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Strathnairn Heritage Association

Daviot & Dunlichity Pt 2

The Parish of Daviot and Dunlichity By Rev. J. Macpherson, M.A., PhD (Part 2)


Daviot is mentioned in the Registrum episcopatus Moraviensis in 1206 under the name Deveth. In 1389 under the terms of an agreement, Thomas ‘Vicecomes’ of Inverness agreed to protect the property of the Bishop and Chapter of Moray lying in the more distant parts of the diocese, including the Church of Daviot. In 1350 the taxacio of the Church of Deveth in the deanery of Elgin extended to 10 merks and the Church at Londichity (Dunlichity) was valued at 10 merks. Daviot and Dunlichity united about 1618.

The Church of Daviot is situated in a graveyard, which is under the control of Inverness District Council, and is 6 miles from Inverness and close to the main Inverness to Perth road. There has been a church on this site, or near it, for a great number of years. The present church, erected in 1826, is built of stone and lime and oblong in shape, gabled at both ends, the gables facing approximately north and south. At the south end, there is a square bell tower. The entrance is at the north and the pulpit is at the south end. Formerly, there was a gallery round three sides of the building, supported by solid wooden Doric columns averaging 12 inches in diameter, but this was all removed in 1935 (at a cost of £209) because it was considered the area of the church was large enough to accommodate the congregation. When the supporting pillars were removed, the roof proved too heavy for the walls, which began to bulge outwards, and they had to be strengthened by means of steel tie-rods and buttresses. These, together with some roof repairs, cost well over 1,000 pounds. The church is heated by five electric convector heaters and two radisil heaters, installed in February 1951.

The manse in Daviot, built in 1763, has a south-south-west exposure and is L-shaped. The front portion has two storeys and the back a single storey; both portions have attics. In 1925 a new water supply was installed. The original water supply came from a dam, about 250 yards west of the house and on the same level as the kitchen, but this proved unsatisfactory as it could only be used in the kitchen. The present supply is brought from a spring, 2½ miles distant from the manse. Parts of the interior of the house were painted and decorated in 1943 at a cost of £76, and in February 1951 a further expenditure of £126 was incurred, installing electric light and power, which have proved to be a great boon.

The glebe consists of 9 acres of arable land and 8 acres of rough pasture. The eastern boundary is the River Nairn, along which the glebe extends for about 260 yards, while on the other three sides it adjoins the farm of Balvonie of Daviot. The march fences and interior fences were all renewed in 1921. The cottage near the church, formerly the church officer’s house, and half an acre of glebe land on which it stands, was given as a feu to an outside party in 1941. Since then it has been difficult to get a church officer, as the kirk session has no house to offer to a suitable man.

The church of Dunlichity was originally situated at the south side of Creagan an Tuirc (the boar rock) at Brinmore, where traces of a burial ground can still be seen. The stones from the walls of this church are supposed to have been used to build the present church in 1759, which, it is said, is the third to be built on this site. According to tradition, the building previous to the present church had a porch, where the men of the district left their bows and arrows during Sunday services and the marks made by the sharpening of arrows and swords could be seen on the sandstone cheeks of the porch. Such marks are still to be found on a corner stone in the wall of the burial enclosure of the Shaws of Tordarroch, and of the Macphails of Inverernie near the east end of the church.

There is a story told in the parish that the bow and arrow sports held near the church were stopped by a presbyterian minister in the following way. One Sunday morning as he was making his way to church, he found the men of the district at the usual practice and persuaded them to go into church. He then announced that no-one was to leave the building until the service was over. When one bold rough fellow got up and left with his bow, the minister came down from the pulpit, and taking with him another bow, followed him out and shot an arrow into his thigh before returning. After the service was over, the minister tied up the man’s wound. On that day ‘Sunday Sports’ came to an end. In those far-off days ministers were sometimes selected for their physical strength; they could then ‘speak a language’ which the roughest of their hearers could understand.

