Urquhart and Logie Wester

   URQUHART and LOGIE WESTER, a parish, partly in the county of Nairn, but chiefly in the county of Ross and Cromarty, 2 miles (S. E.) from Dingwall; containing, with the villages of Conanbridge and Newton, and the hamlet of Culbokie, 2997 inhabitants, of whom 2537 are in the rural districts. This place, which is not distinguished by any transaction of historical importance, comprehends the ancient parish of Urquhart, of which name the etymology has previously been given, and the ancient parish of Logie Wester, the name of which, in the Gaelic language signifying "a hollow," is descriptive of its appearance. At what time these parishes, of which the former occupies the eastern, and the latter the western, district of the present parish, were united, is not distinctly known; but from some records in which mention of them occurs as one parish, it would appear to have been prior to the year 1490. The parish is bounded on the north-west by the Frith of Cromarty and the river Conan, which latter separates it from the parish of Dingwall and part of the parish of Urray. It is nearly ten miles in length, and three and a half miles in breadth, comprising about 12,570 acres, of which 5300 are arable, 4500 meadow and pasture, 900 woodland and plantations, and the remainder moor and waste. The surface rises by gentle undulations from the Conan towards the south-east, but though diversified with small eminences in several places, contains nothing that can be called a hill; towards the ridge of Muolbuie it attains a considerable degree of elevation, and from that point to the river it has the appearance of a gradually inclined plain. The scenery, though generally of pleasing character, and enlivened with plantations, is not marked with any features of peculiar interest; but the higher grounds command extensive and richly-varied prospects over a wide expanse of country, embracing the whole of the Cromarty Frith with its shipping, the town of Dingwall, and the surrounding district, in high cultivation, and thickly studded with villas and gentlemen's seats.
   The Conan has its source in a small lake in the mountains, about thirty miles to the west of this parish, and, flowing eastward along the southern boundary of Dingwall, diverts its course to the north, and falls into the Frith of Cromarty. This river abounds with salmon, trout, grilse, and other fish; and is celebrated for its muscles, in which occasionally pearls of great beauty are found: the salmon taken in its stream are of remarkably rich flavour, and considerable quantities are sent to the London market. There are numerous copious springs of excellent water in the lower grounds, and also a few slightly impregnated with iron, and sometimes used medicinally; but the springs in the upper parts are of inferior quality, and in dry seasons yield but a very scanty supply. The Frith washes the shores of the parish for nearly six miles and a half, and towards its eastern extremity is about two miles in breadth, contracting at Dingwall to little more than a mile; its average depth in the centre is about three fathoms, but towards the shore it is comparatively shallow. The beach in some parts is a fine sand, and in others clay. A quay, which is accessible to vessels of small burthen, was erected some years since at Alcaig, where vessels land their cargoes of coal and lime, and other articles of merchandise, and take, in return, props for the coalpits, and timber for building and other purposes.
   The soil is in some parts light and sharp, in others a rich clayey loam; but the most general is a deep black mould of great fertility, and the subsoil is dry, being either sand or gravel. The principal corn crops are oats and barley: wheat of good quality was formerly raised to a considerable extent, but being found to exhaust the land, its culture has been partly discontinued. Beans, peas, potatoes, and turnips are also extensively cultivated, especially the last, of which, since the introduction of bone-dust for manure, heavy crops have been grown, and eaten off the field by sheep, a practice that has tended greatly to the improvement of the lands. The system of husbandry is in a very advanced state. The farms vary generally from twenty to 150 acres in extent; but the practice of uniting several of moderate size into one large farm has been growing into use. Considerable encouragement is given by the landlords with a view to the reclaiming of waste land. A few of the farm houses and offices are substantially built and well arranged, and on many of the farms threshing-mills have been erected; the fences are in tolerable order, and all the more recent improvements in the construction of agricultural implements have been adopted. Much attention is paid to the management of live-stock; the cattle and sheep reared are of the various breeds common in this part of the country, and find a ready sale in the markets to which they are sent. There are considerable remains of natural wood, comprising oak, ash, mountain-ash, birch, and holly; and on the lands of Ferintosh and Conan, plantations have been formed, consisting of larch and firs, interspersed with different kinds of forest-trees, all of which are in a very thriving state. The principal substrata in the parish are of the old red-sandstone formation. There are some quarries of good freestone in extensive operation, from which materials are sent to Dingwall, and other places in the vicinity, for building, for which it is in high estimation. Iron-ore is supposed to exist in some places, but no attempts to explore it have been yet undertaken. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5619.
   The seats are, Ferintosh, the property of Mr. Forbes, of Culloden, a neat mansion surrounded with a small but flourishing plantation of larch-trees; Findon, the property of Sir James Wemyss Mackenzie, Bart., an ancient mansion recently improved, beautifully situated between the Frith of Cromarty and an extensive wood of venerable oak; and Conan, the seat of Sir Francis Alexander Mackenzie, Bart., a handsome modern mansion, finely situated on the banks of the river, and embellished with thriving plantations. The barony of Ferintosh formerly had the privilege of distilling whisky from barley grown on the lands, free from the duties of excise, and numerous distilleries were consequently established, which for a long time were in very high repute; the privilege was abolished in 1786, on the payment of an equivalent to the superior, and there are at present no distilleries in operation, though the locality is extremely favourable. The villages of Conanbridge, Culbokie, and Newton are described under their respective heads. Fairs are held annually at Culbokie, for cattle and various wares, on the third Wednesday in April, the last Wednesdays in July and October, and the second Wednesday in December. Facility of communication is maintained by good turnpike-roads, of which one leads from Conanbridge to Kessock, whence a road branches off to Fortrose and the ferry of FortGeorge; by a substantial bridge over the Conan; and by various cross roads through the interior of the parish, kept in repair by statute-labour. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Dingwall and synod of Ross. The minister's stipend is £220. 19. 11., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £25 per annum; patron, Mr. Forbes, of Culloden. The church, situated on the shore of the Frith, and nearly in the centre of the parish, is a very plain structure, erected in 1795, and containing 1500 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school is attended by about eighty children; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with a house and garden, and the fees average £12 annually. Two schools are supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, who allow the masters a salary of £17 each, in addition to the fees, which, however, are very inconsiderable; and a school has been erected on his own lands by Sir F. A. Mackenzie, who provides the master with a house and garden, and pays him a salary. At the south-western extremity of the parish are several tumuli, in one of which were found three stone coffins.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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