The three fishing villages of Hilton, Balintore and Shandwick are located on the Fearn peninsula on the Moray Firth coast. The beautiful expanse of golden sand of Shandwick Bay is well worth a visit - as is the Mermaid of the North, an 8ft, 800lb bronze sculpture situated between Balintore and Hilton.
The seaboard villages are renowned for their pictish stones. The Shandwick Stone stands above the village, now protected from the elements in a glass box. A replica of the Hilton of Cadboll Stone, carved by sculptor Barry Grove, is sited at the St Mary’s chapel site at the north end of Hilton. The original Hilton of Cadboll Stone is one of the most magnificent of all Pictish cross-slabs and can be dated to about 800AD. The original top part of the Hilton of Cadboll Stone is now in the National Museum in Edinburgh.
Fearn Abbey was originally founded at "Old Fearn" near Edderton in 1225, but was moved by 1238 to "New Fearn" further east, perhaps to take advantage of better agricultural lands (over time the "New" was dropped). The Abbey was rebuilt between 1338 and 1372 on the orders of William III, Earl of Ross. Following the Reformation of 1560, the Abbey remained in use as a parish church, but disaster struck in 1742 when the flagstone roof collapsed during a service killing many members of the congregation. A new church was then built adjacent to the old ruined church. Yet by 1771 the new church was itself in ruins. Accordingly, part of the original ruined Abbey was rebuilt in 1772 and again became the parish church as part of the Established Church of Scotland. Things to see in Fearn, Nigg and Seaboard Villages MORE
The current building thus substantially dates from 1772, but incorporating parts of the medieval structure. Further restoration was carried out in1971 and 2002.
The beautiful Old Church at Nigg can trace its origins back to 1296 and the present structure was built in 1626. It contains the internationally renowned Nigg Pictish Cross-Slab, recently re-displayed with new lighting and interpretation. For lovers of wildlife, the RSPB also has a hide at Nigg Bay - an extensive area of mudflat, saltmarsh and wet grassland on the Cromarty Firth.