Kiltearn Oral History Project
Attribution: Photo copyright S. Fraser
EVANTON ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
The project was initiated by Kiltearn Community Council in early 1991 with a view to ensuring that memories of times past were gathered for present and future generations.
The Community Council used some of its own funds to engage a local researcher to undertake initial interviews.
Identification of potential interviewees was made through discussion with the Secretary of the Community Council, Alpin MacDonald, and with Hector Munro, Foulis. Further names were suggested to the researcher as interviews progressed. Care was taken to ensure that people from all strands of life were represented.
Further funding from the Highland Regional Council allowed for the transcription of 40 taped interviews as well as the organisation of the information from these and a further 30 untaped discussions. (Copies of these interviews, where authorised, are to be provided to the Area Community Education Office, Alness; Inverness Reference Library; and Evanton Library. The tapes are held by the project.)
The next stage involved researching the records in the Inverness Reference Library and Archives, the old newspapers, kirk session minutes, school log books, estate records etc. This stage, and that of putting together the separate articles, incorporating interview and archive material, has been supported mainly by the Unemployment Benefit Office.
The production stage of this first project incorporated 3 elements in April 1992:
a) A Series of Publications
b) An Exhibition
c) A Performance of Scenes from Local History.
The Publications comprise:
1) The Parish Setting – including Place Names, Archeological Sites, Geology; Land Use; Sources
2) Body, Mind and Soul – Church, Schooling, Health and the Poor from early times
3) Evanton Village – with sections on Glenskiach Distillery, Mackenzie’s Garage, Mills, Transport
4) Some Kiltearn Gentry – Munros of Foulis and Novar; Jackson and
others of Swordale
5) Estate Notes – Individual Estates and Glen Glass
6) Kiltearn’s Military Connections from early times
7) Kirk Session Minutes – Extracts from 1690 to 1890s
8) School Logs – Extracts from Kiltearn, Lemlair and Glen Glass schools from 1875.
9) Evanton and Kiltearn in the Papers – from 1877-1915.
To view the Evanton Oral History Project see:
This website has been set up by Adrian Clark to provide online information of his ongoing Oral History Project. The website contains downloadable copies of the 9 booklets in the series, which are also available at the Alness and Inverness library reference sections and in Dingwall lending library.
The Butler's Dog
On its descent to the Cromarty Firth the Foulis Burn slips under a small humpback bridge on the old drive leading from Foulis Castle and, some yards afterwards, drops sharply to where it flows under a bridge on the Old Evanton Road. At the time of the incidents (c.1960s) there was a path leading off the drive, a few yards before the humpback bridge, emerging at a small gate in the wall east of the road bridge, thus forming a triangle of ground which was covered by scrub bushes.
It was summertime and Nanny to the children of Captain Munro (it was only at her funeral that many heard her full name for the first time) was helping at Foulis Castie during the day, for a week, and walking back to Ardullie Lodge each evening.
One bright evening, as she approached the humpback bridge, a small, white dog crossed the drive in front of her and disappeared into the bushes. There was no human companion to the dog and Nanny did not recognise it as belonging to anyone on the Estate.
Two nights later – same time, same location, a repeat performance and, this time, Nanny called towards the bushes, “Is that you, Henderson?”, thinking the owner might be the gamekeeper. Again, there was no-one around and no further sight of the white dog.
Next day, Nany recounted the sightings to Miss Violet Munro at Foulis Castle. “Miss Vi” responded somewhat nonchanantly, “Oh, that would be the ghost of the butler’s dog”. In further explanation it appears that, in the early part of the 20th century the Munros of Foulis had a butler who was in the habit, each evening, of walking down the drive with his dog. This was the same butler who committed suicide at the bridge on the Old Evanton Road.
Nanny was a no-nonsense, down-to-earth person, hailing from the land of the ‘little people’. However, she was not given to exaggeration, nor to indulge in ‘the cratur’ so what Nanny saw – she saw!