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Statistical Accounts of Scotland

Ross & Cromarty
Old and New Statistical Accounts

Ross 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.



LochbroomGairlochApplecrossKincardineEddertonTain TarbatFearnNiggLogie easterKilmuir EasterRosskeanCromartyRosemarkieKirkmichael and Cullycudden (Resolis)AvochKilmuir and Suddie (Knockbain)KilearnanUrquhart and Logie WesterAlnessKiltearnDingwallFoddertyContinLochcarronUrrayLochalshKintailGlenshielThe 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 Books here; 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 Places.

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
from Arrowsmith's 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.

Alness V19, P234 Glenshiel V7, P124 Lochcarron V13, P551
Applecross V3, P369 Kilearnan V17, P337 Logie Easter V4, P472
Avoch V15, P610 Kilmuir & Suddy (Knockbain) V12, P262 Nigg V13, P13
Contin V7, P161 Kilmuir Easter V6,P183 Rosemarkie V11, P333
Cromarty V12, P245 Kiltearn V1, P259 Roskeen V2, P558
Dingwall V3, P1 Kincardine V3, P505 Tain V3, P389
Eddertoun V11, P461 Kintail V6, P242 Tarbat V6, P417
Fearn V4, P288 Kirkmichael & Cullycudden (Resolis) V14, P88 Urquhart & Logie Wester V5, P203
Fodderty V7, P410 Lochalsh V11, P422 Urray V7, P245
Gairloch V3, P89 Lochbroom V10, P461  

Isle of Lewis (Barvas, Lochs, Stornoway, Uig)

Barvas V19, P263 Stornoway V19, P241
Lochs V19, P274 Uig V19, P280







Loch Maree, Gairloch parishAt 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.

By contrast the eastern parishes were quite well served by roads - these were statute labour as there were no turnpikes.

The 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.

On 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 Lochalsh.

The 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.

Ferries mentioned in the Statistical Accounts -
In 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.

There 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.

Obtaining 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 Arbroath).

Several cattle markets were held in the county, and droving was a major part of the economy.

Other Sources
Guide 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

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 Ross and Cromarty at that time.
Commission 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.
“The 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).
Old 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.
Virtual Hebrides
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 date.

The 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.

Fuel.—The higher parts of the parish still use nearby peat but the lower parts are starting to use coal.
February 1840.

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 for protection.

Extent.—The 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.

ApplecrossParochial Economy. Market-Towns.—
There is no market-town in the parish, nor within many miles of it.

Means 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.

Ecclesiastical State.The 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.

Fairs.—There are no fairs in the parish.

Inns.—There are 4 inns, at Applecross, Kishorn, Shieldag, and Torridon.

Fuel.—The 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.

Miscellaneous 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.


Roads 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.

Means 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.Six inns in the village.

Fuel.Coal 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.
February 1840.

There are no carts used in the parish, except by the minister.

The 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.

There 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.

Fuel: Peat.


Population - (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.

Markets.—A 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 considerable.

Inns.—There 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.

Fuel.—Such 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 the sea.

In 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.

Horses 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.

He 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.

Roads 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 parish.

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.....

Means of Communication.— 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

Fairs.—There 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.

Inns, Etc.Two main inns and 16 public-houses.

Fuel.—The 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.

Miscellaneous 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 needed.

The 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 good.

On 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.

The 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 History.

Parochial 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.

Inn, Etc.—There 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 Stittenham.

Fuel.—The 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.
November 1840

Details of animals sold in Tain, Cromarty, Fort George and Inverness (page 294).

Fuel.—Peat and turf have to be brought some eight miles at great expenditure of time - coal is too expensive for most.

No mention

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.


Torridon hills from near Gairloch

Rivers 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...

Parochial 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.

Inns.—There are five licensed inns in the parish.

Fuel.Peat, obtainable nearby.

GairlochMiscellaneous 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 purpose.

The writer notes that peat is difficult to obtain because of its distance. The present coal laws cause difficulties.

No 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 (all NMRS 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.

The 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.

Glenshiel parishParochial 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.

*Both 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.Three 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.

Inns.—Besides 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.—The 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.

Miscellaneous Observations. The 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.

Fairs.—We have two public fairs held, each year, in the months of March and July.

Fuel.—The 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.

Kilmuir & Suddy (Knockbain)
Mention of the public road from Beauly to Dingwall.

I 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.

Roads, 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 Highlands.

As 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 for fuel.

A cave at the Bay of Munlochy used to be used by smugglers.

Advantages 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.

Market-Towns.—There 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.

Means of Communication.—There 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.

Kilmuir Easter

An 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.

The 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.

Miscellaneous 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.

There 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 shore.

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.

Inns.—There are 2 inns, and 4 public-houses.

Fuel.—Coals 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.

Miscellaneous 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 country.

Roads 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.

Two fairs or markets held here in December and June.

Inns and Ale-houses.Licensed ale-houses at Drummond and Wester Fowlis which are needed for travellers and conducting business. There are also several whisky houses.

Near 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.

Fairs.—There 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.

Means 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 of Creich.

Ferries.—There 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.

There 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.

This parish has but one fair.

The 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 tide.

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.

Mission in the heights of the Parish. The writer gives details of this mission set up to serve the remote parts of the parish.

Fair.—There 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.One inn at Ardgay.

Fuel.—The 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.

Miscellaneous Observations. Since the last account roads have improved and travel is easier.


Kintail parish OSA

Rivers, 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.

Within 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).

Miscellaneous 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.

Parochial Economy. 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.

Kirkmichael & Cullycudden (Resolis)
Mention of the county road that leads from the Ferry of Scuddal to the Ferry of Bewley.

Small box carts are starting to be used in preference to the Kellachye carts.

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.

The county-roads and bridges in this parish have been much improved of late, and are in general very good*.

*Considering 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.

Peat is difficult to gather and the cost of coal is too high because of a government tax.

No mention of roads.

North of Ullapool

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 Lochbroom parish showing Fisheries roadhorseback, 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 very useful.

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.—The 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.

UllapoolImprovements.—The 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.

Map of the old Ullapool road
Approximate course of road.
© 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.

Note: Details of the road made in the 1790's by the British Fisheries Society can be found in

The 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 in places.

The 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 - see Am Baile. See also the Heritage Paths site for more details.





Mention of the ferry town of Strom (i.e. Strome Ferry).

It 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 here).

4. 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.

7. 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.

Fairs.—The 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.

Inns.—There 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.—The 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.

Peat 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.

Roads, 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.

Fuel.—Abundant peat is available locally.

Logie Easter
Two bridges on the river.

There 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 that respect.

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.

Parochial 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.

Fair.—The only fair in the parish is Hugh's Fair, held in November, for general purposes. It is dying away very fast.

Inns.—There are 3 small inns, which are in many cases an accommodation to travellers; but otherwise they are no blessing.

Fuel.—Coals 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 good.

September 1836

Caves on the coast used for smuggling.

The 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 of man.

Small horses are employed in carrying manure, yoked in a sort of light sledge, rolling on 3 wooden wheels.

No 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 November.

Means 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 pigs.

Inns.—Inns at Fortrose and Rosemarkie.



No 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."

Parochial 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.

Fairs.—There are five fairs, held annually at Invergordon ; in February, April, August, October, and December.

Inns.—There 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.—The 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.

Those working on the roads are paid 8d a day.

Horse-loads 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.

Roads,etc.—Road-making 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,....

Supplement - 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 through it.

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.

Parochial Economy. Market-Towns.—Stornowav is the only market-town in the parish; the other towns or hamlets consist of tenants houses built at the head of their lots.

Means 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.

There 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.

Fairs.—Near 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 Minch.

Inns.Four good inns in Stornoway and 14 other establishments selling drink.

Fuel.—The 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.

A 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, near Elgin.

(To 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.

The 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).

Parochial Economy. Burgh.—The 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 fishing population.

Means 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 old.

Fairs.— 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.

Fuel.—That 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.

Only 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 bought.

The 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 on it.

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.

At the time of the OSA here were no roads in the parish, nor any harbour on the coast at which grain could be shipped.


No carts nor waggons. The fuel is wholly peat.

Two or three open boats go annually from this parish to Glasgow with salted beef, dry salted fish, tallow, &c.—

Parochial Economy. Market-Town.
—Stornoway 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.

Inns.—There is one inn in the parish.

Fuel.—Peat moss is the fuel made use of here; of which the people have abundance, and at very little expense.

Miscellaneous Observations. The country also requires some branches of roads to the interior, so as to cart lime from any of the harbours.

Urquhart & Logie Wester
Fuel is hard to obtain.

Ferries, 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.

Fairs.—At a small village called Culbokie, four fairs are held in the course of the year.

Means of Communication.—The 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.

Inns.—Inn at Conan, on the great northern road.

Fuel.—Coal from Newcastle and Sunderland. Many use "a baked kind of peat", obtainable here, which gives a good fire.
February 1840.

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 ford.

No 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.

Fuel, 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 Red-head.

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.

There 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.