Keith, Banffshire

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Gaelic: Baile Chèith
St Rufus Church, Keith
Grid reference: NJ428506
Location: 57°32’34"N, 2°57’20"W
Population: 4,491
Post town: Keith
Postcode: AB55
Dialling code: 01542
Local Government
Council: Moray

Keith is a small town and parish in Banffshire with a population of around 4,500. Keith has two main sections: Keith, which is the new town and Fife Keith, which is much older area. To the west of the town some 1,883 acres of the parish lie in Morayshire leaving the Banffshire portion of 16,381 acres.

The oldest part of Keith dates to around 1180. The main part of the town is on higher ground above the river, laid out in 1755 by the Earl of Findlater. It is located at the crossing of the A95 and A96 road.

The annual Keith Country Show, held at Seafield Park, is an event in the farming calendar of north-east Scotland.

Strathisla Distillery
Keith Auld Brig
Alexander (Sandy) Ogilvie (1791-1871) at his loom in his shop in Land Street

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 [1].

The Chronicles of Keith, compiled in the 19th century, provide an unusually comprehensive view of the area's history. From it, we learn that early on, Keith was known as "Kethmalruff", a dedication to Saint Maol Rubha (d. 722), also Latinised as "St Rufus". This dedication to an early mediæval 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.

The language spoken indigenously round Keith is the Doric form of the Scots language, although Scottish Gaelic was also used anciently in the area (as evidenced by numerous place-names), and by one or two Highland colonies.

Tourist attractions

Keith had one of the few tartan museums in Scotland, an indication of the town's history in the wool industry. The town is at the start of the Malt Whisky trail, and has three distilleries, including Strathisla Distillery, one of the oldest in the Highlands and since 1950 headquarters of Chivas Brothers, producers of Chivas Regal[2]. 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,[3] 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.[4]

Sport facilities

Keith has an 18-hole golf course, three tennis courts, a bowling club, squash court, skate park, multiple football pitches (one official pitch - Kynoch Park - where Keith FC play) 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.

Outside links