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Strathnairn Heritage Association

2nd Statistical Account




Name. - DUNLICHITY, the larger and probably the older of these parishes, is so called from a high mountain or rather hill, at the bottom of which stands the church; Dun-le-Catti, that is the hill which is in the middle of and bisects the territory of the Catti. The descendants of this ancient, numerous and warlike people, under the various appellations of Mackintosh, Macgillivray, Macbean, Macqueen, Shaw, Macphail, Smith or Gow, Davidson, Clark, and others, who are all followers of Mackintosh of Mackintosh as their chief, and Captain of Clanchattan, are at least nine to ten at this time, of the proprietors and possessors of land for a great tract on either side of the hill. On its summit is a large upright stone, called the 'Watching Stone'. There are also unequivocal marks of its having been used as a place of rendezvous, or for making signals, according to the manner that prevailed among our ancestors in remote ages.

Daviot or Davie is said to be a name given to this parish in memory of David Earl of Crawford, who built the fort or stronghold to be hereafter described. But, by the manner in which it is pronounced in Gaelic, this etymology seems forced and unnatural; yet tradition has not preserved any other.

Extent, Boundaries, &c. These parishes lie nearly south-west and north-east, on both sides of the river Nairn, and extend in length about 23 miles. Their greatest breadth of ground averages from 4 to 5½ miles, and their least scarcely one and a-half. They contain from eighty to ninety square miles. They are bounded on the south and east by the united parishes of Moy and Dalarossie; on the west and north-west, by the parishes of Boleskine and Dores; on the north and north-east, by those of Inverness, and Croy and Dalcross. Their boundaries and figure are very irregular.

The hills which bound the south side of the parishes are one continued chain, and form the northern range of the Munadh Leagh mountains. They run south-west and north-east. Their height, upon an average, may be from 1000 to 2000 feet above the level of the sea. They are of easy access, and, with a few exceptions, are generally flat or round at the top or summit.

The parishes are bounded on the west and north-west by a rugged chain of hills for nearly eight miles, and which contain a series of lakes partly forming the bounding line. These hills may be about 1500 or 1600 feet high. On the north and north-east, they are bounded by an inclined sandstone ridge commonly called Drimmashie or Drummossie moor, (or the moor of Leys,) at the east end of which the battle of Culloden was fought, in the parish of Daviot. This ridge or moor, in so far as it bounds these parishes with those of Dores and Inverness, is from 800 to 900 feet above the level of the sea, at the latter place, and the roads to that town from this district pass over that height.

The valley of Strathnairn, which forms more than nine-tenths of the united parishes, is in figure, nearly though not quite, triangular, and extends from Wester Aberchalder, the property of Charles Mackintosh of Aberarder, at its south-western extremity, in a north-westerly direction, widening very considerably towards the middle, (the chain of precipitous and rugged cliffs which constitutes a wall on the north side separating it from the parish of Dores, there suddenly breaking off,) thence rapidly inclining to a point at the bridge of Daviot, on the Highland road, where the strath may be said to terminate in a very steep and narrow glen. A quarter of a mile below the bridge just mentioned, are situated the church and manse of Daviot, which, as well as the mansionhouse of Daviot afterwards noticed, are entirely without the strath, and the parish continues for more than four miles further eastward along the north bank of the river, to the breadth of nearly two miles.

The last two miles of the parish, (Culloden's lands), are from causes unnecessary to be here inquired to, accounted, as in a political sense, part of Nairnshire, although locally and geographically altogether detached from that shire. It is only quoad juridica that this proportion of the parish is comprehended within the county last named. The inhabitants are indeed subjected to great and needless inconvenience and expense by their being under the necessity of repairing to the Sheriff-court of Nairn, a distance of nearly thirteen miles, when they have any judicial business to transact, instead of going to Inverness, which lies not more than five or six miles distant from the most remote north-easterly point of the parish.

The property of Dunmaglass, in the south-western corner of the parish of Dunlichity, holds a still more anomalous kind of connection with the county of Nairn.

About the church of Daviot, and for two miles to the west, on both sides of the valley, are a great many sand-hills, which appear evidently to have been formed at some very remote period by the currents of contrary tides, and by the flux and reflux of some great body of water. They are from 600 to 630 feet above the level of the sea.

Hydrography -There are a great many small springs; some intermittent and perennial. There are four lakes or lochs in the parishes, viz. Lochs Ruthven, Coire, Duntelchaig, and Clachan. Only one-half of Lochs Ruthven and Duntelchaig is in the inited parishes, their other half being in the parish of Dores.

The river Nairn, until within a recent period, known by the humble denomination of the water of Nairn, is the only one in the district. It rises in the south-west part of the parish of Dunlichity, and runs north-east. Its length, from its source at Cairn Gregor, until it falls into the Moray Frith, at the town of Nairn, including its windings, is about thirty-six miles. Its breadth and depth is not great, but, at the time of a speat or flood, it flows with considerable velocity, overflows its banks, and thereby creating much damage to the lands and crops.

Geology - The strata and beds in the hills run from south-west to north-east, upon both sides of the valley of the Nairn. They are principally of gray gneiss, but large blocks of white granite are found loose upon the tops and sides of most of them. Upon the plains and low grounds are to be seen conglomerate or pudding-stone of the old red sandstone formation, associated with a black and blue bituminous shale. There are also to be found blocks of red and gray granite, the latter of a most durable quality and beautiful description.

Several years ago, limestone was discovered a little below the mains of Daviot, in the bed, and on both sides of the river Nairn. The mass contained many metallic cubes of galena or lead glance,of from one-eighth to one-fourth of an inch or more. This limestone has not been wrought.

An extensive bed of marl has lately been discovered by Colonel Mackintosh of Farr, in the moss of Tordarroch, the property of Mackintosh of Mackintosh, from five to seven feet below the surface, and the bed is from five to six feet deep. It lies upon the south bank of Loch Bunachton, which bounds the parishes for nearly a mile on the north. The marl has been used upon light soils, and has answered uncommonly well.

Botany - Maiden-hair, tussilago, wild mint, betony, St John's wort, lichen, tansy, foxglove, thyme, valerian, burdock, hemlock, trefoil, nettle, fern, and dock, are all medicinal plants found here, and used by the country people.

The oldest plantations are from fifty to seventy years of age, and are of the common Scots fir, interspersed with a few larches. These were planted by William Mackintosh, father of the late Captain William Mackintosh of Aberarder, the late James Mackintosh of Farr, and Colonel John Macgillivray, brother of the late William Macgillivray of Dunmaglass. These gentlemen were the first who attempted planting or any other improvement in the country, and their example was followed by the late David Davidson of Cantray at Flichity, and by the deceased Robert Macbean of Culchachie. These plantations extend to about 1020 acres.

Scots fir, larch, ash, oak, and beech, seem adapted to the soil and thrive uncommonly well. We have natural fir and larch growing from the seed of the older trees.

The external appearance of the country is not very inviting, and must seem rather wild and romantic to a stranger.

About the year 1532, the Earl of Moray, being at variance with the Mackintoshes, and Clanchattan in Petty, Strathdearn and Strathnairn, for overthrowing the fort of Dyke, and beseiging the castle of Darnaway, and committing many spoils and burnings in his Lordship's country, all which they did under the command of Hector Mackintosh, the bastard, (and his natural brother, William,) who acted as captain of Clanchattan during the minority of the young chief;- he obtained a commission from the King to proceed against them; but, upon the pretence of holding one of his feudal courts, he assembled the Clanchattan from the districts above-mentioned at Tordarroch in the parish of Dunlichity, where in one day he had 200 of them hanged in a barn; but William, after his death was quartered, and a quarter sent to Elgin, Forres, Aberdeen, and Inverness, and his head to Dyke, to be fastened upon a pole, all as an example to others. None of these 200 could be induced to confess where their captain Hector was, although life was severally promised to every one of them, as they were led along to the gallows. This was called the Raid of Petty.

