A New History of Aberdeenshire, Alexander Smith (Ed), 1875
Crathie, or Crathy, is derived from the' Gaelic, Cruidh-achadh or Craoibh-achadh, the former signifying "hard or stony fields," the latter, "ridges intersected with trees." Braemar, anciently the parish of St. Andrews, had its name changed to that of Caenn-drochit or Caenn-na-cbochait, which means Bridge-end, by Malcolm Caen-mor, who had a hunting seat there, and built a bridge over the Clunaidh at Castletown. But at the end of Queen Mary's reign, when the Earl of Mar became proprietor, the name was changed to that of the district. There is no certainty at what time Braemar was united to Crathie.
The united parishes are bounded on the north by the parish of Kirkmichael in Banffshire, and by that part of Strathdon parish called Corgarff; on the east by the united parishes of Glenmuick, Tullich, and Glengairn; on the south by the parish of Glenisla, in Forfarshire, and the parishes of Kirkmichael and Blair Athole, in Perthshire; and on the west by the parishes of Inch and Abernethy, in Inverness-shire.
The extreme length of the parish is 28 miles, measured in a direct line from east to west; and its extreme breadth, from south to north, also in a direct line, is about 18 miles. The whole area is estimated to be 183,238 acres.
The valley of the Dee may be said to divide the united parishes into two nearly equal parts. The ridge of the Grampian mountains run from Cairnbannoch, 3,314 feet above sea level, the Tollmount (3,146 feet), Ben-iutharn-mhor (3,424 feet), to Cairn-ealer (3340 feet), and forms the southern boundary of the parish and County. The western boundary with Inverness-shire runs from Cairn-ealer along the top of Cairntoul (4,220 feet), and the Brae-riach ridge (4,225 feet). The northern boundaries with Banffshire being formed by the tops of the Ben-avon mountains from Ben-mac-dhui, eastward to Corgarff, at the source of the Don, the highest being that of Ben-mac-dhui (4,296 feet), and the lowest point on this range is near to the source of the Don, and 1,500 feet above sea level. The lowest point in the parishes is on the Dee, at Polhollick, opposite the influx of the water of Gairn, and it is 720 feet above sea level; the bridge over the water of Girnock at Woodend, is 800 feet; Abergeldie Castle is 840 feet; Balmoral Palace is 926 feet; the bridge over the Garrawalt (Garbh-allt) in the forest of Ballochbui, is 1,118 feet; Braemar Castle is 1,077 feet; the Roman Catholic Church, Braemar, is 1,110 feet; the Victoria Bridge at Mar Lodge is 1,108 feet; and the Linn of Dee is 1,214 feet above sea level.
The church of Crathie, which is situated on the north side of river, near to the eastern boundary of the parish, is about 920 feet above sea level, the junction of the Gairnshiel and Corgarff road (old military), with the Deeside road opposite Balmoral, is 943 feet; and the old bridge over the Dee at Invercauld, is 1,054 feet. The bridge over the water of Gairn, at Gairnshiel, is 1,110 feet above sea level, and the ridge of the Glaschills, which bounds Glengairn with Strathdon on the north, over which the old military road is carried, is 1720 feet. On the Cairn-well road, from Braemar to Blairgowrie, the old bridge of Auchallater, which is nearly 24 miles south of Castle-town, is 1205 feet above sea level, and the summit of this road on the Cairn-well-hill, on the Perthshire boundary, is 2,230 feet. Loch Callater is l,627 feet. The crest of Loch-na-gar (Cac-Carn- Beag), which is in this parish and on the borders of Glenmuick, is 3,786 feet above sea level. On the north-east face of the mountain there is the Loch (2,575 feet), which lies immediately under "The steep frowning glories of dark Loch-na-gar," from which, it is said, the mountain derived its name. From the edge of the loch, to the top of the mountain, the rocks rise in perpendicular height, from nine to thirteen hundred feet, and when viewed from the water below, these rocks have an awfully grand, wild, and majestic appearance. Those who have seen this dark and gloomy tarn and its dismal surroundings, bereft by nature of verdure and flowers, will not wonder although the fine genius and fertile imagination of Byron, conceived that the spirits of "my fathers " and of departed heroes dwelt among the stupenduous rocks around "dark Loch-na-gar."
The great arterial division of the parishes, as before stated, runs by the Dee, from below Polhollick, or Balthollick on Abergeldie, up to the confluence of the water of Geauly with the Dee, nearly two miles above the Linn, thence by Glen Geauly to the point, on the Inverness-shire frontier mountains, where the water shears or separates, that which falls to the west running through Badenoch to the Spey and the Moray Firth; and that which falls to the east goes by the Dee to the German Ocean.
