Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Rothes

Rothes, a parish containing a small police burgh of the same name, near the centre of the SE boundary of the county of Elgin, in which the greater portion of it lies, while a part is also across the Spey on the Banffshire side. It is bounded N by the parishes of St Andrews-Lhanbryd and Speymouth, for ½ mile at the NE corner by Bellie, E and SE by Boharm parish and Banffshire, SSW by Knockando, for ¾ mile at the W corner by Dalllas, and NW by the parishes of Birnie and Elgin. The greater part of the eastern and south-eastern boundaries are natural, lying along the river Spey, except near the centre, where from Sheriffhaugh about 1 mile above Boat of Bridge upwards to the bend immediately to the E of the village of Rothes, the parish occupies both the Elginshire and Banffshire sides of the river for a distance of about 2¾ miles; and for a small portion where, at Haughs of Arndilly to the S of the burgh of Rothes, both parish and county boundaries take to the W side of the Spey for about ¾ mile, following however, apparently an old course of the river. Along the other sides the boundary is artificial. The greatest length of the parish. from where Speymouth, Bellie, and Rothes parishes meet on the NE south-westward to the boundary with Knockando parish, is 9 miles; the greatest width, along the south-western border, from Craigellachie Bridge on the E west-north-westward to the point where the parishes of Knockando, Dallas, and Rothes meet, is 6¾ miles; and the total area is 20,133.785 acres, of which 317.784 acres are water, while 899.332 acres, including 48.008 of water, are in Banffshire. The surface is irregular, but slopes gradually from E to W. The whole of the ground on the E along the Spey is low and level, particularly at the fertile haughs of Orton, Dundurcas, Rothes, and Dan

daleith, two of which figure in the old rhyme which declares that

Dipple. Dundurcas, Dandaleith. and dalvey
Are the four bonniest haughs on the banks of the Spey.

The haughs are separated from one another by hill spurs, which run westward into rounded eminences which skirt the low land and pass into wild uplands along the western border, reaching a height of 639 feet near Whiteriggs (NE), 925 above Netherglen (N), 887 above Pitcraigie (centre), 1065 at Brylach (NW), 1165 at Brauch Hill (W), 1104 W of The Kettles, and 1114 E of The Kettles (SW). The surface declined to less than 160 feet above sea-level in the NE corner of the parish, and the height of the road at the S end of the burgh of Rothes is 228 feet. The low ground is highly cultivated, and as the encircling heights are covered with thriving woods, the scenery is at many points very pretty. The drainage in the NE is carried off by the Inchberry and Sourden Burns, in the centre by the Auchinroath and Back Burns, and in the S and SW by the Burn of Rothes, the last three all uniting to the NE of the burgh of Rothes before they flow into the Spey. None of the streams are of any great size, but in the great flood of 1829, all of them, as well as the Spey, did a great amount of mischief. At the flat at Dandaleith 26 acres of excellent land were carried away, and 50 more covered with sand and gravel to a depth of 3 feet, and the stacks of corn in the farmyard were swept away. The Burn of Rothes and the Back Burn rose very high and overflowed the whole of the centre and the north-eastern end of the burgh of Rothes. Those of the inhabitants ` who were themselves in safety flew to succour their friends and neighbours who were in peril. Then were the stout and active of both sexes seen wading in at the risk of being carried away by the stream, and dragging the young, the aged, and the infirm, some of whom had not for years been from under a roof, out of their windows or doors as they best could, and carrying them, some on their backs, some in their arms, through the deep and powerful currents. Peats in black masses, firewood, poultry, and pigs were seen tumbling along; and every now and then the young fellows were dashing in and hauling out huge hogs by the hind legs, or plunging to the middle after some other live or dead object. Fortunate it was that all this confusion occurred during the light of day, and that the whole of the people were placed in safety before nightfall; but. as the burn increased and the bridge in the centre of the village gave way, darkness brought with it a night of dreadful suspense. There was a partial subsidence here as elsewhere; but after 12 o'clock next day, the flood again rose and to a still greater height, and either totally demolished or partially destroyed 15 dwelling houses of as good and substantial masonry as could possibly be built.' Many of the houses were filled with gravel and mud to a depth of 5 feet; from 70 to 80 acres of haugh land were carried away; and in the whole parish there were 107 families rendered destitute. At the rock of Sourden the Spey was 20 feet 10 inches above its ordinary level. There is excellent salmon and trout fishing in the Spey, and the larger burns contain trout. The soil of the low flat grounds is mostly a very fertile alluvium with patches of clay, sand, and gravel; that along the skirts of the hills is a sharp gravelly mould; and that on the higher arable grounds is principally a mossy earth with patches of clay. Fully one-third of the total area is pastoral or waste; about 1000 acres are under wood; and the rest is under cultivation. The underlying rocks are Silurian schists, granite, and quartzite; one mass of the last at Conerock to the S of the burgh of Rothes being particularly noteworthy for its finely-veined structure. In the course of the Sourden Burn there is a vein of heavy spar. Many large erratic blocks are to be found on the uplands, and a bed of finely laminated clay in the course of the Back Burn is worthy of notice. The haugh of Rothes seems to have been formed in a large lake by the damined back waters of the Spey, ere the rocky barrier at Sourden was cut down to its present level. The parish is traversed from end to end along the eastern border by the great line of road following the left bank of the Spey, and at the burgh of Rothes another main line of road branches off to the NW and passes by the great hollow, known as the Glen of Rothes, to Elgin. Following the same course as this line of road is the Morayshire section of the Great North of Scotland railway system, which has a course of 7 miles in the parish from the point where it enters on the NW near Netherglen, till it quits it on the SE at Craigellachie viaduct. A branch line passing from Rothes station down the valley of the Spey to Orton station on the Highland railway system has not been worked since 1866. Auchinroath (J. C. Robertson, Esq.) is a plain two-story house, 1½ mile NNW of Rothes station. Glen Rothes (Dunbar of Sea Park), 3 miles NNW of Rothes, is a plain summer residence, built in 1871. Orton House is separately noticed. The chief antiquities are the remains of Rothes Castle, and the ruins of Dundurcas church. The Castle of Rothes stands on a steep rounded hillock to the SW of the burgh, and only a very small fragment of it now remains, though it appears to have been a place of considerable size and strength. It seems to occupy the same site as, but to be of later date than, the castle or manor-house of Rothes, where Edward I. stayed on 29 and 30 July 1296, when he was on his way back from his first visit to the N of Scotland. The barony of Rothes belonged, in the 12th century, to a family called Pollock, and by the marriage of the heiress Muriel de Pollock, passed to the family of Murthac, and again by subsequent heiresses, first to Watsons and then to the Leslies, who in 1457 became Earls of Rothes. They sold their estates in this quarter about 1700 to Grant of Elchies, from whom Rothes was, in 708, acquired by the Earl of Findlater, and along with his estates passed to the family of Grant of Grant, Earl of Seafield, in whose possession the property still remains. Rothes gives title to the Leslie family, but their seat is now Leslie House, in Fife. Dundurcas is separately noticed, as is also the hamlet of Inchberry in the NE of the parish. The parish of Rothes, which was enlarged in 1782 by the addition of part of the suppressed parish of Dundurcas (the rest being given to Boharm), is in the presbytery of Aberlour and synod of Moray, and the living is worth œ216 a year. The church is noticed below. Under the school board the Rothes and Inchberry schools, with accommodation for 350 and 79 pupils respectively, had, in 1883, attendances of 194 and 52, and grants of œ194, 18s. 5d. and œ43, 15s. Valuation (1884-85) œ13,322, 9s., of which œ12,949, 10s. was in Elginshire and œ372, 10s. in Banffshire, while œ2813 was for the railway. The principal landowner is the Dowager Countess of Seafield, who holds 10,758 acres, valued at œ4370 per annum; 10 other proprietors hold each an annual value of œ500 or upwards, 3 hold each between œ500 and œ100, 5 hold between œ100 and œ50, and there are a number of others of smaller amount. Pop. (1801) 1521, (1831) 1709, (1861) 2407, (1871) 2148, (1881) 2201, of whom 1063 were males and 1138 females, while 19 were in Banffshire. Houses, 476 inhabited, 30 uninhabited, and 2 being built.

