Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Nairnshire

Nairnshire, a small county in the N of Scotland, consisting of a main body and five detached sections. The main body lies on the S shore of the Moray Firth, and is bounded N by that arm of the sea, E by Elginshire, and S, SW, and W by Inverness-shire. The outline is very irregular, and to a very large extent artificial. Starting from the NE corner at the middle of the bank known as the Bar, midway between the mouth of the river Nairn and that of the river Findhorn, it proceeds irregularly S by E to the Muckle Burn, close to Earlsmill, and after following the course of that stream for 2 miles again strikes in its former direction to the Findhorn at the bend SW of Dounduff. After following the course of the Findhorn for 7 furlongs it strikes SE to the high ground between the basins of the Dorbock and the upper tributaries of the Findhorn, which-except for a zig-zag to the at Lochan Tutach and another to the E at Lochindorb-it follows S and S by W to its most southerly point at Carn Glas (2162 feet). The principal summits along this line, from N to S, are Carn Dubhaidh (1000 feet), Hill of Aitnoch (1351), Carn nan clach Garbha (1362), Carn Allt Laoigh (1872), and Carn Glas. From this last summit the line passes irregularly north-westward-between the basins of the Edinchat Burn (SW) and the Leonach and Rhilean Burns (NE), all flowing to the Findhorn-by Carn an t' Sean-liathanaich (SE, 2076; NW, 2056) and Carn Torr Mheadhoin (1761) to the Findhorn, which it reaches near the upper end of the Streens, midway between Polochaig and Ballcrochan. It turns up the river for 5 furlongs, and then strikes first N by W to the summit of Carn nan tri-tighearnan (2013 feet), and thence westward to the Dalriach Burn near its source. It follows the course of this stream for 1¼ mile to the bend where the burn turns to the S, and then pass NW to the top of Beinn na Buchanich, whence the course northward to the shore of the firth, 37/8 miles E of Ardersier Point at Fort George, is a series of most involved zig-zags too complicated to be here particularly described. The length of this main portion of the county is 17½ miles from the mouth of the Nairn on the N to Carn Glas on the S, and the mean breadth is about 11 miles. Of the detached portions, three are in the county of Elgin, one in the county of Inverness, and one in the county of Ross. Of those in the county of Elgin two are detached portions of the parish of Ardclach, and lie locally in the parish of Edinkillie. They are close together, near the centre of the eastern boundary of the main part of the county, and the nearest is distant from it about 1¼ mile. T his portion, which is 2 miles long from N to S, and ¾ mile wide, has an area of 749 acres. The second portion, ½ mile further to the E, is 4½ miles long from NW to SE, with an average breadth of about ¾ mile, and has an area of 2l19 acres. The third portion, which has an area of only 43½ acres, inclusive of water, is at Moy Carse, in the parish of Dyke, on the river Findhorn, about 1½ mile below Forres. The portion in Inverness-shire belongs to the parish of Daviot and Dunlichity, and is the largest of all, the area being 10, 568.652 acres. The centre of it is about 7½ miles of the month of the Foyers on Loch Ness, and 12½ miles from the nearest point of the main body of the county. The greatest length from N to S is 7½ miles, and the greatest breadth from E to W slightly over 5 miles. The portion in Rossshire embraces the barony of Ferintosh, and lies along the SE side of the Cromarty Firth, at the mouth of the Beauly. It measures 3½ miles from NE to SW, 3 miles across from NW to S, and is 10¼ miles from the nearest point of the main body of the county. The area is about 6000 acres. These detached portions have been included in Nairnshire since 1476, when William, Thane of Cawdor, had influence enough to have all his lands in the neighbouring counties included in the county of Nairn, where the main body of his estates lay. Ferintosh is the Gaelic Fearn-tosh, 'The Toishach's or Thane's land.' The total area of the county is 199.853 square miles, or 127, 905.784 acres, of which 124,967.612 are land, 920.087 water, 1987.770 foreshore, and 30.3l5 tidal water. Of the land area of 124, 967.612 acres- 26, 419 acres were under cultivation in 1883, and 13, 241 were under wood, while 2043 were under permanent pasture, and the rest was rough grazing, heath, and waste, there being a considerable amount devoted to grouse. Among the counties of Scotland Nairnshire is thirtieth as regards area, thirty-second as regards population, and thirty-third as regards valuation.

