Contin Village Trail
Contin village has many places of interest. Here are a few you can find out about. There are audio clips (in English and Gaelic) and text transcripts below.
Click here for the downloadable map
Words - Phil Baarda
Gaelic words - Iain MacIlleChiar
Reader - Iain MacIlleChiar
PREAS MAIRI TRANSCRIPT - ENGLISH
"This is the mausoleum of the Mackenzie of Coul family, who had their seat at the nearby Coul House. It was used for burials until the early part of the 20th century and has become sadly overgrown in recent times.
"The tangle of rhododendron and bramble is appropriate. Preas Mairi means the 'thicket of Maelrubhe' – who was the monk who founded the church at Contin, and – according to one story - was killed by robbers hiding in undergrowth at Urquhart on the Black Isle, 10 miles away. Legend has it that his coffin was laid overnight here at Preas Mairi on its way back to his monastery at Applecross for burial.
"Preas Mairi also contains the remains of a neolithic chambered cairn, which is around 5,000 years old. The large stones which made up the burial chamber are still visible, including one which has three large bowl-sized depressions on its upper surface. Their function is unknown – but it's possible that water collected in the bowls had healing properties or was used for worship. There may be some connection with the feast of Mourie, which was a bull-sacrifice festival associated with St Maelrubhe, which used to be held in Contin until several centuries ago."
PREAS MAIRI TRANSCRIPT - GAELIC
"Seo taigh-adhlacaidh teaghlach MhicCoinnich na Cùil aig an robh an dachaigh ri làimh ann an Taigh na Cùil. Bha tiodhlacaidhean ann gu tràth san fhicheadamh Linn ach tha e air a dhol bhuaithe le droighneach o chionn ghoirid.
"Tha ainm iomchaidh air an amaladh seo de rhodedendron is de dhrisean. ‘S e a tha ann am Preas Màiri ach Preas Maol Rubha, an naomh a stèidhich an eaglais ann an Cunndainn agus, a-rèir aon sgeulachd, chaidh a mharbhadh le mèirlich a bha am falach ann am preasarlach ann an Urchardainn, san Eilean Dubh, deich mìle air falbh. A-rèir beul-aithris, chaidh a chiste fhàgail an seo fad oidhche ann am Preas Maol Rubha air an t-slighe air ais airson a thiodhlacadh air a’ Chomraich.
"Ann am Preas Maol Rubha cuideachd tha tobhta càrn seòmarach bho Linn Nuadh na Cloiche, a tha mu chòig mìle bliadhna dh’aois. Chìthear na clachan mòra far an robh an seòmar tiodhlacaidh fhathast, nam measg aon tè anns a bheil trì lagan de mheud bobhla air an uachdar. Chan eil fios dè am feum a bhathar a’ cur orra ach is dòcha gun robh buadhan leighis san uisge a lìonadh na lagan seo no gun deach an cleachdadh airson adhradh. Math dh’fhaoidte gun robh ceangal aca ri Fèill Mo Rubha, fèill co-cheangailte ri Naomh Maol Rubha far an rachadh tarbh ìobairt, a b’àbhaist a bhith air a cumail ann an Cunndainn gu beagan cheudan de bhliadhnaichean air ais."
THE COUL HOUSE HOTEL TRANSCRIPT - ENGLISH
"This impressive building in its well-laid out grounds was the seat of the Mackenzie of Coul family, with a house on the present site recorded as far back as 1560. A Mackenzie house until the 1940s, it was then sold, and the contents auctioned. It became the present hotel in 2003.
"The current building dates from 1821, from the time of the 7th baronet, Sir George Steuart Mackenzie. It was designed by the illustrious architects Richard and Robert Dickson, who designed many high-profile buildings such as the Tron Kirk on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.
"Sir George was man of many interests – such as geology, penal reform, horticulture, and agriculture. He's known for discovering that diamond is composed of carbon – allegedly by experimenting on his mother's jewellery. He also bred the Coul Blush apple, the most northerly apple variety in the UK. Known locally as 'Black George' for his role in the Clearances, his tomb is in the nearby Preas Mairi mausoleum.
