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Daviot and Dunlichty, Inverness-shire

Historical Description

DAVIOT and DUNLICHTY, a parish, chiefly in the county of Inverness, and partly in that of Nairn, 5 miles (S. E.) from Inverness; containing 1681 inhabitants. These two ancient parishes were united about the year 1618: the former received its appellation, as is supposed, from David, Earl of Crawfurd, who built a fort here; and the latter, which is by far the larger division, derives its name from the dun-le-catti, or "hill of the Catti ", which bisects the territory formerly held by the Catti, whose descendants now possess nearly the whole lands. At Tordarroch, in the district of Dunlichty, the Earl of Moray caused 200 men of the clan Chattan to be hanged in a barn in one day, about the year 1532, for various acts of spoliation committed in his territory. They had been captured by stratagem, the earl having assembled them under pretence of holding a feudal court; and to each, while being led to the gallows, pardon was offered upon condition of their betraying Hector Mackintosh, under whose command they had acted. The greater part of Drummossie moor, where the celebrated and decisive battle of Culloden was fought on the 16th of April, 1746, is situated in this parish, as well as the spot on which the prince stood during the engagement: the prince afterwards, with a few friends, crossed the river Nairn above the Mains of Daviot, and passing by Tordarroch, advanced to Gorthleck in Stratherrick.

The PARISH of Daviot and Dunlichty, the boundary line of which is very irregular, stretches along each side of the river Nairn, from north-east to south-west, for about twenty-five miles, and varies in breadth from one and a half to four or five miles. It comprises about 4000 acres under cultivation, 1500 natural pasture, 830 of natural wood, and above 2270 of plantations. The surface is for the most part wild and dreary. It consists principally of the valley of Strathnairn, extending from Wester Aberchalder on the south-west to the bridge of Daviot on the Highland road, where the vale contracts itself almost to a point, and terminates in a steep narrow glen. The hills on the south-eastern boundary are a continued chain, forming the northern range of the Munadh-Leagh mountains, and attaining an elevation of from 1000 to 2000 feet above the level of the sea. On the west and north-west the boundary consists of an abrupt ridge 1500 feet high, containing a series of lakes, some of them celebrated for their delicious trout; while on the north and north-eastern limit is the sandstone ridge called Drimmashie or Drummossie moor, at the eastern end of which the battle of Culloden was fought. The scenery is generally uninteresting, though occasionally romantic; the mountains are either bare rock, or covered with coarse grass, and the lower grounds are to a considerable extent mossy tracts, shaded by sombre woods and plantations. The stream of the Nairn, however, introduces some variety, and in its course to the town of Nairn, where it falls into the Moray Firth, after a course of thirty-six miles from its source at Cairn-Gregor, in the south-west part of Dunlichty, renders the aspect of the country in many places agreeable and interesting.

The SOIL exhibits several varieties, being in some parts light and sandy, in others wet and spongy, with a clayey bottom; and frequently black mossy earth is to be seen, with different admixtures and modifications. The crops which succeed best are oats and barley; but since the recent improvements in husbandry, comprising draining on an extensive scale, liming, inclosing, and the rotation system of cropping, wheat of good quality has been grown, and the agricultural character of the parish has attained a respectable footing. Many earthen embankments have been raised along the river, as a security against floods, which have sometimes done much damage to the lands. The rock in the hills bounding the valley consists chiefly of grey gneiss, and large blocks of white granite are found loose upon the tops and sides of most of them: conglomerate, red and grey granite, and limestone are also to be seen in the parish. A bed of marl, which has been successfully used as manure, was lately discovered on the south bank of Loch Bunachton, about seven feet below the surface, and having a depth of from five to six feet. The old plantations are of common Scotch fir, with a few larches, and cover about 1020 acres; there are others of Scotch fir, larch, ash, oak, and beech. The annual value of real property in the parish is £5288. The seats are, Daviot, a commodious modern structure; the house of Farr, which has lately received some elegant additions; and Aberarder, also a modern mansion. The road from Edinburgh to Inverness passes through the parish, and with the latter town the inhabitants carry on their chief traffic.

Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Inverness, synod of Moray, and in the alternate patronage of the Crown and Earl Cawdor: the minister's stipend is £187, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £10 per annum. There are two churches, about seven miles distant from each other, in which public worship is usually performed alternately. The church at Daviot is about four miles from the eastern, and that at Dunlichty twelve miles from the western, boundary: the former, with seats for 500 persons, was built in 1826, at a cost of nearly £1000; and the latter, containing seats for 300 persons, was built in 1759, and repaired in 1826. There are also an episcopal chapel, and a place of worship for members of the Free Church. A parochial school is situated in each of the districts, and affords instruction in the ordinary branches; the salary of each master is £25, with £11 and £9 fees respectively. The poor receive the interest of £400 left by William Macgillivray in 1833. Near the mansion of Daviot, is the ruin of a seat which appears to have been originally of great strength; and there are remains of Druidical temples in several places.

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