"SUTHERLAND, in the extreme N. of Scotland; is bounded W. and N. by the Atlantic Ocean, E. by Caithness and the Moray Firth, and S. by the Dornoch Firth and Ross and Cromarty; greatest length, NW. and SE., 63 miles; greatest breadth, NE. and SW., 60 miles; area, 1,297,846 ac.. pop. 23,370. The N. and NW. coasts are bold and rocky, some of the cliff scenery being remarkably grand, but along the Moray Firth the ground is generally low and sandy. The surface consists chiefly of mountainous moorland, varied by numerous straths or narrow valleys which open towards the sea. The highest summit is Ben More Assynt, alt 3273 ft. The principal streams are the Oykell, Brora, Helmsdale, Halladale, Naver, and Hope. Of numerous lochs the largest are Lochs Shin, Assynt, Naver, Laoghal, Hope, and More. The angling in the lochs and streams is good, especially for trout. The coast fisheries are considerable. The amount of arable land is comparatively very small. There are extensive deer forests, and sheep are grazed in great numbers. The co. comprises 13 pars. with part of 1 other, and the parl. burgh of Dornoch (part of the Wick District of Burghs). It returns 1 member to Parliament.
[Bartholemew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887]
See also the entry for Sutherland in the 1868 gazetteer.
Archives and Libraries
The Highland Archive Service is responsible for locating, preserving and making accessible archives relating to all aspects of the history of the geographical area of the Highlands.
Information on national archives and links to lists of local archives and libraries can be found on our Scotland Archives and Libraries page.
- "Bibliography of Caithness and Sutherland"
Published 1910, London (Viking Club)
- "The book of Ross: And Sutherland and Caithness"
Published 1932, Dingwall
See "Pre-1855 tombstone inscriptions in Sutherland burial grounds" by A.S.Cowper & I.Ross, published at Edinburgh in 1989 by the Scottish Genealogy Society.
General advice on census records and indexes can be found on our Scotland Census page.
General advice on parish registers throughout Scotland can be found on our Scotland Church Records page. For information on records for a particular parish, please see that parish's page (where available).
Records of testaments, inventories etc. are held at the National Records of Scotland.
(Monumental Inscriptions - see Cemeteries)
The Highland Family History Society covers this county.
For a social and economic record of the parishes of Sutherland, together with masses of statistical material, see Sir John Sinclair's "Statistical Account of Scotland" which was compiled in the 1790s. The account was reprinted in facsimile form in 1979 by EP Publishing Limited of Wakefield, England, and volume 18 deals with Sutherland.
Follow-up works to this were the "New Statistical Account" (also known as the "Second Statistical Account") which was prepared in the 1830s and 1840s; and more recently the "Third Statistical Account" which has been prepared since the Second World War.