Tarbat & Fearn – Summary Table

Tarbat & Fearn

HMC = Sixth Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts

Name Value Date Grid Ref Map Sources Other forms, comments etc
Tarbat parish          

Aird (or Easter Aird)

Easter Tarbat

Ballone Castle

Wester Tarbat


1 davach

1 davach


1 davach









NH 9283

NH 9183

Pont(Gordon 20)


Pont marks Cast. Terbart & Kirck of Terbart with church symbol.




=Seafield. RS36/2/263r 1607. Ex bishopric. See below.

Bindal ½ davach 1299-1311 NH 9284   GD93/1 refers to ½ davach called Byndal in tenement of Tarbard.
Estirmuirachy ½ davach 1299-1311     GD93/1 refers to ½ davach called Estirmuirachy.

See below under Tarbat.

Meikle Tarrel


Little Tarrel


1 davach

(¼ davach)




NH 9080/9081


NH 9181

Pont(Gordon 20)


Pont(Gordon 20)

See below.


RMS VII (334) where the Reddendo implies ¼ davach. Ex bishopric. Book of Mackay p 297 says Rockfield = Little Tarrel.





3 davachs

1 davach

1 davach

1 davach





NH 8879/8979  

Pont(Gordon 20)

Pont(Gordon 20)

Pont(Gordon 20)

See below.
Arboll (Arkboll)

Mains of Arboll

Easter Arboll

Wester Arboll

Lower Arboll

(1½ davachs)    

NH 8782/8882

NH 8881/8981

NH 8781

NH 8782

Pont(Gordon 20) I am not certain of this assessment.

See below.

Templecroft     NH 9385   Templar property or a religious site?
Total c. 9¾ davachs ?        
Fearn Parish          


Wester Catboll or

Catboll-Abbot or


2 davachs


1 davach




NH 8777 Pont(Gordon 20)


These were the lands granted to the Bishop of Moray in Reg. Mor. pp 281-2. See below.

GD297/189 of 1529 refers to 1 davach of Cathbulnacrene belonging to Fearn Abbey. ALI No 90 1467 refers to the ½ davach of Catboll-na-Crye and later on to the davach of Catboll-na-Crey.

Pitkerrie (1 davach)

1 davach



NH 8679/8680 Pont(Gordon 20) See below.

RS36/2/11r 1606. 1 davach in GD305/1/40/3 1673, RS38/4/347v 1675, RS38/5/104r 1681.

Little Kilmuir ¼ davach 1587 c. NH 8677   Ex bishopric of Ross. GD305/1/13/5. RMS V (2222) 1592.

RS36/2/250r 1607.

Balmuchy 1 davach 1587 NH 8578/8678 Pont(Gordon 20) Ex Fearn Abbey. See below.
Rhynie (Rany)



2 davachs

1 davach

1 davach




NH 8479/8579


NH 8579


Pont(Gordon 20)

Pont(Gordon 20)

Ex Fearn Abbey. ALI No 90 pp 143-146 1467. See also under Pitkerrie below. ¾ + ¼ davach in Retours (Ross) (133) 1677. Laing Charters (935). GD305/1/40/3. RS38/5/104r 1681.

See below.

Dav(ach)naclerach (1 davach) 1529     Ex Fearn Abbey. See below.
Rochani 1 davach 1529     Ex Fearn Abbey. See below.



Clay of Allan


Little Allan


2 davachs

1 davach



1 davach







NH 8177



NH 8276


NH 8277

Pont(Gordon 20)


RHP 219

RHP 239

RHP 44703

RHP 13299/11


Ex Earldom. GD71/11 1604 gives Mekill Allane as a davoch but our earliest evidence is RMS II (1227) 1475-6 which implies Mekle-Alane was 2 davachs whilst Litill-Alane was 1. However there are so many references to Mekill Allan as 1 davach that I have preferred that. See below.

This was subdivided into W & E ½ davachs in Retours (Ross) (147) 1688. Macgill p 252, No 639, 1761 gives Stronach’s Oxgate.

(New) Fearn >=1 davach?   NH 8377   See below.
Muldearg ½ davach 1561 NH 8378   Macgill p 57 No 134, 1561. Laing Charters (2753) 1675.
Torridow bovate 1606     RS36/2/132v 1606. Contiguous with Muldearg.

Torrendow alias Knokandow in Laing Charters (2619) 1667.

