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Statistical Accounts of Scotland

Old and New Statistical Accounts

Map of parishes in ElginSpeymouthUrquhartSt Andrews LhanbrydRothesBirnieElginSpynieDrainieDuffusAlvesRaffordForresDallasKnockandoEdinkillieKinlossBellieDyke and MoyRothiemurchisDuthilAbernethy and Kinchardine

Abernethy Duthil New Spinie
Alves Dyke & Moy Rafford
Bellie Edenkillie Rothes
Birnie Elgin Rothiemurchis
Dallas Forres St Andrews Lhanbryd
Drainie Kinloss Speymouth
Duffus Knockando Urquhart


The text below is mostly summaries with some extracts from the original text. The links are to Google Books, usually to the first item of interest rather than the first page of a parish. The NSA for Elginshire is volume 13. Some notes from MacFarlane's Geographical Collections (Volume I) have been added - these are useful as they date from the 1720's. See here for further information and links.

Additional information about parishes can be found on the Vision of Britain site and on Scotland's Places.
The maps are based on the OS Tourist Map of Lower Strathspey 1921 and quarter-inch OS map The Eastern Highlands, 1923. With thanks to Ordnance Survey. The overview map is from Black & Hall's map of Scotland, 1854, courtesy of David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. Their images are copyright Cartography Associates but have been made available under a Creative Commons license for non-commercial use.



Click for larger overview map
Map showing some features of interest mentioned in the Accounts. Not all roads are shown. Click for larger image. Based on Black & Hall's map of Scotland, 1854, courtesy of David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.

There are several references to the presence of the Romans in the area. Later work has confirmed a couple of the sites such as a camp at Bellie and disproved others though there is still a degree of uncertainty about one or two sites. There is no doubt that the Romans did campaign in the area though they may not have remained long enough to develop a road system. Antiquarian writers had proposed two roads: the one crossing Aberdenshire and Banffshire as far as the camp at Bellie; and one running from Braemar to Forres. The existence of these roads has not been confirmed by present day research.

Although there were roads in mediaeval times (mentioned in charters) and no doubt prior to that given that Moray was an important Pictish centre, the only ones mentioned are a causeway at Spynie revealed when the loch was drained and one in the same parish that formed a boundary between certain lands. There was also a very old road in Duffus that ran for three miles between Roseisle and Burghead which some thought Roman and others that it had been made by Cromwell's soldiers. Although not mentioned in the Elgin accounts there is reference to a very old bridge at the Boat of Bridge in Boharm parish (bordering with Rothes parish) that some had thought Roman and was at least mediaeval in date.

As always, bridges were important in the early days and there are frequent mentions of these or the lack of them. A number were destroyed or damaged in the floods of 1829. There were ferries but they could be dangerous - one at Forres became overloaded on a market day and capsized with the loss of eleven lives. It is interesting to see that timber was floated down the rivers.

Depending on the parish, coal or peat was used as fuel, the coal being landed at the various ports on the coast, which also allowed easy export of the produce of the country. There were numerous fairs and markets that were so much a feature of everyday life at the time, and there are references in passing to the trade in cattle. The OSA for Forres says that the merchants in the town used to travel through the northern counties and Orkney but that this trade had declined ever since these places established their own shops.

At the time of the OSA some parishes had good statute labour roads; others poor. The Dallas account indicates that without the interest of the gentry the statute labour might not be properly applied. There is the usual contrast with the time of the NSA when turnpikes and Parliamentary roads had been made and traffic had increased with regular stage coaches and carriers.

Military roads are mentioned and some of these are shown on the map. Also mentioned are some early attempts at road-making - one or two of the landowners were prominent in this at a time when there was no general interest in roads and a reluctance on the part of other landowners to fund them. The reference to the Raider's Road in Rothiemurchis may sound romantic but it was anything but. The victims of these raids would lose a very valuable commodity, and the perpetrators if caught received summary justice. The Lairig Ghru pass through the Cairngorms is mentioned. It was used by drovers and others to reach Deeside and a path was kept clear by the removal of boulders that had fallen in winter. The pass is over 2700 feet high.

Other sources
Roads in 1859
This links to the 1859 Report of the Commissioners for Inquiring into Matters relating to Public Roads in Scotland and gives an overview of roads in Elgin at that time.
A Survey of the Province of Moray, J.Grant & W.Leslie, 1798 Contains much useful information on various topics, including roads.
The history of the Province of Moray,by Lachlan Shaw. Enlarged and brought down to the present time by JFS Gordon, 1882 (3 volumes). This is a reprint of Shaw's book first published in 1775 and brought up to date by Gordon. The text of the above Survey of the Province of Moray by Grant and Leslie has been incorporated in the 1882 edition - see Editorial Preface for details and a criticism of an 1827 edition of Shaw's work.
RCAHMS Canmore search for "roads" in Elginshire - 76 records; also search for "track" - 10 records.
An Account of the Great Floods of August 1829, in the Province of Moray etc., Sir Thomas Dick Lauder.
The Military Roads in Scotland, William Taylor, House of Lochar, 1996.
Highland Bridges, Gillian Nelson, West Port Books, 2006.



OSA Vol.13, page 129 (see Abernethy & Kinchardine, Inverness)

NSA Page 92
No particular mention of roads.

OSA Vol.11, page 508
Page 511 Minerals, Fuel, Inns, Etc. — Coal is used as the mosses are nearly exhausted. There is an inn on the county road from Elgin to Forres that runs through Alves.

