RAYNE, a parish, in the district of Garioch, county of Aberdeen; containing, with the hamlets of Meiklewarthill and Old Rain, 1542 inhabitants, of whom 112 are in Old Rain, 12 miles (S. E. by E.) from Huntly. This place is supposed to take its name from the Gaelic word Raon, signifying "a field of good ground," which is pretty descriptive of the land throughout. The parish is about three miles in length and of nearly the same breadth, containing 7300 acres, and forming the extreme northern part of the inland district of Aberdeenshire called Garioch, which here borders on that of Formartine. It is bounded on the north by parts of Fyvie and Auchterless parishes; on the south by the parish of Oyne; on the east by parts of Daviot and Chapel of Garioch; and on the west by Culsamond. The only high ground is the hill of Rothmaise, which rises about 850 feet above the level of the sea; the remaining part of the parish consisting of undulating fields, and gentle acclivities, with a long tract of peat-moss towards the north. The rocks are whinstone, of hard texture and a deep blue colour. The Ury river runs for two miles along the boundary, and separates Rayne from Oyne. The soil on the best grounds is a fertile loam, resting on a subsoil of clay; other portions consist of a comparatively shallow and poor earth with a tilly or rocky bottom; while the extensive tract of peat-moss, comprehending upwards of 500 acres, is for the most part composed of alluvial deposits. Of the 7300 acres, about 5820 are under tillage; 390 consist of moors and ordinary pasture unfit for cultivation; 360 are under wood, and 730 are peat-moss and pasture. Wheat is not much cultivated, the principal crops being oats and bear, with a considerable proportion of turnips. Large numbers of black-cattle are reared, chiefly of the native breed, horned and bald; many, however, have introduced a cross between these and the Teeswater, which adds to the bulk of the carcase, but is thought to deteriorate its quality. A large number of cows, also, are kept for the dairy; and the dairy produce, especially the butter, is abundant. The system of husbandry is good; but the impediments offered by the climate, and the distance from grainmarkets and sea-ports, in some measure prevent the successful development of agricultural skill and labour. The manure chiefly employed is farm-yard dung, with, occasionally, some bone-dust; the grain, as in many other parts, is cut with the scythe, and the fields in general are uninclosed. The farm-houses are mostly plain substantial buildings, of one floor, with thatched roofs; but those recently built are of two floors, and slated. Freefield, the residence of General Sir Alexander Leith, and Warthill, that of the Leslie family, are both modern houses.
   There are two small villages, named Old Rain and Meiklewarthill. The knitting of coarse worsted vests or under jackets for seafaring persons, of blue woollen bonnets for labouring men and boys, and worsted stockings, is carried on to a considerable extent in the parish, and employs about 300 women. There are three fairs annually, namely, a cattle-market at Meiklewarthill; Lawrence fair, held at Old Rain; Andersmas fair at Kirktown, held after Martinmas; and two feeing-markets for servants before Whitsuntide and Martinmas. The agricultural produce is sent to Port-Elphinstone, by Inverury, for the Aberdeen market and for exportation. There is a post-office at Old Rain, near which the Aberdeen and Inverness mail, via Huntly, passes and repasses daily, as well as a stage coach. A line of turnpike-road has been lately opened through Rayne, from the Huntly road at Garden's mill to Meldrum. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5653. Its ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Garioch and synod of Aberdeen; patron, the Crown. The stipend is £225, with a manse, and a glebe of about eight acres, valued at £12 per annum. The church, which was built in 1789, is situated in the centre of the parish, and seats about 700 persons. In the parochial school, in addition to the ordinary branches of education, Latin, Greek, and mathematics are taught, if required; the master has a salary of £25. 13. 4., a house and garden, £28 from the Dick bequest, and about £32. 10. fees. There are also three private schools, where the ordinary branches are taught; and a friendly society. The parish contains an ancient mound, a Druidical temple, and several cairns, under one of which, according to tradition, Irvine, the Laird of Drum, lies interred, having been slain in the pursuit of Donald, Lord of the Isles, after the battle of Harlaw, in 1411.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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