Fothervais.

Associated Chapels: Ballindore; Chaplefield; Ferness.

OS Ref: NH 955450    RCAHMS No: NH94NE 3

Considering its antiquity, it has to be said that Fothervais, or Ardclach, is a disappointment. The church was dedicated to St Moluag

In the original Cathedral foundation Fothervais was originally part of the prebend of the Chancellor of the Diocese but it should be noted that it was differenced from other prebends in that the prebend is described as "the lands of Fothervais." Later, when Andrew de Moravia expanded the Chapter on moving the Cathedral to Elgin in 1226, the church of Fothervais along with that of Rafford comprised the prebend of Succentor - a newly created dignity. Ardclach was in the Deanery of Inverness.

Above the church is the 17th century Bell Tower. It was a keep that was later used to mount the parish church's bell, probably so that it would be better heard by the local congregation.

According to the Statistical Account of 1791-1799, "there were two boats on this water within the parish and one on the post-road, but still, many lives are lost."

The last church to be built here, is currently for sale, the last service having been held on 24th January 1956. It was built in 1626 but re-built in1762 and 1839, and renovated in 1892. The patronage belonged with the family of Brodie of Lethen.

 

Remains of the 17th Century Bell Tower of Ardclach.

There is said to have been a chapel at Ballindore (NH 94420) indicated by the fact that the name is said to come from Baile-an-deoradh - the home of the 'Dewar' or hereditary keeper of a Celtic church bell. However, no archaeological evidence exists.

At Ferness there is Dalnaheiglish - meadow of the church (NH 952446). Some authors say that this was the church associated with St Luag (Moluag).

The chapel site at Chaplefield or Dulsie Bridge NH 935410 is in a superb location on a flat of land well above the River Findhorn and in the shadow of the old fort of Dunearn. Close by runs the old military road built in the time of General Wade and following a much more ancient pathway to Strathspey via Lochindorb, an ancient Comyn castle and one-time home of that famous would-be church reformer, the Wolf of Badenoch! The outline of the chapel is very clear lying within a turf-covered wall which encloses what would have been the graveyard. The proximity with Dunearn leads one to believe that this may have been a very early site of Christianity indeed. The site, still known as Chaplefield or the Chapel Park, is well worth a visit and, allied to the walks beside the gorge at Dulsie Bridge, makes a superb location for an outing and a summer picnic! There is food here for any prospective PhD archaeology student!

The graveyard enclosure of the chapel at Dunearn A closer view showing the mounds outlining the chapel itself.

 

Looking over the chapel site to the bracken covered slopes of Dunearn beyond.

On the road leading towards the Bell Tower there is a memorial to the Rev Donald Mitchell who is reputed to have been the first Scottish missionary to India.

The Mitchell memorial.

 

 

 

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