities are noticed in the articles on the separate parishes, as well as in those on Culloden and Kilravock. During the clan period the 'laich' was held by the Earl of Moray, and the upper districts by the Mackintoshes. In the middle of the 17th century Nairnshire was celebrated for its witches, the place most infested with them being the neighbourhood of Auldearn. A crazy woman named Isobel Gowdie made, in 1662, a long confession of the delinquencies in this connection of herself and many others. She declared that the body was 'so numerous, that they were told off into squads and covines, as they were termed, to each of which were appointed two officers. One of these was called the Maiden of the Covine, and was usually like Tam o' Shanter's Nannie, a girl of personal attractions whom Satan placed beside himself, and treated with particular attention, which greatly provoked the spite of the old hags, who felt themselves insulted by the preference. When assembled they dug up graves 'to possess themselves of the dead bodies for the purpose of making charms and salves from the bones. They also metamorphosed themselves into different forms-crows, cats, and-hares, seeming to have been those most common-and rode on straws, beanstalks, and rushes, though seemingly more for their own pleasure than on business. Satan, according to poor Isobel's tale, proved but a hard master, scourging and beating them sometimes without mercy, but this notwithstanding they were always ready to obey his behests, and do all kind of harm to their neighbours, stealing their crops, shooting at them with elf-arrows, and forcing their mischievous way into all houses not fenced against them by vigil and prayer.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better