and Cromarty included the island of Lewis (just as Inverness
included Harris and Skye) - the parish entries for Lewis
(Barvas, Stornoway, Lochs, Uig) are given separately
below. The county has a complicated history as the First
Earl of Cromarty had all the lands that he owned included
in the one county of Cromarty, leading to a patch-work
that can be seen on any map of the period. The county
even included an area in Edinburgh.
opportunity afforded by Google
Books to quote extracts from books on their site
has been taken here, so that the text below is that
of the actual accounts. In some places the text is summarised
in italics. The NSA accounts can be accessed on Google
the volumes in which the OSA accounts appear are given
under each parish and can be accessed here.
Additional information about parishes can be found
on the Vision
of Britain site and on Scotland's
The map of the ferries is based on a
map of Scotland produced by Eric Gaba and made available
on Wikimedia under a Creative
Commons licence and
Commons: GNU_Free_Documentation_License. With thanks.
See original on Wikimedia.
The other maps are
map of Scotland dated 1844. Images courtesy of David
Rumsey Historical Map Collection. These are copyright
Cartography Associates but have been made available
under a Creative
Commons license for non-commercial use.
Easter V4, P472
& Suddy (Knockbain) V12, P262
& Cullycudden (Resolis) V14, P88
& Logie Wester V5, P203
Isle of Lewis (Barvas, Lochs, Stornoway, Uig)
the time of the OSA, road making had only just started
on Lewis with a few miles of road made between Stornoway
and Barvas, and a road to Uig parish in contemplation.
The parishes on the west coast were also poorly served.
Applecross and Gairloch had no roads. Glenshiel had
the military road from Fort Augustus to Bernera although
it was no longer maintained - other than that it seems
to have had only a few stretches of poor statute labour
roads. Kintail had a very difficult route over to Beauly
from where Dingwall and Inverness could be reached.
This ran over a high pass to Glen Affric and Strath
Glass and is shown on the maps of Thomson and Moll.
The writer notes that there were remains of an old abandoned
statute labour road, and that the lack of proper roads
made the inhabitants feel more secure. A road had just
been completed from Ullapool (Lochbroom parish) eastward
at the instigation of the British Fisheries Society
(which had established Ullapool as a fishing station),
and with government money, though it deteriorated rapidly.
contrast the eastern parishes were quite well served
by roads - these were statute labour as there were no
situation had much improved by the time of the NSA.
Lewis had its roads to Barvas and Uig parish and some
200 miles of statute labour roads in 1833 all although
much of this mileage may have been in Stornoway parish
as the road to Lochs had not been completed and there
were no roads at all in that parish. Most of this mileage
must have been recent as Thomson's map of 1826 shows
only the Barvas road and a few miles of road near Stornoway.
the west coast, the Commission for Highland Roads and
Bridges had constructed roads from Lochcarron to Applecross
and to Shieldag although they had done nothing in Gairloch.
They had also made a road in 1815 from Glenmoriston
on Loch Ness over to Sheilhouse,
with branches to Glenelg and Skye, and to Kintail and
eastern parishes were generally served by much improved
roads although the higher inland parts of some of these
parishes still had no or bad roads.
both accounts, several ferries are mentioned and these
were clearly an important feature of the transport network.
Those mentioned in the accounts are shown on the adjoining
map. The modern A9 with its bridges which replaced some
of the ferries is also shown. The SABRE website has
a comprehensive article on the history
of the A9 (which was extensively realigned north
of Inverness) and includes photos of the new bridges
over the firths.
is an intriguing reference to a possible Roman camp
in Tarbat parish, and to the King's Causeway at Tain
relating to pilgrimages made by James IV to the shrine
of St Duthus.
fuel was difficult in many parishes and occupied the
summer months and part of the harvest, time that would
have been better spent on improving the farms. Coal
would have been an ideal fuel but there was a high tax
on it beyond the Red Head (a headland just north of
cattle markets were held in the county, and droving
was a major part of the economy.
to the highlands and islands of Scotland, including
Orkney and Zetland, George & Peter Anderson, 1851
Use contents page to navigate to desired area - gives
some details of the roads
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 Ross and Cromarty
at that time.
for Highland Roads and Bridges
The annual reports, which can be found on the Am Baile
site, give considerable details of the roads
in the early 1800's.
Greatest Improvement of Any Country:" Economic
Development in Ullapool and the Highlands, 1786-1835,
Michael Jeter - Boldt, see in particular pages
139-144 for details of the British Fisheries Society's
road to Ullapool (pdf, 2.38Mb).
Ross-shire and Scotland, as seen in the Tain
and Balnagown documents (1909), William Macgill.
Photos of areas of interest can easily be accessed through
the Geograph site.
See the interesting items on two of Lord Leverhulme's
projects that were abandoned. One is the "road
to nowhere", a proposed road from Tolsta to
Ness along the NE coast of Lewis; the other is the Phentland
Road from Stornoway across to Carloway, built on
the bed of a projected railway line. See here
for additional evidence on the road/railway and its
higher parts of the parish, lying beyond a ridge of hills
which conceals them from the eye of the traveller on the
public road, consists of straths or glens....
Parochial Economy. Monthly
market, mostly for cattle.
higher parts of the parish still use nearby peat but
the lower parts are starting to use coal.
The antient and only name by
which it is known in the language of the country, is Comrich,
a Gaelic word signifying protection; a name implying the
immunity of the place in antient times, this having been
the seat of a cloister, and, as such, an asylum for all,
who either from persecution, or merited punishment, fled
extent of the parish is considerable, but cannot, with
precision, be ascertained, as there is neither public
road nor bridge, from one extremity of it to the other.
The foot traveller is guided, according to the season
of the year, what course to take, over rugged hills,
rapid waters, and deep and marshy moors. Besides here,
as in all the adjoining parishes and Western Isles,
the computation of miles is merely arbitrary, always
terminated by a burn, cairn, well, or some such accidental
mark, which renders them so remarkably unequal, that
it is impossible to reduce any given number of these
imaginary miles to a regular computation.
is no market-town in the parish, nor within many miles
of Communication.— There are
good Parliamentary roads from Lochcarron to Applecross,
and Shieldag. The nearest post-office is that of Lochcarron,
about twenty miles from Applecross, and fifteen from
Shieldag. Letter-carriers are employed from both these
places; a serious expense to the few contributors who
furnish their salary. There are many bye-roads and footpaths
across the hills, but they are only fit for foot-travellers.
There are many bridges on the Parliamentary roads, and
kept in good repair. There are good harbours at Poldown,
Shieldag, and Torridon.
writer says that the church lies on the north side of
a river with no bridge - those who can attend often
wade over and have to sit in wet clothes through the
services. A subscription has been started and has raised
L.30 so far.
are no fairs in the parish.
are 4 inns, at Applecross, Kishorn, Shieldag, and Torridon.
ordinary fuel is peat, which, in some places, is carried
from a great distance, either by sea or land, and is
very expensive. When sold, 2d. a creel is paid for it.
Observations. The new Parliamentary roads are a
great advantage to this parish. A bridge on the river
of Applecross would be a most important improvement,
not only for the benefit of the inhabitants, but also
of travellers from various quarters.
and Bridges.—Not only in this parish, but over the
whole of Ardmeanach, the roads have, for many years past,
been as well attended to, and kept in as good repair,
as in any part of Scotland, where turnpikes are not established.
At most places, where highways meet or intersect each
other, direction-posts have been fixed and kept up. In
a country, where many of the inhabitants cannot speak
to a stranger in English, the importance of these is obvious.
Part of one road here, 'twixt the Seatown of Avoch and
Fortrose, being liable to frequent incroachments of the
sea, proves exceedingly troublesome and expensive. A substantial
repair to that, and a few small bridges, are the principal
things of this nature now wanted in the district. The
county of Ross, last year, established a commutation of
the statute labour within their bounds, with a view, no
doubt, to improve those matters of police still farther,
by hiring able hands with the money and keeping steady
surveyors over them. The rates charged are 1s. 6d. yearly
from each man, liable to the statute work; and 2s. 6d.
more from the tenants, for the strength of each plough.
These rates may be thought hard by some poor people, who
have little ready money to command, and would rather give
their work in the moderate way it used to be exacted.
But every judicious farmer, or well employed mechanic,
who considers the importance of a long summer day for
carrying on his own work or improvements at home, will
think it much more expedient to pay them. Whether this
scheme, however, on the whole, shall more effectually
promote the public good than the former, the county will
be better enabled to judge, after some years experience.