The Town of Rothes was constituted a police burgh in 1884. It stands in the SE of the parish just described, and has a station on the Morayshire section of the Great North of Scotland railway system. It is by rail 3 miles N of Craigellachie, 7 NNW of Dufftown, and 11 SSE of Elgin. Founded in 1766, it was long a mere township of crofters; but has now come to be the centre of some local trade. The original feus were given off along the road which runs from N to S, the portion to the S being now known as Old Street, which is continued to the N as New Street. Intersecting the line of these at an acute angle are Green Street and Burnside Street, and Breich Street and Land Street run parallel respectively to New Street and Green Street. The original houses, which were merely one-story thatched tenements, have now to a large extent been replaced by more pretentious structures. The Established church, near the centre of the town, is a plain building with 800 sittings. It was repaired in 1868, and a clock tower added by public subscription in 1870. A Free Church congregation was formed at the Disruption, but the church was not built till 1858. The Free Church school adjoining is now disused, and has been sold. The public school, on the E side of the town, is a handsome building, erected in 1875-76 at a cost of œ2500. To the W of the town are the Glen Grant, Glen Rothes, and Glen Spey distilleries, the first erected in 1840 and since greatly enlarged, the second erected in 1878, and the last in 1883-84. The Glen Grant distillery can produce about 4000 gallons of whisky per week, and the others about 3000 gallons each. On the Burn of Rothes there is also a meal mill. A system of drainage is to be introduced, half of the expense being borne by the superior. Gas was introduced in 1850, and water in 1870, the supply being taken from a spring below the farmhouse of Blackhall. An additional supply is shortly to be introduced, but the source is not yet settled. Municipal matters are, under the Lindsay Act, managed by a senior magistrate, 2 junior magistrates, and 6 commissioners. Municipal constituency (1884) 456. There is a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, under Elgin, branch offices of the Caledonian and North of Scotland banks, a National Security Savings' Bank, agencies of 15 insurance companies, a police station, a masonic lodge (St John's, No. 193). There are fairs on the Thursday before the third Fridays of March and April, the Monday before the first Tuesday of June, the Monday before the third Tuesdays of July and October, and the Tuesday before the third Wednesday of December; but, except that in July, which is a large harvest feeling market, they are practically extinct. Sheriff small debt courts are held four times a year for the parishes of Rothes and Knockando, and police courts as required. Pop. of the village (1861) 1465, (1871) 1319, (1881) 1382, of whom 666 were males and 716 females. Houses (1881) 327 inhabited, 24 uninhabited, and 2 being built.—Ord. Sur., sh. 85, 1876.

(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4); © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland)

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a parish containing a small police burgh"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 4th order divisions")
Administrative units: Rothes ScoP       Rothes Burgh       Banffshire ScoCnty       Moray ScoCnty
Place: Rothes

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