"DINGWALL, a parish in the district of Wester Ross, in the county of Ross and Cromarty, Scotland. It contains a royal burgh of the same name, and is bounded on the E. by the parish of Kiltearn, on the N. by Benwyvis, and on the W. and S. by the parish of Fodderty. The soil is in general rich and fertile, and the surface undulating and well cultivated. The Cromarty Firth at high water washes a considerable part of the S.E. of the parish, but at low water recedes to a distance of some miles leaving a broad expanse of mud, a considerable part of which might be reclaimed. The road from Inverness to the N. traverses the parish, and the Great North of Scotland and Inverness and Aberdeen Junction railway has its terminus at the town of Dingwall. This parish is the seat of a presbytery in the synod of Ross, and in the patronage of the crown. The minister has a stipend of about 300. There is a Free church, with a large attendance, and also an Episcopal chapel. The town of Dingwall, the political capital of the county of Ross and Cromarty, and of the Ferintosh district of Nairn, is situated at the head of the Cromarty Firth, and at the mouth of the valley of Strathpeffer, 13 miles N.W. of Inverness, in a straight line, and 19 by the road. In 1861 it consisted of 325 houses, inhabited by a population of 2,084, against 1,990 in 1851, showing an increase in the decennial period of 94. The number of children at school in 1861, between the ages of five and fifteen, was 337. It has a neat and pleasant appearance, although its site is low and damp, being not more than 4 feet above high-water mark. The castellated edifice containing the courthouse, county rooms, and prison, is the most remarkable. The townhouse is an old-fashioned building furnished with a spire. A small vestige of the ancient castle of the earls of Ross exists near the shore, but a modern building now occupies the site of the castle. The earls of Ross were among the most powerful of the northern barons, many Rossshire families holding their lands from them. This town has no manufactures, and its commerce is confined to the importation of the requisites, and the exportation of the productions, of the surrounding agricultural district. Vessels drawing 9 feet of water can lie alongside two wharves on the Peffer, which constitute the harbour. The town reaps considerable advantage in summer from the visitors to the neighbouring mineral wells at Strathpeffer, the waters of which are similar to those of Harrowgate. This town was made a royal burgh by Alexander II. in 1227. James IV. and James VI. confirmed to it "all the privileges, liberties, and immunities possessed by the burgh of Inverness." It is governed by a provost and 15 councillors, and joins with Tain, Darnoch, Wick, and Kirkwall, in sending a member to parliament. The greater part of the landed property of the burgh (which was formerly considerable) was alienated, more than fifty years ago, in favour of persons connected with the burgh, so that the revenue derived from that source is now small. The functions of the magistrates as judges have passed for the most part into the hands of the sheriff, who holds a court here every Friday during session, and a small-debt court every Friday. There are evidences, from the discovery of causeways and foundations of houses, that this town was anciently more extensive than at present. Dingwall gave the title of baron in 1609 to the family of Preston, but the title became extinct in 1716 on the attainder of James, second Duke of Ormond. A weekly corn market is held on Saturday, and fairs, chiefly for cattle and country produce, are held in January, February, June, July, September, November, and December. A railway connecting Dingwall with the south was formed about two years ago. The line has since been completed northwards as far as Invergordon, and will soon be completed as far as Bonar Bridge, on the border of the county of Sutherland."

Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003

Description and Travel

View photographs of Dingwall and the surrounding area.

Historical Geography

Information about boundaries and administrative areas is available from A Vision of Britain through time.


View maps of Dingwall.