The founding of the village of Maryburgh is of comparatively recent origin. Maryburgh as we know it dates from 1815 when Mary Elizabeth Frederick Mackenzie returned to Brahan Castle upon the death of her father. Prior to the name of Maryburgh the lands were known as Brahan, Brekanord and Balblair.
The village of Conon Bridge is of similar age and the River Conon was crossed only by a ford and the Scuddell Ferry which operated in the 1600s and 1700s.
One of the oldest cottages in Maryburgh, presently called “Peartree Cottage”, at the top of Hood Street, has the date ‘1824’ inscribed on the ‘skewputt’, (the lowest stone on the gable). This cottage and the others occupying the same side of the street were formerly thatched.
The village was created to house Brahan estate workers, many of whom were displaced crofters from the ‘Highland Clearances’, notably from Strathconon.
Proby Street, the second street of the ‘original’ village, was then … as now, the main thoroughfare from Dingwall to Conon. The houses on the ‘south’ side of this street also contained estate workers. Each of them had been allocated a narrow strip of land, approximating to one acre, which extended right down to the River Conon. These ‘rigs’ of cultivated land were known locally as the ‘Maryburgh Acres’. One of the many fine houses along Proby Street, ‘Sunnyholm’, is dated 1828.
In 1841, the population of Maryburgh numbered 403, rising to 503 in 1851 and by 1870 the community had developed to the extent of 45 houses. This last number would appear to have remained static for many years until, in the post-war period to date, the number of houses increased to 350, with an approximate adult population of about 850.
The situation of the village was attractive in that it lay on the route of the new road constructed to Dingwall following upon the opening of the road bridge at Conon in 1809, with workers engaged thereon forming the nucleus of what developed into a village there and also by reason of the branch road to Brahan Estate. By 1885 Ordnance Survey records that Maryburgh was a modern place, inhabited chiefly by crofters and tradesmen and had the benefit of a Post Office, a Free Church, an inn, a public school, a Brick and Tile Works, Carden Mill, Corn and Meal Mill and a Lint and Snuff Mill.
To find out more about Maryburgh Heritage visit the Ross and Cromarty Heritage Website