Parochial Economy. Market-Town.—The
nearest market-town to Avoch is the royal burgh of Fortrose,
about a mile and three-quarters distant.
of Communication.—There is
a turnpike road through the southern district of the
parish, which leads to Fort-George Ferry on the east,
to Kessock Ferry on the south-west, and to the royal
burgh of Dingwall on the north-west. The toll let at
L.67 per annum. In the year 1829, when such appalling
devastations were committed by the floods in the north
of Scotland, the bridge of Avoch was entirely swept
away. The burn having for some days assumed the appearance
and the power of a mighty river. A new bridge was speedily
erected with a higher arch. It and all the other bridges
and parapets are kept in good condition.
inns in the village.
from Newcastle landed at the pier of Avoch. Grain and
wood is exported from here and coal, salt, lime and
bone dust brought in. Turf and wood are also used.
There are no carts used in the
parish, except by the minister.
greatest disadvantage this parish lies under, is, the
want of roads and bridges. From this side of the island
to the village of Stornoway is reckoned from 12 to 18
miles of a broken swampy moor, without so much as the
form of a road across this long and fatiguing space
-, the poor people are under the necessity of carrying
every article almost, to and from Stornoway, upon their
backs. Colonel Mackenzie, who is very eager to remedy
this evil, has, for a few years back, begun a road to
open a communication betwixt both sides of the island,
and carried it forward about five miles at a great expence.
In place of the statute-labour, every man, from 16 to
60 years of age, pays 1s. 6d.
is only one annual fair for selling cattle held in this
whole island, consequently the sellers are under the
necessity of disposing of them at that time, having
no chance of seeing any other buyer during that season,
except for such fat cattle as are purchased by the Stornoway
merchants. Until there be a comfortable communication
opened betwixt both sides of the island: until the breed
of cattle of every kind be improved, and some mode contrived
for a better market for them; this parish must labour
under great disadvantages. On the other hand, it is
no small advantage, in such a high and cold latitude
to have such abundance of very fine peats close by their
houses in general.
Parochial Economy. With
no town here and only the one annual market in Stornoway,
cattle may be sold at a loss if the weather has been
bad. There is a road along the coast and another to
Stornoway, which is in disrepair. Where there are no
bridges, travel is not possible in time of flood.
- (There are) two ferry-men, one over the Rasay at Contin,
and another over the Connon, three miles to the west of
Contin, at a place called Little Scatwell.
Parochial Economy. Market-Town.—Dingwall,
7 miles distant. The Parliamentary road to Lochcarron
passes through the parish from east to west. There are
likewise district roads. The post-town is Dingwall.
market, established time out of mind, still continues
to be held at Contin Inn, twice every year. At one period,
the site being favourable, the business transacted was
are three inns along the line of the Parliamentary road,
besides two or three dram-shops, which last are to be
deprecated for their immoral influence.
as can afford the expense of coals, burn them; but the
ordinary fuel is peat.
The writer notes the tradition
that much of the old town had been encroached upon by
1785 a quay was built in Cromarty which allows the ferry
to land safely. A quay is contemplated for the north
side. There have never been any accidents on this ferry.
The town of Cromarty is pleasantly
situated in the eastern part of the parish, on a low
alluvial promontory, washed on two of its sides by the
sea. It is irregularly built, exhibiting in its more
ancient streets and lanes, that homely Flemish style
of architecture characteristic of all our older towns
of the north; and displaying throughout that total disregard
of general plan, which is said most to obtain in the
cities and villages of a free country. The place is
so surrounded by friths and arms of the sea, that its
communications with neighbouring districts are frequently
interrupted. Much, however, has been done to facilitate
the necessary intercourse. In the summer months, an
omnibus plies every day, except Sundays, between the
town and Inverness, passing in its route through the
towns of Chanonry, Rosemarkie, and Avoch ; a steam-boat
from Leith touches at it once a-week ; and a splendid
vessel of this description, intended to trade between
London and the upper towns of the Moray Frith, (Cromarty
among the rest,) is now in course of building. The town
has its post-office, from which letters are sent once
a-day to join the mail at Inverness ; and there has
lately been established in it a branch of the Commercial
Bank of Scotland, which promises to be of much advantage
to the trading interests of the district.
The goods imported to this place
from London, Glasgow, Leith, and other manufacturing and
trading towns are carried in the London and Leith smacks,
which maintain a constant communication every three weeks
or month at most, between the southern and northern parts
of the kingdom. There are in this parish only two boats;
one of which is very small, plies at high water, between
Dingwall and Ferrintosh, the other serves for the carriage
of bulky articles from place to place.
and Black Cattle—The writer
suggests that the farmers prefer the small country kind
of horse to larger ones as they can walk more easily
on the deep roads leading to the mosses.
says that there are only 24 proper carts and large numbers
of smaller carts used for peat. He describes a kind
of cart called hellachies with small solid wheels and
a wicker basket in which manure is carried.
and Bridges.—The roads in
this parish are exceedingly deep in winter. Their badness
may be attributed in part to the nature of the soil
through which they pass ; but it is owing also to the
not adopting a proper method in the reparation of them.
One public road leads across Conan, which forms a communication
between the very populous district of Ferrintosh and
this town. From a desire to save labour or time, the
ford is often attempted, when the tide is too far advanced,
or the river too high, and the consequence is frequently
fatal. A bridge over this river would not only be a
vast accommodation to travellers, but would also be
a mean of saving many lives. There are two excellent
bridges on a rivulet, in the course of the public roads;
two, however, are still wanted, one over each of the
burns which form the south and east boundary of the
The Antient size of the Town.—There
are some circumstances which would seem to indicate,
that the town was once much more extensive than it is
now. The cross now stands at the east end of this borough
; but a street of about 200 yards long runs from it
to the north east ; and a gentleman of the town in digging
some time ago for manure, found the remains of a causeway
at the distance of 300 or 400 yards, in a line south
east from the cross.—The former had few houses built
along it, till 30 or 40 years ago, and the latter has
yet none near it.
The road from Inverness enters
the parish at the east end of the village of Maryburgh,—about
a mile and three-fourths from the town. From this it
passes eastward along the southern slope of the ridge,
which runs between the town and the Conan. This ridge
is crested by plantations of fir, its acclivity being
lined out into fields intersected by hedge-rows with
trees. On approaching the town it terminates abruptly,
forming a steep bank called the green hill, which is
covered by a plantation of hard wood. Along the base
of this, the road runs, and enters the town flanked
by a row of fine old trees. With the exception of its
situation, which is beautiful, and its rows of tall
poplar trees, which give it rather an uncommon air,
the town itself presents little of interest. It consists
of a main street, about half a mile long, running nearly
from east to west. From this a number of small streets
and lanes strike off at right angles.....
There is the greatest facility of communication between
Dingwall and all parts of the country. The roads in
all directions are surpassed by none in the kingdom.
The mail-coach passes and repasses daily through the
town, and in summer there are two additional daily coaches,
one betwixt Dingwall and Inverness by the ferry of Kessock,
a distance of thirteen miles. And the other twice each
day between Dingwall and the Strathpeffer spaw, now
a place of considerable resort, distant four miles and
a-half. Weekly steam-boats from Edinburgh, and every
second week from London, call at Invergordon, in this
frith, distant only fourteen miles; and the town furnishes
four post-chaises and six gigs
are three annual fairs held in the parish, at which
all sorts of commodities are vended. At these the country
people assemble in great numbers, partly because they
still have somewhat of the character of festivals, (which
the term " feil" in Gaelic imports,) but chiefly owing
to the force of confirmed habit, since all that can
be purchased at these fairs may be had quite as conveniently
in town at any time.
main inns and 16 public-houses.
fuel used in the parish is chiefly coal, of which there
is always an abundant supply. Peats are also a good
deal used. They are brought from the neighbouring parish
of Fodderty, in small rung carts, and sold at a shilling
or fifteenpence per load.
Observations. - Most items can be obtained at
local shops rather than at Inverness as formerly. Improvements
are new streets to the north and to the shore, a harbour,
and new paving for the streets although lighting is
roads are now very good and there is easy access to
other places in the district - coaches and carriers
are now numerous. There are regular services to Edinburgh
and London by steamers.
No mention of roads.