The first, second, and fourth detached sections are pieces of wild upland, but the others are fertile. Of the main portion of the county, the portion near the coast is part of the well-known 'laich of Moray.' It is fertile and well-wooded, and within 2 miles of the shore rises to an average height of from 70 to 80 feet above sea-level. Within the next 6 miles this rise is continued to a height of about 600 feet, and the whole district is under cultivation or covered with thriving woods. S of the 800 feet contour line the whole county is wild moorland, with an average height of from 1200 to 1500 feet, and having, besides the heights already mentioned, along the boundary the tops of Carn Maol (1000), Creag an Daimh (1180), Carn a Chrasgie (1314), Carn na Callich (1218), Beinn Bhuide Mhor (1797), Carn Sgumain (1370), Maol an Tailleir (1373), Carn na Sgubaich (1522), and Carn a Garbh glaic (1523). The drainage of the S and E is effected by the Findhorn and its tributaries. The Findhorn enters the county near the centre of the SW side, and flows across towards the NE, quitting it near Dounduff after a course of almost 19 miles. From the S it receives the Tomlachan, Leonach, and Rhilean Burns, which drain the extreme S of the county, but none of the other tributaries are of any great size or importance. The centre of the county is drained partly by the Muckle Burn-which, rising at Carn a Chrasgie, has a north-easterly course of about 16 miles ere it passes into Elginshire-and its tributaries the Blarandualt Burn (W) and the Lethen Burn (E); and partly by the Riereach Burn and Allt Dearg which rise in the SW, and, joining near Cawdor, flow to the river Nairn. The drainage on the W is carried off by the Nairn and by a small burn that flows into the sea 13/8 mile W of the mouth of the Nairn. The lochs are neither large nor important. In the NE corner, near the sea, and within ¼ mile of one another, are Loch Loy (11/8 x ¼ mile) and Cran Loch (3 x 1½ furl.); near the N W border is the Loch of the Clans (1½ x 1 furl.); and on the border, and partly in Inverness-shire, is Loch Flemington (1 mile x 1½ furl.); near the centre of the E side is Loch of Belivat (3 x 1 furl.); near the centre of the county the Loch of Boath (2 x ½ furl.); and a portion of Lochan Tutach. None of the lochs are of importance for angling, and, except the Findhorn, the Nairn, and Cawdor Burn, none of the streams.

Geology.—The geological features of Nairn shire, though presenting no great variety, are nevertheless of considerable interest and importance. The rock formations occurring within the boundaries of the county may be classified as follows: 1. the stratified crystalline rocks with the associated granite masses; 2. the representatives of the lower and upper Old Red Sandstone; 3. the glacial, post-glacial, and recent deposits, which attain a remarkable development. The belt of low ground bordering the Moray Firth is occupied by members of the Old Red Sandstone, while the high-lying districts are composed of metamorphic and igneous rocks. Indeed the distribution of the rock formations in this county furnishes ample proof of the close relation between the superficial features and the geological structure.

