Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Inverness

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Inverness (Gael. inbhir-Ness, `the mouth of the Ness'), a parish on the NE border of Inverness-shire at the NE extremity of the Great Glen of Scotland. It embraces the old parishes of Inverness and Bona, and is bounded N by the Beauly and Moray Firths, NE by Petty, for ½ mile at the extreme E by Nairnshire, SE and S by Daviot and Dunlichity, by a detached portion of Croy and Dalcross, and by Dores, SW and W by Urquhart and Glenmoriston, and NW by Kiltarlity and by Kirkhill. Along the sea-shore on the N the boundary is natural, as it also is along the line from Racecourse Wood SW along the centre of Dochfour Loch and Loch Ness to the extreme S point of the parish, 3/8 miles from the NE end of the latter loch. Elsewhere it is artificial and very irregular. The extreme length of the parish, from Culloden Brickworks on the NE in a line straight SW to the borders of the parish of Urquhart and Glenmoriston, is 147/8 miles; the breadth in a line at right angles to this varies from 1¼ to 3½ miles; while the area is 23, 573 acres, of which the most considerable portion is under cultivation or woodland, though in the southern and south-western parts of the parish there is a good deal of waste ground. The surface along the seaboard is flat, but rises to the S, until in the SW portion of the parish, on the NW side of Loch Ness, at Cnoc-na-Goithe, Carn-a-Bhodaich, and Carn-an-Leitre, it reaches a height of 1249, 1642, and 1424 feet respectively. The NE half of the parish consists principally of the north-eastermost portion of the Great Glen of Scotland, extending from the lower part of Loch Ness to the firths, and is flanked on both sides by the terminations of the hill boundaries of the glen. These are generally well wooded. The surface of the valley is mostly flat and but little above sea-level, but at one or two points there are considerable undulations. Of these we may notice the hill of Tomnahurich (`the hill of the fairies') on the left side of the Ness near the town. It is a beautifully wooded isolated mount resembling a ship with her keel up, and measuring 1984 feet in length, 176 in breadth, and 223 in height. It has now been finely laid out as an extramural burying-place for the adjacent burgh of Inverness. A little to the W of this is a gravel ridge called Tor-a-Bhean or Torvean, rising to a height of 300 feet. The soil along the coast part is good and well cultivated, and in the vicinity of the town it is a fine clayey loam, originally formed by deposit from the river Ness and the firths, while on the arable land in the SW it is light and sandy. The subsoil is gravel and clay, and the underlying rocks in the low grounds belong to the Old Red sandstone, while in the upper districts they are metamorphic. Sandstone of a light grey colour, with intermixture of mica in small scales, and limestone, occurs on the lands of Leys, and contains calcareous spar, steatite, and heavy spar. The sandstone beside Clachnaharry pier, at the mouth of the Caledonian Canal, contains celestine. The drainage of the parish is effected by the various streams that fall into Loch Ness or into the river Ness, among which may be mentioned the burns of Abriachan-flowing from the small Loch Laide (22/3 x 2 furl.; 860 feet-Dochfour, Holm,and Inches, which have some small cascades and good woodland scenery. The parish is traversed by roads leading from Inverness as a centre eastward by Elgin to Aberdeen, northward by Beauly to Dingwall, etc., southward by Badenoch to Perth. The Caledonian Canal passes through it from the NE end of Loch Ness to the Beauly Firth at Clachnaharry, a distance of nearly 6½ miles, and connects Inverness with the SW of Scotland. The regular service of passenger steamers from Glasgow has its terminus at Muirtown, about 1 mile from the mouth of the canal, and 1 mile NW of the suspension bridge over the Ness in the burgh. The parish is also traversed by the Highland railway system, which passes through its whole breadth along the seaboard, for a distance of 6¾ miles. The main station is at Inverness, and there is a station 1¾ mile to the NW at Clachnaharry. Besides the burgh of Inverness, the parish contains also the suburban village of Clachnaharry and the villages