Parish of Birnie

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: Birnie
1834-45: Birnie

Birnie (Brennack in 12th c.), a parish of Elginshire, containing the hamlet of Thomshill, 3½ miles S of its post-town and station, Elgin; and bounded N and NE by Elgin parish, SE by Rothes, W by Dallas and Elgin. In shape resembling a rude triangle, with eastward vertex at Netherglen, it has an extreme length from N to S of 61/8 miles, an extreme width from E to W of 3 miles, and a land area of 6777 acres. Lennoc Burn winds 4 miles along all the Dallas border to the Lossie, which here has a northerly course of 3½ miles, chiefly upon the western boundary with Elgin, and which here too is joined by Geddoch Burn from the SE. The surface has a general southward rise, from 100 feet or so above sea-level in the furthest north to 323 feet near Claypot, 614 near Hangingfolds, 630 near Glenlatterach, 907 on Mill Our, 902 on Hart Hill, 1164 on Pikey Hill, and 1095 on Red Taingy, these three last summits culminating on the south-eastern border. The rocks are gneissose in the S, Old Red sandstone in the N; and gravelly or sandy soils predominate, but rich alluvial loam and deep and retentive clay also occupy considerable tracts. About two-fifths of the whole area are under the plough, besides some 500 acres of plantations, the rest being mostly moss or heathery hill. Birnie is in the presbytery of Elgin and synod of Moray; the minister's income is £193. Its church, St Brandon's, stands near the Lossie, 1¼ mile NNW of Thomshill, and is one of the oldest in Scotland. A good example of Romanesque, though sadly modernised, it consists of chancel and nave, the former wanting an E window, the latter shortened to the W in 1794; while special features are the enriched chancel arch and jamh-shafts, a characteristic Norman font, and the ancient 'Coronach' or 'Ronnel' bell, made, it is said, of silver and copper at Rome, and blessed by the Pope himself. Here in 1184 was buried Simon de Tonci, fourth Bishop of Moray, Birnie, during the 12th century having been one of the seats of that bishopric, Spynie and Kenedor being the others. A public school, with accommodation for 144 children, had (1879) an average attendance of 83, and a grant of £86, 18s. Pop. (1801) 366, (1851) 427, (1871) 375, (1881) 367.—Ord. Sur., sh. 85, 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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