The old road between Elgin and Forres, part of which was worked on by the military
As Taylor & Skinner and the Military Survey show, the old road between Elgin and Forres ran south of the turnpike - the sections in red are shown on the 6"map (Elgin VII & XI) as military road. This is probably an instance of the common practice of the military working with the civilian authorities to repair an existing road. This old road would be the one referred to in MacFarlane.

NSA Page 101
Page 105 Antiquities. — "The old military road can still be traced about a quarter of a mile south of the present turnpike." Stones from a nearby cairn were used in building the turnpike.

Parochial Economy.
Page 110. Grain shipped at Burghead or Findhorn for London.
Market-towns, Etc.—"The nearest market-towns are Elgin on the east, and Forres on the west. The turnpike, lying in the most centrical parts of the parish, renders the communication with the towns very convenient. Besides the mail to Inverness, there are two stage-coaches."

Alves, Elginshire

Page 236 King’s highway runs through parish between Elgin and Forres.

OSA Vol.14, page 263
The name may come from Beul-aith, the mouth of the ford, as there was a fine ford here near the church until it was destroyed in the floods of 1768. The Duke of Cumberland passed here in 1746 just before the battle of Culloden.
Page 265 Mention of the Boat of Bog.

Page 271 Curiosity and Antiquity.— On the east bank of the Spey there are remains of an encampment thought by many to have been Danish. From its square figure it is more likely to have been Roman though it is difficult to say when the Romans were here "unless Agricola might land a detachment in his traverses on the coasts of Scotland."

Bridge over the Spey.—A bridge over the Spey at Fochabers is very necessary as this is a busy thoroughfare that is used for driving cattle, bringing lime from Banff into Murray, and the movement of troops. Delays are common, including to the mail. Many have subscribed to a bridge but public aid will be necessary.

NSA Page 115
Some suggest that the name comes from Beul-aith, meaning mouth of the ford.
Page 118 Antiquities.

"To the north of Gordon Castle, are the remains of a military station, which early tradition assigned to the Danes, but which in later times has long been known by the appellation of the " Roman camp." Those who ascribe it to the Danes suppose it to have been connected with a battle which they fought with the Scots in the neighbourhood of Cullen; but, as the Roman Eagles were once certainly displayed upon the banks of the ancient Tuessis or Spey, it is generally supposed that this encampment was formed by a detachment of Agricola's troops, when he traversed the coasts of our island, and may have been intended to cover the ford of the river, which at that period probably ran along the base of the bank where the station is placed. Its quadrangular form, with its rampart and ports, seem also to indicate, with some degree of certainty, that it belonged to the conquerors of the world."

Note: This was a Roman marching camp - see NMRS record.
Page 122 Parochial Economy. Markets, Etc.—Six markets for cattle and horses held at Fochabers, the main village.

Bellie, Banffshire

Page 241 “Through this town passes the Kings High Court way on the end of the town W.ward runs the river Spey, where there are fine passage boats.”

OSA Vol 9, page 155
The post goes to and from Elgin three times a week.
Page 162 Peat brought from 4 miles away. Mention of road from Birnie to Rothes.

NSA Page 82
Page 86 Some say there are remains of a Roman castra at Foth (see NMRS record).

Page 89 Parochial Economy. Means of Communication.—He makes an interesting analogy between the health of an animal and the condition of its blood vessels and the state of a district and its roads (cf. our use of this analogy in the term arterial roads).
The statute labour has been converted but only yields L.14 so that the roads are very bad and new ones impossible. However, it is hoped that the improvements made by Colonel Grant of Grant will extend to the making and repair of roads. He has in fact ordered a survey for a road that will run north and south through the parish.

Miscellaneous Observations. - He refers to the improvements made in spite of the "wretched state of the roads."

OSA Vol. 4, page 105
Page 107 Many supplement their living by carrying peats to Elgin and Forres.
Page 110 "There is great occasion for a bridge over the impetuous river Lossie. In particular, over that river, where a public road from Forres and the low country crosses, leading to the parishes of Knockando, Aberlour, Inveraven, &c. The roads are in bad repair. The statute-labour is but irregularly called for, and ill executed, as there are no gentlemen of property residing in the parish. Turnpikes would be altogether inefficient in Dallas."

NSA Page 195
Page 199 Parochial Economy. Market-Towns.—The nearest market towns are Forres and Elgin, 9 and 12 miles distant respectively.

Means of Communication.— With no post-office, letters are taken either eastwards to Elgin, or westwards to Forres. There are good county roads to both these places, but many other roads are in poor condition. A new road, called "the Knockando road" has been made between Forres and the Spey and will be of great benefit to those in the hillier parts of the parish.
The only bridge here was over the Lossie, but it was carried away by the floods of 1829 . If the river is high it prevents many from attending church, however, a new bridge is soon to be built, near the church.

Inns.—Three in the village, and one in Kelles.

Fuel.—With ample moss, coal is hardly used.

Miscellaneous Observations. — The roads to Forres, Elgin, and Knockando are greatly improved.

OSA Vol.4, page 77
Page 78 Some details of imports and exports from Lossiemouth.
Page 83 Peat has to be brought from 10 miles away. Coal is expensive because of a tax.
Page 86 Four public houses.
Page 87 The only bridge here is a small one at the outlet of the Loch of Spynie. One is needed over the Lossie below Elgin. The roads are statute labour and have improved though much remains to be done. On the Highland road to Edinburgh there are no tolls or turnpikes until Perth.

NSA Page 145
Page 146 Mention of Canal bridge and Kay's bridge.
Page 153 Some people suggest that the fortress at Kinedder had been a Roman outpost from Burghead (Ptoroton).
Mention of the "Warlike Hills", artificial mounds about 20' high that are thought to have been used for signalling in time of invasion. (Note. Samuel Lewis in the entry for Drainie in his Topographical Dictionary of Scotland places these on the Causea hills - these are near Covesea, 4 miles west of Lossiemouth).
Page 156 Details of the extensive trade through Lossiemouth. Steam vessels from London and Leith call in.

Page 157 Parochial Economy.— "Elgin, to which there is an excellent toll-road, was, till the introduction of steam-boats, almost the only mart for the little traffic of this parish. There is a daily post. The runner and postmaster are paid by Government."

OSA Vol. 8, page 384
Page 390 Details of trade through Burghead.
Page 393 As peat is exhausted, coal (from Northumberland) has to be used although it is far too expensive because of the "odious and impolitic tax on this commodity."

Roads. — There are no turnpikes and the statute labour has not been commuted. Road making here is rudimentary. It seems odd that all over Europe so much attention should have been paid to water transport and not to roads. However, it is very likely that as more and more roads are made, their obvious benefits will act as an incentive to providing them.
In a footnote he remarks on the scarcity of labour and high wages and suggests that the military could be employed in road-making and other public works.

NSA Page 33
Page 36 Antiquities. - He refers to very faint traces in the western end of the parish of what some say was a Roman camp with a paved road leading to it (note: it may be that he is referring to a made road about 3 miles in length that ran between the old town of Roseisle and Burghead. Some thought it Roman, although one person attributed it to Cromwell's soldiers - no trace of the road remains - see NMRS record NJ16NW 15).

He also refers to:

Fortifications at Burghead"the remains of fortifications at Burghead, by some maintained to be Roman, and by others accounted Danish, but very probably occupied by both nations. General Roy, in his learned and elaborate work upon the Roman Antiquities of Britain, makes Burghead the most northerly regular station of that illustrious people, the " Ptoroton" of Richard of Cirencester, and the "Alata Castra" of Ptolemy of Alexandria; and supports his statements by correct references to its distance respectively from Jussis (Spey river,) and Barris (Forres;) and by several plausible arguments, he places Ptoroton at the end of the ninth, and commencement of the tenth iter of Richard; and mentions it as the chief town of the Vacomagi, and enjoying the privileges and immunities of Roman citizenship. A deep well, built with a regularity and elegance seemingly beyond the attainment of a rude people like the Danes, has been recently discovered, and adds another argument to these in favour of General Roy's position, which one is ready enough to admit, upon even slenderer grounds; because one would wish to believe that the spot he daily treads had been familiar to the footsteps of that imperial race, and would gladly confer upon a place presenting few natural attractions the charm of a reflected classical fame."

(See NMRS records for the fort and the well. See also Agricola in the Highlands? David J Breeze, Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 120 (1990), 55-60 for an interesting account of Agricola's campaigns in the region.
Regarding its identification with Ptolemy's Ptoreton, the Survey of the Province of Moray, page 53 says that in the mid 1700's Burghead was called Torytown or Terytown which is very similar to Ptoreton. Additional weight can be given to this by noting that the slogan/war cry associated with Hawick: teribus, ye teri odin has been interpreted as "a phonetic rendering of the Gaelic tir a buaidh's, tir a dion which translated means land of victory, and land of defence" - A Dictionary of Lowlands Scotch, Charles MacKay, page 232. Land of defence would be a fitting name for the earthworks at Burghead which were much more substantial in the mid-1700's).

The NSA then discusses the possibility that Burghead had been occupied and fortified by the Danes in their invasion of c.1008.

Page 40 Parochial Economy. Means of Communication.—"This parish is distant about three miles (at its south border) from Elgin, the market, post, and county town, with which it enjoys easy communication by means of a turnpike road at its west, and a good commutation road at its east end. A light curricle conveys the mails to the villages of Duffus, Hopeman, and Burghead, at each of which there are branch post-offices."

Villages.—Regarding Burghead he says that "regular communication with London, Leith, &c. by traders and steam ships, a daily post and carriers to and from Elgin, comfortable lodging houses, and pleasant sea walks, add to its advantages as a watering-place."

Page 42 Inns, Etc.—There are a large number of these.

Fuel.— Mostly coal.

Page 43 Miscellaneous Observations. - Twenty five years ago the roads were near impassable in winter but are now much improved. However, the commutation funds are insufficient for making and repairing the roads.

OSA Vol. 4, page 308 (see Duthil & Rothiemurchis, Inverness)

The original Carr Bridge Sluggan Bridge on military road - click for larger image
The original Carr Bridge, built 1717 Sluggan Bridge on the Inverness military road

Map of places of interest in Duthil parish
Places of interest mentioned in the account. Some of the military roads shown here were constructed in association with the civilian authorities or partly funded by the military - see William Taylor, The Military Roads in Scotland for details.
NSA Page 123
Page 124 The great highland road between Perth and Inverness runs through the pass of Slocmuic.

Page 134 Parochial Economy. Market-Towns.—The nearest are Inverness, Nairn and Forres, all about 26 miles away. There are feeing markets in Grantown, 8 miles away, as well as cattle-markets from where the beasts are taken south.

Means of Communication
. Fifteen miles of the great Highland road between Perth and Aberdeen runs through. A post-office was set up at Carr Bridge in 1836. From there there is a road to Grantown, on which there is a mail-gig each day; and another road from the south of the parish. There is a bridge over the Dulnan at Sluggan built by the military after 1745 but almost impassable after the floods in 1829. There is also a good bridge over the Dulnan at Carr Bridge that was built in 1791.

