"TAIN, a parish, market town, royal and parliamentary burgh in the district of Easter Ross, county Ross and Cromarty, Scotland. The parish, which contains the village of Inver, extends 8 miles along the S. shore of Dornoch Firth, by a breadth of 2 miles inland. The surface is generally level, but rises into hills towards the W., the highest being Tain Hill, 800 feet above sea-level, where limestone is quarried. The sea-shore is flat and sandy, the uplands well wooded, and the land near the town much improved. The town, which was anciently called Baldaich, signifying in Gaelic "the town of St. Duthac," is situated on a gentle acclivity about a mile from the Firth of Dornoch, across which arm of the sea several ferries have been established, and near the head of which is an iron bridge. Tain is about 46 miles N. of Inverness, and 26 N.E. of Dingwall, and is a station on the Highland railway. The streets are irregularly laid out, but have of late years been much improved by the erection of many good houses and several public buildings. Among the latter are the new townhall, which was rebuilt in 1833 on the site of the old one, then used as a place of confinement for debtors, also a large modern edifice for assemblies and public meetings, a borough gaol, reading rooms, savings-bank, and three commercial banks, being branches respectively of the North of Scotland, British Linen Company, and of the Commercial Bank of Scotland. The most prominent branches of industry are distilling, brewing, an iron foundry, and in the vicinity of the town is a woollen mill. Though seated almost on the shore of an arm of the sea, Tain is not a shipping port, on account of a difficulty of navigating the firth, at the entrance to which there is on each side a bank of quick-sands, named "Gizzen Briggs," leaving scarcely sufficient in the channel for a vessel to pass at high water. As a royal burgh, it is governed under charter of James II. by a provost, three bailies, a dean of guild, treasurer, and 15 councillors, and unites with Cromarty and other contributory burghs in returning one member to parliament. A sheriff's small-debts court is held every Wednesday during session. The burgh revenue is about £400. The parish is in the presbytery of Tain, to which it gives name. The minister's stipend is £300. The parish church is a massive quadrangular structure, with a tower at each angle. It was originally built in 1471 for a college, and was dedicated to St. Duthac, whose effigies it contained, as also a carved oak pulpit. Tradition records that James IV. made a pilgrimage to this shrine on foot from Falkland, in Fifeshire, in 1527. St. Duthac's chapel, also in ruins, had the privilege of sanctuary, and was that to which the wife and daughter of Robert Bruce fled when given up to the English. There are besides a Free church, erected in 1844, and a United Presbyterian church. Market days are Tuesday and Friday. Fairs are held on the first Tuesday in January, third Tuesdays in March, August, and October, second Wednesday in July, and Tuesday next before Christmas Day, for ponies, cattle, and sheep."
Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)