Tarbat  Ross and Cromarty


In 1882-4, Frances Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland described Tarbat like this:

Tarbat (Gael. tairbeart, `an isthmus'), a coast parish in the north-eastern extremity of Ross and Cromarty, containing the post-office and fishing village of Portmahomack, 9¾ miles ENE of Tain and 9 NE of Fearn station. Containing also Rockfield and a small portion of Inver, it is bounded NW by the Dornoch Firth, SE by the Moray Firth, S by Fearn, and W by Fearn and- for 3 furlongs -Tain. ...

Its utmost length, from NNE to SSW, is 73/8 miles; its utmost breadth is 3¼ miles; and its area is 7660¾ acres, of which 2870½ belong to Cromarty, and 7 are water, 818 foreshore, and 49 tidal water. The coast, extending 71/8 miles east-north-eastward and north-north-eastward along the Dornoch Firth, and 6¾ south-south-westward along the Moray Firth, to the latter presents a bold, rock-bound front, which, S of Rockfield, rises rapidly to heights of 100 and 200 feet above sea-level. Along the Dornoch Firth it is not so steep, and at Inver is fringed with foreshore 7 furlongs in breadth. Tarbat Ness, 50 feet high, and 3 miles NNE of Portmahomack, is crowned by an elegant lighthouse, erected in 1830 at a cost of £9361. The light, which is visible at a distance of 18 nautical miles, is intermittent, continuing in sight for 2½ minutes, and then eclipsed for ½ minute. At various points are six natural harbours and a number of small creeks; and several curious caverns pierce the south-eastern coast. The predominant rock is Old Red Sandstone; but the small vein of limestone, that runs from the North Sutor to Tarbat Ness, crops out at Geanies. The soil is generally light and sandy, but in some parts gives place to a deep, black loam. The great improvements carried out on the Geanies estate by the late Mr Kenneth Murray have already been described in the article Fearn. Antiquities, other than those noticed under Balone and Castlehaven, are some so-called `Roman ' remains on Tarbat Ness, a `Gallow Hill,' sites or vestiges of three pre-Reformation chapels, and in the churchyard, the `Dingwall's Tomb' and fragments of a ` Danish ' cross. Geanies House is the only mansion; but 2 proprietors hold each an annual value of more than £2900, and 2 of between £100 and £500. Tarbat is in the presbytery of Tain and the synod of Ross; the living is worth £310. Both the parish church and a Free church stand close to Portmahomack. Two new public schools, Old and West, with respective accommodation for 289 and 68 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 147 and 63, and grants of £92, 10s. 8d. and £30, 17s. 8d. Valuation (1860) £4918, (1885) £5314, 16s. 8d. Pop. (1801) 1343, (1831) 1809, (1861) 2269, (1871) 2182, (1881) 1878, of whom 1244 were Gaelic-speaking.—Ord. Sur., sh. 94, 1878.

Tarbat through time

Tarbat is now part of Highland district. Click here for graphs and data of how Highland has changed over two centuries. For statistics about Tarbat itself, go to Units and Statistics.

How to reference this page:

GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Tarbat, in Highland and Ross and Cromarty | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.


Date accessed: 23rd October 2021

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