Moy and Dalrossie


Moy and Dalrossie
   MOY and DALROSSIE, a parish, partly in the county of Nairn, but chiefly in the county of Inverness, 12 miles (S. E.) from Inverness; containing 967 inhabitants, of whom 15 are in that portion within the county of Nairn. This place comprises the ancient parishes of Moy and Dalrossie, which appear to have been united at a distant period not precisely ascertained. The former of these parishes is supposed to have derived its name from the Gaelic term Magh, signifying "a meadow or plain," which is its character; but the name of the latter is of doubtful origin. By some writers it is thought to have been derived from the Gaelic Dalfergussie, signifying "the valley of Fergus," of which, however, there is no corroborative evidence. With great appearance of probability Moy is thought to have been originally called Starsach-na-Gael, descriptive in the Gaelic language of its position at a pass between the Highland and the Lowland territories. This pass, which was bordered by high mountains on both sides, was so narrow that it might be easily defended by a few men against the largest numbers of assailants, and was consequently of great importance to its Highland proprietor, who could at any time make predatory incursions into the Low countries with perfect security, and prevent any of the clans from proceeding through his territories without his permission. So sensible, indeed, of their dependence upon him were the neighbouring chieftains, that they willingly agreed to pay a certain tax, consisting of a portion of their booty, as often as they passed through this defile with the spoils they had taken in their frequent depredations. The lands, in the year 1336, were granted by the Bishop of Moray to William, the seventh lord Mackintosh, the chief of the clan Chattan, which consisted of sixteen different tribes, each having its own leader, but all united under the government of the chieftain, of whose baronial residence, on an island in Loch Moy, there are yet considerable remains. Deadly feuds often arose between these rival bodies; and numerous tumuli are still left, which were raised over the ashes of those slain in conflict. Near the pass previously noticed was a spacious cavern, to which the women and children retired with their cattle during the absence of the clan, and in which they remained in safety under the protection of the very few men whom it was necessary to leave for the defence of the pass.
   During one of these feuds, the clan Cumming had so far prevailed over the Mackintoshes as to force them to retreat for refuge to their stronghold on the island of Loch Moy; and damming up the outlet through which a river issued from the lake, they had raised the waters to such a height as nearly to inundate the island, and threaten their destruction. In this emergency, one of the Mackintoshes constructed a raft, and, furnished with the necessary apparatus, approached the outlet during the night, and, perforating the dam, which was of boards, with numerous large holes, stopped them with plugs having cords attached to their extremities, and fastened all these to one common rope. When the whole of the preparations were adjusted, pulling this rope, the plugs were all withdrawn at once; and the accumulated waters, rushing with irresistible impetuosity, swept away the dam, the bank of turf which inclosed the lake, and the entire forces of the Cummings that had encamped behind it. Such, in fact, was the rapidity of the torrent that it bore down the raft with the bold adventurer who had contrived it, and who, after having thus effected the deliverance of his clan, perished in the midst of his enemies. During the rebellion 1745–6, the Young Pretender, on his approach to Inverness finding that it was occupied by Lord Loudon, with an army of 2000 of the king's forces, diverted his route to the castle of Moy, the seat of the chieftain of the clan Mackintosh, who was at that time serving with his chief vassals under Loudon at Inverness. On reaching the castle, he was cordially received by Lady Mackintosh, who, mustering the remainder of the clan, which had been left for her protection, placed herself at their head, and rode before them as commander, with pistols at her saddlebow, to raise the neighbouring clans for the service of the prince. Loudon, receiving intelligence of the Pretender's movements, made a sudden march to Moy during the night, in the hope of taking him by surprise, and making him his prisoner. At the approach of Loudon's troops, the few Mackintoshes that remained, dispersing themselves in different parts of the woods, fired upon the royal columns as they advanced, and imitating the war-cries of Lochiel, Keppoch, and other well-known clans, threw them into the utmost confusion and dismay. The royal forces, thinking that the whole Highland army was at hand, and distracted by the darkness of the night, retreated to Inverness, and in such disorder that the event, which took place on the 16th of February, 1746, is still recorded as the "Rout of Moy."
