New Statistical Account (1838) Parish of Fodderty

Strathpeffer Community Collage
Raeburn Portrait (Exhibition Guide)
Sir John Sinclair, Baronet of Ulbster in Caithness standing in front of map of Ross and Cromarty
 

The Second Statistical Account (1834 - 1845)

The New (or Second) Statistical Account of Scotland built on the previous work carried out by Sir John Sinclair for the First Statistical Accounts by including the knowledge of local doctors and schoolmasters. The Second Statistical Accounts were published between 1834 and 1845.



Parish page number boxes refer to page numbers in the original Statistical Account:
Parish of Fodderty page XXX
 

The Second Statistical Account for Fodderty (1838)

The following is a transcription of the actual Account of the Parish of Fodderty from the second or new Statistical Account of Fodderty (dated May 1838).

Parish of Fodderty page 244


PARISH OF FODDERTY. PRESBYTERY OF DINGWALL, SYNOD OF ROSS.

THE REV. JOHN NOBLE MINISTER.

I.-TOPOGRAPHY AND NATURAL HISTORY.


Name.-The name of this parish is supposed to be derived from two Gaelic words, Foigh and Ritaobh, which signify " a meadow along the side of a hill." These terms are 
descriptive of the valley of Strathpeffer, which forms the principal part of the parish, and stretches westward from Dingwall to the distance of four miles.
 
Extent, &c.- The parish has been greatly diminished in extent, quoad sacra, since the localities attached to the Parliamentary churches were disjoined from it. It measures, at present, from east to West 9 miles, and from north to south II miles; and is bounded by Dingwall on the east; Urray on the south ; Contin and Kinlochluichart on the west; and Kincardine and Kiltearn on the north.
 
Topographical Appearances, &c.-Tbe parish is one of the most hilly and mountainous in Scotland. This is its general character, with the exception of the valley of Stratbpeffer.

Ben-Wyves or Ben-Uaish rises to the height of 3426 feet, and in respect of lateral bulk is the principal bill in the north. It was never known to be so free of snow as in the singularly hot summer of 1826. Its top is covered with a green soft sward, and when the sky is cloudless the extent and grandeur of the view from it amply compensate for the labour and fatigue of climbing. The principal proprietor, it is said, holds his right of possession from his Majesty, on condition of presenting a snow-ball at the court of St James', on 


Parish of Fodderty page 245

 

 

any day of the year on which it may be required. At the bases there is an extensive peatmoss, part of which is very spongy and easily consumed, and a part hard and black ; than which, there is scarcely any fuel better fitted for keeping up a mild and gentle heat.
 
Knock-Farril, situated on the opposite or south side of the valley, is crowned with one of those vitrified forts which so puzzle and interest the antiquary. It is one of the most beautiful and strikingly marked in the country. Its form is conical, and the ascent on the side fronting the valley almost perpendicular. The ruins on the top surround a plain of nearly an acre in extent, from which Craig-Phadric, near Inverness, and Dun-Skaith, on the northern Sutor of Cromarty, are distinctly seen. Most of these hill-forts seem, in the first instance, to have been constructed by the aboriginal inhabitants, for the purpose of defending themselves from their enemies. The vitrified appearance which some of them present, it is well known, has been the source of much controversy. Mr Williams and Dr Anderson supposed that fire had been used for cementing the walls, by fusing the materials of which they were composed. Mr Tytler (the late Lord Woodhouselee) was of opinion, that the vitrification resulted from the destruction of the buildings, of which we now see only the ruins. There is a third view, which has been ably advocated by Sir George Stewart Mackenzie of Coul, Baronet, viz. that the vitrified appearance was caused by beacon-fires. " The following considerations," says he, " seem to support the idea of such high situations being chosen exclusively for signal stations. Such hills only as command an extensive view of the sea or adjacent country have been selected. There is a regular chain from Knock-Farril and Craig-Phadric along the great valley of Lochness to the west coast, and others are in sight towards the east, so that on the appearance of an enemy on either side of the island, the whole country from coast to coast could be informed, perhaps within the short space of an hour. And such is the situation of vitrified forts exclusively; for they are not seen in any but commanding situations, while many spots, more convenient and better adapted in every respect for defence, are often to be found in their vicinity, or at no great distance."
 
The origin of beacons is of the highest antiquity. They were used among the Jews and Greeks. The Romans, too, were wont to lightup nocturnal signal fires; and latterly the ancient beal


Parish of Fodderty page 246

 


fires of Ireland have, in times of excitement, been revived, for a similar purpose in that country.
 
