Rogart parish


Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis - 1851

ROGART, a parish, in the county of Sutherland, 10 miles (W. N. W.) from Golspie; containing 1501 inhabitants. This place is generally supposed to have derived its name from a compound Gaelic word, of which Rogart is a corruption, signifying a " lofty inclined plane", and having reference to the high ground and acclivities in various parts of the parish, and especially to the elevated land on which the village stands. The locality appears to have been in remote times the scene of sanguinary conflicts, as the remains of encampments and some tumuli are still visible: several of the latter are to be seen on a ridge of hills running from north to south in the eastern quarter of the parish, from Strathbrora to Strathfleet; and stone coffins, daggers, and other warlike instruments have been discovered. At a place called Rhin, in the valley of Strathfleet, the brave Montrose halted for a night, when on his return from Orkney; upon the next day marching to Strathoicail, on whose heights he fought his last battle. The PARISH is an irregular square in its form, about ten miles long and ten broad, and contains an area of 6'2,800 acres. It is bounded on the north by parts of the parishes of Clyne and Farr, on the south by parts of those of Dornoch and Criech, on the east by parts of Dornoch and Golspie, and on the west by the parish of Lairg. The surface is altogether uneven, chiefly consisting of two valleys about five miles apart, which run through the parish from east to west, and the intermediate space of which is marked by moors, rocky hills, tracts of moss, and some few meadows. One of these valleys, called Strathfleet, is ten miles long, and varies in width from three quarters of a mile to only a few yards, its sides contracting themselves almost to the narrowness of the Fleet river, which flows through it. The sides of the valley, which occasionally are cultivated and produce crops, rise from 500 to 700 feet above the level of the stream, in most parts ascending in a gradual manner, but in some places exhibiting the features of an abrupt acclivity. Strathbrora, the other valley, is much more wild and rugged in its aspect than the former. The river Brora, which runs along it, having, on account of its frequent and violent floodings, cut deeper into the banks, forms in several places extensive chasms, completely altering the character of the scenery, and assimilating it in a great degree to that of the adjacent mountainous district. The land in tillage, and the meadows and haughs formed by the Fleet and the Brora, and by the burns and other waters, cover but a small space compared to the extent of the moors, which form by far the larger part of the parish. The hills stretching between the two valleys are all of nearly equal height, about 800 or 900 feet above the level of the sea. Among the animals to be seen on the hills and wastes are the roe-deer, the red mountain-deer, the grey mountain-hare, the brown hare, and large numbers of rabbits: black-game and moor-fowl are also numerous, especially the former. The rivers are the Fleet and the Brora, in which salmon. grilse, and sea-trout are taken. They are small streams, but the latter becomes formidable in the flooding season, when its current is considerably widened and its banks are overflowed, the waters frequently carrying havoc and desolation to the adjacent lands. There are also numerous lakes, of no great extent, which abound in good trout, and are much frequented by the lovers of angling.

The SOIL on some of the hilly grounds is light and gravelly, and near the streams often approximates to an alluvial mould: the larger portion of the parish, however, as already observed, is moor or moss. Not more than 1200 acres are at present cultivated, but it is supposed that about 1000 might be added to the land in tillage. Small alder-trees are sometimes to be seen along the streams, and also bushes of ground-birch; but there is no other wood in the parish, with the exception of one plantation in Strathfleet of about twenty acres, consisting of oak, larch, and common fir. All kinds of grain are raised, amounting to the average total value of £2250 annually; potatoes are also produced, and turnips in considerable quantities. On some of the small farms is a species of sheep of diminutive size, but with a fine fleece, and the mutton of excellent flavour. It was formerly the only breed of sheep known in the district, but is now fast yielding to the Cheviots, which are preferred on account of their superior size. Between 9000 and 10,000 sheep are kept; and about 1000 head of cattle, mostly of the native breed. Surface draining has been carried on to a great extent, by which the sheep-pasture has been improved in quality, and much increased in quantity; little now remains to be done in this department in any part of the district. The prevailing rock is gneiss, varied in many instances with quartz veins; it is large-grained, partakes considerably of mica, and being easily wrought, supplies a cheap material for cottages and houses. Rolled blocks of granite are freely distributed over the main surface, as well as in the hollows, where they are covered with thin mould. The moss runs sometimes twelve feet deep; in parts where the depth is less, it grows rapidly, and exhibits a fresh and verdant appearance. The annual value of real property in the parish is £240. A road extends along Strathfleet, and another leaves it at the eastern end for Strathbrora; the former is part of the road from Golspie to Tongue, upon which a mail curricle carrying four passengers has been established.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes this place is within the bounds of the presbytery of Dornoch and synod of Sutherland and Caithness; patron, the Duke of Sutherland: the stipend of the minister is £156, of which £3. 1. 4. are received from the exchequer; and the glebe is of the annual value of £9. 10. The church and manse stand near each other, in a bleak exposure, and from their elevated position command a view of the peaks of almost all the high mountains in the county: the church was built in 1777, and is conveniently situated for the bulk of the parishioners. There is a parochial school, in which the ordinary branches of education are taught, with mensuration and land-surveying; the master's salary is £34. 4., with a house, and the fees. In the parish are also two schools supported by the General Assembly, and a school supported by the Gaelic School Society, in the former of which the usual branches of a plain education are taught, with Gaelic and the rudiments of Latin; while in the latter, the reading of Gaelic alone is taught. The Gaelic schoolmaster, who is not stationary in any one place, is not allowed to take fees; he receives a salary of £25, and has the necessary accommodation. The masters of the Assembly's schools have each a salary and a house, but, though allowed to take fees, are seldom able to obtain them, from the poverty of the people. The language used in the district is the Gaelic, which however is fast yielding to the English. The interest of a bequest of £200 is divided among the poor. Among the antiquities in the parish are the remains of a Druidical temple at Corrie.