   The parish is about thirty miles in length and five miles in breadth; comprising an area of 150 square miles, of which fifty are in the district of Moy; and containing 96,000 acres, of which 3000 are arable and in cultivation, 1600 woodland and plantations, and the remainder hill pasture, moorland, and waste. The surface, generally elevated, is diversified with numerous hills of various height, and intersected by mountainous ranges dividing it into glens forming the habitable portions, and watered by rivers along the banks of which are found the small tracts of arable land. The mountains are not remarkable either for their height or for any peculiarity of feature: the highest has an elevation of about 2500 feet above the level of the sea, and the most interesting of the ranges is Monadh-lia, one of the widest in the country; it is stocked with deer and every variety of game, and is marked with many glens, through the largest of which flows the river Findhorn. This river has its source among the hills of the range, issuing from a chasm in a remarkable mass of rock called the Cloven Stone; in its course it receives tributary streams from the various glens it passes, and is subject to extraordinary degrees of elevation and depression. The swiftness of its current is so great as to bear away before it large portions of the soil which interrupt its progress, the stream forming for itself a straight channel, through which it flows without deviation; and it rises frequently with such rapidity, that a boat crossing it at low water is often carried away by the torrent before it can reach the opposite shore. The only other stream that has any claim to be considered as a river is the Funtack, which issues from Loch Moy, and, after flowing through the small glen to which it gives name, falls into the Findhorn within the parish. Loch Moy is nearly two miles in length, and about three-quarters of a mile in breadth; its depth in some places is eighteen fathoms, and being surrounded with woods of hanging birch, it has in summer a truly picturesque appearance. There are two islands in the lake, whereof the larger contains the remains of the ancient castle, near which have been traced the foundations of a street supposed to have comprised the houses of those vassals who lived with their chief. On this island is an elegant monument erected in 1824, by Lady Mackintosh, to the memory of her late husband, Sir Æneas Mackintosh, Bart. The other island is merely a rude heap of stones, thought to have been artificially formed into a mound, for the administration of justice by the ancient chieftains; and till near the close of the last century it had a gallows for the execution of criminals. The Findhorn formerly abounded with salmon, though within the last few years the number has greatly diminished; and trout, char, and eels are still abundant: the trout, though not large, are of excellent quality, and afford good sport to the angler. Loch Moy is more noted as containing char and eels, than for trout.
   The soil of the arable lands is of good quality, generally either alluvial or a fine black mould, producing favourable crops of grain of all kinds, with potatoes and turnips. The system of husbandry is beginning to improve; and under more favourable tenure, the farm buildings and offices are assuming a more substantial and commodious arrangement, especially on the lands of Mackintosh and Tomatin, where many comfortable farm-houses have been built. Of the hill pastures, comprising nearly 92,000 acres, about 23,000 are common; and of all this extensive tract scarcely 1000 acres are susceptible of cultivation. In their present state these districts afford excellent pasturage for sheep and black-cattle, on the rearing of which the farmers principally depend for their support. The expense and difficulty of procuring lime have hitherto precluded any considerable effort for the improvement of the lands; and though there is every probability that lime might be obtained within the parish, instead of bringing it from a distance, yet no attempts have been made to work it. The rateable annual value of Moy and Dalrossie is £3646. Though originally abounding with wood, there is little of the ancient timber remaining, except on the lands of Moy Hall, the property of the Mackintoshes; and most of the plantations are comparatively of modern growth. Birch, aspen, and mountain-ash appear to be indigenous to the soil; and the more recent plantations are chiefly larch, and fir, of which Mr. Macbean has within the last few years planted nearly two millions of trees on his lands at Tomatin. The primitive rocks are generally granite and gneiss, interspersed with large boulders of sienite: in the east end of the parish is a quarry of granite, of fine texture and colour, well adapted for buildings of every kind, and more especially for such as require strength and durability. Moy Hall, the seat of Alexander Mackintosh, Esq., chieftain of the clan Chattan, is a handsome modern mansion, situated in a richly-wooded demesne near the northern extremity of Loch Moy; it was erected in 1807, by Sir Æneas Mackintosh, and consists of a central quadrangle with two wings. In the grounds near the house is a beautiful monument of marble, erected to the memory of the late Mrs. Mackintosh, who died in London in 1840, by her surviving husband the present proprietor. There are also handsome mansions at Tomatin and at Corrybrough, on opposite banks of the river Findhorn, beautifully seated in well-planted grounds, and inhabited by their respective proprietors.
   No village has been formed within the parish; neither is there any trade or manufacture carried on, beyond the weaving of tartans and blankets for domestic use, which affords employment to the females of the families during winter. Markets for the sale of cattle, horses, and other commodities, are held monthly at Freeburn, where there is a commodious inn, on the Saturday following the Muir of Ord markets, and are numerously attended by dealers; a market for lambs is also held annually, about Lammas. Facility of communication with Inverness and the neighbouring towns is maintained by good roads, of which the great Highland road from Inverness to Perth, passes for seven miles through the parish; and by bridges over the river Findhorn, of which the most important is one built in 1829, at a cost of £2600, to replace a previous structure which had been destroyed by flood. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Inverness and synod of Moray. The minister's stipend is £234. 3. 4., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £10 per annum; patrons, the Mackintosh family, of Geddes. There are two churches, in which the minister officiates on alternate Sabbaths. The church of Moy, situated on the margin of the loch, near the northern extremity of the parish, was erected in 1765, and thoroughly repaired in 1829; it is a neat plain structure containing 360 sittings. The church of Dalrossie, at a distance of nine miles from that of Moy, and on the bank of the Findhorn, is a very ancient structure of small pebbles, containing 380 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £30, with a house and garden, and the fees average about £10 annually. There are several other schools, partly supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and by other societies. In the southwestern portion of the parish are numerous mineral springs, one of which is strongly impregnated with sulphuretted hydrogen, but the exact proportion has not been ascertained: several of these springs have been used medicinally with considerable success.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dalrossie —    DALROSSIE.    See Moy and Dalrossie …   A Topographical dictionary of Scotland


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