THE BLACK ISLE
The Black Isle is the piece of land between the Cromarty Firth to the north and the Moray Firth to the south. Its western boundary is not clearly defined but could be taken as the line of the present A9 from Inverness to Dingwall, or as the line of the old A9 from Beauly at the very head of the Beauly Firth through Muir of Ord and Maryburgh to Dingwall. This is the region in which my wife's maternal forebears lived. Until recently the area was part of the county of Ross and Cromarty. I have also included some information about areas on the other side of the Cromarty Firth, partly because my wife's Dingwall line seems to have an immediate source in Kiltearn and Alness, but also because there was a good deal of commerce across the water.
Cromarty is the main town on the north of the Black Isle and is situated at the east end opposite the present Nigg fabrication yard on the opposite shore of the Cromarty Firth. Nigg is one the places where oil platforms are built for exploration in the North Sea. At one time Cromarty was an important port. Invergordon itself is now a stop for cruise liners because of its deep water and sheltered harbour. Buses are laid on to Inverness and other places in the Highlands. Cromarty was also the birthplace of Hugh Miller who wrote on a vast range of topics from religion to geology as well as local folklore. The old courthouse has now been made into a museum. See my links page for more information.
To the south is Fortrose and its Chanonry Point is almost opposite Fort George making a narrow entrance to the landward end of the Moray Firth. Fortrose is the site of a cathedral, now in ruins, and an academy which is highly regarded as a result of its ratings in government measures of schools performance, although it has to be said that the underlying rationale of the statistics is not universally accepted. The academy has splendid views across the water. It was founded towards the end of the 18th century. Otherwise Fortrose is now a very poor town with little to attract the visitor.
Avoch is about 2 miles west of Fortrose and with less pretensions is in fact a much pleasanter village. It is basically a fishing town with a long history. Its pronunciation causes some problems for visitors - when I first came to live in the area with my wife it took me some months to realise that this is the place that I heard being called 'Och' (as near as it can be represented). Patience and Jack are common names here and my wife includes Jacks in her tree.
Last update 04/06/2006