Old Rayne

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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Rayne (formerly Rane, Raine, Rain, and Rayn; Gaelic raon, ` a field of good ground '), a parish of central Aberdeenshire, containing at its SW border the village of Old Rayne, 1 5/8 mile NNE of Oyne station, and 3½ miles E by N of Insch, under which it has a post office. Here is a granite market-cross, nearly 12 feet high, erected probably towards the close of the 17th century, when John Horn of Westhall, superior of Old Rayne, was empowered to constitute it a burgh of barony; and Lawrence Fair, a large horse market, is still held here on the Wednesday after the first Tuesday of August, o. s. Containing also Meikle-Warthill village, the parish is bounded N by Auchterless, NE by Fyvie, E by Daviot, SE by Chapel of Garioch, S and SW by Oyne, and W by Culsalmond. Its utmost length, from N to S, is 5 miles; its breadth varies between ¼ mile and 4¾ miles; and its area is 7890¾ acres, of which 5¾ are water. The drainage goes mostly to the river Ury, which flows 21/8 miles south-eastward along the south-western border; but the Black Burn, an affluent of the Ythan, traces the Auchterless boundary. In the extreme S, on the Ury, the surface declines to 270 feet above sea-level; and thence it steadily rises to 486 feet on the highest ground to the S of Drum's Cairn, to 491 at the parish church, and to 854 on the top of Rothmaise Hill. This last, near the northern border, is now all cultivated, except a piece around the summit, which has been planted. To the S there used to be a stretch of moss, extending from E to W; but it has now been nearly all brought under tillage. The NE corner of the parish, along the Fyvie border, is occupied by a considerable tract known as the Warthill Moss, but the peat is being gradually exhausted, and at no distant time the ground will doubtless become ploughed land. The prevailing rocks are greenstone or whinstone in the southern and central parts of the parish; and in the northern, claystone, with a schistose tendency on exposure. These are used for building purposes. There is no granite, though it abounds in the parishes to the S of the Ury. The soil of the arable lands is either a rich loam incumbent on clay, or a shallower and more gravelly loam incumbent on till or rock; and it is generally of good fair quality, but wants lime. About four-fifths of the area are in tillage, and upwards of 350 acres are under wood. Agriculture is in an advanced state, and is carried on by an intelligent, industrious, and well-behaved people. The farms are all of moderate size, with a considerable number of crofts. The farmhouses and steadings on the larger holdings are generally good, but the crofters' and cottars' houses are in some districts very indifferent, and sorely need improvement. There are or were a number of cairns in the parish, near all of which sepulchral remains have been found. Drum's Cairn, now almost vanished, on the moors of Rayne, owes its name to a tradition that Irvine, the laird of Drum, was slain there while in pursuit of Donald of the Isles after the battle of Harlaw; and Tullidaff's Cairn, in the NE corner of the Stobcors Wood, is so called from its being the reputed scene of the slaughter of the last of the Tullidaffs of that ilk, in revenge of the supposed murder of the first Leslie of Warthill in Lowran Fair. About ¼ mile SE of Old Rayne, on the Candle Hill, is a Druidical or stone circle, and on the E side of Rothmaise there are traces of another; where, also, are to be seen the Crichton and Federate Stones, said to point out the spot where certain members of these families had a fatal -encounter. The Bowman Stone, a little to the W of the church, points to the place where the parishioners used to meet to practise archery. The great Roman road from the Dee at Peterculter to the camp at Glenmailen on the Ythan, crossing the Ury a little above Pitcaple Castle, would pass right through Rayne; and at Freefield there is a grassy mound, 60 yards in circumference, and formerly of considerable height, called the Spy Hill, and conjectured with much probability to have been originally one of its signal stations. It is on the probable line, and traces of the road are found in the vicinity. The whole parish from very early times belonged to the Bishops of Aberdeen, and at Old Rayne they had a residence situated on a small moated eminence where the new public school now is, in digging the foundations of which traces of former buildings and certain remains were found. John Barbour, the father of Scottish poetry and author of The Bruis, was parson of Rayne in the latter half of the 14th century; and he seems to have been almost immediately succeeded in the same office by the famous priest Lundy, chaplain to Douglas, and one of the heroes of Otterburn. Mr John Middleton, minister of Rayne during the supremacy of the Covenant, and one of the chaplains to General Middleton's forces in the north, died in 1653, and his memory is perpetuated in the following curious epitaph on a slab of Foudland slate close to the S wall, but outside the church-

'Whereas I stood in pulpit round,
And now I ly alow the ground;
When as you cors my corps so cold,
Remember the word that I you told.'

William Leslie (1657-1727), a son of a laird of Warthill, rose, from being schoolmaster of Chapel of Garioch, to be Bishop of Laibach and metropolitan of Carniola and a prince of the Holy Roman empire. Mansions, noticed separately, are Freefield and Warthill; and the landed property is divided among eight. Rayne is in the presbytery of Garioch and the synod of Aberdeen; the living is worth £275. The parish church stands 23/8 miles NE of Old Rayne, and 1 mile W of Warthill station, this being 3¾ miles NNW of Inveramsay Junction. It was built in 1789. and contains 544 sittings. The belfry belonged to the previous church, and has on it the initials M.W.A. (Mr Walter Abercrombie, then minister of Rayne), and the date 1619. The church occupies a prominent position on the tableland, and has long been known as 'the white kirk of Rayne.' The old part of the manse has the date 1627 on one of the skewstones, but it has been from time to time repaired, enlarged, and altered. It is a fair house of its kind. The old parish school was in the Kirktown, but it was discontinued and sold, and the North public school and residences (cost over £2000), situated 1 mile N of the church at the cross roads at Cockmuir, were opened in 1877. A new public school and residence (cost over £700) was erected at Old Rayne, and opened in 1880. The former school has accommodation for 150 and the latter for 76 children, and they had (1883) respectively an average attendance of 91 and 77, and grants of £89, 2s. 6d. and £73, 14s. There has long been a side school at Meikle-Warthill, not under public management. Valuation (1860) £7122, (1885) £8711, 13s. 6d., plus £470 for railway. Pop. (1801) 1228, (1831) 1484, (1851) 1550, (1871) 1409, (1881) 1284.—Ord. Sur., shs. 86, 76, 1876-74.

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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