Killiernan

   KILLIERNAN, a parish, in the county of Ross and Cromarty, 4 miles (N. E. by E.) from Beauly; containing 1643 inhabitants. This place is said to have derived its name from the circumstance of its having been the burial-ground of Irenan, a Danish prince, the prefix Kill, signifying a chapel, church, or cemetery. On the northern boundary of the parish, a sepulchral monument called Cairn-Irenan still exists; and it is probable that the Danes had a settlement here, or were often engaged in conflicts with the original inhabitants. Tradition states that two religious houses formerly existed in Killearnan; but nothing certain is known about them, though the names of two hamlets, Chapeltown and Spital, give some authority to the assertion. More recently, the family of the Mackenzies, so well known in Scottish history, resided at Redcastle and Kilcoy. The three parishes of Killiernan, Kilmuir Wester, and Suddy were formed into two, in 1756, and the ecclesiastical stipends equally apportioned. The parish of Killiernan is between five and six miles long, and between two and three broad. It is bounded on the north by the parish of Urquhart; on the south by the Frith of Beauly; on the east by Kilmuir Wester and Suddy; and on the west by the parish of Urray. The ground rises gently from the southern boundary to the top of Mulbuy on the north, where it has its greatest elevation. Along the shore it is smooth and level, and unbroken by bays or headlands. The water of the Frith is of a dark hue, from the large quantities of moss and mud brought into it by the river of Beauly.
   The soil varies considerably; and very frequently, on the same farm, light loam, red and blue clay, and gravel succeed each other. Deep clay is common on the shore, and is here used as compost, and often for mortar in buildings. Many of the lands are covered with small stones, which require clearing every year; and throughout the larger part of the parish, broom grows spontaneously, and, if left to itself, would shortly overspread the fields. The whole of the parish is the property of two families, whose estates are called Redcastle, and Kilcoy and Drumnamarg. The former comprises 3796 acres, of which 1566 are arable, 577 pasture, and 1653 wood; the latter contains 3041 acres, of which 977 are arable, 882 wood, and 1182 pasture. The crops consist of wheat, barley, oats, rye, clover, turnips, and potatoes; and the rateable annual value of the parish amounts to £4275. Many agricultural improvements have been made; and the lands, within the last twenty years, have assumed an entirely different appearance. The native heath and broom are gradually yielding to valuable crops of grain; and the gratuity of £5 allowed for the improvement of every Scottish acre, and the permission to enjoy it rent-free during the remainder of the current lease, have given an impulse to the energies of the cultivator, the effects of which are conspicuous in every direction. The union of several small farms, and the building of good houses and offices, with inclosures, especially on the Redcastle property, have introduced superior tenants, and, with them, better means of cultivation; and the encouragement afforded by the spirited proprietors in the parish bids fair to raise it, in a few years, to a level with the best cultivated districts in the country. The farmers generally breed only the cattle necessary for ploughing, &c., on their own ground; but at the close of harvest, they purchase young cattle, in considerable quantities, to consume their straw, and others for the purpose of fattening them upon turnips, with the sheep, in the winter, by which they make a considerable profit at the markets in the summer time. The substratum of the parish is one continued bed of red freestone, which is easily prepared, and well suited to buildings of every description. A quarry of this stone has been wrought for some centuries, from which Inverness has been freely supplied, and from which the stones used in the locks of the Caledonian canal were taken.
   Formerly, each of the estates had a castle in which the proprietor resided. That on the Kilcoy estate is now in ruins; but the mansion on the property of Redcastle, so named from the colour of the stone of which it is built, and formerly used as a place of defence, is in good and habitable condition. It is a large pile, surrounded with beautiful plantations, which occupy many hundreds of acres, and consist of oak, ash, birch, Scotch fir, and larch. In many other parts, also, the same trees are to be seen. There are two villages: Miltown, a name common to many other villages in this district, is chiefly remarkable for its delightful situation, and its miniature likeness to a town; and Quarry, deriving its name from the rock immediately behind it, consists of a line of neat cottages, extending along the base of a sandstone rock, which rises to the height of a hundred feet above the village, giving it a very singular appearance. There is a corn-mill on each of the two estates, for the use of the parish. Two fairs, the staple horse-markets of the country, are held, the one in February, and the other in July. Facility of communication is afforded by a good road from the ferry at Kessock to Dingwall, Invergordon, and Fortrose, the repairs of which are supported by a regular toll; and there are two small vessels belonging to the parish, employed in carrying timber and coal between Killiernan and Newcastle, in England. Ships, also, touch here, and land their cargoes on the shore at the eastern extremity of the parish, as there is no harbour.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are directed by the presbytery of Chanonry and synod of Ross; and the patronage is vested in the Hon. Mrs. Hay Mackenzie. The stipend of the minister is £200, with a manse, built about a century ago, and repaired and enlarged a few years since. The glebe consists of about six acres of arable land; and one-half, also, of the glebe of Kilmuir Wester has belonged to Killiernan since 1756. The church, which is built in the form of a cross, is very ancient, and of considerable dimensions. It was thatched with heather until about fifty years ago, when it was roofed with slate, and supplied with fresh seats; it has been just again repaired, and is now a very comfortable building. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. There is a parochial school, in which Greek, Latin, English grammar, geography, and practical mathematics are taught: the salary of the master is £30, with a house, an allowance in lieu of garden, and about £8 fees. Another school is endowed by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge; English, Gaelic, writing, and arithmetic are taught, and the master has £15 per annum, and a small house. There is also a female school supported by the same society. The chief relics of antiquity are, the ruins of Redcastle, and the cairn already referred to, supposed to have been raised to commemorate the murder of a Danish prince; and in the vicinity of the cairn are remains of a Druidical temple.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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