In the tract lying between the basins of the Nairn and Findhorn, the stratified crystalline rocks are thrown into a great synclinal fold, the axis of which runs approximately from Dallaschyle southwards in the direction of Creag an Daimh. In the Riereach Burn, and in the streams which unite to form the Muckle Burn, the general inclination of the strata is towards the NW and WNW, but as we proceed towards the W boundary of the county we find that the same strata gradually swing round till the strike is nearly at right angles with its former course. This change in the strike of the beds, which is evidently due to an extensive fold, may be followed in the streams draining the W slope of Carn nan tritighearnan, and in the higher reaches of Alt Dearg. There is little variety in the lithological character of the strata throughout the area just indicated, as they consist for the most part of grey micaceous flaggy gneiss, thin bedded mica schists, and bands of micaceous quartzite. In the centre of the synclinal fold, however, between Dallaschyle and Creag an Daimh, the flaggy gneiss is overlaid by a more massive series, in which the foliation is not so well marked, and the mica is not so abundantly developed. The latter might be regarded as micaceous quartzites shading into incipient gneiss. Far up on the N slope of Carn nan tri-tighearnan there is an interesting band of porphyritic gneiss, containing large crystals of felspar, round which the quartz, felspar, and mica curve in irregular folia. In general character this rock resembles the well-known bands of porphyritic gneiss in Banffshire. out the area occupied by these stratified rocks there are numerous veins of granite, diorite, and amphibolite. The best example of the last occurs near Rehiran, about 3 miles SW of Cawdor, the chief constituent being hornblende, which is associated with a small quantity of mica and felspar.

There are three masses of granite within the limits of the county. Of these by far the largest is situated along the E boundary, extending from Lethen Bar Hill S by Ardclach and Glenferness to the Bridge of Dulsie, a distance of 6 miles. The second area lies along the W border, between Ben nan Cragan and Ben Buidhe Mhor; while the third extends from Rait Castle E to near Kinsteary. Though of limited extent, the last of these granite masses is of considerable commercial value, as the rock forms an admirable building stone, and when polished presents a beautiful appearance. The beauty of the rock is due to the presence of large crystals of pink orthoclase felspar, which are developed porphyritically in the midst of the quartz, felspar, and mica. Indeed the lithological character of the rock is so distinct that boulders of it can be detected in the superficial deposits, far to the E, in the low grounds of Elgin and Banffshire.

The relations between these ancient crystalline rocks and the overlying strata of Old Red Sandstone age clearly show that the old land surface must have undergone considerable denudation prior to Old Red times. Not only do the breccias rest on a highly eroded platform; they frequently fill up considerable hollows in the metamorphic series. Even at that far off time, there must have been hollows or valleys between Dallaschyle and the Hill of Urchany, and between the latter hill and Lethen Bar, but there is no evidence pointing to the conclusion that the valleys of the Findhorn and Nairn were excavated at that ancient date. Beginning first with the lower Old Red Sandstone strata, it is observable that the inland boundary, when followed from Lethen Bar W to the valley of the Nairn at Cantray, maintains a sinuous course. From Lethen Bar the boundary line sweeps in a great curve by Littlemill and the Wine Well round the N margin of the granite of Park. From the latter point it stretches SW by Little Urchany to the ravines S- of Cawdor, where it forms a similar curve to that described, thence winding round the ridge of gneiss at Dallaschyle to the S slope of the valley of the Nairn. The general succession of the strata belonging to the lower division is remarkably uniform in different parts of the county; the chief variation being due to the irregular thickness of the basement breccias. Resting unconformably on the gneiss, and forming the lowest member of the series, we find a coarse breccia, which is composed of angular and subangular fragments of the underlying rocks. Though the dominant ingredients consist of gneiss and quartzite, it is of importance to note that the breccia at certain localities is largely made up of granitic detritus. On the NW slope of the Lethen Bar Hill, and again in the valley of the Nairn near Cantray, numerous blocks of granite are met with in the basal beds which have been derived from the adjacent granite masses. It is obvious therefore that the latter must have been exposed to denudation ere the lowest beds of the Old Red Sandstone in this county were deposited on the sea floor. By far the best section of the basal breccias and conglomerates is exposed in the ravine S of Cawdor, where the Riereach Burn has cut a narrow gorge through them. From their development at this locality there can be little doubt that they fill a bay in the ancient coast-line, a supposition which gains support from the fact that the basement breccia thins away to a few feet against the projecting spurs of gneiss at Rait Castle and Dallaschyle. The strata just described are succeeded by the well-known fish bed, which forms such an important horizon in the Moray Firth basin. At certain localities thin reddish sandstones are intercalated between the breccias and the fish bed. The latter presents the features so characteristic of this important zone, the fish-remains occurring in the heart of limestone nodules, while the nodules are embedded in soft clays or shales. At several localities it has proved highly fossiliferous. Of these, perhaps the most celebrated within the county is Lethen Bar, where numerous ichthyolites have been obtained in a fine state of preservation. The old quarry where the limestone was formerly wrought is now covered up, but by making a series of trenches through the boulder clay in the farm of Brevail it is still possible to exhume excellent specimens. On the farm of Clune, close by Brevail, fossils have also been met with in the fish bed. The following species, among others, have been gathered from these localities: Pterichthys Milleri (Ag.), P. cornutus (Ag.), P. oblongus (Ag.), P. productus (Ag.), Coccosteus oblongus (Ag.), Diplacanthus striatulus (Ag.), Cheirolepis Cummingiœ (Ag.), Osteolepis major (Ag.), Glyptolepis leptopterus (ag.).