Balblair     NH 8277   This is E of Allan. Roy (FC) marks a Balablair WSW of Meickle Allan. See below.
Drum (=Balindrum?) (½ davach+)   NH8477 Pont(Gordon 20)


RHP 13299/10

Reckoned part of Fearn? See below.
Brigend oxgang 1659     ‘oxganglands’ – Laing Charters (2540, 2707).
Total 9¾ + davachs        
Grand Total c. 19½ + davachs        




Our earliest document (GD93/1 of 1299-1311) refers to the davach called Ardtarbard, another davach called Tarbard, ½ a davach called Byndal (Bindal) and ½ a davach called Estirmuirachy. These were lay properties and were (mainly) situated between Ballone Castle and Tarbat Ness. (Estirmuirachy may have been the east part of the Morrich More on the north side of the peninsula. It is the only one of the properties which is not claimed to be in the tenement of Tarbard. According to Macfarlane’s Geographical Collections I p 214 Tarbat parish marched with Tain at the NW).


ALI No 79 1463 refers to the grant to Donald Corbett of the lands of Ester Arde (Easter Aird). In later years we have references to the davach of Easter Tarbert & the davach of Aird (or Easter Aird) called Corbettis Land (GD305/1/121/500 1606, RS36/2/45v 1606, RS36/2/49v 1606, RS36/2/51r 1606); the davach of Easter Aird & the davach of Easter Tarbat (GD305/1/137/11 1676); the lands of Easter Aird (RS36/2/95r 1606) and 2 davach lands of Tarbat otherwise Ballone (GD305/1/83/73 1697). (W Fraser, Earls of Cromartie II p 427 writes ‘the lands of Easter Tarbat were called sometimes Ballone’). Retours (Ross) (111) 1657 refers to 3 davachs Ballone & Cowlderie. (Culderarie (Nigg parish) was ½ davach in 1610). It is all extremely confusing and I cannot be sure that the following is correct. However I suggest:

  1. a) The davach of Aird was also called Corbett’s land and lay behind the point at Tarbat Ness. RMS VI (2107) 1608.
  2. b) South west of this lay Easter Tarbat which must have included the castle at Ballone in NH 9283. When Easter Tarbat is described as 2 davachs it probably included Bindal and ‘Estirmuirachy’. Macgill p 259, No 666, 1748 shows Morvichwater was a pendicle of Balloan (Ballone). These properties of Aird, Easter Tarbat, Bindal and Easter Muirachy amounted to a total of 3 davachs.

(Macgill pp 303-4, No 773, after 1736, lists the components of Easter Tarbat. Between the OS map and PNRC most of these can be located. Stoneblader is

Scanybledderis [probably read Stanybledderis] in GD305/1/87/113 1610 and the quarterland of Steaniblaidder in GD305/1/162/305 1699. Watson – PNRC p 46 – gives Stiana Bleadar or stoney-blather as near Bindal so I am unsure whether the quarterland belonged properly to Bindal or Easter Tarbert).

Easter Tarbat appears in some of the Exchequer Rolls. In ER XVII 1539 it paid 16s bondage silver and was probably a davach).

  1. c) Quite separate to the above was Wester Tarbat which was later called Seafield. (See Fraser, Cromartie, I pp xviii, xlviii; II p 429). It was formerly bishopric land and the different ownership is reflected in a different documentary trail:

HMC p 716 No 4 1543, HMC pp 716-717 No 10 for ¼ in 1563. GD1/187/5 1566 & GD305/1/120/492 (same date) for boundary issues with Easter Tarbat. GD1/187/6 1566 for boundary issues with Little Tarrel. It is referred to in RMS V (2329) 1593, RMS VI (1147) 1601, RS36/2/263r 1607, RS36/2/265r 1607, RS36/2/378r 1608, RMS VII (482) 1611 on original of 1608, GD1/187/11 1658. The total was a davach (GD1/187/12 1658). Retours (Ross) (116) 1661 suggests it was divided into a half plus two quarters.


Mekill Tarrel

Retours (Ross) (9) gives the lands of Mekill Tarrel (+ an annualrent of 50s from Eister Ard) an Old Extent of 4m. Valuations in Old Extent are rare in E Ross and this suggests 4m OE was the same as a davach. However W Fraser, Earls of Cromartie II pp 322-4 quotes a 1382 assise which states that the lands of Terrell bore a Reddendo of 3m p.a. (+ an annualrent of 10s from Estirharde). RSS VII (1840) 1578-9 gives us a detailed list of the names in part of Mekill Tarrel. For Little Tarrell see also RMS XI (97) 1661.



ALI No 90 pp 143-146 1467 refers to 3 davachs of Wester, Midill & Eister Gany. GD297/189 of 1529 refers to 2 davachs in Gathne but the third may be concealed as ‘Rochani’ or ‘Davnaclerach’ – neither of which names occur locally in other documents.

