Published: 13/04/2017 12:13 - Updated: 14/04/2017 12:03

Carr Bridge celebrations will mark 300 years

Written byTom Ramage

One of its many battles, from 1978
One of its many battles, from 1978

Talk about bridging the years!

Strathspey’s beloved Bridge of Carr is reliably believed to be the oldest surviving bridge in the Highlands.

And it's 300 years are to be marked later this month with a weekend of celebration.

Historians believe it was constructed over those turbulent waters some time between May and November 1717.

The picture postcard landmark was built by John Niccelsone (or Nickolson as he signed himself), a mason from Ballindaloch, at the behest of Brigadier-General Alexander Grant of Grant.

The area had been hit hard by famine during the 1690s which made it difficult for people to travel.

During this time the River Dulnain was also experiencing an unusually frequency of spates, which delayed many funerals on the south side of the river.

That led to many of the leading men of the parish to ask Brigadier Grant for permission to use some of the stipends from the Parish of Duthill to build a new bridge.

It probably for this reason that the bridge is often referred to locally as "the coffin bridge".

At this time there was no Minister of Duthill, which meant that the patrons of parish could utilise the "vacant stipends" for "pious uses" within the boundary of the parish.

Niccelsone refused to build the bridge initially for less than 1,000 merks – around £55 at the time – and eventually Brigadier Grant consented to the building of the bridge at the cost of £100 sterling on May 23 1717.

The bridge was definitely completed by the 1st of November 1717, but many say that it was finished even early than this, in October.

The specification for the bridge stated that it should be of "ane reasonable Breadth and Height as will Receive the water when in the greatest speat".

It’s a good job too, as the Bridge of Carr has survived many floods to become the oldest bridge in the Highlands.

Perhaps the most infamous of these was the Muckle Spate of 1829, when the parapets of the bridge were washed away.

In order to mark the special occasion, the community has put together an impressive tercentenary programme that will run from May 19-21:

Friday 19 –

Opening ceremony at the bridge with special guests from 7pm.

Live music and beer festival at the Cairn Hotel all weekend.

Vinyl Music Night at Carrbridge Kitchen from 6.30pm (booking recommended).

Village history and bridge exhibition at the Carrbridge Hotel all weekend.

Bridge painting and wood carving trails throughout the village

Saturday 20 –

Local artefact exhibition at Carrbridge Church from 10am-3pm.

Craft fair at the village hall with bacon butties, tea and cakes from 11am-2pm.

Monstrous Gathering including bridge exhibition, silent auction, dog show, live entertainment from youngsters, Ann Dickson, and refreshments - at Carrbridge Primary School from 2pm to 4pm

Family ceilidh at the village hall from 6pm-9.30pm (5.30pm for stovies). BYOB & tickets £2 adult and £1 child

Live music by Black Rock at the Cairn Hotel from 9pm.

Sunday 21 –

Church celebrations - Bridge Reflection, Carrbridge Primary School in the marquee 11.30am

Sunday carvery with live music Carrbridge Hotel from 12-3pm

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