The PARISH is bounded on the south-east by the North Sea, and on the west by the county of Sutherland. It extends along the coast for nearly twenty-seven miles, and varies from ten to fifteen miles in breadth, comprising an area of about 140,000 acres, of which 10,000 are arable, 800 woodland and plantations, and the remainder meadow, pasture, and waste. The surface in general is boldly marked with hills and valleys; and towards the west are numerous mountains of various height and aspect, between which are deep and precipitous ravines of dangerous access. Of these ravines the most intricate are Brenahegleish, Benaehielt, and one at the Ord of Caithness. The most conspicuous of the mountains are Morven, Scaraben, and the Pap. Morven has an elevation of nearly 4000 feet above the level of the sea, and is a fine landmark for mariners; near the summit is a spring of excellent water. The prospects obtained from most of these mountains comprehend more than twelve counties. There are also straths of great beauty and fertility, the three principal of which are watered by the rivers of Langwell, Berriedale, and Dunbeath; the steep banks of these vales were formerly covered with wood, and there is still sufficient remaining to add greatly to the richness of the scenery. The three rivers have their rise on the western confines of the parish, and, after courses of from twelve to sixteen miles through the straths to which they give name, fall into the sea on the east; they are but small streams in the summer, but are much swollen in winter, and they all abound with trout and salmon. In this parish the only lakes of importance are those of Rangag and Stempster, in both of which are found trout and eels. The line of coast is defended by a chain of rocks, rising precipitously to heights varying from 100 to 300 feet, and in many places perforated with deep caverns, some of them sixty feet in length: these caverns, as already stated, are frequented by seals, great numbers of which are taken. The principal headlands are, the Ord of Caithness, on the south; Berriedale head; and Clyth Ness, to the north. There are numerous small bays, the outlets of the several rivers which intersect the parish, affording shelter for boats employed in the fisheries off the coast.
Though generally shallow, the soil is easily cultivated, and well adapted to all kinds of grain; on the lands of Langwell and Dunbeath it is of a sharp gravelly quality, and on the lands of Clyth a dry loam. The crops are grain, potatoes, and turnips, with the usual grasses; considerable improvement has been made in the system of husbandry, and much waste land has been reclaimed and brought into cultivation. Many of the farm-buildings, also, are vastly improved; but there are still some of very inferior order. Great attention is paid to the rearing of live stock, for the conveyance of which to the best markets facilities are afforded by steam navigation. The sheep on the lands of Langwell and Dunbeath are mostly of the Cheviot breed, and frequently obtain prizes at the Inverness shows; on the other farms they are chiefly a cross between the Cheviot and the Leicestershire: 12,000 are fed on the whole. The cattle, of which about 4000 are pastured, are principally a mixture of the Teeswater and Highland breeds, and fetch good prices in the Edinburgh market. In this parish the geological features are different from those of the rest of the county. The only village of any importance is Lybster, which is noticed under its own head; the others are small fishing-hamlets. The annual value of real property in the parish is £10,967.
The principal dependence of the population is upon fishing, of which there are four distinct branches carried on, viz. the herring, the cod, the salmon, and the lobster fisheries. The herring fishery is prosecuted with great assiduity and enterprise, affording occupation during the season to about 3200 persons, and employing during the winter and spring from 1500 to 2000 in the making of nets; the season commences in July, and ends in September. The stations along the coast in this parish, and to which are attached convenient harbours, are Dunbeath, containing seventy-six boats; Latheron-Wheel, thirty-five; Forse, thirty-two; Swiney, ten; Lybster, 101; Clyth, fifty-three; and East Clyth, eighteen boats; in the aggregate, 325 boats, each having a crew of four men, and from twenty to thirty-eight nets. It is calculated that the number of barrels cured at these stations annually is 40,000, to which may be added 3000 cured by the fishermen at their own dwellings; and about 1000 barrels are generally sold in a fresh state to strangers from different parts of the country. On an average the price of the cured fish is £1 per barrel; and of the fresh, nine shillings. The cod-fishery is not carried on to so great an extent, being generally abandoned, when the herrings appear in sufficient numbers, for the more lucrative employment of herring-fishing; the number of cod cured during the season averages 10,000, and they are sold at sixpence each. The salmon-fishery is pursued at Berriedale and at Dunbeath: the fishery at the former, belonging to Mr. Home of Langwell, is rented at £275 per annum; and the fishery at the latter, the property of Mr. Sinclair of Freswick, at £27 per annum only, the number offish having greatly diminished. At both places the fish are of excellent quality, the salmon selling for one shilling, and the grilse for sixpence per pound: few are sold on the spot; they are chiefly packed in kits, and sent to London. The lobster fishery is but little attended to, though great numbers are sometimes taken. A small pier has been erected at Clyth, for the loading of vessels in moderate weather; and there is also a harbour at Lybster; but from the rocky nature of the coast, and the want of shelter for vessels of any considerable burthen, the navigation is attended witli great danger; and applications have been consequently made to government, for the construction of commodious harbours, which would materially promote the prosperity of the district. The nearest market town is Wick. Fairs are held at Dunbeath and at Lybster twice during the year; there are also post-offices there. Facility of communication is afforded by good roads, of which the road along the coast passes through the whole length of the parish to Wick, whence there is conveyance by steam to Aberdeen and Leith.
For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Caithness, the synod of Sutherland and Caithness. The minister's stipend is £219. with a manse, and a glebe valued at £15 per annum; patron, Sir James Colquhoun, Bart. The parish church, situated near the coast, was erected in 1734, and enlarged and new roofed in 1822; it is a neat plain structure, containing 8*0 sittings. Churches were built in Berriedale in 1826 and at Lybster in 1836. There is also a missionary station connected with the Established Church, founded by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, at Bruan, the eastern extremity of the parish, bordering on Wick. Attached is a comfortable manse, erected by subscription, at an expense of £232; and a glebe of four acres of excellent land was granted to the minister by the late Sir John Sinclair, Bart., whose estates were chiefly benefited. The church contains 600 sittings; and the missionary has a stipend of £25, granted by the society, and augmented to £100 by seat-rents. Four catechists are appointed by the Kirk Sessi