The fish bed caps the NW slope of Lethen Bar Hill, and is isolated from the outcrop on the N bank of the Muckle Burn, near Lethen House. This stream has cut down to the basal conglomerate underlying the fish bed, and displays excellent sections of the breccias between Fleenasgael and Burnside. To the W of the projecting spur of gneiss and granite at Rait Castle and Park the clays with the fossiliferous limestone nodules reappear at Knockloan about 3 miles S of Nairn, while in the valley of the Nairn they are to be met with on the N bank of the river between Cantray and the W boundary of the county. Owing to the vast accumulation of superficial deposits in the low-lying parts of Nairnshire there is no continuous section of the strata which succeed the fish bed. From the various exposures, however, it is evident that the general character of the beds is widely different from the massive sandstones of the upper division. They consist of fissile micaceous shales, which are frequently charged with beautiful specimens of psilophyton, grey grits and sandstones, well-bedded flagstones and shales. Indeed the general order of succession of the lower Old Red Sandstone in Nairnshire closely resembles that in the adjacent portions of Inverness-shire.

To the S of the main boundary line of the lower division there are two small outliers of coarse conglomerates and sandstones, which evidently belong to the same series. One of these occurs in the Muckle Burn near Highland Boath, while the other is met with in the Findhorn basin near Drynachan Lodge. The former rests unconformably on the ancient crystalline rocks, while the latter is brought into contact with them by two parallel faults. Though they are now completely isolated from each other as well as from the main area, they clearly indicate the original extension of the members of the lower division far up the slopes of the Highland hills.

An interesting feature connected with this formation in Nairnshire is the evidence of an unconformity between the upper and lower divisions of the system. Attention has already been directed (see vol. iii., p. 586, Ord. Gaz.) to the magnificent section of the upper Old Red Sandstone in the Findhorn N of Sluie. The strata present the same characters in the Muckle Burn between arlsmill and Whitemire and along the shore at Nairn. Grey and reddish grey false-bedded sandstones, with bands of fine conglomerate and thin seams of red clays or shales, follow each other with little variation. The sandstones frequently contain pellets or nodules of green clays, which decompose readily under atmospheric agencies. These beds have been largely quarried in the neighbourhood of Nairn, and various old quarry holes are to be seen along the ancient coast-line bounding the 25-feet terrace. Numerous plates of Pterichthys major have been obtained from these sandstones in the Kingsteps and Seabank quarries at Nairn. The great divergence in lithological character and organic contents between the members of the upper and lower divisions in this county was first detected by Dr Malcolmson, and the unconformity between the two divisions has been recently demonstrated by Dr Archibald Geikie. From the manner in which the sandstones of the upper division steal across the edges of the lower Old Red strata as we pass from the town of Nairn towards the Muckle Burn at Glenshiel, it is evident that there is a gradual overlap of the oneseries on the other. Near the latter locality the upper Old Red Sandstone rests on the oldest members of the lower division, while still further E, in the Findhorn section, the former rests directly on the ancient crystalline rocks. It follows therefore that during the interval which elapsed between the lower and upper divisions of this formation the members of the lower Old Red Sandstone must have undergone considerable denudation.

