History – Kirkhill Church

The parish of Kirkhill, in Moray, Scotland, was formerly called Wardlaw, because the garrison of Lovat were accustomed to keep watch or ward on the law or hill.

Wardlaw church stood originally at Dunballoch (NH524449). Early in the 13th century it was transferred to a hillock then called Balcabrac, which was the Ward-law or Watch-hill for the Lovats. The site of this church was abandoned in 1790, and is marked by the Lovat Mausoleum (Fasti 471). It was dedicated to St Mary, and the hill on which Wardlaw kirk was built is known as Cnoc Mhuire (Fasti 471).

Wardlaw was united with Farnway to form the parish of Kirkhill in 1618 (Wardlaw MS, Introduction, xv; also Fasti 471, which gives the date of the union as 14 July 1618; there is nothing in APS about this union, while Rev. James Fraser states that the union occurred in 1614 (Wardlaw MS, 186). The parish kirk of the new united parish remained on the Ward Law, moving in 1790 from its medieval site to its present site nearby.

The parish church of St Mary, Farnua, (Farnaway, Fearnaie) stood at Kirkton, Bunchrew, where there are still some remains of the churchyard. This graveyard was originally much larger than the present enclosure and many skeletons have been found over the years beyond the wall. There is a fragment of the old church incorporated into the present wall – possibly part of the old east gable.

Former Ministers of Kirkhill

At the Union of Wardlaw and Farnua 14th July 1618 The name Kirkhill was given to the parish.

  • 1574 Donald Dow Fraser (or Donald Dow Macintaggart)
  • 1580 William Dow Fraser
  • 1606 Bartholomew Robertson
  • 1611 John Houston
  • 1661 James Fraser
  • 1717 Robert Thomson
  • 1773 Alexander Fraser
  • 1802 Donald Fraser
  • 1837 Alexander Fraser
  • 1843 Alexander McNaughton
  • 1848 Ewan McKenzie
  • 1889 Charles Donald Bentinick
  • 1907 Peter MacGregor
  • 1912 Neil MacLellan
  • 1917 Kenneth McLean
  • 1943 Hugh Mackinnon
  • 1946 Donald Macdonald
  • 1954 Alexander Fraser
  • 1967 John Ross Maclean
  • 1975 Colin Mackenzie
  • 1982 Campbell Mackinnon
  • 2002 Fraser K Turner
  • 2008 Willis Jones (Locum)
  • 2010 Kobus Smit

This very attractive part of Inverness-shire is popular because of its proximity to Inverness and yet it maintains the life and feel of distinctive rural communities with much going for them.

The manse for the linked parishes is at Kirkhill beside the Church on the main road through the village.

The Wardlaw Mausoleum dates from 1634, although its belfry is of early 18th Century in origin. Having lain in disrepair, it was renovated by Historic Scotland with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund in 1998. The monument has many features which are unique to it and was the burial place of the Lovat Frasers.

The present Kirkhill (Wardlaw) Church stands at the heart of the village on right of the main road through it.

Kiltarlity and Kirkhill Churches were linked together in 1982.

Kiltarlity linked with Kirkhill is in the Presbytery of Inverness. On the south side of the Beauly Firth the village of Kirkhill lies on the north side of the A863. Its neighbour Kiltarlity lies about four miles further on nearer Beauly on the south side of the A862 off the A833.

Both parishes are areas of growth, both having primary schools, post offices and regular bus services. The nearest railway station is at Beauly and most children go to Secondary School or further education in Inverness.