The present Church of Dunlichity, like the Church of Daviot also stands in a graveyard belonging to the Inverness District Council. It is oblong in shape, with a gable at each end, and faces north and south, and is sited near the point where the road leading to Loch Duntelchaig joins the road to Brin, 12 miles from the west end of the parish and 8 miles from the manse at Daviot. It was thoroughly overhauled and painted in 1949 at a cost of £65. A large hand-bell, with the date 1702 inscribed on it, is kept locked in a safe repository in the vestry. According to tradition, this bell was used for calling the people to worship on the Lord’s Day.

Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and their household, worshipped often in Dunlichity Church, when they were in residence at the House of Farr during the shooting season.

Services are held alternately each Sunday in the Churches of Daviot and Dunlichity. The Parish was linked with the parish of Moy and Dalarossie about 12 years ago (1983). In 1962 communicants of the two churches numbered 55, and there were 28 in the Sunday school. Communion is held at Daviot on the third Sunday and at Dunlichity on the fourth Sunday of July. Fifty years ago the principal service was held in Gaelic, but now it is in English. Very few people in the parish can speak Gaelic nowadays. The people in the Culloden Moor area are served by Leanach Mission Church, which was erected in 1907 at a cost of £260. Services are conducted here in the evening of every alternate Sunday, from March to the end of October. From 20 to 30 people attend the services. An evening service is also held on alternate Sundays in the school at Brin.

At Dalvourn, Farr, there is a Free Church and manse. Both these buildings were held on 99 years’ lease, which expired in 1940, when the manse passed into the hands of the superior of the land. The church, which is still in use, is built of stone and lime, with a slated roof, and is oblong in shape with gables at both ends. It has seating accommodation for 800 persons. After the Disruption in 1843, there was a large attendance at all services; communion was held in the open and was attended by about 700 people. Today the membership of the church is 2 and the average congregation is about 14. There is no settled minister at present.

There are two other churches in the parish, a Free Presbyterian and St Paul’s Episcopal Church. The Free Presbyterian Church, situated near the rear of the post office at Farr, was erected in 1938 at a cost of £800. It also is oblong in shape, gabled at both ends, and built of stone and lime, with a slated roof. There is no manse and two services held on Sunday are conducted by a local lay preacher. Communion services are held every July, the number of members on the communion roll being 6.

St Paul’s Episcopal Church and parsonage are situated at Croachy, Aberarder. Episcopacy was for long the prevailing religion in Strathnairn. In 1673, the Rev Michael Fraser was presented to the United Parishes after his predecessor, the Rev Alexander Fraser was ejected because he had turned from episcopacy to presbyterianism. Michael Fraser had the affection of his parishioners and was thus able to defy the efforts of the presbyterian minority to dislodge him after the Revolution of 1688. He died in 1726, but it took three years to settle a presbyterian minister in his place, and 40 years later most of the inhabitants were still adherents of the episcopal religion. Meantime, at Dunlichity the presbyterian minister and his few hearers were stoned and had to leave the church. Mr Hay succeeded the Rev Michael Fraser as episcopal minister, but after he died in 1738 a long time elapsed before a successor could be found. During this period sacraments were occasionally administered by priests from the Black Isle. In 1770 Bishop Forbes paid a visit to the area and baptised children and adults. During his visit he lunched with Fraser of Phopachy at Torbreck and then called at Tordarroch, the present home of Captain Shaw, where he met MacGillivray of Dalcrombie and Captain Mackintosh of Essich. Next morning he left Tordarroch on horseback, as there was no road to the chapel at Brin, where he was to hold a service. The chapel only held 500, but nearly 800 turned up and he had to preach from a tent. He baptised about 50 and confirmed about 330. The bishop then proceeded to Elrig, the home of Captain Mackintosh of Essich and to Letterchuilin on the shores of Duntelchaig, which belonged to Captain MacGillivray of Dunmaglass. The road along the south side of Loch Duntelchaig passes Loch Clachan and he again preached at Brin to 1,000 people and held communion - in all six hours of worship.

