- ROTHIEMURCHUS, anciently a civil parish, but now a quoad sacra parish in the parish of Duthil, county of Inverness, 2 miles (S.) from Aviemore; containing 521 inhabitants. This place was formerly shrouded in wood, whence its name, which is derived from the Gaelic term Ràth á mhòr-ghiuthais, signifying "the plain of the great pines." The parish was united civilly and ecclesiastically to that of Duthil in 1630, and thus remained until 1824, when by act of parliament of the 5th of George IV., it was formed into an ecclesiastical parish. It is situated in a district in ancient times the property of the Cumyns, who for a long period held the superiority over rival clans, but were at last succeeded by the Grants, with whom the property has continued to the present time. The river Spey forms the northern boundary, separating Rothiemurchus from the rest of Duthil and from Alvie; while on the south and south-east is the united parish of Crathie and Braemar, in Aberdeenshire. The surface comprehends a tract nearly square, the sides of which measure between seven and nine miles; it is hilly and mountainous, and principally covered with waste, forest, and plantations, a few portions of level ground only being under cultivation. The scenery, though for the most part of a sombre character, is considerably diversified, and presents an assemblage of interesting features, comprising lofty mountain ranges, insulated hills, forests and plantations of birch, Scotch fir, and larch, and lochs, and streams, with a few cultivated plains, so disposed as to constitute on the whole an imposing picture.The Brae Riach, a portion of the Grampian range, rises 4100 feet above the level of the sea, presents numerous precipices, and is a resort for red deer and ptarmigan. It forms, together with a branch mountain named Inch-Riach, the pleasant tract of Glen-Ennich, which has good pasturage for sheep, and contains several lakes, the principal being Loch Ennich, nearly surrounded by lofty and romantic precipices. Loch-an-Eilean, or "the lake of the island," stretches along the base of Ord-bàn, "the white hill," an insulated eminence near the western boundary, clothed to the summit with verdant foliage. In addition to the picturesque beauties of the weeping-birches and the lofty sable pines upon its banks, this lake is ornamented with an island, rendered interesting by a remarkably fine echo, but especially by the ruins of a castle traditionally reported as one of the strongholds of the Wolf of Badenoch, celebrated for his burning Elgin cathedral. Half a mile to the south of this is Loch Gamhuinn, also encircled by dark towering pines, and famous for the Rathad-nameirlich, or "thieves' road," running along its margin, which was the usual pass of the Lochaber reivers in their visits to Moray. About the middle of the parish, to the east of Glen-Ennich, is a pass through the mountains called Laraig-ruadh (red pass), in which a path has been made, with great difficulty, for the purpose of a nearer transit than by the great Highland road to and from the southern markets, for cattle and other produce. One of the most conspicuous objects and most valuable portions of the parish is the great pine-forest near the base of the lofty Cairngorum range. At the commencement of the present century, the proprietor obtained an act of parliament for the unlimited "manufacturing" of the timber, and derived from this source for many years an annual income varying from £10,000 to £20,000. In consequence, a large part of the wood was cut down; and after the operations of sawing carried on by machinery on the spot, setting in motion ten circular and eight plain saws, the timber was conveyed on rafts down the Spey to the village of Garmouth, upon the Moray Frith, where an agent resided to superintend the sale. The works are at present suspended on account of the proprietor's absence. Besides the lochs scattered in every direction, there are numerous streams, all found highly serviceable in floating the timber to the Spey; the Spey abounds in salmon, trout, eels, and pike; and all these, with the exception of salmon, are found also in the lochs.The soil in the vicinity of the river is alluvial and rich, producing heavy crops, which are, however, sometimes injured by floods: that on the higher grounds is various, frequently partaking of the character of the mosses spread over the district, and which afford an inexhaustible supply of fuel. Oats, bear, potatoes, and turnips are the chief crops, but are raised only for home consumption; the last have not been very long introduced, but are now much attended to, and are likely to be cultivated extensively. Numerous improvements in husbandry have been adopted; and much benefit has been derived from the use of lime, the extensive quarries here affording a good supply of limestone. The rocks are of the same nature as those usually found among the Grampians, being of the granitic formation; and crystallized quartz of all shades, but more frequently blue, is abundant in the Cairngorum range, whither many persons resort in order to collect it. The only mansion is that at the Doune, the property of Sir J. P. Grant, Knt., puisne judge at Calcutta; it is a plain modern building, situated on the bank of the Spey, in the midst of beautifully laid out grounds and thriving plantations comprising oak, lime, beech, and ash. These kinds of wood are also found in some other parts, with larch, alder, birch, and pine, the two last of which appear in an especial manner to thrive on this soil. A road traverses the parish, along the southern bank of the Spey, reaching from Craigellachie bridge, near Rothes, to the bridge of Spey near Kingussie; and there is a ferry across the river at Inverdruie, distant from the road about a furlong, by which a communication is kept up with the great Highland road. The sub-post office at Lynevilg, two miles off, on the north bank of the Spey, is the receiving-office for this district: and letters are conveyed to it by mail from Perth, Inverness, Carr-Bridge, and Kingussie. The nearest market-town is Inverness, thirty-three miles distant; but the farmers take their cattle for sale to Grantown, Kingussie, and Castletown of Braemar, distant respectively only sixteen, twelve, and thirty miles. The parish is in the presbytery of Abernethy and synod of Moray, and in the patronage of the Crown: the minister's stipend is £120, with a manse, and a glebe of four acres, valued at £5 per annum. The church, to the west of the mansion-house of the Doune, and ornamented with a belt of plantation, was rebuilt by Sir J. P. Grant, at the cost of £395. A school, situated about the centre of the parish, is supported partly by a payment of £10 per annum from the proprietor; the fees are about £10. The Gaelic is the prevailing language, but it is gradually yielding to the English.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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