- ROTHES, a parish, partly in the county of Banff, but chiefly in that of Elgin; containing 1843 inhabitants, of whom 946 are in the village, 8½ miles (S. W. by S.) from Fochabers. This place in 1782 received a considerable augmentation by the annexation of a part of the suppressed parish of Dundurcus, the remaining portion being united to the parish of Boharm, on the east side of the Spey. It stretches in length about nine or ten miles along the river, which here has several picturesque windings; and measures about three miles in average breadth; comprising 13,440 acres, of which 7450 are cultivated or in pasture, 2250 under plantations, and the remainder in its natural state. The surface is highly diversified, consisting of level tracts lying adjacent to the river, and well cultivated, and a series of irregular elevations of different height. These latter form throughout the district a kind of barrier inclosing the lower grounds on all sides, and contain extensive plantations, and large tracts of moor and moss, affording abundance of good fuel, and natural pasturage for cattle and numerous flocks of sheep. The land near the river is intersected by the terminating points of several hills, separating it into four distinct haughs or detached plains, called Dandaleith, Rothes, Dundurcus, and Orton, which have a rich and fertile soil of alluvial earth, and deposits of clay, gravel, and sand, or deep loam, and produce fine crops of oats, barley, and wheat. Along the base of the hills, the soil is sharp and gravelly; and in the more elevated parts, much intermixed with moss. At the northern extremity of the parish, the Duke of Richmond has the district of Inchberry, covering 835 acres; two-thirds are moor, and the soil altogether of inferior quality. On the east side of the river, in the county of Banff, projecting from the hill of Beneagen, is the estate of Aikenway, of peninsular form, and divided into two farms and a small croft. Besides the cultivated tracts adjacent to the Spey, portions of the hills have been brought under profitable tillage; and the Glen of Rothes, a defile skirted on each side by lofty mountains, and through which passes the road from Elgin, contains several farms producing heavy crops of grain.The improvements introduced chiefly comprise the rotation system of cropping, and the extensive use of lime manure; many tracts of waste ground have been reclaimed, and the harvests are in general early, being favoured by the shelter, on one side, of the high hills of the parish, and on the other by the mountain of Beneagen. The substrata consist mainly of granite, of which blocks varying in size are scattered over the surface; in the neighbourhood of the mountain streams are found hard sandstone, and mica-slate imbedded in granite. At the southern extremity of the parish is the celebrated rock of the Lower Craigellachie, formed of immense masses of quartz; and between this and the village of Rothes is the eminence of Conerock, composed of the same material, and exhibiting, when broken, beautiful specimens of rock-crystal, formerly much in demand. The rateable annual value of Rothes is £3824. The wood consists chiefly of larch and Scotch fir, many trees of which are seen in a very thriving condition, and of full growth, around Orton House, the principal mansion in the parish, situated on a pleasant eminence nearly a mile from the river. The house of Auchinroath, a commodious residence, is ornamented with large plantations of larch and Scotch fir; and in many parts are clumps and belts, in addition to those already named, consisting of oak, beech, ash, elm, and other trees. The village, containing a population of 946 persons, is the property of the Earl of Seafield, the chief proprietor of the parish, and is situated on a pleasant spot surrounded by lofty hills; it was commenced in 1766, and the land let out on leases of two-nineteen years, and the life-rent, thereafter, of the possessor. Each tenement occupies the eighth part of an acre; the annual rent is ten shillings, and attached to each is an acre or two separately rented, which, being of good quality, assists the occupant in obtaining a comfortable livelihood.The inhabitants are chiefly mechanics and agricultural labourers, no business being carried on in the parish in the form of manufacture, except the production of rough blanketing to a small extent. A few persons, also, are engaged during the season in the salmonfishery carried on in the Spey; and others in a large distillery recently erected, in which between 30,000 and 40,000 gallons of whisky are annually made. The Elgin road runs through the district; and a road branches off at the village, leading to Garmouth. Three fairs are held annually for the sale of black-cattle and for general business, respectively on the third Thursday in April, the third Wednesday in July, and the third Wednesday in October. The parish is in the presbytery of Aberlour and synod of Moray, and the patronage belongs to the Earl of Seafield and the Crown: the minister's stipend is £159, of which nearly a fourth is paid by the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe of nearly twenty acres, that of Dundurcus having been annexed. The church is a plain structure, situated in the centre of the village. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school affords instruction in the ordinary branches; the master has a salary of £34. 4., augmented by an allowance from the Dick bequest, with a house, £26. 5. fees, and the interest of £500 left recently by Dr. J. Simpson, a native of the parish. A savings' bank was established about the year 1840. Near the village are the remains of the wall belonging to an ancient fortified castle, once the seat of the earls of Rothes; and on the south side, at a short distance, are the vestiges of a burial-ground formerly attached to the chapel, of which latter nothing exists. A little further is the Chapel well, highly celebrated in Roman Catholic times. About two miles from the village of Rothes is the ruin of the old church of Dundurcus, with its burial-ground, inclosed with a substantial wall built a few years since at the cost of Dr. Simpson.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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