The 1st Statistical Account

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(Counties of Cromarty and Ross, Presbytery of Dingwall, 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 First Statistical Account (1790)
On the 25 May 1790, Sir John Sinclair, Baronet of Ulbster in Caithness wrote to over nine hundred Parish ministers throughout Scotland asking them to contribute to a Statistical Inquiry by answering as best they could,a series of one hundred and sixty-six Queries respecting each Parish.


Name and Situation
The name of this parish is of Gaelic etymology. In that language it consists of two words that are nearly descriptive of its situation: Foigh-ritudh, or a meadow along the side of a hill. The principal part of the parish lies in a valley, surrounded with hills, to the north, west, and south, with an extensive opening to the east. There the valley has a commanding view of the town and parish of Dingwall, which lies to the north-east of it. The name of this valley is Strathpeffer. About three fourths of the inhabitants of the parish reside in the valley. Besides it, there are several small glens, which extend to some distance along the openings of the hills. All these are, however, completely insulated from the bulk of the parish, being surrounded with the neighbouring ones, and lie much nearer the churches of Dingwall and Contin than to Fodderty. The extent of the valley is nearly two miles long, by half a mile broad.

The air throughout the parish is pure and healthy,and there are many instances of longevity in it. Several men and women arc now residing in the parish who call themselves near 90 years of age.

There are no distempers peculiar to this parish, except such as are common to the neighbouring places. The small-pox often rages here, and frequently proves mortal, as inoculation has never been attempted except by a very few families, who recently introduced it with success. The prejudice of the people is, however, very strong against it.

There are appearances of coal mines in the parish. A person was, some time ago, employed to work a part of the coal, when it was found to be of a remarkably inflammable quality, of a clear black colour, so that it appeared to approach nearer to a bituminous substance than to coal. There are several mineral springs here, all of which are of the same quality, and seem to be impregnated with sulphur. One of these has, for about 20 years back, been of some note. Great numbers of the lower class of people from the counties of Inverness, Sutherland, and the western districts of Ross-shire, have resorted hither, and use the water of this mineral for all kinds of disorders without exception. Most benefit has been derived from this mineral by those troubled with scorbutic complaints, and all kinds of external sores on the body. It has been used with success in the gravel and stomach complaints.

The most remarkable hills are, 1st, Beuivas, which is one of the highest hills in Scotland, and lies immediately to the north of this valley; 2dly, Knockfallaric. This hill is situated on the south side of the valley. Its form is conical, and the vulgar tradition is that Fingal had one of his castles upon the top of it. What probably gave rise to this opinion, was the ruins on the summit of it, which are yet to be seen. They surround a plain of nearly an acre in extent, and are composed of stones cemented by a vitrified substance. What the origin or the use of this building was, cannot easily be determined, but certain it is that the work must have been effected at a great expense of labour, and with prodigious force of fire.

There are great numbers of plots of ash, hazel, and alder wood, interspersed with the corn fields along this valley. When these, and the fields around them, are in verdure, it forms a beautiful scene. There are about 200 acres of firs lately planted upon the summit of the hill, to the south of the valley.

It is to be observed here, that the number of black cattle has decreased within these to years, by the introduction of sheep farms, which has increased the number, and improved the breed of sheep in the parish.

Value of Stock

Value of the whole

There are 663 horses valued at 3L each


1500 Black cattle valued at 3L each


1000 Best sheep valued at 5s. each


2000 inferior ditto valued at 3s. each


Total value of stock


Parish of Fodderty continue reading

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