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Croy and Dalcross, Nairnshire

Historical Description

CROY and DALCROSS, a parish, partly in the county of NAIRN, but chiefly in that of INVERNESS, 7 miles (W. by S.) from Nairn, and about 10 (E.) from Inverness, containing 1684 inhabitants. The etymology of the name of Croy is altogether uncertain: the word Dalcross is derived from a Gaelic term signifying "the dale at the end of the ravine", and this description is strikingly applicable to the locality. The date of the union of the two ancient parishes cannot now be ascertained; but upon the authority of charters still extant, the event appears to have taken place some time between the middle and the close of the fifteenth century. In the year 1128, Dalcross, which anciently formed part of the lordship of Lovat, was annexed to the priory of Urquhart, founded in 1125, by David I.; and the vicar of Dalcross, by order of the prior, also officiated in the private chapel of Kilravock. A large part of the moor of Culloden is situated in the parish: here was fought, on the 16th April, 1746, the celebrated battle that decided the fate of the Stuarts. This parish, the outline of which is of the most irregular description, is about twenty-one miles in length, and three miles and a half in average breadth, comprising 44,800 acres. Its surface partly consists of a long continuous dale, watered by the river Nairn, and the lands of which are in some places wooded, and in others rich and well cultivated. An extensive tract of upland moor reaches from the river to the north and north-western boundaries, and is here and there interspersed with cultivated portions, but is in general bleak and barren, and of wild appearance.

The soil on the southern bank of the river is light and gravelly, but, if well farmed, fertile. In the eastern part of the parish it comprises all the varieties of sand, lime, fine vegetable mould, and cold, wet, and sometimes ferruginous earth. In the centre of the district it is a very fine mould; and between this and the western portion called Leys is the moor, covering about 1700 acres, the soil of which exhibits sand, lime, and clay, with various admixtures. The Leys district is chiefly a siliceous or gravelly earth incumbent on red sandstone. Some of the larger proprietors have set an example to the tenants, in the formation of inclosures, and the reclaiming of large tracts of waste ground, which have been sheltered with belts of plantations, and are so well cultivated as to produce fine crops of wheat, oats, and barley. The general husbandry is improved. More extensive improvements have taken place here of late than in any other parish in this part of Scotland; and the farmers, and even the cottars, follow the example of the landlords, to the extent of their ability. The annual value of real property in the parish is £3917. The rocks comprise granite, gneiss, and the old red sandstone: several quarries of the last are in operation. Some of the trees of the plantations are of great age and stature, and 400 acres have been lately set apart for larch, oak, and other wood, in addition to the extensive plantations already existing. The castle of Kilravock, situated upon a bold rugged rock, and which has been the residence of the Roses since the year 1460, is the property of Hugh Rose, Esq., the chief, and the twenty-fourth in lineal descent. Dalcross Castle, built by Lord Lovat in 1621, stands in the midst of imposing scenery, and commands extensive views of the most interesting character. Leys Castle, recently built, is a strikingly beautiful edifice, and also commands views embracing every description of picturesque scenery. The mansion of Holm is an elegant modern structure, situated on the banks of the Nairn; and that of Cantray, also a modern edifice, is nearly encompassed on the south by the same river. A market is held for the sale of cattle and sheep, on the Saturday immediately following the great Beauly market.

Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Nairn, synod of Moray, and in the patronage of Earl Cawdor and Mr. Rose, who present alternately; the minister's stipend is £239, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £11 per annum. The remains of Dalcross church have almost disappeared: the present parish church, containing sittings for 527 persons, was built in 1767, and repaired in 1829. The parochial school affords instruction in the usual branches; the master has the maximum salary, with a house, and about £20 fees. The parish contains several Druidical circles; and to the west of the church is a large grey stone called Clach na Seanaish, or "the listening stone", at which, in ancient times, secret communications were made relating to the movements and designs of hostile clans.

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