The 2nd Statistical Account

- Page 1 -



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 (c. 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.



The origin of the name of this parish is uncertain. Tradition makes the burying ground which gives its name to the parish to have been the burying-ground of Irenan, a Danish prince who fell in battle on the northern confines of the parish, where Cairn Irenan still exists. In all church records, it is now known by the name of Killearnan.

Extent, &c.
The length of the parish from west to east is from 5 to 6 miles; its breadth, in one part, is from 2 to 3 miles, from south to north. It is bounded on the west by the parish of Urray; on the north by the parish of Urquhart; on the east by the parish of Kilmuir Wester and Suddy; and on the south by the Frith of Beauly, along which it is pleasantly situate. It is wholly the property of two heritors, viz. the Trustees of the late Sir William Fettes, Bart. Residing in Edinburgh, and Colin Mackenzie, Esq. of Kilcoy, residing at Balmaduthy, in the parish of Kilmuir Wester and Suddy.

Topographical Appearances
The elevation of the parish from the sea on the south side to the summit on the Mil-Bui in the north, is gradual. The shore is sandy and clayish, without any headlands, bays, or islands. The clay in the shore is used as mortar in building houses, and also as compost in muddings. There is a considerable variety in the soil of this parish. You will find, even on one and the same farm, light loam, gravel, red and deep blue clay. 

Broom is natural to the soil. Many fields, if left unploughed for three years, would be nearly covered over with a luxuriant crop of broom. There are many fields, particularly on the Redcastle property, covered thickly over with small stones and though they are taken away this season at a considerable expense, yet the same process must be gone through, when the land is again brought under the plough. Nearly the whole soil of this parish rests upon a reddish freestone (the old red sandstone) easily dressed, and, when well selected, very eligible for buildings of any description. A quarry of this freestone has been worked for hundreds of years. Inverness has been supplied from it, and the locks of the Caledonian Canal were built with stones taken from it. Other smaller quarries have been opened up, of late years, in several districts of the parish, of the same colour and quality, for the purpose of building farm houses, farm-squares, &c.

Climate, &c.
The prevalent diseases are measles, hooping cough, scarlet and typhus fever, asthma; consumption rare; liver complaint not frequent; the small-pox nearly extirpated by vaccine inoculation. The prevailing winds are the east and the west. We have more rain from the east than the west. The north wind is not so much felt here as the west and south-west. The inhabitants are generally healthy, and many of them live to a great age. One man, born in the parish, died within the last fourteen years, at the advanced age of one hundred and six years, and he was able to attend regularly at church till within a year and a-half of his death. He retained his mental faculties pretty entire to the last. He learned more, during the last seven years of his life, of the mysteries of the kingdom of God than he did during the whole of his preceding life. There are several persons now in the parish, both men and women, above eighty years of age.*

* The man who precented to church, in the times of my two immediate predecessors, is now above eighty, and still precents in the Gaelic services occasionally,works his loom as formerly, and continues to enjoy excellent health and spirits.

As already observed, the Frith of Beauly bounds this parish on the south, along its whole line from west to east. The water of this Frith is blackish in colour, arising from the great quantity of moss mud carried down by the river Beauly when flooded. The water is brackish in its taste, from the quantity poured by the Beauly into the Frith. In the broadest part, the Frith of Beauly may be three miles. Its depth may average from one to six or seven yards. There are several excellent springs in the parish.

Geology and Minerology
There are no limestones, granites, or porphyries, as yet discovered in this parish, the prevailing rock being the old red sandstone. Mines are not here known. The quality of the soil, as already stated, is various.

Serpents are found, but are not numerous. There are also foxes and polecats, but, as there are not many sheep reared in the parish, their haunts are not narrowly looked after. There are no rare species of animals known in this parish, nor am I aware that any which formerly existed in it are not now to be met with. The roe and roebuck are now more numerous than they have been, owing to the shelter and protection afforded them in the extensive plantations on the Redcastle property. The different species of cattle now reared in the parish are horses, cows, hogs, and sheep. The insects which are common to other parts of the country are to be met with in this parish. Mussels and whelks are plentiful on our side of the Beauly Frith, in the east end of the parish. The mussels are used by the fishers of the parish of Avoch for bait for their small lines, and both are used for food by the poor people in summer when meal is scarce.

There are no very rare natural plants known here. There are very large plantations of Scots fir and larch, intermixed with hard wood, particularly oak, ash, and birch, on both the properties, but chiefly on that of Redcastle. The wood plantations are very extensive, occupying 2533 imperial acres, 2 roods, and 14 falls. The plantations are seemingly thriving. Ash, elm, beech, and plane trees, of very large dimensions, are also to be met with in various parts of the parish.

Parish of Killearnan continue reading

Please submit your comment

Do you have any more information about any of the content on this page.

Your comments are always welcome: