Strathconon, Scatwell and the Mackenzies in the Written Record c. 1463-c.1700

Maccoinnich, Aonghas; Marshall, Meryl, ed. (2010) Strathconon, Scatwell and the Mackenzies in the Written Record c. 1463-c.1700. In: A Project to Identify, Survey and Record Archaeological Remains in Strathconon, Ross-shire. Report of Phase Three: Loch Meig to Dalbreac, Feb 2008 to June 2008, Aug 2009. North of Scotland Archaeological Society, Conon Bridge, pp. 11-31.

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Although some writers have considered the earlier history of Ross, these studies tend to focus on dynastic and political events and not much is know about the internal workings of Ross-shire far less Strathconon in the historical record prior to the end of the fifteenth century.2 Strathconon, strategically situated in central Ross, was the key to the control of the earldom of Ross in that possession of these lands secured control of the few good access routes from coast to coast. The earldom of Ross and the possession thereof in turn was pivotal to the fortunes of the Macdonald Lords of the Isles in the fifteenth century who were fatally undermined by their loss of the area to the Stewart monarchy in 1475. This essay will consider the Strathconon and Scatwell area from the time of its earliest appearance in the historical record at the end of the fifteenth century (at much the same time as the Mackenzie clan themselves) and go on to concentrate on the area in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. An attempt will be made to pull together a variety of written sources in order to try to build up a picture of the area in this period inasmuch as the evidence will allow. These lands, Strathconon and Scatwell, which form the focus of this investigation, were a small part of a much wider (and expanding) estate that was controlled in this period, c.1463 to 1700 by the Mackenzies of Kintail / Seaforth.