The Fyrish Monument
On a hill overlooking the Cromarty Firth is a striking, most un-highland monument. It is a replica of the gates of Negapatam, a port in Madras (now Chennai) in South East India. Negapatam was originally a Dutch colony, but it was won by the British in 1781.
Responsible for this success was Sir Hector Munro, 8th of Novar (1726 – 1805) who won fame and fortune as a British Army Officer in India. When he retired to Scotland in 1782 he found that in the midst of the Highland Clearances many Munros and others in the area were unemployed and hungry, so he paid them all to carry stones to the top of Cnoc Fyrish (land the Munros obtained from the Keiths in 1589) where the monument to celebrate his triumph was erected. There is a myth that Sir Hector, desperate to be able to provide more work for these people, that he took all the stones back down the hill in order to be able to pay the men to do the job again.
Tragically, Sir Hector’s two sons were both killed in India, one by a tiger and one by a shark in the Bay of Bengal and the estate passed to his daughter whose descendants still own it.
Sir Hector’s nephew, Hugh Anderson Johnstone Munro of Novar was one of the most notable art collectors of his day and a close friend of the English artist J. M. W. Turner. Munro eventually owned fifteen oil paintings by Turner and one hundred and nine of his water colours. One of his favourites, ‘Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino’ was sold by Munro’s heirs in 1878 to Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Roseberry (and future Prime Minister) for the astonishing price (at that time) of 4,450 guineas. It later went under the hammer recently for the second time in a Sotheby’s sale in London with an estimate of £12-18 million.Tagged