Between these hills there
are, together with the frith, six passes; by two of
them, towards the sea, is the Parliamentary road from
Bonar Bridge to Tain; by other two, below Muidhe-Bhlairie,
the road from Bonar Bridge to Dingwall passes; the remaining
two, Lairg(hrg, a footpath,) and Strath-rory, (Strath-ruaridh
or uaradh, Strath of Roderick or Fox, or rather of Water-Spouts,)
have no roads, though the public advantage of a road
in both, and especially in the former, has been much
felt, and generally admitted. A committee of the road
trustees of Easter-Ross inspected the ground two years
ago, and the principal hinderance in carrying this public
and important improvement into effect is some difference
of opinion about the exact line which ought to be adopted,—a
difference which no doubt the intelligent individuals
concerned will ere long judiciously adjust for the public
Sunday, 15th September 1839, the bridges of Easter Fearn
and Grugaig were swept away, and the other two so much
undermined, that they narrowly escaped a similar fate.
These bridges have since been rebuilt, but it is a remarkable
fact, that the old bridge at Easter Fearn, which is
situated about 500 yards further up the river, and is
at least half-a-century old, withstood the force of
the current, while its more modern neighbour gave way,
and that it was by it that the public road went, while
the present bridge, which has only been opened the other
day, was being rebuilt. The bridge of Eddertoun probably
owed its escape to its having been very carefully built,
as its predecessor was carried off in the year 1799,
by a flood or speat, which rose to such a height, as
to enter at the windows of the manse,— which was then
situated on its banks, and close to the church,— destroy
much of the minister's furniture, and occasion the abandonment
of the house, and removal to its present site.
first historical notice of Eddertoun occurs in the twelfth
century; when King William the Lion (who reigned over
Scotland from 1165 to 1214,) built a castle at Etherdover,
Edirdona, or Edirton, as a curb upon the turbulent inhabitants
of Easter Ross. The situation of this castle or " dune"
was near the sea; and commanded the ferry betwixt the
counties of Ross and Sutherland. There is mention made
of it in the chronicle of Melrose, Bower's Scotichronicon,
and in Macpherson's Geographical Illustrations of Scottish
Economy. Means of Communication.—There is no market-town
or village in the parish; the post-town, which is five
miles from the manse, being Tain. The mail-gig, which
runs betwixt that town and Bonar Bridge, passes here
at 8 A. M. going to Kincardine, and at 6 p.m. on its
return to Tain. There is a good harbour at Ardmore,
capable of accommodating vessels of 150 tons burthen;
and during the summer season, a considerable number
of schooners and smacks, and sometimes a brig, arrive
there, with cargoes of coals, lime, &c.
is no fair or market of any kind held in this parish
; and there is only one small inn, or rather alehouse,
which is situated on Struy road from Bonar Bridge to
fuel used by the lower orders is peats, and turf, which
can be easily procured in the moors, and costs only
the trouble of cutting, seasoning, and carrying home.
Coals are burnt by the higher classes, and are sold
by the Newcastle vessels, which come to the bay of Ardmore,
at 16s. 6d. per ton.
Details of animals sold in
Tain, Cromarty, Fort George and Inverness (page 294).
and turf have to be brought some eight miles at great
expenditure of time - coal is too expensive for most.
No mention of roads.
There is another (standing)
stone halfway between Castle-Leod and the Spa with an
eagle cut upon it, and called in Gaelic Clach-antiom-pan.
It stands close to the old line of road, and is supposed
to mark the place where a number of the Munroes fell
in an affray with the Mackenzies of Seaforth.
and Antiquities—There are many rivers in this parish,
but no bridges nor passage but by horses; and therefore,
when these rivers overflow their banks, which often happens
in the winter and spring seasons, and sometimes even in
summer, travellers are detained, and are exposed to delays,
and additional expences....On an island on Loch-Mari there
is an antient burying place, called Isleand-Mari, where
the people on the northside of the loch still continue
to bury their dead.
Smuggling was carried on to
a great extent in this parish, some years ago, but is
now very much on the decrease...
Economy. Means of Communication.—This
parish is extremely ill supplied with the means of communication,
owing to the want of roads. We have one post-office
situated at Poolewe.
are five licensed inns in the parish.
Observations. In concluding this short Account of
the parish, I must take leave to say, that either the
Parliamentary Commissioners for Highland roads, or those
whose duty it was to make application to them, were
very remiss in overlooking this parish. When other parishes
received large grants for conducting public roads through
their whole length and breadth, this parish, though
the public mails pass twice through it every week, from
Dingwall to Stornoway, was completely neglected. It
is almost unnecessary to add that, without public roads,
no regular improvement can be carried on in any part
of the Highlands. The first great improvement required
in this way, is a public road from the east end of Lochmaree,
along its banks to the harbour of Poolewe,—and throwing
an arch across the river Ewe, near its confluence with
the sea; a spot which seems formed by nature for the
The writer notes that peat
is difficult to obtain because of its distance. The present
coal laws cause difficulties.
country is more neglected in respect of roads. The statute
labour, which for a few years was but imperfectly carried
on, has been for some years past entirely discontinued,
though in no part of Scotland more absolutely necessary.
The military road from Fort Augustus to Fort Bernera
records for this road; Glenshiel
only) runs through the height of the parish the distance
of 12 computed miles; but this road has also been neglected
since 1776. Before that period, it was kept in annual
repair by a party of soldiers. The bridges on this road
in like manner have been neglected.
swarm of sturdy beggars with which this country is infested
is considered as no small disadvantage. They consist
chiefly of stout able women, who, rather than engage
in service, are content to go about from house to house
but there is every reason to believe, the introduction
of manufactures would effectually relieve the public
of this burden.
Economy. Means of Communication.—The
nearest market town is Inverness, which is distant from
the inhabited portion of the parish about 60 miles.
With this town, there is a communication by means of
a parliamentary road constructed in 1815, through the
valley of Glensheil to Glenmoristone (on Loch Ness,
5 miles north of Fort Augustus). It runs for 18 miles
through the parish, sending off a branch at Sheilhouse,
where the river Sheil enters the sea, westward to Glenelg
and Skye, and another northward to Kintail and Lochalsh.*
At Sheilhouse, there is a sub-post office connected
with the post-office at Lochalsh, between which a foot
post passes three times in the week. No public carriage
runs on this road, but there is a constant resort of
carriers to Inverness. There are two inns, one at Sheilhouse,
and the other at Cluonie, twelve miles distant to the
south-east. This road, for some years after its construction,
formed the principal communication between Inverness
and Skye; but its utility in this respect has been in
a great measure superseded by the steam-vessels which
now ply weekly between that island and the Clyde. There
is no road in Letterfearn, where one is much required.
the roads here mentioned as leading from Sheilhouse
to Skye are too steep for wheel-carriages, each
of them being carried over a hill about 1000 feet
high. A road perfectly level might be constructed
along the shore of Letterfearn, to join the Kyle
Akin road to Broadford, near the former village.
The distance and expense of construction would,
it is believed, be less than either of the present
roads Ur a road from Sheilhouse to Ob-i nog might
communicate with the Lochalsh road at Totag ferry,
which would be quite level, easy of construction,
and save four miles of distance; at the same time
that it would greatly accommodate the inhabitants
of the parish.
fairs held at Sheilhouse for the sale of black cattle
to drovers and neighbouring parishes. The practice
of exposing pedlar's wares at these meetings, which
has been lately introduced, threatens, by attracting
young females to them, to do injury to their morals.
the inns above-mentioned, some of the poorer inhabitants
are in the practice of retailing spirits clandestinely,
and, notwithstanding every endeavour to discourage it,
this nuisance prevails to a pernicious extent.
fuel chiefly used is peat. This is manufactured in the
elevated situations, where alone moss occurs, and the
carriage of it is a very laborious service, as it can
only be transported in creels, sometimes on the backs
of horses, but more frequently on those of men and even
women. In the houses of the farmers, besides peats for
the kitchen, some tons of coals are always procured
for the other apartments. The firing required for a
family of this class cannot be estimated at less than
from L. 15 to L. 20 per annum.
district of Letterfearn suffers much from the want of
a road, the inhabitants being thereby in great measure
deprived of the advantage which those of the eastern
portion of the parish derive from the communication
with Inverness, and subjected to much inconvenience
otherwise. They complain, and not without reason, that
though they have been taxed with road-money like the
people of other parts of the country, their district
has not shared in the benefit of its outlay. Both in
attending the church and the school, the want of a road
is much felt.
Such poor moss that remains,
and turf are used as fuel. Coal is very expensive. He
notes that even though the tax on coal taken beyond the
Red-head is removed, freight charges and seamens wages
have gone up.
