Fearn was until 1682 included in the parish of Tarbat. The name was transferred with the monastery from Fearn, Edderton. The monastery, on its new site, was styled Nova Farina, New Fearn, but in Gaelic the parish is Sgìr na Manachainn, Parish of the Monastery, also simply A’ Mhanachainn. As distinguished from Beauly (Manachainn ‘Ic Shimidh), it is called Manachainn Rois, the Monastery of Ross.
Norse kattar-ból, cat-stead;
from this and similar names in Tarbat it appears that the rocks facing the Moray Firth were of old a haunt of wild cats. Cf. Cattadale, Islay. Below Cadboll are Tobar a’ bhaile duibh, Well of the black town, andTobar Suardalain, Well of Suardalan; alsoCreag na baintighearna, the Lady’s rock.
Cadboll Mount —
The curious story of Cadboll Mount is told by Bishop Forbes. The Laird of Cadboll was on bad terms with his cousin, Macleod of Geanies, and built the ‘mount’ to look down on his lands. Geanies replied by planting a belt of trees which in time shut out the view. The mound, which still exists, was made quadrangular, built in steps like a pyramid, and about 60 feet high.
G. bail’ a’ chnuic.
G. bail’ an todhair, bleaching town; cf, Balintore in Abriachan and in Kirkhill. The name goes back to the time when flax was cultivated in the north. The old name of Balintore is given locally as Port an Ab, Abbot’s Port, and Blaeu shows Abbotshaven here.
G. an tulaich (locative), at the hillock.
G. Clais na maigheach, Hare’s hollow.
G. Baile mhuchaidh.
The meaning is uncertain; muc,pig, is out of the question; perhaps Ir. Much, mist, or mucha, owl. Pendicles of Balmuchy were Bellewallie (Broomtown), Ballinreich (Bail’ an fhraoich, Heather-stead, between Fearn U.F. Church and Manse, north of the road), and Glasnamoyache above.
G. Baile-chéiridh; not the same as Balcherry, Tain, which has short e. The local derivation is céir, wax: the place was covered with whins, from which the bees made only wax. This is quite possible, though it looks somewhat fanciful. But at least equally possible is a derivation fron cair, dark, whence céiread, duskiness, hoariness. Behind it is Waterton, G. Baile nam fuaran, Well-town.
G. ràthan (mhòr and bheag, meikle and little);
a derivative from ràth, circular enclosure or fort. Rhynie in Aberdeenshire is of different origin — Ryny 1224, Rynyn 1226; from roinnean, diminutive of roinn, headland, as Mr James Macdonald thinks (Place-names of West Aberdeenshire).
G. poll a’ phoca, pool of the bag.
G. loch na h-uidhe;
uidh, from Norse eith, isthmus, is common in place-names, where it may mean (i.) isthmus, cf. the Eye peninsula at Stornoway, or (ii.) according to some, slow running water between two lochs. Here, from the fact that we have ‘an uidh’ (see below) near the outlet of the loch, uidh seems to be used with the second meaning.
G. cnoc na h-iolaire, also an uidh, as above, but the ‘uidh’ is strictly the western part of Mounteagle, near the outlet of Loch Eye.
G. Loch-slinn, from slinn, a weaver’s sleye.
Lochslin, as a loch, has disappeared, and survives only in the names Lochslin Farm and the ancient ruins of Lochslin Castle. It must have been a small loch, at the eastern end of Loch Eye, v. Inver.
Knocknahar — G. cnoc na h-aire, watch-hill.
Loandhu — G. an lòn dubh, black ‘loan’ or wet meadow.
Balnagore, probably baile nan gobhar, Goats’ town, which is confirmed by a well, Tobar nan gobhar, Goats’ well, noted by Rev. Mr. Taylor, and appearing on record as Tobarnayngor. Formerly a number of small crofts.
The Talich — Dallachie, in the barony of geanies, 1676; G. loch an dàilich, ?loch of the meeting.
Allan Meikle 1479;
G. Alan mhòr (broad ‘l’). In the parish of Knockbain there are three Allans, Allan-grange, Allan nan clach, and Allan fhraoich; there is also Alan-ais, the Gaelic of Alness, all pronounced alike in Gaelic, v. Alness.
Munro’s town. William Munro, son of Andrew Munro of Milntown, obtained the lands of Meikle Allan about 1570.
Balblair — G. bail’ a’ bhlair, town of the plain.
Balindrum — G. bail an druim, town of the ridge.
Muldearg — G. a’ mhuil dearg (locative), the red rounded eminence.
G. an (t-)uchd meadhonach, the mid hillock or terrace.
In view of the Gealic it would be unsafe to regard this interesting name as a genuine survival of the bovate or oxgate, the old land measure. The place is on the 100 foot ridge between Hill of Fearn and Loch Eye, and ‘uchd meadhonach’ is therefore quite applicable. In the absence of old forms, it semms more reasonable to suppose Midoxgate to be an ingenious mis-translation of the Gaelic by some one of antiquarian tastes, than to regard ‘uchd’ as a Gaelic attempt at ‘ox’.
At Hilton of Cadboll stood a chapel, dedicated to the Virgin “Our Ladyis Chapell’ 1610, in connection with which appears in 1610 (Reg. Mag. Sig.) Lilill Kilmure, Toir of Kilmuir, a well called Oure-Lady-well, situated near the angle of the Kailyard dyke occupied by And. Denune of Balnaknok; also the heavin called Our-Lady-heavin of Kilmuir. Some of these names survive: Creag na baintighearna, Lady’s rock, is under Cadboll; Tobar na baintighearna, Lady’s Well, is (or was) near a small graveyard easr of Hilton used for unbaptized children; Port na baintighearna, Lady’s haven. The name Kilmuir, curiously enough, seems to have gone, but there is Bàrd Mhoire, Mary’s meadow or enclosure. I have met with no other clear instance of bantighearna in the above sense of ‘Our Lady’.
Place Names of Fearn Parish
This extract was taken, with the permission of the Trustees, from Prof. W.J. Watson’s – ‘Place Names of Ross and Cromarty’. The most recent edition of this work was published by HIGHLAND HERITAGE BOOKS Tir nan Oran, 8 Culcairn Road, Evanton IV16 9YT
Place Names of Ross and Cromarty p40 onwards