ARDCLACH, a parish, in the county of Nairn, 12 miles (S. S. W.) from Forres; containing 1177 inhabitants. This place derives its name from its situation in a mountainous and rocky district, of which the Gaelic words are faithfully descriptive. The parish is bounded on the north by the parishes of Auldearn and Nairn, and on the west by the parish of Cawdor, and is nearly 16 miles in extreme length, and 12 miles in extreme breadth. During the wars of the Covenanters, it shared largely in the hostilities of that distracted period; after the battle of Auldearn, in 1645, the lands here of Brodie, of Lethen, were plundered by the forces of the Marquess of Montrose, and in 1649 and 1653, were again desolated, after unsuccessful assaults of Lethen Castle, by the Marquess of Huntly, and the troops under the Earl of Glencairn, respectively. The whole number of acres in the parish is about 40,000, of which nearly 4000 are arable, about 2800 woodland and plantations, and the remainder hill-pasture, moorland, and waste. The surface is mountainous, and some of the hills considerable, of which that called the Shaw has a height of 800 feet, and the hill of Lethenbar of 862 feet, above the level of the sea; the lower lands are watered by numerous springs and the river Findhorn, which latter rises in the mountains of Inverness, and flows through the parish, in a north-easterly direction, into the Moray Frith. In its course, it receives many tributary streams descending from the higher lands, of which the principal are, the burns of Torgarrow and Altnarie, which, in their descent, form beautiful cascades; the burns of Drumlochan and Tomnarrach; and the burn of Lethen, or Muckle-Burn, which flows for nearly ten miles through the parish, and falls into the Findhorn near its mouth. The system of agriculture has been greatly improved, under the liberal encouragement given to his tenants by Mr. Brodie, of Lethen, and the rotation plan of husbandry is generally prevalent; the crops are, oats, with other kinds of grain, and various green crops. The soil, in the lower lands, is tolerably fertile, and has been benefited by the use of lime; and the mountainous districts afford pasture for cattle and sheep, of which the former are chiefly of small size, but hardy and adapted to the pastures, and the latter have been much improved by a cross with the Lanarkshire breed. The natural wood is mostly Scotch pine, birch, alder, hazel, mountain-ash, and poplar; and the plantations are principally larch, interspersed with fir; the wood of Dulcie forms an extensive forest of fir, wholly indigenous, and there are also ample and thriving plantations at Glenfairness and Lethen. The rateable annual value of the parish is £2373. The rocks along the course of the river Findhorn, are mainly granite, gneiss, and quartz; the substratum in the western portion of the parish is the old red sandstone, with some of the schistose formation, in which are found impressions of plants, occasionally resting on a layer of conglomerate, with nodules containing imperfect marine fossils, and which, when burnt, produce excellent lime for manure. The moors afford black game and grouse, partridges, snipes, woodcocks, and other birds; and hares and rabbits are found in great number. The lake on the lands of Lethen called Loch Belivat, which covers an area of 27 acres, abounds with trout of three distinct species, weighing, on the average, about two pounds each; and in the centre, is an island, frequented by aquatic fowl of every kind. Salmon are taken in abundance, in the river. Coulmony House, the property of Mr. Brodie, is a handsome mansion, beautifully situated on the river, and Glenfairness House is also a good residence.
   The ecclesiastical affairs of the parish, which, till 1773, was united to Edenkillie, in the presbytery of Forres, are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Nairn and synod of Moray; the minister's stipend, including an allowance of £8. 6. 8. for communion elements, is £248, with a manse, thoroughly repaired in 1841, and a glebe of 7½ acres, valued at £5 per annum; patron, Mr. Brodie. The church, situated nearly in the centre of the parish, and surrounded with a spacious cemetery, was originally built in 1626, and rebuilt in 1762, and again in 1839, at a cost of £500; it contains 686 sittings, and the service is performed alternately in the English and Gaelic languages. A place of worship has been erected in connexion with the Free Church. The parochial school affords an ample course of instruction; the master has a salary of £36. 7. 3., including an allowance of £2 for a garden, with a good dwelling-house, and the fees average from £10 to £15 per annum. There are also, a female school for reading, knitting, and sewing, which receives £5 per annum from the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge; and a school at Fornighty, of which the master has a salary of £15 from the society, and receives £2 from a bequest of Mr. Dunbar, of London. About a mile below the bridge of Dulcie, on the lands of Glenfairness, is an ancient obelisk, on which are rudely sculptured two figures in the Highland costume, supposed to commemorate the fate of a Celtic princess who, eloping with her Danish paramour, was pursued to the hill of Dunearn, on the verge of the river, into which they precipitated themselves, and perished together. On the summit of the hill of Lethenbar is a very perfect Druidical circle; and in the neighbourhood are several tumuli.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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