On the 16th March 1746, (a month before the battle of Culloden,) Lord Loudon with the King's army was at Inverness, and understood that Prince Charles Stuart was to sleep that night at Moyhall, the seat of the Laird of Mackintosh, which is eleven miles south of that town, with a guard of 200 of Mackintosh's men attending him. His Lordship, with 1500 of his men, proceeded immediately to Moyhall, in order to take the Prince by surprise, and thereby to put a speedy end to the rebellion. Mackintosh himself was absent in Ross-shire in the King's service, but his lady, who was a daughter of Farquharson of Invercauld, entertained the Prince, and was so enthusiastic in his cause that she raised a regiment of her husband's clan and followers to support him. She got private information in the forenoon of that day, of the intended advance of the King's forces, and having consulted with Donald Fraser, blacksmith at Moybeg, a clever and active man, he agreed to go along with five other men whom she named, to reconnoitre the royal army along the high road to Inverness. Donald having armed himself and his party, lost no time in proceeding upon their expedition. It was in the dusk of the evening when they reached the pass at the hill of Craig-an-oin, at the boundary of the parish of Daviot with that of Moy. Here there was a quantity of feal and divot set up to dry. Donald and his men, in order to watch the motions of the enemy, placed themselves a few hundred yards asunder, amongst these heaps; soon afterwards they perceived Loudon's troops coming forward, and when the army came within hearing, a command was passed by Donald, and then from man to man, in a loud voice, along a distance of a quarter of a mile, 'The Mackintoshes, Macgillivrays, and Macbeans to form instantly the centre, the Macdonalds on the right and the Frasers on the left,' - all this in the hearing of the commander-in-chief of the Royal army. Fraser and his party fired a few shots, when a soldier of the advance guard was killed. Lord Loudon, suspecting in the twilight that the heaps above-noticed were the Highland army, and that the whole of the Prince's force were ready to attack him, instantly faced to the right about in great confusion, and retreated with the utmost expedition to Inverness; and not thinking himself safe there, he continued his route across three arms of the sea to Sutherlandshire, a distance of seventy miles, where he took up his quarters. This affair was humorously called the rout of Moy. The greater part of the moor upon which the battle of Culloden was fought on the 16th April 1746, and the spot where the Prince stood during the engagement, a little to the northwest of the farmhouse of Culchinnock, lie in the parish of Daviot.

After the Prince's defeat at Culloden, he left the field with a few attached friends, crossed the river Nairn above the mains of Daviot, passed by Tordarroch, and proceeded to Gorthleck in Stratherrick.

Landowners - The landowners and only heritors in the parishes are seven in number, viz. 1. John Lachlan Macgillivray of Dunmaglass; 2. Charles Mackintosh of Aberarder; 3. Alexander Mackintosh of Mackintosh; 4. Colonel James John Mackintosh of Farr; 5. Duncan George Forbes of Culloden; 6. Lachlan Mackintosh of Raigmore; 7. Evan Baillie of Dochfour.

Parochial Registers - The earliest date in the parochial register (one small volume) is 1774, and until the year 1820 the record was kept very irregularly. The former registers were destroyed, in consequence of the schoolhouse, in which they were kept, having been burnt by accident.

Antiquities - At the Mains of Daviot, a seat of the ancestors of the present laird of Mackintosh, there still remains a small portion of the ruins of a fort or castle, which is said to have been built by David, Earl of Crawford, in the beginning of the fifteenth century. This was, in these days, a place of great strength, being situated at the extremity of the sand-hills already noticed. It has a dry ditch and drawbridge, which separated and secured it from approach by the level ground on the west, and a strong wall on the other sides, where the height and natural declivity of the hill added much to its security. It was a square building, and enclosed an area of 360 yards; had four circular towers, one in every corner, and containing three stories, all vaulted. It had secret passages in the middle of the wall, communicating with the large vaulted rooms for the main guard at the principal entry. It was a stately edifice, and commanded a very extensive prospect. The walls and towers, excepting a small breach at the main gate, were all entire about eighty-four years ago; and, had they suffered no injury besides natural decay, might have remained for centuries as a specimen of the superior skill of our ancient masonry. In the year 1784, a wadset was obtained from the laird of Mackintosh of the lands of Daviot, where the castle stood; and it is much to be regretted, that, in a country where stones are so plentiful as to be an incumbrance, this noble and only monument of antiquity should have been partly destroyed for furnishing materials to a modern farmhouse and offices. Still, however, a magnificent ruin remained; but it must shock the feelings of every person of taste, to be told that its total destruction was gradually accomplished during a period of forty years prior to 1794, for no other purpose than that of procuring the old lime amd rubbish for the possessor's dung-hill.

