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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Lochindorb (Gael. loch - an - doirbh, ` the lake of trouble'), a loch in the county of Elgin, partly in the parish of Edinkillie, but mostly in the parish of Cromdale, and just touched on the W side ¾ mile from the N end by the county of Nairn. It is 2 miles in a straight line, or 3 miles by road, SW of Dava station on the Highland railway, and 6 miles in a straight line NNW of Grantown. It is 21/8 miles long from NNE to SSW, a little over 5/8 mile wide at the broadest part near the centre, and 3/16 mile wide, farther to the SW, at the narrowest part, where the county of Nairn touches the edge, and 24 feet deep at the deepest part. At the SSW end it receives the burns of Glentarroch and Feith a Mhor Fhir, and several other small burns flow into it at other points, while the surplus water is carried off by the Dorbock Burn, which flows out near the NNE and takes a northerly course to its junction with the Divie, and so to the Findhorn. The boundary line between Edinkillie and Cromdale passes in a straight line from the point where the Dorbock leaves the loch, to the W side at the narrowest part, just opposite the projection below Lochindorb Lodge. The hills about it, though of considerable height, lose a good deal of their effect in consequence of the height of the surface of the loch itself, which is 969 feet above sea-level, and the effect therefore is pretty rather than grand, particularly as there is very little wood. On the W the hills rise gently to a height of over 1000 feet; on the E a little more abruptly to Craig Tiribeg (1586) and Carn Ruigh na Caorach (1585); while to the NNE the Knock of Braemoray (1493) towers above the valley of the Dorbock. The loch is preserved, and the fishing is good, the trout weighing from ¼ to ½ lb. Near the N end was the old king's highway between Findhorn and Spey, which is mentioned as early as the time of Alexander II. in 1236. The historical associations of the loch are important, and are connected with the castle, the ruins of which still remain on a small island of about an acre in extent, ¾ mile from the NNE end of the lake, and 350 yards distant from its E side. The water round it is about 20 feet deep, and the island rises steeply and has almost its entire area covered by the castle. It is said to be artificial, for, according to the Old Statistical Account, ` great rafts or planks of oak, by the beating of the waters against the old walls, occasionally make their appearance;' and Mr James Brown, in his Round Table Club, says that an old gamekeeper in Elgin had once got his boat's anchor fixed among oak planks. The ruins at present consist of a wall about 21 feet high and 7 feet 8 inches thick, which forms an irregular quadrangle, with round towers with sloping bases at the four corners. The length of the quadrangle within walls is 180 feet, and the width 126. Round this, inside the walls, there had been houses all round, but of these no traces now remain. On the S side the foundations of the chapel, 40 feet long, 25 wide, and with walls 3 thick, may still be traced; while to the E is the square keep. When the Old Statistical Account was written in 1793, the whole of the towers were standing, though only one is now at all entire. There were then also traces of houses round the inside of the walls, and the principal entrance-a pointed arch with a portcullis-is described as very fine. The portcullis is said now to be at Cawdor Castle. The building is of the kind which, from the date of their erection, are known as `Edwardian,' of which other examples still remain in Scotland, at Bothwell, Dirleton, Kildrummy, and Caerlaverock. Tytler supposes that Edward I. merely added to the fortifications, but Taylor, in his Edward I. in the North of Scotland, probably rightly, thinks that the greater part of the building was erected by Edward's orders between 1303 and 1306. Prior to that, the castle, which was much smaller, and probably a mere hunting-seat, belonged to the Cumyns, Lords of Badenoch, to crush whose power Edward I. made his expedition to the N of Scotland in 1303. Edward arrived here on 25 Sept., and took up his residence in such castle as there then was, while his army encamped on the shore to the E. He remained here till 5 Oct., received the homage of many of the northern nobles, and during his intervals of leisure enjoyed the pleasures of the chase in the surrounding district, which, bare as it now is, was at that time covered with the woods of the royal forests of Leanich and Drummynd. Walsingham and John of London mention that, ` when he had leisure from war, he indulged in the hunting alike of birds and beasts, and more particularly of stags;' while Hardyng in his chronicle advises Edward IV. to take with him in the invasion of Scotland ` kennets and ratches, and seek out all the forests with hounds and horns, as King Edward with the Longshanks did.' After the fall of the English power, it seems to have remained a royal castle, probably in the keeping of the Earls of Moray, but during the minority of David II. it was held by the Earl of Athole for the English party, and after his defeat and death at Kilblane his wife-and some other ladies fled hither for refuge in 1335. The castle was at once besieged by Sir Andrew Murray, the regent, who had already won all the other northern strongholds for King David. The siege was carried on for some time, and traces of the works are still to be seen on the point nearest the castle, on the E side; but in 1336 Edward III. advanced with a large army, and compelled Murray to retreat. In 1342 we find the place used as a state prison, and in that year William Bulloch, a favourite of David II., and a deserter from the Baliol party, who was suspected of hankering after his old associates, was imprisoned here and died of cold and hunger. When John Dunbar was made Earl of Moray in 1372, Badenoch was excepted from the grant of lands, and the castle became the stronghold of the king's son, the well-known Wolfe of Badenoch, and was the place from which he made his descent on Forres and Elgin. When Archibald Douglas became Earl of Moray he strengthened the castle, and after his fall at Arkinholme in 1455, one of the reasons of his forfeiture, as set forth in the Act of Parliament, was ` pro munitione et fortificatione castrorum de Lochindorb et Tarnua contra Regem,' and when James II. passed north after this, he entrusted the Thane of Cawdor with the oversight of the destruction of the fortress, a work carried out at the expense of £24. After this time it again reverted to the Earls of Moray, who in 1606 sold it to an ancestor of the present Earl of Cawdor, and the Cawdor family about 1750 sold it to the Earl of Seafield, whose property it now is, though the Moray estate still reaches the banks of the loch.

See also Sir Thomas Dick Lauder's Wolfe of Badenoch (Edinb. 1827), and his Account of the Great moray Floods (Edinb. 1830); Taylor's Edward I. in the North of Scotland (Elgin, 1858); and chap. xx. of James Brown's Round Table Club (Elgin, 1873).

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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