This area includes Forres, Rafford, Dallas, Kinloss and Findhorn.
Forres grew upon the industries of farming, forestry and distilling. To the west of Forres lies the River Findhorn cutting its path through some of the most beautiful scenery of the area, before flowing into Findhorn Bay which, surrounded by the Culbin Forest, provides a beautiful ending to its meandering path before entering the Moray Firth.
In the second century when the ancient Roman cartographer Ptolemy was undertaking the task of mapping Scotland, he identified a town called Varis. This town is believed to be what is now known as Forres.
There is evidence of a Royal Castle situated in Forres from around 900 AD and it is believed that it was a royal stronghold for the ancient Kings of Scotland. Forres is an ancient Royal Burgh granted its status by the Scottish Kings around 1140 AD in an attempt to encourage economic trade and development. The castle, however, became derelict over the centuries, finally disappearing from Forres in the early 17th century when it is believed the stones from its walls were used to construct other buildings in the growing town. An important local landmark is the ancient Pictish Sueno's Stone, a standing stone which is the oldest remaining sculpted stone made in Scotland during the early medieval period. It is now encased in glass to protect it in situ from the elements. A more recent monument is Nelson's Tower, built in 1806 as a memorial to Lord Nelson.
Approximately three miles to the south of Forres on the B9010 is Rafford, a small but attractive village with a parish church.
The old village of Dallas lies in the heart of rural Moray, on the eastern bank of the river Lossie, eight miles from the town of Forres and ten from the city of Elgin. The name of the village is though to be derived from the Gaelic Dallas meaning 'valley of water.' This is further confirmed when the position of the village is looked at, as the village lies in a small river valley which flows into the River Lossie. Dallas itself is part of Dallas Estates, which covers approximately 20,000 acres. The land is either farmed or is forested with moorland adding to its diversity.
According to statistical accounts, the name Kinloss derives from the Celtic words 'cean-loch,' meaning the head of the loch. Tradition has another derivation that the name signifies "the headland of flowers" or "the cell of flowers." These names spring from the legend of the body of Duff Mac Malcolm, King of Scotland, who, having been murdered in the castle at Forres, was left lying for some time under a bridge within the parish of Kinloss. According to legend the sun did not shine for 20 days. The body, once found, was placed in a nearby cell or chapel at which point the sun began to shine and the area was surrounded by the "miraculous blooming of myraids of flowers."
Within Kinloss are the Abbey ruins, which was founded in 1150 by King David I. Standing within the grounds today you can imagine how impressive the abbey once was. There are remains of the church, mansion and other monastic buildings. The Abbey was destroyed in 1652 when Cromwell's soldiers purchased the stones to build the citadel of Inverness. From that time onwards the stones were taken and used as materials for houses and granaries within the neighbourhood until the trustee on the estate stopped the spoilation.
Contained within the grounds today are the Commonwealth War graves for fallen men from WWII, those serving with the Australian, Canadian and New Zealand Air Forces plus others from the Royal Air Force.
The present village of Findhorn is the third to be so named; it replaces the previous two settlements which disappeared under the sands in 1702. The name signifies in Gaelic 'the mouth of the Erne' and was at one time known to Highlanders as Invererne.
The three villages of Findhorn were important settlements, each playing its part in the economy of the area as a bustling port. The wharves would have been lined with warehouses containing produce from many countries. In addition, the fishing industry played a key part in the life of the villagers right up until the first quarter of the last century. The menfolk would go to sea, returning in the early morning, when the women would share out the catch amongst the crew. Even the children were involved: they would collect mussels from the mussel scaups to be used as bait. Further information on the history of the village can be found within the Heritage Centre.
The Findhorn Foundation is an ecological village, where people both work and reside. There are over 30 different businesses and initiatives within the community, the main theme of which encourages a sustainable way of life. There are ecological buildings, a wind generator, nature sanctuary, organic garden and biological sewage treatment plant, all of which strengthen the sustainable lifestyle.The Foundation is an educational trust that provides activities in education, community and caring for the environment. There is a visitor centre, which is open from May to October, and courses running throughout the year. There is also the facility for day visitors to tour the grounds and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.