Parochial Economy. Means of Communication.—There
are no market-towns in the parish; and the nearest market-town
is Inverness. We have no post-office; no bridges, properly
so called; no canals or rail-roads ; no harbours, properly
speaking, though vessels of a considerable tonnage can
safely load and unload on the shore of the east end
of the parish. We have a good turnpike road passing
through the eastern extremity of the parish, from the
Ferry at Kessock to Dingwall, Invergordon, and Fortrose,—upon
which a toll-bar is placed, and upon which carriages
of every description pass.
have two public fairs held, each year, in the months
of March and July.
principal fuel used by the poor, are, peats, turf, the
roots of broom, branches of trees, and some coals. Coals
are always used by the more wealthy portion of the inhabitants,—for
which they pay from 1s. 6d. to 2s. the Scots barrel,
or from 1s. to 1s. 2d. the imperial barrel. The coals
are brought from Newcastle.
& Suddy (Knockbain)
Mention of the public road
from Beauly to Dingwall.
regular inn at Kessockferry, 1 ferry, with a sufficient
number of boatmen. This ferry is the property of Mr.
Grant of Redcaftle, who is to build a pier and an inn,
and slables at the ferry, for the accommodation of the
public, which, with proper boats, will cost between
700L. and 800L. Sterling.
Bridges, Plantations—The roads
of this parish are kept in excellent repair, as are
also the bridges : these have been hitherto done by
statute-labour - the people have now an option of commuting
it at 1s. the plough, or 18 d. the man, or else to work
at the roads for 6 days. There are 4 great roads passing
through this parish, one from Kessock to Fortrose, Cromarty,
Invergordon, Alnes and Fowles, for the space of 6 miles
in each direction, and the road from Inverness to Dingwall,
at the extremity of Allangrange's property, close to
Park-town of Redcastle. There is also a road from Kessock,
leading along the shore from Redcastle, and the West
the mosses are exhausted people are obliged to buy coal
which because of the high taxes is beyond the reach
of many - this may lead to emigration. The proposal
to remove the tax on coal has been welcomed and new
plantations when fully grown will supply plenty of wood
cave at the Bay of Munlochy used to be used by smugglers.
and Disadvantages.- One great
advantage which this parish enjoys, arises from its
being in the near neighbourhood of Inverness, from which
it is only divided by a narrow kyle of the sea, over
which there is a regular ferry-boat renting 128 Sterling.
There the inhabitants get a ready-money market for any
commodity they have to offer for sale, and get to purchase,
any article they wish for, with little trouble, and
as little loss of time.
Parochial Economy. A steam-boat
was attempted on the ferry; but as it did not succeed,
it was necessary to return to the use of the former
boats slightly improved. There is no ferry in Scotland
better attended to.
are no market-towns in this parish ; but no inconvenience
arises from this, as Inverness is so near. Several other
markets are held in the neighbourhood.
is one post-office in the parish. Carriages daily pass
on the Parliamentary roads, through the parish, with
great safety,—no interruptions occurring from want of
bridges, which are all in good repair.
elderly man had faint recollections of the famine in the
1690's and remembered seeing a coffin with hinges on it
that was used to bury those who had died on the highways
for lack of food.
writer notes that in the middle ages, those living in
the Barony of Delney, which covered much of the county
of Ross, assembled every year near the place of Delny
to pay homage to their superior, the Earl of Ross.
Observations. There are 3 public roads in the parish,
running parallel, and nearly at equal distances from
one another. These have been hitherto kept in good repair
by the statute-labour; but it is proposed to convert
the statute labour into money ; and, if that plan is
adopted, time will discover whether it will, or will
not, prove advantageous to the inhabitants and to the
public. There are three bridges in the parish. Two of
them are built over the water of Balnagown; the other
over a river into which the sea flows at stream tides,
and which, before this bridge was built in 1789, proved
very inconvenient to travellers.
are 8 boats in the parish; 5 of which are employed in
the lime trade for 3 or 4 months: during the rest of
the year, they either fish on the neighbouring coasts,
or are employed tn carrying corn and peats to the opposite
Means of Communication.—There
is a post-office at Milntown, and the great county road
runs through this village ; by which the royal mail-coach
travels daily north and south, and another coach for
the accommodation of passengers, during the summer and
harvest months, from Inverness to Tain. The roads are
excellent. A new road has been lately constructed through
the most high land part of the parish, which will prove
a great convenience to the people. There are several
other new roads in progress, so that the whole parish
will soon be intersected with excellent means of conveyance.
There are two bridges, one over the river of Balnagown,
and the other at Polio. They are both in good condition.
There is a harbour at Balintraid, which affords accommodation
for vessels from Leith and Aberdeen and other ports;
and which is very convenient for the people of this,
and of neighbouring parishes, by the facility with which
it enables them to procure coal, and various articles
of merchandise. A considerable quantity of grain from
the district of Easter Ross, and large quantities of
fir wood for the coal-pits and railroads in the south,
are likewise annually exported from Balintraid pier.
are 2 inns, and 4 public-houses.
are generally used in the lower, and peats in the higher,
district of the parish. Coals generally sell for 1s.
1d. imperial barrel, and peats for 1s. the cart. The
coals come from Newcastle, and there is abundance of
moss in the parish.
Observations. - The roads which intersect the parish,
are kept in good condition. In the upper district, and
especially in the environs of Kindace, great improvements
have been effected of late years. There are now four
public roads in the parish, running parallel to each
other, including the new road lately constructed along
the upper district, and reaching from Tain to the policy
of Novar, in the parish of Alness.
There are about 10 oxen wains
now in this parish, besides 30 coops or box carts, drawn
by two horses, employed by the proprietors and principal
farmers. About twenty years ago, there were scarcely half
that number. There are near 100 ploughs of all sorts,
but many of them very light and trifling. Besides the
carts now mentioned, there are about 300 small rung carts,
as they are called, which are employed in leading home
the fuel from the moss, and the corn to the barn-yard.
These carts have, instead of wheels, small solid circles
of wood, between 20 and 24 inches diameter, called tumbling
wheels. It is also very common to place a coarse, strong
basket, formed like a sugar loaf, across these small carts,
in which the manure is carried from the dunghill to the
field. These kinds of carts are called Kellachys ; and
are not only used in this district, but over all the north
and Bridges.—Very particular
attention has been paid of late years to the roads in
this district; and the bridges have been widened for
the conveniency of carriages. The new bridge over Aultgrande
is remarkably neat, and well finished, and does credit
to Mr Kyle, the architect, who built it. All the bridges
are built and kept in repair at the expence of the county.
The roads are kept in repair by the statute labour,
which the inhabitants pertorm personally, and very seldom
by commutation. An improvement is now making on the
road that leads through this parish, which will add
much to the pleasure and comfort of travellers. The
chief heritor has, at a considerable expence, carried
off the road in a sweep or curve, about a quarter of
a mile farther south than it was formerly. By this means,
travellers will not only pass through the middle of
rich fields and fine plantations of trees, but will
also have a full view of that antient and elegant mansion,
Fowlis Castle. This improved road was begun in 1790,
and will be completed in the course of 1791.
fairs or markets held here in December and June.
ale-houses at Drummond and Wester Fowlis which are needed
for travellers and conducting business. There are also
several whisky houses.
the coast, the Aultgrande runs through a narrow chasm
which at one point is spanned by a tree-trunk about
16 feet in length.
Parochial Economy. Market-Town, Etc.—There
is no market-town in the parish; and the nearest is
Dingwall, at the distance of six miles.
are two fairs annually held in it, on the first Tuesdays
of June and December; but, since the general introduction
of shops into all the villages, they are not well attended.
of Communication.—The means of communication enjoyed
by the parish are very considerable. Ever since 1819,
the rnail-coach passes north and south through it daily;
whilst there are, for the greater part of the year,
smacks sailing to and from Leith, London, and Newcastle,
principally in the corn, wood, and coal trade. The great
line of Parliamentary road runs along the shore through
the breadth of the parish, and communicates with the
northern parts by means of excellent county roads. In
the more remote parts of the mountainous districts,
the roads are so wretchedly bad as scarcely to deserve
the name. The Parliamentary line passes over two neat
and substantial bridges, one at the east, and the other
at the west end of the village of Evantown.
