Known as The King’s Ferry as there has been a ferry running between Cromarty and Nigg at least since the 1100s and probably earlier, for it would have been a natural route from the south and west of Scotland at all periods, including that of the Picts. Pictish royal connections have been claimed as being present in place-names on the Hill. Cadha Neachdain, (Nechtan’s Path) a steep path leading down the Nigg cliffs to Uamh an Righ (the King’s Cave) have been associated with the eighth-century Pictish King Nechtan who secured the independence of the Pictish church from Irish domination – a move supported by a saint whose career is linked with Rosemarkie on the Black Isle. Nechtan was a devout king and is known to have retreated into clerical life. So it is not impossible that, when in the district, he crossed on the ferry to secure at Nigg a place of retreat from the world, facing the ocean. More certain is the royal association of the ferry with King William the Lion, for ferry revenues were expected to contribute to the upkeep of Dunskaith Castle. The King of Scots most closely connected with the ferry is, of course, James IV, whose typically late medieval piety involved many visits to a celebrated northern shrine, that of the historically elusive St Duthac at Tain.

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