"The Coul House's grounds we see today largely come from Sir George's time. They contain a number of notable trees and shrubs, including a huge Douglas Fir tree planted in 1829 – allegedly by plant-hunter David Douglas himself, who first brought over the seeds from north America."
THE COUL HOUSE HOTEL TRANSCRIPT - GAELIC
"B’ e dachaigh teaghlach Mhic Coinnich na Cùil a bha san taigh eireachdail seo le àrainn snasail, is taigh air a chlàradh air an làraich seo cho fada air ais ri 1560. B’ann le Clann IcCoinnich a bha e gus na 1940an, chaidh a reic an uair sin, agus na bha ann a reic aig rup. Thàinig e na thaigh-òsta ann an 2003.
"Tha an togalach a tha ann an-dràsta bho 1821, bho àm an t-seachdamh baranet, Sir Seòras Stiùbhart MacCoinnich. Chaidh a dhealbhachadh leis na h-ailtirean aithnichte, Ruiseart is Raibeart Dickson a dhealbhaich mòran togalaichean ainmeil leithid Eaglais na Tron air Sràid Àrd Dhùn Èideann.
"B’e fear a bha a’cur suim ann am mòran ghnothaichean a bha ann an Sir Seòras – leithid eòlas-creige, leasachadh nam prìosan, gàirnealaireachd agus àiteachas. ‘S e a fhuair a-mach gur ann bho charban a tha daoimeanan a’ tighinn – is e air a chur às a leth gun do rinn e seole bhith ga dhearbhadh air seudraidh a mhàthar. ‘S e cuideachd a dh’fhàs ubhal den ainm Coul Blush, an seòrsa ubhail as tuathaiche a gheibhear ann am Breatainn. Ach san àite fhèin b’ fhearr a b’aithne air mar Seòras Dubh, air sàilleabh na pàirt a bha aige ann am fuadach nan daoine. Tha uaigh ann an taigh-adhlacaidh Preas Mo Rubha a tha ri làimh.
"Tha na chìthear ann an àrainn Taigh na Cùile an-diugh an ìre mhaith bho àm Shir Sheòrais. Na mheasg chìthear grunn chraobhan is preasan sònraichte , nam measg craobh-ghiuthais mhòr bhrùideil a chaidh a cur ann an 1829, a-rèir coltais leis an fhear-trusaidh, Dàibhidh Dùbhghlas fhèin, am fear a thug an sìol a-nall à Aimearaga a tuath."
CONTIN'S CHURCH AND ISLAND TRANSCRIPT - ENGLISH
"The present church dates from 1490, and has been updated periodically since, with the bell cote erected in 1760. Originally established in 690CE, a church has existed on this site for over thirteen hundred years. The church continues to be a Parish Church with weekly worship.
"The church was founded by the Irish monk Maelrubha who came to Contin from the monastic settlement he'd set up at Applecross on the west coast. The saint travelled widely across the north of Scotland where he is commemorated in many place names, like Loch Maree in wester Ross – Maelrubhe's Loch – and Amulree – the ford of Maelrubhe – in Perthshire. There's Preas Mairi – Maelrubhe's thicket – nearby in Contin.
"The church is set on a peaceful island formed by a split in the river Blackwater. However, it's not always been so pleasant – in 1477, during a particularly bloody clan battle, the church was burnt down with the congregation inside.
"Inside the church are several early medieval carved stones. In 2021, two additional carved stones were discovered in the churchyard. The stones show intricate and ornate crosses, with other carvings, including a wheel, a sword, an axe, and a possible ploughshare."
CONTIN'S CHURCH AND ISLAND TRANSCRIPT - GAELIC
"Thogadh an eaglais a tha ann an-diugh ann an 1490 agus chaidh a h-ùrachadh an-dràsta is a-rithist le tùr-cluig air a thogail ann an 1760. Chaidh a stèidheachadh an toiseach ann an 690 AD, mar sin tha eaglais air a bhith air an làraich seo còrr is trì cheud deug bliadhna. Tha an eaglais fhathast na h-eaglais sgìre le adhradh innte a h-uile seachdain.
