- KINGUSSIE, a parish, in the Mainland district of the county of Inverness, ½ a mile (E. by N.) from Pitmain; containing, with part of the late quoad sacra parish of Insh, the villages of Kingussie and Newtonmore, and the hamlet of Ralia, 2047 inhabitants, of whom 460 are in the village of Kingussie. This place, which is of remote antiquity, derives its name, in the Celtic language Ceannghiubhsaiche, from the situation of its ancient church at the head of a wood of firs, of which that term is significant. The whole of the lordship of Badenoch, in the centre of which this parish lies, originally belonged to the Cumyns, earls of Badenoch and Buchan, of whom John, the first lord of Badenoch, laid claim to the throne of Scotland on the death of Alexander III. in 1285. As superior baron of the kingdom, he was summoned by Edward I. of England to attend him in his wars in Gascony. Upon his death, he was succeeded by his son, John, who, after a continued struggle to maintain the independence of his country, in which he obtained a victory over the English at Roslin, was compelled, subsequently to the battle of Stirling, to yield to the superior power of Edward. At the succession of Bruce to the crown of Scotland in 1306, the lord of Badenoch became a victim to the resentment of that king; and the lordship was included among the lands which Bruce erected into the earldom of Moray in 1314, and bestowed upon his nephew, Randolph. The earldom continued in the possession of that family till the year 1371, about which time it became the property of the Stuarts, of whom Robert, the first Stuart who ascended the throne of Scotland, conferred it on his son, Alexander, in whose favour he revived the title of lord of Badenoch. Alexander, who, from the ferocity of his character, was styled the Wolf of Badenoch, resided chiefly in the castle of Ruthven, in this parish, the ancient seat of the Cumyns, a strong fortress situated on the banks of the river Spey. Here, in perfect security, and presuming upon his connexion with the crown, he exercised despotic tyranny over his vassals, and spread terror and dismay throughout the adjacent districts. Upon his death, about the year 1394, the lordship descended to his son, who was the last of the family of the Stuarts connected with the earldom of Moray, which subsequently passed to the first earl of Huntly, upon whom the lordship of Badenoch was conferred by James II., in reward of his services at the battle of Brechin in 1452. The site of the castle of Ruthven, the seat of the lords of Badenoch, was occupied by barracks erected soon after the rebellion in 1715, to keep the inhabitants in check; and in 1745, the garrison stationed here, with the exception of a serjeant and twelve privates who were left for the protection of the buildings, accompanied Sir John Cope on his march to the battle of Prestonpans. During their absence the barracks were defended by this small party against a body of 200 insurgents; and in the following year, they sustained a violent assault for three days from 300 of the rebels, under Gordon, of Glenbucket, to whom the force surrendered on terms of honourable capitulation. The barracks were soon afterwards burnt by the insurgents, and are now a heap of ruins.The parish, which is bounded on the south by the Grampian hills, is about twenty-one miles in length, from east to west, and nearly eighteen miles in breadth; but, from the extreme irregularity of its form, and the great inequality of the surface, it has been found impossible to ascertain its superficial extent with any degree of accuracy. The surface is strikingly varied, and even the lowest grounds have an elevation of 850 feet above the level of the sea. In the northern portion, the mountains of Monadhliadh stretch for a considerable distance along the boundary; and from their base the lands gradually subside into an extensive vale, beyond which they as gradually ascend towards the Grampians on the south. The principal river is the Spey, which has its source in a small lake of that name in the parish of Laggan, and, winding in an easterly course through the open and fertile valley previously noticed, for more than seven miles, flows into Loch Insh at the eastern extremity of the parish, whence, taking a more northerly direction, it falls into the Moray Frith at Garmouth. The river Truim, which forms part of the western boundary of the parish, has its source in the forest of Drumuachter, near the Grampians, and, flowing northward through the parish, joins the Spey not far from Laggan. The Tromie, which separates this parish from that of Insh, on the east, rises to the south of the parish, and, running northward through the glen to which it gives name, falls into the Spey near Old Milton. The Calder, which has its source in the mountains to the north, and the Gynag, which issues from a small lake of that name, both take a southern course, and flow into the Spey. There are also numerous lakes; but few exceed a mile and a half in length and three-quarters of a mile in width. In Loch Gynag is a small island, on which may still be traced the