Keith, Moray

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Keith is located in Moray
Location within Moray
Population4,610 (mid-2020 est.)[1]
OS grid referenceNJ430506
• Edinburgh110 mi (177 km) S
• London432 mi (695 km) SSE
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townKEITH
Postcode districtAB55
Dialling code01542
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
57°32′35″N 2°57′07″W / 57.543°N 2.952°W / 57.543; -2.952Coordinates: 57°32′35″N 2°57′07″W / 57.543°N 2.952°W / 57.543; -2.952
Strathisla Distillery
Alexander (Sandy) Ogilvie (1791–1871) at his loom in his shop in Land Street

Keith (Scottish Gaelic: Baile Chèith, or Cèith Mhaol Rubha (archaic)) is a small town in the Moray council area in north east Scotland. It has a population of 4,734.

Keith is historically in Banffshire, a name which persists in common usage and historical references.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 successful, was eventually joined to form one homogeneous settlement separated now only by the river.

The oldest part of Keith dates to around 1180[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] The main part of the town is on higher ground above the river, laid out around 1750 by the Earl of Findlater.[2] 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.[citation needed]

Newmill is a village approximately two kilometres (1+14 miles) north of Keith.

History and culture[edit]

The name appears to come from a Brythonic word meaning "wood" (cf. Welsh coed), but it may also be related to the Pictish territorial division in this area, which was known as .[3] Another local tradition is that it derives from the Gaelic gaoth, meaning "wind", since locals attest to how fiercely the winter winds blow.[citation needed]

The Chronicles of Keith,[4] 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 the early nineteenth century), though no archaeological evidence for this has been identified.

During the Jacobite rising of 1745, 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.[5] 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 Battle of Culloden.

The language spoken indigenously round Keith is Doric, which superseded Scottish Gaelic (see language section at Moray).

The town is home of psych/folk/country band, the Carousels, whose track 'Marianne' was used on an advertising campaign for Irn-Bru.

The first Keith Golf Club (now defunct) was founded in 1901. The Second World War saw the demise of the club and the course reverted to farmland.[6]

The Union Street drill hall was completed in around 1908.[7]


Keith has an oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb).

Climate data for Keith (142 m or 466 ft asl, averages 1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 5.9
Average low °C (°F) −0.6
Average rainfall mm (inches) 65.7
Average rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 14.3 11.4 14.1 10.7 11.3 12.1 11.5 13.0 12.5 15.2 14.8 12.8 153.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 45.9 77.3 108.2 142.2 190.0 152.7 156.8 145.6 117.5 89.6 53.4 35.0 1,314.2
Source: Met Office[8]

Tourist attractions[edit]

The town is at the start of Scotland's 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.[9] Within the town's immediate environs there may also be found Auchroisk, Aultmore and Glentauchers. The Keith and Dufftown Railway is an 11-mile (18-kilometre) 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,[10] 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.[11]

The Seabury Chair, the chair on which Robert Kilgour, Bishop of Aberdeen and Primus of Scotland sat when he consecrated Samuel Seabury, the first Episcopal bishop in the Americas, is preserved in Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.[12]


The town is served by Keith Grammar School, Keith Primary School and St Thomas' School.


The nearby Blackhillock electrical substation is the landing point for a 1200 MW high-voltage direct current Caithness - Moray Link.[13][14][15] Another cable, the 550 MW Shetland HVDC Connection was planned to reach Blackhillock,[16] but was moved to Spittal instead.[17]

Sports facilities[edit]

Keith has an 18-hole golf course, three tennis courts, a bowling club, 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. play their home games.

Famous residents[edit]


Keith railway station provides connections to Inverness and Aberdeen and the local railway provides travel to Dufftown as part of Scotland's Malt Whisky Trail. Stagecoach Bluebird operate bus services which provide hourly transport to Inverness city centre & Aberdeen Union Square bus station including local towns along the A96.


  1. ^ "Mid-2020 Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities in Scotland". National Records of Scotland. 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  2. ^ Grant, John; Leslie, William (1798). A Survey of the Province of Moray: historical, geographical, and political. p. 301.
  3. ^ Scottish Parliament website – Placenames collected by Iain Mac an Tailleir Archived 2011-09-26 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Gordon, James Frederick Skinner (1880). The Book of the Chronicles of Keith, Grange, Ruthven, Cairney, and Botriphbie: Events, Places ... University of Michigan. R. Forrester.
  5. ^ C. Duffy, The 45, pp. 483 – 485, 487
  6. ^ "Keith Golf Club". Golf's Missing Links.
  7. ^ "Keith, 9-11 Union Street, TA Centre". Canmore. Retrieved 26 June 2017. (The 1:2500, 2nd edition, Ordnance Survey Plan, published in 1904–1905, does not show the drill hall)
  8. ^ "Keith (Moray) UK climate averages". Met Office. Archived from the original on 21 March 2020. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  9. ^ Strathisla on the Whisky Guide Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Keith Festival 2007". Archived from the original on 29 July 2007.
  11. ^ Keith Country Show website
  12. ^ Isla Deveron Churches; the chair
  13. ^ "£500m subsea power cable to connect Scottish renewables - e & T Magazine". Archived from the original on 29 August 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  14. ^ "Caithness Moray HVDC". Caithness Moray. SSE Power Distribution. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  15. ^ "ABB information". Caithness Moray HVDC Link. ABB. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  16. ^ "Viking interconnector by April 2016". Shetland News. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
  17. ^ "Caithness HVDC". Archived from the original on 20 January 2016.

External links[edit]