OLD PETTY CHURCH
Built in 1767 in a parish steeped in history, the building was remodelled in 1839 and is now disused. It stands on a piece of rising ground, surrounded by its old and most recent graveyards and guarded at the narrow, steep approach by its ancient watch tower. Even in the Statistical Account of 1799, its position in the parish was criticised for being "situated rather inconveniently for the parishioners". Then in 1843, at the time of the Disruption - "the glory and the catastrophe" of the Church of Scotland - nearly all the congregation "came out" with their minister, sealing the fate of the old church.
The site has had a long and noteworthy history going back to the days of St. Columba, after whom the first church was named. According to tradition, in Ad 565, Columba came to visit King Brude at Inverness, as he wished to obtain the King's permission to carry the light of the Gospel throughout his kingdom and if possible, to convince the king of the truth of the Christian religion. Apparently he was successful on both accounts, but the chief pagan priest was so incensed that he swore to raise a great storm when Columba was at sea. The latter, however, managed to reach the Bay of Petty safely, and there, in thanksgiving, he founded a church. His Christian views of brotherly love, however, seemed to have gone unheeded, for Petty - "place of farms" - was a place of continual conflict between the MacKintoshes and the Morays (the early De Moravia family, descendants of the old Celtic rulers of Moray). In the 12th. Century the lands of Petty were awarded to an ancestor of the MacKintosh family, as a reward for suppressing a rebellion in Moray. A walk round the graveyard to the east end of the church will take you to the MacKintosh Vault, in the form of a charnel house, burial place of "the Lairde of McIntoshe" . Guarding the door of the adjoining building a pair of fierce looking rampant cats, fangs bared and tongues extended, holding the banner of the clan, was designed to warn off intruders - combined with the crumbling masonry, they still have the desired effect today. Sir Aeneas, 23rd. MacKintosh of Mackintosh, wrote at the beginning of the last Century that, after the battle of Culloden when the Highlanders found themselves at a loss for musket balls, they thought of resurrecting the chiefs and their ladies from the vault, with a view of converting their leaden coffins into bullets. Stepping up the avenue of flat gravestones that leads to the church door, you recall another tale going back to the days of Culloden. Across the principal entrance of the church lies the body of the Chief of the MacGillevrays who was killed at the battle of Culloden, in the heart of the King's troops.
Looking across to the Firth from the rear of the church you may be struck by the loneliness of the spot, but to think back to the times when it was the main crossing place between the Black Isle and the mainland - the times when trade with Rotterdam was at its zenith and smuggling in its hey-day. One Inverness merchant had an ingenious plan to get his goods smuggled into his shop, right under the nose of the Custom House Officer. As soon as the ship from Holland came into the bay, a messenger was sent to inform him that a ship had arrived. The messenger simply handed over an empty snuff box - which became known as the Petty Snuff-box. It was then handed back full, if he was ready to accept the goods, half full if they were to be hidden a while until the coast was clear. Another local custom, even more bizarre, originated in the parish. It seems that in Petty, it was customary at funerals to run as fast as possible. Hence in the neighbouring parishes, if the rain came on and they wished to quicken the progress of the funeral party, it used to be said "Let us take the Petty Slip". The indecorous rush to the graveside could be explained by the belief held all over the Highlands that the spirit of the last person buried in the churchyard had to keep watch until it was "relieved" by the next to be buried. If two funerals took place on the same day, there were, it was said, unseemly clashes between relatives of both corpses as they sought to save their loved one's soul from doing the unwelcome duty. - Article written by Leonella Longmore (printed in the Inverness Courier 20/03/1992.)
The team investigated Petty on Saturday 4th August 2012. On our arrival we were met with the shocking site of a roofless MacKintosh vault, since then we have reported the issue to both Highland Council and the Clan Chattan, neither have sadly responded to this date.
Gary was to take lead tonight and it was decided to split into two group and investigate either side of the church and the old cemetery. So Gary, Debs and Liam headed off in one direction, Lyn, Angie and Mike went in the other. At this time we were still working in daylight and an examination of some of the older gravestones and the exterior of the buildings were carried out. Mike our medium soon picked up the spirit of a woman following us around the graveyard along with a black cat, he was later to pick up on horse rider from around 1748 and the faces of children staring out from the church windows. He also had his trusty dowsing rods with him and it wasn't long before these were being triggered beside the small gravestone at the side of the vault. To test this further, Gary, Debs and Angie used the rods, with the same result. Another area down to the west of the graveyard produced similar results. The area behind the vault appeared to be the most active, with both Angie and Liam reporting a lady murmuring in their ears at different points of the evening. A loud breath and banging from inside the church were also reported. As darkness fell, so did the activity and with the exception of the “chains” EVP which is linked below, nothing further was reported. Our EMF and K2 meters failed to pick any activity up and nothing notable was captured on film.
Overall a very interesting location, but very little paranormal activity.