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Tomintoul (/ˌtɒmɪnˈtl/ (About this soundlisten); from Scottish Gaelic: Tom an t-Sabhail,[1] meaning "Hillock of the Barn") is a village in the Moray council area of Scotland; until 1975, it was in the county of Banffshire.

Tomintoul is located in Moray
Location within Moray
Population322 (Census 2001)
OS grid referenceNJ165185
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtAB37
Dialling code01807
EU ParliamentScotland
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
57°15′04″N 3°22′41″W / 57.251°N 3.378°W / 57.251; -3.378Coordinates: 57°15′04″N 3°22′41″W / 57.251°N 3.378°W / 57.251; -3.378

It lies close to the banks of the River Avon and is said to be the highest village in the Scottish Highlands, although at 345 m (1,132 ft) it is still much lower than the highest village in Scotland (Wanlockhead, in Dumfries and Galloway).

The village was laid out on a grid pattern by the 4th Duke of Gordon in 1775. It followed the construction, twenty years previously, of a military road by William Caulfeild – now the A939. By 1841, the parish reached a population of 1,722. In 1951, this had fallen to just 531. The 2001 census reveals a village population of 322 with the total parish population now unavailable.

The 2004 film One Last Chance, starring Kevin McKidd and Dougray Scott,[2] was filmed in the village and the areas around it.

The village is on the famed Whisky Trail, which also includes Dufftown, Keith, Tomnavoulin, and Marypark. The surrounding countryside forms the Glenlivet Estate.

Tomintoul Golf Club (now defunct) was founded in 1897. The club and course disappeared at the time of WW2.[3]

Local personalitiesEdit

The artist and writer Mary Barnes died there in 2001 after living there for some time.

The immunologist Prof Kenneth Boyd Fraser FRSE retired to Tomintoul and died there.

Infamous personalitiesEdit

"Lord" Tony Williams

The Gordon Arms Hotel saw significant improvement in the 1990s when it was lavished with funds from the media-styled 'Lord Tony Williams'. It is a myth that villagers referred to Tony Williams as 'Lord': this was a media invention. 'Lord' Williams spent at least £1-million on improving the hotel, and invested yet more money in other projects within the village. However, rather than a wealthy peer of the realm, Williams was a former Deputy Director of Finance in the Metropolitan Police and had used his talents to defraud them of £4.5-million. He was subsequently sentenced to seven years imprisonment. After his arrest, a 10-metre fibreglass Zulu was discovered in the hotel beer cellar – its purpose was never determined.

Percy Toplis - The "Monocled Mutineer"

Percy Toplis took refuge in the area in 1920 before being discovered by a local farmer. He made his escape, shooting and wounding the farmer and a police constable while doing so. Within a week, he was shot dead by police in England.

Grigor Willox

Grigor Willox was a reputed white witch who lived in Tomintoul in the 18th century. He was said to derive his powers from two amulets: a brass hook from a kelpie's bridle and a mermaid's crystal. Among his alleged powers were making cows produce milk, curing barren women, and detecting thieves.[4]

"Mrs MacKay"

The late Terry Wogan helped bring the A939 road from Tomintoul to Cockbridge to national attention, along with local, fictional postmistress "Mrs MacKay". As reported in the Scottish daily newspaper The National:

In 1999, after he criticised the council for never being prepared for the snow, locals wrote in to say it was not the local authority that cleared the snow, but rather Mrs MacKay, the silver-haired postmistress and her silver-handled shovel. She was doing the best she could, they insisted. For the next decade listeners would phone in with sightings of the near mythical Mrs MacKay shovelling snow. Sometimes, they said, she would be out shovelling snow as early as June.[5]


  1. ^ Duwe, Kurt C. (December 2011). "Bàideanach, Srath Spè, Nàrann & Bràighean Mhàrr (Badenoch, Strathspey, Nairn & Braes of Mar)". Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) Local Studies (PDF) (Report). 21 (2nd ed.). Retrieved 2014-11-27.
  2. ^ One Last Chance on IMDb
  3. ^ “Tomintoul Golf Club”, “Golf’s Missing Links”.
  4. ^ Ash, Russell (1973). Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. Reader's Digest Association Limited. p. 466. ISBN 9780340165973.
  5. ^ "Tributes to 'courteous courageous and delightfully mischievous' Terry Wogan after his death at the age of 77". The National. Retrieved 1 December 2017.

External linksEdit