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For other uses, see Tain (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 57°48′42″N 4°03′24″W / 57.81178°N 4.05670°W / 57.81178; -4.05670

Scottish Gaelic: Baile Dhubhthaich
Scots: Tain
Tain 01.jpg
Tain is located in Highland
 Tain shown within the Highland council area
Population 3,972 
OS grid reference NH779821
Council area Highland
Lieutenancy area Ross and Cromarty
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town TAIN
Postcode district IV19
Dialling code 01862
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross
Scottish Parliament Caithness, Sutherland and Ross
List of places

Tain (Gaelic: Baile Dhubhthaich, Duthac's town) is a royal burgh and post town in the committee area of Ross and Cromarty, in the Highland area of Scotland.


The origin of the name "Tain" is uncertain and may be derived from the pre-Celtic name for the nearby River Tain. The origin of the town's Gaelic name is however quite clear; Baile Dubhthaich, meaning 'Duthac's town' after the saint of this name, also known as Duthus.[1]


Tain railway station is on the Far North Line. The station is now unmanned; however, in its heyday it had a staff of 30 people. The station was opened by the Highland Railway on 1 January 1864. From 1 January 1923, the station was owned by the London Midland and Scottish Railway. Then in 1949 the British railway system was nationalised and then ran under British Railways. Then when the railways were privatised the station became part of Scotrail.

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 called Craighill (pupils - 274, April 2011) and Knockbreck (pupils - just under 120, April 2011) and a secondary school called Tain Royal Academy with approximately 500 pupils (as of summer 2014).


Tain was granted its first royal charter in 1066, making Tain Scotland's oldest Royal Burgh,[citation needed] 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 already mentioned. The ruined chapel near the mouth of the river was said to have been built on the site of his birth. Duthac became an official saint in 1419 and by the late 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.

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 (died ca. 1630).

The early Duthac Chapel was the center 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 John Balliol.[2] The women were taken to England where they were kept as prisoners for several years.

RAF Tain[edit]

Main article: 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 World War II. 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 World War II and some are still accessible.[3]


TRACC sporting facilities are located at Tain Royal Academy. They consist of an indoor 20-meter 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 football team who play in the Ross-shire Welfare League during the summer months. Home matches are played at the Links park.

Local geographical and visitor features[edit]

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, restored and owned by Mohammed Al Fayed; 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.

Just outside of the village of Hill of Fearn near Tain lies the site of the medieval Fearn Abbey, the current parish church of the same name dates from 1772.

Parliamentary burgh[edit]

Tain was a parliamentary burgh, combined with Dingwall, Dornoch, Kirkwall and Wick in the Northern Burghs constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1708 to 1801 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1918. Cromarty was added to the list in 1832.

The constituency was a district of burghs known also as Tain Burghs until 1832, and then as Wick Burghs. It was represented by one Member of Parliament. In 1918 the constituency was abolished and the Tain component was merged into Ross and Cromarty.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ Iain Mac an Tailleir. "Placenames" (PDF). Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  2. ^ The Lion in the North, by John Prebble, Part III, ISBN 0-14-003652-0, Published - Martin Secker & Warburg 1971
  3. ^ War Detectives. "Royal Air Force Tain". Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  4. ^ "Home Page". Tain Golf Club. Retrieved 11 Apr 2011.
  5. ^ "Obituary, Thomas Summers West". Royal Society of Edinburg. Retrieved 2012-06-20. 

External links[edit]