INFORMATION SHEET No. 17


The Clan Country


The country of the Munros lies on the north side of the Cromarty Firth, the great natural harbour at the head of which stood the royal castle of Dingwall, held for the King by the Earls of Ross. Known as Ferindonald from the traditional founder of the chief's family (Donald's land, in Gaelic Fearainn Domhnuill) these lands comprised the area of the two adjoining parishes of Kiltearn and Alness, from a small stream or burn called Altnalait (Allt na Laitch) on the west, about a mile from Dingwall Castle, to the Water of Averon or River Alness on the east.

The clan occupied the fertile coastal strip alongside the firth, with access to and from the outer world mainly by sea, and spread up the river valleys into the uplands round Ben Wyvis (3429 feet, 1046 metres).

They crossed the watershed into the fringes of Sutherland, and in the course of time held extensive lands east of the River Alness, and also in the Black Isle on the other side of the Cromarty Firth.

The home of the chiefs was at Foulis in the heart of the Munro country, and it remains with the same family today. The chiefs held their lands first from the Earls of Ross (several grants by charter between 1333 and 1394 have survived) and direct from the Crown after the earldom was forfeited in 1476.

According to a late tradition, the forest of Wyvis was held on a 'whimsical tenure' of delivering a snowball on any day of the year, if asked: but the earliest recorded duty was the more usual nominal one of a pair of white gloves or a silver penny.

By the 1550s the chief' s lands had been incorporated into the barony of Foulis, giving him a hereditary jurisdiction with power of 'pit and gallows' (drowning for women, hanging for men) for the more serious offences. As neighbours the clan had the Mackenzies, the Rosses, and the Urquharts.

 

2010 The Clan Munro Association of Canada