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Auldearn

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Auldearn (Gael. allt-fearn, ` stream of the alder tree '), a post office village and a coast parish of NE Nairnshire. The village stands 1¾ mile inland at 69 feet above sea-level, and is 2½ miles ESE of its post-town and railway station, Nairn. A burgh of barony, it holds a cattle and horse fair on 20 June if a Wednesday or Thursday, otherwise on the Wednesday after, and a produce fair on the Tuesday of November after Inverness. Pop. (1841) 351, (1871) 350.

The parish is bounded NW, for 4¼ miles, by the Moray Firth; E by Dyke, in Morayshire; S by Ardclach; W by Nairn and the Raitknock portion of Cawdor. It has a length from N to S of from 31/8 to 6¼ miles, a breadth from E to W of from 31/8 to 5¾ miles, and a land area of 14, 035 acres. The Muckle Burn here winds about 6 miles, first on the southern border of the parish, next across its south-eastern corner, and then on the eastern border; the western interior is traversed by the Auldearn Burn, which, rising in the north-western angle of Ardclach, and joining the Nairn 1 mile below its mouth, has a total northward and westward course of some 5 miles, and just below Auldearn village itself receives a burn from the SE. Within 3 furlongs of the coast-line Loch Loy (9 x 1¾ fur.) lies at an altitude of 12 feet; ¼ mile E of it is Cran Loch (31/3 x 1¼ fur.). With a foreshore that widens north-eastward from 1 furlong to 2 miles, and is fringed by the Maviston Sandhills, the northern portion of Auldearn is generally low, and the highest gradient on the 3¾ miles of the Highland railway within its bounds is only129 feet. Further inland the surface becomes more undulating, and rises to 305 feet near Blackhills, 379 near Easter Arr, 423 near Lethen House, 473 near Easter Clune, and 600 in the south-eastern angle of the parish; but nowhere are the hills too steep to plough. The rocks belong chiefly to the strip of Old Red sandstone that borders the Moray Firth, and have been extensively quarried. Marl also abounds; and fir roots and entire trees are found in great quantities in Inshoch Moss. For a distance from the shore of ½ mile on the W and of 1 mile on the E, the soil is sheer sand, covered with bent; elsewhere it is various, but for the most part fertile, about one-third of the entire area being arable, one-fourth under woods and plantations, and four-elevenths pasture or waste. Antiquities are two stone circles, the ruins of Inshoch Castle, and vestiges of that of Moyness. According to later chronicles it was in Auldearn that Donald, King of Alban, fell in battle with the Danes (900), and that Malcolm his son was slain by the men of Moray (954); but Skene, out of of older records, proves these events to have taken place at Dunnottar and Fetteresso (Celt. Scot., i. 338,364). Of one engagement at least this parish certainly has been the scene, since just to the S of the village was fought, on 9 May 1645, the battle of Auldearn, Montrose's fourth victory over the Covenanters. The general of the latter, John Hurry or Urry, surprised and pursued to Inverness, had there obtained reinforcements that, swelling his army to 400 horse and 3500 foot, emboldened him to offer battle to the Marquis's 1700,250 of whom were cavalry. Lured from its strong position, the Royalist right under Kolkitto was retiring from the charge in great disorder, when Drummond, who commanded Hurry's horse, by wheeling unskillfully, broke the ranks of his own infantry. Montrose at this crisis charged with his whole force, and the Highland rush proved irresistible. The veterans only (some 1200 strong) attempted to withstand it manfully, while the new levies fled in consternation, and were chased several miles by Lord Gordon's cavalry. The losses on both sides were variously estimated-the Royalists' at from 15 to 200 men, of whom Captain Macdonald and William Macpherson of Invereschie were the only persons of mark; the Covenanters' at from 1000 to 3000, including Col. Campbell of Lawers, Sir John and Sir Gideon Murray, Col. James Campbell, and 87 married Frasers. Drummond for his blunder or his treachery was tried by court-martial and shot; Hurry drew off his shattered army, and joining Baillie, shared with him eight weeks later in the defeat of Alford (See vol. i., pp. 209-212 of Keltie's Hist. of the Scottish Highlands, Edinb. 1875). The principal residences are Boath House, 3 furlongs N of the village, and Lethen House, near the southern boundary; and 6 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 4 of from £20 to £50. Auldearn is in the presbytery of Nairn and synod of Moray. Its parish church is situated at the village, and was built in 1757 in place of an older structure, dedicated to St Colm, and anciently held by the sub-dean of Elgin cathedral. This is an ill-proportioned, oblong edifice, with 477 sittings, and a graveyard containing several interesting monuments of Hurry's followers, of the Hays of Lochloy and Moyness, and of Nairn townsfolk, most of whom (the fishing class only excepted) have their burial places here. The minister's income is £380. There are also a Free church, 1 mile S of the village, and Moyness U.P. church at Boghole, 3¾ miles E, the latter built about 1780, repaired in 1817, and seating 353. The three public schools of Auldearn, Innes, and Moyness, with respective accommodation for 84,81, and 83 children, had (1879) an average attendance of 39,61, and 56, and grants of. £40,2s. 6d., £39,18s., and £52,19s. Valuation (188 2), £10,091,15s. 5d. Pop. (1831) 1653, (1861) 1328, (1871) 1279, (1881) 1292.—Ord. Sur., sh. 84,1876.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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