History & Heritage
Little is known of the earlier history of the town; even the origin of the name Tain is uncertain. It may come from the Norse "Thing", a place of assembly, or from an older root meaning water or river. However, the town's Gaelic is quite clear, Baile Dubhthaich, Duthac's town, and it is to Duthac that the town owed its early importance. He was an early Christian figure, perhaps 8th or 9th century, whose shrine had become so important by 1066 that it resulted in the royal charter already mentioned. The ruined chapel near the mouth of the river was said to have been built on the site of his birth. Duthac became an official saint in 1419 and by the late middle ages his shrine was established as one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Scotland. The most famous pilgrim was King James IV, who came at least once a year throughout his reign to achieve both spiritual and political aims.
The endowments made by William a few years later in restitution led directly to the foundation of the beautiful collegiate church that is still at the heart of the town today.
During the Second World War many Royal Air Force and Army personnel were stationed in the area. Military structures, including huts, control towers and runways, mostly derelict, can still be seen. The village of Inver and its surrounding area was completely cleared in 1944 for secret D-Day landing exercises, causing enormous disruption to the lives of the local people.
From those early days of sanctity in a wilderness of savagery, from the long centuries of war and violence, Tain emerges a peaceful town with its own individual atmosphere of sturdy independence, of kindly and understanding folk, of refuge from city smoke and grind and pressure - a place which holds open arms of welcome to those who visit it.
For further information visit the Tain Museum website.