Finding Ross ancestors in Edderton was the next step in
my genealogy pilgrimage to the Highlands of Scotland in 2017.
My husband and I were off to Easter Ross to find Little Daan, where my great-great grandfather George Ross was born in 1815 and Edderton Old Church, where he was christened. By now I was more familiar with driving on the left side of the road, so the five miles between Tain and Edderton were fortunately not as nerve-wracking as my previous experiences.
Finding Ross Ancestors in Edderton
Edderton is beautifully situated on the waters of Dornock Firth. “Human communities have been present within the area of the parish of Edderton from a very early period, [including]…tombs of Stone Age farming people who settled here by the late 4th Millennium BC,” according to a church history researched and written by Dr. Richard Oram. If there’s anything that warms the cockles of a genealogist’s heart, it’s being at a site that connects family history to prehistoric inhabitants. So my cockles were very warm! It also made me appreciate a wonderful book, The Scots: A Genetic Journey, even more.
The Edderton Old Church (1743)
Church interior (courtesy Undiscovered Scotland)
We were delighted to find the Edderton Old Church easily (see featured image top). The weather was changeable of course, but there was something bleakly beautiful about this church’s location. Now cared for by the Edderton Old Church Preservation Trust, the church on this site was built as “a neat plain structure, containing 350 sittings,” according to Lewis Samuel’s 1846 A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Today this 1743 church is prized for being virtually unaltered since the late 1700s. The remains of a mausoleum dating from the 1630s suggests a far earlier church on this site as well.
“Internal ornamentation that might distract the congregation from the preacher is completely absent,” notes Undiscovered Scotland. “Churches like this give the strong sense that their aim was less to uplift the spirits of those who attended that it was to impose a particular view of the world. As a result what some call ‘preaching boxes’ never feel wholly welcoming or comfortable and Old Edderton Church is no exception: but that makes it no less fascinating.” The simplicity of the interior design reminded us of Shaker communities in the United States.
Edderton Cross Slab, Old Edderton Churchyard
In the Old Edderton Church churchyard, we found the Edderton Cross Slab. A Class III Pictish stone features an “undecorated but elegant” Celtic cross on the western side and a Roman cross and a horseman carved in relief on the other. The presence of this much-studied stone suggests that this location was used for worship as early as the 800s.
Fast-forwarding 1100 years, it’s clear that Pink Floyd’s 1969 track, “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict,” is written about my family. So now I get to tease my husband that his revered Pink Floyd tshirt belongs to me since I’m the Pict in the family. He wants to know how I’m sure my ancestors were the Picts and not the small furry animals. I think I should let him keep his tshirt, yes?
More Ross Ancestors in Edderton
Although it’s not in the guidebooks, the Edderton Old Church is famous (to me) because it’s where my great-great grandfather George Ross was baptized on 27 April 1815.
Birth and baptism record, George Ross, 27 April 1815, Edderton parish, Ross-shire, Scotland (Courtesy ScotlandsPeople)
George ROSS was the third of four known children of George ROSS and Christian FRASER. The elder George Ross had been pensioned by the military, possibly for his service in the Napoleonic Wars, and returned to Easter Ross. By 1810, George and Christian were living in Ballone, Tarbat parish, where their first two children were born.
Geographic Resources for Finding Ross Ancestors in Edderton
By the time my great-great grandfather was born, the family had moved to Little Daan. In search of more about Little Daan, I turned first to A Vision of Britain Through Time, where I found the 1856 Ordnance Survey map below.
Little Daan and Old Edderton Church, Ordnance Survey of Scotland First Series, Sheet 94 – Cromarty, 1856. (courtesy visionofbritain.org.uk)
The map is great, but I like word descriptions too. So I searched the Ordnance Survey Name books. This incredible geographic resource for genealogists is available for free at ScotlandsPlaces. And this resource did not disappoint. Little Daan is described as a “good farm house with out buildings attached, also a small croft, situated about 1 1/2 mile s.w. of Meikle Daan. The property of Sir Charles H.A. Ross, bar[one]t, Balnagown.” I would tell you more about Sir Charles the baronet, but you may have noticed that none of my people made it out of crofters’ houses. So that baronet holds less interest for me, as he appears in my family narrative merely as the landlord!
“Little Daan,” Ross and Cromarty OS Name Books, 1848-1852, Ross and Cromarty Mainland, volume 10, OS1/28/10/47. (courtesy ScotlandsPlaces.gov.uk)
Ross Genealogy Resources
- Sassy Jane posts about Ross family members
- Finding Scottish Ancestors Online
- Clan Ross Facebook
- Class Ross Societies Worldwide
- Clan Ross America
- Tain Through Time Museum
- Clan Ross DNA Project
- Clan Ross America Games
- Seaside Highland Games – I’ll be there and hope to see you too!
Paying Respects and Some Conclusions
This is the war memorial in Edderton, not far from the Old Church. For a small village, the number of fallen soldiers is so high. I wished I had some flowers to leave at this poignant memorial. Instead, all I could do is promise I’d be back.
Edderton War Memorial
Heritage travel completed:
- Ringebu, Norway
- Øvre Eiker, Norway
- Dunnottar, Scotland
- Tain, Scotland
For some reason, family members who’ve made it to Scotland only visit the place in Aberdeen where my great-grandparents lived before 1919 emigration. It’s one way to honor your ancestors. But fellow researchers will understand why genealogists with strong feelings about their origins have an obligation to go much deeper into the past. Tain and Edderton truly resonated with me. So here is one happy genealogist feeling at home in Scotland after finding Ross ancestors in Edderton.