Between the Old Red Sandstone period and glacial times there is a gap in the geological record of the district. If any of the secondary formations were ever deposited in the low grounds of the county they have been completely removed by denudation. The superficial deposits of glacial and post-glacial age are splendidly developed in the lower districts; indeed, owing to this fact, few glaciated surfaces are exposed by means of which the direction of the ice-flow can be determined. At the granite quarry near Newton of Park an admirable example is seen of a striated surface, the striæ pointing E and a few degrees S of E. Along the W border of the county, between the Nairn valley and the coast-line, the ice markings trend to the N of E. When these facts are viewed in connection with the evidence supplied by the adjacent counties of Inverness and Elgin, it is apparent that the ice issuing from the Great Glen towards the Moray Firth moved first of all in an EN E direction, and was gradually deflected towards the and SE on approaching the plains of Nairn and Moray. In certain parts of the county there are two distinct boulder clays, which are separated by an important series of inter-glacial sands, gravels, and finely laminated clays. The older of the two boulder clays is usually more tenacious than that which overlies the inter-glacial beds, and the stones are generally more distinctly grooved. Admirable sections showing the order of succession of this glacial series are exposed in the streams draining the Cawdor moors. An examination of the stones embedded in the boulder clays shows that even in the areas occupied by the gneiss striated blocks of red sandstone occur in considerable abundance, thus indicating that the ice was compelled to move E along the slopes of the hills, bearing along with it the detritus from the Old Red Sandstone tracts to the areas occupied by the metamorphic series. In the valley of the Nairn, at Clava, Mr Fraser, C.E., Inverness, has obtained marine shells from fine blue clay belonging to this inter-glacial series. The upper part of the section is composed of yellowish boulder clay, consisting of gravel, sand, and stones, with a mixture of clay, which reaches a depth of 45 feet. About 20 feet of sand underlies the boulder clay, and below the fine sand the shelly clay is met with, the bottom of which has not been pierced. A few smooth stones occur in the shelly clay, but they are not so numerous as in ordinary boulder clay. Indeed, from the nature of the deposit, as well as from the state of preservation of the shells, it is evident that these stratified sands and clays indicate a depression of the land in inter-glacial times. The height of the shelly clay is about 500 feet above the present sea-level, so that the submergence must have equalled, if it did not exceed, this amount. The following shells were noted from this section: Littorina litorea, Leda pernula, Natica Groenlandica, Pleurotoma turricula, Nucula tenuis, Tellina Balthica, Cardium edule, Astarte eompressa, Buccinum undatum, etc. The clays also yielded a considerable number of species of Foraminifera.

