Settler’s Scottish Home the Site of an Archaeological Dig

For the past few years the Clyne Heritage Society under the guidance of Nick Lindsay,  a local archeologist, has been busy excavating and documenting ruins in the long vacant township of Kilpheddermore.

The former township is located on the bank of the River Brora and is located approximately nine miles inland from the town of Brora.  Its name indicates that it may have contained a cell or hut of an early monk by the name of Peter.   For at least a 1000 years, and probably much longer,  it was farmed by generations of crofters.  In May of 1820 the Sutherland Estate cleared the inhabitants to further sheep farming.  Prior to the clearance, the township contained a grist mill and smiddy shop on the bank of the river.

For several years the grist mill was operated by George Ferguson, (b. ca 1780), who seems to have originated in the neighbouring township of Urachyle.  He married Catherine Graham,  (1784-1865),  daughter of William Graham and Isabel MacKay of Urachyle.  Together they settled at Kilpheddermore and leased the mill from the Estate.

Clyne residents had been departing for Nova Scotia as far back as 1813 as a result of some small scale clearances.  It would be a matter of time before Kilpheddermore would suffer the same fate.  George started to make plans to relocate his young family to free lands in the Pictou area.  However he was strickened with cancer and died around 1817.   It was his wish that Catherine would establish their children in Nova Scotia.

In 1820,  Catherine emigrated to Nova Scotia and was directed to Earltown along with a number of families from Rogart.   She was accompanied by her sons William and Robert age 16,  John, age 10 and Donald, age 8 as well as daughters  Christy, age 12 and Georgina age 2.   Although two of the sons were 16,  it must have been a daunting task for the young widow to establish a homestead.   In a very short time,  she had a functioning farm behind the subsequently established Knox Church, in fact she donated the land for a church and cemetery.    William and Robert relocated to Balmoral when they came of age,  John cleared a farm on the Matheson Brook and Donald took over the eastern part of the home grant.  Christy married John Sutherland “MacIan” of Elanan, Clyne, an early settler at The Falls.   Georgina married Red Robert MacKay of Aschoilbeg, Clyne and settled next to her brothers on Back Mountain.

Erosion is threatening the ruins of Kilpheddermore site therefore the Clyne Heritage Society is being proactive in capturing its history before nature does its thing.   Among the interesting finds are fragments of old mill stones of which some may have been used or fashioned by George Ferguson.

For more detailed information on the site,  go to

2 comments on “Settler’s Scottish Home the Site of an Archaeological Dig

  1. Maureen McKay says:

    Glen, appreciate learning more about the early history of our Ferguson ancestors (Mary Jane Ferguson, d/o Alexander Ferguson & Elizabeth MacKay ) The link to the kilfeddermore archaeological blog was most interesting and informative.
    Many thanks for all you have done to collect and present the history of Earltown. Don and Maureen McKay of Canmore Alberta.

  2. Marie-Jo Ouellet (daughter of Anny Fergusson) says:

    Hi!! I’m very happy to find this page!!….George is our great-great-great father!! 🙂 Do you have more informations about his parents, or some pictures about his old mill tools? I’m searching more informations, I presently writing a little book to explain our history at my family!! We live in Canada. Thank you so much!!

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