Rothiemay: Clayland Wood


The Lossat  

The name Lossat probably comes from the Gaelic word losaid which means a kneading trough - it is easy to see how part of the burn might have been dammed for this purpose in earlier times, but when applied to fields the name usually meant rich and productive - something like a smaller scale equivalent to the term "bread-basket."

*forestall - to buy up before reaching market so as to sell again at a higher price.

*Wyness David Riddoch J.P., B.Com., 1903-1969, son of George and Elspet Riddoch of Tarryblake, married to Gerda Louise Hiebert of Winnipeg, 1911-1980, lived at Whitestones, Rothiemay.

The Story of the Lossat

The Lossat first appears in history in 1642 in the Annals of Banff, when John Laing in Lossat of Rothiemay was fined 40 merks for forestalling* - a significant crime in those days. Then at the beginning of the 18th century, the Rev. Hay, listing the lands within the Parochine of Rothiemay and stipend payable to him as minister, itemised the Mains of Rothemay, Lossett, and Milnetowne together amounting to 3 plughs, with £15 and 5 bolls and 1 firlots meall payable.

In the census of 1841 and again in 1851 the tenants recorded were William Cruickshank, handloom weaver and farmer of 4 acres, and his wife Margaret.

The Lossat c. 1915
Mindie McKay at the kitchen door c.1915

By 1861 the tenant had changed and William Reid from Forgue was in occupation, with wife Jane, daughter Jessie Ann, stepdaughter Jane Mitchell, grand step niece Helen Watson and a child, Elizabeth Morrison.

The Lossat of the 20th century was a small mixed farm of about 21 acres, with the house and L-shaped steading, burn for water, and its own sand pit.

Judging by the style of the windows the house dates from the beginning of the 19th century. It had 12 pane sash windows originally, without dormers.

Sometime after 1912, when the McKay family (Mr and Mrs McKay and 3 sons and 2 daughters*) moved from their croft at Knauchland to take up the tenancy of the farm, the windows seem to have been changed. Two of the first floor windows were raised and converted to dormers. At that time there were some large trees near the house and steading, ivy growing on the south facing front wall, with roses either side of the door. Oats was the main crop of the farm and most of the work was done by hand or using horse power. For example at hairst time roads were first redded by hand with the scythe then the crop was cut with the reaper pulled by two horses. The crop was then stooked by hand and remained out until it was dry enough to be moved by horse and cairt to be built into rucks at the back of the steading.
There used to be a water wheel on the burn below the steading - it might have been used for threshing or milling corn in earlier times.

John McKay
Mr John McKay ready for work with his horse Maisie and a borrowed horse
Mrs McKay feeding the hens
Mr McKay with Spottie the dog

Other farm crops included potatoes that were stored in a tattie pit, carrots, and turnips kept in the steading which also accommodated the horses, and beef cattle, milking cows, pigs, hens, ducks, geese or turkeys. Sometimes the grass was let for Mac O’ Forgue’s pit ponies. Peat dug at the Moss of Rothiemay provided the fuel for heating and cooking. It was stacked high in a shed at the back of the house. The kitchen had a separate door on the right of the house. Inside was an open fire with sway. Above the kitchen was a garret used for storage and accessible by ladder

The Playing Field
Tents erected for opening day at the Playing Field

Mr John McKay died at the Lossat in 1947, after 35 years in the farm.

In 1949, with the aid of a grant from the King George's Fields Foundation and £1000 raised by the community, the farmhouse and 8 acres of the farm were bought for the community from H.D. Ward & Co. Ltd. of Walsingham, owners of Rothiemay Estate at that time. Rothiemay represented Banffshire for the King George's playing fields scheme, which aimed to provide one new playing field in each county in the country.

The house was converted into a pavilion with changing rooms, kitchen, committee room and .22 rifle range, and the playing field laid out with a football pitch, netball court, curling and putting greens and play area with paddling pool, sand pit, swings, seesaw and maypole.

The opening of the King George V Memorial Playing Field on 19th August 1950 by Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton, MP for Inverness-shire, introduced by Wyness D. Riddoch* - the main driving force behind the project, was marred by rain, but a mixed program of sports events and entertainments was held during the day and a marquee dance in the evening.