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Contin, Ross and Cromarty

Historical Description

CONTIN, a parish, in the county of ROSS and CROMARTY, 8 miles (S. W. by W.) from Dingwall; including part of the quoad sacra districts of Carnoch and Kinloch-Luichart, and containing 1770 inhabitants. The origin of the name of this place, which is involved in considerable obscurity, is said to be Gaelic, the word expressing the confluence of two streams of water. The Druids appear to have had a settlement here in ancient times; and from its strong places, the remains of which are still visible, we may conclude Contin to have been in after ages the theatre of several bloody encounters: the spot Blar' na'n Ceann, or "the field of heads", derived its name from a sanguinary engagement between the Mackenzies of Seaforth and the Macdonells of Glengarry. The parish is thirty-three miles long, and nearly of the same breadth; the surface is mountainous, and the scenery about the valleys and lakes, especially Loch Achilty, is highly picturesque. The chief streams are, the Conon or Conan, the Meig, and the Rasay, which all unite at Moy, and form one large river that takes the name of Conon, and empties itself into Cromarty Firth not far from the town of Dingwall. The lakes are numerous, the two most interesting being Achilty and Kinellan, the former of which is famed for its trout and char, and the latter for its artificial island, based on piles of oak, and for a distinct echo: the scenery of both is delightful.

The mountainous districts are used only for pasture, but the valleys, in which the soil is rich and productive, are chiefly arable. There are several farms of 150 acres each, all cultivated upon the most improved system of husbandry; a large part of the low land is covered with wood, and a few tracts are planted with larch and fir. The land has considerably increased in value during the last half century; in 1792 the rental scarcely reached £1400, whereas the annual value of real property in the parish now is £6406. The sheep are the black-faced and the Cheviots, and some of them have obtained competition prizes; the cattle are of the black Highland breed. In this parish the strata are formed of gneiss, and sometimes red sandstone is found. The principal mansion is at Coul; it is surrounded by grounds tastefully laid out. Craigdarroch is also an elegant residence, commanding a view of Loch Achilty and the interesting scenery around. The parish abounds with game. There is a fishery in the rivers Canon and Rasay, in which the finest salmon is taken; the profits are estimated at £40 a year. The road to Lochcarron passes through the parish, and there are several other roads for particular districts. Fairs were until lately held here three times in the year, but they have been discontinued. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Dingwall, synod of Ross: the patronage is exercised by the Crown; and the stipend of the minister is £265, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £16 per annum. Contin church, the date of which is uncertain, has strong marks of having been built long prior to the Reformation; it underwent considerable repairs some years ago, but is still an inconvenient and uncomfortable building. There is a parochial school, in which the ordinary branches of education are taught, with the classics and mathematics if rcquired, the master's salary is £30 a year, with from £8 to £10 fees. Another school is supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and a third by another society. There are the remains of a Druidical temple at the border of Loch Acidity. On the estate of Hilton are several chalybeate springs of strong power.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis