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National Gazetteer, 1868

Canisbay - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

"CANISBAY, (or Canute's Bay), a parish in the county of Caithness, Scotland. It is situated in a heathy district on the coast of the Pentland Firth, and includes the neighbouring island of Stroma. Duncansby Head and John o'Groat's house are at the north-eastern extremity of this parish. The coast is rocky, and limestone is abundant. The inhabitants are engaged in agriculture and the fisheries. The living, worth £206, is in the presbytery of Caithness, in the gift of the Sinclairs. There is a Free church, and the Independents have a place of worship at Freswick, and the Baptists one at the Mull of Mey. In this parish are Barrogill and Brabster castles-the former the seat of the Earl of Caithness. There are several ruins of forts and chapels. The parish extends about 10 miles in length and 5 in breadth."

"AUCHINGILL, a township in the parish of Canisbay, in the county of Caithness, Scotland, 2 miles from Keiss."

"DUNCANSBAY, a township in the parish of Canisbay, in the county of Caithness Scotland. It is chiefly noteworthy for the neighbouring promontory of Duncansbay Head with its magnificent view and large number of seafowls. This promontory forms the north-eastern extremity of the mainland of Scotland, and is situated in 58° 38' N. lat., and 3° 2' W. long."

"EAST MEY, (and West Mey) villages in the parish of Canisbay, county Caithness, Scotland, 5 miles N.W. of Canisbay. Here was situated Mey Castle, a stronghold of the earls of Caithness, which has given name to the loch, which is about 3 miles in circumference."

"GILLS, a village in the parish of Canisbay, county Caithness, Scotland, 2 miles W. of Canisbay. It is situated at the head of a bay, to which it gives name."

"HUNA, (or Houna), a post-office village in the parish of Canisbay, county Caithness, 2 miles W. of John O'Groat's House. A ferry is established here to the Orkneys."

"JOHN O'GROAT'S HOUSE, in the parish of Canisbay, county Caithness, Scotland, between Huns, Ferry and Duncansby Head. It is the extreme northerly point of Scotland, and is said to have been the site of a house built in the time of James IV. by John de Groot, a Dutch settler, whose family having fallen out about the post of honour at table, one of its members erected a house with eight sides, and doors and table of corresponding shape, that each branch of the family might enter and be seated without giving precedence to the other. Some traces of this house are said to be discernible."

"KEISS, a quoad sacra parish in the parish of Canisbay, county Caithness, Scotland, 7 miles N. of Wick. It gives name to a small harbour in Sinclair Bay. The village is a small fishing station, and has an old castle of the Sinclairs. The parish is in the presbytery of Caithness, and in the patronage of the crown. The minister's stipend is £120. The church is a small modern edifice. The principal residence is Keiss House."

"STROMA, an island in the parish of Canisbay, county Caithness, Scotland, 2 miles N. of Cannisbay. It is situated opposite Gill's Bay, and extends about 2½ miles in length by 1½ mile in breadth. Its surface is level, and the land good, but subject to sea-spray in storms. The coast is rocky, and on the cliffs are the ruins of a castle and chapel. In 1856 an iron beacon was constructed on the island, 45 feet in height, with a cross and cage."

Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003