Returning eastwards, we have on our left the wilds of Benavon, with the mountains of Cairntoul and the Brae-riach ridge, standing as westerly outposts of Ben-mac-dhui, the monarch of Aberdenshire mountains, with broad-backed Ben-a-buird on the east. On our right we have the northern slopes of the Grampians, which are composed of huge mountains, intersected by deep wild glens, lying almost at right angles to the course of the river, and lofty precipices, especially near the summits, with little or no verdure, and but sparsely covered with heath and some Alpine plants. On the chief ridge of the south bounding mountains of Crathie and Braemar with Forfar and Perth shires, are the knaps of Fafernie (3,274 feet), on the south-east boundary of the parishes with Glenmuick, and westwards to Cairn-ealer; the most conspicuous mountains on the chain are those of the Tollmount (3,143 feet), in the top of Glen Callater; Meal O'dhair (3,019 feet), on the east of the Cairn-well road ; and the Cairn-well-hill (3,059 feet), on the west; Carn-nan-sach (2,957 feet), and Carn-geoidh (3,194 feet), in the top of the Baddoch; Ben-iutharn-bheag (3,111 feet), and Ben-iutharn-mhor (3,424 feet), in the top of Glen-ey; and Carn-bhac (3,014 feet.) West of Carn-bhac, the boundary runs along the ridge of the Scarsoch mountains, and terminates in Cairn-ealer, on the confines of Perth and Inverness shires; the latter mountain forming part of the great central chain of mountains which run from Ben Vualach on the east of Loch Ericht in Perthshire, to the Braeriach and Cairngorm mountains east of Strathspey. The chief range of mountain ground lying between the valley of the Dee and the top of the Grampians, is high and wild, and the surface naturally barren and forbidding. In that portion from the lower division of the parishes formed by the water of Girnock on the east, up to Glen Gelder on the west, we have the mountains of Tom Bad-a-mhonaidh (1,553 feet), south of Abergeldie Castle ; Craig-Gowan (1,437 feet, on which there are Prince Albert's, and other memorial cairns) south of Balmoral Palace; with Creag-a-ghaill (1,971 feet), Mealll-gorm (1,809 feet), and Conach-Craig (2,777 feet, the two latter being on the Glenmuick boundary); and the Meikle Pap of Loch-na-gar (3,211feet). Between Glen Gelder and the burn of Fein-dallo-char, are the falls of the Garbh-allt, Garrawalt (1,250 feet), there is the Princess Royal's cairn (1,479 feet), in the woods of Gar-maddie, which form the western boundary of the royal farm of Invergelder. There is the Ripe-hill (1,678 feet), which is all planted, and Craig-doineanta (2,825 feet), is on the borders of Balloch-buie forest; Cairn-fiachlan (2,703 feet), Creag-liath (2,825 feet), Meall-coire-na-Saobhaidhe (3,121 feet), which are overtopped by Ca-Carn-Beag (3,786 feet), the highest top of Loch-na-gar. From the burn of Fein-dallocher, to the lower parts of Glen Cluney and Glen Callater, there is the mountain of Craig-choinnich (1,764 feet), which is opposite Braemar Castle; Carn-na-sgliat, with the Lion's Face (2,260 feet,), is opposite to Invercauld House, Meall-an-sluichd (2,271 feet) which has the small mountain tarn of Loch Phadruig on its west shoulder; and the highest point of the White Monts (3,430 feet), is south-west of the summit of Loch-na-gar. Between Glen Callater and Glen Cluney, and the burn of the Cairn-well (Allt-Brhuididh), the lower mountain is that of Sron-dubh (1,909 feet), with Craig-nan-gabhar (2,736 feet), and Cairn-Tuirc (3,340 feet); and between the higher parts of Glen Cluney and the Glen of the Baddoch, there is Cairn-aosda (3,003 feet), with Loch Brotachan on its south-west face. On the division between Glen Cluney and Glen-ey: the lower mountains are those of Mhor-shron (2,819 feet), which overlooks Castletown of Braemar, and Carn-mhor (2,293 feet), south of New Mar Lodge; and on the central higher ridge between these glens, is Craig-a-mhadaidh (2,635 feet), Sgor-mhor (2,908 feet), and west of the Baddoch, Carn-cruin (3,075 feet), and An-socach (3,059 feet). Bordering Glen-ey, on the west, there is Craig-an-Lochain (2,890 feet), and Cairn-creagach (2,928 feet), and in the lower part of the glen there are the ruins of Aucherrie (1,404 feet), and higher up the glen the solitary shieling of Alltanower, 1640 feet above sea level. South of the Linn of Dee is Carn-na-moine (2,885 feet), and south of the confluence of the Geaully with the Dee, is the mountain of Cairn-liath, 2,676 feet. Following Glen Geaully westwards, there is the Glen of Bynach and Lodge, on the left; and in the top of the Bynach, there is the burn of Allt Shillochvrein, through which the mountain pass i.e. the Glen Tilt road, leads from Braemar to Blair Athol. West of Glen Bynach, and on the north-eastern slopes of Cairn-ealer, there is Glen Galbie; and on the north there is the mountain pass which leads into the forest of Badenoch and Upper Strathspey.
The range of mountainous ground north of the Dee, runs from the western shoulder of the Geallaig mountain, east and north of Crathie-naird (1,863 feet above sea level), and between that point and Glen Feardar, there is An-creagan (1,857 feet), on the east of the Duchrie burn; Tom-breac (2,276 feet), lies to the north of the Moss of Monaltrie, and the Culardoch (2,953 feet), on the west, with Creag-mhor (1,643 feet, opposite Balmoral), and Leach-gorm (1,946 feet), bordering the valley of the Dee. Between Glen Feardar and Glen Slugain, which is opposite Castletown of Braemar, the lower range of mountains are those of Crag-na-spaine (1,547 feet), Meall-alvie (l,841 feet), with Craig-leek (2,085 feet), and Meall-gorm (2,029 feet), which overtop the woods of Invercauld. North-west of Invercauld are the mountains of Meikle Elrick (2,318 feet), Meall-an-Slu-gain (2,350 feet), and Cairn-liath (2,821 feet), bordering the upper waters of Glengairn. Between Glen Slugain and Glen Quoich, the lower mountains are those of Carn-na-drochaide (2,681 feet), and Carn Elrig-mhor (2,068 feet), and east of the upper glen of the Quoich, Coire-nan-clach, and at the top of Glengairn is the mountain of Carn-eas, south top (deas) 3,189 feet, north top (tuath) 3,556 feet, with Stuc-garb-mhor (3,580 feet), on the north, and Ben-avon (3,286 feet), which is on the Banffshire boundary. North of the upper glen of the Quoich, and between Coire-nan-clach and upper Glen Derry, is the mountain of Ben-a-bhuird, i.e., the table mountain (south top 3,850 feet, north top 3,924 feet, the last being upon the Banffshire boundary). Between Glen Quoich and Glen Lui, and the Glen of Derry, the lower mountain is that of Craig-a-bhuilg (2,190 feet), which overlooks the woods of Mar Lodge, and is overtopped by Meall-na-guallie (2,550 feet), Beinn-bhreac (3,051 feet), and Beinn-chaoruin (3,553 feet), which is on the Banffshire boundary, and on the ridge between Ben-a-bhuird and Ben-mac-dhui. At the confluence of the water of Derry with the Lui, stands Glen Derry Lodge, and the Shieling of Lui-beg, which are about 1,386 feet above sea level.
Between Glen Lui and Glen Dee, the chief lower mountain is that of Leachd-nan-uidhean (2,165 feet), which lies to the north-west of the Linn, and above the Linn are the fields of Delavorar (1,265 feet),"which is the highest arable or cultivated land in the country;" "here," says Dr. Skene Keith, ("we took the elevation of the Dee at its confluence with the Geaully, and found it 1,294 feet above the level of the sea." From this last mentioned point, which is about 68½ miles from the sea by the winding of the river, Glen Dee lies in a north-westerly direction, ancl nearly at right angles to its lower course, and continues so for about five miles to the confluence of the Garchory and the Geusachan, at which point the river is about 1,650 feet above sea level, and within about six miles of the wells of Dee in the top of Glen Garchory. North of Glen Geaully, and west of Glen Dee, and between the latter glen and the Inverness-shire frontier mountains, are the glens and streams of Allt-davie-bheag, and Allt-davie-mhor, and the wild rocky glen of the Geusachan, whose stream is hid in utter solitude in the dark ravines of Potendhuon, and being far removed from any human habitation, and unfrequented by either cattle or sheep, it is more than probable that this is the wildest and most solitary district not only in Aberdeenshire, but in Scotland.
