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Statistical Accounts of Scotland

Old and New Statistical Accounts

Ardclach Cawdor
Auldearn Nairn

The text below is mostly summaries with some extracts from the original text. The links are to Google Books, usually to the first item of interest rather than the first page of a parish. The NSA for Nairnshire is volume 13. Some notes from MacFarlane's Geographical Collections (Volume I3) have been added - these are useful as they date from the 1720's. See here for further information and links.

Additional information about parishes can be found on the Vision of Britain site and on Scotland's Places.

The overview map is based on Black & Hall's map of Scotland, 1854, courtesy of David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. The images are copyright Cartography Associates but have been made available under a Creative Commons license for non-commercial use.


As elsewhere, at the time of the OSA the roads were statute labour. In the early 1800's Parliamentary roads and turnpikes were made so that by the time of the NSA the road system was quite reasonable except for some local roads. Military roads ran through the area and seem to have been in reasonable condition at the time. As Taylor (Military Roads in Scotland) shows, not all of these were built exclusively by the military; existing roads were often upgraded or were maintained by the army and so designated military. There are no mentions of Roman camps or roads.

There were quite a few ferries, some of them dangerous, especially on the Findhorn and bridges were a great benefit. There were early bridges at Nairn and at Cantray, in Calder parish. Dulsie Bridge, on the military road, is mentioned in 1726 (MacFarlane) which indicates that the present military bridge was either a replacement or based on the older bridge. It also suggests early routes down to Grantown and Aviemore.

There are the usual references to fairs and markets and fuel seems to have been easily obtained. There was a small port at Nairn where coal and lime could be landed and wood and corn exported. At the time of the NSA, Nairn had gas lighting and the streets had been relaid.

Other sources
Roads in 1859
This links to the 1859 Report of the Commissioners for Inquiring into Matters relating to Public Roads in Scotland and gives an overview of roads in Nairnshire at that time.
A Survey of the Province of Moray, J.Grant & W.Leslie, 1798 Contains much useful information on various topics, including roads.

The Military Roads in Scotland, William Taylor, House of Lochar, 1996.
Highland Bridges, Gillian Nelson, West Port Books, 2006.


Places and roads mentioned in the parish accounts. Based on Black & Hall's map of Scotland, 1854, courtesy of David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.

OSA Vol.4, page 151
Page 151 "This river (the Findhorn) is rapid,and frequently impassable every where, excepting at Dulcy bridge, on the highland road leading from Fort George to Edinburgh. There are two boats on this water within the parish, and one on the post road; but owing either to the mismanagement of the boatmen, or temerity of the people, many lives are lost. During the incumbency of the present minister, no less than 23 persons have been lost between Dulcy bridge and the post-road. The loss of lives from this cause claims attention; and the only method that can be pointed out, to prevent it, is to erect a bridge between the two boats, which would render the communication both safe and easy."
Page 153 No inn in the parish, but there is one at Dulcie Bridge on the highland road to Edinburgh.
Butcher meat is available at Forres and Nairn, both about 12 miles away.



View Larger Map Dulsie Bridge
. Use mouse to navigate around image.

Page 26
Page 32 Antiquities.—"On the line of the old military road from Fort-George to Perth, made by General Wade,which passes through the parish, there is the fine old bridge of Dulcie, crossing the Findhorn, and situated in a most romantic spot...."

An interesting bridge at Burnside on the approach to Dulsie Bridge. As the course of the burn has changed it is now on dry land. It is very likely to be a military bridge and there are remains of what may be the military road on the other side of the present-day stream.

Page 38 Parochial Economy. Market-Towns, Etc. — Nairn and Forres, 10 and 12 miles distant respectively.
Means of Communication. — The nearest post office is Nairn. There is no turnpike but the county road from Nairn to Grantown and other county roads pass through, including a Parliamentary road. The district roads are much improved though more has still to be done.
"There are three stone bridges over the Findhorn, viz. one at Dulcie, one at Glenfairness, and a third at Daltulich."
Page 42 Inns. — One.
Fuel. — Peat easily available. A little wood and also coal, available from Nairn, may be used.
Miscellaneous Observations. - He gives a graphic description of living conditions in the not too distant past. At that time there were no carts and dung was carried in " kellachs" or baskets.

