Tain Museum Image Library

Culnaha Smithy, Nigg
Tain Museum Image Library
Culnaha Smithy, Nigg

This picture of the Smithy at Culnaha was taken sometime during WWI. The blacksmith (holding the horse's hoof) was called Holmes. His son is to his right and the three girls are his grand-daughters. The soldier was from one of two big army camps nearby and the pony was from the YMCA hut(?).
Picture added on 16 March 2004
Is this the only picture available, and do you know if there was ever a culnaha castle?
I ask this because I am the owner of this smiddy, and Ialso own the farm.
Added by Mrs Pat Fraser on 14 October 2006
I grew up at Culnaha.I have fond memories of playing on the farm, something that would not be allowed now.My dad was called Emil Schobella and my name is Roseanna Healy now.We had the house on the end, and I can tell you that my baby lamb which I accidently killed, is buried under the kitchen/livingroom extension.I was devestated.I remember so much and have some old photos of the house when I was a kid, 2 bedrooms, 4 daughters, none of this "a bedroom" for every child in them days.Am I in danger of becoming a grumpy old woman at 50!! Mmmm.probably.
Added by Roseanna Healy on 05 February 2008
When visiting Nigg this month, I took a photo of this cottage, the one on the end with "Culnaha" on it.
My grandparents, donald and Eileen Ross (NZ) named their house and land after the memory of this little place. I know that my grandfather Donald lived in Nigg not far up the road in this area, and wonder if he knew the inhabitants of Culnaha.
Added by Fern Taylor on 31 August 2010
My Fraser ancestors (James, Katharine & family) were from Nigg and lived at Pitcalnie. Can anyone tell me if Culnaha is near Pitcalnie or if there was any connection? My Frasers were buried in the Old Nigg Churchyard. That is a wonderful picture!
Added by Wilmer Fawcett on 01 September 2010
What was the old Culnaha smithy is very close to Pitcalnie.
Added by Margaret Urquhart, Tain & District Museum on 06 September 2010
Margaret, thank you! Do you know of any records or information existing about Pitcalnie? My ancestor James Fraser and his family were living at Pitcalnie in the 1841 and 1851 census for Nigg. He was described as a wheelwright and family lore has him as a builder of boats too. Are there any local collections or a museum that might store historical items pertaining to the area? Thank you for your comment above!
Added by Wilmer Fawcett on 06 September 2010
Give me som time on this Wilmer and I will see if I can find something and then will contact you directly. Meanwhile I have posted your comment in case someone else may be able to come up with some information.
Added by Margaret Urquhart, Tain & District Museum on 07 September 2010
Margaret, I am so grateful for (and excited about) the further information and confirmations you have sent me about my Fraser roots in the Tain area, and about Pitcalnie, Culnaha, Easter Rarichie and those who lived there. The Tain Museum and this website Tain Through Time have connected me with many very generous and informative contacts, yourself, Katherine, Anne, Fiona and others, several of whom I met through the image library. What a wonderful resource!
Added by Wilmer Fawcett on 30 September 2010
My great grandfather, Donald Ross was the Farm Manager at Culnaha in late 19thc. Sometime between 1905-1906 he moved to Tain. His wife was Grace MacIver. They had 12 children including the youngest, Stewart Louis Walter Ross, my grandfather. Does anyone know anything about them?If so could you email me at djerba68@hotmail.com Before they were at Culnaha they were at Pitcalnie and Nigg
Added by Estelle Ross on 01 January 2011
I`m not sure if l have contacted you previously, but my Grandmother Johan Bannerman Kelly, was born 20th December 1917, the place of birth on her birth certificate were put as Culnaha Nigg.
Her father Andrew Kelly was a serving soldier in the Black Watch, and her mother was a Bannerman originally from Fearn.
My Gt.Grandmother was Mary Bannerman, daughter of Arthur Bannerman and Johan Beaton, l remember coming to Tain in 1981 and visiting with the Bannermans (the fish business) and hearing stories, and finding out we were related through some of our ancestors ( lm not sure of the connection).
l know of some of the movements of my Bannerman family who were my Gd mothers uncles.
l would be happy to share what l know if it helps.
