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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 155 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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NAIRNSHIRE, a north-eastern county of Scotland, bounded W. and S. by Inverness-shire, E. by Elginshire and N. by the Moray Firth. It has an area of 103,429 acres or 161.6 sq., m., and a coast line of 9 M. and is the fourth smallest county in Scotland. The seaboard, which is skirted by sandbanks dangerous to navigation, is lined by low dunes extending into Elginshire. Parallel with the coast there is a deposit of sand and gravel about go ft. high stretching inland for 4 or 5 M. This and the undulating plain behind are a continuation westward of the fertile Laigh of Moray. From this region southward the land rises rapidly to the confines of Inverness-shire, where the chief heights occur. Several of these border hills exceed 2000 ft. in altitude, the highest being Carn Glas (2162 ft.). The only rivers of importance are the Findhorn and the Nairn, both rising in Inverness-shire. The Findhorn after it leaves that county takes a mainly north-easterly direction down Strathdearn for 17 M. and enters the sea to the north of Forres in Elginshire after a total course of 70 M. The Nairn, shortly after issuing from Strathnairn, flows towards the N.E. for 12 M. out of its complete course of 38 M. and falls into the Moray Firth at the county town. There are eight lochs, all small, but the loch of Clans is of particular interest because of its examples of crannogs, or lake-dwellings. Nairnshire contains many beautiful woods and much picturesque and romantic scenery. Geology.—The county is divided geologically into two clearly-marked portions. The southern and larger portion is composed ef the eastern, Dalradian or younger Highland schists with associated granite masses; this forms all the higher ground. The low-lying northern part of the country bordering Moray Firth is occupied by Old Red Sandstone. The schistose rocks are mainly thin bedded micaceous gneisses, schists and quartzites; between Dallaschyle and Creag an Dairnb a more massive higher horizon appears in the centre of a synclinal fold. Porphyritic gneiss is found on the flanks of Caen nan tri-tighearnan. The schists are frequently intersected by dikes of granite, amphibolite, &c. Three masses of granite are found penetrating the schists; the largest lies on the eastern boundary and extends from about Lethca Bar Hill southward by Ardclach and Glenferness to the Bridge of Dulsie. The second mass on the opposite side of the county belongs mainly to Inverness but the granite reaches into Nairn on the slopes of Bein nan Creagan and Ben Buidhe Mhor. A smaller mass near Rait Castle, with largeby them are found at Moyness, Auldearn, Urchany, Ballinrait, Dalcross and Croy, the valley of the Nairn being especially rich in such relics. To the north of Dulsie Bridge is a monolith called the Princess Stone. A greater number of the mysterious prehistoric stones with cup-markings occur in Nairn than any-where else in Scotland. Mote hills are also common. Whether there was any effective Roman occupation of the land so far north is an open question, but there is little evidence of it in Nairn, beyond the occasional finding of Roman coins. Columba and his successors made valiant efforts to Christianize the Picts, but it was long before their labours began to tell, although the saint's name was preserved late in the ,9th century in the annual fair at Auldearn called " St Colm's Market," while to his biographer Adamnan—corrupted into Evan or Wean—was dedicated the church at Cawdor, where an old Celtic bell also bears this name. By the dawn of the loth century the Picts had been subdued with the help of the Norsemen, and Nairn, which was one of the districts colonized by the Scandinavians, as part of the ancient province of Moray, soon afterwards became an integral portion of the kingdom of Scotland. Macbeth was one of the kings that Moray gave to Scotland, and his name and memory survive to the present day. Hardmuir, between Brodie and Nairn, is the reputed heath where Macbeth met the witches. Territorially Moray was greatly contracted in the reign of David I., and thenceforward the history of Nairn merges in the main in that of the bishopric and earldom of Moray (see ELGIN). The thane of Cawdor was constable of the king's castle at Nairn, and when the heritable sheriffdom was established towards the close of the 14th century this office was also filled by the thane of the time.
End of Article: NAIRNSHIRE

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