RS36/2/137v 1606 & Retours (Ross) (65) 1623 refer to the davach of Eister Gany. RS36/2/20v 1606 refers to E ¼ of the davach of Midganie as 2 bovates. We have 3 references to a ½ davach of Mid Gany (GD96/380 & 390 1615, CS231/G/3/10 1766). (See also GD96/509 1630, Laing Charters (2422) 1652). We also have several references to 1 or more oxgang(s) in Mid Gany. GD199/68 1583, GD305/1/40/3 1673 & GD96/568 1642 refer to a ½ davach Wester Gany but the latter reference (especially in conjunction with GD71/66 1653) implies it was a full davach. Easter Gany may also have been called Upper Gany (Macfarlane’s Geographical Collections I pp 213-7).


Arboll (Arkboll)

Arkboll seems to have been divided into 2 parts of ⅓ & ⅔ respectively. The larger portion is defined in detail in Retours (Ross) (80) 1633. Its Old Extent is given as 57s 8⅔d. This would mean that the total Old Extent for Arkboll was 86s 7d but it is more likely that it was in fact 86s 8d or 6½m. At 4m Old Extent to a davach this would make Arkboll a little over 1½ davachs. For interesting descriptions of boundaries etc see RMS VI (1379) 1602.

For references to the ⅓ section see Sixth Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts pp 716-717 No’s 8, 9 & 11.



Fearn Parish



Cadboll consisted of 3 davachs in total (equivalent to a Norse ounceland in the far north of Scotland). Two davachs belonged to the Bishop of Moray, the third was called Catboll-na-Crye, Catboll-na-Crey, or Cathbulnacrene and belonged to Fearn Abbey. (It was later called Wester Catboll or Catboll-Abbot or Catboll-Fisher. Although the evidence is not wholly consistent it seems to have been a davach).

ALI No 71 1461 describes the 2 (Bishop of Moray) Catbolls as being worth now (i.e. in 1461) £6 (9m) and ‘tempore pacis’ (literally in the time of peace or before the Wars of Independence – so Old Extent) £10 (15m). In terms of what we know about the davachs of Cadboll I cannot make sense of either half of this statement. According to Registrum Episcopatus Moraviensis pp 232-4 in 1478 William Bishop of Moray leased the lands of Catboll (i.e. 2 davachs) for 14m p.a. I think that what ALI is describing is a current annual return and not a true Old Extent valuation.

RS37/5/127v 1633 refers to the churchlands of Catboll & Peckandie. The latter will be Petkenny and is described under Kilmuir Easter parish.



PNRC p 41. A Fearn Abbey property. ALI No 90 pp 143-146 1467 refers to 2 davachs called Petkery/Pitcary & Ballamochie/Ballemouchie. GD297/189 is a papal bull of 1529 which refers to 3 davachs in towns called Rathne & Pitkeri. (2 of these were the davachs of Mekill and Little Ranie; the third will be Pitkerrie). Macgill p 417 No’s 312-313 refer to davach of Pitkerie in 1703.

I do not think Petkenny and Pitkerrie are the same. Different spellings and different owners persuade me that Petkenny was distinct – though now lost. (See under Kilmuir Easter parish).


Little Kilmuir

RMS V (2222) 1592 describes these lands as lying next to Glasnamoyach which is Clashnamuiach in NH 8677 (see under Balmuchy below).

There is also a detailed description in RMS VII (409) 1610 (original 1607).



ALI No 90 pp 143-146 1467 refers to 2 davachs called Petkery/Pitcary & Ballamochie/Ballemouchie. GD297/189 of 1529 refers to 2 davachs in Rochani & Balmochi. In each document the latter will be Balmuchy. OPS II, II pp 439-40 (quoting RSS) states Ballemakie to be a davach. This is confirmed by RS36/2/20v 1606 & Retours (Ross) (97) 1647. This Retour also states that Ballamuckie had the pendicles of Bellewallie, Balinreiche & Glasnamoyache (Clashnamuiach NH 8677). GD96/314 1604 refers to 2 oxgangs (i.e. ¼) of Ballamukie called Ballavellye. See also RS37/7/10v 1648.


Rhynie (Rany)

ALI No 90 pp 143-146 1467 gives 2 davachs called Litill & Mekill Rany. GD297/189 is a papal bull of 1529 which refers to three davachs in towns called Rathne & Pitkeri. Two of these were the davachs of Mekill and Little Ranie; the third will be Pitkerrie. ½ + ¼ of the davach lands of Mekill Rany in Retours (Ross) (77) 1629 where a quarter is 2 bovates. An oxgang is also referred to in GD96/292 1600. The davach of Little Raynie is described in Retours (Ross) (133) 1677. See also RS36/2/340r 1608.



GD297/189 1529 refers to land called Dav(ach)naclerach near Cathabul (Cadboll) and Gathern (Geanies). (OPS II, II, pp 436-7 gives Davnaclerach and Gathenn). I am not sure if this refers to a davach (belonging to clergy) which is included in the above table within one of the named farms or whether it should be listed separately.



GD297/189 of 1529 refers to 2 davachs in Rochani & Balmochi. The latter will be Balmuchy. Rochani might be the third davach of Geanies – otherwise missing in the 1529 bull.



ER XIII pp 596-8 1507 shows Alan Meikill as rented to late Countess Elizabeth of Ross. ER XVII p 663 1539 – bondage silver implies Mekill Alane then a davach. Davach in GD305/1/32/4 1673.

Bangor-Jones p 165 states that Meikle Allan comprised Wester Allan (or Balinroich), Knocks or Hill ¼ (Kerrownaknock), Summerwell ¼ (Kerrow-tobber-hawrie) & Clay ¼. There are numerous documentary references to these quarterlands (e.g. GD71/80 1676 ¼ Kerrownaknock & Sumerwall ¼; GD71/79 1675 Clay Quarter; GD71/95 1690 ¼ of Knocks; GD71/152 1731 Wester ¼ called Ballinrioch). RSS VI (801) 1569 suggests a quarterland of Mekill Allane was ex bishopric. See also RS36/2/269r 1607.

The components of Little Allan included Balnagore (quarterland in RS36/2/280v 1607; ¼ davach in Laing Charters (2393) 1649, Retours (Ross) (121) 1666; Madoxgail (Midoxgate NH 8278), Eaglehill & Leavallange (RH8/1248 1708). (One of the oxgates of the eastern half davach of Little Allan was called Waird – see Retours (Ross) (147) 1688). See also RMS XI (97) 1661. GD305/1/85/82 1586 refers to the 5 ‘darach’ lands of Drummis called Mekill Allane. I have not managed to resolve this. See also RS38/4/332v 1675.


(New) Fearn

Around 1238 Fearn Abbey was moved from its original location by Fearn (Edderton parish) and the new site was named ‘New Fearn’. It held considerable lands in Fearn parish but I do not know the value of New Fearn itself. (However for the site of an important abbey I cannot believe that the gounds of New Fearn were less than a davach). Associated with New Fearn were Miltoun, Muldairg, Balblair and various crofts. Some of these are detailed in RMS VI (370) 1595, Retours (Ross) (68) 1624, (132) 1676 & (149) 1690. I assume these were subdivisions of the Abbey’s original endowment but do not know their individual or total values. See also Drum and Balblair below.


Documents which give us the main holdings of Fearn Abbey include the following:

ALI No 90 pp 143-6 1467

GD297/189 (Papal Bull) 1529

Books of Assumption pp 633-4

Retours (Ross) (21 & 22) 1606

Retours (Ross) (40) 1615

Retours (Ross) (92) 1643

Retours (Ross) (107) 1653


These match well with each other and most of the lands can be identified. Further details can be gleaned from Macgill pp 6-7 No 5 1559; p 31 No 55 1613; pp 282-3 No 716 1712. On pp 319-20 there are further details including the information that Balnasirach marched with Mulderg. (For more on Balnasirach and various crofts see Laing Charters No’s 2772-3 1677). GD297/231 1509 refers to the meadow on the S part of the monastery next Knoknebokhill. See also RS38/5/104r 1681 for half of abbacy of Fearn.



Referred to in Retours (Ross) (68) 1624, (184-6) 1643, (112, 113) 1658. In the first of these the extent is given as £3-13s-4d feufarm but I do not know its true Old Extent. Part of the monastic lands of New Fearn.



There are references to Drum of Fearn which was probably what is now Balindrum. RMS VII (2082) 1619 & VIII (558) 1624 (original 1622) & Retours (Ross) (121) 1666 refer to 2 bovates (or a quarterland) of Easter Drum of Fearn.

If we assume Wester Drum to be of similar extent then Drum must have been at least ½ a davach. Wester Drum is referred to in Retours (Ross) (107) 1653, (132) 1676 & (149) 1690.


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Posted in Tarbat & Fearn
2 comments on “Tarbat & Fearn – Summary Table
  1. Kelly Moores says:

    Hi Denis.

    I see the sources ‘ Books of Assumptions’ and ‘Retours’ referred to in other places too. I can’t figure out how to access them. There don’t seem to be digitized copies or transcriptions available online. Curious if you have suggestions. Thanks.

    • drixson says:

      Hi Kelly
      The ‘Retours’ were published in 3 volumes in the early nineteenth century and are not easy (or cheap) to come by – except in Libraries. Full title below:-
      Thomson, T., (ed.), Inquisitionum ad Capellam Domini Regis Retornatarum, London, 1811-1816
      Bruce Durie has edited a modern version under the title ‘Retours of Services of Heirs’ which you will find on second-hand book sites.
      I have not used this but it may prove more accessible.
      ‘The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices’ edited by James Kirk, Oxford, 1995, is readily available second-hand and at reasonable prices.
      Best wishes

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