On the west, and close to the manse of Daviot, is a hill round at the top, called Dun-Davie, which appears to have been a signal-post in former times, and seems to have formed a line of telegraphic communication betwixt Dun-Evan, near Calder, on the east, and Dun-Dardil, on Loch Ness side, on the west, and Craig Phadric, near Inverness, on the north.

There are the remains of several Druidical temples in the parishes. These in the most perfect state are to be seen at Daviot, Gask, Tordarroch and Farr. Various tumuli have been opened, and a stone-coffin was found in the centre of each of them, containing ashes; in a few there were empty urns.

On the west side of the small hill called Tork, in the parish of Dunlichity, is Chapel field, where, it is said, the parish church or chapel stood before it was tranferred to Dunlichity. At this spot are still to be seen a number of graves, which are marked out by small round stones.

Modern buildings - Within the last twenty years, the following buildings have been erected, viz, the commodious mansion-house of Daviot, by the late Alexander Mackintosh of Mackintosh; an elegant and large addition to the house of Farr, by Colonel Mackintosh; the church of Daviot, Episcopal chapel at Croachy of Aberarder; and the two parochial school-houses; the three farm-steadings with thrashing-mills, at Culclachie, Daviot and Farr, with several tenants' houses. The whole are built of stone and lime, and are also slated.


Amount of the population in

Agriculture - There are about 4000 acres, standard imperial measure, which are cultivated or occasionally in tillage. There are from 1400 to 1500 acres of waste land, or in pasture, which might, with a profitable application of capital, be added to the cultivated land, if that land was to be afterwards kept in occasional tillage or in permanent pasture. We have no undivided common in the parishes. There are about 830 acres of natural wood, and of old and new plantations upwards of 2270 acres.

The average rent of arable land per acre is £1 sterling.

The soil in these parishes varies much, being in some places sandy and light, in others spongy and wet, with a clay bottom. In some it is of a black, mossy nature; and in many, a composition of all these. Barley and white oats have answered well; but black oats and rye were formerly in use, and still continue to be so in a few places.

The progress of agriculture, as has been shown, was but very indifferently attended to at the date of the last Statistical Account of the parishes, and for several years thereafter. By the industry and exertions of the following gentlemen, it has now, however, attained a higher character in that respect than it formerly maintained. In the year 1808, Lachlan Mackintosh of Raigmore, (who had previously purchased the estate of Culclachie), having returned from India, very soon thereafter commenced a series of improvements, by planting, enclosing, draining and liming, and has added upwards of 100 acres of arable land to the estate, which was formerly but waste land and swampy ground. He carried on a regular rotation of crops, with a fair return; and was the first who attempted to raise wheat in the parish of Daviot, in which his estate lies. The late Alexander Mackintosh of Mackintosh having taken up his residence at Daviot, in the year 1821, followed the same example, in prosecuting extensive improvements in that quarter, by adopting a regular system of farming. In 1823, Colonel Mackintosh of Farr returned from India, and has since that period been continually engaged in the improvement of his property, by cultivating waste land, planting, enclosing, draining, and liming, and carrying forward a proper rotation of husbandry. He was the first to raise wheat in the parish of Dunlichity.

Some of these gentlemen, and one or two of the other proprietors, have given encouraging leases to some of their tenantry, who are now following the example of the above spirited gentlemen by draining and liming. Earthen embankments, or flow-dykes, as they are usually called, have also been made to a considerable extent along the river Nairn; by which means a great quantity of land which it overflowed in time of speat, is now preserved, and the crops rendered safe and secure.

Market-town - The royal burgh of Inverness is the port and market-town to which the produce is sent for sale, distant from some part of the parishes from five to twenty miles.

