by Marion Ruscoe (NOSAS)
Petty is situated on the east side of the Moray Firth and is bounded by the parishes of Ardersier, Croy and Inverness, although the boundary has changed on occasions. It’s around 8 miles by 4 miles in size but originally was cut in two by the Moss of Petty, which was drained in the late C18. The Old Statistical Account (1792) notes that ‘there are no towns, no villages, no manufactures in this parish’ (p.25), and the main occupation was farming and crofting, but some also followed other occupations – ‘taylors, weavers, shoemakers etc.’ (p.25). The account also mentions four mills and some fishing. The situation is well summarised in the New Statistical Account (1845):
Pettie may be described as an entirely agricultural parish, since the whole population, with the exception of the fishers, are employed directly in agriculture, or the subservient arts (p.398)
In 2012, Anne Coombs of NOSAS suggested that we might consider recording evidence of industries in the Highlands. At that discussion meeting some brainstorming produced a list of industries which might be relevant for such a study. The time scale suggested was Mediaeval to World War 2, and Anne identified 3 questions which might/should be considered –
- How do we go about raising the profile of the Industrial Highlands?
- What qualifies as an industry?
- How can we identify the remains?
Following that suggestion, I decided to look at the industrial history and archaeology of Petty Parish.
To clarify the second point above, I defined industry as an activity which processes raw materials. It’s clear that most industrial activity in Petty in the past has been to service the produce of the farms or provide the necessities for the people living in the parish. As far as remains on the ground, since the area has been intensively farmed, it’s likely that archaeological sites will be few.
Any agricultural society requires mills to process the grain produced and most landowners took advantage of this situation by providing mills and requiring tenants to use, and pay for, the services of particular mills. It was no different in Petty where, according to the Old Statistical Account, there were four mills at the end of the eighteenth century (p.25) – at Connage, Culblair, Tornagrain and the salt-water mill on the shore near Castle Stuart. These four mills probably reflected the four estates which held land in the parish. By the time of the New Statistical Account, only one mill remained – that at Connage. Since the area had become no less agricultural in the intervening years, some farmers must have been using mills in neighbouring parishes by this time. Continue reading