The 2nd Statistical Account

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PARISH OF FORTROSE AND ROSSMARKIE

(PRESBYTERY OF CHANONRY, SYNOD OF ROSS)

Sir John Sinclair, Baronet of Ulbster in Caithness (Image taken from Raeburn painting) with background of west coast outline

Sir John Sinclair, Baronet of Ulbster in Caithness standing in front of map of Ross and Cromarty

The Second Statistical Account (1840)
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.

By the REV. ALEXANDER WOOD, MINISTER.

I. – TOPOGRAPHY AND NATURAL HISTORY

Situation, Boundaries
The parish of Rosemarkie lies along the north side of the Moray Frith, bounded by the parish of Resolis and Cromarty, on the north and north-east, and on the west, by the parish of Avoch. Its length from north-east to south-west is about 6 miles, and its breadth, from the coast inland, is on an average between 2 and 3 miles, comprehending an extent of 15 square miles or thereby.

Name
The original name of the parish was Rosmarkyn, as appears by the seal of the ancient burgh, and many old chartularies, and is supposed to be of Gaelic etymology composed of Ros, signifying a promontory or headland, and maraichin, seamen.

Topographical Appearances
The situation of the parish is very pleasant, as rising gradually from the shore to a considerable elevation, and towards the eastern extremity the coast presents a particularly bold and high outline commanding a rich and extensive view over sea and land in all directions. The more inland and elevated grounds, which are for the most part arable, extend some places to that continued range of hilly ground, which bisects the Black Isle district of Ross-shire. stretching nearly from Cromarty to Beauly, called the Mulbuie – Maol-Buidhe – or yellow promontory and otherwise Ardmeanach, or middle ridge.

Bays, Springs, Cascades
There are no lakes nor rivers in the parish. A very beautiful bay is formed by the extensive curvature of the shore, sweeping from Fortrose point towards the north and east; near the middle of which curve Rosemarkie is situated. The greater part of the shore is lined with a smooth surface of fine sand affording delightful ground for sea-bathing, while the bay itself is an admirable place of anchorage and shelter for trading vessels during high westerly winds. Indeed the shores on this part of the coast are peculiarly favourable for sea-bathing, and are frequently resorted to by strangers for this purpose.The parish is well supplied with water by means of perennial springs, and some small streams or burns. On the burn discharging itself into the bay of Rosemarkie, about a mile above the town, there is a pretty little fall or cascade. During rainy weather it is considerably increased, and from its position and proximity to the public road, and situation towards the head of a deep ravine, it cannot fail to attract the notice of the traveller, as a pleasing and striking object. Another waterfall, of a similar description, is to be met with on proceeding along the shore to the east, and at the extreme boundary of the parish, in the direction Cromarty, runs the burn of Ethie, which, with its cascades and high precipitous banks, as it approaches the sea, is truly wild and picturesque.

Soil and Climate
The nature of the soil is various in the upper parts of the parish; the lands lie generally on a deep clay bottom, producing abundant crops of excellent quality: of the lower grounds along the coast, where there is an extensive and beautiful flat, well cultivated, the soil is a fine black mould upon light gravel, which, in moderately rainy seasons, never fails to yield a luxuriant crop of all kinds. The surface being in general dry, and having the benefit of fine sea-breezes, the air is particularly pure and salubrious, so that few contagious distempers make their appearance, and when they do, their progress is quickly checked. The climate being thus favourable, the inhabitants in general are a robust and healthy race, and many of them attain to extreme old age. The most prevailing winds are south-west and north-east, and these at times are sufficiently high and boisterous.

Zoology
The zoology of the parish is not distinguished by any of the rare species of animals. Under this head, however, the writer may take occasion to notice that, along its bold and rocky coast, crabs, and sometimes lobsters, are dragged from their fastnesses, by the country people in the proper season; seals are often seen and killed along the shore, while they are watching their prey. The frith abounds with fish of various kinds such as turbot, Skate, Flounders, cod, haddock, mackerel, whiting, cuddies, and herrings in their season. For the taking of salmon, there are a1so, here, several stake and bag-nets, in which they are caught sometimes in considerable quantities, and in the highest perfection. These nets are erected on both sides of Fortrose Point, which is immediately opposite to the garrison of Fort-George, between which and the said Point is the Ferry of Ardersier, with a good landing pier on this side for the passage-boat. This Point is also the termination of the links of Fortrose, above a mile in length, and smooth as a carpet.

Geology
There have been no minerals or ores of any kind discovered here. The prevailing rock along the north side of the parish is the old sandstone formation of geologists, which extends also to the whole ridge of the Mulbuie, where several quarries have been opened and wrought for many years past, the material being found of excellent quality for buildings of every description. The bold and rocky cliffs, overhanging the sea for more than half the length of the parish, are composed of gneiss, traversed by veins of white quartz. In some parts, these cliffs rise almost perpendicularly to a very considerable height, and they abound in caverns, which add much to the wildness of the scenery, while some of them have frequently been occupied as temporary dwellings by the people of the gypsy race.

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