"To be satisfied," says Sir George, "of the reason why the signal fires should be kindled an or beside a heap of stones, we have only to imagine a gale of wind to have arisen when a fire was kindled on the bare ground. The fuel would be blown about and dispersed to the great annoyance of those who attended. The plan for obviating the inconvenience thus occasioned, which would occur most naturally and readily, would be to raise a heap of stones on either side of which the fire might be placed to windward;-and to account for the vitrification appearing all round the area, it is only necessary to allow the inhabitants of the country to have had a system of signals. A fire at one end might denote something different from a fire at the other, or in some intermediate part.
 
On some occasions, two or more fires might be necessary, and sometimes a fire along the whole line. It cannot be doubted," he adds, "that the rampart was originally formed with as much regularity as the nature of the materials would allow, both in order to render it more durable, and to make it serve the purposes of defence. "After combating the other opinions upon the subject, he concludes, that these structures may have served as beacons to castles in their vicinity, the remains of which are almost in every instance to be found, e.g. that Knock-Farril may have been the signal-post of the Castle of Dingwall, which formed the principal residence of the ancient Earls of Ross.
 
Craig-an-Fhiach, or Raven's Rock, lies to the westward, and presents a bold perpendicular front, from which a loud and distinct echo is heard. Near to it, is a very strong chalybeate called Saint's Well. Another spring, on the north-east side of Knock-Farril, bears the name of John the Baptist's, the water of which is of the purest kind, and till within the last fifty years was supposed to possess a miraculous virtue. It used to be resorted to by sick people and maniacs, who always left on a neighbouring bush or tree a bit of coloured cloth or thread-as a relic.*
 
Loch-Ussie lies to the south of Knock-Farril. It contains severul small islands, and is surrounded with a young thriving plantation. Kenneth Oure, whose sayings are still held in great repute by the common people, resided in its neighbourhood. He attributed his power of foretelling future events to the possession

Footnote:
*Some derive the name of the parish from this well, the water of which was by way of eminence called Fuar dibhe, i. e. cold drink or refreshment.


Parish of Fodderty page 247
 


of a beautiful white stone resembling a pearl, but much larger. It is said that, shortly before his death, he threw it into Loch-Ussie, predicting that it would be found many years afterwards in the stomach of a pike, by one who, in consequence, should be also endowed with the gift of prophecy. Above Dunglass, is a low mound covered with green sward, and surrounded by a well defined circle of forty feet diameter. It seems to be a fairy ring. The grass of the circle is greener and fresher than that in the middle,-a phenomenon which is supposed to be occasioned either by lightning, or by a kind of fungus, which breaks and pulverizes the soil.
 
The views from all the eminences in the parish are extensive and striking, but especially from those to the north. Behind, rises the stupendons Ben-Wyves, its top often covered with. clouds and storm; in front, is Knock-Farril; and beneath, lies the beautiful vale of Strathpeffer, with its gently winding road, its well-cultivated fields, its tall ancestral trees, its venerable-looking castle, and its neat dwelling-houses. Stretching the eye to the westward, there appears nothing but one vast assemblage of conical topped hills of the wildest and most rugged description; while on the east, are to be seen the town of Dingwall, part of the Frith of Cromarty, and the rich landscape which surrounds the Castle of Tulloch. The view, as a whole, is one of the most varied and magnificent, and includes the heights of Inverness-shire rising successively one above
another, until they are lost from sight in the far-distant clouds.
 
Meteorology.-Climate, according to Dr Ure, is the prevailing constitution of the atmosphere relative to beat, wind, and moisture. There is considerable humidity in the high grounds of this. parish, and the cold at times is very intense. In the lower parts, however, the air is mild and genial. Even in winter, this is not unfrequently the case in the vicinity of the spa. Hills surround it in all directions, the sinuosity of the valley breaks the force of the cold easterly winds,-while those from the west are deprived of much of their moisture by the beath-clad hills over which they pass; and besides, the gradual rising slope of this district elevates it into a kind of mid-air, which is always pure and invigorating. During the greater part of the year, the wind blows from between south-west and north-west, and at the time of the equinoxes is generally accompanied with rain. There are occasionally strong gales from the east and north-east, but the most violent proceed from the former points. Thunder is seldom heard. The temperature in summer


Parish of Fodderty page 248

 


is often equal to, and at times greater than, that experienced in England; but in spring and autumn, it is subject to sudden changes, which are severely felt. The climate, as a whole, however, is one of the purest and most salubrious in great Britain, which accounts for the longevity of the people, and the fewness of the diseases which prevail among them. The healthiness of the parish has been much increased by the general system of drainage begun by Major McKenzie, Fodderty, in 1811, in consequence of which, what was formerly in a state of marsh and meadow now yield luxuriant crops of grain, and the grounds which used often to be covered with mildew have been almost, if not entirely, freed from it.
 
Hydrography.-The parish is well supplied with water. Besides numerous springs which are chiefly perennial, there are also many mineral springs-some pure cbalybeate, and others strongly impregnated with hydrogen gas. Of the latter kind, two at the west end of the strath have been long known for their medicinal, qualities, which they seem to derive from the bituminous rocks mixed with beds of shale abounding with pyrites or sulphuret of iron, through which the water flows. An imperfect analysis of these springs was given in the Philosophical Transactions for 1772. That by Dr Thomson of Glasgow in 1824 is as follows :
 
"There are two wells," says he, "at a little distance from each other. The temperature of the lower well, on the 24th June, was 39°, and that of the upper 39¾°. The day was rainy, and the temperature of the air rather under 60°. Both had the smell of sulphuretted hydrogen gas. But the upper spring was obviously stronger than the lower. The specific gravity of these wells was as follows:
Upper Well, 1.00193
Lower Well, 1.00091

"An imperial gallon of the upper spring was found to contain 
                    Sulphuretted hydrogen gas, 26.167 cubic inches
  Sulphate of soda, 67.770 grains
  Sulphate of lime, 39.454    do.
  Common salt, 24.728    do.
  Sulphate of magnesia,   6.242    do.
" An imperial gallon of the water attached to the pump-room yielded
                    Sulphuretted hydrogen gas, 13.659 cubic inches
"The saline contents were similar to those of the upper spring,
but in the proportion to them of 7 to 9,
                      Sulphate of soda,                   52.710 grains            
  Sulphate of lime, 30.686     do.
  Common salt, 19.283     do.
  Sulphate of magnesia,   4.855     do.
 

Parish of Fodderty page 249


 

"The upper spring is more strongly impregnated with sulphuretted hydrogen gas than Moffat wells; but the lower spring is a good deal weaker."
 
Strathpeffer Spa was brought into great celebrity by Dr Thomas Morrison of Elsick and Disblair, in Aberdeenshire; a gentleman who had previously tried almost every other spa in the kingdom. He gave it as his opinion, that this was the most valuable of the whole, and, in describing the climate, his usual expression was, "the balsamic air of Stratbpeffer." At his suggestion, the proprietor built, in 1819, a handsome pump-room ever the lower well, 40 feet long by 20 feet broad, in which there is an excellent full -drawn likeness of Dr Morrison, done by George Watson, Edinburgh. It cost L. 125 Sterling, and was paid for in subscriptions of from one to ten guineas by the visitors, out of grateful respect to Dr Morrison for his able and gratuitous services.
 
The season for drinking the water extends from the beginning of May to the middle or end of October. it is found to be highly beneficial in all cases of ill health which result from a relaxed state of the system, especially in the great variety of disorders occasioned by nervous debility; in gouty, rheumatic, scrofulous, and cutaneous complaints; in affections of the kidneys and bladder, the water being highly diuretic; in cases of dyspepsia, and for constitutions which have suffered by long residence in tropical climates.
 
It is prejudicial, however, to those whose ailments are attended with any degree of inflammation or fever. Its specific gravity approximates to that of the mineral waters on the banks of the Rhine; from which circumstance, large quantities of it can be taken without oppressing the stomach, or irritating the system. It is quickly digested, and works its way gradually yet thoroughly into the constitution, on which it acts as a mild alterative. After taking a course of the sulphureous water, it is generally of advantage to follow it up with a course of chalybeate, of which there is a spring close to the pump-room, and many others in the neighbourhood. There is no doubt but the pure dry, bracing air which circulates around this district, and the beauty of the scenery, by tempting invalids to walk abroad, contribute in a great measure to their restoration to health.
 
The regulations are, that all ladies and gentlemen put down their name upon arrival, and pay 2s. each week during their attendance ; that those drinking the water at the upper or lower well, but not attending the pump-room, pay ls. as above; and that
 

Parish of Fodderty page 250



all strangers taking only one glass in the pump-room, pay 6d. The allowance to the well-keeper is voluntary. On week-days the pump-room is open from 6 to 9 A. M., 12 to 2 P. M. and 5 to 7 in the evening. It is shut on Sabbath days from 9 A. M., to 5 P. M. The poor have the water gratis, and are accommodated with a comfortable room attached to the upper well. They receive unremitted and disinterested attention from John M'Kenzie, Esq. M. D., Kinellan, who acts in this quarter in his professional capacity of consulting physician.
 
The public prints are regularly supplied by the proprietor. Within the last four years a penny-post has been established. Bread, meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables and fruit are to be got in the neigbbourhood. During the drinking season, a coach runs twice a day to Dingwall, which is connected with another that goes to Inverness in the morning and returns in the evening.
 
Since the spa has come so much into repute, a number of respectable-looking buildings have been erected for the accommodation of visitors. Through the benevolent exertions of J. E. Gordon, Esq. late Member for Dundalk, an institution has also been established for the benefit of the poor who resort thither from a distance. It is capable of accommodating fifty at one time, and is to be opened inthe course of next year. The hotel at Blar-na-ceaun, which has been recently built, within half a mile of the pump-room, is not surpassed by any in the country ; and there is also a comfortable inn on the east side, where strangers receive every convenience and attention.
 
Geology.-As is usually the case, in the high grounds of the parish, which present a bold front and outlines only the primary rocks are to be met with, and of these the most frequent is gneiss. The south side of the valley abounds in red sandstone and conglomerate, while on the north, the rock is bluish and slat exhibiting in many places swinestone of a blackish brown colour, which on being rubbed gives out a fetid urinous odour. In the direction of the spa, the rock begins to assume the appearance of a dark calcareo-bituminous schist, soft and foliated, and mixed with beds of shale abounding with pyrites. On the north-west and north, are several appearances of coal. Some extracted about seventy years ago was found to be of a clear black colour, and remarkably inflammable. Neither of these places, the one lying in the vicinity of Castle-Leod, and the other near the river Sgiah, at the foot of Wyves, have been considered worthy of being worked, as the coal
 

Parish of Fodderty page 251



found in them does not seem to belong to the true coal formation.*
 
The land towards Dingwall is heavy, approaching to clay. To the westward, it presents in many places a fine free loam or mould, partly black and partly brown, having a swinestone or gravelly subsoil. And on the south side of the parish, it is generally black with a very retentive bottom, which renders it extremely wet in winter.

Botany.-The less ordinary botanical specimens which have been noticed are, the Pinguicula, lusitanica and Melampyrum sylvaticum, near Castle Leod, the Linnam borealis, in the woody part of the district of Brahan, and the Arbutus alpina, Saxifraga oppositifolia, Betula nona, Azalea procumbens, Alopecurus alpinus, &c. around Wyves. Both here and along the glens to the west of Castle-Leod, mosses, of every shade and colour, and of the softest texture, are to be met with in abundance.+

Zoology.-The rarer kind of animals which occur are the deer and roe-deer, also the fallow-deer from the policy of Brahan, the fox, martin, wild and polecat, stoat or ermine, and weasel.
 
The ornithology includes the ordinary sorts of game, together with the grey and golden eagle, which build on the Bealach Mor, or west end of Wyves, the merlin, kestril, herrier-hawk, also the falcon-hawk, which builds in Craig-an-Fhiach, the kite, buzzard, raven, hooded-crow, thrush, &c.

Black trout, some of which are of considerable size, are often caught in the Peffery, a small stream which runs eastward through the strath, and gives to it its distinctive name. And the river Conon, part of which belongs to the Honourable Mrs Hay M'Kenzie, and is connected with this parish, abounds in salmon. The quantity taken, however, has of late years diminished. This was supposed to be owing to the stake-nets in the Frith, which have been recently abolished. But these, if confined within low water mark, could rarely intercept either the kelts or fry, as the former, from their exhausted state, and the latter from their weakness, suffer 

Footnotes:
Mr Witham informs us, that the coal of Castle-Leod is not true coal, but the mineral named slaggy mineral pitch, and that it occurs in veins traversing the gosis of the hill on which the castle is built.-Vide Memoirs of Wernerian Natural History Society. Vol. vi p. 123.
+The Rev. D. M'Kenzie, one ofthe former. incumbents of the parish, surrounded the lawn in front of the manse with a hedge of the barberry. However desirable as a fence, both from its beautiful appearance and its therny branches this shrub may be, it was found necessary to cut it down, as the corn sown near it on the glebe, and also to a considerable distance in the adjoining fields, usually proved abortive-the ears being in general destitute of grain.
 

Parish of Fodderty page 252



themselves to be carried down the mid-channel or main stream; while they would secure for the public many of the salmon which at present become the prey of the seal and grampus.
 
 
II. -CIVIL HISTORY

The ancient history of this parish is involved in much obscurity. Though locally situated in the county of Ross, it has belonged to that of Cromarty, since the time of George Viscount of Tarbat. The founder of his family was Roderick M'Kenzie, second son to Colin of Kintail. Roderick was knighted by James VI., and left two sons, John and Kenneth, the former of whom was created a baronet in the following reign, and at his death bequeathed his lands to his son George. He was the original purchaser of the lands of Cromarty, and in the reign of Queen Anne was made Secretary of State and Earl of Cromarty. An act was procured by him, in 1698, which annexed the barony of Tarbat and his
other lands in Ross-shire to the shire of Cromarty "in all time coming, and to all effects;"-among these, was a large proportion of the parish of Fodderty, whence its anomalous connexion with the neigbbouring county.
 
The parish was formerly divided into three, viz. Fodderty, Kinnettas, and Tollie, in Brahan. In the first two, there are burying grounds still in use, and in which the older inhabitants remember to have seen the remains of chapels. Traces of a burying ground are also to be met with on a small island below the Castle of Brahan; to the place of worship which the Tollie district would seem to have been formerly attached. 
 
Antiquities.-North of the burying-ground at Fodderty, lies Croich-an-Team puil or Temple-croft, in which several stone-coffins have been found. One, containing two skeletons, was dug up within the last four years. - Coffins Of the same kind have been met with near Keppoch Lodge, and in the heights of the property of Hilton. The name usually given to them is Kistvaen, from cist, a chest, and maen changed to vaen, a stone. Sometimes an urn has been found in them; but those discovered in this parish contained only bones and ashes.
 
Of those sepulchral remains called cairns, there is an excellent specimen on the heights of the property of Hilton, which measures 260 feet by 20 feet. It is situated on a little rising ground, having at the east end a standing-stone. Its height has, of late years, been much diminished by the removal of the stones
 

Parish of Fodderty page 253



for the building of enclosures or fences. A number of bones have been discovered in it.
 
In the same neighbourhood are the remains of two Druidical circles. Of the one, which lies due north of the cairn, there are only three stones remaining, the rest baving been blasted and used in building. The other, which is situated in the march line between the properties of Cromartie and Hilton, presents a singular and interesting appearance. In the centre, the stones are from five feet to six feet above ground, one foot apart from each other, and inclose a space of nine feet diameter. On each side, are the appearances of two spaces of smaller dimensions, one having only two stones placed at right angles, and the other only one, which measures seven and a-half feet by four and a-half feet, and at the height of two-thirds has an indentation slightly angular in the centre, and cut more deep towards the edges. Surroundin the whole are the appearances of several concentric circles of considerable dimensions, but most of the stones have been carried away. It is proper to notice, that, while the proprietor resided in the vicinity, the people were prevented from interfering with these interesting remains of the religion of our Celtic ancestors, who held it as a principle, that no temple or covered building should be erected for public worship, but that their devotions should be performed under the open canopy of Heaven. The object of the smaller spaces observed in one of the remains can only be matter of conjecture. It is not unlikely that they were a kind of Holy of Holies in which the Druids met, apart from the vulgar, to perform their more sacred rites, or to sit in Council for the purpose of determining controversies. Some assign a Scandinavian origin to these remains, believing that the Druids never visited Scotland. However this may have been, previous to the invasion, it is by no means improbable that after it they were induced to flee thither by the system of extermination exercised towards them by the Romans. Of their religion, little is known, and their circles have long since become a mere theme for the antiquary.
 
On each side of the church, are two standing-stones. The vulgar tradition respecting them, is, that Knock-Farril, which lies directly opposite, was often resorted to b Fin Mac Coul, the Fingal of Ossian; whence, by his immense strength, be threw them down upon his enemies. In confirmation of this, the marks of a gigantic finger and thumb are still pointed out on one of them. Some are of opinion that they were used for offering up sacrifices 


Parish of Fodderty page 254



in the time of the Druids, as the larger of the two has the appearance of being burnt from top to bottom ; but others, that they were erected as memorials to perpetuate some events which, as the stones are in their natural shape, and without inscription, have not been transmitted to posterity; and a third party, that they were intended to mark the neutral ground between the Mackenzies of Seaforth, and the Mackenzies of Dochmaluack.
 
There is another stone halfway between Castle-Leod and the Spa with an eagle cut upon it, and called in Gaelic Clack-an-tiom-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. The tradition is as follows: The Lady of Seaforth dwelt at that time in a wicker or wattled-house at Kinellan. A party of the Munroes came upon her by surprise, and carried off the Lady, house, and all that it contained. They were overtaken near Castle-Leod, defeated with great slaughter, and the Lady of Seaforth rescued. Clach-an tiompan was set up by the Munroes over the remains of their fellow clansmen. Kenneth Oure is said to have prophesied that in course of time ships should be seen moored to this stone.
 
On the north-west side of Knock-farril is a circular enclosure or ring, formed of small stones, having the earth somewhat scooped out in the interior. There is a similar one near the march line between the properties of Cromartie and Hilton, and within sight of the former. They are not unlike the pond-barrows of Wales, and are supposed to have been used either for the performance of religious rites around them, or for games and combats which took place within them. The common people call them fairy-folds.
 
On a small eminence at the west end of Park is a number of standing stones, placed in a circular form, and enclosing a space of about 15 feet in diameter, from which two rows run eastward, and make a rectangle of 9 feet by 6 feet. They are supposed to Commemorate a bloody battle which took place towards the end of the fifteenth century, between the M'Kenzies and the M'Donalds, headed by Gillespie, cousin of the Lord of the Isles. The chief of the M'Kenzies bad married a sister of the latter; but for some slight reason repudiated her, and is said to have sent her back, by way of insult, with a man and horse each blind of an eye, as she herself had a similar defect. Some time thereafter, a predecessor of the Laird of Brodie happened to be on a visit at Kinellan, and on
 

Parish of Fodderty page 255



departing received from M'Kenzie a present of several heads of cattle. As he and his followers were driving these across the low grounds to the west of Druim-chatt, they observed the M'Donalds approaching to avenge the insult which bad been offered to the sister of their lord, and immediately returned to assist the M'Kenzies. The remains of the Brodies who fell on the occasion are said to have been buried under these stones. Tradition attributes the victory which the M'Kenzies gained chiefly to the aid which they received from a little man with a red night-cap, who appeared suddenly among them. Having knocked down one of the M'Donalds, be sat upon the lifeless body, and, when asked the reason, replied, "I have killed only one man, as I am to get the reward only of one man." He was told to kill another, and he would receive double-he did so, and sat on him likewise. The chief of the M'Kenzies on learning the circumstance came hastily to him, and said, "Na cunnte ruim. 's cha chunnte mi ruit," meaning, Don't reckon with me, and I'll not stint thee-whereupon the little man arose, and with every blow knocked down a M'Donald, always saying, " 'O nach cunntair ruim cha chunnte mi ruit." He helped the M'Kenzie to gain a decisive battle, and then disappeared into Loch Kinellan. Gillespie lost his head on the occasion, which is said to have rolled down into a well, where it was afterwards found. This conflict is commonly called the battle of Blar-na-pairc, from the district of this parish in which it was chiefly fought. The beheading of Gillespie and many of his followers renders it not improbable that it was the same with that of Blar-na-ceaun, or the battle of the heads.
 
Castle-Leod, said to have been built by Sir Roderick M'Kenzie, tutor of Kintail, and which was one of the principal seats of the ancient Earls of Cromarty, is situated on the west side of Strathpeffer, near the base of a beautifully rounded topped hill. It is five stories in height, exclusive of the attics. Around the eaves are three bartizans, one on the south or front, measuring 42 feet by 3½ feet, and the others on the east and west sides, 18 feet by 3 feet each. There are four turrets, and numerous loopholes which rise from the lowest to six different heights. Over the principal entry are two stones having the arms beautifully cut on them in high relief ; and above two of the windows to the north, are on one, R. M. K. 3. Agus. and on the other, M. M. C. 1616. The walls in many parts of the building are from seven to eight foot thick, and the dining-room or ball, which is of considerable height, and measures 32 feet by 21 feet, exclusive of the rececesses,
 

Parish of Fodderty page 256



has a fire-place in it upwards of 10 feet long by 5 feet high, with stone seats at each end. Below is a cell, which was formerly used as a prison, with a strongly chained oaken door. The castle is built of red sandstone, and presents a remarkable and truly baronial appearance. It is surrounded with large parks and tall ancestral trees among which are the oak, ash, sycamore or plane-tree, elm, lime, arbor vitae, laburnum, and chestnut. One of the last kind is a splendid tree, measuring in circumference at the ground, 24 feet, and breast high, 18 feet. Its branches spread to the extent of about 90 feet in diameter.
 
The land-owners, none of whom are resident in the parish, are, in the order of their valuation, John Hay M'Kenzie, Esq. of Cromartie; James Alexander Stewart M'Kenzie, Esq. of Seaforth, M.P.; Alexander M'Kenzie, Esq. of Hilton; Duncan Davidson, Esq. of Tulloch; The Proprietor of Strathconon; Sir George Stewart Mackenzie of Coul, Bart.; and Sir Colin M'Kenzie of Kilcoy, Bart.

III. -POPULATION
 
The population of this parish in 1755 was 1483                                  
  1794   1730
  1831   2232

The last census and those taken formerly included the inhabitants of the districts which are now connected, 'quoad sacra, with the parishes of Carnoch and Kinlochluichart. Exclusive of these, the population at present is upwards of 2300. The increase has been, in a great measure, occasioned by the villages of Maryburgh and Keithtown, which are of recent formation, and by the heights being resorted to from remote districts lately converted into pasturage.
 
The number of families in the parish is 492.
The number below 15 years of age who can read or are learning to read,
       216 males, 162 females.
The number below 15 years of age w4o can write or are learning to write,
        74 males, 31 females.
The number above 15 years of age who cannot read either Gaelic or
        English, 538.
 
Illegitimate births in the course of the last three years, 6.
 
The greatest part of the parish is occupied by large farmers, who have introduced all the modern improvements in agriculture. The rest of the people consist of small tenants, crofters, a few mechanics, and the extremely poor. All belong to the Established Church, and seem to be cordially attached to it. The Gaelic is generally spoken, and is still by far the most prevalent language.
 

Parish of Fodderty page 257



The morals of the people have, in several respects, undergone improvement. In former times, cases of theft, especially, were by no means uncommon.*
 
Many superstitious notions still prevail among the common people. They are firm believers in dreams and warnings-the taisq or wraith-and also in a kind of fairies or cursed spirits who resided in a small knoll directly opposite Knock- Farril; by whom children were often stolen or changed, before they were christened. Here, the old inhabitants say that, even in their day, unearthly music has been beard and unearthly lights seen ; but that the cursed spirits have been, long since, laid under a restraint which prevents them from making their appearance, or doing mischief as formerly. There is a small spring which rises in a circular hollow in a solid rock on the west side of Rhoagie, called Tobar-nadomhnuich, the water of which is believed to possess the virtue of indicating whether a sick person shall survive or not. It is taken from the spring before sunrise, and after the patient has been bathed or immersed in it, if the water appears of a pure colour, it foretells his recovery; but, if of a brown mossy colour, that he will die. About six years ago, a mother brought her sickly child a distance of thirty miles, to this spring. On approaching it, she was startled by the appearance of an animal with glaring eye-balls leaping into it. The poor mother considered this as a fatal omen. Her affection for her child, however, overcame her fear. She dislodged the animal and bathed the child, after which it slept more soundly than it had ever done before. This seemed at first to confirm the sanitory virtue of the water, but the child has since died. Within the same period, two friends of a parishioner whose life was despaired of, went to consult the spring in his behalf, and to fetch some of the water. On placing the pitcher in it, the water assumed a circular motion from south to west. They returned with joy, and informed the patient, that there was no cause to fear, as the motion of the water, being from south to west, was a sure indication that he should recover,-whereas, if it had been from north to

Footnote:
*One man, it is said, had become so notorious for this crime that, whenever a sheep was missed, he was sure to be suspected of having stolen it. lt happened on one occasion that the theft was discovered before he could dispose of the sheep. Perceiving this, he, on entering his hut, sent his wife and child out of the way, cut the throat of the sheep, placed it in the child's cradle, which he covered with a cloth, and sat down to rock it. Scarcely had he done so when the party in search of the sheep entered and found him seemingly in a great passion at his wife's having left him to act the part of a nurse in rocking the cradle. He was asked if he knew any thing of a sheep which has just been missed? Do you suspect me, says he "Scho luath churrin sgian ans na tha's a chreal's a ghaoidin a chaora," i. e. "I would as soon stick a knife in what is in the cradle as steal the sheep." The party, after a fruitless serch, retired without once suspecting it was not the child he was rocking in the cradle.
 

Parish of Fodderty page 258



west, he should die. The person still lives. Such are some of the superstitious notions which prevail in districts of the parish, at the present day.

IV. -INDUSTRY
 
Agriculture, Rent, &c.-The average rent of arable land per acre is from 15s. to L. 2 ; grazing, per ox or cow for the season, L. 2, 10s. ; range of hill for ditto, 5s. ; pasturage for a ewe or fullgrown sheep, from 1s. 6d. to 2s. Rate of wages, exclusive of board, to farm-servants, L. 7; male-labourers in summer, per diem, 1s. 6d., and in winter, 1s. ; female ditto in harvest, 1s.; and in other seasons, 6d.-Average price of grain, best quality, is, wheat per imperial quarter, L. 2, 5s., barley, L. 1, 10s., oats, L. 1, 4s., pease, L. 1, 8s.
 
The valued rental of the parish in Scots money is as follows:
          The lands  of Cromartie, .     L. 1663   15    0   
  of Seaforth, .   623 0 0   
  of Hilton. .   454 0 8   
  of Tulloch, .   342 3 4   
  of Strathconon, .   250 0 0   
  of Coul, .   112 19 4   
  of Kilcoy, .   97 19 0   
 

V. -PAROCHIAL ECONOMY

Ecclesiastical State.-The church of the parish was built in 1807, and is situated witbin a mile of the pump-room. It was originally intended to accommodate 400, but the heritors voluntarily agreed to enlarge it to the extent of about 200 additional sittings. This was done at considerable expense, three years ago. It is still, however, far from sufficient to supply the wants of the parish, and is very inconveniently situated for those who dwell on the south side of KnockFarril, amounting to between 800 and 900, who in winter are often prevented from attending church by the steepness of the hill, and the depth of snow which at times lies upon it. There are full services, every Lord's day, both in Gaelic and Englisb. There are no Dissenting or Seceding families in the parish.
 
The manse was built in 1794, and is in excellent repair. It is surrounded with a glebe and garden, containing upwards of ten acres, the soil of which is, upon the whole, good.
The stipend, by the last augmentation, obtained in 1824, is 16 chalders, partly money, and partly victual, exclusive of the legal allowance of L. 8, 6s. 8d. for communion elements. The Honourable Mrs Hay M'Kenzie of Cromartie is patroness.
 
Mr Hector M'Kenzie, the first Presbyterian minister of the parish, was inducted in 1728. He was succeeded by Mr Colin M'Kenzie in 1734, who died in 1801, at the advanced age of ninety-
 

Parish of Fodderty page 259



four years. His son, Mr Donald M'Kenzie, had been previously appointed his assistant and successor, on whose death Mr Charles Bayne was inducted in 1826, and after him the present incumbent in 1833.
 
Education.-There are five schools in the parish. 1. The parochial school, which has the maximum salary attached to it, exclusive of a dwelling-house,and L.2, 2s.in lieu of a garden. The branches taught are, English reading, grammar,writing, arithmetic, book-keeping, geography, Latin, and Greek. The average attendance is 63, and the annual amount of school fees paid may be about L. 16. 2. The school at Tollie, in the Brahan district, in connexion with the Inverness Education Society. The attendance is 70. Both Gaelic and English are taught, together with writing and arithmetic. 3. The Gaelic school, supported by that excellent institution, the Gaelic School Society of Edinburgh, in which,
old and young are taught to read the sacred Scriptures in their own language, and which is attended during winter by about 60. 4. The school at Maryburgb, on the scheme of the General Assembly's Education Committee. The average attendance is 120. And, lastly, a school on the teacher's own adventure, in the heights of Auchterneed ; at which the attendance is 84.
 
Poor.-There are 96 on the poor's roll, who receive aid annually, besides 20 others, who are assisted occasionally. The funds are, 1. The collections at church, averaging during the last five years L.30, 7s. 1d. Sterling, from which, however, the fees of sessionclerk, precentor, beadle, and catechist are to be deducted. 2. A mortification in perpetuo, by George Earl of Cromartie of 12 bolls of barley per annum, bearing date 18th September 1686, and restricted " for the help, sustenance, and entertainment of the poor and indigent living on the lands of Park, Ardvall, Kinettas, Ulladale, Castle Leod, Auchterneed, Inchreundie, Glenskyth, Garbet, and Bay of Dingwall, Strathpeffer, Inchrory, Dochnaclear, Fodderty, Balmulich, Milnain, but with preference still to decayed tenants, and their wives when widows." 3. A legacy of L. 80, left by Mrs Morrison, daughter of Mr Angus Morrison, the last Episcopal minister of Coutin, who was ejected for non-conformity, and resided afterwards in this parish till the time of his death. By additions made to it, the legacy was increased to upwards of L. 200, and invested in the property of Hilton at 5 per cent. per annum; but the interest has not been available for the last few years.
 
August 1838.

Terms & Conditions     © Ross and Cromarty Heritage