Nigg and Shandwick History

Nigg and Shandwick Community Collage


A Changing Parish

by Anne Gordon


Retyped and reprinted May 2000 by Liz Whiteford.

The document is reproduced by kind permission of the author, Anne Gordon, who reserves all rights pertaining to her work.

NB  Anne Gordon has not included any photographs in her work;  RCHS adds this to show part of Nigg.
Anne Gordon died on 29 September 2015 and RCHS wishes to reiterate appreciation of her willingness to share her work, which is a wonderful legacy to leave behind. 

Nigg and Shandwick History

Nigg:  a Changing Parish by Anne Gordon


While writing this history of the parish of Nigg, it became increasingly obvious that the main feature of late has been the speed of change. Change itself is inevitable but, since the arrival of heavy industry, it has accelerated far more than a rural Highland parish would normally expect and few chapters end without a reference to it. Some changes are steps forward but, strangely enough, others go backwards to some two hundred years ago.

This book includes the information contained in Nigg WRI's "The Parish of Nigg" but because the latter had to be written in six weeks to meet a deadline, some small mistakes were made and have had to be put right; the first burials in Chapelhill Churchyard were not those of smallpox victims; the date of Brae Cottage is 1777, not 1666; fishwives in the area did not wear headbands with creels; it is not certain to what use the store at Bayfield was put although the WRI book described it as a girnel; and a number of rights of way were omitted. Nor did we then know any details of the castle at Shandwick.

Many of the heritors used to live outside the parish and their styles such as Macleod of Cadboll, Ross of Inverchassley and so on, refer to places outside Nigg. There are references to the Hill of Bayfield, Hill of Shandwick, etc, but these are part of the Hill of Nigg.

Several chapters have appendices immediately following, and there is a further Appendix at the end of the book. However, in several cases where the references say "See Appendix" the information is not given in the Appendix but, because of its nature, has been held back for a Special Appendix available in only two copies.

While gathering material for this book, over three hundred place names have been collected and supplied to the School of Scottish Studies and a considerable number of photographs have been sent to the Country Life Archive of the National Museum of Antiquities.

Nigg's inhabitants must be unique in accepting the description given to them for years by Cromarty people in particular; the term "Niggers" is completely acceptable although "peculs" (peculiars) was not so welcome a thing to be called.

Some measurements and values may be useful in understanding old terms:-

1 oxgate -  approx 13-15 acres
£1 Scots  - 1/8d stg, a twelfth of £1
Doits, dytes, Harper's dytes - a twelfth of a penny
1 merk - 13/4d Scots or 13d stg
1 peck - 2 gallons
1 bushel - 8 gallons
1 boll -  6 bushels
1 firlot - boll
1 chalder - 16 bolls

A history of this sort would be impossible without the help of a great many people who have been very ready to share their knowledge, books, maps and so on. Their names are given in the references as they occur.

Key to Map of the Parish of Nigg

1. Dunskaith Castle
2. Nigg Ferry, Nigg Ferry Hotel, Dunskaith; Balnapaling, including Blackspring Cottage, the Bungalow and the White House
3. Site of Highlands Fabricators' works, including Dunskaithness and the Docks
4. Balnabruach and Red House, including Ivy Cottage, Broomhill, Rose Cottage, Shop House, Honeysuckle Cottage, Briar Cottage and Pleasant Cottage
5. Cormack's (Stairack's) Brae
6. Nigg Old Church and graveyard, Nigg Stone, Nigg Farm and Nigg School
7. Culnald and Whins of Nigg
8.. Seaside Cottage, Porter Lodge (Tigh na mara)
9 Lower Pitcalnie, Lower Bayfield
10. Pitcalnie Farm, former Free Church now the hall, site of the 1914-18 wartime army camps and smallpox hut
11. Burnside (cellar), former parish school, Culnaha smithy, old Territorial Hall
12. Chapelhill Church and old church school, cemetery, Strath of Pitcalnie, Pitcalnie School, Blackhill and Balaphuile
13. Ashcroft
14. Wester Rarichie smithy
15. Danish fort
16. Sul na ba, Torran and Lones of Rarichie
17. Shandwick village, Old Shandwick Farm, site of castle and chapel, Shandwick Stone
18. King's path, The Temple and the fishing bothy
19. Cave with 5 entrances


1.  The lie of the land

2.  Early days

3.  The Nigg and Shandwick stones

4.  Chapels, churches and graveyards

5.  The Church

6.  The Sabbath

7.  Marriage

8.  Birth, baptisms and death

9.    Law and Order I
10.  Law and Order II
11.  Law and Order III

12.  Wars and strife

13.  Heating and lighting

14.  Water

15.  Folklore and witchcraft

16.  Buildings I
17.  Buildings II

18.  Furnishings

19.  Farming I
20.  Farming II

21.  Fishing and the sea

22.  Poverty

23.  Sea transport

24.  Health and sickness

25.  Transport overland

26.  Education

27.  Natural history

28.  Recreation

29.  Castlecraig (Nigg) golf club

30.  Liquid refreshments

31.  People

32.  People's names

33.  Place names

34.  The population

35.  Appendix to the population 
       Appendix - Trades and crafts

Continued in Chapter 1
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