Added by Andrew Coltart on 12 January 2011
My father was born in 1917, and spent his teenage years on the Hill of Nigg, Tain Royal Academy have information on previous pupils, for those who are interested,
Added by Linda McLean on 20 March 2011
Has anyone got information on Robert (1809-1880) and Johanna (1816-1891) ALLAN who were blacksmiths in the Culnaha/Pitcalnie/Nigg area up until 1880-1890? The descendents in New Zealand are hoping that someone has definite information of where they lived and worked - we have a photo of a house but with no caption. They are both buried at Nigg, and as far as we know were the last in the family line to be smiths.
Added by Jane Allan on 16 June 2011
In 1871 and 1881 the family was at Cullisse, a couple of miles from Nigg. The 1st ed OS map (1872) shows a smiddy at Ankerville Corner, which is where the Cullisse track joins the road.
Added by Estelle Quick on 21 June 2011
Yes, My great gran was very good friends with Robert. I have lots of photos of them together & also some letters that they had posted to each other dated 1870. As far as i know Robert was born at Pitmaduthie. He lived at 2 Pitcalnie Holdings in his later years.Hope this helps your search!. What a lovely photo. I remember sitting on that mini horse plough with the little cart wheels on the left hand side of the photo when i was a young lad. mind you it was very rusty and half falling apart by 1978. It sat at the top of my track at Pitcalnie Holdings, next to where the infamous Rosie the pony (Mrs Hendersons pony) and my pet sheep "fFossy" grazed for many a year.
Added by Alistair Campbell on 22 June 2011
hello all - what a great photo- I remember your pet sheep and goat Alistair. What are you doing these days? Im sure that the old smithy was located next to old nigg post office (Mrs Hendersons house). I dont remember it being at culnaha. I will take a walk that direction today and do some investigation.. I was speaking to Pogo today and he thinks Robert aAlan just to live at Cullisse.
Added by Lee Robertson on 28 June 2011
Hello, my father rented a holiday cottage in Nigg in the summer of 1965 or 1966, it was painted white and had a smithy in part of the building. There were four of us, mum, dad, brother and myself, we realy enjoyed the peace and quiet there.
Added by Michael Panton on 18 November 2011
Hi, interestng. My brother in law and sister ran Culnaha as part of the Welbeck Estates 1971-1974. I spent 2 fantastic summers at Culnaha as the Oil Industry was developing. The main house (renovated in 1972) and grounds were stunning and the panaoramic views over the Cromarty Firth were amazing. I now live in Canada and I still have fond memories of my time there and the wonderful locals!
Added by Paul - Canada on 25 January 2012
My father lived at a croft in Easter Rarrichie from 1929- 1935 approximately. He spoke often of the smiddy, a place where he used to visit as a child. He also talked of an older lady who lived alone on the hill above his croft. As far as I remember, she had been widowed in the first World war, and the pair of them became great friends. They appeared to be confidants to each other: his exploits and youth bringing some light into her life. I don't think he told me her name, but he remembered her saying often enough: "If you want to know me, come and live with me."
This was not an invitation - merely the information that two people living together is an art. I often wonder why her name was never revealed, and why I never asked.
Added by Linda Jane McLean on 26 January 2012
My ggg grandfather Alexander "Reach" Ross was the blacksmith at Culnaha in 1808 when he married Mary Mustard, the young widow of the previous blacksmith, Donald Munro. Alexander and his family moved on from Nigg at some point and then left Scotland in the 1830s to come to Canada but I believe he may have had siblings in Nigg, where he was born. Lovely to see this old place still exists. Modern photos can be found through googling. And yes, it is very near the post office, according to the real estate map I saw in July 2012.
Added by Lisa Henderson on 09 July 2012
Pat Fraser, I remember another James that owned and ran Pitcalnie. Nice to see some history about the place, don't know much about that area.

Andrew Coltart, my husband Brian Wright is also related to Bob and Ian Bannerman, I think they are second cousin if I remember correctly.
