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Reay

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"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."

Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)

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Churches

Presbyterian / Unitarian
Reay, Church of Scotland
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Description and Travel

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Gazetteers

1851 - Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis

REAY, a parish, partly in the county of Sutherland, but chiefly in the county of Caithness, 9½ miles (\V. S. W.) from Thurso; containing, with the fishing-villages of Melvich and Portskerray, 2SI1 inhabitants, of whom 1067 are in Sutherland, and 1744 in Caithness. This place, the history of which is involved in great obscurity, is supposed to have derived its name, originally Urray, from a Pictish chieftain who occupied a castle here, now in ruins, but the site of which is still called Knock-Urray. This place appears to have been celebrated by the North Highland bards as of some importance at a very early period; and in 1751, from the bursting of a water-spout, which formed for itself a deep channel in the sands between the present village and the shore, there were discovered the remains of an ancient town, said to have been a burgh of regality. Upon this occasion, the gables of several houses built of stone in a continuous line, and the foundations of many others, with pavements and various pieces of earthenware, were found among the ruins, as well as the old market cross, now placed in the village of New Reay. The stones of which the houses were built, being of good quality, were removed, and numerous other relics of the ancient buildings carried otf; but the sand-banks beginning to fall in, all further search was prevented, and the site of the town, sixteen feet below the surface, was again buried in the sand.

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Historical Geography

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Maps

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference ND004596 (Lat/Lon: 58.512972, -3.711201), Reay which are provided by: