Tain is the oldest Royal Burgh in Scotland, having been granted its first royal charter in 1066. In 1966 a rose garden was planted with 900 roses to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the charter. Somewhat earlier, around the 8th or 9th century, St Duthus, or Duthac, was born there and a ruined chapel near the shore of Dornoch Firth is believed to be the site of his birth. St Duthus Collegiate Church was built in the town between 1370 and 1458 to house the Saint's shrine, and Tain became an important place of pilgrimage; visitors to the shrine included James IV. During the Second World War, there was a large military presence in the town, and in nearby Inver, which was used as as a training ground. There were once five airfields in the area, but now only RAF Tain remains, which is used for weapons training for other RAF bases.
The town's long history, which included the burning of the church during a clan feud, the capture of Robert the Bruce's family by the English and the presence of Bonnie Prince Charlie's troops in the area, is explained in the District Museum, which also houses the Clan Ross Centre. The town's turretted Tollbooth, built between 1706 and 1733, makes an impressive sight; it was built as a prison and to safeguard the town's charters and arms. Tain is noted for its crafts, which include silverware and pottery. Tain Golf Club offers lovely views over the Dornoch Firth. Every year at the end of June/beginning of July, the town holds a gala which includes air displays, pipe bands and other "fun for all the family" events. In August it is the turn of the Tain Highland Gathering, whose games events include the enigmatically named Heavies during which competitors vie for the British Championship Medals for Light and Heavy Hammers. This video gives an idea of the jollities on offer, which also include highland dancing.
Map of the area.
© 2010 Postdlf, via Wikimedia Commons