of Balloch, Culcabock, Hilton, Resaudrie, and Smithtown of Culloden. There are a number of objects of antiquarian interest, of which some are noticed under the town, while others are noticed separately under Bona, Clachnaharry, and Craig Phadrick. Tomnahurich, already noticed, was at one time a ward and mote-hill, and in later days the magistrates of the burgh of Inverness used to patronise horse-races, run round its base. The ridge of Torvean, already noticed, seems to take its name from Donald Bane, who was in 1187 killed in conflict with the garrison of Inverness. Part of it shows traces of an ancient hill fort; and in 1808, near the base, there was dug up a massive double-linked silver chain, now in the Antiquarian Society's Museum at Edinburgh. Some cairns near the fort are known as Kilvean or Kil-a-Bhean, the cell of Bean or Bane, who is by some identified as the islesman just mentioned, but according to others is Baithene (536-600), second abbot of Iona in succession to St Columba. The whole estate of Bucht, of which Torvean forms part, is said to be also called Kilvean. In the Abriachan district there are also traces of a Kil and a number of cairns. At Leys, 3 miles SE of the burgh of lnverness, is a so-called Druidical circle of no great size, but very perfect. There are three circles, the external diameter being 30 paces, and the internal diameter 6. On the eastern border of the parish is part of Drummossie Muir, where the battle of Culloden was fought. Near the mouth of the Ness, now a considerable way within flood-mark, is a large cairn of stones known as Cairn Airc (`the cairn of the sea'). It is now marked by a beacon, as it is dangerous to vessels approaching the harbour. Due W of this, in the Beauly Firth, are other three cairns, in one of which urns have been discovered. The whole four seem interesting as pointing to a change in the relative level of sea and land. Mansions, all noticed separately, are Culloden, Dochfour, Muirtown, Ness Castle, and Raigmore; and 19 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 76 of between £100 and £500, and 88 of from £50 to £100. Inverness is the seat of a presbytery in the synod of Moray. There are three charges, the first, second, and third, for respectively the High Church, the West Church, and the Gaelic Church, all of which are in the burgh. The stipend of the first charge is £388, 10s., with £10 for communion elements, and a manse and glebe worth respectively £55 and £105 a year; that of the second charge is £387, 18s. 1d., with £10 for communion elements, and with a glebe worth £106 a year, but no manse; that of the third charge is £136, 6s. 8d. from Government, and about £64 from the holders of the ancient bishop of Moray's rents, with a glebe worth £25 a year, but no manse. Under the landward schoolboard are the public schools of Abriachan, Culcabock, Culduthel, Culloden, and Dochgarroch, which, with respective accommodation for 100, 100, 100, 137, and 100 pupils, had (1881) an average attendance of 43, 61, 62, 43, and 45, and grants of £43, 9s. 6d., £46, 8s. 6d., £38, 5s. 7d., £32, 12s. 6d., and £44, 10s. Landward valuation (1882) £27,120, 11s. 10d. Pop., inclusive of burgh (1791) 7930, (1801) 8732, (1821) 12,264, (1841) 15, 418, (1861) 16, 162, (1871) 18, 552, (1881) 21,725, of whom 10,412 were males and 11, 313 females.—Ord. Sur., shs. 83, 84, 1881-76.

The presbytery of Inverness comprehends the parishes of Inverness, Daviot, Dores, Kiltarlity, Kirkhill, Moy, and Petty. Pop. (1871) 28,224, (1881) 30,092, of whom 917 were communicants of the Church of Scotland in 1878.-The Free Church has also a presbytery of Inverness, with 5 churches in the burgh, 7 churches in respectively Daviot, Dores, Kiltarlity, Kirkhill, Moy, Petty, and Stratherrick, and a mission station in Strathglass, which 13 together had 5994 members and adherents in 1883.


(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4); © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland)

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a parish"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 4th order divisions")
Administrative units: Inverness and Bona ScoP       Inverness Burgh       Inverness Shire ScoCnty
Place names: INBHIR NESS     |     INVERNESS
Place: Inverness

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