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Halkirk

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"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)

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Churches

Presbyterian / Unitarian
Halkirk, Church of Scotland
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Description and Travel

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Gazetteers

1851 - Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis

HALKIRK, a parish, in the county of Caithness, 7 miles (S. by E.) from Thurso; containing 2963 inhabitants, of whom 236 are in the village. This place, the name of which is of very uncertain origin, includes the ancient parishes of Halkirk and Skinnet, supposed to have been united soon after the Reformation. It is evidently of remote antiquity, and was one of the seats of the Harolds and Sinclairs, Earls of Caithness, of whose baronial castle there are still considerable remains on the north bank of the river Thurso. On the opposite bank of that river was one of the residences of the Bishops of Caithness and Sutherland, of which, however, not the slightest vestige can now be traced. The only event of historical importance connected with the place, is the assassination of one of the bishops by some ruffians who were supposed to have been employed for that purpose by the Earl of Caithness, in revenge for an additional assessment imposed by the bishop on his lands. The perpetrators of this inhuman murder were afterwards discovered, through the strenuous exertions of King Alexander II., by whose special order they were sentenced to punishment.

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Historical Geography

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Maps

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