By 1798 there were still 430 episcopalians, but as it was not until 1817 that the Rev Duncan Mackenzie was appointed to the charge, worship was held only on every third or fourth Sunday. At this time there were only three episcopal clergymen, including the bishop, in the northern diocese. The Rev. Duncan Mackenzie, however, lived to see 17 clergymen settled in the diocese and many churches built, among them the present St Paul's Episcopal Church at Croachy, which was opened for worship and consecrated in 1868. This church succeeded one built in 1817, which was burned down in 1859. Bishop Low appointed the Rev. Duncan Mackenzie, Archdeacon of the Diocese, but to everyone he was affectionately known as Parson Duncan. For many years he lived in two rooms attached to the chapel at Croachy and only in his latter years did he manage to rent a farm, which gave him a decent dwellinghouse.

By 1840 the number of episcopalians had fallen to about 260, the reduction being caused mainly by emigration from the parish, while today, more than a century later, there are only 25 members and 19 communicants of the church. There is no minister attached to the church and the parsonage is let, services being conducted by visiting clergymen.

When Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester were at the House of Farr, they sometimes attended services at St Paul's.

After the First World War a memorial to the fallen was erected by public subscription, on a triangular piece of ground at the junction of the Errogie road and the Inverness to Perth road. The War Memorial is built of local granite, cairn-shaped, with a panel of polished granite let into the south side on which are inscribed the names of 23 men from the parish who made the supreme sacrifice. At the end of the Second World War, another panel of polished granite was added to the memorial (on the north side) and on it are the names of nine men, who gave their lives for freedom in this war, are inscribed. A concrete kerb was erected around the base of the memorial to prevent vehicles going too close to it.


Unfortunately the parochial records and registers prior to 1770 were destroyed in a fire which occurred in the schoolhouse at Daviot. The following, however, are extant: in custody of kirk session - Minutes, 2 April 1771 to 7 May 1835, with the exception of those from 10 December 1788 to 7 May 1834; in H. M. Register House, Edinburgh - records of births, 1774 to 1819 and 1820 to 1854; marriages, 1774 to 1824 and 1820 to 1836. There are numerous irregular entries in the records of births and marriages. For instance, in the births 1781 to 1810, the records of whole families frequently appear together, some dated after 1820; those for 1796 to 1813 cone after the record for 1819; and 1797 to 1825 after marriages for 1780. Moreover, apart from seven entries occurring between 1791 and 1804, the record of marriages from March 1780 to June 1815 is blank.
The present proprietor of Farr estate is Lieutenant Colonel (Douglas William) Alexander Dalziel Mackenzie, a grandson of W. Dalziel Mackenzie, who was descended from the Mackenzies of Muirton of Fairbairn, and through them from the Mackenzies of Kintail. W Dalziel MacKenzie bought the estate of Farr, along with Glenkyllachy in Inverness-shire, and Inchbrae and Brae in Ross-shire in 1884.

Major C. J. Shaw of Tordarroch, on the right bank of the River Nairn, also owns all the lands on the left bank of the river from Beachan to Dunlichity. Major Shaw is descended from Angus MacKintosh, who married Eva MacPherson heiress of Clan Chattan in 1291. Their second son, John, was the grandfather of Shaw Mor, who was the ancestor of the Clan Shaw. After the battle between the Clan Chattan and the Camerons on the North Inch of perth in 1396, Shaw Mor received the duchus or right of occupancy of the lands of Rothiemurchus, which the MacKintoshes had held under the Bishops of Moray from 1236. Shaw Mor died in 1405 and was buried in the churchyard of Rothiemurchus, part of which they had as their own family burial ground. For some generations after the death of Shaw Mor, the Shaws still called themselves MacKintosh and continued in possession of the lands. Shaw's son, James MacKintosh, had two sons, the second one, Adam (in Gaelic, Aodh, anglicised to Ay) game the name of Clan Ay to their descendants. Adam's son, Angus McRobert, was the firstChief of Clan Ay and of Tordarroch. He died without issue and was succeeded by his brother Bean, who was given the wadset of Tordarroch by Lachlan Mor, sixteenth Chief of Mackintosh, by contracts dated 1596 and 1602. He also had a fourth part of Knocknagael. His son, Adam, signed the Band of Union in 1609 for himself and Clan Ay. Alexander Shaw, the eighth chief, was the last of Tordarroch, as the wadset was redeemed by Sir Aeneas MacKintosh of MacKintosh towards the end of the eighteenth century. John Andrew Shaw, a grandson of the eighth chief, added the additional surname of Mackenzie to his name (Shaw-Mackenzie), as heir of entail to his paternal grandmother of Newhall, Ross-shire, in 1857. The family continued to be known by this name until July 1957, when the Lord Lyon King of Arms allowed Major C. J. Shaw, who had acquired the old lands and home of Tordarroch a few years previously, to assume the name and arms of Shaw of Tordarroch. Major Shaw is Sixteenth Hereditary Head or Chief of the Clan Ay of Tordarroch within the Clan MacKintosh.