Fairs.—The fairs formerly held in the kirkyard have been partly discontinued and partly transferred to Grantown.

Inns.—Inns on the main road at Aviemore and Carr Bridge.


Dyke and Moy
OSA Vol. 20, page 192
Villages, Inns, and Still.—"There are villages at Broom of Moy, Kintesak, and Dyke; at which last there is an inn, near the post road, and another inn at the Ferry Boat, on the east side of the river."

Page 210 Roads, and Statute Labour. — "The roads being naturally good, there are no turnpikes, nor any need or wish for them. The statute labour is exacted, which keeps the roads in tolerable repair. Commutation was attempted, but it raised discontent, and was dropped."

Bridges. — "Three stout wooden bridges, floored acrosss, railed, and painted, have been built, at Moy, Dalvey, and Barley-mill, near the fords of the Beg-Bourne, at the cost of L.114, 7s. Sterling, out of five and a half years of the stipends accruing at the last vacancy.
They admit no carriages, nor even the post cart; but the horse and mail can pass. Three small stone bridges were also built on the public road, out of the same fund, for L.30, 4s."

Page 219 There is one ferryman with two boats on the Findhorn.
Page 220 Peat-carts - 291; coaches - 1; chaisses - 1; saddle and carriage horses - 13.
Page 223 Peat is very scarce and expensive though wood is available, The removal of the coal tax will be a great benefit.
Page 226 In 1780 a strolling packman was murdered.

Page 227 Miscellaneous Observations. — "A stone bridge over the Findern, and another over the Big-bourne, on the post-road, would be of great advantage to this parish, for an open communication to all the villages and towns west of the river, with Forres and Elgin. For want of this, the daily posts are often long detained, lives are frequently endangered, and sometimes lost. In 1781, 11 were lost by the oversetting of the ferry-boat on the day of a Forres market. On such occasions, there is no preventing the people from overloading the boat."

NSA Page 215
Page 226 Parochial Economy. — The nearest market town is Forres, four miles away.

Means of Communication.— "The nearest post-office is that of Forres. The great post-road, from Aberdeen to Inverness, on which the mail and two stage-coaches run daily, traverses the parish from east to west, and county roads intersect it in all directions. A great number of bridges span the burns which flow through the parish, and an elegant suspension-bridge connects it with Forres."

Inns. — Seven ale-houses.

Fuel. — Generally turf and wood allthough coals are landed opposite Findhorn harbour if the weather permits. The nearest port is Nairn.

OSA Vol. 8, page 553

Part of Edinkillie parishPage 554 Over the Findhorn, a dangerous river, there is one bridge on the Aviemore to Inverness military road and another on the military road from Granton to Fort-George, at Dulsie. There is no bridge where it meets the great post-road to Nairn and Inverness etc. and thus the mail is often delayed and many lives lost. In a footnote he says that near to Relugas, the river runs between two rocks, only seven feet apart, which are bridged by a plank. In flood, the river can rise more than 30 feet in this narrow space (Rannich/Rannulf's Leap - see 25" map Elgin XV.15. Gillian Nelson, Highland Bridges, page 53 says there was a wooden bridge there which was always being washed away, and constantly being replaced. The river actually rose 50 feet in the great flood of 1829).

Daltulich Bridge
Daltulich Bridge

In another footnote he refers to a Miss Brodie of Lethen who had a bridge built downstream from Coulmony, near to Relugas. It was an arch of 72 feet but within a month it collapsed. (The present Daltulich Bridge replaced it - see Gillian Nelson, Highland Bridges, page 53, also photos on Braemory site).

Roads and Bridges. —The Forres to Granton road, crosses the Divie by a stone bridge and the Dorback over two stone bridges. In 1783, another bridge was built over the Divie, near the confluence with the Findhorn.
A new road is being made by Sir James Grant on the east side of Knock Hill through the valley of Pluscardine which will be three miles shorter to Grantown.

The gentlemen of the parish see that the statute labour is performed properly but being a large parish and the roads difficult to make, the system does not allow much progress to be made.
Page 562 Peat is taken 10 or 12 miles to Forres to be sold. Forres is the market town.

Rannulf's Leap
Rannulf's Leap. A wooden bridge was used to span this gap and was constantly being washed away.

Page 565 He mentions the Bridge of Rannich (at Rannulf's Leap) said to be very old and that may have been named after Randolph, Earl of Moray in the time of Robert the Bruce.

Page 178
Page 185 Possibility that the Doune Hill of Relugas was "one link of a chain of signal stations used for the purpose of communicating by fires up the twin glens of the Findhorn and Divie. The Romans also seem to have occupied it at one time, for Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, by digging, found some fragments of Roman pottery on the summit of it, which are still in his possession. They were supposed to have had a line of posts from Forres to Brae Mar, and thence to Perth, and this was unquestionably one of them...." (Note: The possibility that the Romans used it as a signal station does not seem to have been confirmed by later research - see for example Canmore record)

A nice video of the Findhorn in spate near Rannulf's Leap (I think) taken by Bobjwaller. In the 1829 flood, the viewing point would be under water!

Page 188 Breed of Live-Stock.—Black cattle are bought in autumn then sold the next summer to cattle dealers for the south. Sheep also are sold.

Page 191 Parochial Economy. Markets, Means of Communication, Etc. - There are markets at Forres, Nairn and Grantown.

Forres is the nearest post-office although a mail gig runs from Forres to Grantown and on to Aviemore to the Highland road, and passes along the road that runs through this parish on the east side of the Findhorn. There are also weekly carriers on this road. This turnpike road is 11 miles long and much of it was made about 10 years ago. The old route from Forres to Grantown is three miles longer.