OSA Vol.19, page 616
Page 622 Three fairs held each year. No particular mention of roads.

NSA Page 6
Page 8 Mention of a suspension-bridge over the Findhorn, near Forres.
Page 15 Parochial Economy. Market-Town. — Nairn is the nearest market town, two and a half miles distant.
Means of Communication. — There is a post ofice at Nairn. The Elgin to Inverness turnpike road was formed in 1820 and runs through the parish for four miles. It, and the other roads afford easy access and are in good condition. The bridges are also good. A mail coach and two stage-coaches run on the turnpike each day, and there are several carriers.
Page 18 Four fairs, four public houses. Wood, peat and coal are used as fuel. The coal comes in at Nairn.
Miscellaneous Observations. — Since the last account new roads have been made and the old ones much improved.

At the time of the OSA Cawdor or Calder was in Inverness-shire
OSA (vol.4, p.349)
Much oat-meal, cattle and sheep are supplied to Inverness, Nairn and Fort George. Barley is sold to distillers, two of these being in the parish.
Page 354 Miscellaneous Observations. — One inn in the parish, and 2 or 3 ale-houses, not much used by locals but convenient for travellers.
The roads are in a tolerable state, being kept in repair by the statute-labour, which is exacted in kind. The bridges are in good order, being so kept by Government, as the military road passes through the parish. The tenants have not as yet got any of the large shod wheel carts and waggons; they use the ancient and still common sort of sledges and carts.
Peat is the most common fuel. Wood, furze, broom, &c. are also used.

NSA Page 19
Page 22 In relating a story from the time of Charles II he says that there was no bridge over the river of Nairn.
Page 25 Parochial Economy. — Nairn, six miles away, is the nearest place where the main roads to the south and east can be reached. There are no coaches in the parish. The roads are adequate.
Means of Communication.— Penny-post in the village of Cawdor.
Inns.— One inn, and two licensed spirit-shops.
Fuel.—Peat, and coal from Nairn.

A Geographicall Description of Calder Parish (Cawdor), Nairnshire 1726

Page 226 The river Nairn has a bridge in the town and one six miles above at the Bridge of Cantra - see NMRS record - the original bridge at Cantray dates from 1641. The later bridge dates from 1764 which itself was rebuilt c. 1840.
Page 228 The Findhorn is crossed by the Bridge of Dulassie (i.e. Dulsie Bridge), 12 miles from the sea.
Page 229 The writer notes that the separate parts of Nairnshire went back to the time of the Thanes of Calder (Cawdor) who were heritable sherrifs of Nairn when they had jurisdiction over all lands belonging to them.

OSA Vol.12, page 381
Page 383 Two good inns in the town, convenient for travellers. Many ale-houses and whisky-shops.

Page 389 Roads and Bridges.— The military road from Forres to Fort George is very good but the Highland road from Nairn to the Bridge of Dulsie is very bad. Statute labour is not commuted and hence not so well performed. The only notable bridge here is at Nairn, built in 1631 or 1632 as shown by an inscription on a stone fallen into the river. In 1782 half of the bridge was carried away on a flood and if it were not for repairs made in timber the Nairn would be impassable. It is a matter of public importance to have a good bridge here as there is no ferry such as those over the Spey and Findhorn, and it is to be hoped that Government will grant aid for a new bridge.

NSA Page 1
Page 4 Navigation. — Coal, lime and bone-dust are imported at Nairn and wood and some corn exported.
Page 5 Parochial Economy. — Gas is now available in the town, and is used to light the streets. The public street had been a rough causeway but has been macadamised and is much more level though it can be dusty in dry weather.
There is a good hotel at which three coaches stop every day.