The County of Nairn, also known as Nairnshire, is one of the smallest counties in Scotland, covering an area of approximately 422 square kilometres (162 square miles). It is bordered to the south and west by Inverness-shire, to the east by Moray and the north by the Moray Firth. Until 1891 it had a number of small enclaves in other counties, notably Inverness-shire and Ross.
Famous for its picturesque sandy beaches and decorative Victorian buildings, the town of Nairn is a successful seaside resort which claims to be the driest and sunniest in Scotland.
Alexander I (c.1078-1124) granted the townspeople of Nairn certain trading rights under a royal charter. Its status as a Royal Burgh was lost in 1312 but this was restored by James III in 1476.
In medieval times Nairn was in the interesting position of being a commercial centre in a region with Gaels to the west and Scots to the east. James VI (1566-1625) is said to have commented that the town of Nairn was notable in that Gaelic was spoken at one end of High Street and Scots at the other. The town's position as a trading centre was strengthened by the fact that it was a regular port of call for foreign trading ships. The land around the coastal plain is quite fertile and so agriculture and fishing were the main occupations.
Perhaps the most significant period in Nairn's development began in the 19th century. A new harbour was built by Thomas Telford in 1820. By the middle of the century over 60 fishing vessels were permanently based there and Nairn's Fishertown became home to around 400 families. The arrival of the railway also did much to open up the town's industries to investment and the town's attractions to visitors.
In 1929 the county was joined with Moray for administrative purposes. In 1975, when counties were abolished in Scotland, it became Nairn District of Highland Region.
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