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Parish of Rafford

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.

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1791-99: Rafford
1834-45: Rafford

Rafford, a parish, containing a village of the same name, in the NW of Elginshire. It is bounded N by Kinloss parish, ESE by the parishes of Alves and Elgin, SE by the parish of Dallas, S and SW by the parish of Edinkillie, and W by the parish of Forres. The boundary on the SE and part of the S is formed by the Lochty or Black Burn and the Loch of Romach for a distance of over 5½ miles to the source of the burn. The Burn of Altyre also forms the boundary on the S border for about ¼ mile, and the Findhorn for about ¾ mile at the extreme W corner above the point where the parishes of Rafford, Edinkillie, and Forres meet in the centre of the river. Elsewhere the line is artificial. The shape of the parish is highly irregular, a long hornlike projection of the parish of Forres indenting the western side to a depth of 3½ miles, and almost separating a northern triangular portion from the rest. This triangular portion, comprising about a third of the whole area, is united to the more compact southern portion by a neck, ¾ mile wide, to the N of Bognie. The northern part is 3 miles from NNW to SSE, and 3 miles wide along the northern border; the southern part measures 3½ miles from N to S through the village of Rafford, and fully 6½ miles from the point where the parishes of Rafford, Edinkillie, and Forres meet on the Findhorn E by N to the point where the parishes of Elgin, Dallas, and Rafford meet on the Lochty. The total area is 12, 504.106 acres, of which 47.971 acres are water. The northern border is low, flat, and fertile, the centre undulating, and the S a rough upland reaching a height of 533 feet on the E side at the northern end of the road running NNW of Bognie, 731 at the middle of the same road, 833 at the top of Burgie Hill, and over 900, on the shoulder of Romach Hill on the southern border, at the source of the Lochty. The upper districts have fine views of the ` laich of Moray,' the Moray Firth, and the hills to the N of it. About 4000 acres in the centre and SW are under wood, and about as many under tillage, while the rest is mostly hill pasture or moorland. The soil along the N and centre is good strong clay or black mould; elsewhere it is clay, shallow black mould, sand, rough gravel on an almost impenetrable subsoil, or reclaimed moss. The underlying rocks are Silurian (S) and Old Red Sandstone (centre and N). A coarse grey slate in the former was once quarried, and a gritty sandstone in the latter is occasionally worked. The drainage in the N goes to a small stream that flows through Alves parish to Burghead Bay; in the SE it is carried off by the Lochty, and in the W by the streams flowing into the Altyre Burn, and that burn itself, which flows past Forres and into Findhorn Bay. On the southern border the whole of Romach Loch (7/8 mile long by 100 yards wide) is in the parish, as is also part of Loch of Blairs (3 x 2 furl.), the rest being in Forres. Both contain good trout, especially Loch of Blairs, where the fish weigh from ¼ to ¾ lb., and are red-fleshed, but they arc preserved. The parish is an old one, the church having been the prebend of the sub-chanter of the diocese of Moray; but the boundaries were altered in 1657, when a small portion was given off for the new parish of Kinloss, and again in 1659, when the pre-Reformation parish of Altyre was disjoined from Dallas and added to Rafford. Near the northern border the parish is traversed for 27/8 miles by the main road from Aberdeen to Inverness, and near the W side for 3 miles by the Forres and Perth section of the Highland Railway system, and by the road from Forres to Grantown. There are also a large number of good district roads. The principal residences are Altyre House and Burgie House, both of which are separately noticed. The whole district about Altyre House is beautifully wooded. The antiquities are Sueuo's Stone in the extreme NW of the parish, which has been noticed under Forres, and Burgie and Blervie Towers, which are separately noticed. Blervie is identified with the Ulern or Vlern, where, according to some of the chroniclers, Malcolm I. was slain in 954. The old name was Blare. Near the castle are the remains of a stone circle. The site of Altyre church is on the banks of Altyre Burn, ½ mile N of Altyre House. The only distinguished native was Dr Alexander Adam (1741-1809), a famous classical scholar and long rector of the High School of Edinburgh. The village is by road2½ miles SE of Forres, which is the nearest railway station. There is a post office under Forres, and a cattle market is held on the second Wednesday of November.

The parish is in the presbytery of Forres and the synod of Moray, and the living is worth £315 a year. The parish church, at the village, was built in 1826 after designs by Gillespie Graham, and is a good Gothic building containing 600 sittings. There is also a Free church. Under the school board are Rafford, Burgie, and Rafford female schools, which, with accommodation for 81, 50, and 61 pupils respectively, had in 1883 attendances of 38, 42, and 57, and grants of £32, 6s., £31, 15s., and £47, 15s. 6d. There are four landed proprietors-the lairds of Altyre, Blervie, and Burgie, and the Earl of Moray. Valuation (1860) £5543, (1884) £6786. Pop. (1801) 1030, (1831) 992, (1861) 1005, (1881) 1052.—Ord. Sur., shs. 85, 84, 1876.

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

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