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Parish of Knockando

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: Knockando
1834-45: Knockando

Knockando (Gael. cnoe-an-dubh, 'the black hill'), a parish near the middle of the south-eastern border of Elginshire, comprehending the ancient parishes of Knockando and Macallan (Gael. Ma Calen, 'St Colin'). The-former was anciently a vicarage of Inveravon and the latter of Bottarie. They were united from 1646 to 1683, and separate from 1683 to 1689, from which time they have been again united. It is bounded NE by Rothes, E and SE by Banffshire (where, at the extreme SE corner, for about 1 mile, the parish of Inveravon comes in below the mouth of the river Avon), S by Banffshire, SW by Cromdale, W by Edinkillie and by a detached portion of Nairnshire included in that parish, and NW by Dallas. The boundary along the whole of the SE and S for about 14 miles is the mid-bed of the river Spey, while along the greater part of the SW side, from near Lynemore north-westwards, it follows the course of the Allt a' Gheallaidh to Carn Kitty; elsewhere it is purely artificial. The greatest length in a straight line, from N of E to S of W, from below Craigellachie Bridge on the E to Carn Kitty on the W, is 12¼ miles; and the greatest breadth, from the point where Knockando, Dallas, and Rothes meet on the N to the Spey at Delnapot on the S, is 7¾ miles, and from this it tapers irregularly to both ends. The land area is 28,134 acres, of which probably less than 4000 acres are under tillage, and about the same amount under wood, while the rest of the parish is moorland. The surface is irregular, but the general inclination is towards the S, the ground sloping from the NE and NW borders to the river. Except for a short distance between Easter and Wester Elchies, near the E end of the parish, and at a few other places where there are alluvial patches, the river banks are steep and covered with trees, and rise rapidly to elevations of 439 feet above Craigellachie Bridge, 745 at Archiestown, 933 above Pitchroy, and 1001 at the Hill of Delnapot on the extreme S. From these last the heights rise on the SW and W by James Roy's Cairn (1691 feet), to Carn Kitty (1711), and thence pass eastward by Carn Shalag (1543), the Hill of Slackmore (1166), Clune (1035), Carn na Cailleichie (1313), across the shoulder of the Mannoch Hill (1013), and so by the Hill of Stob (1009) and the shoulder of Hunt Hill back to the high ground above Craigellachie Bridge. The hills are smooth and rounded, and by no means picturesque, but the wooded portions along the Spey at Easter Elchies, Wester Elchies, Knockando House, and Pitchroy are very pretty. The parish is drained on the SW by the Allt a' Gheallaidh already mentioned; in the centre by the Allt Arder, the Burn of Knockando, and the Burn of Ballintomb, which all enter the Spey to the S of the church; and in the E by some smaller streams. Between Carn Kitty and Clune on the NW border of the parish are the small loch of Little Benshalag and Loch of the Cowlatt. During the great floods of 1829 the burns of Allt a' Gheallaidh and Knockando, as well as the river Spey, did a great amount of mischief. The first carried away the corn-mill and saw-mill at Pitchroy at the S corner of the parish; and the bench of the saw-mill, 11½ feet long, 4½ broad, and 3½ high, containing two circular saws and with 112 pounds of iron attached to it, was carried down the Spey for nearly 13 miles. The Knockando Burn carried away a carding-mill, a meal-mill, and several houses, all situated below the church. 'After the flood,' says Sir Thomas Dick Lauder in his Account of the Great Floods of August 1829, ` the prospect here was melancholy. The burn that formerly wound through the beautiful haugh above the promontory, had cut a channel as broad as that of the Spey from one end of it to the other. The whole wood was gone; the carding-mill had disappeared, the miller's house was in ruins, and the banks below were strewed with pales, gates. bridges, rafts, engines, wool, yarn, and half-woven webs, all utterly destroyed. A new road was recently made in this parish, and all the 'burns were substantially bridged; but with the exception of one arch, all yielded to the pressure of the flood.' Before 1829 the Allt Arder had a high fall about 300 yards from the junction with the Spey, but then it changed its course, and in one night cut out a ravine about 60 feet deep and 300 feet wide at the top. The respect still entertained for its powers is shown- by the enormous disproportion between the small stream and the viaduct-consisting of two iron girder spans of 40 feet and one of 50 feet-that carries the Speyside railway some 50 feet above. There is excellent trout and salmon fishing in the Spey, and the larger burns contain trout. The soil near the Spey is light, but on the higher ground there is a black gravelly loam or heavy clay passing as it approaches the moors into moss, a good deal of which is still improvable. The underlying rocks are granite and schists. The only village is Archiestown near the E end of the parish, 3½ miles from Craigellachie Bridge, 3 NW of Aberlour station, and 2 S by E of Carron station, both on the Speyside section of the Great North of Scotland railway. Archiestown was founded in 1760 by Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk, on an open moor, called the Moor of Ballintomb, and though it did not at first thrive, and was almost entirely destroyed by an accidental fire in 1783, it is now an average country village. There is a post office under Craigellachie, which is the telegraph and money order office. The parish church is 3 miles to the W of Archiestown, and almost midway between the eastern and western limits. It is a long narrow building with outside stairs to the galleries, and the rising-ground on which it stands commands a wide and good view. Built in 1757, almost on the same site as the old one, it has since been twice repaired, and contains 477 sittings.