"B’ ann leis a’ mhanach Èireannach Maol Ruadh a stèidhicheadh an eaglais, fear a thàinig a Chunndainn bhon mhanachainn a bha e air cur air chois air a’ Chomraich air an oithir an iar. Bhiodh an naomh a’ siubhal fad is farsaing air feadh ceann a tuath na h-Alba is tha e air a chomharrachadh ann am mòran ainmean-àiteachan, leithid Loch Ma Ruibhe ann an Ros an Iar agus Àth Maol Ruibhe air abhainn Bhreamhainn ann an Siorrachd Pheairt. Tha Preas Maol Ruibhe faisg air Cunndainn.
"Tha an eaglais suidhichte air eilean sìtheil dèante le gobhal san Alltan Dubh. Ge-tà chan ann mar sin a bha i fad na h-ùine – ann an 1477, ann am blàr a bha air leth fuilteach eadar fineachan, chaidh an eaglais a losgadh gu làr is an coithional fhathast innte.
"An taobh a-staigh na h-eaglaise tha grunn chlachan snaidhte bho thràth sna Meadhan-Aoisean. Ann an 2021 chaidh dà chloich shnaidhte eile a lorg sa chladh. Tha croisean grinn toinnte air an gràbhaladh air na clachan, le snaidheadh eile, nam measg roth, claidheamh, tuagh agus, is dòcha, soc croinn."
CONTIN'S SMIDDY (THE COFFEE BOTHY) & OLD HEART OF THE VILLAGE TRANSCRIPT - ENGLISH
"Contin's Smiddy – the old Blacksmith's – is reckoned to be one of the oldest buildings in Scotland, with records going back to 1534. It was used as a blacksmith’s until the early part of this century. You can still see the forge and tools inside.
"The Smiddy has associations with Bonnie Prince Charlie, who is supposed to have rallied troops before the battle of Culloden by standing on the south-west foundation stone. It's not known if the Prince had his horse shoe-ed in Contin, but – if the story's true – why stop at Contin's Smiddy if not?
"The Smiddy is in the original heart of Contin village – to the south, opposite the war memorial, is a row of cottages which were once a shop, police station – with a small attached prison – and even a pub. Look for the house with a wider doorway than the others, it was wider on purpose to allow beer barrels through.
"A little way back towards the Smiddy from these cottages is a narrow path between two modern houses. This leads to Contin's island – where the Church is situated, with a scenic 1.5 kilometre walk circling the perimeter, with fine views across to the hill Tor Achilty."
CONTIN'S SMIDDY (THE COFFEE BOTHY) & OLD HEART OF THE VILLAGE TRANSCRIPT - GAELIC
"Thathar den bheachd gu bheil Ceàrdach Chunndainn air fear de na togalaichean as aosta ann an Alba, is i air a clàradh cho fad air ais ri 1534. Bha i ga cleachdadh na ceàrdaich gu tràth san linn seo fhèin. Chì sibh an teallach is buill-acainn a’ghobhainn na broinn.
"Tha buinteanas aig a’ Cheàrdaich ris a’ Phrionnsa Teàrlach, is iad ag ràdh gun do bhrosnaich e a shaighdearan ro Bhlàr Chùl Lodair is e na sheasamh air clach-stèidh an iar-eas. Chan eil fios le cinnt an deach each a’phrionnsa a chrùidheadh ann an Cunndainn ach ma ‘s fhìor an sgeulachd carson nach tadhail sibh air Ceàrdach Chunndainn, co-dhiù?
"‘S i a’ Cheàrdach seann chridhe baile Chunndainn – mu dheas, mu choinneimh càrn-cuimhne a’ chogaidh tha sreath thaighean beaga san robh uaireigin bùth, stèisean-poileis is prìosan na chois – agus fiù ‘s taigh-seinnse. Thoiribh sùil feuch am faic sibh taigh le doras nas leatha na an còrr, bha e leathann a dh’aon ghnothaich airson leigeil le barailltean a dhol troimhe.
"Bìdeag bheag air ais a dh’ionnsaidh na ceàrdaich tha ceum cumhang eadar dà thaigh nuadh. Tha seo a’ dol gu eilean Chunndainn far a bheil an eaglais, le cuairt cileamatair gu leth timcheall na h-oir is seallaidhean àlainn a-null gu Tòrr Achaillidh."