Parish of Duffus

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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1791-99: Duffus
1834-45: Duffus

Duffus, a village and a coast parish of Elginshire. A neat clean place, lying 1 mile inland, the village of New Duffus is 43/8 miles E by S of Burghead station, 2 ESE of Hopeman, and 5¼ NW of Elgin, under which it has a post office. Pop. (1861) 159, (1871) 170, (1881) 161. The parish, containing also the small towns and villages of Burghead, Hopeman, Cummingston, and Roseisle, is bounded W and NW by the Moray Firth, NE by Drainie, SE by New Spynie, and SW by Alves. Its length, from E to W, varies between 37/8 and 6½ miles; its utmost breadth, from N to S, is 37/8 miles; and its area is 9865¼ acres, of which 1 is water, and 386¾ are foreshore. The coast-line, 7¼ miles long, is fringed to the W, along Burghead Bay, by low sandy links; elsewhere, at Burghead and along the north-western shore, it is almost everywhere rocky, in places precipitous. to the E being pierced by some large and remarkable caves. Inland, the flat-looking surface attains 225 feet at Clarkly Hill, 235 near Inverugie, 241 near Burnside, and 287 at Roseisle, thence again gently declining southward and south-eastward to only 32 feet at Bridgend and 11 at Unthank. The seaboard, to the breadth of ½ mile, was once a rich cultivated plain; but having been desolated by sand drift, in a similar manner to the Culbin Sands, was afterwards reclaimed for either pasture or the plough, and now presents an appearance of meagre fertility. The rest of the land is all arable. No river touches the parish, scarcely even a rivulet; and springs are few and scanty. Sandstone and limestone occur, and are quarried. The soil, in the E, is a deep and fertile clay, like that of the Carse of Gowrie; in the W, is a rich black earth, occasionally mixed with sand, but generally yielding first-rate crops. So that, not from its situation, but from its great fertility, this parish has been called the Heart of Morayshire. Fully five-eighths of the entire area are in tillage, about one-third is pasture, and some 350 acres are under wood. Duffus Castle, 1¾ mile SE of the village, was built in the time of David II., and, crowning a mound near the NW shore of Spynie Loch, was surrounded with a moat, and approached by a drawbridge; its walls, 5 feet in thickness, consisted of rough, cemented stones. Belonging originally to the family of De Moravia, it afterwards was long the seat of the family of Sutherland, who bore the title of Lords Duffus from 1650 till 1843; and it is now a picturesque ruin. An obelisk, falsely thought to have been erected by Malcolm II. in commemoration of a victory over the Danes under Camus, stood till within the present century near Kaim; and several tumuli are on the heights at the shore, whilst sarcophagi have been exhumed on the estate of Inverugie. Duffus House, 3 furlongs ESE of the village, is the seat of Sir Archibald Dunbar of Northfield, sixth Bart. since 1698 (b. 1803; suc. 1847), who owns 1828 acres in the shire, valued at £3414 per annum. Another mansion is Inverugie; and the whole parish is divided among 27 proprietors, 7 holding each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 1 of from £50 to £100, and 19 of from £20 to £50. In the presbytery of Elgin and synod of Moray, this parish is divided ecclesiastically into Duffus and Burghead, the former worth £358. Its church is a handsome edifice of 1868, with a spire. Four public schools- Burghead, Duffus, Hopeman, and Roseisle-with respective accommodation for 351,126, 362, and 38 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 256,93,240, and 23, and grants of £204,16s. 6d., £97,15s. 6d., £198,19s., and £29,12s. 6d. Valuation (1881) £13,949,19s. Pop. (1801) 1339, (1831) 2308, (1861) 3308, (1871) 3716, (1881) 3985.—Ord. Sur., sh. 95,1876.

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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