vestiges of what is supposed to have been a castle: nothing, however, of its history is recorded. About six miles of Loch Ericht are likewise within the boundaries of the parish; but the shores are altogether destitute of beauty or variety, with the exception of a small portion near the southern extremity of the parish, where the banks are rather steep, and in some parts fringed with trees. Salmon, and char for some weeks in October, are found in the Spey; and trout and pike in the smaller rivers and lakes. The forest of Gaick, though almost destitute of wood, abounds with numerous herds of deer, and is much frequented by sportsmen.The soil in the meadows, and along the banks of the Spey and its tributaries, is deep and fertile. The valley through which the Spey flows is especially rich, and in good cultivation, constituting almost the only arable land in the parish, the hills and uplands being generally heathy, adapted only for pasture, and portioned out in sheep-walks. The chief crops are oats and barley, with other kinds of grain; but not more grain is raised than is sufficient for the supply of the parish. The system of husbandry is improved, and a due rotation of crops is regularly observed; considerable portions of waste land have been reclaimed by draining and embanking, and the farm-buildings of the larger holders are substantial and commodious. The sheep reared are of the black-faced breed, with a few of the Cheviot on the lower lands; the cattle, with the exception of some of the Ayrshire on the dairy-farms, are all of the common Highland breed, to the improvement of which the greatest attention is paid. Though formerly the face of the country was covered with wood, and a very extensive forest of fir reached almost to the village, there are but small remains of ancient timber. The plantations, which are chiefly of recent growth, consist of fir and larch, interspersed with mountain-ash and oak, for which the soil is well adapted; and alder, hazel, and birch appear to be indigenous, especially the last, with which the rising grounds on the south bank of the Spey are extensively covered. The prevailing rocks throughout the parish are, quartz, felspar, and micaslate: there are neither mines nor quarries in operation. Specimens of silver and lead ore have been found in the river Gynag, but in very small quantity; and some years since, silver-ore was discovered at no great distance from the village, the working of which has, however, long been discontinued. The rateable annual value of the parish is £4626. Belleville House, pleasantly situated to the east of the village, near Loch Insh, and formerly the residence of Macpherson, translator of the poems of Ossian, is in the parish of Alvie.The village of Kingussie is on the north bank of the river Spey; the inhabitants are chiefly employed in the handicraft trades requisite for the supply of the neighbourhood, and there are several shops amply stored with various kinds of merchandise. A public library is supported by subscription, and has a collection of about 300 volumes on history and general literature. The post-office has a delivery each day in the week, both from the north and south parts of the kingdom; and facility of communication is maintained by good roads, of which the great Highland road from Perth to Inverness passes for sixteen miles through the parish; and by bridges over the various rivers, kept in excellent repair. Fairs, chiefly for cattle and for hiring servants, are held in the village, on the last Tuesday in May, the Friday in the week after the Falkirk tryst in September, and the Friday before the Falkirk tryst in October; and markets for cattle and for general business are held monthly, on Tuesday, from April to November. A building was erected in the village in 1806, which contains a neat court-room for the meetings of the magistrates for the district, and a small prison for the temporary confinement of offenders till their commitment to the county gaol. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Abernethy and synod of Moray. The minister's stipend is £269. 18., with an allowance of £50 in lieu of a manse; and the glebe, which has been greatly improved by the present incumbent, is valued at £50 per annum: patron, the Duke of Richmond. The church, which is situated on a wooded eminence in the village, was built in 1792, and contains 900 sittings: being in a state of dilapidation, it was very fully repaired a few years ago. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £34, with a good house, and an allowance in lieu of garden, and the fees average about £20. There are some slight remains of Druidical circles, and vestiges of a Roman camp: in clearing the ground near the latter, a Roman urn containing burnt ashes, and a tripod, were found a few years since, and both are carefully preserved. There are also vestiges of an ancient building said to have been a priory, and a monastery once existed in the parish; but little of the history of either is known.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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