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The Clach Eiteag

The Clach Eiteag, ( stone of white pebble) is the name given to a celebrated natural boulder of irregular shape but with a maximum length of some 5ft. It is of a pure white quartzite but it is impossible to give a precise geological provenance, and it may well have been carried by glacial movement. This type of rock is exceptional in Easter Ross and outstanding in its white colour.

Local tradition firmly holds that an annual fair was held wherever the Clach Eiteag happened to be at the time. As a local fair was a considerable asset to any village, it is said that the stone was secretly moved from parish to parish. Stories tell that it originated in Assynt, famous for its quartz, was moved to Invershin, to Bonar Bridge and then to Kincardine parish.  We know that an annual fair was already established in this parish by the middle of the 18th century and must assume the Clach Eiteag was in the parish by that date. As the fair was called the Feill Eiteachan and took its name from the burn that runs near the old church of Kincardine, it is reasonable to believe the fair was held near this church.

After the building of Telford's bridge at Bonar, in 1812, the present village of Ardgay became the junction of roads leading east, north and west and also the centre of population; an old farmhouse was enlarged into an hotel in 1817 and it seems likely that the Clach Eiteag was then built into its wall, to prevent any possible theft and thus establish the Feill Eiteachan in Ardgay. The stone remained in the north wall of the ruin of Balnagown Arms Hotel in Ardgay in the parish of Kincardine until 1958, when it was set upon a plinth and proudly displayed in the village.

Old accounts describe the fair as being held during the last week of November and lasting three days. There was a fine show of cattle and much butter and cheese was sold. People from all the surrounding districts gathered in the village, stalls were set up and everyone sold their own produce, and bought goods seldom available but brought to the fair by itinerant hawkers.

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