Resting on the upper boulder clay there is a great development of morainic gravels on the moory ground between the basins of the Nairn and Findhorn; sometimes forming long sinuous ridges upwards of ¼ mile in length, which enclose shallow lochans or patches of peat. By far the most interesting development of the kamiform series occurs on the low ground between Nairn and the W boundary of the county. Beginning at Meikle Kildrummie this prominent ridge of sand and shingle is traceable W to Loch Flemington, a distance of 3 miles. At the former locality the height of the kames is about 100 feet above the sea-level, and towards the W limit they rise to the level of 140 feet. This long kame forms a prominent feature on the broad platform of sand and gravel to the S of the railway between Nairn and Fort George. It stands indeed at the edge of the belt of fertile ground formed by the 100-feet terrace. In addition to this ancient terrace there are remains of the 50-feet beach to the E of the town of Nairn, though of limited extent. But along the shores of the firth between Fort George and the mouth of the Findhorn the 25-feet terrace is well developed, though covered to a considerable extent by vast accumulations of blown sand. The inland cliff, consisting of stratified sands, gravel, and clay, resting on boulder clay, which marks the border of this ancient beach, is easily followed from Fort George to Loch Loy. The terrace is of variable breadth, sometimes measuring only 200 yards from the present coast-line, sometimes 2½ miles across. One of the most interesting features connected with this sea beach is the great development of sand drift on its surface, particularly in the neighbourhood of Culbin. Formerly one of the most fertile tracts in the province of Moray, where stood the mansionhouse of Culbin among richly cultivated fields and homesteads, the area occupied by the Culbin sandhills is now but a desert waste, whose contour is changed by every wind that blows. The invasion of the sand-drift took place in 1694, and so effectual was the inroad that only a small portion of the estate escaped, which was buried by succeeding storms. Various interesting relics are now and again picked up where the drifting of the sand has laid bare part of the old cultivated land. These consist of coins and farm implements, but numerous flint arrow heads belonging to neolithic times are also met with in isolated heaps. A considerable development of sand dunes rests on the 25-feet beach near Fort George, but to the E of the town of Nairn, between Loch Loy and the mouth of the Findhorn, the features which they present are worthy of special note. The Maviston Sandhills, which lie about 4 miles to the E of Nairn, consist of two prominent dome-shaped masses of sand-the one lying to the E of the other-which are partly surrounded by small conical heaps of sand. Each of these sand domes slopes gently to the W at an angle of 5o, while at the limit the angle of inclination is between 30o and 40o. Beyond the county boundary the extensive forest named the Low Wood covers the plain of the 25-feet beach, which is dotted at intervals with minor accumulations of blown sand. To the of this plantation lies the tract of the Culbin Sands, measuring about 3 miles in length and about 2 miles in breadth. The centre of the area is occupied by a succession of great ridges of sand upwards of 100 feet high, sloping towards the W at a gentle angle of a few degrees and with a much higher inclination towards the These dome-shaped accumulations are surrounded by conical heaps and ridges trending from WSW to NE, and varying in height from 10 to 30 feet. The surface of the great domes as well as the minor heaps are beautifully ripple-marked by the wind, and sections of the mounds display excellent examples of false bedding. With reference to the question of their origin the following explanation has recently been given:' There is a combination of circumstances in that district favourable to their formation. The Findhorn carries an enormous quantity of sand at present to the sea every year, and this denudation must have proceeded steadily since glacial times. When this sediment is discharged into the sea, it is borne W and SW by the currents along the shore, and is eventually deposited on the shelving beach by tidal action. It is then caught up by the winds and borne inland in an E direction. But in addition to this it is highly probable that the prevalent W winds caught up the deposits of sand belonging to the 100-feet beach and swept them onwards in the direction of the Culbin area. Viewed in this light these sandhills give us some idea of the enormous denudation which is constantly going on over the surface of the land. 'The course of the Findhorn at its month was changed after the advance of the Culbin Sands. Formerly it flowed W from Binsness for a distance of 3 miles and joined the sea at the old bar, but owing probably to the sand drift it was compelled to flow N into the sea.

Soils and Agriculture.—The soil in the eastern part of the 'laich' is a rich free loam, overlying sand or gravel, and in the western part is in some places a stiff strong clay, in others a sharp mould inclining to gravel. In the uplands the arable lands are haughs along the valleys of the streams, or light stony, or sandy, soil on the slopes and braes. The arable land is mostly in the coast and centre district, and the proportion fit for cultivation found among the uplands and mountains is less than in most other counties. Great improvement has taken place during the present century. The acreages under the various crops at different dates are given in the following tables:—

Grain Crops.—Acres.

Year.Wheat.Barley or Bere.Oats.Total.
1854, . .1714½3130½7752¾12,597¾
1870, . .266223760898,592
1877, . .91270160458,837
1883, . .35309958979,031

Grass, Root Crops, etc.—Acres.

