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|Scottish Gaelic: Baile Chèith|
Keith shown within Moray
|Population||around 4,491 (Census 2001)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Until 1975 it was in Banffshire, a name which persists in postal addresses, common usage and historical references. Keith has three distinct sections: Old Town, where the original settlement was first established; Keith which is the main commercial centre and Fife Keith which was originally a separate town built in competition by the Earl of Fife but which, having proved less economically vibrant, was eventually joined to form one homogeneous settlement separated now only by the river.
The oldest part of Keith dates to around 1180 where the Old Town still remains, now almost indistinguishable from the rest of the town. It developed around the old bridge which was built there by two mourning parents as a permanent memorial to their dear child who drowned in the river at that crossing point in the hope that none should suffer similar loss. The main part of the town is on higher ground above the river, laid out around 1750 by the Earl of Findlater. It is located at the crossing of the A95 and A96 roads. Local services include a health centre, dentist, optician and multiple hairdressing salons. The town has three schools: Keith Grammar School, Keith Primary School and St Thomas RC Primary School.
The annual Keith Country Show, held at Seafield Park, is an event in the farming calendar of north-east Scotland.
Newmill is a small hamlet approximately 1 mile north of Keith. Dating from the early 18th century, the settlement was built to home the workers from the nearby meal mill built by Bishop Crystall, on the banks of the river Isla. It now has a Pub and popular Chinese restaurant and take-away.
History and culture
The name appears to come from Brythonic coed meaning "wood", but it may also be related to the Pictish territorial division in this area, which was known as Cé. Another local tradition is that it derives from the Gaelic “gaoth”, meaning “wind”, since locals attest to how fiercely the winter winds blow.
The Chronicles of Keith, compiled in the 19th century, provide an unusually comprehensive view of the area's history. According to them Keith was originally known as "Kethmalruff", a dedication to Saint Maol Rubha (d. 722), also Latinised as "St Rufus". This dedication to an early medieval saint may imply a Dark Age origin for the first church at Keith (still marked by an ancient graveyard, though the parish church was rebuilt on another site in Victorian times), though no archaeological evidence for this has been identified.
During the Forty-Five, the Jacobite army won a skirmish at Keith on 21 March 1746. A Jacobite party under Major Nicholas Glasgow and Captain Robert Stewart surprised and defeated a Government force, killing over 20 of them. This victory at Keith is an interesting reminder that the Jacobites were continuing to take the initiative in many parts of northern Scotland right up until the disaster at Culloden.
The town is at the start of the Malt Whisky trail, and has three distilleries: Strathmill, Glenkeith and Strathisla Distillery, one of the oldest in the Highlands and since 1950 headquarters of Chivas Brothers, producers of Chivas Regal. Within the town’s immediate environs there may also be found Auchroisk, Aultmore and Glentauchers. The Keith and Dufftown Railway is an 11-mile heritage railway running to Dufftown.
The Keith Heritage Group have published a number of maps that lead visitors on walking tours through the town and surrounding countryside.
Two annual events attract tourists to Keith. The first of these, the TMSA Keith Festival, falls on the second weekend of June and celebrates the traditional (and not so traditional) music of the area, providing entertainment in the form of concerts, ceilidhs, competitions and sessions.
On the second weekend of August the town hosts the Keith Country Show. The show was founded in 1872 and every year promises days of prize-winning livestock and family fun.
Keith has an 18-hole golf course, three tennis courts, a bowling club, squash court, skate park and a large sports hall. The swimming pool has been refurbished with a gym and sauna room added to the facilities. Keith Cricket Club play their home games at Fife Park. Keith also has multiple football pitches in the area. One official pitch,Kynoch Park, which is home to Keith F.C., Simpson Park which is owned by Keith & District Sports Trust is where Islavale F.C. and Ugie United F.C. play their home games and finally the public Seafield Park is the home of White Swan Rovers F.C.
- James 'Gordon Bennett', Sr., founder and publisher of the New York Herald
- Colin Hendry, footballer
- Irvine Laidlaw, businessman and life peer
- James Naughtie, broadcaster
- William Boyd Robertson Macmillan, 1991 Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
- Saint John Ogilvie, post-Reformation saint
- Brian Adam, Member of the Scottish Parliament
- George Foulkes, Member of the Scottish Parliament
- Scotland's Census Results OnLine
- Grant, John; Leslie, William (1798). [http://books.google.com/ books?id=ZRUFAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA301&dq=%22Earl+of+Findlater%22+keith+moray&hl=en&ei=38Z4TrORKcTqOb-97KgN&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22Earl%20of%20Findlater%22%20keith%20moray&f=false A survey of the province of Moray: historical, geographical, and political]. p. 301.
- Scottish Parliament website - Placenames collected by Iain Mac an Tailleir
- C. Duffy, The 45, pp. 483 - 485, 487
- http://web.archive.org/web/20070729055113/http://www.keithfestival.btinternet.co.uk/[dead link]
- Keith Country Show website
- The map of Keith on streetmap.co.uk
- A Tour of Keith in Words and Pictures
- St Thomas’ Church, Keith
- Keith Heritage in Focus
- St Thomas RC School website
- Tartan Museum Community Website
- Census data
- Keith Community website
- Keith Community Radio (FM 102.8 and online)
- Map sources for Keith, Moray