(Upper Speyside)

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Badenoch, the south-eastern district of Invernessshire, bounded NW by the watershed of the Monadhliath Mountains, separating it from Stratherrick and Strathdearn; NE by Elginshire, and partly there by a line drawn across the Braes of Abernethy; SE by the watershed of part of the Braes of Abernethy, the watershed of the central Grampians, and a line drawn across Loch Ericht and round the S base of Ben Alder, separating it partly from Aberdeenshire, mainly from Perthshire; and SW by an artificial line striking the foot of Loch Laggan, and separating it from Lochaber. Its greatest length, from NE to SE, is 45 miles; and its greatest breadth is 19 miles. It includes part of Glen Spey in the SW, and all Glen Truim in the S; and it is traversed, from the convergence of these glens, onward to its north eastern boundary, by the river Spey. The surface, in a general view, is mountainous and wild, and comprises but a small aggregate of low or cultivated land. The south-western third of it is entirely Highland, diversified only by Loch Laggan, the upper part of Loch Ericht, and a few deep narrow glens. The south-eastern border also, to an average breadth of at least 7 miles, is all a continuous mountain mass of the Grampians and the Abernethy Braes, cleft by wild glens. The central tract along the course of the Spey is the principal scene of culture and the principal seat of population; and that, as may be seen from the account of the greater part of it under Alvie and Rothiemurchus, abounds in features of exquisite beauty. Yet many spots in the glens are attractive both in natural character and in artificial embellishment; and a large aggregate of the skirts and shoulders of the mountains is covered with wood.-Badenoch, from the reign of Alexander II. till that of Robert Bruce (1230-1306), was held and despotically ruled by the family of Comyn; and it retains vestiges of their fortresses, as at Loch-an-Eilan and Lochindhorb, which show a massiveness and a strength of masonry never seen in the ordinary baronial fortalices of Scotland. The Comyns, as is well known, contested the crown of Scotland with the Bruces, and acted prominently in the intrigues and conflicts of the wars of the succession. Robert Bruce slew the Red Comyn at Dumfries, and gave the lordship of Badenoch to Randolph, Earl of Moray. In 1371 Robert II. transferred the lordship, with extraordinary powers of barony and regality, to his own illegitimate son, the Earl of Buchan, commonly known as the Wolf of Badenoch. This man was a sort of Celtic Attila, ferocious in temper, cruelly tyrannical in behaviour; and both performed and provoked such deeds of spoliation and slaughter as gave full warrant for his sobriquet. But various persons, called the king's kindly tenants, and also various churchmen, with tenures independent of the local authority, obtained grants of portions of land within Badenoch; and these afterwards maintained many a struggle with the superiors of the soil. The Earls of Huntly, and their successors, the Dukes of Gordon, from 1452 ruled over most of Badenoch. Yet the Clan Chattan, or rather the Macpherson section of that clan, early got possession of the upper section of the district, and always continued to hold that section; while the Macintoshes and the Grants obtained and have held possession of some other parts- Laggan Roman Catholic chapel, designated of Badenoch, was built in 1846, and contains 272 sittings.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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