Parish of Rathven

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: Rathven
1834-45: Rathven

Rathven, a coast parish of NW Banffshire, containing the town of Buckie, part of the royal burgh of Cullen, and the four fishing villages of Portknockie, Findochty, Portessie, and Port Gordon, all of which are noticed separately. A fifth, the pretty little village of Ianston, between Buckie and Portessie, has risen up since 1879, and, owing to its situation, will become an important place. The parish is bounded NW by the Moray Firth, NE by Cullen Bay, E by Cullen, SE by Deskford and Keith, and W by Bellie. Its utmost length, from ENE to WSW, is 8¼ miles; its breadth diminishes eastward from 53/8 to 3 miles; and its area is 364/5 square miles or 23, 551 acres, of which 401/3 are water and 345 foreshore. The coast-line, 9½ miles in extent, is little indented by bay or headland, but rises steeply from the sea to 87 feet near Port Gordon, 75 at Buckie Newtown, 116 at the Law Hillock, and 177 near Portknockie. Three caverns of unknown extent bear the name of Farskane's, Janet Corstair's, and Cross Caves. The Burn of Tynet runs 5½ miles north-bywestward along most of the western, and the Burn of Deskford, 23/8 miles north-north-westward along all the eastern, boundary; whilst several rapid rivulets drain the interior to the Moray Firth. That part of the parish between the shore and the road from Cullen to Fochabers attains a maximum altitude of only 271 feet at a point 7 furlongs SSE of Findochty; but the rest of the surface is very hilly, from E to W attaining 802 feet at the Little Bin, 1050 at the wooded, cairn' crowned Bin Hill of Cullen, 900 at the Hill of Maud, 893 at Addie Hill, 948 at the hill of Stonyslacks, and 987 at Millstone Hill. A very pure quartzy rock is found in the Bin; metamorphic rocks, including gneiss, mica slate, clay slate, and other schists, prevail along the coast; greywacke alternates in some parts with the mica slate and the clay slate; Old Red sandstone occurs in the NE, and goes into conjunction with greywacke; limestone has been worked at Nether Buckie; and a beautiful whitish sand, said to be almost equal to the finest found in Holland, is plentiful near Litchieston. Medicinal springs, formerly held in high repute, are in three places; and springs of pure water are numerous, copious, and perennial. The soil, in one corner a light and extremely rich loam incumbent on clay, in another corner a thin yet fertile loam on a soft red subsoil, elsewhere alternates between a light sand and a stiffish clay; and almost everywhere, except in the sandy places, is profusely strewn and intermixed with small boulders. Less than one-third of the entire area is in tillage; rather more than 4000 acres are under wood; about 400 are meadow and grass land; and the rest of the parish is either pastoral or waste. Antiquities are a number of cairns on the heights of Corriedown; many tumuli on the field of the Battle of the Bauds;* a portion of Findochty Castle on Mains of Findochty farm; the ruins of Green and Tronach Castles near Portknockie; and remains of a pre-Reformation chapel near Farskane. Two wings still standing of the old mansion of Rannas are occupied by a farmer. The Rev. Alexander Geddes, LL.D. (l737-1802), an eccentric Roman Catholic divine, was born of crofter parents at Pathhead, which was also the birthplace of Alexander Paterson (17661831), Roman Catholic Bishop of Edinburgh. The parish is traversed by a branch of the Highland railway from Keith to Buckie, and by one of the Great North of Scotland railway from Elgin to Portsoy-both commenced in 1883. At Inchgower, 1¼ mile from Buckie, is the large distillery of J. Wilson & Co. Mansions, noticed separately, are Letterfourie, Cairnfield, and Tannachy; and 5 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards. Including all Buckie and Seafield quoad sacra parishes and most of Enzie, this parish is in the presbytery of Fordyce and the synod of Aberdeen; the victual stipend is 22 chalders, with a glebe worth £14. The parish church, ¾ mile SSE of Portessie, was built in 1794, and contains 1000 sittings. At Preshome, 3 miles SSE of Port-Gordon, is St Gregory's Roman Catholic church (1789; 450 sittings); and other places of worship are noticed under Buckie, Enzie, and Portknockie. Besides the three schools at Buckie, five public schools-Arradoul female, Findochty infant, Portknockie, Rathven, and Shielburn- with respective accommodation for 71, 100, 250, 300, and 60 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 48, 68, 187, 284, and 43, and grants of £46, 17s., £56, 18s., £157, 13s. 6d., £274, 8s. 10d., and £52, 12s. 6d. Valuation (1860) £13, 159, (1884) £28, 646. Pop. (1801) 3901, (1831) 6484, (1861) 8240, (1871) 10,199, (1881) 11,180, of whom 3229 were in the ecclesiastical parish of Rathven.—Ord. Sur., shs. 95, 96, 85, 86, 1876. See the Rev. Dr J. F. S. Gordon's Book of the Chronicles of Keith, Rathven, etc. (Glasg. 1880).

* The 'Battle of the Bauds' is said to have been fought in 962 between the Norwegians and Indulph, King of alban, who, after gaining a complete victory. himself was alain at ` Inverculen; ' but Dr Skene is inclined to believe that Indulph retired to the monastery of Kilrymont or St Andrews.

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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