Parish of Boleskine and Abertarff

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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1791-99: Boleskine and Abertarff
1834-45: Boleskine and Abertarff

Abertarf, a parish, with the seat of a presbytery, in the centre of Inverness-shire. The parish, named from the mouth of the Tarf rivulet, which enters the head of Loch Ness at Fort Augustus, lies principally on the NW side of Loch Ness, and formerly comprised also the district of Glenmoriston, but is now united to the parish of Boleskine. The presbytery of Abertarf, in the synod of Glenelg, comprehends the old parishes of Boleskine, Abertarf, Kilmalie, Kilmonivaig, Laggan, and Urquhart, and the quoad sacra parishes of Glengarry, Duncansburgh, and Ballachulish and Corran-of-Ardgour. Pop. (1871) 11,370, of whom 470 were communicants in 1878, when the above congregations raised £190 in Christian liberality. The Free Church also has a presbytery of Abertarf, whose churches of Ballachulish, Fort Augustus, Fort William, Glen Urquhart, Kilmalie, and Kilmonivaig, had 1723 members in 1880.

Boleskine and Abertarff, a united parish of central Inverness-shire, containing the NE foot of Loch Oich and the SW head of Loch Ness, where stands the village of Fort Augustus, 33½ miles SE of Inverness, and 31½ NW of Fort William, by the Caledonian Canal. The Abertarff portion lies mostly to the W of Loch Ness and the Canal, the Boleskine portion to the E; and the whole parish is bounded NE by Dores and Daviot, E by Moy, S by Laggan, SW by Kilmonivaig, NW by Urquhart-Glenmoriston. It has a length from N to S of from 83/8 to 15 miles, a breadth from E to W of from 15/8 to 20 miles, and an area estimated at 210 square miles, including the Farraline detached portion (2¾ x 11/8 miles) surrounded by Daviot and Dores, but excluding the Dell and Killinportions of Dores, surrounded by Boleskine itself. Besides Lochs Oich and Ness, which lie at an altitude above sea-level of 105 and less than 50 feet, it contains Loch Garth (13 x 4 furl. at 618 feet), Loch nan Lann (5½ x 2½ furl.), Loch Knockie (10 x 1 to 4 furl.), Loch Tarff (5 x 5 furl. at 956 feet), Loch nan Ean (3½ x 1 furl.), Loch Killin (9 x 2 furl.), Loch Uanagan (4 x 1 furl.), all of them in the eastern division, and nearly 50 smaller lochs and tarns. The principal rivers are the Oich, running 6¾ miles NNE out of Loch Oich to Loch Ness; the Moriston, tracing 5 miles of the Urquhart boundary; and the Tarff and the Foyers, which, with their head-streams and innumerable affluents, drain all the eastern portion of the parish to Loch Ness. Save in the Great Glen, traversed by the Canal, and in Stratherrick to the NE, which are comparatively low and level, the surface everywhere is grandly mountainous. In the western division rise Burach (1986 feet), *Meall na Ruahaig (1588), and *Carn Mhic Raonuill (1862), the asterisks marking those summits that culminate just on the boundary. In the eastern division the chief elevations, from N to S, and crosswise from W to E, are Carn Choire Riabhaich (1773 feet), Meall na Targaid (1016), Leachd nan Cisteachan (1926), Carn Flinch-bhad (2153), and *Carn na Saobhaidhe (2658); Beinn a' Bhacaidh (1812), Bein Mheadhoin (1773), and Doire Meurach (2582); Carn Dubh (2495), Carn a' Choire Ghlaise (2555), and *Borrach Mor (2686); Creag Ardochy (1417), Dubh Lochan (2205), Cairn Vangie (2331), Carn Easgann Bana (2554), Meall nan Uamh (2297), An Staingeach (2748), and *Fiadh Fardach (2805); Meall a' Cholumain (1034), Carn a' Chuilinn (2677), Meall Caca (2490), *Carn Odhar na Criche (2927), *Cairn Ewen (2870), and *Carn na Criche (2820); and, on the southern boundary, belonging to the heavy, rounded Monadh-Leadh chain, Mullach a' Ghlinne (1734), Carn Leac (2889), Corrieyairack (2922), Geal Charn (2833), Meall na h'Aisre (2825), and Carn Fraoich (2511). Gneiss surrounds all the head of Loch Ness, but on the E is interrupted by granite, occasionally syeintic or porphyritic, which reaches northward into Stratherrick, a valley that seems to be an old lake-basin, drained by the chasm at the Falls of Foyers, these being situated in the red conglomerate; and grainte and limestone have both been extensively quarried. Sheep-farming is the chief source of wealth, from thirty to forty thousand sheep being pastured here; and what little arable land there is, in Glenmore and Stratherrick, varies greatly in kind and quality, ranging from clay to gravel, and from peat moss to argillaceous loam. Much natural wood, the vestige seemingly of one vast forest, remains; and the shores of Loch Ness and the course of the Moriston are finely wooded. Up to the 15th century the whole of the united parish belonged to the Frasers of Lovat; but now, besides Lord Lovat, there are A. T. F. Fraser of Abertarff, J. C. Cunningham of Foyers, and Col. Hastings Fraser of Ardochy, who hold respectively 20,063, 22,506, and 3000 acres in the shire, of an annual value of £2247, £2446, and £338,10s. Their seats of Cullachy, Foyers, and Ardochy, are 1½ mile S, 1 mile S by E, and 14 miles NE, of Fort Augustus; and other mansions, Aberchalder (R. A. Brewster) and Corriegarth (W. Tomline), are 5¼ miles SSW and 10 NE. Boleskine is in the presbytery of Abertarff and synod of Glenelg; its minister's income is £291. The parish church (1717; 428 sittings) stands in Stratherrick, near Loch Garth, 12¼ miles NE of Fort Augustus by General Wade's hilly military road; and the Roman Catholic church of the Immaculate Conception (1859; 130 sittings) lies 1¼ mile nearer that village, where are three more places of worship-Established, Free, and Roman Catholic. Four schools-Boleskine, Fort Augustus, Knockchoilum, and Whitebridge (R. C.)-with respective accommodation for100, 100, 35, and 68 children, had in 1879 an average attendance of 60,51,12, and 15, and grants of £51,1s., £52, 19s. 6d., £5, 18s. 6d., and £11, 11s. 6d. Valuation (1881) £10,661, 1s. 2d., of which £5555, 9s. belong to Lord Lovat. Pop., mostly Gaelic-speaking, (1801) 1799, (1821) 2096, (1831) 1829, (1851) 2006, (1861) 1743, (1871) 1578, (1881) 1447, of whom 575 were in the registration district of Boleskine, and 872 in that of Fort Augustus or Abertarff. Pop. of q. s. parish (1871) 1465, the remainder being included in Glengarry.—Ord. Sur., shs. 63,73,1873-78.

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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