Added by Lorraine Wright on 05 September 2012
My father and mother were on Nigg farm around 1953-57 ish and my brother Ian Horne went to Nigg school the old primary P1 I think. And yes I remember Donald Ross, William Ross and old Granny Ross we called her but no relation as far as I know but my granny was a Ross who lived in 1 School Street,Hilton. She married my granda Jock Horne. Sadly both passed away now. I myself was born on David Sutherland's farm at Tullick, James Horne. Yes a wonderful place and will always be in my heart.
Added by James Horne on 03 March 2013
My ancestor, Alexander Gillanders was another who was a wheelwright at Pitcalne - from 1841 to at least 1843.
Added by Alan Edwards on 15 April 2013
To James Horne - I think Donald, Willie and Granny Ross were my cousins and aunt and I think I am also related through an aunt of yours Alice Horne who married my Uncle Fred Bremner. My father was a Ross and I was born at Fearn Farm.
Added by Sadie Mcgougan nee Ross on 28 May 2013
hi sadie it's james horne here yes fred bremner is my uncle to and alice was my fathers sister only 1 left now sadly and that is marie mcshane she still stays in main street fearn my father donald did start work on douglass scotts farm at 14 years of age at fearn abbey around 1944. but my father was a bit of a mover not staying anywhere very long this is how now im am trying to piece all the we bits together slow but sure, you can catch me on facebook under my name at larbert stirling thanx
Added by James Horne on 19 February 2014
Anyone know who the Soldier is? I want to know if it could be my Grandfather
Added by Tom Alexander on 03 August 2015
My GG Father James Fraser wheelwright of Pitcainie
married Catharine Munro 9.8.1816 at Rosskeen Son Simon emigrated to Australia 1852 with wife Ann and 2 chrn. Elizabeth & . In 2015 I visited Cromarty with hope to cross to Nigg but was unable. Hope to visit again Aug/Sept this year. Any further info I wonder if James parents were John & Jean Macperson?
just been reading some of the lovely and thought provoking comments. we the Fraser family now own and work both Pitcalnie and Culnaha Farms. The history of both places is varied and very interesting, anyone wanting to contact or visit us please dont hesitate
Added by Linda Fraser on 22 February 2019
Thank you Linda Fraser! I will be writing you just as soon as I get my data together. I would love to learn more about Pitcalnie and Nigg.

Added by Wilmer Fawcett on 25 February 2019
This photograph is of my Great-Grandfather, Donald Holm (not "Holmes"), and the man to the extreme right of the picture is (I think), his son, John Holm (after whom I am named!). John later became the blacksmith at Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. His smiddy was behind his house at 38 High Street - and he called the house "Tain". The three girls are my aunts - from eldest to youngest they were Ida, Esta and Peploe ("Peppie"). There followed Jessie (who would have been a babe in arms at the time of the photo), then two years later, Mina - my mother.
When this fifth daughter was born, my grandfather finally despaired of having the son he wished for, and said (in the dialect) "Ach, we'll jist mak a loony (boy) of her!" And so she was forever after called "Loony"at home, which she 'anglicised' to "Lou"in adult life. She trained as a nurse in Glasgow, at Stobhill Hospital, where she met a young surgeon, William Gray. They were married on 27th June 1942.
Added by John Holm Gray on 14 April 2019
This photo is a picture of my Grandma and her 2 sisters. Her father Died in the first World War
Added by Scott Cowie on 15 October 2020
Culnaha Smithy (during 1914-18 War). Donald Holmes, the smithy, is using a rasp; his son John is on right holding horseshoe. Soldier is from nearby army camp, pony belonged to YMCA, the girls are Edna, Elsie and "Pinkie" (later Christie).
Added by Scott Cowie on 16 October 2020
Culnaha Smithy (during 1914-18 War). Donald Holmes, the smithy, is using a rasp; his son John is on right holding horseshoe. Soldier is from nearby army camp, pony belonged to YMCA, the girls are Edna, Elsie and "Pinkie" (later Christie).
Added by Scott Cowie on 16 October 2020
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