During the summer there is a historical journey through Tain available. 1 April to 31 October , Monday - Saturday 10am-5pm, in July and August to 6pm.
It is centred round 3 buildings - The Collegiate Church, The Museum and a visitor centre in the Old Schoolhouse.
The Collegiate Church is one of the finest medieval buildings in the north. Entry is free. It was built between 1370 and 1460 to house the shrine of St Duthac, a popular saint born in Tain.
In 1306 Robert the Bruce sent his family there for sanctuary, but they were betrayed to the English by William, Earl of Ross.
In 1500 James IV made pilgrimages to Tain. It ceased to be the parish church in 1815 when a new one was built.
Tain is known for the buildings built by the Maitland family of Architects. They originally came from Elgin. The father [ 1802-1894] and his sons Andrew and James set up their offices in what is now the Procurator Fiscal’s Office. It is built in the English Arts and Crafts Style.
Some other examples to be still seen in Tain are:
The Royal Hotel (1872) which was refashioned in the flamboyant French Gothic style.
The Free, or New Parish Church (1891-92) which is In Queen Street is in the Italianate style.
The New Masonic Hall for St Duthac Lodge
The Clydesdale Bank building on the corner of Market St (1898) was designed by Andrew Maitland. It has iron cresting.
The Public Hall in Tower Street which later became a cinema was built 1874-6 as a private profit –making venture, was also by Andrew Maitland.
The Glenmorangie Distillery too involved Andrew Maitland.
Go looking and you will find others,
The local stone was used and much of the town was built in the honey-coloured stone.
Tain Museum is in a small Maitland Building on Castle Brae.
It has a lot of exhibits related to the area, including false teeth for a dog made by an early Tain Dentist.
There are some fragments from some of the Pictish stones from the area- Edderton and Nigg.
I wanted to see the Ardjachie stone which was found at Meikle Ferry in 1960 by farmers from Ardjachie. To look at, it is unremarkable as it is uncut and covered in lichen, but according to the experts is a Class 1 Pictish Stone, having several dozen cup or ring marks probably dating to the Bronze Age. It also has an inverted-L design with a wheel image above.
With its back to the Rose Garden stands a memorial to one of the town's major benefactors, Kenneth Murray, about 1825- 1876. The bust sits in a splendid structure reminiscent of the Scott memorial in Edinburgh, but on a smaller scale.
In 1996 Her Majesty the Queen Mother opened the rose garden which was planted with 900 roses to celebrate the 900th anniversary of Tain receiving the status of a Royal Burgh . I used to look forward to seeing the gardens in bloom and it was a quiet peaceful place to sit.
Now however it has changed. In the centre of the garden is a Celtic design, and wooden trellises are in position to, hopefully, have clinbing plants. As yet I cannot picture what the new gardens will be like, but hopefully they will be a credit to Tain.
The Tolbooth stands at the junction of the High Street and Tower Street.The tolbooth was repaired in 1631 and it was then that the curfew bell which had been specially cast for it was brought was brought from Holland . In 1703 the old Tolbooth was damaged by a storm and demolished.It was rebuilt between 1706 and 1733 by a local mason called Alexander Stronach to replace an earlier of about the same style and on about the same site.
It was built as a prison and a place for keeping safe the burgh's charters and arms. the council itself met in the adjoining council house, which has also been rebuilt several times, most recently in 1849, and with an extension by Andrew Maitland.
Engraved on the bell is "1630 Soli Deo Gloria Michael Burgerhuis Me Fecit"
The market cross was originally in the middle of High Street, then moved to the end in 1778, It was damaged and eventually restored in 1895. The shaft had to be heavily restored, but the base is probably ancient.
Old St Duthus Chapel was built on a knoll near the sea , supposedly on the site where the saint was born. The old chapel is between the Playing fields and the Golf course.
It is a roofless ruin, having been destroyed by fire in about 1427 according to records in Tain and in Fearn Abbey.In spite of its ruined state it is attractive to look at. Some of the relicts of the saint were once kept by a hermit who lived there.
There is the old graveyard beside it with the graves of many of Tain's oldest families..
The new graveyard is before the railway bridge.