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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Burghead, a promontory, a bay, a small town, and a quoad sacra parish, in Duffus parish, Elginshire. The promontory projects north-westward into the Moray Firth, measuring about 810 yards in length by 336 in breadth. It rises at first with very slight ascent from 28 feet above sea-level till it terminates in a round hill with altitude of 80 feet or upwards, and with a rocky precipitous sea-front. Upon this hill are vestiges of an ancient fortification-the borg most probably of Sigurd, Norwegian jarl of Orkney (c. 889). 'Hill Burton,' says Skene, 'in stating his disbelief in the genuineness of Richard of Cirencester, adds, among other things to be abandoned, "the celebrated Winged Camp; the Pteroton Stratopedon can no longer remain at Burghead, though a water-tank discovered there in 1809 has become a Roman bath to help in its identification." He is, however, mistaken in supposing that its identification rests upon Richard. Ptolemy is in reality the authority for Alata Castra, and its position on the Moray Firth. It is of course absurd to recognise Roman remains there at that early period, but there can be no question that the ramparts of a town of the Vacomagi are still to be seen on that headland, which by the Norsemen was afterwards called Torfnes' (Celt. Scot., 1876, vol. i., pp. 74, 336).-The bay is flanked, on one side by the promontory, on the other by a headland at the mouth of the Findhorn river; measures fully 4 miles across the entrance; penetrates the land to the distance of nearly 2½ miles from the entrance line; and has nearly a halfmoon form.-The town stands on the slope of the promontory, at the terminus of a branch of the Highland railway (1862), 5½ miles NNW of Alves Junction, 10¾ NW of Elgin, and 12½ NE of Forres. Laid out on a regular plan, with well-built and substantial houses, it is much frequented as a summer watering-place; carries on considerable commerce, an extensive herring fishery, and a limited salmon fishery; and has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, a branch of the Caledonian Bank, a public reading-room, a suite of baths, a coastguard station, a custom-house, a quoad sacra parish church, a Free church, and a U.P. church. The Morayshire Chemical Works, for the manufacture of artificial manures, was started in 1864; and boat-building and fish-curing are also carried on. The harbour, fronting westward or towards Cromarty, was begun in 1807, and completed in 1810; comprises a basin measuring 540 by 150 feet, with a sea-wall 240 feet long, extended in 1832 by a breakwater of 200 feet, and, besides serving for the local commerce, accommodates passage-vessels on a ferry to Sutherland, and receives calls of steamers plying between Leith and Inverness. The herring catch was 6600 crans in 1877, 1834 in 1878, 7900 in 1879, and 13,978 in 1880. a public school, with accommodation for 351 children, had (1879) an average attendance of 238, and a grant of £197,7s. The quoad sacra parish church was built as a chapel of ease about the year 1830. The quoad sacra parish was constituted in 1868, and is in the presbytery of Elgin and synod of Moray. Stipend, £120. Pop. of quoad sacra parish (1871) 1947; of town (1831) 749, (1861) 1099, (1871) 1308, (1881) 1472.—Ord. Sur., sh. 95,1876. See Chambers's Book of -Days (1864), for an account of the 'Dourie' or 'Clavie,' a relic of fireworship still kept up here on 12 Jan.; chap. xi. of Jas. Brown's Round Table Club (1873); and Arthur Mitchell's ' Vacation Notes in Cromar, Burghead, and Strathspey' (Procs. Soc. Ants. Scot., 1875).

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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