In the churchyard are three sculptured slabs said to have been brought thither over 50 years ago from an old burying-ground called Puhrenan, on the bank of the Spey, below Knockando House. They have been figured in the Spalding Club, Sculptured Stones of Scotland, vol. ii., plate cv. One of them has an inscription in runes. There is another small burying-ground, that of the old parish of Macallan, at Easter Elchies, where there was a church which became r vinous about 1760. The Easter Elchies burial-aisle still remains. A small mission church in the Elchies district, in the E end of the parish, with 250 sittings, was built in 1873-74 at a cost of £828; and there are also a Free church and a U.P. church. There is a good road running through the whole length of the parish, in a direction more or less nearly parallel to the Spey, and from this a good road branches off a little to the N of the church, and passes over the moors to Dallas. The Speyside section of the Great North of Scotland Railway system enters the parish at Carron, near the middle of the SE border, and runs parallel to, and close to, the Spey for 6 miles, till it crosses the river and returns into Banffshire at the S corner at Delnapot. The mansions are Easter Elchies, Wester Elchies, Laggan House, and Knockando House, all close to the Spey. Easter Elchies now belongs to the Earl of Seafield, and is a plain building with a corner turret. It belonged to Patrick Grant, Lord Elchies, Judge of Session (1690-1754), who took his title from it, and from whose time the original building dates, but it was almost entirely rebuilt in 1857. His son, Baron Grant, sold it to the Earl of Findlater, from whom it passed by inheritance to the Seafields. There are good gardens adjoining the house. Wester Elchies, about 2 miles farther W, is of various dates, part of it being a fragment of an old fortalice. In the entrance hall are two chairs from the old castle of Rothes, and in the grounds are several sculptured stones from an ancient Hindu temple at Ghur. Close by the house is an observatory erected by J. W. Grant, Esq., father of the present proprietor, who held the estate from 1828 to 1865. On either side of the doorway is a sphinx, and above is the inscription, 'He made the stars -also.' It used formerly to contain a giant telescope, the trophy of the Exhibition of 1851. The site of the mansion is picturesque, and the grounds well wooded. The present owner is Henry Alexander Grant, Esq. (b. 1827; suc. 1877), who holds 20, 462 acres in Elgin and 4212 in Banffshire, valued at £4941 and £1285 per annum. Farther W, on the same estate, are Laggan House and Knockando. House. The former is a building of 1861, in the old Scottish style, with walls of red brick and granite and freestone facings. The latter is a plain two-story building, dating from 1732. In the extreme E end of the parish is the rock of Lower Craigellachie, which marks the eastern end of the former domains of Clan Grant; Upper Craigellachie, which marked the western end, being near Aviemore. On the Spey, a little above the mouth of the Knockando Burn, is the famous rock of Tomdow, which is very dangerous for floats of timber passing down the river, and where in heavy floods the rush and roar of water is terrific, it being said locally that 'Spey turns up the white o' her een after she gets a drink in Badenoch.' At Dellagyle is a cave that afforded shelter to the well-known cateran James-aTuam (one of the Grants of Carron), who figures prominently in Spalding's History of the Trubles in Scotland, and it is also traditionally associated with the equally notorious Macpherson of Macpherson's Rant (See Banff). There is a fragment of an old stone circle, and names indicating the sites of one or two religious houses. The people are engaged in agriculture, the only other industries being a distillery near Easter Elchies, and another near Knockando House. The Messrs Grant of Manchester, who are said to have been the prototypes of Dickens' Brothers Cheeryble in Nicholas Nickleby, were born in this parish. Knockando is in the presbytery of Aberlour and the synod of Moray, and the living is worth £199. Four schools -Archiestown, Elchies, Kirdels female, and Knockando -with accommodation respectively for 90, 150, 69, and 136 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 47. 49, 29, and v97, and grants of £42, 12s., £42, 16s. 6d., £24, 2s., and £93, 6s. 6d. Valuation (1860) £5176, (1883) £7860, 1s., of which H. A. Grant, Esq., held £4793 and the Earl of Seafield £1220. Pop. (1755) 1267, (1801) 1432, (1841) 1676, (1871) 1909, (1881) 1838.—Ord. Sur., sh. 85, 1876. For an account of thee Wester Elchies Observatory, see Good Words for 1862.

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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