A parish road leads off this, near to the church, and crosses the Findhorn by the bridge of Daltulich then passes through the forest of Darnaway to the Inverness to Aberdeen toll-road. There are also about 15 or 20 miles of road made by two of the proprietors. There are three toll-bars but those travelling the whole length of the turnpike pay only at two.

Bridges.—The floods of 1829 swept away two bridges over the Divie and the Dorbach, just above their confluence. These were replaced c.1831.

Page 194 Inns.—Two small inns convenient for travellers. Toll-keepers can sell whisky in their houses.

Fuel.—Peat is easily obtained and coal from England is brought in at Findhorn.

Elgin cathedral
Cathedral at Elgin
OSA Vol. 5, page 1
Page 9 Much grain is exported from Findhorn, Lossiemouth, and Germach, to London, Leith, and the canal at Carron.
Page 19 Coals were first landed at Lossiemouth in 1754. At the time there was no demand for them; nowadays 20 ships come with English coals and 6 with Scottish. There is an unjust tax on these coals.
A bridge over the Spey is much needed.
Mention of the boat of Bog, near the Spey.

NSA Page 1
Page 17 Parochial Economy.
— Details of the fairs and markets held in the town.
About 5 years ago a gas company was formed and the streets are now lit by gas. The streets have been causewayed and have paved footpaths but are not kept clean in a proper manner.

Means of Communication.—These are very good. There is a post-office and three turnpike roads - the great north road, a road to Rothes and Speyside, and one to Lossiemouth. There are good commutation roads to Pluscarden, Mosstowie, and Blackhills. There are three stone, and one iron bridge over the Lossie within the town.
The mail-coach (on the Aberdeen - Inverness road) and mail gigs to Lossiemouth and Burghead run each day, and there are daily stage-coaches to Inverness and Banff where a coach from Aberdeen is met. The Defiance coach from Edinburgh to Inverness also passes through each day.
There are carriers to Aberdeen, Banff and Inverness and nearby villages. Although sea-carriage is used it is inconvenient and expensive as it stands at present. He says that an improved and deeper harbour at Lossiemouth would allow steam-vessels to dock and allow easy communication with the south and London.

Page 26 Fairs.—Ten fairs for cattle, horses etc and two hiring fairs.

Inns, Alehouses, Etc.—Over 60 in the town and suburbs and one outside the town.

Fuel.—In the town coal is used. It comes from Sunderland and is landed at Lossimouth and carted the five miles to the town. In the countryside peats and turf are still used but the effort of obtaining them is making coal more popular there.

Miscellaneous Observations. — Since the last account the roads are much improved though there is still much to be done. The town now has turnpike roads, stage-coaches, street lighting and side-pavements.

Street in Forres
OSA Vol. 17, page 447
Page 449 Trade.—There are 60 merchants and shopkeepers in Forres. In the past they did much of their business by travelling round the villages to the west and north, particularly in Sutherland, Caithness, Ross, and Orkney. Most of this trade has stopped as these places have their own shops at much the same prices.
Page 453 He makes a case for a canal to be made from the mouth of the Findhorn to the town, a distance of three miles.
Page 455 Mention of road from Forres to Yverttown.

NSA Page 159
Page 164 Streets of Forres are paved, and lit by gas.

Page 171 Cattle.—Many of the farmers buy cattle from the north and sell them on to drovers from the south after the winter. Farms close to the town do a good trade in dairy produce.

Page 173 Parochial Economy. Town - He gives details of the numerous markets and fairs held in the town.

Means of Communication.—The Aberdeen to Inverness turnpike passes through the town - the mail coach and two others run on it daily. There is also a turnpike to Findhorn, where steam-boats from Leith and London call in. The numerous district roads are all in excellent order.
There are four stone bridges, and an elegant chain bridge over the Findhorn built in 1831 to replace the former stone bridge destroyed in the flood of 1829. It cost L.7000, subscribed by the town and local land-owners. There is a pontage levied for crossing.

Inns, Etc.—There are a great number of these.

Fuel.—Mostly coal from Newcastle which is landed at Findhorn and carted to the town. Some peat and turf is also brought in from the country but are not much used, and are as expensive as coal.

Page 178 Miscellaneous Observations. - "During the last thirty years the streets of the town have been newly paved, lighted with gas, and embellished by the erection of a number of handsome buiIdings. In 1793, there was only one small bridge in the parish, and the passage across the Findhorn was made in a ferry boat, which often proved dangerous. There are now four excellent stone-bridges on the burn, and an elegant chain-bridge across the river. In 1806, no public conveyances passed through the parish; now a mail-coach and two stagecoaches pass daily."

Kinloss Abbey
There was an important mediaeval monastery in Kinloss. In its charters there is a mention of a road from Forres to Elgin
OSA Vol.1, page 462
Fish, sold in the country and in Forres. Harbour at Findhorn with considerable trade. No particular mention of roads.

NSA Page 202
Page 210 Parochial Economy.

—Forres, easily reached by a turnpike road to Findhorn. There is a branch at the bridge of Kinloss to Burghead and Elgin. A daily post runs the 5 miles between Forres and Findhorn.

Page 213 Fairs.— Three fairs are held annually at Findhorn, one in October, one in March, and one in July, on the second Wednesday (old style) of each month, chiefly for sheep, cattle, and horses.

Inns.— 13.

OSA Vol.4, page 302
Page 304 Miscellaneous Observations. - Peat is used.
In the past the roads were good but have been neglected recently. Commutation may be a more effective system. People here "have no idea of turnpikes, or their advantages."

