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Historic Tain revealed in new book

27 March 2009

The history of Tain in Easter Ross is uncovered in a new book launched today by the Council For British Archaeology and Historic Scotland.

Historic Tain: Archaeology and Development is the latest book in the Scottish Burgh Survey series, designed to identify the archaeological potential of Scotland’s historic towns, to guide development decisions and set questions to be answered by further investigation.

The book, by Richard Oram, Paula Martin, Charles McKean, Tim Neighbour and Ali Cathcart, is published by Historic Scotland in association with the University of Stirling and the Council for British Archaeology and with support from The Highland Council.

Richard Oram, Stirling University “Tain has a unique community that cherishes its past as the thriving hub of medieval religious and economic life in northern Scotland.“

Charles McKean, University of Dundee  “My take on Tain is excitement at working out the form of the town when it was still a focus for pilgrimage.”

Paula Martin, Institute of Archaeology, University College, London, said: "Scotland has many small towns, but each has a very different history and character. Having studied in detail the history of Cupar, I could see similarities with Tain, a small county town, the social and craft centre for the surrounding area. When we started we had no idea how important Tain had once been as a centre of pilgrimage, and the surviving buildings still have an air of tranquillity which is special. It was a great experience to be able to investigate the archaeology, history and standing buildings of Tain."

Joint editor Mark Watson, Historic Scotland, said: “Tain has an outstanding conservation area encompassing its medieval street plan and distinctive domestic and municipal architecture. Historic Scotland is pleased to guide and support a study that endorses these qualities. ”

Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Planning, Environment and Development Committee said: “Tain is a county town with an important and fascinating history, much of which is still visible in the street layout and in the architectural detail of many buildings. This book will allow us to consider how best to protect and preserve the important historical heritage value of Tain. “

Notes to Editors

  • The Scottish Burgh Survey project was established in the 1970s and has since produced detailed surveys of the history and archaeology of over 70 of Scotland’s historic towns and cities. Copies of Historic Tain and also Historic Dunbar, Historic Mauchline, Historic Kilsyth and Historic Barrhead, can be obtained from Central Books (tel. 0845 4589910) or

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment and promoting its understanding and enjoyment.  It is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • The Council for British Archaeology is an educational charity working throughout the UK to involve people in archaeology and to promote the appreciation and care of the historic environment for the benefit of present and future generations.

  • The Council for British Archaeology and Historic Scotland will publish more studies in the Scottish Burgh Survey series, including Govan, Whithorn, Wigtown, Fraserburgh, Galashiels  and Kirkintilloch.

For further information

Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07788 923873