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Gaelic: Baile Dhubhthaich
Tain 01.jpg
Grid reference: NH779821
Location: 57°48’42"N, 4°3’24"W
Population: 3,972
Post town: Tain
Postcode: IV19
Dialling code: 01862
Local Government
Council: Highland
Caithness, Sutherland
and Easter Ross

Tain is a royal burgh in Ross-shire, in Easter Ross.

The origin of the name "Tain" is uncertain and may be derived from the name for the nearby River Tain, which itself is of unknown origin and may be Norse.

The town's Gaelic name is however quite clear; Baile Dubhthaich, meaning 'Duthac's town' after Saint Duthus or Duthlac.[1]

Tain railway station is on the Far North Line. The station is now unmanned but in its heyday it had a staff of 30 people. The station was opened by the Highland Railway on 1 January 1864.

Notable buildings in the town include Tain Tolbooth and St Duthus Collegiate Church. The town also boasts a local history museum, Tain Through Time, and the Glenmorangie Distillery.

Tain has two primary schools and a secondary school.


Tain was granted its first royal charter in 1066, making Tain Scotland's oldest Royal Burgh, an event commemorated in 1966 with the opening of the Rose Garden by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. The 1066 charter, granted by King Malcolm III, confirmed Tain both as a sanctuary, where people could claim the protection of the church, and an "immunity", whose resident merchants and traders were exempt from certain types of taxes. These important ideas carried through the centuries and led to the development of the town as it is today.

Little is known of the earlier history of the town although it owed much of its importance to Duthac. He was an early Christian figure, perhaps 8th or 9th century, whose shrine had become so important by 1066 that it resulted in the royal charter.

The ruined chapel near the mouth of the river was said to have been built on the site of his birth. Duthac was declared a saint by the mediæval Church in 1419 and by the later Middle Ages his shrine was established as one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Scotland. The most famous pilgrim was King James IV, who came at least once a year throughout his reign to achieve both spiritual and political aims.

The early Duthac Chapel was the centre of a sanctuary. Fugitives were by tradition given sanctuary inside an area of several square miles marked by boundary stones. During the First War of Scottish Independence, Robert the Bruce sent his wife and daughter to the sanctuary for safe keeping. The sanctuary was violated and they were captured by forces loyal to King John Balliol.[2] The women were taken to England where they were kept as prisoners for several years.

The shrine was destroyed at the Reformation.

A leading landowning family of the area was the Clan Munro who provided many leading political and religious figures to the town, including the dissenter Rev John Munro of Tain (who died around 1630).

RAF Tain

With conflict looming in the 1930s, an aerodrome large enough for bombers was built adjacent to the town. It was on a low-lying alluvial plain known as the Fendom bordering the Dornoch Firth. The "drome" was home to many British, Czech (311-th,Sqn.) and Polish airmen during Second World War. The aerodrome was abandoned as a flying location after the war and was converted into a bombing range for the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy. When British naval aviation moved away from large fleet aircraft carriers, the Fleet Air Arm role was taken over by the RAF. The Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) at Lossiemouth converted to an RAF base and the Tain range reverted to the RAF. Large parts of the original aerodrome were returned to civilian use after Second World War and some are still accessible.[3]


TRACC sporting facilities are located at Tain Royal Academy. They consist of an indoor 20-yard swimming pool, fitness suite, indoor hall, small gymnasium and an outdoor third-generation astrograss surface. TRACC provides all necessary equipment for the respective sport being played. Tain also has a tennis club, kempo club, bowling club and a golf course designed by Old Tom Morris.[4] Tain Thistle Football Club are a local team who play in the North Caledonian Football League during the winter and the Ross-shire Welfare League during the summer months. Home matches are played at Grant Park (by the Links).

Local geographical and visitor features

The Gizzen Briggs are sandbars at the entrance to the Dornoch Firth, and with the right wind conditions, they can be heard over a wide area at low tide. The so-called "million dollar view" to the north-west of Tain, accessible via the A836 westward and B9176 Struie moor road, gives a panoramic view of the Dornoch Firth and Sutherland.

There are five important castles in the vicinity - Carbisdale Castle, built for the Dowager Duchess of Sutherland and now a youth hostel; Skibo Castle, once the home of the industrialist Andrew Carnegie and now an exclusive hotel; Dunrobin Castle, ancestral seat of the Duke of Sutherland (castle and gardens open to the public); Balnagown Castle, ancestral seat of the Clan Ross and Ballone Castle, recently restored by the owners of a local crafts business.

Highland Fine Cheeses, run by Ruaridh Stone (the brother of Liberal MSP Jamie Stone), have a factory at Blarliath Farm, Tain. Tain is also close to Glenmorangie Distillery.

Tain itself features several amenities, such as a library, community centre, two 4-star hotels, a music shop, several fast food outlets, a town hall and a popular bookshop.

To the southeast of Tain lies the site of the mediæval Fearn Abbey, the current parish church of the same name dates from 1772.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Tain)


  1. Iain Mac an Tailleir. "Placenames" (PDF). Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/vli/language/gaelic/pdfs/placenamesP-Z.pdf. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  2. The Lion in the North, by John Prebble, Part III, ISBN 0 14 00.3652 0, Published - Martin Secker & Warburg 1971
  3. War Detectives.. "Royal Air Force Tain". http://www.wardetectives.info/projects/wardetectives/highlandmemoirs/files/html/caul0019.htm. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  4. "Home Page". Tain Golf Club. Retrieved 11 Apr 2011.