NSA Page 60
Page 60 Mention of the bridge of Craig Elachie.
Page 63 Timber floated down the Spey. In a footnote about the floods of 1829 he says that a new road had been made at that time and all the burns bridged but all of these bridges except one were carried away.
Page 64 Mention of Boatman's Haugh.

View Larger Map
Telford's bridge at Craig Elachie. Use mouse to navigate through image.
Page 71 He describes the elegant metal bridge of Craig Elachie, built in 1814 by the Parliamentary Commisioners and private subscriptions. It has a span of 150 feet, and withstood the floods of 1829. The cast iron was delivered to Speymouth. He says that on approach "the
Craigellachie Bridge made by Telford The approach road
Craigellachie Bridge The approach road
traveller appears on crossing to be approaching a large cavern, but feels surprised to find himself on a turnpike road, cut for a considerable extent along a huge rock covered with firs of a large size, and bounded by a secure parapet wall overhanging the Spey. The height of Craig Elachie rock, at the highest point cut down for the roadway, is 70 feet." (For details and photos see Wikipedia article)
"There is another rock of the same name in Rothiemurchis, and the two define the district of Strathspey. In the past signals by fire were used to warn of an enemy approaching - hence the Grants motto, Stand fast, Craig Elachie."

Page 76 Parochial Economy.
Market-Towns, Etc.
—The nearest are Charlestown of Aberlour, 5 miles away, Rothes 10, Dufftown 15, Forres 16, Grantown 16, Elgin, Keith, and Fochabers, 20. There is a shorter road of 13 miles to Elgin by the Mannoch Hill, but it is not in good repair and often impassable in winter. Most of the grain from the parish is shipped at Garmouth, the rest at Lossiemouth and Findhorn.

Means of Communication, Etc.—The nearest post office is at Craig Elachie which has a foot-runner twice a week. There are weekly carriers from Aberden to Archieston and to Elgin. A short length of the turnpike from Elgin to Dufftown, Grantown etc passes through at Craig Elachie.
Until recently the parish roads have been very bad but a new road is now nearly completed through the centre of the parish. Bye roads are very bad and some farm houses inaccessible at times.
There is a ferry-boat at Wester Elchies on the way to Charlestown of Aberlour etc, and one upriver at Black's Boat in Inveraven parish, on the road to Glenlivat, Tomintoul etc. At both, it is 1d for foot-passengers and 4d for a horse.
There are several bridges of wood and stone beside the one at Craigellachie, and one is planned for the burn of Aldarder. The Craigellachie bridge has been of great utility to this and nearby parishes; as would apply if a bridge was to be erected over the Spey at Torndow, Kirkdals or some other place in the upper part of the parish particularly if the proposed road from Perth to Elgin and Forres is ever built.
Page 81 Many sturdy beggars, and tinkers, especially in the summer.

Inns, Etc.—Three in the village of Archiestown, and one at the boat of Wester Elchies.

Fuel.—Mostly peat and turf and some wood. It is too far to the coast to bring in coal.

New Spinie

Map of Spynie parish
Places mentioned in charters below. The course of the roads is approximate. Loch Spynie is shown c.1750 from the Military Survey. Blaeu shows it was once closer to Kintrae. The dotted lines are those roads referred to in Young's Parish of Spynie - see notes below.

OSA Vol. 10, page 623
Page 624 In discussing the Palace of Spynie (residence of the Bishops of Moray) and the former extent of Loch Spynie he notes:

"But although it is evident, that, at a period comparatively not remote, the sea flowed into the space which the lake now occupies, and covered, besides, a large extent of land at each end of it; yet it is also obvious, that, at a still more recent period, the bounds of this lake were more limited than at present. For, a few years ago, when the canal, which had long been neglected, was cleaned out and enlarged, a causeway was discovered, stretching from this parish quite across the lake, in which there were several passages for the water, each about 3 feet wide, and covered by a thick flag-stone; and, upon its appearance, a tradition was recollected, that this causeway was called the Bishop's Steps, and had been formed by his influence, for the accommodation of the ministers of St. Andrew's, who officiated also in the church of Ogueston, (since united to Drainy,) both having been mensal churches before the establishment of Presbytery. Bishop Falconer told the author this; and that the Bishop's priest, who officiated, had prayers in the forenoon in the one, and in the afternoon in the other, and thereafter his dinner in the Castle every Sunday. This causeway was soon converted, by Mr Brander of Pitgaveny, into a substantial road, by which a more direct communication was opened between Elgin and the shore."
Note: See Plan of The Loch of Spynie and Adjacent Grounds, Moray (1783) on Scotland's Places website. This shows that work by the "Messrs. Branders" had started on a road close to Lochside and Gilston with a note saying "Said to be Steping stones". West of this and just south-east of Unthank a road is shown as "old road by the Long Steps from Causie (Covesea) to Elgin with the "Long Steps" just on the parish boundary. The map also shows "steping stones said to be in this direction" running NNE from Scarfbanks NJ236 664.

On page 626 he says:

Duffus castle"The boundaries of estates were early attended to. There was a distinct march, dividing Spynie and Findrassie from Kintrae and Quarrywood, by agreement, in 1226, between Hugh de Moravia, and his brother the bishop, and establishing the road to Sherriffmiln, Auchter-Spynie, and Elgin, the march of property, declaring the muirs to the east neutral ground."

