FORTROSE, a royal burgh in the county of Ross, and parish of Rosemarkie. It is situated at the eastern extremity of the Black Isle road, on the north side of the Moray frith, and nearly opposite to Fort-George, from which it is distant 2½ miles; 10½ miles north-east of Inverness; 10¼ miles south-west of Cromarty; and 8¼ miles south of Invergordon ferry. It is composed of two towns, viz. Rosemarkie, and Chanonry or Fortrose, which are about half-a-mile distant from each other, but have been politically united in one burgh by royal charter. The former of these is of considerable antiquity, having been erected into a royal burgh by Alexander II. Chanonry is so called from its having been the canonry of Ross, where the bishop had his residence; it is now the presbytery seat. It is finely situated on an elevated plain commanding an extensive prospect of the Moray frith. The two towns were united by a charter granted by James II. in 1444, under the common name of Fortross – that is, ‘the Fort of the Peninsula,’ – now softened into Fortrose; which charter was ratified by James VI. in 1592, and confirmed, with greater immunities, by the same monarch in 1612. These charters all bear, that the burgh is to be “entitled to the privileges, liberties, and immunities heretofore granted to the town of Inverness.” Fortrose was, at that time, spoken of as a town flourishing in the arts and sciences, the seat of divinity, law, and physic, in this corner of the kingdom. For many years past, the greater part of the inhabitants of Chanonry or Fortrose have been shoemakers, and those of Rosemarkie, weavers. Two small parts of the ancient cathedral of Chanonry still remain, one of which is used as a burial-place by the Mackenzie family, and the other as a court-house, with vaulted prisons below.1 There is a good harbour at Fortrose, which was formed by the parliamentary commissioners on the Highland roads in 1817, at an expense of about £4,000. The inside of the harbour is about 30 yards square, and three sides of it form an extensive wharf. Spring-tides rise 14 feet within it. There is a regular ferry to Fort-George from the extremity of a tongue of land called Chanonry-ness, or Fortrose point, which runs out between the two towns into the frith; but it is not much frequented. It is usually known as Ardersier ferry; taking its name from the Inverness side. Dr. George Mackenzie, the laborious compiler of the ‘Lives of the most eminent Writers of the Scots nation,’ is said to have been born in this town. It is certain he resided here, in an old castle belonging to the Earl of Seaforth; and he lies interred in the cathedral. The brave and wise Sir Andrew Murray, regent of Scotland, was buried at Rosemarkie, in 1338. Fortrose contains about 740 inhabitants. It joins with the northern district of burghs in sending a member to parliament. See article ROSEMARKIE.
1 “It is highly probable that this cathedral, at the Reformation, suffered the fate of many others; though it be a current tradition in the place, that the greater part of it, together with the bishop’s palace, already mentioned, was pulled down in the time of Oliver Cromwell. By his order, the stones were carried by sea to Inverness, about the distance of 8 miles, for erecting a fort there, called Cromwell’s fort, whereof the ditch and ramparts are still discernible. No chartulary belonging to the bishopric has been found in Scotland. It is probable that Lesly, the last Popish bishop of Ross, and the zealous advocate for the unfortunate Queen Mary, when he was forced to go abroad, carried all the writs of the diocese with him, either to France, or to Brussels, where he died; and where these parchments may still be mouldering in dust and solitude.” – Old Statistical Account.