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Nairnshire: From Small Burgh to One of the Most Influential Districts of Scotland


Simply known as Nairn as well, the county of Nairnshire is one of the few in Scotland that can be considered to be a “general purpose” county. The burgh of the same name was its main town for the better part of its history, until the county itself became part of the eight districts of the newly designated Highland region. This all happened on the year 1975 due to the local Government Act 1973. After that, even though part of the new Highland region, the county of Nairnshire survived as such for very specific registration purposes.

The county itself, before becoming a part of the Highland region, used to be bounded by the Moray Firth to the north, by Elginshire to the east and part of the south, and by the Inverness County to the west.

Short History

The history of the Nairnshire County is very closely related to its geopolitical situation, and can only be understood by knowing more about how it has changed throughout the years.

While it was a county, Nairnshire was composed by four parishes. These were scattered through the land both in and out of the county itself, which caused many difficulties when dealing with them. However, this changed in the year 1890 when a Local Government Act designated all the lands in between these parishes to belong to the same legislation. This made the county a single continuous area.

As mentioned above, on the year 1975 the county was abolished by a Local Government Act and was incorporated as a district of the Highland region. However this only lasted for a short while, since due to another Local Government Act (from 1996), the newly formed districts were abolished as well. In their place, the whole Highland region became a Unitary Council Area which brought a much needed homogeneity to the internal management procedures of the region.

Geographically, the County of Nairnshire was initially comprised of four parishes on their own, and of many others that partially belonged to other counties. It is here that the main town of Nairn used to rest along with many other small villages and burghs.

Also the distribution of the lands has greatly influenced the economy of the former county. This is clearly manifested on its surface, with its northern part being quite level and thus arable and profitable. However, its southern part is very mountainous, which turns this micro region into a harsh and unprofitable moss.

However, not everything is on the bad side, since a great amount of wood plantations have formed in the county over the years. This in turn, has made possible for the wood industry to flourish and to become the main source of commercial activities in the area, along with farming and fishing as well.