Other proprietors in the parish include: Lieut. Colonel Wolfe Murray, who owns Daviot estate and occupies some of the farms and lets the others; Mr R. D Trotter, owner of Brin estate; Mr J. H. Rawlings, Flichity estate; and Altyre Estates, owners of Inverernie House and estate. The Forestry Commission also owns large stretches of land within the parish.


Until the beginning of the century, methods of farming in this parish were very backward. Lack of proper drainage resulted in certain low-lying parts of the land being subject to mildew, and in times of famine the people were very often in dire straits. They found it very difficult to get food for themselves and for their cattle. According to Chambers, Domestic Annals of Scotland, 12 famines occurred between 1568 and 1745, many of them being followed by a disease, known as the 'plague', which sometimes wiped out whole families by its ravages. A great famine occurred in this parish in 1784, commonly spoken of in the district as bliadhna na peasracha baine (the year of the white peas). This name was given to it because relief came in the form of white peas from Holland. The famine was so severe that a man might travel for a whole day and not find a single boll of meal to buy. Meal was kept in the town of Inverness in the Guard House (an Tigh Geaird) which was situated where the present post office now stands. No one was allowed inside, except those in charge, and, to prevent 'meal mobs' anyone purchasing meal handed their money through a window and the meal was lowered down from an upper-storey door.

The last famine in this district occurred about the year 1800. There was no meal to be had in the parish except in two places, Faillie and Beachan, both of which have a dry, sunny exposure. Two men, from Brinmore and Tork respectively, set out for Inverness to purchase meal but they could only get a pound each, so they went on to Petty and Croy. Here, they were unlucky and had to resort to begging from door to door. In this way they managed to get 2 pecks between them, which they divided at the foot of the Tork Hill at Brin and while thus engaged could hear their children crying in their nearby homes for lack of food. So great was their hunger, that much of the meal was eaten in handfuls without taking time to cook it.

During the present century tremendous changes have taken place in agriculture. The ground is well-drained and treated with suitable chemicals and fertilisers. Farmers and crofters receive expert advice regarding seeds, crops and fertilisers from the Department of Agriculture for Scotland, with the result the yield of crop per acre is much higher than in the past. The farmer today also benefits from security of tenure, guaranteed prices and subsidies. In recent years farms have become mechanized and the tractor is rapidly replacing the horse. The result is, there is no need for the blacksmith's craft and all the smithies in the parish have been closed.

In certain parts of the parish ranching has been introduced. One man runs a number of farms as a single unit, rearing large numbers of cattle and sheep on the hills and on the marginal land. The arable land is cultivated to provide silage and fodder for winter feeding.

Changes have taken place in recent years in the marketing of farm produce. Eggs are sent to grading stations before being sold to retail shops. There used to be many meal mills along the River Nairn, but today not one of them is in working order. Their ruins are evidence of the changes that have taken place.

