Reay - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868
"REAY, a parish in the counties of Caithness and Sutherland, Scotland. It comprises a village of its own name, also the villages of Melvich and Portskerray. It extends in length about 18 miles, with an extreme breadth of 9, and is bounded by the North Sea, and by the parishes of Thurso, Halkirk, Kildonan, and Farr. The surface is of a hilly nature, the highest point being at Binra Mountain, which rises 2,000 feet above sea-level. The rocks consists of gneiss, syenite, granite, quartz, hornblende, sandstone, and limestone, the two last being extensively quarried. There are mineral springs, also traces of lead and iron. The soil of the district lying within the county of Caithness is generally of a fertile nature; while that of Strath Halladale in Aberdeenshire is better adapted for pasture and sheepwalks. The parish is watered by the rivers Reay, Torss, and Walla, and by the lakes Seirach, Tormaid, and Calam, in all which there are abundance of salmon and trout. There is also a fishery along 9 miles of the coast. The district abounds in black cattle and sheep, also in game, wild fowl, the eagle, otter, fox, &c. The chief bays are Port Skerray and Sandside Bay, the former situated at the mouth of the Halladale, and the latter about 2½ miles E. of the boundary betwixt counties Caithness and Sutherland. The parish is traversed along the coast by the road from Thurso to Tongue, and by another road up Strath Halladale. The village of Reay, or New Reay, is about 12 miles S.W. of Thurso, and 30 W. of Wick. It is of small extent, and is situated at the head of Sandside Bay. In the village is an ancient market cross, which, according to tradition, belonged to the burgh of Old Reay. At Knock Urray was formerly a Pictish fort. About 2 miles N.E. of Sandside Bay are traces of the old seat of the Mackeys, whose lands in Strath Halladale, Durness, Tongue, and Edderachyllis are now the property of the Duke of Sutherland. This parish is in the presbytery of Caithness and synod of Sutherland, and in the patronage of the crown. The minister has a stipend of £236. The parish church was erected in 1739. There are a Free church, a mission chapel, and a parochial school, besides other schools."
"BORROWSTON, a village in the parish of Reay, in the county of Caithness, Scotland, 6 miles W. of Thurso, and 4 miles from Reay. It is seated on the coast of the North Sea, at the mouth of Forse Water."
"SHURIRY, a small loch in the parish of Reay, county Caithness, Scotland, 5 miles W. by S. of Halkirk. It is formed by the river Forse."
"MELVICH, a village in the parish of Reay, county Sutherland, Scotland, 3 miles E. of Strathy, and 24 S.W. of Thurso."
"PORTSKERRAY, a village in the parish of Reay, county Sutherland, Scotland, 3 miles E. of Strathy. It is situated on a bay of the same name."
[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of
Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]