Note: The wording here is different from that covering what is presumably the same charter mentioned in the Survey of the Province of Moray (1882 edition, v.2, p.112). There it talks of the highway that comes from the castle of Duffus to Levenford (the Register of Moray indicates this might be le neu ford - charter 120, p. 132). It is difficult to identify the course of the road nowadays though in general terms it must have run from Elgin through Sherriff Mill about one mile west of Elgin then by the line of the minor road to the Duffus road which runs between Finrassie and Kintrae, and then tending over towards Duffus castle.

The Survey of the Province of Moray (v.2, p.117) mentions another road leading from Duffus Castle to the old church of Kintrae (Reg. Mor. 211, p.273) and two roads from Spynie Palace into Elgin (v.2, p.125) in a charter dating from 1566 (Reg.Mor.324, p.395).

Robert Young in his Parish of Spynie (1871) mentions these roads with additional comments that on the road leading from Elgin to Duffus castle Loch Spynie was crossed on steps (possibly the same as the Bishop's Steps) with carts and horses skirting the loch, and that one of the roads leading north from Bishopmill accessed a ferry on the loch that went to Salterhill, and another road (perhaps the easternmost road to Spynie Palace mentioned above) that passed the east end of the loch to access Lossiemouth, Kineddar and Stotfield. See Plan of The Loch of Spynie and Adjacent Grounds, Moray (1783) on Scotland's Places website for additional information on these. He also mentions the Elgin to Forres highway that is shown on Taylor and Skinner and the Military Survey - see Alves above.
Young also gives details of the bridge at Elgin (1630) and later roads.

Page 629 Mention of post road between Elgin and Forres and of the intended bridge over the Spey at Fochabers.

Page 637 Advantages. - Lossiemouth, Findhorn and Elgin are within easy reach. There is a bridge into Elgin on the post road to Forres.

NSA Page 95
Page 99 Parochial Economy.
Village.—Bishopmill, very close to Elgin which is the market-town.
The harbours of Lossiemouth and Burghead, and the market-town of Elgin are easily reached. There is a cast iron bridge into Elgin at Bishopmill where the Lossie is crossed by the post-road to Lossiemouth. Originally of stone it was swept away in the floods of 1829 and replaced by one of iron. There are two stone bridges over the Lossie on the post-roads to Forres and Duffus.

Alehouses.—"Four alehouses, two of which are toll-houses."

Fuel.—Although peat, turf and wood are used, the main fuel is coal, landed at Burghead and Lossiemouth.

Description Parish of Spynie, Morayshire 1723

Page 230 Details of the ferries on the River Spey, viz. boats of Budge, Fiddigh, Skirdustan or Aberlour, Delnapot, Cromdell.
Page 231 King’s highway leading from Spey to Elgin.

OSA Vol.16, page 338
Although peat etc is readily available, those living in the vicinity of Burgie have to travel to the mosses of Altyre to obtain them, at the expense of time and effort.
No particular mention of roads.

NSA Page 238
Page 241 In speaking about how dangerous the Findhorn and the burns of Alltyre and Rafford could be in spate, he says that the last of these carried bridges away during a flood in 1838.

Page 253 Parochial Economy.
Market-Town.—"There is no market town in the parish. The nearest is Forres, distant from the church about two and a half miles. The parish contains no village of any size. Forres is also the nearest post-town."

Means of Communication.— There are three and a half miles of turnpike road. A mail-coach and two stage-coaches run daily on the Elgin to Forres road. The road to Craigmiln in Dollas now continues through Dollas and Knockando as part of a planned direct road to Perth. If completed it will shorten the distance to Perth by 40 miles and if not will still allow easy access to the lower parts of the Spey.
"The bridges on the Rafford burn were all swept away by the flood formerly referred to, and have not been rebuilt; those on the Altyre burn are in a state of good repair, and highly ornamental to the scenery, especially the one at Craigroy, than which, a more picturesque object is scarcely to be met with."

Page 255 Fairs.—Two fairs for the sale of cattle.


Fuel.— Peat is becoming scarce as mosses are being improved; wood is easily available; coal can be had from the port of Findhorn.

OSA Vol.3, page 250
No mention of roads.

NSA Page 228
page 237 Three markets. No particular mention of roads.

OSA Vol. 4, page 308 (see Duthil & Rothiemurchis, Inverness)

NSA Page 136
Page 137 "Along the margin of Loch Gamhuinn, runs Rathad-na-meirlich (thieves' road) the common pass of the Lochaber reivers in their excursions to Morayland."

Short video of Lairig Ghru pass on YouTube (by Benoftheforest)

The pass of Lairig Ghru. Photo adapted from image by user Ericoides on Wikimedia, with thanks. See original image and details of the pass here. See also Heritage Paths site for route description and more details.

Page 138 "To the east of Glen-Ennich, and about the centre of the parish, there is a bold pass through the mountains, named in the language of the country, Larich-ruadh, or red pass. Through this narrow gulley, a foot-path has been formed with much trouble by the removal of immense blocks of granite, which have fallen from the adjoining precipices on either side of the pass, with the view of communicating with the southern markets by a shorter route than the great Highland road presents.
The task of bringing cattle through this pass is one of difficulty and danger; but a pedestrian, fond of the grand in nature, will have his toils amply repaid, while he wends his way along the base of the lofty Ben-Mac-dui. The shoulder of this mountain forms in this direction the boundary of the parish."
Page 141 Causeway to the castle at Loch-an-Eilean.

Larig Ghru pass
The pass was used as a route between Strathspey and Deeside. There is now a road past Loch Morlich to Glen Mor and the Ski Centre where a funicular railway climbs part of the way to the summit of Cairn Gorm.

Page 143 Parochial Economy. Market Towns.—The nearest is Inverness, 33 miles away. Cattle are sold at Grantown, Kingussie and Castletown of Braemar.

