The village of Duffus lies just over a mile inland from the Moray coast, about a mile and a half south-east of the coastal village of Hopeman, and a similar distance west of the end of the runway of RAF Lossiemouth.
Today's village is almost perfectly rectangular and comprises a regular grid of streets to the north of the line of the B9012, the road that connects Hopeman and Elgin. This road runs past the parish church, built in 1896, and then takes a right angled turn on the south side of the village immediately in front of the Duffus Village Shop and the rather nice Duffus Inn.
The remainder of the village climbs the gentle hillside to the north and has a charm which belies its rigid plan. The village hall, built in 1999, stands beside the main road a little to the south of the rest of the village.
The story of the progression of the village of Duffus over the centuries is an interesting one. The Duffus you see today was created as a planned village in 1811. Many of the residents of the new village were relocated here from an area now known as Old Duffus. This lies a quarter of a mile to the east of today's village and has at its heart the roofless St Peter's Kirk, a superb parish church with medieval origins dating back to 1226.
The kirkyard is the location of a 14ft high mercat cross, a reminder of an age in which it was common for markets to be held in churchyards if they happened to be the largest available space in the village or town. The cross is believed to date back to the 1300s, so it seems reasonable to assume that the village which until 1811 stood near the church had done so for many centuries.
According to the early travel writer Robert Heron, who visited Duffus in the closing years of the 1700s, some of the village streets around the church were paved by Cromwell's troops in the 1650s: why they should have done so is unclear.
There is one element of confusion in all this. Ordnance Survey maps apply the name "Old Duffus" to the farmstead immediately to the north of Duffus Castle, a mile and a half south-east of the modern village and only a little less from St Peter's Kirk.
Setting this confusion to one side, what does seem clear is that development of Duffus Castle began in the mid 1100s, and that by 1226 it was served by a church a mile or so north, around which a village grew. This village, Old Duffus, was large enough by the 1300s to be made a burgh and hold markets. Duffus Castle was abandoned on the death of James Sutherland, 2nd Lord Duffus, in 1705, in favour of newly-built Duffus House, immediately to the south of St Peter's Kirk. It is perhaps easy to understand why the laird in 1811 decided to establish a planned village to attract new tenants, and move existing tenants a little further away from his home.
Meanwhile, the Gordon family had since the 1600s been developing their estate at Gordonstoun, a little to the east of Old Duffus. In 1933 the German academic Dr Kurt Hahn founded a school at Gordonstoun. It has since grown to become one of Scotland's leading private schools.
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