The agricultural statistics for the parish at 4 June 1963 were: tillage 1,346 acres; temporary grass 2,525 acres; permanent grass 901 acres; rough grazings 49,740 acres; for livestock totals were, dairy cattle 26, beef cattle 1,904, sheep 18,766, pigs 12 poultry 1,449. In June 1960, the last occasion on which an agricultural census for horses was taken, they numbered 8 for this parish. Holdings over one acre numbered 49 at June 1963. Tractors and electric motors totalled 50 and 8 respectively at February 1961. Total labour in the parish employed in agriculture at June 1963 was 60, comprising 55 full-time, 3 part-time and 2 casual or seasonal workers. Agricultural work is a specialised job and the conditions and pay of workers are much better than they were even 20 years ago. Today, they have modern houses with every convenience, and earn about £6 per week.

Other opportunities for employment in the parish are few. A little to the south of the schoolhouse, an electrically operated saw-mill belonging to Mr John Macdonald, a timber merchant in Inverness, employs three men. Mr Macdonald also owns two quarries, Daviot quarry, situated a little beyond the saw-mill is at present let to Tawse and Company, Aberdeen. The granite from this quarry is blasted and then crushed into chips by modern machinery, installed and operated by electricity in 1950. The area of ground belonging to this quarry extends to 31 acres. The other quarry is near Daviot railway station and has not been mined since 1939. At one time it was operated by the Town Council of Inverness.


There were three primary schools in the parish, Daviot, Farr and Brin, with rolls of 14, 21 and 13 respectively at September 1963. Farr has now two full-time teachers, although for a few years it had only one, and the others each have one, although Daviot has also a visiting teacher of music. A midday meal at a cost of 7d is provided at all three schools. On attaining the age of 12, pupils, who have passed the promotion examination, go to Inverness Royal Academy, and the others to the Technical High School at Inverness. Bus transport is provided.


The nearest market town is Inverness, which can be reached by train and bus from Daviot and Culloden Moor, and by bus only from the west end of the parish. The buses to all parts of the parish are operated by Highland Omnibuses Limited.

The main roads are maintained in very good condition, but the side roads are very much in need of repair. At the moment, funds are not available for their upkeep.

New housing in the parish includes two modern semi-detached cottages, built of brick and harled, and with slated roofs, erected in 1920 near Nairnside farm for estate workers, and a further two in close proximity to those, erected for the same purpose in 1951. In 1950 two cottages for agricultural workers were built near the cross-roads of Inverernie by Captain John Tweedie, under the Hill Farming Scheme, 50 per cent of the cost being borne by the Government. A little to the west of Farr School, the Forestry Commission erected six houses in 1951 for forestry workers and also one for a forester. The houses are semi-detached and convenient for bus or motor transport as they are close to the main road.

There are no doctors resident in the parish, but the area is served by doctors from Inverness and a district nurse from Farr.


The Public Hall at Daviot, which is the centre of the social life of the community, was built by public subscription in 1928. There are two trustees, the parish minister and the head teacher of the local school, and a hall committee, appointed annually in May at a public meeting. The committee also employs a caretaker and runs functions for the entertainment of the community. In February 1951 electric light and power were installed, and the work of the caretaker is now considerably lighter.

There is a branch of the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute at Daviot, with 16 members, which meets monthly in the Public Hall, and another branch at Nairnside, with a membership of 50, which meets in a disused school. This latter branch runs a sewing class, with a membership of 16, and a country dancing class, with 30 members. There is also a branch at Farr, membership 30, which meets monthly in the school.

At Daviot, a dramatic club with 14 members meets weekly in the Public Hall. Plays and sketches are presented locally and for the last few years the club has also sent a team to compete at the Scottish Community Drama Association Festival, held at Inverness. There is a darts club at Meallmore Lodge Hotel, Daviot, with a membership of 20, which takes part in competitions with teams from Inverness and the surrounding districts.

The Strathnairn Social Club, formed in 1951, has a membership of 30 and meets in Farr School. Its concerts, whist drives and dances are attended by the people of Farr and Brin. The club is meeting a long-felt need in this part of the parish, where the people are unable to attend entertainments in the town of Inverness because of distance and lack of transport.

June 1952