Halkirk, Caithness

"HALKIRK, a parish and post village in the county Caithness, Scotland, 7 miles S. of Thurso, and 279 from Edinburgh. Its boundaries are Thurso, Bower, Watten, Latheron, Kildonan, and Reay. It is 24 miles in length by 9 in breadth. The surface has but little elevation, Spittal Hill being the principal summit. The river Forse traverses the parish in the W., and the Thurso, which takes its rise in the S.W. part of the parish, runs through the interior. There are several lochs, the principal being Calder and Lechmore. The soil is of a clayey nature, and rather sterile. There is a large area of pasture land. This parish is in the presbytery of Caithness, and synod of Sutherland and Caithness. The minister has a stipend of 238. The church was built in 1753. There are also two Free churches, a parish and several non-parochial schools. The parish of Halkirk was formed at the time of the Reformation, by the union of the ancient districts of Halkirk and Skinnet. Sir George Sinclair, with Sir P. M. Thriepland, Sinclair of Forse, Guthrie of Scotscalder, and Horne of Langwell, are the principal heritors. Dirlet Castle, in the middle of this parish, is an interesting ruin. Its last occupant was one of the Sutherlands, called "the red knight," who was apprehended as a rebel. Bramwell Castle is another ruin, formerly a seat of the earls of Caithness. Lochmore and Achnavarn castles are two other ruins of uncertain origin. There are remains of two religious houses, and of several old chapels, besides Pictish and Danish dwellings. St. Thomas's Pillar stands on the Spittal Hill. The old chapel occupied the same site as the present parish church. It was here that the Bishop of Caithness was murdered at the instance of the Earl of Caithness. Limestone, ironstone, lead ore, and marl are found. The waters abound with trout of great excellence. A fair is held at the village on the Tuesday before the 26th December."

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

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