The 2nd Statistical Account
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PARISH OF KILMUIR EASTER
(PRESBYTERY OF TAIN, SYNOD OF ROSS)
Sir John Sinclair, Baronet of Ulbster in Caithness standing in front of map of Ross and Cromarty
The Second Statistical Account (1838)
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. CHARLES R. MATHISON, MINISTER *
* Drawn up by Mr Donald Munro Parochial Schoolmaster of Kilmuir Easter and Preacher of the Gospel.
I. TOPOGRAPHY AND NATURAL HISTORY
Name – Boundaries –
The original name of this parish signifies the grave, or the chapel of Mary.
The parish lies partly in the county of Ross, and partly in the county of Cromarty, owing to the circumstance of George, the first Earl of Cromarty, having possessed considerable property in it, and his having obtained the privilege of erecting his whole landed property in Scotland into a separate county, called the county of Cromarty. This property forms a part of many parishes in the synod of Ross; and all these parishes are partly connected with the counties of Ross and Cromarty.
Extent, etc. –
This parish is about 10 miles in its greatest length, and 4 miles broad. It is bounded on the west by the parish of Rosskeen; on the east, by Loggie Easter; on the north, by Edderton and Kincardine; and on the south by the sands of Nigg, and the Frith of Cromarty. The superficial contents of the parish may be estimated at 17,000 acres.
Topographical Appearances –
The soil of the parish is various; but of late years it has been greatly improved, especially in the lower parts, which border on the shore of the Frith of Cromarty. The whole of this range, including the Mains of New Tarbat, is now in a fine state of cultivation, and adorned with plantations. The higher grounds contain a great quantity of barren muir, intermixed with natural wood, and fit only for the pasture of sheep. The soil is, in general, of a light gravelly nature in those parts which are cultivated; but there is also a considerable quantity of moss. The coast is flat, and composed of red sandstone. At the recess of the tide, the sea retires very far, and leaves an almost uninterrupted passage to the opposite parish of Nigg. The sands of Nigg contain a great quantity of cockles, and other shellfish. The parish is in the lower parts very flat and level. The temperature of the atmosphere is in general mild and gentle, and extremely salubrious; and the climate is free in a great measure from those heavy and noxious vapours which occasion almost incessant rains in many parts of the Highlands. In summer, there is a transparent sky, and unclouded sunshine. This is greatly owing to the absence of any mountainous ridges. The hills which skirt the parish on the north are of no great elevation, and serve as a barrier of defence in that direction. There are no prevalent distempers peculiar to the district, though the parish is occasionally visited with fever. The inhabitants generally enjoy robust health, and often live to an extended old age.
In winter, the sea coast is frequented by barnacle, and different species of wild duck. Swans occasionally visit the sands. There is abundance of sea-ware at certain seasons of the year, thrown ashore, which the inhabitants collect as manure for their land. Westerly winds generally prevail, and blow very severely, but, for the last three years, east winds have been most prevalent. The whole of the lower district is well cultivated, and appears to reward the toil and expense employed in the production of the various agricultural crops, and in summer the aspect which it assumes is most beautiful. Directly opposite to the parish lies the Bay of Cromarty, which, together with the fine prospect afforded of the Moray Frith by the opening betwixt the Sutors, forms one of the most delightful landscapes in Britain. Much of the higher district of the parish still remains uncultivated, and covered with heather, amidst which large blocks of granite are thickly scattered, and great quantities of moss, which afford peats for fuel to the inhabitants.
There is no river or fresh water lake in the parish. The small river of Balnagown bounds the parish on the north-east, and runs north and south until it empties itself in the Frith of Cromarty. On the south, the parish is bounded by the Frith of Cromarty, which is from 6 to 7 miles in breadth. In the vicinity of Tarbat House, in a beautiful plantation, and very near the shore, there are two chalybeate springs which flow perennially, and are strongly impregnated.
The small river of Balnagown affords abundance of trout, and sometimes salmon of a certain growth. Cod, skate, flounders, and cuddies, and occasionally herrings, are fished in the Frith of Cromarty. In the sands opposite the shore, there are considerable beds of cockles, and large mussel scalps, which are the source of some annual revenue to the principal proprietor in this parish, Mr Hay Mackenzie of Cromarty. There is also an oyster scalp, which thrives very well.
There are several superb and very ancient trees in the vicinity of Balnagown Castle, consisting of oak, and elm, and beech, and chestnut interspersed, and forming a splendid avenue. There is, likewise, in the vicinity of Tarbat House, a fine old grove, which contains trees of very ancient growth and large size. Larch is now frequently planted in the parish, but the Scotch fir is still the tree most commonly grown.