Means of Communication.—A county road runs on the south side of the Spey from Craigellachie Bridge to the Bridge of Spey, near Kingussie. From there a ferry-boat and several private boats allow the nearby Highland road to be reached. There is a sub post-office at Lynwilg, two miles away, that receives letters from Perth, Inverness, Carr Bridge and Kingussie.

Fuel, Etc.—Peat and wood, both easily available. No fairs. One public-house at the boat-house of Inverdruie.




St Andrews Lhanbryd
OSA Vol.9, page 172
Mention of the highway from Elgin to Spey.
Page 173 In describing the draining of the loch of Spynie he notes that when this was done: "many acres were regained, where the course of ridges, the formation of artificial roads, and every token of ancient and unknown cultivation, most evidently and unexpectedly appeared."
Page 174 Substantial timber bridge at the church of St Andrews.
Page 181 Need for a bridge over the Spey at the ferry of Fochabers. Many cattle have to cross into Banffshire where there are many markets and the pasturage is good and much lime is brought from that county, all at great inconvenience without a bridge.
Notification to the custom house at Inverness has to be made before a cargo can be landed at the posts of Findhorn, Lossie and Spey which causes a delay of three days and much expense.
A canal from Lossiemouth to within a mile of Elgin could easily be made, and would need no locks.
There would be advantages in setting up a corn-market here similar to that of Haddington.

NSA Page 29
No particular mention of roads.

OSA Vol.14, page 374
Page 378 There are 8 ferrymen, 6 shop-keepers, 5 inn and ale-house keepers and one or two carriers in the parish.
Page 381 Although lime is easily available in Banffshire, the expense of ferrying it over the Spey stops it being used more widely. A bridge would remove this difficulty.
Page 393 Timber from the forests in Strathspey and Badenoch is floated down the Spey to Garmouth, at the mouth of the Spey, from where it is exported.
Page 396 Details of trade carried on through Speymouth.

Page 396 A Bridge on Spey at the Boat of Bog.—He makes a lengthy argument on the importance such a bridge would have not just for the immediate district but the whole north-east of Scotland. He refers to the road being used by judges to and from the circuit at Inverness, by the military to the various forts, and generally by all travellers. It is also the post-road and a great line of communication from the south to the various counties in the north.
The Spey itself is seldom fordable and the boat of Bog, while good, is inconvenient to use and when the river is in spate even more so, and possibly dangerous. It is in fact surprising that nothing has been done to carry forward such an important public undertaking.
That the project would be feasible is shown by the survey of a Mr Stevens, an architect, who found the site suitable for a bridge of about 100 yards in length. The estimated cost however was 14,030 L which would only be possible with government aid. As said it would be in the interest of the government to expedite justice and the movement of troops, as well as convenience the public.
He says in a footnote that the government would get a sense of the strong desire in the district for a bridge by noting that last year over 3000L was subscribed but was discontinued when war broke out, as had also happened at the time of the American war. If direct subsidy was not forthcoming, he suggests a small temporary tax on the northern counties.
The proposal for a bridge at Boat of Brig, 5 or 6 miles upriver, while it might be cheaper and would be convenient for that district, could never serve the same purpose as one at Boat of Bog. The road to Boat of Brig from the south and east is often impassable and could never serve as the post-road or main line of communication even if a road could be made between the two places, which from the terrain seems impossible whereas the coastal route through here is always open.
A bridge over the Findhorn would also be very useful but if one was built over the Spey, that at Findhorn would follow in due course, and would result in the road from Queensferry to the Ferry of Dornoch in Sutherland being free of all ferries and so of great benefit to the country.

Page 403 Miscellanous Observations. - Mossy turf is used as fuel; those in Garmouth and near the coast use coal imported from Sunderland.
The post road to Elgin enters the parish at the Boat of Bog. The fare over the Spey here is for a single person 1d.; for a man and horse 2d.; for a chaise and pair 2s. 6d.; for a horse and cart 2d., etc. If the river is flooded, the fare is higher. There is also a ferry at the mouth of the Spey. Two roads lead from Garmouth, at the mouth of the Spey to Rothes and the Highlands, and to Elgin.
These roads are in good condition as the soil is light and the climate dry. Turnpikes are not needed and would not be wanted as they would be too expensive for many. It would be better to convert the statute labour into money at the rate of 1s.6d per year.

NSA Page 51
Page 53 The bridge of Spey was destroyed in the 1829 floods.
Page 55 Details of trade in black cattle and of trade (coal, grain, timber etc) through the harbour at Garmouth (much damaged in the floods of 1829).

Page 58 Parochial Economy.
"The great post road enters this parish at the bridge of Spey, and passes through the middle of it to Elgin. The bridge was finished in autumn 1804, and fell in part during the flood of August 1829. A handsome and substantial wooden arch was thrown over the fallen part, and the bridge re-opened on the 5th December 1832. The mail passes daily, and there is a daily runner to Garmouth."

OSA Vol.15, page 93
Page 94 Grain from the parish is exported at Speymouth and Lossiemouth, and coal brought in at these places.

Page 103 Proposed Bridge.—He refers to the excitement at the prospect that a bridge over the Spey might be built, noting that subscriptions had begun and hoping that government aid would be forthcoming. The ferry is very inconvenient, sometimes dangerous, and very expensive; and a hinderance to the march of the King's troops.

NSA Page 44
Page 49 Parochial Economy.
—The nearest is Elgin, five miles away.

Means of Communication.— Just over two miles of turnpike. County roads have been made as required and are in fair condition.