There are 5 burying places resorted
to by the inhabitants, and 3 of these are in the parish
are 5 ferries; one at Bonar, where the Carron runs into
the Firth ; one on the river Carron, a mile above the
Firth; one at Culrain; one at Tighniriver, and one at
Ochtow. The 3 last facilitate the communication between
the counties of Ross and Sutherland.
are two preaching stations besides the church, viz.
Amat in Strath Carron, and Doun in Strath Oigeal ; the
one 10, and the other 14 miles, distant from the manse.
parish has but one fair.
statute labour is regularly exacted, and the public
roads are improved. Bridges are much wanted.
Parochial Economy. Means of Communication, Etc.—There
is no market-town in the parish; the nearest is Tain,
which is thirteen miles distant from the church of Kincardine.
But the means of communication are ample: there is a
post-office at Bonar Bridge in this parish, and a daily
post. The mail is brought from Tain in a commodious
double-seated gig, capable of containing four passengers,
which arrives at the Balnagown Arms Inn, Ardgay, every
morning at nine o'clock, and is despatched at five in
the afternoon. The mail-coach used to drive round by
Bonar, but since May 1830, it has crossed the frith
at the Meikle Ferry, which is three miles on this side
of Tain. This ferry, from the shoals in the channel,
and its exposure to sudden squalls from the hills, is
considered one of the most dangerous and inconvenient
in the north; and many lives have been lost in crossing
it. To avoid this ferry, the Parliamentary Commissioners
for Highland Roads and Bridges, in the year 1812, built
an iron bridge at Bonar, across a narrow part of the
Dornoch Frith (where previously there had been a ferry),
at an expense of L. 14,000. Bonar Bridge consists of
three arches,— one of cast-iron 150 feet in span, and
two stone arches of 50 and 60 feet respectively. The
iron arch is on the Sutherland side, and the stone arches
on this side. The fabric is as strong as it is beautiful,
for the pillars have repeatedly withstood uninjured
the shocks of united masses of ice and timber, and the
collision of small vessels driven against them by the
parish is not blessed with the convenience of good roads;
for, with the exception of the road from the church
of Kincardine to Ardgay, Bonar, and a few miles to Gladefield
and Invercarron Houses, as also that which goes to Croick
church, thirteen miles distant, the rest of the parish,
for upwards of thirty miles, is totally destitute of
what may be called roads; the only access to these remote
districts, except on Highland ponies, being by the excellent
county road on the Sutherland side, which skirts the
Kyle, the division betwixt the counties, to the extremity
of Kincardine, where it marches with Assynt. The road
to Croick winds through a beautiful vale, along the
banks of the river Carron passing Braelangwell Lodge,
the picturesque summer residence of Sir Charles Ross
of Balnagown, and Amat Cottage, the residence of Mr
Ross of Pitcalnie.
in the heights of the Parish. The
writer gives details of this mission set up to serve
the remote parts of the parish.
is one public fair held in this parish, which is called
" Feille-Edeichan;" or the market of the quartz-stone.
It takes place in the last week of November, and sometimes
on the first week of December; and continues for three
days. There is commonly a fine show of Highland cattle;
and quantities of cheese and butter, as well as merchandise,
are to be had at it.
inn at Ardgay.
principal fuel used by the lower classes is peats, turf,
and brushwood. English coals are always used by the
more wealthy portion of the inhabitants. They come by
sea to Bonar, and are sold at 17s. per ton.
the last account roads have improved and travel is easier.
hills and roads - There are no statute or military
roads within the parish. Some remains of a road are to
be seen along the shore of Lettercoil. This useful road
was intended to be carried on along the north side of
Lochduich; but the tenants, after much labour and trouble,
deserted it, probably for want of a proper fund to go
forward. Till of late, the people of Kintail, as well
as other Highlanders had a strong aversion to roads. The
more inaccessible, the more secure, was their maxim. But
of all the roads leading to this place, none calls more
for public attention than that of Afric or Belloch. This
road is 13 computed miles from Kilduich in Kintail, to
Knocfin in Strathglass. It is allowed to be the nearest
communication between the E.and W.seas; and, though daily
frequented by people from Sky and other places, to Inverness
and Dingwall, with heavy loads, there is no inn to accommodate
travellers, except the booths of shepherds, which in stormy
weather they frequently burn for feul.
3 miles of Kintail, at a place called Belloch, is a
high ridge of hills which environs this district on
the E. and would render it inaccessible from that quarter,
if nature had not left a small gap in the mountain,
as if it had been sawn down to the middle, which leaves
room for 3 passengers to go a-breast. The ascent on
the E. to the Belloch is about 100 yards in a zig-zag
direction. The western aspect is truly steep and vexatious:
the intermediate space on the top is a quarter of a
mile long, and 5 feet broad. The traveller finds himself,
in passing through this gut, inclosed with hills of
rueful aspects, inspiring awe, and often quickening
his pace (see photos
on Geograph and the Heritage
Paths site for more details of the road).
Remarks.—The imports are meal, whisky, linen, tanned
leather, fir-planks, and shelly fand for manure. The
exports are, black-cattle, horses, furs, kelp, tallow,
butter, and cheese.
Lochlong separates this district
of Kintail from the parish of Lochalsh ; but there is
a well regulated ferry (at Dornie), affording
an easy and safe access from the one parish to the other.
There is no market of any kind established in the parish,
the nearest market-towns being Dingwall and Inverness;
but, the greater part of the year, steam-boats plying
from Glasgow to Skye, and passing through the inner
sounds of Kyles Ehea and Achin, afford the greatest
convenience to the country; and almost all the respectable
inhabitants are provided, in this manner, with all the
articles of home consumption. There is no post-office
in the parish; but mails are received and dispatched,
three times a-week, in the adjoining parish of Lochalsh,
from which, as often, letters are forwarded by post-runners
to Kintail, Glensheil, and Glenelg. A Parliamentary
road passes through the parish, is annually repaired,
and kept in admirable order.
& Cullycudden (Resolis)
Mention of the county road
that leads from the Ferry of Scuddal to the Ferry of Bewley.
box carts are starting to be used in preference to the
gathering of sandy divots for fuel (there is no peat),
is very time-consuming and the divots are useless in
wet weather. It is hoped that the removal of the duty
on coals north of St Abb's Head will be a great benefit.
county-roads and bridges in this parish have been much
improved of late, and are in general very good*.
the spirited exertions made by the gentlemen of
this, and the neighbouring counties, in making
good roads and bridges, it is surprising, that
little or no attention has been paid to improving
the passage boats at the numerous ferries in and
surrounding this district of country. It is to
be hoped, that this truly important object, will
no longer escape their particular notice, and
that ferry-boats of an improved construction,
as well as piers for receiving and landing passengers,
cattle and carriages, will be as seriously attended
to, as roads and bridges, especially at the ferries
of Invergordon and Fort-George."
Parochial Economy. Public Roads.—There
are perhaps few parishes in the united kingdom, at this
moment, more completely destitute of the public convenience
of good roads, than this parish. With the exception
of a few hundred yards at the east end of it, there
is not an inch of what may strictly be called " made
road" in the whole parish. The roads that run through
it have been formed by a continued succession of patching
and repairing. They have never been regularly formed
or metalled; but men are employed by the district committee
annually to keep the trenches open on each side, and
to throw moist clay taken from the trenches on the surface.
During the drought of summer, the roads are barely tolerable;
but in winter, particularly after a long continuance
of frosty weather, they are almost impassable. And yet,
notwithstanding this wretched state of the public roads,
the commutation money for statute labour has been, year
after year, most punctually and even rigidly exacted.
The blankets have been often taken off the beds of old
bed-ridden people, by the merciless exactors. This state
of things evidently arises from mere mismanagement as
well as from a want of public spirit.
A bank of coral and shell
sand is used as manure. It is carried some 15 miles by
boat on Loch Duich and then transported onwards by land.
is difficult to gather and the cost of coal is too high
because of a government tax.
No mention of roads.
Roads and Bridges.—There was
an excellent road (see NSA comment about this road
having deteriorated rapidly) betwixt Ullapool
and the town of Dingwall, commenced in summer 1792,
and it is now nearly finished; so that, where lately
nothing could be carried but in creels on horseback,
carts and carriages can now travel with the greatest
ease and expedition. This road consists of 38 miles,
and has cost government about 4500l. including bridges,
of which there must be a good many in its course. We
are informed that similar roads are soon to be made
to different other parts of the Highlands; which are
indeed highly necessary. Perhaps a few cross roads would
be also proper; particularly one from Ullapool to Pollew,
which lies about 30 miles south west of it. And if this
road was farther extended from Pollew to Lochcarron,
by the shortest cut that could be contrived, it would
be of vast service to the West Highlands in general,
as an easy communication would, by that means, be opened
from one parish to another; and the good effects of
such a road would not only be felt all the way from
Lochbroom to Glenelg, but would also extend farther,
to Sky and the Long Island. Another cross road from
Ullapool to Assint, on the north, would be likewise
The writer says that the
parish is so large it could easily be divided into four
- even then many people would have to travel long distances
on very difficult roads. He notes that there are seven
burying-grounds and eight stations where he preaches
and which are always well-attended.
Parochial Economy. There is
no market-town in the parish, nor any nearer than Dingwall,
at the distance of about forty-five miles from Ullapool.
There is a foot-runner, who carries the post letters
twice a week from Dingwall to Ullapool; but no turnpike
roads, or rail-roads, or public carriages, or canals;
and but one village, viz. Ullapool, the harbour of which,
though small, is in tolerable repair. No fairs.
fuel chiefly used is peat, procured from mosses, which
in many places are nearly exhausted, or so far removed
from the townships, that, if the labour of providing
it could be converted into money, at any reasonable
rate, it would be much cheaper to burn the best of Newcastle
coal than the worst of Lochbroom peat.
first and greatest improvement of any country, in a
worldly point of view, is, to have it well opened up
by good roads and bridges. Of this improvement, not
one parish in Scotland stands nearly so much in need,
as the parish of Lochbroom. Above forty years ago, a
road was constructed at a great expense from Dingwall
to Ullapool, which, being a new thing in the Highlands,
astonished the natives not a little. But the line chosen
was so absurd, and the execution so wretched, that the
road has been, for many years back, not only useless,
but dangerous, to foot-passengers and riders on horseback;
and to wheel carriages almost impassable, while several
of the principal bridges are carried away, or threatened
with being so; or deserted, from the original line of
road being changed. A new road, therefore, with the
requisite bridges, of which there has been much talk
of late, would be an immense improvement, both for the
heritors and population of Lochbroom. To talk of manufacturing
or agricultural improvements to any considerable extent
without these, is vain and visionary. Even if a hand
manufacture, on the smallest scale, were introduced,
which would enable the females of the parish, by any
employment suitable to their sex, to purchase Newcastle
or Liverpool coal for fuel to their families, instead
of degrading their persons, and often losing their lives,
by carrying peats upon their backs, from almost exhausted
mosses inaccessible to horses or to carts, it would
be an unspeakable benefit to the country.
© Crown Copyright 2010 www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getamap
Image produced from Ordnance Survey's Get-a-map
service. Image reproduced with permission of Ordnance
Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.
Details of the road made in the 1790's by the British
Fisheries Society can be found in
“THE GREATEST IMPROVEMENT OF ANY COUNTRY:” ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT IN ULLAPOOL AND THE HIGHLANDS, 1786-1835,
MICHAEL JETER – BOLDT, pages
road itself can easily be followed on the 1st. edition
of the 1" OS map (sheets 92, 93) as well as the
6" maps - see National
Library of Scotland. The road that replaced it has
the line of the A835 although there have been improvements
section between Aultguish Inn and Garve is marked on
modern maps and is used as a footpath. It is known as
a drove road and also as the Fish Merchant's road -
Baile. See also the Heritage
Paths site for more details.
Mention of the ferry town
of Strom (i.e. Strome Ferry).
is impossible, it seems, to breath the air of Lochcarron,
without acquiring a taste, if not a talent for poetry,
of which the minister has sent the following specimen,
under the name of "Statistical verses", with which he
concluded his account. (Two relevant verses are given
From Castle Strom there is a road,
Straight down to Kessock Ferry,
And by this road the men of Sky
Do all their whisky carry.
A drover, when the sermon's done,
Will ask the price of cows,
But the good honest Christian,
Will stick to gospel news.
Parochial Economy. Market-Town—Menus of Communication.—The
nearest market-town is Dingwall, fifty miles distant;
but family supplies are generally got from Inverness,
to which there is a regular communication by carriers.
Our roads are excellent. Carriages of all descriptions
visit us. We have a post-office in Janetown, where the
mails arrive three times a-week.
only fair held in the parish is the new Kelso market,
on the first Monday of June. At one time, it was a considerable
fair for cattle, but now it has dwindled into an annual
term for settling accounts and drinking whisky.
are 2 inns in the parish, and 2 dram-houses. The resort
of the younger part of the people to these places tends
much to corrupt their morals.
fuel used is dried moss, procured at no other expense
than the labour of lifting it.
The extent of the parish in
length is about 18 computed miles, not including the several
ferries across the foresaid harbours which intervene in
that straight line.
used as fuel.
Parochial Economy. Post and Market-Town.—There
is no post or market-town in the parish of Lochs: the
nearest to it is Stornoway, which is eleven miles from
the church of Lochs. The only post-office in the island
of Lewis is in Stornoway, from whence there is a mail
packet once a week (weather permitting) to Poolewe,
on the mainland of Ross-shire.
Etc.—There is not a road of
any description in any part of the parish of Lochs.
Every communication with the next market-town, must
be over the trackless heath or by sea. A line of road
was commenced at Stornoway in 1830, which is intended
to be extended as far as Harris, passing through the
parish of Lochs; but that road has not as yet been extended
beyond the limits of the parish of Stornoway.
peat is available locally.
Two bridges on the river.
is plenty of peat and turf in this parish.
Parochial Economy. There are
no market-towns in the parish. A cattle-market holds
at Blackhill in the month of May annually, at which
hundreds of cows change owners. Parkhill post-office
is within two miles of the manse, but is situated in
Kilmuir Easter. The mailcoach passes and repasses daily
through the parish. But, except three miles of turnpike
road, the upper part of the parish is ill supplied in
Disadvantages - Peat and
turf come from 5 or 6 miles away and require farmers and
their servants to spend the whole summer gathering it
to the neglect of everything else. Many have to cross
the sands at inconvenient times depending on the tide,
and the bad roads damage their carts and harnesses. The
fuel generally is poor, and useless when wet. The prospect
of removing the tax on coal will give cheaper fuel and
allow more time to concentrate on improving the farms.
Previously to the importation
of lime from the south, the only lime used for building
in this country was made of shells dug out of the sands
of Nigg. The pits caused by this operation gradually
became dangerous quicksands, and various individuals
have lost their lives in them. But now quicksands are
unknown; and there is no danger to the traveller who
keeps to the eastward of a line drawn betwixt Tarbat
House and the church of Nigg. To the westward of this
line, however, there are several deep pits in the Pot,
in which several strangers have been drowned within
the last few years. There is one, in particular, named
Poll nan Ron (the Seal's Pool,) fatal to every one that
touches its waters.
Economy. Market-Towns.—Cromarty and Tain are the
nearest market-towns. The former is separated from the
parish by the Ferry, about a mile broad; and the latter
is six miles distant from the part of the parish that
is nearest to it. Cromarty and Parkhill are the post-offices.
only fair in the parish is Hugh's Fair, held in November,
for general purposes. It is dying away very fast.
are 3 small inns, which are in many cases an accommodation
to travellers; but otherwise they are no blessing.
from Newcastle are the principal fuel for the more opulent
and the farm-servants. But whins and broom, and such
other fire-wood as can be found, constitute the fuel
of the greater part of the population. Coals cost about
1s. per imperial barrel, and their quality is seldom
Caves on the coast used for
Point here projects a good way into the sea, and forms
a fine curve, which makes it a beautiful object....
The Point is the situation for the ferryboat that passes
to Fort George; and so safe is the passage, that there
is not an instance of any being lost on it in memory
horses are employed in carrying manure, yoked in a sort
of light sledge, rolling on 3 wooden wheels.
specific mention of roads other than on page 336 that
the manse was near the side of the public road to Fortrose.
Parochial Economy. Markets.—At
Fortrose, which is also the post-town, there are three
fairs annually held, in the months of April, June, and
of Communication.—The public roads to the west,
leading to Inverness and Dingwall, being Parliamentary,
are kept in excellent repair,—those towards Cromarty
and Invergordon are old district roads, badly planned
at first, and generally in such a state as to render
travelling in these directions extremely difficult and
uncomfortable. No mail or stage-coach passes through
the parish. The steam-vessels plying in the Frith, and
passing weekly, take in and deliver at Chanonry Point
goods of every description. These vessels are well fitted
up for passengers, and they trade with Aberdeen, Leith,
and London. By them the salmon taken here, and brought
and collected from various stations around, are, when
packed in ice, shipped for the London market,—as also
in the season, considerable quantities of pork and live
at Fortrose and Rosemarkie.
particular mention of roads.
Topography And Natural History. Name.—"
The name of this parish," says the writer of the last
Statistical Account, " seems to be derived from the
Gaelic word Coinneamh, signifying a meeting or junction
; and Ross-coinneamh may denote the place where the
districts of Easter and Wester Ross join,—which is the
western boundary of this parish, and where the inhabitants
might occasionally assemble."
Economy. Means of Communication.—There
are, as has been already mentioned, three villages in
this parish, the largest of which, lnvergordon, contains
1000 inhabitants. It is equidistant from the burgh towns
of Tain and Dingwall, and is altogether most centrically
situated. Few places, indeed, seem to possess such natural
advantages for becoming a place of trade and commerce.
It enjoys the most ample means of communication, by
means of coaches and steamers. The north and south mails
pass daily through Invergordon. The Duchess of Sutherland,
a new and magnificent steamer, plies once a fortnight
to London, and a large sum has been already subscribed,
for building another for the same station. The Brilliant
steam-ship plies regularly, during the summer, once
a week, between Invergordon and Inverness, Aberdeen
and Leith; and the Velocity once a fortnight. A number
of years ago, a boat-slip was erected at Invergordon,
and a few years ago, a fine pier for large vessels was
also erected. A wooden jetty was last year added to
the pier, with a view to command ten feet water, at
ebb-tide; but, from the absurd manner in which it has
been constructed, it has, since its erection, been found
to be of not the smallest use. A considerable quantity
of grain is shipped annually at this port, for Leith
and London ; but we have been informed that, were it
not that the shore dues are twice as high as at any
other port, the amount shipped would perhaps be treble
what it now is. It would certainly be for the benefit,
both of the place and of the proprietor, were the shore
dues reduced to a reasonable rate. We may mention, that,
from the 8th March to 12th .August 1836, 150 bullocks,
and 746 sheep and lambs were shipped at Invergordon,
by the London steamer for that port. There is also a
harbour at Dalmore, at which a very considerable quantity
of timber, chiefly fir, is annually shipped for the
north of England. There are several roads of many miles
extent, in this parish, all of them in excellent condition.
are five fairs, held annually at Invergordon ; in February,
April, August, October, and December.
are no less than 24 inns and alehouses, 15 of which,
by far too many, are in the village of Invergordon.
Drunkenness can, however, by no means be imputed as
a general vice, to the people.
fuel used by the humbler classes is peats, of which
abundance can be easily procured. By the wealthier inhabitants,
coals (English) are used, as they can be obtained here
at a very moderate price.
Packet and Post-office.—There
is a packet established by Government since the year 1759,
which for some years went to the opposite coast once a
fortnight for the mail, byletters and passengers, and
on occasions carried cattle and horses; but business and
correspondence greatly increasing, it was found necessary
that it should sail oftener for the mail. Accordingly,
the old packet was sold lately, and a new one purchased.....
—There is also a post-office.
working on the roads are paid 8d a day.
are for the most part carried in small creels, one on
each side of the horse, and fixed by a rope to the crook-saddle;
but coup-carts, of which there are about 20 in the parish,
are made use of by the gentlemen, and are drawn by larger
horses than those found in the parish.
was only begun in this island in 1791; and a road is
made, four miles distance from Stornoway, across a deep
moss of 10 computed miles, to the other side of it.—Near
to Stornoway there is an annual tryst for cattle, where
some hundreds are bought and exported,....
- There is a road begun and carried on for a few
miles from Stornoway towards the parish of Barvas, which
lies in a northern direction. The moor across the island
from Stornoway to Uig is so extensive and soft, that
it would require the labour of many ages to open a road
The farmers or tacksmen keep
a larger breed of horses for riding and for the cart;
but, in general, the horses are not much higher than
the Shetland ponies. They are firm and strong, fit for
the mossy soil and rocky shore. Their principal work
is in carrying peats and sea-ware in creels, one hung
on each side from the crook-saddle.
is the only market-town in the parish; the other towns
or hamlets consist of tenants houses built at the head
of their lots.
of Communication.—The nearest market-town is Dingwall,
which is 120 miles from Stornoway. The means of communication
are by vessels, and the weekly packet between Poolewe
and Stornoway. There is one post-office. The average
income of the post-office is L. 330. Government pays
L. 150 per annum. The yearly proceeds would afford a
better packet than the one employed.
are no turnpike roads. In the last Statistical Account,
I find that road-making commenced in 1791 ; and in 1796
four miles of the Barvas road were made. Though at that
period the making of a road betwixt Stornoway and Uig,
was supposed " to require the labour of many ages,"
there is now a tolerable road made from sea to sea,
the distance of twenty miles: and since that time, there
are nearly 200 miles of road made by statute labour.
Moss is found to be an excellent elastic foundation
for a road, when covered with gravel and red clay till.
They are in a shocking state of repair. A layer of nine
inches of such road metal as is to be found here, is
absolutely necessary to make them comfortable. There
is not a stone bridge across a river in the island to
my knowledge, though the waters are often dangerous,
and lives are lost by the impetuous torrents. The principal
harbour is Loch Stornoway, where there is safe anchorage
for an indefinite number of vessels. There are several
good quays along the North Beach.
Stornoway, there is a square mile of moor inclosed for
an annual tryst or cattle-market, where several thousand
head of cattle are exposed for sale, and two thousand
at least change owners, in two days. The prices and
demand depend on the southern markets. From 20 to 30
drovers or cattle-dealers come from the mainland, and
some from England. The market or tryst always holds
on the second Wednesday of July annually, by advertisement;
and the packet waits to bring purchasers across the
good inns in Stornoway and 14 other establishments selling
fuel consists of English and Scotch coal, and most excellent
black peats. Coals are sold at L. 1, Is. per ton; peats,
to those who have no carts to lead them home, are almost
as dear as coal. The peat-cutting season is one of joy
and hilarity. Eggs, butter, cheese, and whisky are brought
to the peat bank. 1833.
And in consequence of the badness
of the navigation, merchant goods for Tain are often landed
at Cromarty, which occasions a land carriage of 7 miles.
At the Meikle Ferry, (the western extremity of the parish),
where the passage boat between Ross and Sutherland lies,
there is, at highwater, depth sufficient for ships to
come close to the land.
little below the town, there are the remains of a chapel
called by his name (St Duthus), ..... To this place
it is reported, that King James IV. in the way of penance,
travelled on foot from Falkland, with uncommon expedition,
resting only a short while at the monastery of Pluscardine,
the east of the town there is) a deep hollow, through
which a rivulet runs ; over it there is a handsome bridge,
of one large arch, erected, which cost about 80L. Sterling,
the expence being defrayed by the burgh, and Mr M'Leod.
The entrance to the town, by this new bridge, from the
east and south, is much more commodious now than formerly.
roads and bridges are kept in good repair. The statute
labour is exacted in kind.
Memorials of St Duthus.—The
third event we have mentioned, was a pilgrimage of King
James V. to St Duthus' sanctuary about the year 1527,
and, therefore, a century after the burning of the chapel;
(the former Statistical Account erroneously places it
before it.) The royal visitant, it appears, travelled
barefoot; and a rough footpath, leading across a moor
in the upper part of the parish, and known by the name
of the King's Causeway,—while it remains a proof of
the uncivilized state of the country at that period,
in that it possessed not a single available road in
this direction,—remains a proof also of the then loyalty
of the people, who hastily repaired to construct one
for the accommodation of their king (see image
on Tain Through Time website).
burgh of Tain serves as a market-town, not only for
this parish, but for the whole surrounding district,
and for a considerable part of Sutherlandshire; and
to this it seems to owe its existence and prosperity,—little
trade being carried on, save for the purposes of home
consumption. Among the irregularly built towns of the
north of Scotland, it used to be remarked for irregularity
; for every man seems to have placed his house, just
as happened to suit his private convenience. The same
character still attaches to it, though in a less degree.
The streets have been gradually straightened, and many
of the more unsightly edifices pulled down, though a
principle of order is by no means even yet predominant
in the construction of new ones. The town is neither
lighted, nor supplied with water; for, though its gross
revenue averages L. 500, the other claims of expenditure
in general exhaust the whole. There are no villages
in the parish besides Inver, which contains merely a
of Communication.—The parish is well supplied in
all directions with public roads, which together amount
to twenty miles in extent. A mail coach passes daily
from and to Inverness, and proceeds north to the Meikle
Ferry; and a mail gig runs daily between Tain and Bonar.
There has been established lately another daily coach
to Inverness, which, in consequence of its lessened
fares and more convenient hours, has even already increased
the number of stage travellers, and which accordingly
has every prospect of success. The bridges, of which
there are a considerable number, on account of the numerous
streamlets, are generally kept in good repair; and so,
in general, are our stone fences; there are now almost
no hedges, so much has the Scottish taste, in this respect,
prevailed beyond even what we perceive it to have done,
Of these, there are three principal ones still held
in the parish, which, though at one time of great importance—having
been resorted to by dealers from all quarters, with
every variety of goods—have now degenerated into comparatively
insignificant markets for country productions. They
are held at Midsummer, Lammas, and Michaelmas. The two
first are now useful, chiefly as established resorts
of farmers and labourers, respectively to hire and to
be hired for the harvest work. The rapid decline of
these fairs is a matter of gratification to every sober-minded
individual, since they used formerly to be, and to some
extent still are, scenes of abominable drunkenness and
riot. The inns and alehouses in the town amount to 16;
in the rest of the parish to 3. Here, as everywhere
else, there have been complaints of the pernicious effects
of the large number of these houses upon public morals;
and accordingly, they have been of late considerably
restricted by the functionaries.
generally used, except by those persons in the parish
who reside near the peat mosses, is English coal, at
the rate of about Is. 8d. per barrel; (the herring barrel
is the measure still employed.) It is found cheaper
than peat used alone, though of it, too, a large quantity
is almost daily brought into the town, for sale, in
small carts, chiefly from the neighbouring parish of
Edderton, and is purchased to be used along with the
staple fuel. A coal storehouse is at present in the
course of erection.
There are two public roads in
the parish running parallel. The one leads straight from
Tarbat-Ness to the ferry of Cromarty, and is called the
rock-head road, from its being carried along the top of
a bank, rising above the sea, and rocky in some parts.
The other road passes by the church, through the middle
of the parish, and leads to the ferry of Invergordon.
There are cross roads also, one of which leads to Tain,
the head burgh of the county, where a weekly market is
held, to which the inhabitants resort. In this and every
parish throughout the country, the roads are made most
convenient for travellers, from the particular attention
given to that branch of police. The work has hitherto
been performed by statute labour, and the people have
been regularly called upon, for repairing the roads already
made,or making new ones, where found necessary. But a
plan has lately been proposed, and approved, to have the
statute labour commuted, it being left optional to pay
a certain rate of money, or to perform the service in
person, in terms of the statute.
a few of the black cattle are reared here, the greatest
part being purchased at the different fairs held in
this county, and in Sutherland, in October and November.
After some years work, when they begin to fail in their
strength, they are sold to the drover, or butcher, sometimes
at a higher price than that for which they were first
writer notes that peat and other fuels are scarce and
are obtained only at great labour and cost. Coal from
Newcastle is delivered to Portmaholmack and this is
much more convenient although a high duty is placed
In a famine in 1741, many were found dead on the highways
and in the fields; and others, through long fasting,
expired as soon as they tasted food.
....on the Black Moor, is
the vestige of a Roman camp (NMRS
record). Near the site of the lighthouse is the
foundation of a monument, built, it is said, by the
Romans as a land-mark.
the time of the OSA here were no roads in the parish,
nor any harbour on the coast at which grain could be
carts nor waggons. The fuel is wholly peat.
or three open boats go annually from this parish to
Glasgow with salted beef, dry salted fish, tallow, &c.—
is the market-town of the Lewis, and is thirty miles
from the manse of Uig. It is also the only place of
a post-office in the whole island.
is one inn in the parish.
moss is the fuel made use of here; of which the people
have abundance, and at very little expense.
Observations. The country also requires some branches
of roads to the interior, so as to cart lime from any
of the harbours.
& Logie Wester
Fuel is hard to obtain.
Etc.—There are two or three ferries in this parish,
one of them is at its eastern extremity and opposite
to Fowlis, from whence it has its name. This is not
a much frequented ferry, and is incommodious at low
water, from the shallowness of the shore. Towards the
west end of the parish on the river of Conan, and beyond
where the tide at any time flows, is the ferry of Scuddale,
on the post road from Beauly to Dingwall. Besides these
ferries, there is a small boat for foot passengers,
which, at high water, plies between Dingwall and Ferrintosh.
On the tide's retiring, and when the river is not high,
there is access to Dingwall from this side of the water
by different fords. Some of these fords have a zig-zag
direction, which they retain amidst partial variations,
to which all of them are very subject, from the united
force of high tides, and frequent swellings of the river.
These circumstances, together with the rapid flowing
of the tide at particular times, render this a hazardous
passage, which proves fatal to many. Since the settlement
of the present minister, in 1774, scarce a year has
passed without the loss of some life on it. Some years
it has brought 2, 3, or more, to an untimely end. Within
the course of 14 months, about 8 years ago, 7 persons
perished in crossing the water of Conan, at different
places within the limits of this parish. Humanity strongly
solicits the long promised public aid, for erecting
a bridge on a river, in which the hopes and supports
of many families have fallen by a premature fate.
Parochial Economy. Market-Towns.—There
is no market-town in the parish. The nearest is Dingwall,
distant from the central parts of the parish, round
by Conan Bridge, about five miles. But across the frith,
by a boat, at time of high water, and by the sands during
ebb time, the distance is not more than two miles. Dingwall
is also the nearest post-town ; which is obviously an
inconvenience to the parish at large, but especially
to the eastern parts.
a small village called Culbokie, four fairs are held
in the course of the year.
Bridge thrown over the Conan, at the village called
by that name, in 1810, consisting of five arches, is
a handsome solid fabric. It is built of durable freestone,
and the cost of erection was L. 6000 Sterling. Between
it and the Beauly Bridge, subsequently built, a communication
is opened by an excellent turnpike road, along which
the mail runs. Another road leads from Conan Bridge,
across the Maolbine, to the Kessock, sending off a branch
about half-way, in the direction of Fortrose and the
ferry of Fort George. These roads are kept in excellent
repair; but the smaller branches which intersect the
parish are not at all attended to as they ought, being
often in a very insufficient state. The frith is not
of sufficient depth, so far up as this parish, to admit
of the approach of vessels of considerable burden. A
good deal of trade goes on, however, by means of sloops,
which come into a quay erected a few years ago, at a
place called Alcaig. They bring us coals, lime, &c.;
and receive in return props for coal-pits, and timber
of larger size for other purposes.
at Conan, on the great northern road.
from Newcastle and Sunderland. Many use "a baked
kind of peat", obtainable here, which gives a good
The Orrin has, in the course
of ages, evidently shifted its bed, and its passable fords,
through every part of that plain, and would repeat its
ravages almost every season, were it not retrained by
the annual exertions of the surrounding proprietors. Hence
it is probable, the name is derived from Ur-a, the new
part of the common road, between the Frith of Beauly
and the river Connon, (which is almost the whole length
of the parish), seems to be above 50 feet higher than
the surface of the sea.
Roads and Bridges.— Being
so far off, peat can only be got with difficulty. The
distances and the steepness of the roads lead to the
horses becoming exhausted. The use of coal is denied
many because of the high duty placed on it beyond the
great north road leading to Sutherland and Caithness
passes through this parish, and is kept in excellent
repair. The county road, leading to the west Highlands,
was made about 30 years ago, and is kept in tolerable
repair as far as the parish extends. A road begins in
this district leading to Fortrose, and another to Cromarty,
both eastward, besides cross roads. The whole were made,
and are kept in repair by the statute labour. The gentlemen
of the county, availing themselves of the plenty of
hands, are attentive to this branch of police.
are two bridges - one of stone over a branch of the
Orrin; another over the Orrin itself, of timber; both
built at the expence of the county.
The Orrin, running from S.
W., falls into the Connon below Brahan Castle; a very
irregular stream, fordable in many places during summer,
but sometimes rising very suddenly to an alarming height,
and proving a very unwelcome and destructive visitant
to all within its reach. Mr Mackenzie of Seaforth generously
defrayed the expense of a wooden bridge thrown across
it some years ago behind the manse of Urray; but this
was carried away by the flood of September 1839. It
has been lately repaired at the expense of the county,
and promises defiance to the violence of the stream.