Sunday, 13 July 2014

SCOTLAND 14 - Around the Black Isle & Inverness.

The Black Isle is not actually an island. It is a fertile peninsular lying between the Firth's of Cromarty, Moray and Beauly
Cromarty was once a prosperous port which has now lapsed into inactivity. A ferry connects with Nigg across the Cromarty Firth.
It was the birthplace of 19th century geologist Hugh Miller and a statue of him stands proudly overlooking the town. His house, now a museum, can be visited.

A fine memorial in the redundant church at Cromarty is dedicated to Lt Hugh Ross R.A who was born 31.5.1854.  He volunteered for the war in Afghansitan and passed to General Stewart’s army.  There he was attacked by dysentery but did not report his illness in case he was left behind.  He marched with his regiment from Quettah to Pishin Valley where in camp he died at the age of 25 years.  The epitaph adds, ‘ A bright example of soldier like zeal and devotion to duty.’   The scroll memorial has fine carvings of his helmet, sword and other trappings.

Travelling along the A832 near Munlochy
 you may be surprised to see that someone has hung their extensive washing on the trees and bushes at the side of the road.  It is in fact the site of a ‘Clootie Well’ and legend has it that its waters have  healing or magical properties. A clootie is a strip of cloth or rag which ailing persons would dip into the water and wash the affected part, to be cured. The rag is then hung over the well to complete the tradition. In pre-Christian times a goddess or a local nature spirit with special powers of healing was said to inhabit the well. Later replaced by a saint, this well is dedicated to St Boniface.



Whilst the Abbey church at Fearn has been on its present site since 1338, it was in fact moved from its original site at Edderton, several miles away near the Dornoch Firth, in that year.    In 1772 the Chapel roof collapsed, killing a number of people.


Dingwall is a small market town at the head of the Cromarty Firth. It was the birth place of Macbeth, ruler of Scotland  1040-1057. 

The Tollbooth dates to 1730

The town is overlooked on Mitchell Hill by a tower commemorating local born Sir Hector MacDonald KCB DSO, who died in 1903. Known as 'Fighting Mac' he rose from the ranks to be major-general and distinguished himself in the Second Boer War

A rare survivor, this wooden cross was brought from France in 1924 and re-erected near the railway station in Dingwall by the 4th Seaforth Re-Union Club, in memory of their beloved dead during the 1914-1918 War.

Dingwall is the eastern terminus of the Highland Railway which runs through spectacular highland scenery to the Kyle of Lochalsh on the west coast.

A short distance up Strath Peffer is the charming village of Strathpeffer.
In Victorian times it was a spa with chalybeate springs and is still very much a holiday resort.



The Strathpeffer Pavilion was buit in 1880 as a venue for entertainment and is still in use.

The pump room was built in 1819 and is now preserved as an exhibition centre.

Behind the pavilion is a nice tree lined sculpture park.


The Highland Line railway should have run through Strathpeffer but was forced to run further north by local protest.  Instead, a short branch line ran to Strathpeffer, opened in 1885, it closed in 1951.
The old station buildings are now given over to a shopping mall
and doll museum.


Castle Leod to the north of the village dates to 1616 with later renovations.


The Eagle Stone is a Pictish Symbol Stone which stands on a grassy hill in Nutwood Lane at Strathpeffer. Dating to the 7th century, the Clach an Tiompain or standing stone stands 32” high, 24” wide and 10” thick has two symbols carved on its face – an eagle (which gives the stone its name) and what may be a horse shoe or an arch. There are various legends about the stone but it is thought that it may have been used in marriage ceremonies or indeed may have commemorated a particular marriage. Originally the stone was sited lower down the valley and was moved to its present position in 1411 to commemorate a battle between the Munro’s and the MacDonald’s on the site of today’s village. Apparently this stone was the subject of a prophecy by Coinneach Odhar, known as the Brahan Seer,(see separate pic), who, in the 17th century predicted that
  “ when the Eagle Stone falls three times, the waters will come so far that ships will be moored to the stone ”. 
 It is said that the stone has been moved twice but is now firmly
cemented in place.

 THE EAGLE STONE, Strathpeffer, Easter Ross, Scotland. (See comments box for story).


The Branah Seer, Coinneach Odhar, was the best known of all the Seers in Scotland. As a boy he had found a hollow stone and claimed that he could see through it into the future. He lived at Brahan near Strathpeffer in the 17th century and made all sorts of prophecies and famously that of the Eagle Stone. He was burned as a witch at Chanonry Point on the Black Isle.
This carving is in the sculpture park at Strathpeffer.

THE BRAHAN SEER, Strathpeffer, Easter Ross, Scotland.

I am ending this tour of Scotland at Culloden where Bonnie Prince Charlie's exploits ended on 16th April 1746 when his army of some 5,000 Highlanders was massacred by the Duke of Cumberland's army.

Situated alongside the B9006, close to Culloden Battlefield, is a huge stone which is reputed to have been used by The Duke of Cumberland as a viewpoint to watch the batttle of 1746.



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