Year.Hay, Grass, and Permanent Pasture.TurnipsPotatoes.
1854, . ...44671542
1867, . .10,6943893666
1877, . .11,7584085785
1883, . .12,4184133572

while there are about 300 acres on an average annually under beans, rye, vetches, fallow, etc. The permanent pasture not broken up in rotation is a little over 2000 acres. There has been, as in most of the other northern counties, a very great decrease in the area under wheat, and if the return for 1854 be correct, there has within the last 30 years been a decrease of 3000 acres in the area under cultivation. The farms are mostly worked on the five shift system, and the average yield of wheat per acre is 28 bushels; barley, 32 to 40 bushels; oats, 28 to 40 bushels; turnips, from 12 to 20 tons; and potatoes, from 4 to 5 tons, but the latter two are very variable.

The agricultural live stock in the county at different dates is shown in the following table:—

1854, . .8304182628,2301489
1870, . .5506112317,278733
1877, . .6513124716,917932
1883, . .5676129216,799926

The early returns seem again faulty. Not much attention is given to the breeding of pure stock, and the cattle are mostly crosses. The sheep in the lowlands are mostly Leicesters, though Cheviots are also kept; those in the uplands are blackfaced. The farms are generally held on leases of 19 years. There were in the county, in 1881, 259 farmers employing 354 men, 90 boys, 67 women, and 147 girls. There were at the same time 31 farms under 15 acres, 55 between 15 and 50 acres, 59 between 50 and 100 acres, 92 between 100 and 500 acres, and 21 of larger size. There are in the parishes of Ardclach, Auldearn, Cawdor, and Nairn, 15 proprietors holding each an annual value of £500 or upwards, 23 holding each between £500 and £100, 30 holding each between £100 and £50, and 63 holding each between £50 and £20. The principal mansions, most of which are separately noticed, are Achareidh, Boath, Cawdor Castle, Coulmony, Delnies House, Fir Hall, Geddes House, Glenferness House, Househill, Ivybank, Kilravock Castle, Kinsteary, Lethen House, Millbank, Nairngrove, Nairnside, Newton, and Viewfield. Manufactures there are practically none, except at Brackla Distillery, 3¾ miles SW of the town of Nairn; and besides agriculture, and those connected with the town and the coast fishings, the only industries are the sandstone and granite quarries-the latter at Kinsteary, opened up in 1872.

Roads, etc.—The Perth and Forres section of the Highland railway touches the E border of the first detached section described, and the Forres and Inverness section of the same system traverses the whole main part of the county from E to W near the coast for a distance of 8½ miles. The main coast road from Inverness to Aberdeen passes along near the line of railway from the town of Nairn; a good road strikes south-westward to Croy, and another south-eastward by Bridge of Logie (Findhorn) to the road from Forres to Grantown. From a point 1 mile S of Bridge of Logie a branch goes off to the NE and joins the Forres road, while another passes S by W to Duthil. General Wade's military road from the Highland road to Fort George enters the county ½ mile W by S of Lochan Tutach, and, crossing the Findhorn at Dulsie, passes through the centre of the county in a north-westerly direction till it enters Inverness-shire, 1 furlong SE of Fort George railway station. There are also a large number of good district roads.