Means of communication - The parish of Dunlichity and part of Daviot enjoy a good district road to Inverness. In the east end of the parish of Daviot, the Great Highland Road, from Perth to Inverness, passes through it for nearly three miles, upon which there is one toll-bar in the parish. The Highland coach, from Perth to Inverness, travels on this road. The Inverfarigaig road, under the charge of the Parliamentary Commissioners, formed about twenty-four years ago, branches off from the Great Highland Road, near to the church of Daviot, runs through the parishes to the westward for nearly thirteen miles, and continues on through the parish of Boleskine to Inverfarigaig Pier at Lochness, a distance of six and a half miles. The bridges in the district are kept in good order, and the fences are in proper condition, but frequently injured by the sheep in winter.

Ecclesiastical state - These parishes were distinct and separate charges until about the year 1618, when they were united; and there is still a parochial church and glebe in each. Neither of these glebes is of the legal extent, - and upon that of Dunlichity an encroachment was made, many years ago, by the building of a meal-mill, and making a water-lead to it, which cannot now be removed. The distance between the two churches is computed to be seven miles. The church of Daviot is four miles from the east end, and that of Dunlichity, about twelve miles from the west end of the parishes. Public worship is alternately performed in each church every Lord's Day, but only at Dunlichity in winter when the weather permits.

The church of Daviot was rebuilt in 1826, and cost very nearly £1000 sterling. It is seated for 500 persons, and the seats are divided among the heritors in proportion to the valued rent of their estates. The manse was built in 1763. It and the office-houses have since had several repairs, the last of which was in 1824.

The church of Dunlichity was rebuilt in 1759, and contains only 300 persons. The seats are divided, as already mentioned. It has had several repairs, the last in 1826; and it is said that the present is only the third church which has been built in that place.

The church-yards are enclosed with substantial stone walls, and a night watch-house has been erected in each. The extent of the glebe at Daviot is from 4 to 5 acres arable, and 12 pasture; that of Dunlichity is about 3½ acres arable, and nearly 4 of pasture. The stipend, as fixed in 1814, is 12 chalders, half meal, half barley. In 1781, it was £52, 6s; but, in 1784, there was an augmentation of £25, no part whereof was victual.

The number of families attending the established Church is about 450. The average number of communicants at the Established Church, in both parishes, is 45. The Episcopalians have a chapel, where one of their clergymen preaches once in three or four weeks, and administers the sacrament four times in the year, after the manner prescribed by the English ritual. They generally attend our public worship when they have none themselves, and are personally acquainted with the minister. There are several Seceders in these parishes. The whole number of Roman Catholics is three women, who have come lately from other districts. They are married to Protestants, and attend our church.

Education - There are two parochial schools in the parishes, - one at the manse of Daviot, and the other near Dunlichity. There is one also at Croachy of Aberarder, supported by the Society for Propagating Christain Knowledge, and by the proprietor of the estate of Aberarder. The salary of each parochial schoolmaster is £25 per annum; and the school fees amount to £8 or £10 for each.

Poor and Parochial Funds - The number of poor on the session roll for both parishes is from 45 to 50, among whom there is distributed the sum of £15 yearly; which sum arises partly from the interest of £52 mortified money, from the collections made at the churches, and partly from penalties inflicted upon delinquents. But of these penalties, certain fees are paid to the session-clerk and kirk-officer, amounting to £2 or thereby annually.

The late William Macgillivary, tenant in Ballonorton of Aberchalder, mortified, in 1833, the sum of £400 Sterling, the yearly interest of which is to be applied to the poor in the following proportions, viz. one-fourth to the poor on the estate of Aberchalder and the remainder exclusively to the poor of the parish of Dunlichity. Part of this interest is at present under liferent.

Captain William Mackintosh of the Hindostan Indiaman, youngest son of Angus Mackintosh of Farr, and born in this district, bequethed in 1803, £10,000, now upwards of £26,000 Sterling, the interest of which to be applied in the education at Inverness Academy, of the boys of four families of the name of Mackintosh, viz. Farr, Holm, Dalmigavie, and Killachy, or their nearest of kin, of that name.