CROMDALE, a parish, partly in the county of Elgin, but chiefly in that of Inverness, 18 miles (S. W.) from Rothes; containing, with the village of Grantown, 3561 inhabitants. It is supposed to have derived its name from the Gaelic words crom, signifying crooked or curved, and dail, a plain or meadow, a portion of land being made semicircular, by the winding of the river Spey. This district, consisting of the three ancient parishes of Cromdale, Inverallan, and Advie, has from an early period been possessed by the Grant family, who were very powerful in Scotland in the thirteenth century, and the first of whom mentioned in old records was Gregory de Grant, sheriff-principal of Inverness, Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness, in the reign of Alexander II. Among the many sanguinary conflicts of the neighbourhood, a battle fought on the haughs of Cromdale, on the 1st May, 1690, is the most celebrated. It took place between General Buchan, with a large party from different clans, on the side of the Stuarts, and Sir Thomas Livingstone, who commanded the royalists; and the Highlanders, after fighting bravely, were routed with considerable slaughter. The castle of Lochindorb, situated in the parish, on an island in a loch of the same name, afforded a retreat for the lady of the Earl of Athol, when the latter had been killed in an engagement with the Earl of March, in 1335, at Kilblair: Sir Alexander Gordon shortly laid siege to the fort, but was obliged to withdraw in the following year.
   The parish is very irregular in its outline, and is about twenty-seven miles in length, and ten miles at its greatest breadth, comprising, according to a survey made in 1810, 54,744 acres, of which 5306 are arable, 3283 underwood, 396 lake, and the remainder hill, moor, and moss. The lands are separated into two distinct portions by the Spey. Those on the northern side are much varied by slopes, stretching down to the river, and covered with thick forests of pine, oak, and larch; on the south the most prominent feature is Cromdale hill, a lofty mountain ridge, about seven miles long, covered with heath, extending to the east and west, and separating this parish from that of Kirkmichael. Most of the high grounds abound with grouse and different kinds of game, and with brown and white hares; and ptarmigan have been shot in some places: the Spey is well stocked with salmon. The soil is in general favourable; but the vicissitudes of the climate, the site of the parish being 600 feet above the level of the sea, often expose promising crops to ruin from cold and frost. Agriculture is, however, on a very respectable footing, the rotation of crops, and other approved usages of modern farming being followed; and lime is prepared on almost every allotment of land, however small. The sheep are mostly the black-faced, with a few Cheviots; and the black-cattle, which are very superior, are of the West Highland breed. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5849. Primitive limestone of excellent quality is abundant, and is extensively wrought by nearly all the tenants, not only for manure, but for the purposes of building; granite of a superior kind is also found, with many rocks of the primitive formation.
   The parish is famous for its large and flourishing plantations, which are said to exceed those of any other parish in this part of the country. About 5000 acres are covered with larch, fir, and various other trees, half of which have been planted within the last thirty years; and many trees among the older plantations are of great bulk and value, especially in the vicinity of Castle-Grant, whence some have been taken to Garmouth for shipmasts. The natural wood, also, comprises a considerable extent of oak, birch, and alder; and in the churchyard is a very old and magnificent beech, the branches of which are capable of overshadowing more than 1000 persons. The mansion of Castle-Grant is situated on an eminence on the northern side of the Spey, about two miles from the river, and is encompassed with forests of ancient and noble trees. This splendid edifice, the seat of the Grant family from remote ages, but now the property of the Earl of Seafield, the sole proprietor of the parish, was built in the fourteenth century, but has since been frequently altered and improved, especially within the last few years. It consists of a quadrangular pile of several stories, with lower wings; and the apartments, which are spacious, and handsomely furnished, contain many valuable paintings by the ancient masters, and one by Hamilton, of very superior merit, representing the Death of Patroclus. In the front hall are between thirty and forty portraits of different members of the Grant family; and there is also an extensive armoury. The parish is in the presbytery of Abernethy and synod of Moray, and in the patronage of the Earl of Seafield; the minister's stipend is £249, with a manse, and two glebes, the one at Cromdale, and the other at Advie, valued at £22 per annum. The church, situated on the southern bank of the Spey, was built in 1809, and will accommodate 900 persons. There are four parochial schools affording the usual instruction; the masters receive each £12. 16. per annum, with fees, and the master of the school at Advie also shares the Dick bequest. The chief relics of antiquity are, the ruin of the castle of Lochindorb, already mentioned, and that of Muckerach Castle, built by Patrick Grant, about 1598. Sir James M'Grigor, Bart., the head of the medical department of the army, was born here in 1771.
   See Grantown.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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