We have gone very sparingly into etymologies, as some readers dislike them, but as these ancient Celtic names of places are generally short descriptive word-pictures of the country extending to the greatest and smallest objects of nature, and as the country senachies, or historians, are fast disappearing, we deem it the more necessary to give the derivations now of some of the more prominent topographical features of this part of Aberdeenshire, which has retained the most ancient language of the country, not in all its purity, as we know and have often heard it said, that Deeside Gaelic is somewhat akin to Yorkshire English, not very pure; however, we shall proceed.
The Grampian Mountains are so called from the Gaelic, Gruaim, gloominess, and Beinn, a mountain, i.e., the gloomy mountains, on account of the clouds which often cover them. The Knaps of Fafernie (Fearna) are said to have been covered with the alder tree. Meall-odhair, is the sharp-pointed hill. Beinn-iutharn-mhor, and iutharn-beag, signifies the mountains of power and strength; they are far removed from any human habitation, and rarely visited. Carn-bhac, signifies the mountain of the wild buck; the Scarsach mountains, which abound in large projecting rocks, and Cairn Ealer (lolaire), signifies the mountain of the eagles. On the west there is Beinn-a-vourich, i.e., the mountain of roaring or rutting. Cairn-toul (Carn-tuil), the mountain of ravines, and Brae-riach (Braighe-ribbach), or the speckled mountain, which is overtopped by Ben-mac-dhui (Beinn-muc-dubh), the mountain of the black sow. East of the latter mountain is Beinn Chaorinn, or, aoruinn, i.e., the mountain of the plane-trees, but most likely the plain of the mountains. Ben-a-vourd (Beinn-a-bhuird), the table mountain, Ben-avon (Beinn-abhuinn), the mountain of the river, and Cairn-derg, or dearg, the red mountain, so called from the reddish colour of its granite. At the top of Glen-gairn, there is Carn-eas, the mountain of the cascade, with Culardoch, the dark height behind, Tom-bhreac, the spotted knoll, on the north of the Moss of Monaltrie (Monadh-allt-reidh), with An-creagan, the russet coloured rocky mountain on the east. The lower mountains bordering the valley of the Dee on the north, are, Meall-gorm, or the blue mountain, Am-bhealach, the mountain pass, Meikle-elrig, the surrounded or enclosed hill (which has recently been enclosed on the east by wire fencing), with Carn-liath, or the grey mountain, on the north. North of Castletown is Carn-na-drochaide, the mountain of or at the bridge, which is flanked on the west by Carn-elrig, or Lairg-mor, a cairn or rising ground, with an open plain hill around it. On this cairn "the armed chieftain and his friends took their station, while the people, also armed, gathering the deer, formed a circle round them. The hounds were then let loose, and the men who formed the circle, wounded and killed many of the deer with their swords while attempting to make their escape." North-west of Carn-elrig, is Beinn-bhreac, or the spotted mountain, and Meall-na-gualli or gualloch, i.e., the hill of cocks, cock-grous. To the south of the Linn of Dee is Carn-na-moine, or the mossy mountain, and Creag-a-chait, the craig of the wild cats at Inver-ey. South of Castletown is Mor-shron, the large projection, and Creag-a-Mhadaidh, the rock of the wolf, with Sron-dubh, the black point, and between Glen Cluney and Glen Callater, Creag-nan-gabhar, or goibhre, the rock of the goats. South of Invercauld is Creag-nan-leachda, the craigs with wooded slopes, or copse wood, and Meall-an-sluichda, the hill of worship. On the west of Glen Gelder there is Carn-fiaclan, or fiacan, the ravens' hill, and Druim Odhar, or uichdar, the superior ridge, and to the south of Balmoral is Creag-a-ghaill, the white mountain, and within the grounds of the palace there is Craig-gowan, or gobhain, the blacksmith's hill, now the hill of Royal Cairns, viz:--Prince Albert's Cairn, Princess Alice's Cairn, and Princess Helena's Cairn.
Most of the streams or rivulets give a name to the valley or glen through which they run, but not generally to the lochs from which they flow. The Dee, the Deva of Ptolmey, is from the Gaelic words Da-abh, signifying the double water, formed by the junction of the Garchory and the Geusachan, after which it assumes the name of Dee. The Garchory signifies the stream of the rugged rocks, and the Geusachan, the stream of the small fir trees. The Lui, or Laoigh, is the water of the glen of the fawns, the Derry, or Direadh, the water of the steep (perpendicular) glen. Glen Geaully is the glen of the fair water, the Allt-davies signifies the two streams, and the Ba or Bay-nock, the water of the small knolls. Glen-ey, or ay, is from Ah, meaning water, and in this glen there is the Allt-choinneach, or Connie, the stream where the people met, and the Allt-sionnach, the stream where the judge sat at Aucherrie. North of the Dee there is Glen Quoich, quaich, or cuaich, the cup shaped glen with its white water of Allanaquoich, and Glen-slugain, the water of the miry glen, and the Allt-dowrie, which simply means the water stream. Glen-gairn signifies the stream of the rough water, with the Duchrie-water, a smooth flowing stream, from the moss of Monaltrie. The Feardar burn, which flows through Glen Feardar, in Gaelic Feuardur, signifying the stream of the grassy glen. South of the Dee there is the Allt-giornag, or gairnog, i.e., Girnock, which means the noisy, or gurgling stream; and the Gelder-burn, in Glen Gelder, is from the Gaelic, Geal-dur, which signifies the stream of the clear water. In Balloch-buie there is the Feindallocher-burn, which signifies the fair stream on the slope of the hills. The Callater burn in Glen Callater, is from the Gaelic choille, a wood, and dur, a stream, or the wooded stream, and above Loch Callater the stream is called the Allt-an-loch, or the burn which flows from the dark loch (Caenn-mhor), in the top of the glen. The water of Cluney, as before stated, is from the Gaelic Cluaine, or the glen of good pasture. Above the confluence of the Baddoch burn, the stream is called the Allt-bruididh,or druidh, which means the Druids stream, and alongside of this burn is the line of the Romanum iter, from Glen-shee to Speyside, a proof that the Druids were everywhere scattered over the country, and also of the antiquity of the Gaelic onomatology of Scotland.
Of lochs, we have Loch-na-garbh, in the top of Glen Gelder, which signifies the loch of roughness, it being surrounded by huge rocky precipices and broken stones. Lochan-an eion, is the lake of birds, and Loch-dubh is the dark loch, the waters of both these lochs finding their way to the Dee by the falls of the Garrawalt. In Glen Callater there is, first, the small Loch-padruig, or phadruig, signifying the loch of St. Patrick, who had his place of worship on Meall-an-sluichda; next, we have Loch-choille-dur, the wooded loch, and then Loch-ceann-mor, i.e., the king's loch, on the east of Cairn-nan-tuirc. In the top of the Baddoch, there is Loch-brothachan, or the muddy (dirty) loch. On Carn-tuil there is Loch-na-youn, or the blue lake, and east of the highest top of Ben-a-bhuird there is the Dubh-lochan, which signifies the small dark loch.
It will thus appear from what we have now stated, that the ancient names of these mountains, valleys, and rivers, were derived from the Gaelic, although some of them are composed of Gaelic words, which are now almost, if not altogether, obsolete; yet we have abundant evidence to show that the names of the most prominent features of nature in this part of the country are Gaelic, and that Gaelic was the original language of the country.
Of the names of places in these parishes there is Abergeldie (Abhir-gile), which signifies the confluence of the clear stream; Ballach-alach, the pass which heard, or did hear, and passing westwards we have Clachanturn (Clach-an-tuirean), the stone of mourning or lamenting, to Balmoral (Baile-morail, or moreal), which signifies the majestic or magnificent town, to the woods of Garmaddie (Garbh-a-mhaidh), the rough rocks of the wolf; Moim-chruinn, bruin, or fruin, all meaning mossy hills and warm places. Bealach-buidhe, means the yellow pass, but it may also signify the fortunate or propitious pass. North of the river there is Balnuilt, which means the town at the point of the stream, and Carn-na-cuimhne, with its steep shelving rocks. In Glen Feardar there is Bealach-lagguain, the pass or hollow of the stream, and Aberarder (Abhir-ard-der), which signifies the confluence of the high water. Invercauld (Inbhir-caol), signifies the narrow gorge of the river. In Glen Cluney, there is Auchallater (Auch-choille-dur), which signifies the field of the wooded stream. Balin-tuim, the town of the knoll; and at the mouth of the Raddoch, Coire-na-lerig, signifies the enclosed ravine. In Glen-ey there is Aucherrie (Auch-eirigh), which signifies the fields of the retired place, and Altonower (Altan-odhar), the stream of the highest ridge.
[A New History of Aberdeenshire, Alexander Smith (Ed), 1875]