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Keith


Moray

A small agricultural town in Moray, Keith is situated at a crossing of the River Isla on the route from Aberdeen to Inverness. Keith was anciently associated with St. Maelrubha. King William I transferred the settlement and surrounding lands of Strathisla to the Abbey of Kinloss around 1177. The original settlement of Old Keith, which was used by the Abbots of Kinloss as a centre for agriculture and distilling, was rebuilt in the 1750s by the Earl of Findlater who laid out on moorland to the east the regularly-planned New Keith with its large central square (Reidhaven Square). Its three parallel streets - Moss Street, Mid Street and Land Street - are interconnected by a remarkable series of narrow lanes. A conservation area centred on Mid Street was designated in 1984. Built to a similar design, the village of Fife Keith on the opposite side of the river was created in 1817 by the Earl of Fife.

Until the 1750s the sole way of crossing the Isla was by the Auld Brig (1609) which survives close to the kirkyard of Old Keith. The Union Bridge was built in 1770 above a pool known as the Gaun's Pot where witches were drowned.

In the past, the manufacture of textiles was important to the local economy. Whisky is manufactured nearby at the Strathisla Distillery (1786), said to be the oldest working distillery in Scotland, and prominent amongst the town's buildings are the Milton Tower, built by the Ogilvies in 1480, and the Italianate St. Thomas' Roman Catholic Church (1831-32) which contains Francois Dubois' painting 'The Incredulity of St. Thomas' donated by King Charles X of France.

Keith Show is important on the agricultural calendar, held annually in August at Seafield Park. There is an 18-hole golf courses in Fife Keith.

The Skirmish of Keith took place between the Hanoverians and the Jacobites on the 20th March 1746.


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