Knockando

   KNOCKANDO, a parish, in the county of Elgin, 14 miles (S.) from Elgin; containing, with the village of Archiestown, 1676 inhabitants. Knockando derives its name from two Gaelic words signifying "the black hill," or "hill with the black head." It has the ancient parish of Elchies united to it, but no distinct record of union is preserved: both parishes were vicarages, the former depending on the parson of Inveraven, and the latter on the parson of Boterie. This is considered a Highland parish, though the provincial Scotch, with a mixture of English, has entirely superseded the Gaelic language, which is spoken in the neighbouring parishes. A place here, called Campbell's Cairns, is thought by some to derive its name from a battle fought between the Campbells and some other clan, in which the former were defeated. Others, however, think the name arose from Cossack Dhu, an ancient freebooter, who is said to have concealed his plunder among the cairns. The most important event of modern times connected with the district is the terrible flood which occurred in 1829, and produced appalling desolation to fields, houses, mills, and every description of property within the range of its fury, and the details of which have now become interwoven with the history of Moray.
   The parish is of an irregular figure, stretching along the bank of the river Spey, extending between sixteen and seventeen miles in length, and varying from two to six in breadth. It is bounded on the north by Dallas and Birnie parishes; on the south by the Spey, which separates it from Inveraven and Aberlour, in the shire of Banff; on the east by Rothes; and on the west by the parishes of Cromdale and Edinkillie. The surface is considerably diversified by a succession of hills and glens, with several level haughs near the river; and there is an eminence towards the west, called James Roy's Cairn, supposed to be the highest ground in Morayshire. In the moorlands are two lakes called Benshalgs and Loch Coulalt; but the larger does not exceed a mile in circumference. A number of burns, also, water the parish, in all of which trout are found, and which, in a rainy season, overflow their banks, and rush forward with great impetuosity: in the celebrated flood of 1829, they came down with tremendous force from the hills, swollen to the size of rivers, and carrying every thing before them to the Spey. The Spey is the most rapid river, as well as one of the principal rivers, in Scotland; and many rafts of timber are sent down its stream from the forests of Rothiemurchus and Abernethy.
   The soil varies very considerably, running through the different kinds of land, black gravelly mould, heavy clay, and moss; resting in some parts upon clay, and in others upon gravel. The alluvial deposits consist of clay, bog-iron ore, peat, fullers'-earth, and marl; and oak and fir roots, and whole trees, have been found imbedded in the several large mosses. Independently of the estate of Knockando, which comprehends about a third part of the whole parish, 2034 acres are in tillage or pasture, 7986 are uncultivated, and 680 under plantation. All kinds of grain and green crops are grown; but agriculture is generally backward, and modern practices have been only partially adopted; very few lands are inclosed, and the farm-buildings are usually of an inferior kind. Improvements are, indeed, advancing on the grounds of some of the larger proprietors; but the smallness of the farms, and the limited use of manure, with the want of capital, operate to prevent the extension of these improvements throughout the parish. The rocks are all of the primitive formation, and consist of granite, felspar, mica, sandstone, and rock-crystal. The rateable annual value of the parish is £3857.
   The mansions are those of Easter Elchies, built in the year 1700, by the father of the late Lord Elchies; the house of Knockando, built in 1732, now partly in ruins, but capable of repair, and beautifully situated near the banks of the Spey; and Wester Elchies, a building of more modern date, in the castellated style, belonging to the Grant family. The scenery around these seats, particularly Knockando, is exceedingly picturesque and beautiful. The only village is Archiestown; it is three-quarters of a mile in length, and consists of a double row of houses, with a square in the centre of about half an acre. There are four meal-mills, a waulk-mill, a carding-mill, and some saw and threshing mills: at the waulk and carding mills, wool is dyed and manufactured into plaiding and broad cloth, blankets and carpets. Weaving and spinning are also carried on in the parish; and there are two distilleries, which have a very high character. On the Spey is a salmon-fishery, and trout-angling is practised to a great extent on that river and all the burns. Roads to Elgin and Forres run through the parish, and are in good order; but the other roads are in general in a deplorable state. The bridge of Craigellachie affords a transit over the Spey; and there are numerous ferries; as well as wooden bridges across the burns. The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Aberlour and synod of Moray; patron, the Earl of Seafield. The stipend of the minister is £158, of which a small portion is received from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe of about fourteen acres, valued at £13 per annum. The church, built in 1757, and repaired in 1832, is a small plain edifice, though remarkably neat within; it contains 477 sittings, and is conveniently situated for the population. The Independents have a place of worship. There are two parochial schools, each of the masters of which has a salary of £25. 13., with a share of the Dick bequest, and about £8 or £10 fees: instruction is given in Latin, the mathematics, and the usual branches of education. Three other schools are supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge; two of them are taught by females. In the parish are several mineral springs occasionally used for medicinal purposes. There are two ancient caves, one of which is designated the Cave of Hairnish An Tuim, supposed to be James Grant, nephew of the well-known Carron: the other is called Bane's Hole, from Donald Bane, the robber, who is said to have been shot and buried in the neighbourhood. Lord Elchies, already mentioned, a distinguished judge, was born in Easter Elchies; and the Messrs. Grant, of Manchester, who have established one of the most extensive mercantile concerns in England, are also natives of the parish.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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