The only royal or police burgh is Nairn; the only burgh of barony or village with more than 300 inhabitants is Auldearn; and the principal smaller villages are Cawdor, Delnies, and Newton. The civil county comprises the three entire quoad civilia parishes of Nairn, Auldearn, and Ardclach, the greater part of Cawdor (shared with Inverness-shire), and smaller portions of the parishes of Dyke (shared with Elginshire), Moy, Croy, Petty and Daviot (also shared with Inverness-shire), and Urquhart (shared with Ross-shire). The parishes of Ardclach, Auldearn, Cawdor, Croy, and Nairn are ecclesiastically in the presbytery of Nairn, in the synod of Moray; the portions of Daviot, Moy, and petty, in the presbytery of Inverness and the synod of Moray; the portion of Dyke, in the presbytery of Forres and the synod of Moray; and the part of Urquhart, in the presbytery of Dingwall, in the synod of Ross. Within the limits of the county there are 5 places of worship connected with the Established Church, 4 in connection with the Free Church, 1 in connection with the U.P. Church, 1 in connection with the Scottish Episcopal Church, 1 in connection with the English Episcopal Church, and 1 in connection with the Roman Catholic Church. In the year ending Sept. 1882 there were 16 schools (15 public), which, with accommodation for 2047 children, had 1590 on the rolls, and an average attendance of 1173. Their staff consisted of 20 certificated and 8 pupil teachers. Nairnshire, with a constituency of 300 in 1883-84, unites with Elgin in returning a member to serve in parliament. The county is governed by a lord-lieutenant, 13 deputy lientenants, and 31 justices of the peace. It forms a part of the sheriffdom of Inverness, Elgin, and Nairn, but there is now no resident sheriff-substitute, the office being conjoined with that of Elginshire. Ordinary and small debt courts are held at Nairn weekly on Friday during session; justice of peace courts are held as required; and quarter-sessions are held at Nairn on the first Tuesdays of March, May, and August, and on the last Tuesday of October. There is a police force of 7 men (1 to each 1493 of the population) under a chief constable, with a salary of £135 a year. In 1883 the number of persons tried at the instance of the police was 109, convicted 99, committed for trial 5, not dealt with 38. The number of registered poor on the roll at 14 May 1883 was 273, and of casual poor 43. The expenditure for Poor Law purposes in the same year was £2641. The Poor-law combination has been noticed under the parish of Nairn. The proportion of illegitimate births averages about 10 per cent. The death-rate averages about 13 per thousand. Valuation (1674) £1264, (1815) £14,902, (1849) £20,156, (1862) £25, 982, (1884) £37,143, of which £2085 is for the railway. Pop. of registration county, which takes in the part of Croy in Inverness-shire, but gives off all the other portions of parishes, (1871) 8372, (1881) 8847; of civil county (1801) 8322, (1811) 8496, (1821) 9286, (1831) 9354, (1841) 9217, (1851) 9956, (1861) 10,065, (1871) 10, 225, (1881) 10,455, of whom 4979 were males, 5476 females, and 1980 Gaelic-speaking. In 1881 the number of persons to each square mile was 58, the number of families 2368, the number of houses 2094, and the number of rooms 8578. Of the whole population 1288 men and 237 women were, in 1881, engaged in occupations connected with farming and fishing, of whom 950 men and 128 women were connected with farming alone, while 992 men and 212 women were engaged in industrial occupations; and there were 1435 boys and 1463 girls of school age.

The county of Nairn seems to have been separated from Inverness in the second half of the 13th century. Such separate history as the district has is noticed for general purposes in the article Moray and separate incidents; and the antiquities are noticed in the articles on the separate parishes, as well as in those on Culloden and Kilravock. During the clan period the 'laich' was held by the Earl of Moray, and the upper districts by the Mackintoshes. In the middle of the 17th century Nairnshire was celebrated for its witches, the place most infested with them being the neighbourhood of Auldearn. A crazy woman named Isobel Gowdie made, in 1662, a long confession of the delinquencies in this connection of herself and many others. She declared that the body was 'so numerous, that they were told off into squads and covines, as they were termed, to each of which were appointed two officers. One of these was called the Maiden of the Covine, and was usually like Tam o' Shanter's Nannie, a girl of personal attractions whom Satan placed beside himself, and treated with particular attention, which greatly provoked the spite of the old hags, who felt themselves insulted by the preference. When assembled they dug up graves 'to possess themselves of the dead bodies for the purpose of making charms and salves from the bones. They also metamorphosed themselves into different forms-crows, cats, and-hares, seeming to have been those most common-and rode on straws, beanstalks, and rushes, though seemingly more for their own pleasure than on business. Satan, according to poor Isobel's tale, proved but a hard master, scourging and beating them sometimes without mercy, but this notwithstanding they were always ready to obey his behests, and do all kind of harm to their neighbours, stealing their crops, shooting at them with elf-arrows, and forcing their mischievous way into all houses not fenced against them by vigil and prayer.

(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4); © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland)

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a small county"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 2nd order divisions")
Administrative units: Nairnshire ScoCnty
Place: Nairnshire

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